Privatisation of Probation Services in the National Offender Management Services

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2005 Local Government Service Group Conference
25 February 2005

Conference notes with extreme concern that the creation of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) threatens to privatise many Probation Services, worsen provision to clients and drive down the terms and conditions of probation staff. This threat has been exacerbated by the undue delay in the Government agreeing to extend the two-tier workforce protections to the Probation Service

Conference notes in particular that:

1)The Government’s vision for NOMS will split the Probation Service into an artificial purchaser/provider model

2)Offender manager ‘purchasers’ will then be forced to put services out to tender to the private sector under so-called ‘contestability’

3)The existing privatised probation hostels contract has been a shambolic failure, with poorer services for higher costs

4)The Government’s hostels staffing review threatens to de-skill UNISON Assistant Warden/Hostel Supervisor members as an obvious precursor to privatisation

5)Wages for staff in privatised prisons fell 25% following privatisation

6)On an hourly basis, public sector prison officer pay rates are, on average 50% higher than private sector comparators

Conference reiterates UNISON’s outright opposition to the privatisation of probation services under NOMS and calls upon the Service Group to:

a)Continue to press the Government to fulfil the Warwick pledge to extend the two-tier workforce protections to the Probation Service

b)Work with Napo and the other criminal justice trade unions to vigorously oppose any initiatives to privatise services under NOMS

c)Organise members and non-members in probation around the threat that privatisation presents to services and terms and conditions

d)Continue to work with UNISON regions to find the best local solutions to probation member branch organisation

e)Support industrial action approved under UNISON procedures to resist privatisation