St Albans probation staff walkout over privatisation plans

St Albans Probation staff walkout

St Albans Probation staff walkout - Credit: Archant

Probation staff in St Albans joined colleagues in other parts of the county by staging a 24-hour walkout on Tuesday lunchtime.

The action was to protest against Government plans to privatise the service and was organised by Napo, the trade union for probation and family court staff.

The union got overwhelming support when it balloted members nationally last month over whether to take industrial action against plans by the Secretary of State Chris Grayling to privatise 70 per cent of the probation service.

The Government announced in May that it intended to fragment the service into 21 private companies - including G4S and Serco – which would supervise all but the highest risk offenders.

Protesting staff set up pickets outside the probation office in Victoria Street, St Albans, from midday on Tuesday.

Mark Ewington, vice chair of Chiltern Counties Napo branch, said: “The members of the public we spoke to today were overwhelmingly against the idea of a large company like G4S, which spectacularly failed during the Olympics, being given so much responsibility for supervising offenders.

“The highly-skilled work that probation workers in Hertfordshire do is one of the reasons that crime is low and the county is a relatively safe place to live.

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“Much of this excellent work will fall by the wayside if profit-driven companies are in charge.”

A petition on proposed changes to the service was presented in the House of Commons in September by St Albans MP Anne Main on behalf of Napo which had been collecting signatures in the city centre.

The petition voiced concerns that privatisation proposals for the service could mean that there might be longer be a probation presence in St Albans.