Criminal justice minister Baroness Scotland today hinted that
there would be legislation to underpin the National Offender
Management Service at the Labour party conference,
writes Maria Ahmed from Brighton.
She was responding to concerns from prisons’ and probation
unions that the long-awaited Noms Bill had been dropped. Baroness
Scotland said there would be a bill, but unions were frustrated by
lack of detail given by the minister.
At a fringe meeting organised by probation union Napo and the
Prison Officers’ Association, Neil Gerrard MP, said the
government had still failed to provide details on the future of the
probation boards and had not given details of a business case 18
months after Noms was introduced,
The proposals under Noms to make services
“contestable” by getting existing probation services to
compete with private and voluntary sector organisations to run
services were confirmed by Home Secretary Charles Clarke last
The unions, which have opposed the proposals, said they feared
the move would mean privatisation of the Prison Service and Colin
Moses, chair of the POA, called Noms “nonsense”.
Baroness Scotland insisted that contestability was not
privatisation and said Noms would not be about making profit out of
the criminal justice system.
Unions said they were frustrated with her response and said they
would push for further debate in parliament.