Thursday, 25 August 2016

Oldest Trick in the Book

So, the turnout in the recent Napo elections was 12.5% and the existing joint Chairs have a renewed mandate to carry on steering the ship pretty much on the same course. Out of 733 valid votes cast, 280 voted for the status quo, whilst 457 were obviously keen on something different - but that's first past the post for you. 

I repeat what I said at the outset, namely that if you were a cynic, you could say that making sure the opposition to the current Chairs was split would ensure they got elected and that's exactly what's happened. It's pretty much the oldest trick in the political book. The figure for Dino Peros was 234 and Chas Berry 223.

It's quite bizarre, but am I the only one who can see certain parallels between the recent 'campaign' within Napo and Jeremy Corbyn's 'campaign' during the EU Referendum. I don't think I've in any way changed my mind regarding the dysfunctional nature of top leadership within Napo, but would remind members that there will be an opportunity to endorse the tenure of the General Secretary next year.    

Probation Gets a New Voice

I see the Probation Institute has appointed Helen Schofield as acting Chief Executive and this is her first blog:-

This month the Probation Institute says good bye to Savas Hadjipavlou, CEO since the Institute opened in 2014. Savas successfully set up the Probation Institute as a membership organisation, owned and directed by our members. We wish him well for the future.

The Board have appointed me to lead and manage the Probation Institute to drive forward the future direction. In taking this role I am working closely with Professor Paul Senior Chair of the Probation Institute. Some of you with long memories may recall that Paul and I shared, with others, an earlier challenge nearly 20 years ago in which we succeeded in retaining probation training in higher education despite pretty fierce opposition. That was a long time ago and much has changed since.

Returning to the Probation landscape after 12 years in a senior management role in Police Training with the National Policing Improvement Agency and the College of Policing I am reminded but still surprised by both the differences and the similarities. The proportionate difference in central funding is massive and still deflects criminal justice priorities away from crime prevention and rehabilitation towards detection, investigation and arrest. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, creative alliances between policing and probation rely heavily on the initiative and energy of individuals and struggle to achieve sustainable funding. I read the EHRC report on eliminating all forms of racial discrimination with real sadness; “As well as being more likely to be a victim of hate crime, people from ethnic minority communities and migrants are much more likely to experience disadvantage in the criminal justice system”.

Our ambition and vision for the Probation Institute today is much wider and more radical. Our ambition for consistent, high quality standards must now include all practitioners and managers in Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement; in NPS, CRCs, voluntary organisations, private companies, prisons or those managing offenders in policing roles. We want to be the Professional Body and Regulatory Body for everyone working or volunteering to help individuals to stop offending and lead fulfilling lives in positive relationship to others.

I see the role of the Probation Institute to reach out to practitioners, managers and leaders; to work together to set standards of competence, learning and research, to promote qualifications and to speak up for professional practice. Our ambition must be strong and radical because this occupational group is now very widely dispersed and urgently needs regulating to meet standards.The Probation Institute is ready to become the Regulatory Body for Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement.

In proposing this I want to build on our achievements in the first two years – the Code of Ethics, the Professional Development Framework, joint projects with partner organisations and position papers to list just a few. All our activity must be relevant and important to public, private and charitable organisations; we can’t afford to neglect knowledge, skills and values for any groups. Our Professional Development Framework seeks to raise and recognise competence and strengthen performance in all roles.


The Trailblazer Apprenticeship which we are leading with CRCs and voluntary organisations sets out a single, funded standard of competence, learning and qualification for a Rehabilitation Practitioner at the equivalent to the PSO grade, in all types of organisation. I am convinced that an independent Regulatory Body is the only possible mechanism for setting and achieving the essential standards and consistency where responsibilities have become so devolved to plural groups of employers.

A Regulatory Body would be independent of government, it would have representation from higher and further education, practitioners, trade unions, employers, awarding organisations, sector skills councils and representatives of government departments. It would set levels of competence and qualifications for all practitioner and management roles, and maintain the Professional Register. This would leave the trade unions free to represent their members, and to negotiate pay and conditions of service, collaborating with the Regulatory Body but free to act on behalf of their members. There would be strategic interfaces and joint projects with other bodies. The sector as a whole would be stronger because it could demonstrate consistency, clarity and confidence in professional practice.

This project to establish a Regulatory Body needs to move forward in Autumn 2016. As we drive this forward my priorities will also be to continue to increase our membership, to be the professional voice for practice and learning in Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, to work with our partner organisations in joint projects, and ensure that our offer to members is clear, relevant and timely. I will be writing a blog regularly to keep up to date with our activity and look forward to readers’ views.

Helen Schofield
Acting Chief Executive
August 2016


--oo00oo--
Helen's CV according to Linked in:-

Director Probation Institute
January 2016 – Present (8 months)

Delighted to be co-opted on to the Board of Directors of the Probation Institute, working with Paul Senior again and helping to grow the first professional body for probation and rehabilitation. Now we have the Probation Register in place, the Professional Development Framework, and the Learning Provider Endorsement Scheme.

Trustee Carnegie Community Trust
October 2015 – Present (11 months)

A real challenge to build a Community Hub and Enterprise Library at Carnegie Herne Hill where there is huge anger at the closure of the public library by Lambeth Council

Director Justice Sector Training
September 2014 – Present (2 years)

Launched the first pan Justice Sector entry level qualification Preparing for Work in the Justice Sector. A huge opportunity. Full suite of teaching, learning and assessment materials now available and we are inviting pilots across 2016.

