December 5 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Probation workers across the eastern region have taken to the streets today in protest at the government’s decision to privatise the service.
Across the country members of union Unison, along with colleagues from the GMB and National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO), held their joint protest to coincide with advertisements being placed by the Ministry of Justice in OJEU - the Official Journal of the European Union - inviting private sector bids.
Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Trust workers outside the offices in Palace Plain, Norwich said privatisation would axe services designed to keep communities safe, as well as introduce potentially dangerous cost cutting measures in the relentless pursuit of profit.
They also warned that among the list of likely bidders were Serco and G4S, both currently under investigation for alleged fraud in the running of previous MoJ contracts.
Lauren Bleach, Unison branch secretary for the eastern region, said: “Public safety will be at risk because people will not be properly supervised.
“These offices in the centre of Norwich will probably moved out to the edge of the city to save money, and all our jobs will be at risk.”
Lorraine Kalaher, of Unison, said: “Privatising such a vital service is a risk too far. People in our communities need to feel that they and their families are safe from harm.
“The first thing that private companies do to maximise their profits is to cut corners and it is the public who pay the price. Instead of washing its hands of public safety government needs to think of the dangerous long-term consequences.”
But Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the government was committed to introducing important reforms.
He said: “More than 600,000 offences were committed last year by those who had broken the law before, despite spending £4bn a year on prisons and probation.
“The public deserves better and we are committed to introducing our important reforms, which were widely consulted on. This includes a new public sector national probation service that will supervise our most dangerous offenders.
“We will continue to support staff and engage with unions as our reforms move forwards.”