Some brief facts that may be co-terminus with Grayling's Theory of Evolution (aka TR) in our local office:
1. Sick leave has doubled
2. Morale has plummeted
3. Some staff are so frightened of CRCs that they are effectively bullying managers to allocate them high risk cases because they believe it guarantees them NPS status (not healthy, but hey, who cares anymore?)
4. Some staff are so disillusioned by MoJ/Trust behaviours that they are applying for ANY jobs they think they have a chance of getting
5. Many other staff are so despondent that they are (wholly uncharacteristically) detached from office dynamics and disinterested in colleagues
6. Some staff believe the hype and are distraught that they are not deemed "good enough" for the NPS; nothing seems to ease their angst and they are becoming increasingly depressed
7. I've simply returned to old patterns of behaviour (something my career as a PO seemed to ameliorate) and I just fucking hate everything again.
We know Chris Grayling and the MoJ use this blog in order to help guage the feeling of staff and yesterday he was panicked into writing a letter to try and stem the widespread mood of revolt. We have Andrew to thank for the text of the letter and which is posted on the Napo forum:-
5 December 2013
IMPLEMENTATION of the TRANSFORMING REHABILITATION REFORMS
Given the important stage the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms are now at I wanted to write to you to thank you all for your ongoing professionalism in working closely with colleagues in NOMS and the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme to begin implementation. I know that this could be an unsettling time for some of you, but by looking again at how probation is organised we will be able to build on and extend the good work you already do. Ensuring that statutory rehabilitation is available to those offenders who serve short sentences, and who currently receive no statutory support despite having the highest reoffending rates, will help to bring down reoffending rates and make our communities safer places to live.
The opening up of the market to a wider range of rehabilitation providers will free up frontline professionals, those of you already working in probation, to think innovatively about what works to reduce reoffending. The 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) will work alongside the National Probation Service (NPS) to deliver services that will protect the public and reduce reoffending.
Every part of the Criminal Justice System is under pressure to deliver better services, at less cost. Funding for the supervision of offenders makes up a sizeable proportion of the Department’s budget, and we, like every other part of the system, are faced with the challenge of trying to do better for less. We can either impose further cuts on the structures we have, risking increases in re-offending and leaving short-sentenced offenders without support after release. Or we can reform the system so that it provides more effective rehabilitation at a better value to the taxpayer. We want to do this in a way that is sustainable for the future and I am committed to reinvesting most of the savings we make in order to support supervision for short sentence prisoners. We can only do that if we bring in the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors to work with offenders; it is the reforms in their totality that will bring us closer to the important goal of a year-on-year, incremental reduction in re-offending rates.
I know that many of you will now be wondering in which organisation you will end up working. One of the reasons it is important that Trusts have started the staff assignment process is so that you can begin to have some certainty about your future role. There will be good opportunities in both the CRCs and the NPS to work in new ways – whether this is exploring how best to use mentors to help turn an individual’s life around or focusing on protecting the public from the most dangerous offenders. Both types of organisation will be engaged in existing local partnerships as well as working with new organisations to develop innovative rehabilitation services. Under the new system probation services will be provided differently but the work done in both the CRCs and the NPS will continue to be enormously valued by the Department and the ministerial team. Everyone will be playing an important role in helping offenders and protecting the public. However, I am clear it is important that, despite the changes to the system, we retain the valuable knowledge and expertise of probation professionals. These reforms are about the evolution of the delivery of probation services and the system we are putting in place will build upon your expertise and skills, while giving you more freedom to do what works to drive down reoffending.
We have now filled more than three-quarters of all leadership posts. I am very pleased they have agreed to take on these important roles, leading staff through the transition process into the new structures.
As I mention above the Trusts have begun the assignment process to determine where in the new structure staff will transfer to. If your job function has been identified as only appearing in either the CRCs of the NPS you will be ‘Automatically Assigned’ to the relevant organisation as appropriate. If your job function appears in both the CRCs and NPS then an Expressions of Interest method of assignment is being used. In both situations there will be opportunities to appeal the decisions that are being made, and this process should have now been set out to you in letters from your Trusts.
