I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, as I am a member of the Criminal Bar Association.
This is a good example of policy based on ideology, as opposed to policy based on evidence and, frankly, good sound common sense. Probation officers need to be qualified, properly paid, trained and respected because of the important work they do. They advise judges in the sentencing process, in which they play a critical part. They also play a critical part in rehabilitation, and of course they keep people safe, including offenders. Will the Secretary of State please assure us that he will ensure that his Department is run not on ideological grounds, but on evidence-based grounds? To that end, will he also assure us that this new system, which I welcome, will not overly rely on digitisation alone, but will remember that we need people to deal with what is basically a people service?