There has been a lot written particularly in the blogosphere such as Probation Matters about why TR is wrong from a moral perspective – a point of view which I entirely agree with. What about TR from a business /money making perspective? This blog will look at some of the issues from this perspective.
Is there money to be made?
The fact that some well established business are bidding for contracts provides a positive answer to this question. However the answer is not that simple as a straight yes as there are short and long term perspectives.
Short term – my prediction
Almost certainly there is some sort of money to be made, provided overheads can be slashed and/or targets set by the MOJ are hit. However, the amount made is unlikely to be up to the jackpot level as for most IT and previous MOJ bidders – money for old rope alert! That said the profit level /margin will not be sufficient over the medium term for publicly quoted companies as their duty is to their share holders, who mostly are interested in short term profit. So how can extra profits be squeezed out? In most business the largest overhead is people so we can expect personnel to be squeezed and restructured whatever the laws around TUPE say – that is what expensive accountants and lawyers are for!) with low cost alternatives to expensive Probation Officers being placed in the contracts.
This will mitigate the risk of missing targets because if expensive workers are replaced with cheap ones you are in a win win situation. If you fiddle your numbers and hit your targets you are in a win win. However even if you fail to hit your target you should still end up in profit as staff overheads have been slashed – provided you have got your financial modelling correct.
Will money justify the risks?
An excellent article in the Independent examines this issue http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/sentinel-and-co-beware-theres-no-easy-money-to-be-made-out-of-transforming-rehabilitation-9557704.html Basically, the risk that an offender on your patch commits a serious offence while being minimally supervised by inexperienced and poorly trained staff, is a substantial risk.
The key risk though is that TR will been seen as too much of a political risk for the Coalition, timescales will be extended and it will be reviewed out of existence. Hence all the money put down by bidding organisations will have been wasted.
In writing this article Andrew Thorne acknowledges the following:
He is MD of a successful employment business operating within Criminal Justice that is overwhelmed by vacancies for POs in the CRCs and NPS
Backstop has not bid for any CRC contracts
Backstop is providing scores of temporary Probation Staff to CRCs and NPS
TR has been extremely positive for Backstop’ trading position
Andrew is a committed socialist and feminist (he thinks so anyway!)