Probation union slams proposals
Plans to replace probation programmes with cheaper, untested, privately-run courses will lead to "more crime, more victims and more imprisonment", a probation union has warned.
The Legal Aid, Sentencing and the Punishment of Offenders bill, due to be discussed by MPs this week, will scrap the presumption that offender programmes should be accredited and shown to have an impact on crime and reoffending before they are used, the probation union Napo said.
Under the plans, a magistrate or judge will be able to impose any programme as a condition of a community court order.
Harry Fletcher, the union's assistant general secretary, said the move "opens the door for cheaper, privately-run courses, where there is no evidence that they cut crime".
"The measures contained in the bill are controversial," he said.
"The abolition of the requirement that offenders programmes have to be accredited is extremely worrying. Accredited programmes presently reduce reoffending by up to a third.
"The effect of the bill will, in Napo's view, lead to an increase in imprisonment and reoffending and therefore more victims."
Mr Fletcher added that plans to extend curfews from 12 to 16 hours would make it "virtually impossible for anybody to work", potentially affecting more than 20,000 offenders who are on electronic tags.
A Napo spokesman added that the plans were not about what works or what would reduce offending and protect the public, but instead were "about ideology, reducing the size of the state and the introduction of profit motives".