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THE Tories’ part-privatisation of probation was branded “a costly failure that is placing the public at greater risk” yesterday after a parliamentary watchdog warned that the programme could cost hundreds of millions of pounds.
A National Audit Office (NAO) assessment found that the government’s adjustment of contracts with community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) has added £278 million to its bill.
Earlier this year, the government revised upwards the maximum projected payments to CRCs, the private businesses that supervise offenders living in the community in England and Wales.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) signed variations to the contracts on June 6 and they became effective for most CRCs from August 1.
The combined adjustments increase the maximum projected fee for service payments to CRCs under the contracts to £2.5 billion, according to the NAO report.
Shadow justice minister Imran Hussain said: “This is yet more evidence of how the Conservatives’ part-privatisation of probation has been a costly failure that is placing the public at greater risk.
“The government was warned that this privatisation would fail, but it carried on regardless.
“As a result, hundreds of millions of pounds are being wasted bailing out private probation companies which are not even meeting basic performance targets.
“The Conservatives should follow Labour’s lead and begin a review into how and when it will return these probation services to public control.”
Known as Transforming Rehabilitation, the part-privatisation launched in 2014 saw the creation of the National Probation Service to deal with high-risk cases, while remaining work was assigned to 21 CRCs.
The latest findings come days after the probation watchdog revealed that thousands of offenders in the community are being managed through a brief phone call every few weeks.
The MoJ admitted that probation services were falling short of its “vision for a high-quality system.”
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