Chris Grayling’s decision to privatise the Probation Service has been a disaster

PUBLISHED: 12:29 19 May 2019 | UPDATED: 12:29 19 May 2019

Chris Grayling  Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Chris Grayling Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire


Has there ever been a minister as incompetent as Chris Grayling?

From trains, to prisons, to non-existent ferries this is a man who has the reverse Midas Touch.

Surely only still in a job because Theresa May is too weak to sack him, he has become a national joke.

But the damage done by yet another of his disasters is deadly serious.

His decision to break up and privatise the Probation Service was criticised at the time. He received extensive and repeated warnings that what he was proposing would be less safe than the existing system but he went ahead regardless.

The warnings were spot on.

The private companies who won the contracts couldn't deliver a safe service for what they were being paid.

The average number of re-offences committed by their "clients" has increased by a quarter. The number of offenders recalled to prison for breaching their licence conditions has gone up by half. Shockingly, the number of rapes, murders and other serious crimes committed by these supposedly "low- to medium-risk" offenders rose by more than 50%.

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There is no doubt that Grayling's privatisation of the Probation Service has led to a large increase in crime.

The financial cost has been staggering as well. Sorting out this mess is going to cost the Government more than half a billion pounds.

This doesn't include the knock-on costs of police investigations, court cases and over-crowded prisons, never mind the devastating effect on victims and their families, caused by the additional crimes committed.

Imagine how many extra police officers could have been employed for this money?

Belatedly the Government has bowed to the inevitable and is now planning to re-nationalise the service.

This is yet another failed "reform" from the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government that has had to be reversed.

There are plenty more that should be. Universal Credit is causing untold misery and poverty. The Fixed Term Parliament Act has played a large part in causing the deadlock around Brexit.

Is it too much to hope that these too will be consigned to the scrap heap?

- David Ellesmere is the leader of Ipswich Borough Council

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