§ 17. Mr. David Watkins
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Consett on 31 March, Official Report, c. 266, when he expects to have completed his consideration of the resource implications for the probation service of the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1982.
§ Mr. Mellor
The resource requirements of the probation service will be included in the normal way in the Government's annual review of their expenditure plans.
§ Mr. Watkins
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that highly illumanating reply. Is he aware that the increased burdens placed on the probation service by the Criminal Justice Act 1982 require a reliably estimated 8 per cent. increase in resources? How can the probation service, which is already grossly overstretched, possibly meet the new demands without an adequate increase in resources?
§ Mr. Mellor
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that during the lifetime of this Government there has been real growth in the probation service in every year, and that growth is projected to continue in the public expenditure plans that have been laid before the House. The impact of that has been a 9 per cent. growth in the number of probation officers during the past three years, and a 46 per cent. growth in the number of probation ancillaries. Thus, we recognise that the probation service has an essential role to play in making non-custodial sentences work. We are giving the service the resources to enable it to do the job effectively.