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Justice Select Committee: Privatisation of Probation costs

The new Minister of State for Prisons was before the Justice Select Committee this week and I wanted to grill him on wasted taxpayer money through the privatisation of probation services.

The National Audit Office undertook a review into this failed experiment – started by the current Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP – and concluded that the Ministry of Justice has had to pump £467 million into the failed project to try and stabilise them.

You can see from my questioning that the Minister and his civil servants were very uncomfortable with these questions. There is obviously still more to learn on this. The Minister tried to hide behind his belief that the taxpayer has saved money because the services are being renationalised again. But this is a completely false way of looking at things. To make a comparison, if you moved out of your house you would stop paying the rent – meaning you make a saving – but you will still need to find somewhere else to live which will cost you rent. The same can be said for rehabilitation. We may no longer be paying the private companies to undertake the work, but we will still have to undertake it ourselves. But we lose the money we spent on private firms prior to renationalisation.

This has been a failed experiment that I voted against when it was first proposed in the 2010-15 Parliament. Our money has been wasted for dogma of private good, public bad. The UK Government should be ashamed.