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News Daily: Probation overhaul cost £500m, and $1m bounty for Bin Laden son

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'Rushed' probation overhaul 'cost £500m'

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A damning report has found that problems with the part-privatisation of the probation service in England and Wales have cost taxpayers almost £500m. Changes introduced in 2014 saw 21 companies awarded contracts to supervise low and medium-risk offenders, while high-risk offenders remained the responsibility of a new state body, the National Probation Service. The National Audit Office says the "rushed roll-out" caused "significant risks" and warns that the number of offenders sent back to prison for reoffending has soared.

BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says the report is "scathing" and "raises the most serious questions about decision-making at the Ministry of Justice". Justice minister Rory Stewart says that while the performance of the private probation companies was "too often deeply disappointing", the government did step in to end contracts early, as well as spending an extra £22m a year in services for offenders on release.

It's not the first time the 2014 changes have come in for criticism. Last June, MPs on the justice select committee said the system was "a mess" and doubted they would deliver an effective probation service.

You can read more about how the probation service has changed by clicking here.

Million-dollar bounty for Bin Laden son

The US is offering a $1m (£750,000) reward for information leading to Hamza Bin Laden - son of the dead al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. Washington says Hamza Bin Laden, who is thought to be about 30, has emerged as a key leader of the terror group and has released audio and video messages calling on supporters to avenge his father's death. Osama Bin Laden was killed by US Navy Seals in a raid on the compound in Pakistan where he was living in 2011. The US state department says it has evidence gathered during the operation in Abbottabad that Hamza was being groomed by his father to take on the leadership of al-Qaeda. Officials are uncertain where Hamza Bin Laden is, but believe he may be in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region, and may also make trips to Iran.

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Law call over social media grooming

The children's charity the NSPCC is calling for a new law to force social media firms to do more to protect children, after reporting that more than 5,000 online grooming offences were recorded by police in England and Wales in the 18 months to September 2018. The NSPCC says Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat were used in 70% of cases of sexual communication with a child. The charity argues that 10 years of "failed self-regulation" by the social media giants means ministers have to "tame the Wild West Web" with legislation. In one case of abuse given by the charity, Emily - not her real name - describes how a man groomed her at the age of 13, eventually persuading her to meet him, before driving her to woods "to have sex", leaving her "bleeding and crying".

Facebook and Instagram insist they "aggressively fight" such content. CBBC's Newsround has produced a series of videos to help children stay safe online, while parents can get more information from BBC iWonder.

Tuition fees £7,500, but expect a delay

By Sean Coughlan, education correspondent

The review of university tuition fees in England has been caught in a Brexit gridlock - and might be delayed until May or later, according to sources. The government-commissioned review of student finance is expected to call for a cut in fees, with the figure of £7,500 now being floated. The review will send a tough message for universities about value for money. But further education and skills are expected to be given much more support, including easier access to loans.

Read the full article

What the papers say

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The case of Sally Challen, a woman who killed her husband in 2010 after saying she had suffered decades of coercive control, leads several of Friday's front pages. The Daily Telegraph says Thursday's decision by the Court of Appeal to quash her conviction and order a retrial "gives hope to women who killed abusive husbands". The Daily Mail describes it as a "watershed moment for victims of domestic violence". The Guardian leads on an investigation into the gender pay gap, saying a lack of sanctions is "making a mockery" of efforts to ensure men and women are paid the same for doing the same job. Elsewhere, the Daily Express says there was "outrage" after it was announced that MPs would get a £2,000-a-year pay rise from next month. You can read Friday's paper review here.

Daily digest

Uber challenge Drivers sue London's mayor

Stillbirth advice No need to wait a year to get pregnant, research suggests

Independent Group Chuka Umunna to be spokesman, Anna Soubry takes on Brexit

Huawei advert Chinese tech giant reaches out to Americans

If you see one thing today

'I nearly drowned, now I dream of Olympic glory'

If you listen to one thing today

Girls' Talk: Women in Music

If you read one thing today

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Lookahead

10:00 High Court due to rule on a challenge to the government's "right to rent" scheme which requires landlords to check the immigration status of people wanting to rent their properties.

13:30 New Leicester City FC manager Brendan Rodgers, who quit Celtic to return to the Premier League, talks to the media for the first time ahead of Sunday's away game at Watford.

On this day

1966 The government announces its "historic and momentous" decision to introduce decimal coinage in the UK.

From elsewhere

Instagram stars get dressing down for non-stop Notting Hill shoots (The Times)

Reasons to love Olivia Colman (New Statesman)

Comic Relief to ditch white saviour stereotype appeals (The Guardian)

Eleanor Laing says she will run to become the next Speaker of the House of Commons (PoliticsHome)

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