Thursday, 30 December 2010

Bus Passes, Unemployment and Probation

I don't possess a bus pass for a couple of reasons. One is that few buses operate in these parts and the other is my concern with these cards being called 'National Entitlement Cards' which really means they are national identity cards.  The sample card on the Scottish Government's website actually states 'OneScotland accessing public services'. To read more about these cards it's worthwhile reading Dr Welford's site.  As he suggests the Scottish Government may like to investigate how the data gathered is shared.  Many won't realise these cards are anything other than a pass for free bus travel.

But that's not the point of this post.  It's reported West Yorkshire Probation Trust spend nearly £300,000 a year on free bus passes for offenders.  The offenders are asked to make a voluntary contribution of £2 towards the cost of each £19.50 pass but last year the council only collected £19,500, leaving a shortfall of £276,500.

The trust said yesterday: "We don't sell bus passes to offenders, but a contribution towards the cost is requested. It is acknowledged that contributions are not received for every bus pass provided.
"But our objective is to ensure there are no transport barriers preventing an offender complying with probation or court requirements. The trust supports the use of public transport."

In a country where pensioners are dying of hypothermia because they're too frightened they won't be able to meet their ever increasing heating bills and at least 500,000 spent Christmas Day in bed to keep warm, why should taxpayers be paying convicted criminals' bus fares? How many other probation trusts - now the responsibility of Criminal Justice Social Work Services in Scotland - do this throughout the UK?

I know one person who, after being made redundant some months ago, is desperate to find a job.  He's not well off and has a young family, but every day he's in the queue for the 8am bus to either Dundee or Perth.  He pays his own fares.  They use up the bulk of his Job Seekers Allowance.  His attitude is that most jobs will be in the cities and he's better placed for an interview if he's 'on the spot'.  When the weather was better he cycled each day.  I've no doubt he will find a job soon because of his determination and skills, but the job-seeking experience doesn't come cheap to his family. Yet offenders have free travel connected with probation or court requirements.

I wonder how many of the West Yorkshire Probation Trust's clients could cycle or walk to comply with the law's needs.



Jo G said...

Where to start really Subrosa?

Truly we have lost the plot in this country. Even the unemployed don't get free bus passes. Why should offenders?

Joe Public said...

I'm not sure whether it's better or worse?

1. It's my guess that most offenders are too 'proud' to use a bus, so they probably won't use £19.50-worth of travel a year.

2. It's my guess most offenders have a car or access to one. [Whether they're taxed & insured is another matter.]

3. Buy shares in West Yorkshire Bus Services - they're the ones guaranteed to make a profit out of the enterprise.

subrosa said...

I don't know where to start Jo. Even worse, I don't know where it will finish.

subrosa said...

Joe, I don't think it involves one £19.50 pass a year. Possibly it's at least one a month.

I like your (3) idea. Forward thinking.

cynicalHighlander said...

They wouldn't accept my photo.

English Pensioner said...

My English bus pass (which I can't use in Scotland)is issued by the County Council. There seems little chance that the data gathered can be collected and used elsewhere as they seem incapable of correlating it with the electoral register and insist on sending my wife and I separate letters each year asking us to confirm our names and addresses (presumably to see if we are still alive) a couple of weeks after I have just returned the electoral registration form. I only use my pass when I need to visit the local hospital as the parking charges are horrendous!

subrosa said...

No wonder CH. Where did you find that photo of me? :)

subrosa said...

EP, that doesn't mean they don't have the data and are hawking it around, it just means they're badly disorganised with their mail shots. Don't you think?

By bus it would take me at least 2 hours to get to hospital in Dundee or Perth. By car it takes half an hour - plus the time finding a parking space but it's usually not longer than 10 minutes.

All Seeing Eye said...

Slightly harder for me to comment on this one because they're just in the process of making all of the buses free here for everyone, but I'm really surprised that as many people as that volunteered to pay.

Frankly the ingrained tendency of the pond-life end of the spectrum to milk society for all it's worth and then spit on the remains should have ruled out any contributions at all. What gives?

subrosa said...

I don't know what gives ASE, but I'd like to know how many convicted people live outwith a 3 mile radius of their probation officer or court. They could walk that distance surely. I used to walk 3 miles to school and back every day from the age of 6. We couldn't afford bus fares and it was over half a mile to the bus anyway.

JuliaM said...

"But our objective is to ensure there are no transport barriers preventing an offender complying with probation or court requirements."


subrosa said...

That's the liberal lefties for you Julia. When are these people going to realise this country is broke.

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