31 May 2019
On the 16th of May, the Ministry of Justice announced plans to bring the probation service into public ownership, after months of campaigning by We Own It supporters and allies. This is fantastic news, but as always with these announcements, the devil is in the detail. This is our email to the Ministry of Justice regarding the decision and what needs to happen next:
We're very pleased that this step has been taken to bring the majority of the probation service into public ownership. It's proof that Chris Grayling’s privatisation reforms were a complete failure and further evidence that privatisation has no place in delivering essential public services.
However, we're disappointed at the role the private sector continues to have in delivering certain rehabilitation services within the probation service.
We don't feel that it is necessary to contract these rehabilitation services out and feel very strongly that the contractual system does not incentivise good service delivery.
Dame Glenys Stacey, in her damning review of the privatised probation service, expressed concerns about “contracts that treat probation as a transactional business.”
Giving grants for voluntary sector organisations (such as drug and alcohol charities) to provide specific specialist interventions is one thing but by continuing to force regional probation authorities to contract out some services to private providers, the government has completely missed the point, and fails to fix the problems of the old system.
We also echo calls from UNISON, The Howard League, and Napo for the probation service to be run locally, rather than regionally or nationally in a ‘one-size-fits-all’ service.
Running probation locally would avoid further damaging top-down reorganisations of the service, and would restore the confidence of probation staff.
We will continue to demand a fully unified, publicly owned and provided probation service, which is administered locally.
The We Own It team