The future of probation services and the Transforming Rehabilitation programme were for the first time debated on BBC Question Time last night (31 October 2013), as concerns over the reforms continue to move up the political agenda.
The Question Time debate on probation can be viewed at approx. ’40 mins’ into the following link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b03glqpy/Question_Time_31_10_2013/
Paris Lees, an influential journalist, discussed the positive influence which probation services had on changing her life around after a previous criminal conviction.
The focus of extending probation and ‘through the gate’ services to those serving less than 12 months custodial sentences, who as a group have the highest reoffending rates and currently receive no statutory probation supervision, was welcomed.
However, the audience from St Austell, Cornwall, questioned the Government’s approach of dismantling high performing Probation Trusts to achieve this goal, and raised concerns over the implications of privatisation for future service quality and public safety.
The PCA have long argued that Probation Trusts should be devolved greater responsibilities. As an alternative to privatisation, Probation Trusts would welcome the challenge of extending supervision to those on short-term custodial sentences, working with local voluntary and private sector partners to achieve effective ‘through the gate’ services.
This alternative approach would avoid the public safety risks and transitionary upheaval presented by the Transforming Rehabilitation reform plans, whilst achieving the Government’s primary goal of extending rehabilitative support for the under 12 months group.
The Question Time debate followed an opposition debate in Parliament (30 October) where many MPs argued that Probation Trusts should be given responsibility for the ‘rehabilitation revolution’.
A detailed briefing has been prepared by the PCA giving an update on the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms:
Earlier this week a joint letter was published by Police & Crime Commissioners outlining their strong concerns over the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. In a separate article on the front page of the Guardian newspaper (29 October 2013) it was reported that Chairs of Probation Trusts have written to the Secretary of State over the public safety risks presented by the scale and pace of transition.
View the PCC letter here.. http://www.gmpcc.org.uk/news/probation-privatisation-risks-public-safety-commissioners-warn/
View the Guardian article here.. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/28/chris-grayling-delay-probation-service-privatisation
For all PCA media enquiries please call 020 3657 7844