The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is to outline plans for the wholesale outsourcing of the probation service with private companies and voluntary sector organisations to take over the rehabilitation of the majority of offenders by 2015.
The public probation service is to be scaled back and "refocused" to specialise in dealing only with the most dangerous and high-risk offenders and public protection cases. The majority of services will be contracted out on a payment-by -result basis.
You may discount the reference to voluntary sector organsisations; experience has shown that they are seldom big enough to act other than as sub-contractors to the Sercos, Capitas, A4Es and G4S's of the business, while cash-flow problems eventually drive the voluntary organisations into the ground. And so another allegedly inefficient but well-meaning bureaucracy will be replaced by profit-driven private sector bureaucracies whose track record in terms of efficiency is at best patchy. And all for what? Does anybody, even in government, really think that a private sector probation service will deliver better results in terms of probation than the existing system?