The public National Probation Service (NPS) is set to now manage offenders who have committed low and medium-risk offences, which are currently overseen by private providers. At present, high-risk individuals, who have committed the worst offences, are supervised by the NPS. All other work with offenders is handled by community rehabilitation companies (CRC).
But in stunning new changes unveiled by Justice Secretary David Gauke, all offender management will managed by the NPS when the CRC contracts expire at the end of 2020.
Mr Gauke said: “Delivering a stronger probation system, which commands the confidence of the courts and better protects the public, is a pillar of our reforms to focus on rehabilitation and cut reoffending.
“I want a smarter justice system that reduces repeat crime by providing robust community alternatives to ineffective short prison sentences – supporting offenders to turn away from crime for good.
“The model we are announcing today will harness the skills of private and voluntary providers and draw on the expertise of the NPS to boost rehabilitation, improve standards and ultimately increase public safety.”
The new model will see the Government provide around £280million a year for probation “interventions” from the private and voluntary sections.
The overhaul was welcomed by UK public services campaign group We Own It.
The non-profit group’s campaign officer Ellen Lees said: “We’re absolutely delighted that David Gauke has made the right decision, and announced plans to bring probation into public ownership. The privatisation of probation has been an unmitigated disaster – costing us more, failing offenders and leaving our communities less safe.
“Campaigners, MPs, trade unions and nearly 20,000 people who signed our petition have all been clear that probation belongs in public ownership. It’s a tribute to their hard work that the government has been forced to U-turn on one of its flagship policies.”
Probation services manage more than a quarter of a million offenders in England and Wales, including inmates preparing to leave jail, ex-prisoners living in the community and people serving community or suspended sentences.
Under a programme known as Transforming Rehabilitation, 35 probation trusts were replaced in 2014 by the NPS and 21 privately-owned CRCs.
The overhaul, introduced under then justice secretary Chris Grayling, was designed to drive down re-offending.
But it has been heavily criticised by MPs and watchdogs.
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