South West PCCs welcome return of probation to the public sector
Police and Crime Commissioners from across the South West welcome the Government’s announcement that the supervision of thousands of offenders will return to the National Probation Service.
The five Police and Crime Commissioners serving Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and Swindon have been lobbying the Ministry of Justice for a change to the model following concerns and a series of critical reports.
The Ministry of Justice began partially privatising the probation service in 2013, which involved 21 'community rehabilitation companies'.
In February, the community rehabilitation company serving the South West, Working Links, went into administration. Dame Glenys Stacey, the Chief Inspector of Probation, in March described the partial privatisation model as 'irredeemably flawed'.
Responding to today's Government announcement, Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill, said: “The decision to partially privatise this key public function was severely flawed, as demonstrated by the collapse of the Community Rehabilitation Company serving the South West earlier this year.
“My regional colleagues and I have argued for years that probation is far too important an issue to be placed into the hands of a network of private companies and I am glad the government has finally seen sense on this issue. We will now be working with the Ministry of Justice to make sure the service’s transition back into the public sector is as smooth as possible.”
Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “I’m really pleased that the Ministry of Justice has listened to the concerns of all of the South West PCCs.
“We’ve responded to the Government’s consultation and have held honest discussions with Ministers regarding our worries over the effectiveness of the community rehabilitation companies.
“All PCCs across the South West are committed to delivering local solutions which fit the needs of our own areas. We want to work the Ministry of Justice to involve the third sector and local employers.
"We’ve already set up the South West regional reducing reoffending board so we can respond to this change and be in a position to start work straight away better supporting people released from jail after serving short sentences. We all want to better rehabilitate offenders, reduce offending and ultimately cut crime in our communities.”
Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said: “If offenders are not supported effectively on their release from prison, then reoffending rates will remain high. More crime means more victims of crime which is unacceptable. Clearly, the reforms made in 2013 have failed and the system is broken.
“Like many PCCs who opposed the changes I firmly believe probation is a role for the state. We all now have a responsibility to ensure that any future plans do better and my office and I are keen to play an integral part of that.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Wiltshire and Swindon, Angus Macpherson said: “This is a very positive step forward in rehabilitating offenders both those who receive custodial sentence and those who receive community or suspended sentences.
“It’s important that offender management is consistent and we recognise that individuals have differing needs and a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t the answer.
“I look forward to continuing to work alongside fellow South West PCCs to improve rehabilitation in the region.”