Probation changes attacked

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Indy Politics
The university and college-based training for probation officers is to scrapped by Michael Howard, prompting claims that the Home Secretary is destroying the service's professionalism and putting the public at risk.

Social work diplomas will no longer be needed and training is to be tailored to suit the needs of individual recruits, which ministers hope will include more ex-service and police officers, in the most radical shake- up in probation history.

Mr Howard said: "I propose to sweep away the barriers to the recruitment of people who have relevant skills and experience but lack the social work diploma."

But Jack Straw, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "Any attempt to downgrade the training and professionalism of the probation service and will put the public at risk."

Chief probation officers said the proposals would put back probation training by 20 years and "seriously dilute its overall quality".