98% of probation workers have no confidence in Chris Grayling

A survey of probation workers has revealed a staggering level of distrust in the justice secretary and suggested a dangerous lack of morale in the service.

The Napo and Unison survey of probation workers showed 98% said they have no confidence in Chris Grayling, while 99% did not support the government's effort to privatise the service.

"Our members working in probation have spoken loud and clearly of their despair over the government's botched changes to their service, which is affecting the morale of staff and public safety. Selling-off half the probation service to the private sector would be a disaster," Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said.

"The government must act in the public interest and put a stop to this sell-off now to save the probation service before it is too late."

The survey of 1,000 probation workers paints a picture of a stressed and demoralised workforce, with employees outraged at the sell-off of the service to profit-making companies.

Many are afraid that the public will be put in danger due to failures to share information about former prisoners by the various companies taking on the probation contracts.

Eighty per cent of probation workers said they'd considered finding a new job in the last year, while 55% are actively looking for a new job.

Seventy-eight per cent of those who considered quitting said it was due to their disagreement with the Transforming Rehabilitation programme, while 70% said they felt they were being asked to compromise on standards. Seventy-per-cent also felt undervalued.

Eighty-two per cent said staff morale had decreased following the transfer to private companies, with 46% identifying themselves as extremely stressed.

Sadiq Khan, Labour's shadow justice secretary, said: "This survey is a damning indictment of how bad things have become in the justice system on David Cameron's watch.

"Professional, expert and long-serving staff have no confidence whatsoever in the government's reckless plans to privatise probation and no confidence whatsoever in Chris Grayling.

"With morale so low, with many dedicated and experienced staff on sick leave or leaving because of this government's reckless plans, public safety is being put at risk. David Cameron needs to step in now and get a grip of this mess quickly before things gets any worse."

Justice minister Andrew Selous said: "Each year there are more than half a million crimes committed by those who have broken the law before, and 50,000 of the most prolific offenders are released on to the streets, totally unsupervised and free to go back to their criminal ways. Living with the status quo just means accepting more crime and more victims, and that is not acceptable.

"Through our crucial reforms all offenders will receive 12 months rehabilitation in the community to turn their lives around, including those who are sentenced to less than a year in prison and currently get no support on release.

"Probation staff are working hard to implement these reforms and we will continue to support them throughout this process."