Probation officers are set to go on strike today over plans to privatise the supervision of offenders.
The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) has called a 24-strike from noon in protest at a controversial sell-off of parts of the service.
The union has raised fears for patient safety over proposals for private companies to supervise offenders classed as low-medium risk.
Companies included Serco and G4S could take over services under plans announced by justice secretary Chris Grayling in May.
Napo claims private firms would provide an inferior service, and has pointed out that the majority of serious further offences are committed by people classed as low-medium risk.
Ian Lawrence, Napo’s 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 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.”
Justice minister Jeremy Wright said: “It is disappointing Napo has chosen to strike when we are making positive progress in meaningful discussions with them and other relevant trade unions as we transfer to the new arrangements.”