Lydia Finnegan, researcher at Inclusion, asks crucial questions on the privatisation of the probation service in her latest blog post.
Last week, plans were announced which will dramatically alter the way probation services are delivered; putting a large proportion out to competitive tender. Attempting to address the fact that short sentence (<12 months) prisoners leave custody without supervision from the Probation Service, Chris Grayling is justifiably demonstrating concern for the prolific short sentence offenders who cycle in and out of prison and incur great cost to the public purse. It seems logical to introduce some form of provision for a group who have the highest rates of reoffending of all prisoners.
However, does the need to rehabilitate this heterogeneous group and reduce the costs associated with them necessitate the privatisation of a large part of the probation service? Is prison the best place to begin the rehabilitation of these non-violent offenders in the first place? How will the new contracted out services differ from those already delivered by offender managers?