The failures of Chris Grayling in his current role as Transport Secretary have been well-documented by this newspaper and others, but now a damning new report has highlighted the damaging legacy of his time in charge of the Ministry of Justice.
As Justice Secretary, Mr Grayling was responsible for introducing a controversial part-privatisation of the probation service, which saw 35 trusts replaced in 2014 with 21 privately-owned Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and the public-sector National Probation Service.
Put simply, the results of the overhaul - which was known as Transforming Rehabilitation - have been disastrous.
Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey has highlighted a catalogue of failings including a national staff shortage, sub-standard performance of private providers and shortcomings in protecting victims – and said the public could be a “lot safer” than is currently the case.
Eight out of 10 CRCs to be inspected since January 2018 have been rated inadequate for implementing and delivering supervision of criminals, while a growing lack of judicial confidence in the system is believed to be leading to more people being sent to jail due to judges fearing that sentences of community punishments will not be properly administered by probation services.
Dame Glenys has said that public ownership is a “safer option” for core probation work, while the Ministry of Justice plans to end the existing CRC contracts early in 2020 and revise the existing structures.
But the chief inspector’s report makes clear that tens of thousands of offenders are currently being supervised under a system which is “irredeemably flawed” – words that also aptly describe the continuing employment of Mr Grayling in the loftiest echelons of British politics.