The delivery of youth justice is set to be improved as a result of the Offender Management Bill published today, according to the Home Office.
The new legislation will address delivery in the youth justice sector, to improve the way young people are managed in custody.
It also makes provision for new arrangements within probation and removes inconsistencies between the legal powers of private and public sector prison staff.
Prisons minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: “This bill is about the delivery of services necessary to stop offenders committing further crimes.
“Probation will continue to be valued as a profession, reinforced by rigorous national standards and training. But tackling re-offending requires a broad coalition and whilst the public sector remains a key player it cannot do everything on its own,” he added.
The bill will enable the secretary of state to commission services from the best provider, whether in the public, private or voluntary sector.
The legislation also removes some of the inconsistencies between the powers of staff in public and private prisons now the private sector has a good track record of delivering safe and well-functioning prisons.
Paul Cavadino, chief executive of rehabilitation agency Nacro, welcomed the increased role for the voluntary sector.
“Commissioning voluntary organisations to provide more practical resettlement services will do far more to cut crime than tougher sentences.”
However, Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation union Napo said: “This bill will, if implemented, lead to the abolition of the National Probation Service and its replacement with a competitive market.
“Local accountability would be lost, information sharing between agencies will be diminished by competition, and public protection compromised.
“This bill is not about improving standards, it is about privatisation.”