Front line South Yorkshire probation service staff ‘in the firing line’

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP

The number of probation officers in South Yorkshire is to be cut by almost two thirds, a whistleblower has said.

Front-line officer numbers will be slashed from 16 to just six according to parliamentary candidate John Healey, who was contacted by a Sodexo worker about the plans.

Chief Constable for South Yorkshire Police David Crompton.

Chief Constable for South Yorkshire Police David Crompton.

Sodexo is the owner of the South Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company, which works with more than 3,700 medium and low-risk offenders across the region.

The private firm has announced proposals to make 36 per cent of its workforce redundant overall.

The redundancies are also expected to affect finance, IT, human resources, deputy directors, middle managers, administration and receptionists.

Labour candidate Mr Healey, who is standing for re-election in Wentworth and Dearne, having been the area’s MP since 1997, has now written to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling about the ‘reckless’ move.

He has asked Mr Grayling to look urgently at staffing levels and ensure the quality of the service does not suffer.

Mr Healey said: “I have repeatedly challenged the privatisation of our perfectly good probation service.

“Now we see private company managers showing little care and attention to the service, offenders and safety of the public.

“Severe cuts like this cannot be carried through without a dramatic downgrading of the vital work probation staff do, which will impact on the rehabilitation of offenders and safety of the public.”

The whistleblower has also raised concerns that the probation service is increasingly relying on unqualified staff rather than trained professionals to cut costs.

A Sodexo Justice Services spokesman said: “We are in the process of sharing our future plans with employees.

“Given we are formally consulting on these plans, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”