Probation officers under threat of axe after Sodexo’s takeover

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The Bloomsbury-based UK arm of France’s Sodexo won the right to run six of the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and formally took them over on February 1 amid union warnings that the private sector would make large-scale redundancies.

The move was also controversial given outsourcer Sodexo is best known for catering.

The 21 contracts are thought to be worth in the region of £8 billion over the next decade.

Sodexo has already told probation staff in the Cumbria & Lancashire and Yorkshire regions that nearly 320 of them, about a third of the workforce, are likely to lose their jobs.


It is understood that similar cuts are about to be announced in two or more of the other four CRCs Sodexo manages, including the one that oversees Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Earlier this month, Sodexo made what it described as a “public service pledge” at a Westminster reception addressed by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. The group wanted to play down fears about the outsourcing industry.

Lord Chancellor and justice secretary Chris Grayling believes that the commercial nous of Sodexo, and other CRC winners like FTSE 250 group Interserve, will help drastically reduce the costs of probation.

It is understood, for example, that Sodexo is planning to make savings by asking offenders to report to sophisticated machines rather than supervising officers.

Ian Lawrence, the general secretary of the Napo probation union, said: “Probation staff have been through hell over the last 18 months dealing with Grayling’s so-called reforms and now many of them are facing redundancy and job insecurity.

“The use of call centres and machines instead of highly skilled staff is downright dangerous.”

A Sodexo justice services spokeswoman said: “We are in the process of sharing our future plans with employees across the six CRCs that we operate.”

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March 30, 2015 |
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