More than 120 probation officers in Lancashire and Cumbria are at risk of losing their jobs under massive cuts planned over the next 12 months.
Sodexo, one of the private firms running six of the Community Rehabilitation Companies, has announced sweeping cuts.
Probation staff have been through hell over the last 18 months dealing with reforms and now many of them are facing redundancy and job insecurity.Ian Lawrence - Napo General Secretary
It has told the union Napo that around 30 per cent of the current jobs in Lancashire and Cumbria will be axed.
The company says it intends to introduce “biometric reporting” using cash machine-style kiosks. Offenders on probation will sign in using the machines instead of meeting an officer face to face.
One hundred and twenty three jobs are said to be at risk in Lancashire and Cumbria. Its sites include Chorley, Lancaster and Preston.
Napo has also been told that Sodexo does not intend to honour the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme which forms part of the agreed National Framework signed by the Ministry of Justice and trade unions.
Napo says the posts at risk cover all grades of staff including admin, probation officers, middle managers and corporate services.
Ian Lawrence, Napo General Secretary, said: “We are angry and disappointed about this news.
“Probation staff have been through hell over the last 18 months dealing with reforms and now many of them are facing redundancy and job insecurity. The use of call centres and machines instead of highly skilled staff is downright dangerous and will put the public at risk.”
A Lancashire probation officer said staff were worried about the loss of human contact.
She said officers cared about victims of crime and their work was often unpublicised.
They used their people skills and intuition to sense when something wasn’t right and could act to intervene.
She said: “A lot of what we do is protecting victims. The public never gets to hear about it. How would a machine know to act in the same way?”
A Sodexo spokesman said managers were consulting with staff and did not want to comment further.