Independent Consultant
May 2014 – Present (2 years 4 months) London, United Kingdom
Training and Learning Strategy from pre entry to CPD

Head of Learning Strategy College of Policing
December 2002 – May 2014 (11 years 6 months) London, United Kingdom

Transformed the national police training infrastructure.
Introduced and developed the first National Policing Curriculum and the National Policing Learning Programmes.
Developed the first Initial Qualification Framework for Policing.
Developed the first national Police Race and Diversity Learning Programme.
Established National Operational Gold Command Training.
Led and managed the expansion and consolidation of the Police E Learning capability (NCALT). Led the Police Olympic Training Project 2012.
Steered the Joint Emergency Services Tri Service Training Project 2013 (JESIP).
Developed networks, partnerships and effective models for the delivery of police training across England and Wales.

Chief Executive Community Justice National Training Organisation
August 1998 – December 2002 (4 years 5 months)

Established the first National Training Organisation in the Justice Sector, responsible for Occupational Standards and Qualifications for the Probation Service, Victim Support, Police in Community Safety an for Youth Justice. Built a UK wide membership organisation spanning the justice sector and aligning knowledge, skills and values of practitioners across the sector.

Assistant General Secretary NAPO
1995 – 1998 (3 years)

--oo00oo--
Finally, in researching Helen's background, Google also threw up these letters in the Guardian from December 1999 that serve as interesting reminders of the journey we've all been on:-

I can accept your characterisation of the change of name of the probation service as "Jack's tough love" (Straw's tough probation order, December 8). But I must correct your shallow analysis of our plans for the Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Service.

A change of name is essential. Not as a sign of weakness nor as some sort of obsession with marketing. But to reflect the work the service will be delivering in the future. Community sentences are punishments served in the community and they must rehabilitate to prevent future offending.

The new name is part of major reforms in the organisation of the service. We are introducing programmes to stop offending behaviour, based on evidence of what works. And under a new bill to be published shortly, there will be new enforcement powers for the service to ensure offenders comply with the terms of their orders, otherwise they will be returned to court with the presumption of firm punishment.

The government is determined that the CPRS will be a credible and important law enforcement agency, whose purpose is clear - to protect the public and reduce offending.
Paul Boateng MP Home Office

The proposed new name for the probation service is totally inappropriate.
1) It is based purely on the government's wish to project itself to middle England as tough on law and order.
2) It is contrary to the humanist ideology on which the probation service has always been based.
3) It is opposed by the vast majority of probation officers.
4) The words punishment and rehabilitation have only to be interchanged to leave it open to ridicule.
5) Where is the evidence that the probation service is seen as over-sympathetic to offenders? Most research shows that the public is less punitive than governments believe. 
Tom Penny London

I was sorry to read that Paul Boateng seemed to have rejected the Community Justice Service as an "unappealing" title for rebranding the probation service.

The Community Justice National Training Organisation is proving to be a very appealing concept and structure through which we are raising skill levels and developing consistent standards for all agencies working in the community to reduce harm from offending.

One of the 70 new national training organisations, the Community Justice NTO is working with employers and with government departments to ensure that the community justice sector delivers crime reduction strategies and offers support and protection to the victims and witnesses of crime.

The Community Justice National Training Organisation is committed to opening up knowledge and understanding about community safety and crime reduction. Perhaps the next time we debate the rebranding of a public protection service the public will also have a strong view. Meanwhile we must hope we don't find ourselves regretting a hasty decision to rename the probation service. 
Helen Schofield Community Justice National Training Organisation

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The Art of Understatement

Thanks to Russell Webster for drawing our attention to the most-recently published official re-offending rates for the years up to September 2014 and therefore prior to the break-up of Probation under Chris Grayling's disastrous 'Transforming Rehabilitation'.

As Russell notes:-
Probation supervision
The proven reoffending rate for adult offenders starting a court order (Community sentence or Suspended Sentence Order) was 33.2%, a fall of 6.7 percentage points since 2003, and a decrease of 1.0 percentage points compared to the previous 12 months.
Released prisoners
The proven reoffending rate for adult offenders released from custody in October 2013 to September 2014 was 45.5%. This represents a fall of 6.0 percentage points since 2003 and a small increase of 0.1 percentage points compared to the previous 12 months. Since 2004, the overall rate for those released from custody has remained relatively stable at around 45% to 49%.
The rate for those released from short sentences has been consistently higher compared to those released from longer sentences. Adults who served sentences of less than 12 months reoffended at a rate of 59.7%, compared to 33.4% for those who served determinate sentences of 12 months or more.
The trends for those released from short and long sentences have both remained broadly flat since 2005 and are consistent with the overall trend. 
overall offending to Sept 2014

So, here we have yet more confirmation of the extremely weak case the government had to set about completely smashing-up the probation service that was performing well at the time. The probation privateers would do well to take note of Russell's somewhat under-stated conclusion:-
Conclusion 
As we have seen, these rates have more or less stabilised over the last decade although it is interesting to note that the drop in reoffending for those under probation supervision may make payment by results targets for the new private probation providers more difficult to achieve.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Last Chance To Vote

The following email has been forwarded to me by several readers in the South West and I'm happy to publish it here:-

If you still haven't sent off your ballot paper to vote for National Chair this is your final chance to go and do it now. If you're still undecided then you know it makes sense to vote for DINO.

WHY?


