Derbyshire’s Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Hardyal Dhindsa, is concerned that Government plans to privatise the management of most offenders could heighten the risk of harm to the public.
Mr Dhindsa, who was formerly Area Manager at Nottinghamshire Probation Trust, believes the Government is acting with “undue haste” in planning to roll out its reforms across England and Wales by 2015.
He commented: “The safety of our communities must come first and, to ensure this, all the criminal justice agencies need to work together with our partners to reach the best solution.”
He went on: “I am hearing considerable concern from probation workers and other agencies at the idea of low and medium risk offenders being managed by private organisations when these are the offenders who are the most likely to re-offend. I also have some concerns at the concept of payment by results, which is an unproven way of working in this area.
“Many questions remain unanswered – including why these proposals are being made at all since they fly in the face of the very good performance of all Probation Trusts in reducing re-offending and helping to manage offenders in the community.”
The Ministry of Justice intends to contract out 70 per cent of the Probation Service to the private sector with a view to reducing re-offending rates for the most prolific offenders. Its radical reforms to the way criminals are rehabilitated would mean every offender leaving prison must serve a minimum of 12 months under supervision in the community.
Mr Dhindsa added: “I welcome this proposal because previously there has been no additional funding available for work with offenders with less sentences of less than 12 months. This effectively means that The Probation Trust has not been able to target resources towards these individuals who are in fact the most likely to reoffend. Why not give this money to The Probation Trust to ensure equally effective reductions in reoffending rates as they have for other types of work?
“Reoffending rates have barely changed in a decade, and more than 58 per cent of prisoners serving less than 12 months go on to commit further crimes within a year of release.”
Announced in the Queen’s Speech on 8 May, the Offender Rehabilitation Bill aims to open up probation services to a wide range of providers, including from the private and voluntary sectors, saving the taxpayer money through a system of payment by results.
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Posted on Tuesday 28th May 2013