Probation staff on strike

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Dozens of probation service staff were protesting this week against service sell-off plans they warn could put the public at risk.

Members of the Derbyshire branch of Napo - the trade union for Probation and Family Court Staff - were on the picket line outside the Ilkeston office on South Street on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

They joined a nationwide strike against the coalition’s plans to privatise 70 per cent of the service.

Harjit Purewal, a local union official, said: “It’s simple, this move will put public safety at risk.

“This will mean dangerous offenders being supervised by unqualified staff who have not had relevant training and don’t have the skills tha we do.

“A private company will not offer the same level of service that we do and will more than likely see them move out of Ilkeston meaning local offenders will be forced to travel for appointments.

“This could easily lead to the breakdown of offenders’ rehabilitation, the main basis of a relationship between the probation service and offenders is trust and that won’t exist anymore if these plans go ahead.

“The time scale hasn’t been thout out and Chris Grayling has failed to listen to the advice of his own civil servants.

“On the whole we just feel that the privatisation plans have no logic or merit whatsoever.”

Tania Bassett, from the National Association of Probation Officers, said:“We made the decision to strike as we feel that the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, will put communities at risk by fragmenting the service.

“Risk levels are a dynamic thing and separating the service in this way is going to put the public and service users at risk.”

Bidding for the sell-off is currently underway.

What do you think of the plans? Email or write to Ilkeston Advertiser, 8 Heanor Road, Ilkeston. DerbyshireDE7 8ER.