  • Voting for him ensures that CRC are represented on the top table.
  • He is dedicated to fighting for our terms and conditions whether NPS/CRC.
  • He has previous experience of representation and negotiation at National level.
  • He has been, and remains a key player in bringing about the current dispute with Working Links despite their continuing attempts to ignore union representatives within the three local branches.
  • Members have confirmed his tireless commitment when representing them - both via branch e-mail and posts on the Probation Blog.
  • He communicates with the members and believes the top table are there to serve the interests of the members - not the other way round.
Denice James
Probation Officer
NAPO JNCC & Staff Rep
Dorset Devon & Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company (DDCCRC)

--oo00oo--

In order to try and keep a bit of impartiality here, can I remind Napo members that other candidates are standing for National Chair and Chas Berry has taken the trouble to make contact via Twitter. In response to the lively discussion over the weekend, he responded thus:-
"for the record I did speak up at the last NEC against the proposals for NNC and have argued against consistently at O&O"

"No secrecy. I have been arguing publicly against the NNC proposals for months now, including at the last NEC"

"also worth noting it was KSS motion to NEC moved by me and Alec's role at PNC that resulted in decision to debate at AGM"
I also published Chas's YouTube video a week or two back, along with his article in the Socialist Newspaper. As far as I can see, the other candidates for National Chair have not undertaken any campaigning and no one has sent me any supportive emails.

Price of Everything : Value of Nothing 3

Governments of all hues are always telling us about how they want to 'save money', especially during periods of austerity. It's invariably possible by 'greater efficiency', by 'doing more with less' or 'better targetting', but the funny thing is, it nearly always ends up costing more, delivers less and often merely shifts costs to other areas of public expenditure.  

This from the Guardian:-

I'm a DWP call handler and have no time to care about your disability claim

This morning I spoke to a cancer patient, a woman with kidney failure, and a young man who had just lost the mother of his children. Each of them thought I was trying to help them. I wasn’t really though, because helping them would take longer than 23 minutes.

Twenty three minutes is how long it should take me to help you make a benefit claim, according to my bosses. I work in a Department for Work and Pensions contact centre and take calls from people who are at their lowest point.

These are people who need my help to navigate the complex claims system so that they can get a meagre payout. They’re often vulnerable and desperate by the time they reach me. My job is to fill in a new claim form for employment and support allowance based on the information people give me and then send that form off to the benefit centre where the claim is processed.

The headset beeps and I launch into my scripted greeting. The caller wants to tell me about her recent cancer diagnosis, what type it is, what the treatment will be, the reasons her employer has given for not offering sick pay. But I don’t have time to listen to her story. “I’m afraid we need to stick to yes or no answers” I say, and I feel horrible because this poor woman wants to tell someone about this huge awful thing that’s happening to her, she wants a friendly listener to make her feel reassured that she will at least get financial help.

But for me, the only thing that’s really important is how long each call takes. We are measured on our average handling time (known as AHT) and if this slips beyond 23 minutes per call we face performance management, which is code for “you’ll get in trouble”. This involves anything from stern words and increased micro-management from your line manager right up to written warnings and dismissal.


I have a script I read from, over and over again, the same for every customer. Some of the questions are opaque at best: “has your doctor told you that special rules apply to your condition?” is one which flummoxed the woman this morning who has cancer; the script specifies that I should not offer an explanation of the term unless I’m asked. She did ask, so I read the follow-up line “special rules means your doctor has told you that your condition has a life expectancy of less than six months.” No, she said, not yet, and I breathed a silent sigh of relief that I wouldn’t need to ask another series of questions about this, pushing the call-handling time up further.

In the DWP’s modern-day version of a sweatshop, we staff are singularly ill-equipped to actually offer any help or support. I have had absolutely no training in how sickness benefits work. I don’t know what happens when I send a claim to be processed, so I can’t answer any questions about what will happen next or when somebody will get a payment.

Quality checking is done but it’s about whether we are reading every word of the script, there is no measure of how good a service we provide or whether or not people are able to make a successful claim with our help.

The woman with cancer has answered all of my scripted questions and I am reading her a list of instructions about what to do next. I doubt she is taking it all in; at this point she’s been listening to me for 45 minutes. I’ve already failed to hit the AHT target; she has children and it takes a long time to input all their names and dates of birth, plus she took ages to find her tax credits award notice to read me the figures. I decide I will take an extra couple of minutes to explain to her the importance of sending in fit notes signed by her doctor on a regular basis.

This isn’t in my script despite being absolutely key information and a major stumbling block for many new claimants. If the call is listened to by my line manager this will be flagged up as an area where I’m missing time targets, as will the three minutes earlier in the call where I let her cry quietly down the phone because her life is imploding and she’s frightened of what the future will bring and this is all too much for her. A more motivated call-handler would have got her back on track quickly, today I am not that person.

I feel like crying too after this call, because I know I have failed this woman in so many ways. No time for me to cry though, there is no break between calls, the headset beeps again immediately and this time it’s a woman with kidney failure. I’m failing her too, and afterwards I will fail the bereaved young father, and this afternoon there will be more and more people I fail to help. And this will continue presumably until the government finally finds a way to do away with benefits entirely, at which point our sick and disabled people will be left with nothing, not even my hurried 23 minutes of script.

--oo00oo--

This from the Daily Record reminds us of that cunning spending sleight-of-hand so favoured by Gordon Brown:-

Private Addiewell prison set to cost taxpayers nearly £1BILLION in shocking PFI deal

Privately run Addiewell prison will end up costing taxpayers nearly £1billion – more than 12 times what it cost to build. The outrageous bill for the jail in West Lothian, built under the controversial private finance initiative in 2006, was revealed after a parliamentary question by SNP MSP Fulton MacGregor.

