Ministry of Justice
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Probation Service to give better value for money
Fixed targets for outsourcing work to private companies, voluntary groups and public service organisations by the probation service have been scrapped, Justice Minister David Hanson said today.
All 42 probation areas in England and Wales will now use a Best Value model, as used by local government bodies, when awarding contracts in order to ensure best value for the taxpayer.
The decision to introduce the "Best Value" model was introduced through parliament in the Offender Management Act last year and the decision of how it would work was decided after a four month public consultation which ended in July. All probation areas are expected to be applying the model by April 2010.
David Hanson said:
"We want the best possible systems to manage offenders in the community, to protect the public and reduce re-offending while ensuring best value for the taxpayer.
"Following a public consultation we will be rolling out the Best Value model to all services funded by probation boards and trusts. We are learning from the experience of local government bodies and I believe it will lead to improvements in the Probation Service."
Assessments made using the Best Value model will not favour one service provider over another but ensure the public and offenders get the best service at a reasonable cost.
If Best Value reviews indicate a service should be competed, such competition will be conducted within a regulatory framework, developed to ensure fairness and transparency. The regulatory framework for competitions will be published by April next year.
The consultation this year invited the public to comment on a proposed model for how the Best Value scheme would work. The responses have helped to further develop the scheme.
The Best Value model was first introduced into local government in April 2000, under the provisions of the Local Government Act 1999. It placed on local authorities a duty to make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which they carried out their functions, with regard to economy, efficiency and effectiveness.
As part of the Offender Management Act 2007 the provision of assistance to courts will be retained within the public sector until Parliament agrees otherwise. There is also a wider commitment to retain the management of offenders (such as supervising offenders in custody or on licence) in the public sector until 2010.
Notes to Editors
1. Members of the public can contact our enquiry point on 020 3334 3555.