Mr. Robert G. Hughes
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he proposes to publish a green paper on the probation service.
§ Mr. John Patten
We have published today a Green Paper, "Supervision and Punishment in the Community", (Cm 966). This sets out options for the first major reorganisation of the probation service since its formation in 1907, and invites comments from interested organisations and individuals.
The Government have recently published the White Paper, "Crime, Justice and Protecting the Public", which gives our legislative proposals for changes in the way courts in England and Wales deal with offenders. It is essential that the probation service should be organised so that it can meet the demands that the proposals would place on it, and the Green Paper sets out several options for the future.
These include: re-organising and strengthening the management of probation services; using the present Home Office powers to bring about changes in local organisation and procedure; extending the controls exercised by the Home Office; moving to a system whereby the Home Office provides 100 per cent. of probation finance removing all financial obligations from local authorities; and moving to a national service—either under the direct control of the Home Office or as a separate agency.
The Green Paper also discusses ways of involving voluntary organisations and the private sector more in work with offenders, and considers ways of improving probation training where much needs to be done. No final decisions have been made on any of these issues, and the Government are keen to hear the views of the probation service and other interested bodies about the various proposals in the Green Paper.