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Probation service to be entirely under public control from next year, government announces

SUPERVISION of all offenders on licence and serving community sentences in England and Wales will be entirely under public control from next year, it was announced today.

The publicly run National Probation Service (NPS) will take over management of low and medium-risk cases – such as the unpaid work and “behavioural-change programmes” – which are currently handled by private community rehabilitation companies (CRCs).

NPS already supervises the rehabilitation of high-risk individuals. It will oversee operations for lower-risk individuals when CRC contracts end in June next year.

This comes after “fundamental flaws” were exposed in the part-privatisation of the existing probation system, that supervises more than 250,000 offenders in England and Wales.

In the Commons today, Justice Secretary Robert Buckland confirmed the plans to reverse the part-privatisation introduced by his predecessor Chris Grayling in 2014.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary David Lammy branded the decision a “U-turn” the party had been demanding for “many, many years.”

He called on Mr Buckland to apologise for the reform’s shortcomings and ministers’ “attempts to cut corners” that contributed to reoffending rates rising to 32 per cent.

Probation staff union Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said members will be “breathing a huge sign of relief.”

He praised Napo’s “relentless campaigning” that has “at last helped to bring certainty over the future of the service.”

Doug Nicholls, general secretary of the General Federation of Trade Unions, said that the renationalisation from “greedy, fumbling private hands” will make communities safer.

He added: “We now look forward to offering any help we can to Napo and the service to rebuild and strengthen as an essential public service again.

“Napo have proved that privatisation can be reversed.”

Public ownership campaign group We Own It director Cat Hobbs urged the government to also end privatisation of prisons, adding that “private profit has no place in our justice system.”

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