South Yorkshire probation jobs row

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Angry South Yorkshire Probation staff have hit out after discovering their future careers were decided - by picking their names out of a hat.

Under a controversial government restructure of the service, 87 South Yorkshire workers were randomly allocated to either the public sector Probation Service, which deals with more serious offenders, or private sector Community Rehabilitation Companies, dealing with lower level criminals.

The issue was raised with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in Parliament by MP for Chesterfield Tony Perkins after he was contacted by a constituent.

She wrote to the South Yorkshire Probation Trust after hearing a ‘disturbing rumour’ names were drawn out of a hat - rather than jobs being allocated on the basis of skills and experience.

The trust replied: “There was a random selection process and employee numbers were used to select between NPS and CRC.

“Employee numbers were drawn out of a hat by a panel of three.”

Mr Perkins raised the matter in Parliament last week but Justice Secretary Chris Grayling denied the claims, adding: “There was a carefully constructed process of selection.”

Tania Basssett from probation union NAPO said his claims were untrue.

She said: “Staff are very angry and feel extremely devalued by the government. I think this demonstrates just how out of touch Chris Grayling is.

“He doesn’t care about the impact this has on staff and the public.

“He urgently needs to revise the assignment process.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We worked closely with unions on the process for staff allocations, and set out a robust approach, based primarily on an objective assessment of existing workloads as well as expressions of interest.

“Any member of staff who was unhappy with their allocation was able to appeal.”