A Home Office plan says councils could take over supervision of some unpaid work schemes for offenders in the community from April 2008.
Most unpaid work schemes are currently delivered directly by probation staff, at a cost of £100 million a year, but the plan, published yesterday (Monday), said they could be contracted out to other providers over the next five years.
The Public Value Partnerships document said councils would be encouraged to identify work schemes “relevant to their communities” and supervise offenders taking part.
However, it said there was “no expectation” on councils to do more than identify work schemes “unless they choose to”.
It also reiterated the government’s overarching intention to open up failing probation services to competition from other providers, including those from the private and voluntary sectors.
Legislation to remove the statutory duty on probation boards to provide probation services would be introduced “as soon as parliamentary time allows”, it added.
Probation union Napo pledged to continue its opposition to “any form of forced competition”.