News Daily: Probation renationalised, and May to meet Tory backbenchers

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Probation service renationalised

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Five years ago, Chris Grayling – then justice secretary – began the part-privatisation of the probation service in England and Wales. It meant private companies were responsible for monitoring medium and low-risk offenders, with payment linked to results. But now those changes will be reversed by the end of 2020.

In March the National Audit Office said problems with the new system had cost taxpayers almost £500m, and that numbers returning to prison for breaching their licence had “skyrocketed”. Chief probation inspector Dame Glenys Stacey said the model of part-privatisation was “irredeemably flawed”.

Dame Glenys said she was “delighted” about Justice Secretary David Gauke’s decision. But Janine McDowell, of Sodexo Justice Services in the UK & Ireland, claimed it would “increase cost and risk”.

May to meet backbenchers

With one week to go until the UK takes part in EU elections, Theresa May will meet the executive of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers today. They’re expected to demand that she sets a date for her departure.

The Conservatives and Labour are still trying to negotiate a deal that would allow a Brexit withdrawal agreement to pass the House of Commons. MPs will vote on a withdrawal bill – which is required to implement Mrs May’s deal – next month.

Read our party-by-party guide to the EU elections here; learn the basics of European elections here; and discover how much the UK’s newly-elected MEPs could earn here.

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Ratings success for Chris Evans

Ex-BBC DJ Chris Evans has helped Virgin Radio break the one million listener barrier, the latest Rajar ratings show. His new breakfast show attracted an average weekly audience of 1.05 million in the first three months of 2019. Virgin Radio as a whole was averaging about 480,000 listeners per week before he joined.

‘The flagship reforms have failed’

Danny Shaw, BBC Home Affairs Correspondent

The decision to renationalise offender supervision will be seen as an admission by the government that Chris Grayling’s flagship reforms have failed.

He went ahead in 2014 despite numerous warnings about the considerable risks of splitting probation services between different providers and introducing a method of payment-by-results.

Probation unions and criminal justice experts urged him to at least pilot the new approach, so problems could be identified and rectified. But Mr Grayling went for quick, wholesale change.

He wanted the contracts with the private companies firmly in place before the 2015 general election so the system couldn’t be undone if there was a change of government.

However, inspection after inspection signalled serious problems, with the nail in the coffin being Dame Glenys Stacey’s report in March.

What the papers say

ITV host Jeremy Kyle speaks to the Sun after his show was cancelled, following the death of a guest who appeared on the programme. “Myself and the production team are all utterly devastated,” he says. Other papers lead on the news that MPs are holding an inquiry into British reality TV shows. Read the full paper review here.

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