Today I gave a speech to NAPO, the professional body for probation employees. They were such a nice, thoughtful and talented group of people to spend my afternoon with.
I set out what a disaster the privatisation of much of the probation service has been since services for the so called “less serious offenders” were transferred into 21 “Community Rehabilitation Companies”: leaving a fractured and under-performing system.
The following damning reports give you a flavour:
- The Chief Inspectorate of Probation 2017 Annual Report released in December 2017 stated: “the quality of CRC work to protect the public is generally poor”; that “Government reform of probation has created a ‘two-tier and fragmented’ system in which private companies are performing significantly worse than public sector elements” and “CRCs have reduced staff numbers, some to a worrying extent.”
- A report from the Chief Inspectors of Probation and Prison in June 2017 stated: “CRCs are making little difference to their prospects on release. …The overall picture was bleak. If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.”
- A recent National Audit Office report showed that the 21 private probation companies on average met just one-third of the 24 targets set to them by the Ministry of Justice.
- Tens of thousands of offenders – up to 40% of the total – being supervised by telephone calls every six weeks instead of face-to-face meetings, according to the chief inspector of probation.
And this really matters in our area as the figures for crime in Leicestershire are rapidly getting worse:
- Recorded crime in Leicestershire has risen by more than a fifth (21%) from 2016 to 2017, from 65,717 offences recorded by police in 2016 to 79,250 in 2017, a rise of 13,533 crimes.
- Among the types of crime seeing a big rise was violence against the person: a 29% rise in 2017.
- A 27% rise in reports of sexual offences between 2016 and 2017, with a total of 1,991 sexual offences reported last year.
- Possession of weapons offences were up, with a 43% rise in 2017, one of the biggest increases in England and Wales.
- Drug offences were also rising, up 28% in a year.
This matches with what I hear anecdotally is happening in Loughborough. Yes, Labour’s 10,000 additional police officers nationwide would address this crime. But in terms of the causes of crime, probation is essential, meaning ending the debacle of the privatised CRCs is essential. And Labour will end it.
On the back of the Carillion debacle, when it went bust owing £7 billion, this is yet more evidence that the private sector has no place running our public services. We are out on a limb as a country with the Economist calling us the “world-leader” in the privatisation of public services. It has been a colossul experiment. It has failed.