A spot more probation bashing
from the ever lovely John Reid
, who's been visiting HMP Wormwood Scrubs in London to talk to the 'residents' about how the Probation Service isn't up to scratch (a quick aside for the benefit of Dr Reid, who I'm sure reads this blog assiduously: it'd be nice if you'd give probation areas enough money so that we officers could actually go and visit them, but that's another issue).
This is little more than political opportunism, given that the Panorama programme tomorrow night will undoubtedly make a few cheap headlines, and he can then point to the new National Offender Management Bill which will be in the Queen's Speech. This, as I've pointed out on previous occasions, forces probation areas to put out considerable areas of their operations to tender to other providers - this is described as contestability but in reality it's privatisation by another name. This is continuing despite the Home Office's failure to make public any kind of business case for this move, and the overwhelmingly negative response that it received for its public consultation document.
Last year Napo, the probation officers union, very successfully ran a Stop the Bill
campaign, which significantly contributed to the last NOMS bill from becoming law. It's resuming the good fight; I only wish that they'd called it Kill the Bill, so that this year we could have Kill the Bill Vol 2... (only me then? right). The central message of this campaign is, quite rightly, that the enforced fragmentation of the probation service will damage local accountability and prevent this core component of the criminal justice system from working with other services to protect the public. When have we ever seen a private company operating a public service better than the public sector can? Without the massive subsidies that privatisation almost always involves, as a sweetener to the businessmen to take these troublesome do-gooders off our hands? Private companies will cut corners, because that's what they do to maintain or increase their profits. This will damage the service that is provided, and disaster will follow.
Mind you, the Home Sec did make a good point about POs writing too many reports and not doing enough of the actual supervisory work. You won't - unusually - find me arguing with him on that one.
Labels: John Reid, Offender Management Bill