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Members of National Association of Probation Officers strike against plans to privatise service
Haringey's probation officers took part in a nationwide walk out to protest against government plans to privatise the probation service.
Members of National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) went on strike yesterday afternoon after plans were announced to award probation contracts to security companies G4S and Serco.
Stephen Young, of Haringey’s probation service, said taxpayer’s money should not be used to line the pockets of private companies who make profits out of the criminal justice system.
He said: “These are profit-driven companies and their aim will always be to make more money – privatising the probation service will make crime profitable.
“The Government argues that the probation service needs to be privatised because of the high rate of reoffending.
“But reoffending rates have been going down year on year.”
Last year the probation service was give the gold standard award for being the highest performing department of the country's civil service.
Robert Cordova, another probation officer, said the change to service will put the public at risk.
He said: “Under the private companies probation officers will not need to be trained as well.
“Right now you have to a bachelor’s degree and two years' training before you can become a probation officer but not under the new rules.
“Some of the people these companies will be deal with will be violent offenders, sex offenders and burglars.”
Doubts have been cast over the plans since the Serious Fraud Office announced it was investigating the Government's contracts with G4S and Serco for tagging criminals.
It comes after an audit suggested the firms had been charging for tagging criminals who were either dead, in jail or never tagged in the first place.
The Ministry of Justice claims no jobs will be lost during the change but NAPO says wage cuts are likely.
The privatisation of the probation service is expected to begin as soon as March, 2014.
Justice minister Jeremy Wright said the strike was disappointing as positive progress was being made.
He said: "This is a strike in favour of the status quo, which is high reoffending rates and no support for 50,000 short sentenced offenders each year who are currently released without any supervision and go on to commit so much crime in our communities.
"We have well established contingency plans to deal with any potential action.
“We will continue to support staff and engage with unions as our important reforms move forwards."
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