Key probation services sale sparks protests
Probation officers took to the streets across the Westcountry in a protest against what they say are Government plans to "axe services designed to keep communities safe".
The Ministry of Justice announced yesterday that payment-by-results contracts for dealing with offenders will be split between private companies and charities – sparking protests against the "privatisation of the service".
A package of £450 million-worth of contracts has been offered up to private and voluntary sector organisations across the UK. With the likes of firms G4S and Serco set to bid for the work, probation service workers protested.
Probation officers said the deal would compromise public safety and dozens of employees staged protests in Plymouth, Truro and Exeter.
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Members of Unison and National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) joined the protests outside Cathedral Green in Exeter, outside Truro Cathedral and outside the Civic Centre in Plymouth at around lunch time yesterday.
Jill Narin, a probation officer and NAPO union member, said: "Justice Secretary Chris Grayling wants to dismantle the probation service and put it out for tender.
"The underpinning ethos is that of payment by results and we are concerned the public will not be protected as the companies are driven by profit not public protection."
Mr Grayling insisted the reforms were necessary to bring down re-offending, adding more than 600,000 offences were committed last year by repeat offenders.
He said: "The scale of interest in these contracts from so many diverse and creative organisations is extremely encouraging. This is great news for the public who will finally benefit from the best of the private and voluntary sectors, working together with the public sector, to cut re-offending."