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I know that it is nearing Christmas, but I was trying to avoid as many pantomime references as I could. They are tempting, I know. I thought that the 2001 restructuring was the first step in acknowledging the significance of the role of the probation services. That is why I welcomed it. I agree that there is concern that for too long the role of the probation service has not been acknowledged and in some instances funding has not been allocated in a way that recognises the significance of that role. The 2001 restructuring addressed that to a certain extent.
In London, in particular, we went through a number of budgetary crises on an annual basis, almost like a hardy perennial, but that is now being addressed as a result of the recognition of the importance of the service. That is why we are disconcerted that that rational approach, which recognised the importance of the service, examined the need for additional resources and gained them, and recognised that we should be listening to the professionals on the front line, seems to have gone out of the window as a result of the Government's obsession with competition and their dogmatic approach that the best way to improve services is through competition and the best way to achieve competition through privatisation.