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New probation boss’ safety pledge

PUBLISHED: 12:57 06 February 2008 | UPDATED: 11:31 01 July 2010

A NEW chief of the probation service has been appointed a fortnight after the organisation revealed 40 jobs are to be axed, writes Kate Mead.

A NEW chief of the probation service has been appointed a fortnight after the organisation revealed 40 jobs are to be axed, writes Kate Mead.

Sarah Billiald, 33, chief officer of Kent Probation, took up the role as the Kent Probation Area (KPA) slashes its workforce.

This month Henry Fletcher, assistant secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers, said the early retirement and voluntary redundancies would put the public at risk.

KPA is slashing 40 jobs to make up a £1.2million deficit which works out around £30,000 per head.

Mrs Billiard joins probation from the Treasury, where she was Deputy Director of Home Affairs Team with the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit.

She said: "My top priority is reducing re-offending to ensure that Kent remains a safe place to live."

She succeeds Hilary James, who has become Chief Officer in Cambridgeshire, and is also a member of the National Criminal Justice Board, recently sitting on the inter-ministerial group for reducing re-offending.

Job cuts were announced on Monday, January 14, days after the government announced plans for tagged prisoners to be released early.

Under the new proposals, up to 1,000 prison places could be freed up weekly by the early releases which take in to consideration time spent wearing a tag before trial.

Harry Fletcher said: "If there is no-one to supervise released criminals then of course there is increased risk to the public. It's absurd."

Alan Dowie, chief officer of the KPA, said they were still "working with staff with a view to minimising the impact on services and maximising the protection of the public" but did not say how this would be put in to practice.

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