Grayling has failed again... over pro­ba­tion

Daily Mail - - News - By So­phie Bor­land

THE num­ber of crimes com­mit­ted by those who re­of­fend has surged by a fifth un­der a pro­ba­tion scheme cost­ing bil­lions that was meant to tackle the prob­lem, a scathing re­port re­veals to­day.

The Trans­form­ing Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme was the brain­child of then jus­tice sec­re­tary Chris Grayling, who has been nick­named Failing Grayling af­ter a se­ries of blun­ders dur­ing his time in the Cabi­net.

Brought in across the coun­try in 2015, it cre­ated a pub­lic- sec­tor Na­tional Pro­ba­tion Ser­vice (NPS) for high-risk of­fend­ers along­side 21 pri­vate com­mu­nity re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion com­pa­nies (CRCs) to deal with other crim­i­nals. But a re­port by the Com­mons pub­lic ac­counts com­mit­tee said the scheme has left the pro­ba­tion sys­tem in ‘a worse po­si­tion’ than be­fore its in­tro­duc­tion.

The num­ber of crimes com­mit­ted by those who re­of­fend in­creased by 22 per cent be­tween 2011 and 2017 even though the point of the pro­gramme was to re­duce re­of­fend­ing.

And the num­ber go­ing back to prison rose by 47 per cent be­tween 2015 and 2018 when the scheme was meant to re­duce pres­sures on jails.

The re­forms have been deemed such a disas­ter that the con­tracts with the pri­vate com­pa­nies are be­ing ter­mi­nated 14 months early, in De­cem­ber next year.

That will cost tax­pay­ers £467mil­lion, on top of the cost of launch­ing the scheme. The Min­istry of Jus­tice orig­i­nally ex­pected to spend £3.7bil­lion on CRC con­tracts, but a spokesman said yes­ter­day that it now ex­pects the to­tal to be £2.3bil­lion.

Meg Hil­lier, chair­man of the com­mit­tee, said: ‘The min­istry has failed to bring about the promised rev­o­lu­tion in re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. Its at­tempts to ad­dress the fail­ures in the re­forms have cost the tax­payer an ad­di­tional £467mil­lion while failing to achieve the an­tic­i­pated im­prove­ments in re­of­fend­ing be­hav­iour.’

The min­istry is con­sid­er­ing re­plac­ing the sys­tem with ten pro­ba­tion re­gions in Eng­land, each con­tain­ing a di­vi­sion of the NPS and one CRC.

Mr Grayling, who is now Trans­port Sec­re­tary, came un­der fire af­ter rail pas­sen­gers en­dured can­cel­la­tions and de­lays last year as a re­sult of a se­ries of timetablin­g sham­bles.

Yes­ter­day, he faced new ac­cu­sa­tions of in­com­pe­tence af­ter it emerged that bun­gled con­tracts for fer­ries in the event of a No Deal Brexit have cost at least £83mil­lion.

The Min­istry of Jus­tice said: ‘Our re­forms mean 40,000 more of­fend­ers are be­ing su­per­vised, but the cur­rent model is not work­ing. We have al­ready acted de­ci­sively to end cur­rent con­tracts early [and] make changes to ex­ist­ing ar­range­ments.’

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