Construction giant Carillion is weighing up a bid to take over part of the National Probation Service, it can be revealed.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has invited offers for £450 million of work for supervision of offenders, with the Wolverhampton-based building firm understood to be in the running.
Twenty-one contracts across England and Wales were put up for grabs by the government body last month and will involve 225,000 low and medium-risk offenders each year. But probation union officials NAPO, which represents union members of the probation service, has raised concerns about Carillion’s ‘lack of experience’ in probation.
Last week the firm announced it was scaling back its energy business and axing jobs because it wasn’t making as much money as expected from government deals. It is believed cases dealing with high-risk offenders will remain under control of the MoJ with the rest going to private organisations.
Jane Smith, spokeswoman for Carillion, said it was in the early stages of the process.
Tanya Bassett, who is the NAPO national official for press and parliament, said: “The biggest concerns for the probation service were G4S and Serco but for a company like Carillion to come in when they don’t have experience it is worrying.
“Medium and low-risk offenders make up the majority of offenders and there are questions still to be answered, such as will a private company declare an offender is high risk and potentially lose out on money? It is something that could put members of the public at risk.”
NAPO has described the MoJ decision to put the contracts out for tender as ‘privatisation’ but Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said the move is designed to bring down crime figures.