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Probation reforms pushed back two months

Plans to put 70% of probation contracts out to private companies have been delayed for a second time.

In a written ministerial statement justice secretary Chris Grayling said that the deadline of April 1 would be moved back two months to June 1. This would allow rehabilitation companies to test new ways of working, including computer, support and human resources.

Grayling said: “All probation trusts have now received formal notification of the termination of the probation trust service contract as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme.

“Trusts are now completing the allocation of staff to their new roles, and every Trust is on track to do so by 1 April. We will then test key aspects of the new model so that those who will be in both the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and in the National Probation Service (NPS) can trial the new ways of working before we formally complete the transfer to the new governance arrangements. Over a two month period from April we will prepare for the full transition to new IT and support systems in areas like HR.

“We will also start new interim account management arrangements from 1 April, to allow the account management team to start to work closely with emerging CRC and NPS teams right away and prepare for contract mobilisation from the end of May.

“Full commercial contract management will follow at the conclusion of the competition process.”

The Probation Chiefs Association said: “It remains that the timetable for transition is still extremely pressured. We have concerns that if the transitionary infrastructure is not implemented carefully and fully tested before the new organisations 'go live' on 1 June, this could have serious risks of an unacceptable fall in probation service quality and public safety implications.”

The programme is set to go live at the end of December.

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