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Gravesend probation workers set to strike

PUBLISHED: 16:10 04 November 2013 | UPDATED: 17:04 04 November 2013

Probation workers in Gravesend are set to strike at noon on Tuesday in a continuing row over government plans to privatise the probation service.

Napo, the trade union for probation and family court staff, balloted for strike action last month, with members voting “overwhelmingly for strike action”.

Ian Lawrence, general secretary, said: “These are unprecedented times for our members as they fight to save the 106-year-old probation service.

“They strongly believe, along with other criminal justice agencies and experts that (Secretary of State for Justice) Chris Grayling’s plans will undermine public protection and put communities at risk whilst also not providing the adequate service offenders need to turn their lives around”.

There are growing concerns within the probation service about the two companies likely to bid for the service - Serco and G4S - if as planned 70 per cent of the sector is privatised.

Mr Lawrence said: “It is wholly unacceptable that these two companies are allowed to bid for the probation service whilst still under investigation for fraud regarding tagging and given their recent track records with the Olympics, private prisons and prison transport.

“The probation service is possibly the best performing public service we have, meeting and exceeding all government targets, reducing re-offending and being awarded the British Gold Award for Excellence in 2011.”

Napo members across England and Wales will walk out of offices today at 12 noon on November 5 and will return until noon on November 6.

A Kent Probation Spokesperson said “Our priority is public protection and we have in place our contingency plan to manage the local impact of this national industrial action.”

Strike action comes at a time when many public sector staff have announced strikes across the country in the last week.

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