Handing over the supervision of offenders to a private security company for the first time marks “the end of the probation service”, critics have warned.
Serco, along with the London Probation Trust, has won the four-year contract to run community payback schemes across the capital in a move which will save £25m.
But outsourcing a major area of probation work is bound to lead to job cuts, falling standards and more reoffending, the probation union Napo claimed.
Harry Fletcher, the union’s assistant general secretary, said: “This marks the end of the probation service.
“It’s ironic that the commencement of the privatisation process for probation comes at a time when it has never been more effective and efficient.”
But Probation Minister Crispin Blunt said the partnership was “a real game-changer” which “will drive innovation and value through the criminal justice system”.
“In time, this approach will be copied throughout England.”