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Probation officers go on strike
PROBATION officers in Salisbury are among thousands in England and Wales on strike today over the Government’s plans to privatise large parts of the Probation Service.
Members of the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) walked out at midday for 24 hours.
Mike Taylor, secretary of the Wiltshire branch of Napo, said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is misleading the public with his plans for “payment-by-results”, with private companies and charities currently bidding for £450m worth of contracts.
Grayling wants to tackle low and medium risk offenders who are sentenced to less than 12 months. Figures show 70 per cent of these reoffend and the new plans would mean private companies such as G4S and Serco would supervise, for at least 12 months, anyone sentenced to more than one day in custody.
But Mr Taylor said using those figures is misleading because the Probation Service has not failed to stop these people from reoffending as they have never been responsible for supervising people sentenced to less than 12 months. He said they would be able to take on supervision of the lower risk offenders, but it would mean an increase in the workload of 50,000 people.
The union claims that if the work goes to private companies it could cost the public more money in the long run.
The strike, which affects about 7,500 staff, will only be the union’s fourth strike in its century of existence.
Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “Napo does not take strike action lightly but we have been presented with an impossible timetable.”
The Ministry of Justice said it has contingency plans in place during the strike action.
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