Delegates to the UNISON police and justice conference in Southport highlighted the problems caused by increasing privatisation in the probation sector.
The National Probation Service has proposed extending the use of private providers in approved premises for accommodation for prisoners who have recently left custody. This proposal would see night shifts contracted out to private providers.
Neil Brookes from North West probation and The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) branch told conference that approved premises staff were trained to manage risk and rehabilitate people back into the community.
Noting that night-time is “when our real work begins,” because that is when dangerous situations are most likely to occur, he explained that having two properly trained staff is therefore vital.
Another member who has worked in assisted premises for three years said that she had been kicked and punched during the night shift, and emphasised the importance of having a trained colleague to work with during the night.
The police and justice service group executive will work to highlight the importance of properly trained, permanent staff in assisted premises.