CHRIS GRAYLING was humiliated again last night as his £2billion privatisation of probation services was finally abandoned.
The hapless Cabinet minister, blamed for a series of costly blunders in Justice and Transport, had handed supervision of thousands of criminals to private firms in the hope it would save money and cut reoffending.
But the “rehabilitation revolution” has proved a costly failure as the companies did not have enough offenders to look after and so had to be bailed out by the taxpayer.
A damning report by the public spending watchdog found that the system has actually got worse as money has been wasted and jailbirds have committed more crimes.
The Ministry of Justice had been looking into awarding new contracts but today announces that the entire part-privatisation of probation is being scrapped, in a massive U-turn.
Low-risk offenders will once again be looked after on release from prison by public sector probation officers, as had been the case before the 2014 shake-up.
The disastrous contracts with Community Rehabilitation Companies will end in December 2020 – by which time they will have cost taxpayers up to £2.3billion – and the National Probation Service, currently only responsible for the most dangerous criminals, will take over their work.
However there will be a new fund of £280million for private firms and charities to come up with “innovations” in training courses, unpaid work schemes and rehab for offenders.
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Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “I want a smarter justice system that reduces repeat crime by providing robust community alternatives to ineffective short prison sentences – supporting offenders to turn away from crime for good.
“The model we are announcing today will harness the skills of private and voluntary providers and draw on the expertise of the NPS to boost rehabilitation, improve standards and ultimately increase public safety.”
Labour’s Richard Burgon said: “After putting public safety at risk and squandering hundreds of millions of pounds on trying to shore up failing private probation companies, the Tories have been forced to face reality and accept their probation model is irredeemably broken.”