Thursday 21 March 2013

Probation Officers Face Social Media Gag As Outsourcing Row Rumbles On

As reported in The Guardian on Thursday 21st March 2013: 
"Justice secretary tells staff they risk disciplinary action if they publicly 'undermine' plan to outsource their work with offenders".

To read the full article in The Guardian please click here.

Thank you and well done to The Guardian for highlighting this issue and bringing it to the public's attention. It's astonishing. Are we living in a police state or a democracy? Chris Grayling and Michael Gove should be ashamed of their bully boy tactics. Are people not allowed to voice an opinion or express a view on government policies now? Whatever happened to freedom of speech and what exactly are government ministers afraid of? Threatening to suspend or even sack staff for daring to question the path the government are going down is not the answer and it renders all talk of a 'consultation process' utterly meaningless. 

Putting a gag on Probation Officers opinions of government plans to effectively privatise 70% of the probation service is no way to have an open and honest debate on the subject. Is it? Probation Officers know what they're talking about, they know the service and are properly trained in dealing with offenders in an effective way. Government ministers would be well advised to listen carefully to what they have to say before rushing into making decisions about reforming the Probation Service. 

From my own personal viewpoint, and I stress that it is just my own viewpoint (if I'm allowed to have an opinion that is), it could look as if these reforms are being introduced primarily as a cost saving measure with management of offenders being left in the hands of well meaning but ultimately unskilled and untrained people rather than trained professionals as it is at present. I see no obvious benefits to either society or offenders. Payment by results is it? Well, just remember one thing: You get what you pay for and there will be no going back once you reduce the size of the Probation Service as drastically as is being proposed. If re-offending increases and the public are put at risk as a direct result of these proposed changes to the Probation Service then someone in government will be answerable, no one else. Sadly it may be too late as the government seem to have already made their minds up that this is the path they wish to run down, irrespective of what comes out of any consultation process.

Is privatisation the answer? I seem to remember that privatising security at the 2012 London Olympics wasn't too successful so maybe there's a lesson to be learned there. 

Rant over.

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