Scottish Prison Service chief executive Colin McConnell revealed the estimated cost of the 25-year contract with Sodexo Justice Services will be £955million. The deal was brokered by the then Labour and Lib Dem administration.

MacGregor said: “This is an absolutely staggering revelation, showing the sheer incompetence and damaging legacy of the Labour and the Lib Dem executive. The PFI contract for Addiewell prison was always a bad deal for the public purse, but the latest estimates revealing a bill of nearly £1billion for a £80 million building will leave Scottish taxpayers paying way over the score for years to come.”

Dave Watson, head of policy and public affairs at Unison Scotland, said: “The extortionate cost of the Addiewell prison project reinforces the call for a full inquiry into all public-private partnership schemes to consider bringing them back into the public sector.”

Under PFI or PPP schemes, private firms got contracts to construct and maintain public buildings, usually for 30 years, in return for an annual “unitary charge” that covered the initial capital spend and ongoing running costs. The SNP dropped the system when they came into power in 2007 and instead set up a scheme that caps the profits private firms can make.

PFI came under renewed scrutiny in April when a string of Edinburgh schools that were upgraded under the scheme were forced to close amid safety fears. We then revealed how the total bill for the privately built and managed public projects in Scotland will climb above £36billion. Labour and the Lib Dems declined to comment on the Addiewell figures. Scottish Greens justice spokesman John Finnie MSP said: “PFI has been an unmitigated disaster and one which those two former governing parties should apologise for.”


--oo00oo--

Finally, a reminder from the Morning Star about that 'competition' Grayling held for privatising probation:-

The Big Lie About 'Competition'

The government argues that competition improves services, but in the probation service at least a quarter of contracts were awarded without any competition at all. Solomon Hughes reports

The Conservative government has privatised most of the probation service over the past two years, in a multibillion-pound scheme the Labour Party called “crackpot.” Chris Grayling, the minister who launched the scheme, insisted it would make the management of ex-offenders better and cheaper because there would be “greater use of competition to drive value and ensure taxpayers’ money is invested in services that work.”

That’s the standard argument for privatisation — commercial competition makes things better. Except a freedom of information request reveals that there was no competition in many probation regions. At least a quarter of the contracts, worth £1.7 billion, were awarded without any competition at all. Only one single company bid for each of these contracts.

Probation in five regions, including London, is run by companies which got the job because they were the only ones who applied for the work. And in four more regions there was a competition, but the Ministry of Justice did not give the job to the “winning” bid. Instead the “second-best” firm won the deal because the ministry was scared an overall lack of competition meant the “winning” firms would dominate the market.

Probation services try to steer offenders and newly released prisoners away from crime and into jobs and housing. In 2013, then justice secretary Grayling launched a “rehabilitation revolution.” Probation would be handed over to new, privately run “community rehabilitation companies.” These private firms would be paid to take over probation for all but the 20 per cent of most dangerous offenders in 21 UK regions.

Sadiq Khan, then Labour’s shadow justice minister, called it a “half-baked scheme” that might be “a danger to the safety of local communities.”

The privatisation doesn’t get a lot of press, but it is really huge and risky. According to the original tender contracts, the seven-year deals are worth £6.2bn of taxpayers’ cash. If the companies are worse at steering offenders back into society, then people can by badly harmed by the scheme.

Grayling said: “The contest to win one of our sought-after rehabilitation contracts will be genuine and hard-fought.” But a detail in a report investigating the privatisation by official watchdog the National Audit Office published in May revealed that there were “single bidders” in some areas. Grayling’s claims of a “hard-fought” contest were untrue. The auditors did not say which areas had no competition, so I asked for the details through a freedom of information request.

After two months and much consultation, the Audit Office told me which of the five contracts went to firms that were the “only one compliant bid.” They include the probation services in both London and the Thames Valley. These were given to MTC, a US private prisons firm with no previous British experience and a record of riots and scandals in the US.

The London contract — worth £982 million, according to tender documents — is the biggest single deal in the probation privatisation. The government has handed a very sensitive, billion-pound contract to a dubious firm for the simple reason that no other company wanted the work.

The other “single bidder” firms given probation contracts without competition were Working Links, which got the contract to run probation in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall; Sodexo which was given Norfolk and Suffolk and Purple Futures, a consortium led by privatisation specialist Interserve, which got Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. According to tender papers, that means £1.7bn of probation contracts were given with no competition.

These firms got these huge, safety-critical contracts because they were the only ones that wanted them. The government picked the applicants from a shortlist of one. There was also a further failure of competition: in four more regions the Ministry of Justice deliberately did not give the contract to the best bidder. The ministry had a rule that no single company could have more than 25 per cent of all the probation contracts, supposedly to stimulate competition.

But because there was not enough competition for the contracts in the whole process, this meant the ministry had to deliberately give the contracts to the “next best bidder” in South Yorkshire and Bedfordshire-Northamptonshire-Cambridgeshire-Hertfordshire (which both went to French catering firm Sodexo); Bristol-Gloucester-Somerset-Wiltshire (which went to Working Links) and Derbyshire-Leicestershire-Nottinghamshire, which went to a consortium led by Australian “workfare” firm Ingeus. In each of these regions probation has been taken from the public sector and deliberately given to a private firm which the ministry knows was not the best for the job.

All told, nine of the regional probation contracts were awarded to firms without proper competition, either because there was only one bidder or because the department chose the “second-best” bidder. The value of these contracts according to the tender documents is £2.9bn, or 47 per cent of the total value of the entire privatisation. The Ministry of Justice told me that “in each case the successful bid met the minimum thresholds. Other bids for these areas failing to meet the minimum thresholds were excluded.”

