South Yorkshire probation service cuts are ‘dangerous’, union says

Ian Lawrence, general secretary of Napo
Ian Lawrence, general secretary of Napo

Plans to slash the number of staff in South Yorkshire ensuring criminals are punished and rehabilitated are a ‘significant risk to safety’, a union claims.

Private company Sodexo has announced proposals to cut staff numbers at the South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company by 36 per cent, according to the National Association of Probation Officers.

The redundancies are expected to affect finance, information technology, human resourses, deputy directors, middle managers, administration and receptionists.

The workforce is set to be reduced to 184.6 full-time employees by October, and 157.8 by the first half of 2016.

A message to staff from director of corporate services Amanda Cullen and assistant chief officer Jan Hannant read: “This is a difficult time for everyone. Even for staff not directly affected by this news, it will have a big impact on friends and colleagues.”

The South Yorkshire CRC works with more than 3,700 medium and low-risk offenders across Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Barnsley each year who are on a community order or on licence after their release from prison. It also manages offenders’ unpaid work in the community.

NAPO has said the proposed redundancies reflect Sodexo’s intentions to supervise low-risk offenders via call centres and use biometric reporting to allow offenders to report in to probation without seeing a supervising officer.

Ian Lawrence, NAPO general secretary, said: “We are angry about this news.

“The use of call centres and machines instead of highly skilled staff is downright dangerous and will put the public at risk.”

A Sodexo Justice Services spokesman said: “We are in the process of sharing our future plans with employees across the six CRCs we operate, including South Yorkshire. Given we are formally consulting on these plans, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”