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Campaign launched to renationalise probation services

A MAJOR campaign to bring probation services back into public ownership has been unveiled this week following evidence that privatisation has resulted in hundreds being killed by “low-risk” offenders.

Last week the Ministry of Justice admitted that “low-risk offenders” have killed 225 people while being monitored by probation contractors in the four years since privatisation.

By contrast, 142 people were killed by “high-risk offenders” over the same time period while they were being monitored by state-run probation services.

Three trade unions have joined forces with a think tank and a campaign group to demand the renationalisation of probation.

The campaign comes in the wake of the collapse of Working Links, a company paid by the government to manage ex-offenders in Wales and the south-west.

The company’s performance has been lambasted by the Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey.

When it went into administration earlier this month, Ms Stacey branded the company “inadequate,” the lowest possible rating.

She concluded that “the professional ethos of probation has buckled under the strain of the commercial pressures.”

The Tories part-privatised the probation service in 2014 and farmed out the management of “low-risk offenders” to an array of private companies, including Working Links.

The catastrophic figures showing privatised probation puts the public at risk were disclosed in response to a parliamentary question by Plaid Cymru MP Liz Saville Roberts.

The new campaign for renationalisation will see probation union Napo team up with Unison and the GMB.

The initiative is being spearheaded by campaign group We Own It with support from the New Economics Foundation.

We Own It has launched a petition that has already been signed by more than 5,000 people in 24 hours.

Speaking on the launch of the new campaign, We Own It campaigns officer Ellen Lees said: “A well trained, capable and well funded probation service is vital for public safety, and for rehabilitating former prisoners into society.
 
“Since probation has been privatised, we’ve seen private companies repeatedly fail to meet targets, downward pressure on working conditions of probation staff and the number of convicts committing a serious further offence while under probation increase by 20 per cent.
 
“Worse still, as the Working Links collapse shows, private companies, affected by market forces, are ill equipped to deliver such a vital service. 

“Enough is enough. It’s time to bring probation services into public ownership once and for all.”

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