In an Opposition Day Debate today (30th October 2013) local Labour MP, Tom Blenkinsop, will attempt to highlight some of his concerns over Government proposals to privatise the Probation Service.
In the Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust area – which includes Tom’s Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland constituency – the number of supervised offenders in 2012 was 7917 and many of these were guilty of serious crimes including robbery, sex attacks and burglaries. Currently they are being supervised by highly trained professional probation officers that, under the Government’s plans, will be off-loaded to private companies such as G4S and Serco.
“It’s disappointing that today is the first real opportunity to even debate these proposals; ones that could see private companies with a record of failure being responsible for people who have committed crimes like domestic violence, burglary, robbery and sexual violence. There hasn’t even been a pilot of the plans for one of the biggest overhauls ever of such a vital service.
“You can’t take risks with public safety yet this is precisely what the Government is doing with their reckless plans to privatise the Probation Service. Handing over supervision for serious and violent offenders to the same companies that time and again let down the taxpayer is a recipe for disaster.
“Since these plans aren’t due to be implemented until 2015 there is no reason that the Government cannot put those fears to bed.
“Instead of ploughing on, at the very least they need to establish a pilot, find out what works and what doesn’t and then proceed accordingly. If it is a complete failure then have more respect for the system that is currently in place and see what is working there, build on that and eliminate the weaknesses.”