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TUC 2018 Trade unionists oppose the scandal-hit sell-off of the probation service

CONRAD LANDIN reports from Manchester

BRITAIN’S labour movement threw its weight today behind a “counter-revolution” to reverse the failing and scandal-hit sell-off of the probation service.

Under the Tories’ Transforming Rehabilitation programme all but the most serious offenders were hived off to be dealt with by private contractors.

Earlier this year Parliament’s justice select committee issued a damning report on the privatisation, saying it was “unconvinced that Transforming Rehabilitation can deliver an effective or viable probation service.”

Probation union Napo said the service is now massively understaffed and has prompted industrial disputes because it has not paid staff properly.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said it will act to deal with the crisis, but campaigners and unions argue it is too little, too late.

Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence told TUC Congress: “We need the government to be brave and take strong action in light of the conclusions of the justice committee.

“The announcement by the MoJ simply means that the majority of private providers will be propped up to continue their failing business models, which will cost the taxpayer even more money and not address the issue that the model of a split and privatised probation service simply doesn’t work.”

Delegates endorsed a motion calling for a cross-sector alliance to develop an alternative model for the service. They will lobby politicians to secure funding and legislation needed to deliver a better and safer model for probation.

“Probation must be brought back into public ownership and meet the needs of local communities and be locally accountable,” Mr Lawrence said.

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