Hundreds of probation officers appeal against new jobs

Offender in cell Low- and medium-risk offenders will be supervised on a payment-by-results basis

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Hundreds of probation officers have appealed against the jobs assigned to them under a new system due to contract out most probation work from next year.

The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) told the BBC that 119 of the 553 appeals had been successful.

Probation in England and Wales is being split between a new public body, private companies and voluntary groups.

The justice secretary said the number of appeals was a "tiny fraction" of what he had expected.

Chris Grayling said the reforms were needed to cut costs and reduce reoffending.

The 553 appeals were from the 18 trusts, out of 35 overall, from which Napo has so far obtained figures.

The number is expected to increase significantly as more staff are told where they will be working under the plans.

Napo, which represents more than 7,000 probation staff, is concerned about the process for allocating probation officers to their roles.

'Divisive'

As part of the government's reforms, some £450m worth of contracts have been offered to private and voluntary sector organisations.

This covers the supervision of 160,000 low- and medium-risk offenders a year on a payment-by-results basis.

The contracts will be spread across 20 regions in England and one in Wales.

A new public sector National Probation Service will deal with high-risk offenders.

Start Quote

It's not going to create a good atmosphere for reducing reoffending, for protecting the public”

End Quote Joanna Hughes Napo deputy chair, Gloucestershire

Some probation officers are being told they will be working for the out-sourced companies and others will be employed by the National Probation Service.

Napo's deputy chair in Gloucestershire, Joanna Hughes, said the process for allocating jobs had been "divisive".

"It's not going to create a good atmosphere for reducing reoffending, for protecting the public," she said.

BBC File on 4 has also learned that 10 of the 33 most senior probation officials are planning to leave the service when the probation trusts they lead are abolished.

The Probation Chiefs Association said it represented "hundreds of years of experience" that would not be put to use under the new structure of supervising offenders.

Thousands of members of Napo staged a 24-hour strike in November over the planned changes and the union is considering legal action against the government in a bid to stop the reforms.

However, Mr Grayling is determined to press on with the changes, which he expects to be fully in place by April 2015.

File on 4 will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 GMT on Tuesday 18 February.

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