Justice Ministers continue to face close questioning on the state of the Probation Service and the failings of the CRCs from supportive MPs. Two things stand out from the latest Justice Oral Questions session on Tuesday this week.
Firstly, Rory Stewart saying that the CRCs will be fully staffed by spring next year! This was in answer to a question from Layla Moran MP, who raised the situation in her constituency saying: “the fact is that the probation service in Oxfordshire is at breaking point. That is also to do with sky-rocketing workloads, the high cost of living and paltry pay rises since 2009. One officer told me that they are being forced to cut corners and feel they ‘can no longer actively reduce reoffending or keep the public safe’.”
In reply the Minister said: “We are filling places much more rapidly, and by the spring of next year, we should be fully staffed”. Where is he getting this information from?
Secondly David Guake saying that there is no place for ideology in assessing how probation should be run, whilst repeatedly pointing out that CRCs are delivering the contracts at less than cost. In response to a question from Battersea’s Marsha de Cordoba, the Secretary of State stated: “We are paying CRCs less than we originally intended when the contracts were let: they are receiving less than their costs, a consequence of over-optimistic bidding on their part. When we talk about bail-outs, we should be clear that those companies are receiving income that is less than it costs them to provide the services.”
Well, we await with interest the Government’s response to the Justice Select Committee Report into the operation of TR.
In the meantime, don’t forget to keep an eye on Early Day Motion 1449. The EDM which “calls on the Government to consult with staff unions including Napo and Unison on how to bring the whole probation service back into the public sector” was put down by Liz Saville Roberts MP on behalf of the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group on 26 of June. It already has 38 signatories (supporting MPs), which is really good. Let’s make it 100. If your MP hasn’t signed do write to them and as them to do so.
Check if your MP has signed yet by clicking here.
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