Probation Reform - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:31 pm on 16th May 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Chakrabarti Baroness Chakrabarti Shadow Attorney General 2:31 pm, 16th May 2019

My Lords, I am incredibly grateful to the Minister for repeating the Statement. This is a welcome U-turn on a disastrous probation policy—but what a mess, what an absolute mess. I feel the need to probe the underlying thinking a little further to ensure that lessons are truly being learned in the Government. Those of us on these Benches have real constitutional concerns, and concerns about accountability for public safety in relation to privatising the criminal justice system.

Today’s U-turn, a necessary first step to cleaning up the probation mess, comes only after hundreds of millions of pounds have been squandered propping up failing private companies, and public safety has been put directly at risk as a result. So I must probe the Minister on the thinking for the future and the proportion of these funds that are to be preferred towards private companies as opposed to voluntary bodies and social enterprises. This is crucial to understanding whether failing outsourcing giants, such as G4S and Sodexo, are going to be offered a way back into the probation system.