As Chris Grayling prepares to go before the Justice Affairs Select Committee today, he'd do well to be reflecting on whether it's now time to come up with a plan B in relation to the Probation Service. Although the opposition to his original scheme of decimation and privatisation has not been as comprehensive or effective as that of the lawyers in relation to Legal Aid, it has been rubbished far and wide, even by those expected to benefit from the break-up.
Regular readers of this blog in particular will be acutely aware of the avalanche of scorn and criticism that has descended upon the proposed contracting out plans, and of course we are now aware that the government's own risk register highlights significant dangers of the whole thing going comprehensively pear-shaped. It's all going to cost more, lead to increased prison numbers and reoffending is likely to go up, not down. HM Treasury always had doubts about the whole thing and with the House of Lords throwing a spanner in the works, time is running out.
As Alan Travis of the Guardian explains, it's all contained in that pesky risk register that Grayling didn't want publishing because it neatly spells out the size of the problem:-
In Whitehall, risk registers are often discounted as simply a troubleshooting management tool where every possibility of something going wrong gets a mention just to cover their backs. The probation minister, Jeremy Wright, dismissed this one in similar terms saying they wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't plan for every eventuality, however remote.