British Probation plans are putting the public at risk

‘UK probation plans put public at risk’

Sun, 15 Dec 2013 18:10:13 GMT

The British government’s plans to privatize parts of the country’s probation service will put the public at greater risk, an official report reveals.

According to the internal assessment presented to the UK’s Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the government’s plans to put private companies and voluntary groups in charge of offender management programmes on a payment-by-results basis, will pose a “higher risk to the public.”

The report, secretly revealed to Observer, also warned that the proposals to sell off some 70 percent of the probation service will result in “poorer outcomes for victims, communities and offenders.”

The British government is seeking to save taxpayers up to £200 million a year under the plans designed to allow private firms and charities to be responsible for criminals’ rehabilitation.

“The private sector is likely to miss cases which need recalling to custody, because of their inexperience,” said probation expert Harry Fletcher.

The report’s findings come days after private security firms G4S and Serco were stripped of contracts for tagging criminals in Britain over allegations of a multimillion-pound overcharging fraud.

Private companies are currently bidding for contracts to supervise some 225,000 low and medium-risk offenders each year. Critics, however, argue that privatizing the service in England and Wales will lead to an increase in re-offending rates.

A 24-hour industrial action was held in the UK earlier in November, with thousands of probation officers walking out their jobs in what was said to be the fourth such strike in the service’s 106-year history.

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