In another piece on his blog he states that privatising the Service is 'morally repugnant' and invokes the memory of the founders of the modern Probation Service, like Frederic Rainer, who most probably will be revolving in his grave:-
I can’t see how a “probation officer” employed by a private contractor is going to be any more effective than a real probation officer contracted to the state. The primary motivation for the operation of a private company is profit, profit, profit. There was never any notion of Probation for Profit in the hearts of those who built the foundations of the modern probation service.
As all of us in probation know full well, there's long been a close connection between philanthropic endeavour and the state-run Service. Many probation hostels to this day are still owned and managed by charities and individual officers and local worthies have formed numerous charitable bodies over the entire life of the state-run Service.
In order to illustrate the point, here is Lord Rhodes speaking in 1985 during a debate on the Probation Service and describing what was happening in Manchester:-
Successive Home Secretaries have sincerely tried to stem the tide of increasing crime, with only limited success. We welcome the working paper Criminal Justice and the statement on national objectives and priorities for the probation service which have been issued during the past fortnight. The remarks I have to make are directed to the statement on the probation service. The statement clearly identifies the need to maintain a whole range of facilities for use by the courts and the probation service. It highlights the need to assist all those returning to everyday life from custody. To this end, we in the community are urged to rally around and to make a prime contribution by involving ourselves in the rehabilitation of the offender. Quite rightly, for without that involvement of the community in the rehabilitation of an offender, rehabilitation is a non-starter.
We have been doing that in Manchester for the past 13 years; that is, carrying out the tenets which are mentioned in the two documents. Our trust is called the Selcare Trust. It comprises Crown Court judges, probation officers, magistrates and a fine lot of people from the general public. Last week, we held our annual general meeting in Manchester Town Hall. It was one of the most vibrant meetings I have attended in recent years; it was one of the finest meetings I have ever had the privilege to attend. The hall was full. It is now recognised that we are making the kind of progress that is paying off in this particular field.
I ask your Lordships to give me your indulgence when I read out the progress that we have made in Manchester during the past 13 years. If my name crops up occasionally, please forgive me. We started first with an organisation, involving the head probation officer for Manchester. In 1971 the Chadderton Guest House was opened as a rehabilitation centre for older men, to help many of the men living there avoid further crime and breakdown. In 1972 it was the Bury Family Centre for women needing help—wives of prisoners who did not know how to add up. In 1973 it was the Failsworth Guest House for homeless women and their babies, especially when leaving hospital or prison.
In 1974 it was the Oldham Anchor Club—an evening centre for the isolated and lonely, a day centre for community groups with special aims, and so on. In 1974, we had the Bolton Guest House for homeless men in single rooms; and rooms for battered wives, unmarried mothers or the homeless from care or prison. In 1975 we had the East Manchester, Beswick Guest House, for homeless young men in the 17 to 21 age group discharged from detention.
In 1981 there was an extension to Chadderton House to accommodate men discharged from prison. In 1982, in Manchester, we obtained paramount control of two existing and successful hostels. This is absolutely fantastic. One is for men and the other is a stopover home for young women who, shall I say, are seen and looked after, having arrived at Piccadilly Station with nowhere to go and no home. In 1982 Failsworth House was reopened for homeless males discharged from prison. Also in 1982 Leigh Hostel was opened. In 1983 seven developments were commenced. I shall come to a conclusion in a few moments. This year, Princess Margaret opened the Rhodes Centre in Oldham—a resource centre able to cater for many groups and which contains the original Anchor Club. The building had been completely gutted and rebuilt, mainly using Manpower Services labour skills. It is to be used from mid-December, and was officially opened in February.
It could be said that in many ways the development and operation of the Probation Service has been a model example of that now widely-derided concept known as The Big Society. What has been described for Manchester was replicated all over the country and my own Service has a very similar fine record of innovation and philanthropic endeavour.
It irritated me enormously when Sir Stephen Bubb, official cheer leader of the bosses for what is now referred to as the third sector, recently claimed some moral right to take back control of the Service. I'm afraid many of the organisations he speaks for nowadays appear remarkably lacking in terms of a philanthropic ethos and look pretty indistinguishable to me from all the other aspirational predators keen on grabbing our work, building empires and making money.
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