Privatisation plan for probation fear

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Fears have been raised by a South Yorkshire MP for the future of the Probation Service in the wake of plans to bring in private security firms.

Speaking in a debate in the House of Commons, Wentworth and Dearne Labour MP John Healey called on the Government to back probation trusts that are ‘doing a tough job well’.

He has also written to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, urging him to drop plans for 70 per cent of offenders to be supervised by private companies such as G4S and Serco.

Under the Government proposals, nearly 5,000 South Yorkshire criminals – including sexual and violent offenders – would be supervised by private companies.

In the letter, Mr Healey said splitting the probation service would mean ‘extra bureaucracy, cost and risk’.

He claimed that the change would create a ‘skewed approach to rehabilitation’ with private companies encouraged to cherry-pick those least likely to reoffend and ignore those most in need of rehabilitation who pose the highest risk to the public.

“Privatising the probation service is untried and untested,” Mr Cardwell added.

The Government said private firms already look after prisons and jail transport.