The probation service undertakes a wide range of partnerships with the voluntary sector to support effective programmes for dealing with offenders in the community. The Home Office currently provides over £20 million a year in grants to voluntary bodies to supplement the resources made available by probation committees. We greatly value the contribution that the voluntary sector is making in reducing crime in that and other ways.
Does my hon. Friend agree that far too many probation officers seem obsessed with community service as rehabilitation rather than punishment? Is it not small wonder that far too many persistent offenders see community service as a very soft option indeed and cock a snook at the law? Will he make sure in his discussions with probation officers that any future programmes instil a sense of discipline and responsibility?
Service in the community and community service orders should not be—and I will ensure that they are not—a soft option. The probation service can do a lot of good in the community by dealing with offenders who are sentenced. One such sentence is a community service order, and we will ensure that by no stretch of the imagination will it be regarded as a let-off.