National Offender Management Service

Oral Answers to Questions — Home Department – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 10th May 2004.

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Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour/Co-operative, Stroud 2:30 pm, 10th May 2004

What assessment he has made of the likely budgetary impact of the creation of the National Offender Management Service.

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

The National Offender Management Service will become operational on 1 June with an overall budget of £3.5 billion. As with all other areas of public expenditure, the current spending review will determine funding levels for 2005–06 to 2007–08.

Photo of David Drew David Drew Labour/Co-operative, Stroud

As my hon. Friend will be aware, several hon. Members will address a mass lobby of probation officers tomorrow. Those officers are worried about the rush to introduce the National Offender Management Service and the apparent lack of local accountability and genuinely concerned that an element of back-door privatisation seems to be involved. Will my hon. Friend give me a message to pass on to those probation officers that will at least ease some of their fears?

Photo of Paul Goggins Paul Goggins Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this issue, in which he takes a keen interest. Today's probation service has been transformed from the service that existed when we took in office in 1997. There are 5,000 additional staff and a further 2,600 staff will be recruited in the next two years. My message to it is that we will continue to invest in the important work that it does and that we understand the pressure it is under. As the Minister with responsibility for such matters, I want to engage in a constructive dialogue with the probation service and the Prison Service to ensure that we introduce the National Offender Management Service effectively.