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29 Oct 2014

Private firms are the big winners of probation sell-off

Responding to the Ministry of Justice’s announcement of preferred bidders for probation contracts, Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:

“As we expected, the big winner of the probation sell-off is not the voluntary sector but large private companies run for profit. The Ministry of Justice will claim it has created a diverse market, but Sodexo and Interserve are the companies running half of all the contracts.

“A public service is being destroyed without any evidence that the fragmented landscape created will perform any better or help make communities any safer. Indeed, reforms aimed at imposing compulsory support to those leaving prison after short sentences are certain to set people up to fail.

“Given we are close to a general election, it is particularly disgraceful that these contracts include ‘poison pill’ clauses preventing a future government from revising these untested and ill-thought-through reforms if and when they fail. That is not just reckless but fundamentally undemocratic.”

Notes to editors

  1. The Howard League for Penal Reform is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. It is a national charity working for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison.
  2. The list of preferred bidders can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.
  3. A Howard League report, Corporate crime? A dossier on the failure of privatisation in the criminal justice system, can be found here.

Contact

Rob Preece
Press Officer
Tel: +44 (0)20 7241 7880
Mobile: +44 (0)7714 604955
Email: robert.preece@howardleague.org

ISDN line available on 020 7923 4196 – uses a G722 system

For enquiries outside normal office hours, please call +44 (0)7918 681094.

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