BEDFELLOWSWhen I was a child a Parker pen was a valued gift. The brand indicated quality and exclusivity. M.G. cars had a cache as the epitome of the English sports cars until under the industrial umbrella of the British Motor Corporation and laterally British Leyland it became an example of badge engineering and has been so devalued that the title was sold to a Chinese company which intends to export its now worthless heritage back to this country in the guise of a metal box with four wheels. Paradoxically Jaguar has been saved a similar fate by being sold to an Indian billionaire. The list of managements who stray from their area of so called expertise is legion. Even Tesco has been humbled by its failure to understand the American market. So what has this to do with a magistrate`s blog? The rush to semi privatisation has and will be creating some very strange bedfellows in order to try to balance the books of a country where quality is being sacrificed for quantity.

Durham Prison was not exactly praised to the hilt by in a recent report by the Chief Inspector of Prisons: indeed there was not much praise at all. So it is a matter of some controversy in my opinion whether Teesside Probation Service in conjunction with Interserve a conglomerate PLC can and will manage a function which should truly be a function of the state just like the courts, any better than previously. Of course similar such “partnerships” have been around for decades although in perhaps a more discreet form and where their usefulness could be justified as being in non essential services; BBC Licensing aka Capita plc comes to mind in this respect. But with the recent scandal of courts` interpreter services being hived off to the aforesaid Capita plc, security to Serco et als, the employment of security companies to patrol our streets etc etc the future is more hope than promise and that is without castigating the entire principle of any “Justice” functions being farmed out to private enterprise. Justice and Defence are alone in their being the only state activities which the state and the state alone should control.