Probation staff in England and Wales, who work for the National Probation Service (NPS) and the 21 privatised community rehabilitation companies (CRCs), are today (Friday) staging a day of protest to call for a long overdue pay rise.
Their unions – Napo and UNISON – say that the 18,000 probation staff have been treated more harshly than other public sector workers, and received just a single 1% pay increase since 2009.
Probation workers manage some of the most dangerous offenders in the community. They oversee their rehabilitation, and supervise and monitor them to keep local communities safe, say unions.
UNISON and Napo say the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms have seen a once high performing service abolished and replaced with two new partly privatised bodies.
The two unions believe that staff employed by the NPS and CRCs have paid a high price as a result of these ‘disastrous’ probation reforms.
Earlier this year, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation revealed that the private companies were ‘overstretched’ and ‘struggling’ to enforce community sentences being handed down by the courts.
UNISON national officer Ben Priestley said: “The government’s attempt at reform has been nothing short of disastrous. Last year, ministers bailed out the failing privatised companies to the tune of £342m. Yet they can’t find a penny to increase pay for dedicated staff keeping the probation service going in extremely challenging circumstances.
“Money set aside for a pay rise was reallocated to the CRC bail out and a prison staff pay increase. No wonder probation workers feel so devalued and demoralised. It’s high time they got a decent pay rise.”
Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Our members have yet again been side lined for a pay rise whilst propping up the private companies. Probation staff face ever-increasing workloads, increased stress, failing ICT systems and a nine-year pay freeze.
“It is wholly unacceptable and the MOJ faces yet more cuts over the next few years with our members being taken for granted. Probation needs a pay rise and a full pay reform as a matter of urgency.”
Notes to editors:
The reforms replaced the previous 35 individual probation trusts with a single National Probation Service, responsible for the management of high-risk offenders, and with 21 private CRCs to manage low to medium risk offenders in England and Wales.
HMIP published a report into probation on 6 February 2018.