CHESTERFIELD: Protests over plans to sell-off probation service

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Staff from the county’s probation trust have warned communities are at risk after government announced plans to privatise the service.

Protesters from Derbyshire Probation Trust gathered outside Chesterfield train station today (September 19) to voice their anger at the coalition’s sell-off plans, on the same day companies were invited to bid for the work.

Ed Liegis, probabtion officer and the area’s union representative, said the decision to privatise 70 per cent of the service could mean a focus on profit over community safety.

Speaking at the protest, which workers carried out during their lunch hour, he added: “This is supposedly going to be implemented as soon as next year. If it is rushed through it could be disastrous for the service.

The £800m privatisation will see the current 35 probation trusts disbanded, to create 21 private sector Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC). A slimlined probation service will be retained to deal exclusively with ‘high risk’ offenders.

Rachel Ingman, probation officer, added: “We have no idea who we are going to be working for. We have no idea what the plans are. It is very unsettling.

“We have been told we can expect a letter in October telling us if we will be working for the CRC or continue with the trust.”

She added: “There is a fine line between medium risk and high risk. What if an offender becomes high risk? How are they going to be risk assessed? We are worried the CRC will be reluctant to transfer them to the trust because they are profit driven and they will need to meet their quotas.”

Tania Bassett, national official for the National Association of Probation Officers, said: “There is a risk that there will be a priority of profit over people.

“It is going to be rushed through and it is completely unfair on the 1800 probation workers we have currently working.”

What do you think of the plans to outsource? Email comment@derbyshiretimes.co.uk