Trainee Probation Officers will meet the Justice Secretary today to challenge government cuts to the service which, it is claimed, could mean the loss of frontline staff and an increase in crime. The eight trainees will be representing more than 450 newly qualified officers and will tell Jack Straw about the impact on them and the reasons why the service urgently needs more resources.
The National Association of Probation Officers says that of 459 trainees expected to qualify this year, 59 have already left the service, 44 will be made redundant and 129 will be given temporary jobs until March. The fate of the remaining 27 is not known. The union says this uncertainty will continue until Chief Officers are given their budgets for the next financial year but believes it is unlikely this situation will be resolved in the near future.
The trainees will be joined by Tim Wilson, the Napo National Chair, and Vice Chair Mike Quinn, who said he was pleased Jack Straw had agreed to the meeting. “It is important that he hears directly from those affected by these cuts. However we must remember that these eight represent just the tip of the iceberg. Such savage cuts to the Probation Service budget will, we believe, result in a service in meltdown, with more crime and more victims of crime,” he said.
Hundreds of trainee Probation Officers in England and Wales, he said, had worked hard for two years, at a cost of 96,000 each to the tax payer but many of them had been offered no work or 6 to 12 month contracts. He continued: “This waste of public funds, possibly as much as 10 million pounds, is entirely unacceptable.”