UNISON is backing a call for probation services in England and Wales to be brought back into public ownership.
The launch of a petition by campaign group We Own It comes days after a joint letter to justice secretary David Gauke on the issue from UNISON, GMB and probation officers’ union NAPO.
That, in turn, followed the collapse of one of the ‘community rehabilitation companies’ which have took over probation services for ‘non-serious’ offenders under former justice secretary Chris Grayling’s privatisation in 2015.
The company Working Links, went into administration in early February. It operated contracts covering probation in Wales, Avon and Somerset, and Devon and Cornwall. Those contracts and staff have now been transferred to another private company.
UNISON is urging its members, and the public, to sign the We Own It petition calling for the government to bring the service back in-house when all the current community rehabilitation contracts end in 2020 – two years earlier than planned because of the problems encountered in the privatised service.
We Own It points out that since the government put 70% of England and Wales’ probation into private hands:
- the new community rehabilitation companies are failing to meet two thirds of their targets;
- ex-offenders are finding it harder to reintegrate back into society, and more of them are reoffending;
- the number of people committing a serious further offence while under probation supervision has risen 20%.