THE community in Warrington is being put at risk as criminals are being managed by unqualified staff, according to a Probation Service union boss.
Kevin McIntyre, Cheshire secretary for probation staff union Napo, claims government changes to the service have resulted in some offenders being badly supervised, including those who could be likely to re-offend.
He said the problems have stemmed from splitting the Probation Service into two sections.
The National Probation Service deals with high risk cases, but lower risk cases, like domestic violence, are handled by the Community Rehabilitation Company.
“The CRC’s main task is to supervise low to medium risk cases, the majority of these being domestic violence cases which experience shows regularly re-offend,” said Mr McIntyre.
“Many such cases are being supervised by inexperienced, unqualified staff.
“Staff morale in the Probation Service is at an all time low since the reorganisation.
“Despite statements to the contrary by the Ministry of Justice, the system is in chaos and staff are struggling to cope with the practicalities of making the new arrangements work while at the same time dealing with a time consuming and cumbersome case allocation process, disproportionately high workloads and inadequate IT systems.
“All these factors are putting staff under extreme stress as well as jeopardising service delivery and putting the public at risk of harm.”
Napo also criticised the amount of agency staff in use at the CRC.
Reports that can decide how a criminal is managed after leaving prison are being completed by staff with ‘little knowledge’ of cases, it said.
Napo also claimed more public money is being spent than on the old probation service.
Justice Minister Andrew Selous said: "Each year more than half a million crimes are committed by those who have broken the law before and 50,000 of the most prolific offenders are released totally unsupervised and free to go back to their criminal ways.
"Our reforms will finally address this unacceptable issue.
"All offenders under supervision, including those convicted of domestic violence, continue to be managed by trained and experienced probation staff."
Warrington North MP Helen Jones said she will meet with Napo to discuss concerns in Warrington.