Staff to strike over privatisation plans

Lancaster Probation Office.'Lancashire  Probation Trust, Lancaster Office.
Lancaster Probation Office.'Lancashire Probation Trust, Lancaster Office.
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Probation staff in Lancaster will join colleagues across the country in a strike over government privatisation plans.

The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) will take strike action between 12pm on November 5 and 12pm on November 6 in protest against the government’s Transforming Rehabilitiation Bill, which is currently being debated in parliament.

The changes would see at least half of the service privatised to become Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), who would supervise low to medium risk offenders, with the other half joining a new public sector body, the National Probation Service, to look after high-risk offenders.

There are currently 40 members of probation staff based in West Road, Lancaster, managing 600-800 clients at any one time.

The Morecambe office was shut last year, with staff being moved to Lancaster.

Jo Williams, a probation officer for 16 years, and co-chair of NAPO in Lancashire, said: “Chris Grayling has already advertised the sale of probation services.

“It’s being advertised to companies like G4S and others are preparing bids for the work.

“One of our many concerns is the impact this will have on public safety.

“There will be payments by results contracts, but these are based on very short terms of three to four months, whereas probation contracts can go on for up to two years.

“Ultimately private companies are motivated by profit

“It’s hard to see the logic to this and its taking risks with public safety. The principle that justice is managed by the state is being eroded, and there is a serious risk this will boost re-offending”

The government said it was “disappointed” with the planned strikes, but would continue to engage with unions.