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Probation Officer Shortages Raises Alarm

January 20, 2004 12:00 AM

Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, Tom Brake, raised local concerns about probation officer shortages in Parliament yesterday.

Speaking during Home Office questions, Tom Brake MP said, "The vacancy rate is alarmingly high". He challenged Paul Goggins MP, the Minister for Correctional Services, to confirm that a recent improvement in the vacancy figures was not due to the goal-posts being shifted and the recommended establishment for London being cut.

In his response, the Minister revealed that in recent months, recruitment and retention had declined and the number of vacancies had risen sharply again.

Mr Brake was made aware of concerns over staffing levels in recent meetings with probation officers. He is particularly concerned at the amount of undue stress that vacancies have been putting on existing probation officers and the impact on crime locally.

Mr Brake added, "The impact of the probation officer shortages will undoubtedly be felt in Sutton, if not now, in the near future. In the summer, there was a backlog of cases being dealt with by probation officers. This led to medium risk offenders lacking an officer that they were consistently assigned to. This lack of consistency could lead to a higher rate of re-offending. This must be avoided at all costs."

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