Sadiq Khan said the probation plan was a “botched privatisation,” a “grotesque and unnecessary waste of money.” The contracts involve critical work with offenders which can affect whether they get homes and jobs and “go straight” or return to crime. But the only thing stopping this all going wrong is a claim about “minimum thresholds.”

Many of the firms have no experience of working with ex-offenders. Those that do, like MTC, have a terrible record. The only thing the government could claim as a plus was “competition” — but in many cases there was no competition. Grayling modelled his scheme on the Work Programme for the Unemployed, which itself was a failure. However, he has “moved on” since the scheme was launched.

Only two things stand between us and probation failure. First, firms like MTC or Sodexo. Second, the new Justice Secretary Liz Truss. Neither inspires confidence.

Monday, 22 August 2016

London News 2

Thanks to the reader for sending me that London Napo email regarding facility time, amongst other things:-

Hi Members

Those of you who were at our well attended AGM on the 22nd July, will be aware that Pat Waterman and David Masterson came to the end of their two terms in office as Chair and CRC Vice Chair of the Branch respectively. David Masterson went back to the field full time as from the 31st July and Pat had her last day in the Napo Office at the end of last week.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your warm wishes and good luck messages.

I wish to thank Pat Waterman for the service she has given to this branch and for her contribution to NAPO as a whole. I wish her well for the future. To David Masterson, you know what I think, so will live in hope!!....We miss you!!

Members please note that my union role accounts for two and a half days facilities time per week, which is in keeping with the Cabinet Office guidelines. NPS Vice Chair, Terry Wilson also has a similar arrangement. We now have a vacancy for my previous role, which we hope to fill at the next branch meeting, as an expression of interest has been made.

Turning to the CRC, members will of course be concerned that a number of branch positions remains unfilled at this time, including CRC Chair and Vice Chair. It is vital that Napo members are represented in the CRC and therefore my priority task as NPS Co-Chair is to ensure that temporary arrangements are in place, until these vacancies can be filled. David Raho is currently the only Branch Officer on the CRC side, but as of the 4th August at 5.30pm he was informed by LondonCRC that he is no longer to be granted any facility time to carry out essential work on behalf of the branch and our CRC members. Regrettably as things currently stand LondonCRC have decided to "cease" the facility time arrangement they had with London Napo, pending a "review". With this new situation, it will be increasingly difficult to offer representation to members in the CRC, in all but the most urgent cases.

We are in discussions with National Napo to plan a way forward and to agree in principle, the nature of support with the CRC JNCC meetings with LondonCRC. It is important to note that Terry and I as NPS employees, cannot undertake CRC casework as LondonCRC is a private limited company. They will only allow their employees, who are members of Napo to be involved in any formal HR proceedings. However, it is important to note that a National Representative will be allocated to any case where there is a possible outcome of dismissal. So this is the position on the CRC side, but we will do our best to facilitate support to our CRC members.

In terms of RISE, Assistance General Secretary Dean Rogers, already covers the RISE JNC and will continue to offer support to our two NAPO representatives, Debbie Scotland and Judith Granata.

We would encourage any CRC member that is interested in applying for any of the vacant branch posts to speak to me or one of the Branch Officers or alternatively, write into Mail London Napo for further details.

Terry, David and I are planning a new recruitment strategy for London, in conjunction with National. We have some exciting plans, which we want to introduce over the next 12 months. More details will follow in due course. It’s clear that we need new active members across all staff grades and especially in the CRC. All offers of support are welcomed.

To NPS members who have not made the switch to Direct Debit, please do so as soon as possible. You can call the membership department at National Napo on 0207-223-4887 to make the switch over the phone.


Lastly, please do not forget to use your vote in the Ballot for National Chair and Vice Chairs (Probation) and Steering Committee. Electoral Reform Services (ERS) has been appointed as the Independent Scrutineer for the elections and is overseeing the ballot of all full members. If you have not received a ballot paper by now you should contact ERS directly on 020 8365 8909. The closing date for return of the ballot papers to ERS is 12.00 noon on Thursday 25th August.

Remember, there has never been a more important time to belong to NAPO. YOUR UNION NEEDS YOU!!!

Stronger together

Patricia Johnson           Terry Wilson           David Raho
NPS Co Chair               NPS Vice Chair      LondonCRC Health & Safety Convenor

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Magic Wand : My Arse!

There is an image I just can't get out of my head right now. It's from last year's AGM and it's the cringing moment when Chris Winters presented the General Secretary with a magic wand "because he always says he hasn't got one". That this charade was felt in any way appropriate perfectly sums up for me how utterly dysfunctional the leadership of Napo is. 

--oo00oo--

This is nothing less than a sell out. NAPO 115 Blog starts with 'Some time ago NOMs and ...CRC employers signalled their wish to reform the current NNC and SCCOG' (OK they can wish what they like, but the ball remains in our court). Proposed new arrangements for single table bargaining - arrangements put forward by whom? - the ball is still in our court - we have protected negotiating machinery as per the Staff Transfer Agreement - IL says so himself.


'Whats on offer?' Offered by whom? - we don't have to accept any 'offer' from NOMS or the CRC, or put any offer forward - the ball still remains with us. 'The proposals suggest' - proposals that came from whom?  The NPS and CRC have been 'exploring' with the Unions......hello? Exploring? In the Joint union response we 'suggested'... hello?. Why are we 'suggesting' anything? As a Trade Union we don't 'suggest' to employers - we make clear and considered demands - if you want XYZ you have to agree to ABC UP FRONT and then we'll decide if we accept. 


