Probation Services: Community Links

Justice – in the House of Commons on 14th July 2020.

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Photo of Taiwo Owatemi Taiwo Owatemi Labour, Coventry North West

What plans he has to improve links between probation services and (a) local employers, (b) adult education colleges, (c) health authorities and (d) jobcentres.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

What plans he has to improve links between probation services and (a) local employers, (b) adult education colleges, (c) health authorities and (d) jobcentres.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Labour, Leeds East

What plans he has to improve links between probation services and (a) local employers, (b) adult education colleges, (c) health authorities and (d) jobcentres.

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Joining up probation to other community services is critical. The new model for probation will allow us to build on local links that have already been forged. In the future probation system, more than £100 million a year will be spent on specialist rehabilitative and resettlement services, including education and employment.

Photo of Taiwo Owatemi Taiwo Owatemi Labour, Coventry North West

Our recovery from this crisis will require support for all our constituents to get back into well-paid, good-quality jobs. We have to break the cycle of reoffending and ensure that when people leave prison, they have the help and support that they need to get back into work, so that they do not fall back into a life of crime and misdemeanours, which does none of us any good. Will the Minister guarantee that our agencies are linked to provide proper opportunities to turn former reoffenders’ lives around? Will she guarantee that the renationalisation of the probation service will not be used as an excuse for any more cuts, and will instead be used to work towards an improved and better staffed, trained and managed National Probation Service?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

The hon. Member makes a number of points in her question. I would like to assure her that we are committed to ensuring that people who come out of prison are rehabilitated, get jobs and turn away from crime. We recently launched the New Futures Network, which is dedicated to establishing the links between prisons, prisoners and local employers. In relation to investment in the new probation service, I am sure that she has seen that we are investing an additional £155 million in probation over the course of the year.

Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

I have spent time with Newcastle probation services, and I know just how dedicated the people who work for them are, but they are now being expected to pick up the pieces of the Government’s disastrous privatisation of the service, as well as integrating released offenders into a “new normal” of society post covid that is not normal at all. Will the Minister set out exactly how funding will be made available to ensure that there are links with, in particular, further education colleges in Newcastle so that offenders who are released can have a chance of rehabilitation and jobs in a post-covid world?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

Like the hon. Member, I pay tribute to the dedicated work of all those who have been working in the community rehabilitation companies across the country and, indeed, the National Probation Service. I welcome the work of the CRC in her area. As I mentioned, £100 million has been put forward for the new scheme—the dynamic framework, which has already been launched—so that local voluntary sector and private companies can bid to provide local services in communities. I look forward to seeing their bids.

Photo of Richard Burgon Richard Burgon Labour, Leeds East

The Government were warned repeatedly that privatising probation would be a disaster—that it would cost more and leave the public less safe. The Government not only ignored those warnings but spent years ignoring the mounting evidence of their failed policy. They have practically had to be dragged kicking and screaming to finally agree to reverse this catastrophic privatisation. If they are finally going to properly sort out rehabilitation, is it not time to end, once and for all, the racket of mega-corporations like Sodexo, Serco and G4S profiting from our prisons and probation services?

Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice

We believe that we should provide good services, whether that is by the public sector or by the private sector. We have in operation some excellent public service prisons, as we do some excellent private sector prisons. We are very pleased that we are integrating probation into the public service, providing a very important role, but we will continue to ensure that private sector companies and local voluntary sector companies can bid for rehabilitative services through the £100 million dynamic framework.