The government has decided to end the contracts with the private companies that manage medium and low risk offenders in the community two years early at a cost of £170m.

The contracts with the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) were due to run until 2022, but will now be ended in 2020. Many CRCs, which operate on a payment by results basis, have made substantial losses. The proposal is they will be replaced by ten new contracts.

Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “It will be hard for PCCs across the country to resist saying to the government ‘We told you so’.

“We were never convinced that breaking up the probation service was sensible, and this has proved right.

“This is not a criticism of those who work in the South Yorkshire CRC. They have worked extremely hard at getting things right and reducing reoffending. The need for change is the result of systematic contractual problems, rather than a reflection of how staff and providers have delivered.

“A better solution would be to give the funding to PCCs and allow them to commission locally with realistic and sensible criteria for measuring success.

“Above all, we need a period of stability. Managing offenders in the community is something the public needs to have confidence in but these constant shake-ups and experiments create anxieties.”