New powers for probation officers

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The Probation Service is to be shaken-up and officers given greater enforcement powers to drive forward the Government attack on crime.

The Probation Service is to be shaken-up and officers given greater enforcement powers to drive forward the Government attack on crime.

The Crime and Probation Bill announced today will also allow compulsory drug testing, make it a crime for unsuitable people to work with children and set up a new service to look after children involved in family court proceedings.

Under the Bill, the probation service will become a national organisation for the first time, with the current 54 separate services in England and Wales re-arranged into 42 areas following police force boundaries.

Probation staff will be given more powers to ensure offenders who flout their community sentences are hauled back before the courts.

The Bill will also allow more electronic tagging of offenders.

As announced by Tony Blair before the Labour Party conference, the Bill will allow compulsory drug tests on offenders or people under arrest.

The tests will be targeted at offenders who turn to crime to fund drug habits including high level heroin and cocaine users who could be refused bail if they test positive.

The results will also be used to channel drug misusers into treatment programmes, to monitor offenders under probation service supervision and to support a new drug testing community sentence.

Referring arrested drug users to treatment schemes can lead to an 80% reduction in offending behaviour, the Government said.

A new criminal offence will be created to stop people identified as unsuitable, either because of previous convictions or because of their past behaviour, from ever working with children.

The crime would cover the public, private, voluntary and volunteering sector and is aimed at stopping paedophiles continuing abuse by changing jobs or moving house.

Children will also get more support with the creation of the new Children and Family Court Advisory Service which will give the court advice on issues such as placing children in local authority care, applications for residence or contact and adoption.

The body will draw on work currently done by a range of bodies including the probation service, the Official Solicitor's Department and local authority Guardian ad Litem and Reporting Officer services.

All the measures cover England and Wales.

Comments