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Probation staff protest in Warrington
4:39pm Thursday 19th September 2013 in News
A PROTEST was held in the town centre today against Government plans to sell off parts of the probation service.
Staff from Cheshire Probation Trust lined up outside the office on Friars Gate to oppose the proposals this afternoon.
Contracts worth £450m are to be awarded to private sector companies and charities for large parts of the work currently overseen by the probation service.
Ministers say it will help reduce re-offending.
The plans have been criticised by senior probation officials.
Kevin McIntyre is chairman of the Cheshire branch of public sector union Napo.
He said: “The protest during our lunch hour was aimed at spreading awareness to the public that three quarters of the probation service is being put up for sale.
“The Government says this will reduce offending - we have been doing that for 10 years.
“Contracts going to the private sector is likely to end up in staff being cut, meaning less offenders are monitored.
“The changes will potentially mean that offending goes back up, and offenders will not be monitored properly.”
The Ministry of Justice says that bidding has started on the contracts, with 21 to be awarded.
They will offer work supervising and rehabilitating low to medium risk offenders.
A new public sector organisation - the National Probation Service - will deal with offenders deemed to be high risk, such as murderers and rapists.
The Government says it will result in ‘the best of the public and private sector working together to reduce re-offending’.
Mr McIntyre disagreed with the claim and warned lower risk offenders like those guilty of domestic violence could be left unsupervised.
He added that private sector companies are ‘only in it for profit’.
Napo members have voted in favour of industrial action with a national strike now likely.
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