Probation staff reforms strike

Probation officers are walking out in protest again today at planned reforms to the service.
Probation officers are walking out in protest again today at planned reforms to the service.
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Probation officers and criminal solicitors are set to walk out on strike today in protest at government justice reforms.

Members of the National Association of Probation Officers across the county are angry at plans to sell off part of the service to the private sector, and have branded the reforms ‘reckless’.

A spokesman for South Yorkshire NAPO said: “It is our belief that the public will be put at risk by these reckless reforms.

“In an attempt to right one injustice in respect of the failure of short term prison sentences, without testing, piloting or properly costing Chris Grayling and the

Ministry of Justice are creating several more.

“The only way to deal with this shambles is to stand up against the bullying.

“We’re striking in solidarity with others across the justice and wider public sector.

“We’re striking to defend public services and the welfare state.

“The model they are using to split services is flawed every way you look at it.

“It’s dangerous, and putting big business before public safety in ways that will place our communities at risk.”

Under the Ministry of Justice plans, most probation work supervising low and medium-risk offenders,would be outsourced to private firms and voluntary groups.

Higher risk offenders would still be managed by probation officers.

Solicitors are angry at planned cuts to legal aid fees which are paid to criminal lawyers.

They estimate two thirds of legal aid firms will be forced to close as they will no longer be able to afford to run.

Staff from NAPO, Unison and local solicitors are taking action today, and will protest outside magistrates’ courts in Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster.

It could mean delays to court proceedings.

A May Day protest takes place in Sheffield city centre at noon on May 3.