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Thursday 16 May 2019

Probation services to be renationalised

MoJToday’s announcement that the supervision of low and medium-risk offenders will return to the public sector was not unexpected (see here) and brings to an end one of the most ambitious examples of private sector public service delivery.

Private sector delivery of probation services was probably the highest risk outsourcing of government services undertaken by the coalition government. Realistically, with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight it probably required all the ‘stars to be aligned’ if it was ever going to deliver the financial benefits, drive down reoffending rates whilst at the same time maintaining public trust in what is a highly complex and stretched service.

It was also a complete commercial failure, where payment-by-results (outcome measures) yet again failed to deliver the financial returns once the theory was tested in the ‘real world’. This was yet another example of how HMG had been transferring too much risk to the private sector. Bringing the service back in house will of course be expensive, not only will staff have to be TUPE’d across but the MoJ will now likely have to invest in more staff and facilities.

There will still be a future (smaller) role for the private and voluntary sectors where they will be able to compete for work in services such as training, preparing offenders for work, and alcohol and drug treatment.

This contract is a good indicator and to some degree bellweather for how the public services market has changed over the last few years. However, it shouldn’t be forgotten that whilst the service has always been controversial and a ‘poster-boy’ for those who hate outsourcing, it intentions were good, being designed to assist the 40,000 offenders serving 12 months or less that prior to the reforms were being released with no supervision at all.

Posted by Marc Hardwick at '09:18' - Tagged: outsourcing   insourcing  

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