Report reveals Gloucestershire probation privatisation failure

UNISON calls for action following a government report by Dame Glenys Stacey criticising the parts of the probation service in Gloucestershire run by Working Links, a Community Rehabilitation Company.

The report stated:

“The National Probation Service was performing reasonably well, and the public can be reassured that those people who pose a higher risk are generally being supervised to an acceptable standard in Gloucestershire, although more could be done to reduce the risk that individuals reoffend.

“The picture was much more troubling at the Community Rehabilitation Company, where there have been drastic staff cuts to try and balance the books. Those remaining are under mounting pressure and carrying unacceptable workloads that prevent them doing a good job.

“This CRC’s work is so far below par that its owner and government need to work together urgently to improve matters, so that those under supervision and the general public receive the service they rightly expect, and the staff that remain can do the job they so wish to do.”

UNISON regional organiser Michael Sweetman said:

“This sadly comes as no surprise to UNISON and the other probation unions. We warned three years ago that splitting the probation service in half and selling chunks to profit-making companies would lead to failure. This outsourcing experiment has gambled with the safety of our communities and needs to end. The previous model of probation trusts was better for staff and better for reducing reoffending.

“Dame Glenys Stacey is absolutely right to identify staff cuts and unmanageable workloads as a major part of the reason for Working Links’ failure to deliver. We have been in dispute with Working Links for over a year now over a list of issues including workloads, job losses and changes to contracts. Sadly during this time many experienced probation staff have left in despair rather than stay and watch the deterioration of their profession.

“Ultimately this is a problem which was created by central government, and only central government can make it right. We need a full parliamentary inquiry into the failure not just of Working Links, but of all CRCs and the entire disastrous privatisation programme.”

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