Surge in serious crime by reoffenders since probation privatisation

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The number of offenders under probation committing serious crime has surged since the probation service was privatised by the British Government, according to figures obtained by Plaid Cymru.

Figures provided to Plaid Cymru in response to a Parliamentary Question by the party’s justice spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP show that the number of offenders under statutory probation supervision being charged with murder, manslaughter, rape or other serious violent or sexual offences has gone up by 26.4% since the probation service in Wales and England was privatised.

The number of serious crimes carried out by offenders in Wales and England has increased from 409 before privatisation in 2012-13, to 517 in 2016-17.

The British Government’s Justice Secretary claimed last week that the challenges faced as a result of privatisation were “unforeseen” but leaked documents show that the British Government was warned in 2013 that privatisation could lead to “an unacceptable drop in operational performance" triggering "delivery failures and reputational damage”.

Parliamentary Questions tabled by Liz Saville Roberts MP have also revealed that private Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have substituted some face-to-face reporting in person with telephone reporting.

Plaid Cymru has called on the British Government to “admit it was wrong” and re-nationalise the probation service before devolving responsibility over justice to Wales, mirroring the system in Scotland.

Commenting, Plaid Cymru’s justice spokesperson, Liz Saville Roberts MP said:

“This is an extremely worrying rise in serious crime committed by people who are supposedly under supervision.

“It is astonishing that Ministers are claiming the difficulties faced since privatisation were unforeseen when a leaked internal risk management document shows that they were warned.

“These are offenders who, under the supervision of the probation service, committed murder, manslaughter, rape or another serious violent or sexual offence. That the number of instances of this kind has surged by 26 per cent since the probation service was privatised is deeply worrying and we know from leaked documents that Ministers were warned that privatisation could lead to this.

“The British Government needs to admit it was wrong and commit to re-nationalising the probation service.

“Responsibility over justice in Wales, including the probation service should urgently be devolved to the Welsh Government, mirroring the situation in Scotland.”

Former probation worker and justice campaigner, Harry Fletcher added:

“That the Justice Secretary claims that problems with the sell-off of the probation service were “unforeseen” is astonishing. The leaked risk assessment from 2013 was damning and warned about these problems but the British Government ignored it.”

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