"With news that two more life term prisoners have absconded from open prison at the weekend by not returning from day release, Justice Minister Chris Grayling finds himself desperately trying to reassure the public by imposing yet more draconian knee-jerk measures.
The minister has today announced not just a tightening-up of all releases on temporary licence, but an end to so-called 'Town Visits' within the next month and the blanket imposition of electronic tagging. This will just be more money for private firms as a tag on the foot is not going to stop a prisoner determined to escape. However, as all experienced probation officers know, 'Town Visits' and release on temporary licence are an essential part of the successful reintegration back into mainstream society by long term prisoners, and the rarity of such incidents, and general success of such schemes in aiding rehabilitation, are testament to the expert assessments made by trained and experienced probation officers. This is an incidental failure within a genuinely successful system.
Further It is likely that the situation for public and prisoners will be adversely affected by Grayling's plans, which constitute short term political expediency at the expense of long term public safety and are opposed by probation officers making difficult risk assessments. However, since appointment, Chris Grayling has demonstrated nothing but disdain for the Probation Service which will cease to exist in its present form from the end of this month,. Against all expert opinion he intends to privatise the bulk of the service and hand over most work to inexperienced private contractors and corporations whose motive is profit.
Joanna Hughes is an experienced probation officer who is taking a principled stand against Chris Grayling's dangerous and ill-thought-out proposals and is resigning in protest. She is extremely happy to explain her decision and exactly why the public should be concerned at the virtual collapse of a vital public service. She can be contacted here:"