Survey launched in fight to defend probation service

The government wants to centralise and privatise the probation service – and UNISON needs your help to fight back against this.

The probation service in England and Wales works. It’s only a small service, with 16,000 staff across 35 local probation trusts, but it delivers major benefits to local communities.

UNISON members work as offender managers, hostel workers, victim liaison officers, case administrators, community payback supervisors and a wide range of other essential roles.

Their task is to keep communities safe by supervising offenders when they are released from jail, helping offenders to get their lives back on track and looking after the interests of victims of crime.

But justice secretary Chris Grayling wants to break up the probation service by abolishing the 35 local trusts and creating 21 government companies in their place, then selling off the companies to the private sector and creating a small national probation service within the Ministry of Justice to supervise the most dangerous offenders.

On 25 June, the government’s Offender Rehabilitation Bill suffered a serious set-back in the House of Lords when peers insisted that the justice secretary bring his controversial reform plans before both houses of Parliament before implementation.

To maintain the momentum following the government’s defeat in the Lords, UNISON is now surveying all our probation members to ask them:

  • do you oppose the government’s plans to break up probation and privatise it;
  • would you be willing to take industrial action, up to and including strike action, to defend your job, your terms and conditions and pensions, if necessary, in the face of the government’s reforms?

Survey forms will arrive at members’ home addresses from today, 8 July. It is vital that all members who receive a form answer both questions and send the form back to UNISON in the pre-paid envelope provided.

This will help us to carry on the campaign to save the probation service from the government’s attacks. We need to know that members are behind us and willing to support collective action as necessary.

UNISON national officer for police and justice Ben Priestley said: “The government’s defeat in the Lords gives us a real opportunity to double our efforts to fight off these dangerous plans to break up probation.

“If you receive a survey form from UNISON in the post, please do take the time to answer the questions and send back to us.

“This will show the government that we mean business when we say that probation must ‘stay public – stay local’.”

UNISON in police and justice

Key issue: probation – keep it public and local