THE outsourcing of probation services "will either work very well or very badly", a senior North Yorkshire Police officer has warned.

National plans will come into force later this year which will see the privatisation of probation work with offenders, with private companies made responsible for overseeing all but the most difficult to handle offenders during sentence.

Under a payments by result scheme, they will receive bonuses for offenders who do not reoffend, but the decision has already proved controversial with members of the National Association of Probation Officers in York walking out in part of a national strike in November.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick was speaking at the Safer York Partnership Crime Summit, when he addressed concerns about the changes, and said it was unclear what the new service would look like, and how well the changes to the probation service would work.

He said: "It doesn't help that the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office seem further apart at the moment than they have in years and years.

"Probation provision will cease and we will have suppliers in place in the autumn. They will deal with 75-80 per cent of probation work, the lower level offenders. Those are the ones who generate the highest volume of crime. That will either work very well or very badly."

Mr Madgwick said that regardless of the national changes to the probation service, the key would be for police to work with partner agencies to improve rehabilitation rates.

He said: "Have we effectively rehabilitated enough offenders? No. That is costing this community and country an awful lot of money, and impacting on peoples' lives."

Mr Madgwick said that as well as the probation service, "the CPS is under a huge amount of pressure, and there are further cuts coming down the line", and changes would also have to be made to the way police work, to ensure work more closely with the CPS in order for prosecutions can be made successfully.

He said: "We, as a police service, have to get better at what we do in investigations."