Martin Rowson, for Justice Alliance

Martin Rowson, for Justice Alliance

Probation unions have started legal action against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling over government reforms to privatise probation services.

This announcement comes one day after the Ministry of Justice named the winners of the sell-off, Sodexo and Interserve. The probation service was split into two in 2013 to make way for the new system which will, under new plans, supervise high risk ex-offenders, 200,000 low and medium risk offenders, and 45,000 short-sentence prisoners. These changes, however, have already caused problems.

Officers, offenders and members of the public are being put at risk by an ‘atomised system‘, as Ian Dunt wrote this week in politics.co.uk reports, in which staff are ‘overworked and unable to access all the information about the people they are responsible for’.

They are demanding evidence and an explanation to show how the secretary of state has decided that these reforms are safe, but they have yet to receive a response.

Grayling has argued the changes will help reduce reoffending.

‘We cannot go on with a situation where thousands of prisoners are released on to the streets every year with no guidance or support, and are simply left to reoffend,’ he said.

He explained how the plans are about ‘bringing together the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors to battle reoffending’, adding that the changes will ‘transform the way in which we tackle reoffending’, the BBC reports.

The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) will pursue that angle for a public duty legal challenge as well as a private law duty challenge based on the secretary of state’s duty of care to probation staff.

Grayling received the letter threatening legal action on Monday and Treasury solicitors responded on the deadline day issuing a holding letter requesting an extra two days.

Lawyers have today confirmed they will be pursuing legal action and are currently issuing papers to court.

Profile photo of Brooke Perriam About Brooke Perriam
BA Journalism undergraduate (third year), writer and reporter.

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