Sod all this 'we have expectations the employers will put the following measures in place first' Noooooo. Measures in place - then we talk further. And then they have the cheek to push a tentatively worded proposal on the membership 'to support....provided principles are enshrined....' Noooooo, employers - agree to these principles and then we'll talk again....

This is not negotiation and I cant believe we are putting forward such a weak spirited performance when the ADVANTAGE LIES WITH US. We have the power to call the shots on this bit of negotiation, so why aren't we?  We also have the option not to negotiate at all and just to sit tight - the ultimate position and bargaining chip. What was it said on a post a few weeks back about the sharks? Well they are circling on this and we have all the markings of an easy meal.

******

Ian Lawrence & co now show their true hand on the flop, i.e. the surrender of one of the key features of trade unionism that kept employees protected from unscrupulous, divisive employers. Since the retirement of a weary Judy McKnight we've been cursed with a succession of patsies at the top of Napo. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that post-Benny Hill (aka Ledger) the union was so compromised that systemic collapse was inevitable. 

Goodness only knows what other dark secrets the NOMS/MoJ bullies have at their disposal, primed & ready for release to the press should Napo fail to comply with the TR project. I can't think of any other explanation for the woeful catalogue of incompetence, silence & inaction. Perhaps this was the poisoned chalice handed to Mr Lawrence? I don't know the answer but if it were so, presumably he had a choice - £75k salary to steer Napo into the iceberg, or try to find something else whilst we're briefing against the PCS refugee.

******

The motion proposed by the leadership asks the AGM to endorse the 'new national collective arrangements' The missing word here is 'bargaining' The so-called 'national collective arrangements' basically rubber stamp the disintegration of national collective bargaining on pay and conditions. This is apparently an example of Napo being 'proactive' and 'protecting the professional and industrial concerns of members'. 

Only two years ago Napo signed the framework agreement which guaranteed retention of national collective bargaining – but no fury in the leadership motion about yet another breach of the framework agreement. In fact, it's more than another breach – it marks the end of a useless 'peace in our time' agreement. I think this wartime allusion is apt because since the outset Napo has pursued a policy of appeasement, hoping perhaps that their reasonableness would be reciprocated. It has not worked and has only added to perceptions of weakness. This motion now seeks to give the employers a green light for independent negotiations and Napo's conditions – wish list - for acceptance will not amount to a hill of beans – and they know it. The Napo leadership feel powerless, they sense no militancy in the workforce. The loss of national collective bargaining would be a historic reversal – but I am not sure that even this would disturb the sleep of many in the workforce.

In contrast the competing motion reminds us of the earlier undertakings given by the employers' side and spells out the likely consequences – a race to the bottom – if national collective bargaining is abandoned. Getting this truth lodged in the minds of the wider workforce would be a major challenge. Given the past form of Napo's campaigns in engaging with, and mobilising, a docile workforce, it requires a lot of optimism to believe that such a campaign will create any industrial muscle, because without far-reaching solidarity the employers will just go ahead and impose new pay negotiating arrangements.

Motion 1 wants to sign another surrender agreement; Motion 2 wants to fight. It truly is decision time. At the moment, to misquote, it looks like a choice between either dying on your feet or dying on your knees.


*******
It's interesting that Chas is coming out now to stand against the supposed leadership, that is IL and DR, there is no other leadership other than these two, the rest just follow. Chas has been Vice Chair, where has his voice been? It hasn't been heard at NEC that's for sure. 

These plans have been going on in secret meetings at the probation consultative forum and outside where IL has suggested there has been no negotiation, yet a proposal has arisen from these very meetings. CRC attendees have been told to keep quiet about these meetings which were questioned at NEC. Minutes from last NEC: Ian explained Napo’s participation in the Probation Consultative Forum. This is not a negotiating forum but is a chance for issues of practical and technical significance in probation to be fed into government circles. It is a good area for influence to grow. An example recently had been Mercia CRC serving redundancy notices with no consultation: because NOMS Contract Section are concerned about the public image of renegade contractors, a relationship existed where Napo were able to persuade Contract Management to intervene over some key HR issues within one of the CRC’s. 

Reports from these meetings have been presented with claims of CRC attendance. When questioned on who has attended and how many meetings IL has been a closed shop. Come on Chas, now is the time to let us know what all this secrecy is about. Clearly you are challenging the leadership, but you had your chance as Vice Chair. Dino CRC that's what we need to get this sorted.

--oo00oo--

Talking of Dino, thanks go to the reader for sending me the following latest news from the South West. It doesn't escape my notice that the author seems to think that National Collective Bargaining is rather too important to give up lightly; they also happen to be standing for National Chair and there's just time to cast a vote if you can find that ballot paper you couldn't be bothered to fill in.  

19th August 2016

Branch report Redundancies update 12

Dear members,

⦁ As we all enjoy some of the sunshine and the August bank holiday break not so far off, it is important for me to update you all on the mid term of events and let you know that the General Secretaries blog today will inform wider areas of the situation on collective bargaining and The NNC.

⦁ How things are going with the employers Working Links the Company and their new owners Aurelius’ is something the sell out position the management are claiming nothing has changed. From what NAPO have understood Ian Lawrence has asked some questions on the potentials at our recent and first of the regions dispute meeting in London with Unison GMB and sister Napo branches.

