THE TRUE COST OF OFFENDER MANAGEMENT PRIVATISATION FOR THE PROBATION WORKFORCE
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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This dissertation explores the impact of current government strategy to outsource public services, more government contracts and services are being awarded to private companies than ever before. For the last few years there has been a specific focus on outsourcing public service delivery, resulting in significant changes to the sector. The aim of the research was identify and critically evaluate the impact of public service privatisation on both service users and service providers. This was achieved by exploring the reduced role of government in providing and regulating social provision in terms of cost, efficacy and quality of services. The impact of privatisation on employees working in statutory provision in terms of pay, conditions and professional practice was explored to determine the potential impact of the overall ‘privatisation’ agenda in terms of equality of provision to service users. The focus of the work presented here relates to a case study of the impact on offender management services. Government changes have resulted in 35 existing regional probation trusts being replaced by 21 government companies with responsibility of supervising more than 200,000 offenders classified as low or medium risk. Those regarded as high risk continue to be monitored by the national probation service. By using a qualitative methodology this research presents an analysis of the impact of these changes on staff, service users and the potential consequences for public safety. Focus groups were conducted with professionals currently working within the Community Rehabilitation Company and the National Probation Services to ascertain their views and perspectives on the impact of privatisation. As is shown the groups generated a rich source of data for analysis and discussion. The findings highlighted numerous concerns regarding the efficacy of private company involvement in the delivery of services. Profit making organisations, it is proffered, are not conducive with public safety. There is a wide based belief, with supporting evidence from the impact on previously privatised prisons that profit results in increased costs to the government with a reduction in the services provided.
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