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‘Failing’ Grayling: Charged with reforming the Probation Service in 2014, he ended up ruining it.

Conservatives really don’t understand the way money works in a modern economy, do they? All they can do is throw it at rich privateers and hope they can carry out public functions.

Well, as Chris Grayling’s pathetic privatisation of probation services has proved, they can’t.

This Site reported on the fiasco in January. I wrote:

If you take money to do a job and don’t actually do it, you’re in breach of contract.

Sure, and part of the disaster was caused by HMG. The idea was to give 21 companies £3.7 billion until 2022 to handle and help prisoners serving 12 months or more who are at low risk of self-harm.

But it seems people like Messrs Heaton and Spurr had overestimated the number of low risk ex-offenders leaving prison and underestimated the number of high risk ex-offenders who are still being helped by the publicly run probation service

It means the private companies were dealing with fewer people, so they’d get less money – £1.6 billion less. This put them in financial difficulty.

It also transpires that these companies were also complete and utter failures at the job – so bad, according to inspectors, that they may as well not exist.

So why has the Tory government agreed to spend £342 million keeping them in business and in-contract?

The state should be demanding its money back from these privateers. They’re in breach of contract.

Now, a mere six months later, the Tories are throwing another £170 million at the same companies – to buy itself out of its contracts.

That brings the total spent on keeping duff companies in business up to £500 million – half a billion pounds.

Yet Tories are happy to let other businesses go to the wall. Is it because those firms’ bosses don’t wear the Old School Tie, or don’t belong to the right familes – or what?

According to Sky News:

Agreements with 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to manage low-risk offenders will now end in 2020, two years earlier than planned.

CRCs were part of a major part-privatisation programme for England and Wales introduced in 2014 by former justice secretary Chris Grayling.

Under the reorganisation, the publicly run National Probation Service (NPS) dealt with the most high-risk offenders, while the supervision of low and medium-risk offenders was farmed out to privately run CRCs, who secured contracts worth almost £4bn over seven years.

Many of the CRCs were struggling to manage their caseloads with the resources available, with whistleblowers warning the public were being put increasingly at risk.

The reforms also came under attack last month by the House of Commons justice committee, who stated the probation service was in a “mess” after the reorganisation failed to meet its aims.

The current 21 CRCs will be slimmed down to 11 that are closely aligned with NPS regions. Ten will remain private, with the one in Wales merged with the NPS.

The £170m cost includes £110m the CRCs owe the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in fines for failing to meet performance targets.

They will be allowed to keep the cash to reinvest in services to keep them going for the last two years of their contracts.

The MoJ will also pay £22m in both years for “through the gate” services helping offenders immediately after they are released from prison.

Mr Gauke admitted the amount of work available for CRCs “has been lower than anticipated and that has had an impact in terms of their income and the services they are able to provide”.

That actually saved taxpayers £300m because the MoJ budgeted to pay firms £2.5bn by 2020 and had only paid out £2.2bn.

Mr Grayling has recently been dubbed “failing Grayling” by critics as he battles with major rail disruption in his current job as transport secretary.

That last line is included for its wild inaccuracy – This Site was calling him “failing” Grayling at least five years ago, as you can see by visiting this article.

Now, I was going to comment on this nightmare, but I find that Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon has already said it all for me:

“This announcement is further evidence that the Conservatives’ decision to outsource whole swathes of probation to the private sector has created an unprecedented crisis in the system. This ideological experiment has been a costly failure, just as Labour warned it would be.

This decision to throw more good money after bad and the government’s re-commitment to a privately-run probation service shows that the Conservatives have run out of all ideas on how to fix their broken system. Delaying this announcement until parliament closed for the summer is a tacit admission by the Government that its probation policies can’t withstand the slightest scrutiny.

With a Labour government there will be no more bailouts for failing private probation companies. Labour is fully committed to returning the probation system to the public sector. The Tories should do likewise and create a probation system that prioritises keeping the public safe rather than boosting the profits of private companies.”

It will never happen under the Conservatives. Privatisation is their religion – and they don’t care how many people they harm while paying tribute to their false god.

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