⦁ The Dispute meeting held at Chivalry Road 26th July was never going to be a settlement meeting but was more a mix of positioning and small inroads to clarify what resolutions might start to settle some of the dispute heads. It is not helpful when WL representatives do not appear to actually want to engage meaningfully in any proper dialogue. Nor with a real view to looking to resolve the tensions. We experience this as their leadership refuses to make any real commitment or decisions claiming a need to consult with colleagues. Despite this on other occasions we have never seen or heard this reference before the dispute. They never accept the invidious position they have engineered despite constant and clear attempts from all the affected branches to encourage them to do things properly under the legitimate procedures.

⦁ Given the meeting was fairly bland and non committal they reported their dissatisfaction from Working links the company about reading up reported matters in meetings to NAPO members. It was loosely agreed not to detail a formal report at the time, which is why there has been no interim information to you. Maintaining this position is something I am holding together for the while at least. I have obviously drafted my notes and made a staff side report available to our representatives side.

⦁ We still await the Working links the company response to the innovation Wessex letter of independence inquiry. The GS had written to them although to date drawn a blank . There has been some cross over of issues although no reply is a pretty poor show whoever you are. We are used to this treatment in the DDC area. From the dispute letter however NAPO have received late in the day reply, a magical type response as if there is nothing wrong with the way Working Links the Company have conducted themselves or their intentions to dismiss so many staff in both record of number, and in haste of time. Their appalling references to a structure to what is described as the “terms of reference“ which are basically their proposals on how to manage dismissals. I have been through it several times and its not fit for anything let alone a proposal for agreement. These are both incredibly poor and fail to follow already agreed and owned collective arrangements.

⦁ The 1-1 interviews situation had caused no ends of the worst practices we have ever experienced and witnessed in the role of union officials. The incredible mis-managed and deliberate external recruiting while threats to incumbent employees is currently being argued. All the examples are being collated and to ensure for our members if legal challenges are necessary the evidence is here.

⦁ On top of this, as if this was not already enough. We end up with a Working Links the Company announcement that they intend to leave National Negotiatory Council as from the 1 11 2016. Delivered in a way that describes a well principled and decent structure for National collective agreements for employers and Unions to operate and which have done well for many years. These terms and conditions serving the process for good employment relations is now described by Working Links representatives as not fit for purpose. I am yet to see, and learn of their infinite wisdom on how any local company is now setting its stall out, and to be any better! Not a chance! After all they have a public record of having to return hundreds of thousands of pounds after a false claims scandal. Monies from the government obtained and described as less than honest. From a company that has to date failed to engage appropriately with the unions. What might they actually believe. That their future arrangements will look fair or compliant with any reasonable and proper tenant remains to be seen. From what we have experienced, don’t bank on it. Keeping in mind their recent sell out to Aurelius was not a victory but more a financier’s rescue fund which is more an indication of the true organisational ability. I suspect more of that come as the mistakes get more obvious and the overcutting leaves the service that was vulnerable and the staff within it let alone the failure to deliver real qualitative services.

⦁ The combined Unions have another meeting scheduled after the bank holiday. I will keep you posted. There are a series of letters running and these will all be published shortly and as soon as we make head roads or not. Perhaps escalation to further our collective dispute which has the support of Unison Napo and the GMB and hope that we can all grab some rest over the final bank holiday this year.

⦁ My apologies for having nothing positive to report at this time but to assure you we continue to maintain the protective position for our members and to ensure the data and evidence collection continues no matter the additional pressures being placed on all the reps at this time.

⦁ If you have any concerns please write the rep of the unions or to me and record all you can that impacts on your role. Next week sees the elections of the national chair for Napo and whoever that becomes. Please ensure we stick together in NAPO to maintain our best collective fighting chances as the situation with the employers continue and their agenda takes a further pace towards more reductions in all staff.

Dino Peros Napo Branch Chair SSw


--oo00oo--

Finally, I would like to remind readers of this contribution from a few weeks ago:-

Chas Berry NPS.
Yvonne Pattison NPS.
Chris Winters NPS.
Katie Lomas NPS.
Keith Stokeld NPS.
Tina Williams NPS.
Iqbal Bhopal NPS.
Tony Mercer NPS.

Dino Peros CRC.

What does this mean? Currently Napo HQ is 100% NPS. Current candidates are 89% NPS. Now it is not the fault of these candidates that they are NPS and less CRC staff applied. But Chas, Yvonne and Chris should do the right thing and stand down. We need CRC representation. Vote Dino.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Decision Time

"it’s become apparent this week that there is some duff intelligence" I wonder if he is referring to himself here? I am shocked to discover so much has been advanced across this agenda? Have the chair and vice chairs been endorsing such advanced planning and does the NEC give it the thumbs up? If we get to AGM on this debate with many potentials for the implications to be unclear, I can see a voting disaster and if the arrangements whatever they become will be as useless as aspects of the previous staff transfer agreement. We can all work out this is good for the privateers, nothing in there for the memberships rights. These are grave revelations and when was it first known and to who? Does not look transparent from here.

******
Does this mean CRC staff being sold further down the river? CRC staff definitely seem to be the poor relations. Why have our terms and conditions been eroded? I agree that members are not doing enough, however, we did expect there to be a judicial review, there could have been a test case put through the court. NPS staff may make comments about how awful it is following the split, but I've yet to hear one person say they would rather be in a CRC. The government split us, why is Napo hell bent on helping them finish it?


******
The end to national collective bargaining is the holy grail for the CRCs. This is not being sought to enhance conditions of service and however much Napo harps on about benchmarking minimum standards, these will have no traction with the employers. We saw how in probation trusts conditions of service – car allowances, subsistence, and a range of other policies were all amended despite the NNC handbook. And when the Joint Secretaries were brought into disputes, they were ineffective guardians of conditions of service, because the employers always played the card of affordability and protecting jobs! The only thing they could not touch was salaries – now these will be attacked if negotiations are devolved locally.

