Privatised probation for 17,000 in region

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THE rehabilitation of more than 17,000 offenders in Yorkshire and the Humber will be handed over to the private sector and voluntary organisations as part of a major Government shake-up.

New reforms announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling will see private firms and charities rewarded on a “payment by results” basis on their work with medium and low-risk offenders.

The changes mean all probation work not relating to the 30 per cent of highest-risk offenders will be taken away from the public sector.

All offenders who enter prison will also now be subject to a new year-long supervision and given support through housing, employment, training and substance abuse programmes.

Offenders serving short-term custodial sentences have until now not been given any formal supervision after leaving prison.

There are currently 24,500 offenders on the caseload of probation workers in Yorkshire and the Humber, though the proposed changes mean 17,000 will transfer to the new providers.

A further 3,800 cases are expected to come into the system because of the new supervision being given to those serving short-term prison sentences.

The move means an uncertain future for hundreds of probation workers in the region who will be transferred to private providers.

Sue Hall, who chairs the Probation Chiefs Association, said: “It does feel like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It feels like a drastic step that will have significant risks to achieve something that could have been achieved by other methods.”

Mr Grayling said the reforms would tackle “our stubbornly high reoffending rates” which have “dogged successive governments for decades”. He said: “These reforms represent a golden opportunity to finally turn the tide and put a stopper in the revolving door of the justice system.”