NOMS Bill could be shelved

The bill underpinning the controversial National Offender
Management Service (Noms) could be shelved, increasing the
uncertainty surrounding the body’s future, writes
Maria Ahmed.

Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of probation union
Napo, said government sources had said that the Management of
Offenders and Sentencing Bill was being held back.

Another source close to the development of the bill, which
received its first reading in the House of Lords in January, said
that it “would not make it through” the current
parliamentary session.

The source added that the sentencing proposals would be put in
“through the backdoor” in the Sentencing and Youth
Justice Bill, which the Home Office has said will be published in
the autumn.

Should this happen the elements of the bill concerning Noms
would have to be reintroduced in the parliamentary session
beginning in November 2006..

Since its creation, Noms has come under fire for plans to
develop a market in probation services, and its future has been
called into question by the imminent departure of chief executive
Martin Narey, to head children’s charity

“This could be a further sign that Noms will be kicked
into the long grass,” Fletcher said.

“Officials are frustrated by the lack of detail about the
design of Noms, and with the departure of Martin Narey in the
autumn, it will lose its main defender.”

A Home Office spokeswoman denied the claims and said the
Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill would go ahead.

She added: “We can say nothing further at this stage about
what is and isn’t going to be in the bill.”

In his most recent update sent out to Noms staff last month,
Narey admitted that there were “still some questions to be
answered around the organisational design of NOMS and what it will
actually mean in practice”.

But added he was “confident” that the bill
“would be ready” by the time he left in October.

Home secretary Charles Clarke is expected to make key
announcements about Labour’s plans for penal policy when he
gives the annual Prison Reform Trust lecture on 19 September.


More from Community Care

Comments are closed.