On probation

Date: 
Monday, 11 November, 2013

Colin Allars, incoming Director of the National Probation Service, has told The Guardian that the public sector should not expect to be the 'monopoly service provider' and that 'there's plenty of evidence' that others 'can provide services very effectively'.

Allars' claim comes as three staff working for private security provider G4S face accusations by a High Court judge of falsifying paperwork submitted to an immigration appeal involving allegations of torture. Referring the matter to the Crown Prosecution Service the judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, described the actions of the G4S employees as 'corrupt and truly shocking'.

In a separate matter G4S and Serco are both under formal criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office following claims that they overcharged by tens of millions of pounds on their electronic tagging contracts.

Speaking after thousands of members of probation officers' union Napo mounted a 24 hour strike in protest at government plans to privatise the service Mr Allars said:

'Clearly there has been some anxiety caused by the changes, and I have a role to reassure staff and make sure that processes are in place to get to where we want to be.'

Most probation officers and others who understand the system point out that the Probation Service is already a high perfoming service: the first and only public service to receive the British Quality Foundation’s gold medal for excellence.

The problem for Mr Allars is that they are not interested in going where he and ministers want to take the service.