Probation workers in Norfolk marked the last working day of the 107-year-old Probation Service with a day of action highlighting their campaign to protect the service from privatisation.

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Government reforms to probation has seen 70pc of the service sold off to private companies and the voluntary sector.

Some 21 new community rehabilitation companies have been formed to deal with medium and low-risk offenders, while a new National Probation Service will be tasked with protecting the public from the most high-risk offenders.

Justice secretary Chris Grayling has said the reforms were needed to cut costs and reduce reoffending.

He said the current system means only about 25pc of probation time is spent working with offenders, while change is needed because offenders sentenced to less than 12 months got no supervision at all.

But members of UNISON, NAPO (National Association of Probation Officers) and GMB unions, joined councillors and politicians to hold a lunchtime protest outside the Norfolk and Suffolk Probation office in Norwich’s Palace Street yesterday. UNISON national officer Ben Priestley said: “None of the government’s proposed reforms has the support of probation workers, or the justice community, because they are unnecessary, costly, bureaucratic and unsafe.

“Behind the complicated reform agenda hides a sting in the tail – big cuts to probation budgets.

“Reduced budgets would mean that the private sector, which is being asked to bid to run the community rehabilitation companies, is being sold to companies under false pretences.”

Jess Asato, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Norwich North, said: “The privatisation of the probation service is nothing short of opening a can of worms.

“Due to the patchy nature of the sell-off it means that there are far more wide reaching consequences to putting an individual in a high/medium/low risk category.

“For example, cases of domestic and sexual violence will be treated as medium risk as the offender only poses a threat to the victim, not the public.

“This does nothing to address victim safety. There is no evidence that payment by results will increase the likelihood of an offender managing to rehabilitate themselves.”

What do you think of the changes? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

9 comments

  • J. Asato wrote to A. Burnham in 2009 promoting privatisation in the NHS. Now she is upset the probation service is to be privatised. She is without doubt an opportunist careerist hypocritical Labour MP candidate.

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    Gina

    Sunday, June 1, 2014

  • Don,t forget the three quid you owe me Watson.Labour standards I fear

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    PaulH

    Saturday, May 31, 2014

  • This government is playing fast and loose with public safety and it is the first duty of government to keep us safe.Which do you trust?G4s,or properly trained probation officers working for the good of the people?Yet another case of the Tories rewarding their own donors too.

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    Peter Watson

    Saturday, May 31, 2014

  • Angela lets have the truthful fact then we can debate as M,Thatcher used to say

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    PaulH

    Saturday, May 31, 2014

  • @ PaulH You're not telling the full story. When the Peterborough model was tried out in Doncaster, it increased reoffending rates. Hardly sufficient evidence to roll it out nationally.

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    angela

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • There are lots of people who would be institutionalised if it was'nt for the help and support of these people, it's high time someone supported them, some people are too ignorant to understand, but hey it's normal for Norfolk, ignorance that is.

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    mr mayhem

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • The usual old rubbish from trolls and those totally ignorant about the subject.

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    LARSON.E. WHIPSNADE

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • Time for change,the Probation service is full of lazy sick notes and needs reforming completely.There is a complete lack of enforcement and to many tree huggers !

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    dave123

    Friday, May 30, 2014

  • The Peterborough model proves that cuts and savings can be made.with the bonus of reduced re offending evidence.This is just Assato and her cohorts grandstanding with no thought out or properly costed deficit reduction policies,as usual

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    PaulH

    Friday, May 30, 2014

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