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Cabinet minister slammed for Probation jobs “lottery”

3 July 2014: For immediate use

Toby Perkins, MP for Chesterfield, today revealed how Chris Grayling, the Secretary of State for Justice, ignored warnings that important jobs in the Probation Service were transferred to the private sector on the whim of a lottery.

Toby’s constituent, Gwen MacDonald has worked for more than 20 years in the probation service in Sheffield.  She was recently transferred out of the service into one of the new six private companies the Tory-led government have outsourced probation services to.  When she sought information about why she had been selected to be moved whilst other staff with only a few months experience were allowed to stay with the new national service, she was told names for transfer were drawn from a hat!

Perkins said:

DP - 1 July 14 p1“Probation officers do an incredibly difficult and important job to reduce reoffending rates and rehabilitate offenders.  There are already grave concerns about the Tory-led government’s plans to hollow out the service and transfer staff to six private companies.

“So it was shocking to hear that many staff have been selected for transfer by having their names pulled out of a hat.  It’s a shambolic conclusion to a worrying process.

“Grayling has consistently denied that this is even happening, dismissing Ms MacDonald’s claims as “absolute nonsense” in the House.  So I’ve had no choice but to send him emails from Sheffield Probation Service which prove this is the case.

“He should consider re-running process so that staff and the public can have faith in the way decisions are arrived at, and hold an enquiry into how this situation occurred.”


For further comment call Toby Perkins on 01246 386 286


  • 1 July – Toby raised this case with the Secretary of State at Justice Question Time.  His response were that the claims were “absolute nonsense”.
  • 2 July – Toby gave Grayling a chance to correct his remarks on the record by raising a Point of Order after PMQs.  Again in a note written to Toby, Grayling insisted that “selection was not done by drawing names from a hat”.
  • 3 July – Toby has therefore been forced to send Grayling a letter with a copy of an email chain involving Ms MacDonald, where she is explicitly told by the local Probation Service’s HR Systems Manager, that names were “drawn out of a hat by a panel of three”.

Three documents are attached:

  1. The email chain which demonstrates that staff have been transferred by lottery
  2. The letter sent by Toby to Grayling today
  3. A copy of the note passed between Toby and Grayling in the Commons on 2 July

One Response to “Cabinet minister slammed for Probation jobs “lottery””

  1. C Towers says:

    I am not in your constituancy but i needed to say thank you for highlighting the above case and hopefully bringing about an apology from CG for the utterly disgraceful disregard for experienced probation officers, now leaving the service as fast as they can. The changes so far have left people near to having nervous breakdowns, taking sick leave, unsure about their future, working with failing IT systems, burn out, dispair and dispondancy, up and down the country, all the while being dismissed by CG. There is lots of evidence. Take a look at jim browns blogg. Lots of serious stories going on there. RIP the probation service



I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


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