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Public 'Could Be At Risk', Say Workers

Friday July 26 2013


We Are Barnsley We Are Barnsley


THE public could be at serious risk from offenders should the government privatise part of the probation service, Barnsley workers have claimed.

Staff are fighting national plans to privatise 70 per cent of the service, which would split the workload between the public and private sector.

Barnsley members of the National Association of Probation Officers set up a campaign group and protested in the town centre to make people aware of the future they are facing.

They are encouraging the public to sign a petition that will challenge the government over the proposed changes, which they say will see a 'payment by results' policy brought in.

A Barnsley NAPO representative said workers want to get the message across that payment by results will put the public at risk from low and medium risk offenders who would be managed by the private sector under the new arrangements.

He said this could include child protection cases, violence against the person and domestic violence cases, offenders with vulnerabilities and mental health problems, sex offenders and offenders at high risk of re-offending, such as prolific burglars and drug users.

He said part privatisation will not only pose huge risks but also end the effective local community partnerships probation has built up, and put staff at risk of redundancy.

"The secretary of state for justice Chris Grayling's cunning plan is to separate the whole of the probation work, retaining a public sector to deal with high risk individuals and the court work, and the remaining medium and low risk cases will be competed out to voluntary and private sectors, on a payments by results basis.

"No-one knows how this is going to work and Mr Grayling wants to do it in 12 months.

"We have considerable issues with the plan given the medium risk cases will include domestic, physical and sexual abuse offenders. These are potentially dangerous people who will be handed over to security firms who will have no experience with managing people in the community."

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