Labour’s Chris Williamson crushes the justice minister for turning probation into a ‘cash-cow’

Chris Williamson
Support us and go ad-free

In parliament on 18 December, Labour MP Chris Williamson slammed the Conservative justice minister for turning probation into a “cash-cow”

It’s easy to see why. An eight-month report from the parliamentary Justice Committee found that the Conservatives’ probation privatisation had failed in every measure and risked public safety.

“Abject failure”

Williamson was not impressed with the Conservatives introducing profit to the probation system in England and Wales:

We know the government sees public services as a cash-cow for the private sector. But the privatisation of the probation service has been an abject failure. [The contract] had to be terminated two years early despite a half a billion pounds bailout. The privatised service failed to reduce offending. So why is the minister proposing to privatise the service again in 2020?

David Cameron’s administration began the Transforming Rehabilitation privatisation process in 2014.

In response, justice minister David Gauke said:

I would say to him that, in the period of time since transforming rehabilitation, actually the reoffending rate has fallen. We would like it to fall further. And there are issues with how the system is working, which is why we’re taking the entirely pragmatic approach in terms of bringing those contracts to an end.

Fundamentally flawed

MPs in the cross-party Justice Committee, however, demanded the government ends the “botched” system. As well as the functional failures, the Conservative government had to bail out the rehabilitation companies with £512m in 2018. In July, Justice Committee chair Bob Neill – a Conservative MP and barrister – said:

We are unconvinced that Transforming Rehabilitation will ever deliver the kind of probation service we need. Hard working and dedicated staff are doing their best with a probation system that is currently a mess

Introducing profit into the justice system undermines the critical service it provides. In the Commons, Williamson nailed the bottom line: everyone needs public services such as justice to work, so why rent them from the private sector?

Featured image Chris Williamson/Twitter

Support us and go ad-free

Get involved

  • Smash the scam of privatising essential services with We Own It.

Do your bit for independent journalism

Did you know that less than 1.5% of our readers contribute financially to The Canary? Imagine what we could do if just a few more people joined our movement to achieve a shared vision of a free and fair society where we nurture people and planet.

We need you to help out, if you can.

When you give a monthly amount to fund our work, you are supporting truly independent journalism. We hold power to account and have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence the counterpoint to the mainstream.

You can count on us for rigorous journalism and fearless opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right wing mainstream media.

In return you get:

  • Advert free reading experience
  • Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
  • 20% discount from our shop


The Canary Fund us