Labour calls for publication of report detailing risks of privatised probation

Labour has accused Ministers of blocking publication of an internal risk assessment on probation changes which will see around 70 per cent of rehabilitation work handed to the private sector and voluntary organisations.

The Ministry of Justice has rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act for the risk register to be published, the Opposition said.

Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said: “Because of the Government’s secrecy, we don’t know whether the public’s safety is being endangered. What have they got to hide?”

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The Labour frontbencher accused the Government of taking “an enormous gamble with public safety” by going ahead with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s policy.

He said: “There is no evidence that their ill-thought through plans will work. Instead of rushing ahead they should be looking for evidence of what works to reduce re-offending.

“What makes it worse is their refusal to publish their own assessment of the riskiness of their half-baked plans. Labour has requested sight of their risk assessment, but Ministers have blocked publication.”

Mr Khan added: “At a time when the Government is considering allowing big private companies to run our courts and to take over some roles from the police, they also want the supervision of dangerous offenders taken over by global corporations more interested in profit than public safety.”

Labour peers will today attempt to amend the Offender Rehabilitation Bill to ensure the plans are debated in the Lords.

The amendments call for the plans to proceed only after they have been fully trialled and independently evaluated to make sure there are no risks to public safety.

The changes, dubbed by the Government as a “’rehabilitation revolution”’, will see a greater role for private and voluntary sector organisations, which will be paid by results is they can reduce re-offending.

The Government says the reforms are necessary to tackle re-offending, as more than 58 per cent of prisoners serving fewer than 12 months commit further crime within a year of release.

It will make it harder for offenders to evade supervision by moving home while and it will also see England and Wales divided into 21 areas, which align with local authorities and police and crime commissioner areas.

A spokesman for Mr Grayling described Labour’s claims as “typical scaremongering”.

He said: “Labour is also conveniently forgetting that the first trial of the approach we are planning showed a significant drop in reoffending rates, and that the legislation that makes these reforms possible was passed by them.

“We have been fully transparent about our plans for transforming rehabilitation. We have consulted extensively and are publishing further information on a regular basis to support the programme.

“Last year around 600,000 offences were committed by those who had broken the law before - this is despite spending £4bn a year on prisons and probation.”