Britain's 100-year-old probation service is to be dismantled and swallowed up in an American-style 'corrections' system, according to a secret blueprint seen by The Observer.

The Home Office has already announced plans to merge the prison and probation services. The new move will see large sections of the probation service outsourced to private security companies in an attempt to prove to the public that the punishment of offenders in the community is not a soft option.

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