Alan Charles welcomes Government vote

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Alan Charles Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed amendments, tabled by Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, to the Offender Rehabilitation Bill that would force the Government to pilot their controversial changes to the probation service.

Last month, the Justice Minister, Chris Grayling, revealed proposals to contract out 70% of the Probation Service to the private sector in an effort to deliver greater reductions in re-offending rates and improve efficiency. This means all services relating to the management of low and medium risk offenders as well as unpaid work and work with victims - would fall to the private or voluntary sector. Such organisations will be paid according to the results they achieve to reduce re-offending.

Calling it a ‘dangerous experiment’, the Commissioner said he believes that these proposals constitute a serious risk to public safety because of their untested and untried nature.

He went on to point out that because the Government requires no change in the law to introduce their proposals as they are exploiting 2007 legislation. He added: “By tabling these amendments, the Labour opposition is ensuring that their ill-thought through plans receive proper parliamentary scrutiny.”

If the proposed amendments get sufficient support in Parliament, it would mean that the Government’s changes to probation could not happen until they have been properly piloted and independently evaluated to ensure there is no risk to public safety – which Mr Charles feels is the only sensible way forward.

Mr Charles went on to say that the privatisation of the probation service is an enormous gamble with public safety. He explained: “There is no evidence that the plans will work. Instead of rushing ahead the Government should be looking for evidence of what works to reduce re-offending.

“At a time when the Government wants big private companies to run our courts and to take over some roles from the police, they also want the supervision of dangerous offenders, including of those who have committed serious and violent crimes, taken over by global corporations more interested in profit than public safety. It’s a frightening prospect.

“The proposed amendments will give MPs the opportunity to debate and hopefully improve these plans to ensure that the probation service can only be run by the private sector once proposals have been properly tested and evaluated to ensure that they work and don’t endanger the public’s safety.”