St Albans councillor to raise probation privatisation fears
PUBLISHED: 09:03 09 July 2013 | UPDATED: 09:10 09 July 2013
FEARS that there may no longer be a probation presence in St Albans have been voiced in the wake of Government plans to privatise the service.
Members of the Chiltern Counties branch of the union Napo, which represents probation staff, have been collecting signatures in the city centre opposing the privatisation plan which has been put forward to the House of Lords by Lib Dem Justice Minister Lord McNally, who lives in St Albans.
Last week peers voted in favour of both houses having to approve any alteration or reform to the probation service before new measures could be approved which is likely to result in some delay in implementing the proposals.
The issue is due to be raised by Labour Cllr Jacob Quagliozzi at Wednesday’s (July 10) full meeting of St Albans council. He will be calling for support in persuading the government to withdraw its proposals to outsource probation service work to the private sector.
Gordon Jackson, branch secretary of Napo who lives in the city, warned that the delivery of probation services to around 600 people in the St Albans district would be impacted if the Herts probation service no longer existed.
Justice Minister Chris Grayling announced in May that 70 per cent of the probation service nationally would be contracted out to the private sector on the grounds that it had failed to deliver sufficient reductions in reoffending.
All work with low and medium risk offenders would go out to the private or voluntary sector with work with high risk offenders remaining within the existing service.
Gordon said: “At this stage there appears to be no clear plan as to how those subject to supervision by the current probation service will be managed. We are told that there will be a new probation service which will be responsible for those presenting a high risk of harm to the public and the remainder will be managed by private providers.
“How this will actually happen has not been outlined; for instance we do not know whether a ‘probation presence’ will remain in St Albans.”
Gordon added: “A lot of people don’t know what the probation service does and that is a good thing because it means nothing has gone wrong. That is why I decided we should do something locally and try and get local councillors on board.”
He is hoping to meet St Albans MP Anne Main next week with a view to persuading her to process Napo’s concerns in the House of Commons.
Cllr Quagliozzi, who will call on the council to write to Lord McNally outlining its concerns, said: “This is a key local service, which performs well. It can do better and there is much to do to reduce re-offending. But to dismantle it like this is pure public service vandalism. These are huge risks to take with public safety. I hope council will join me in condemning these dangerous reforms.”