I understand that some of you will be worried about the impact the implementation process will potentially have on your day job. I would like to assure you that public safety remains our top priority and the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme, working with colleagues in NOMS, will support Trusts with the transition process to minimise the impact on operational delivery.
I also understand that there are some concerns about how cases will be allocated to staff in the new system. Again, we will not compromise operational safety during the move to the new system. I entirely agree that at all times every offender should know who their offender manager is, and this approach is exactly what we will maintain throughout the transition. If there are specific circumstances that make it necessary for cases to remain with the relevant case manager for a longer period to mitigate risk, then that will be the approach we adopt. All of this will be done in consultation with Trust leadership so that a safe handover can be achieved.
It is crucial that the transition to the NPS and CRCs by 1 April is done safely. This is, of course, a first phase in the transition, and is designed to give us the maximum possible time in public ownership to embed the new arrangements after that date and before we then proceed to the award of contracts towards the end of next year. In doing so, we are seeking to maintain as much continuity as possible – in terms of the staff managing the caseload, the buildings that are being used and the readiness of the ICT systems. I want you, in the run-up to this date and during the next phase of transition, to keep on communicating with your managers, the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme and NOMS through the existing channels so that we are aware of the issues that are concerning you and so we can generate real-world solutions.
You will all now be aware that the NNC/SCCOG meeting on 20 November did not endorse the Staff Transfer and Protection Framework. This is very disappointing, particularly because of all the hard work on all sides that had gone into getting agreement on the majority of the package. Unfortunately, the Unions turned down the package for staff transfer and because of this the Department is unable to implement the offer that was made around Voluntary Redundancy. Nevertheless, the deal that exists for staff is still very fair, remains unchanged from 13 November and thus still includes:
No compulsory redundancies before 1 June 2015.
A guarantee of a job in the NPS or CRC if employed by a Trust on 31 March 2014.
Continuity of Service protections for staff as part of the transfer to the new organisations.
A guarantee of pension protection for all staff transferring to the new organisations.
I do understand that these changes can be both personally and professionally challenging but by putting them in place we can create a system that will have a positive impact on our communities by further reducing reoffending rates. I’d like to thank you again for the work that you are currently doing to work with offenders and to prepare for the transfer to the new system.
Meanwhile I notice that Napo Greater London Branch have circulated some helpful suggestions in relation to the 'work to rule':-
Suggestions for Working to Rule:
- Your manager will not have all the answers and may need to escalate this to their manager, so there may be a delay in responses. This is an opportunity for you to identify what you can and cannot do during industrial action. For example as above if I had not received a response from my manager I would use my own initiative and write to them to inform them that in the absence of a response I have decided to prioritise public protection and will complete the OASys and cancel training.
- Set you alarm, if you are working your hours when you arrive at work before you turn the computer or the kettle on. So if you start at 08:50am set you alarm for 4:50pm. When it goes off leave work.
- There will be times when you may have to work over your hours (emergency recall, troubled client, upset staff member, or emergency paperwork has to be processed for breach or recall...the list goes on). It is simple if you work over your time by 2 hours today, record the toil and take it immediately (within the week).
- Take your lunch breaks. Do not work through lunch breaks (toil will not be honoured for working lunch breaks due to it being a legal requirement to have one).
- Take your lunch break and encourage colleagues to do the same, use staff room to catch up with colleagues, if you have not got one, get out of the office try to make it collective. Some members are trying to organise gym classes during lunch, Christmas shopping or simply catching up over lunch.
- By taking you lunch break collectively you will feel more empowered and will be able to share ideas of working to rule and future industrial actions (watch this space).
- Please note staff that have been working to rule have reported back that they have seen improvements in their work life balance and emotional well being. If anything else is it not worth that.