******

When Napo signed the agreement formalising TR, the members were not asked to vote on it, they also never thought to seek the views of members when a whole year sailed by with no action on a judicial review. But when it comes to national collective bargaining they want the members to sign the death warrant.

The TR agreement was supposed to guarantee good redundancy terms, national collective bargaining and Napo confidently expressed the view at the time of signing that compulsory redundancy were unlikely.

As TR split the probation, so the end of national collective bargaining will signal the end of Napo representing both sectors. We have heard recently that there are insufficient resources to represent members because of the withdrawal of facility time, so it's pure fantasy to think that there will be sufficiently experienced local reps able to negotiate on pay and conditions.

Probation will be a two tier service and in the CRCs there will be more losers than winners. It's all over because essentially the probation workforce was too atomised and divided to stand together. The so-called TR split is leading to the creation of two separate services and Napo is delusional if it thinks it can hold the ring with its pragmatism.

******
Good post time up for the leadership no confidence motion instead and this debate will destroy AGM.

******
NAPO's Brexit!

******
Divide and conquer! Don't vote for it, FFS!

--oo00oo--

Here are the two motions referred to by the General Secretary in his blog yesterday:-

10. NNC reform - collective bargaining arrangements in probation 


This AGM recognises the complexities around the provision of probation services since the TR split. All employers have stated that they want independent negotiating arrangements with the unions. 

AGM agrees that Napo must offer a proactive and consistent approach to future negotiations with employers to protect and promote the professional and industrial concerns of members. 

This AGM endorses the proposed new national collective arrangements, transitioning local single table bargaining, on condition of the following: 
  • all employers provide adequate facility time, rights for local representatives, sufficient time for training, and opportunities for access to members and potential members; 
  • an updated NNC Handbook, which will be recognised as a ‘national benchmark’ for pay, terms and conditions; 
  • proposed local agreements must be referred to Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee for guidance, to ensure accountability, consistency and coherent strategic direction; 
  • the retention of the NNC Joint Secretaries for the referral of ‘legacy’ issues and the availability of local dispute and arbitration machinery which includes the involvement of ACAS; 
  • all employers to support a Probation Professional Practice Forum (3PF); 
  • The Probation Negotiating Committee are to provide regular reports to members on the effectiveness of the new arrangements. 
Proposer: Probation Negotiating Committee 

11. Defend national collective bargaining 

The National Agreement On Staff Transfer and Protections signed 28th January 2014 gives a specific undertaking to protect national collective bargaining. This is summarised in paragraph 21 where it states: 

“It is agreed that the existing national collective bargaining arrangements will continue in the CRCs and NPS on 1 June 2014 by means of the Staff Transfer Scheme. The NNC and SCCOG machinery will also continue to apply to new staff.” 

Post share sale a number of CRC owners are threatening replace national collective bargaining with completely local arrangements. While a few staff may benefit from locally competitive local pay and conditions, in all likelihood this will result in a ‘race to the bottom’ in most areas. More importantly, it will torpedo Napo’s stated aim of achieving a nationally agreed, fair and equitable pay structure.

Officers and Officials are instructed to oppose any attempt to break up national collective bargaining and to launch a campaign amongst members in any CRC that threatens to withdraw from current NNC/SCCOG arrangements. 

Proposer: Chas Berry 
Seconder: Alec Price

Friday, 19 August 2016

Latest From Napo 115

Today's blog from Napo's General Secretary:-

NNC Reform? Members to decide

Some time ago NOMS, and a number of CRC employers, signalled their wish to reform the current National Negotiating Council (NNC) and Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades (SCCOG) machinery.

Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee and your National Executive Committee have received reports from the two meetings that have taken place this year between the employers and the three probation unions involved, and a set of proposals have now been presented by the employers which I will be issuing in full to members next week in the hope that you will decide to debate them at the forthcoming AGM in (Cardiff 29th September to 1st October). The AGM motions list contains a motion supporting reform and one seeking no change to national collective bargaining. It is also intended that a pre-AGM discussion document will be issued which presents the pros and cons of NNC reform.

The intention is that the proposed new arrangements for single table bargaining between employers and unions will commence from this November. I do need to make it clear that these have not been agreed by the unions, as it’s become apparent this week that there is some duff intelligence circulating about the actual position that we have reached.

What’s on offer?

The proposals suggest reforming the current national collective bargaining arrangements for probation members working for the National Probation Service and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies.

Presently the pay and conditions of NPS and CRC staff are decided by national negotiations which take place at the NNC for staff on pay bands 1 to 6 and at SCCOG for senior managerial grades. The current negotiating machinery was protected in the NNC/SCCOG Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement which governed the transfer of staff to the NPS and the CRCs prior to the introduction of Transforming Rehabilitation in 2014.

It is no secret that NPS and the CRC owners wish to see changes because:

  • The NPS is a civil service employer which is bound by the Treasury and by civil service policy and procedure.
  • The CRCs are now privately owned separate bodies which want to develop their own approaches to future pay and conditions.
  • The CRC owners do not want to sit around the same negotiating table and have to share commercially sensitive information with their competitors during pay talks.
As a result, the NPS and the CRC owners have been exploring with the unions the possibility of reforming the current negotiating machinery. In essence, they want to move away from the NNC/SCCOG and allow each employer to set up its own local negotiating body with the unions to negotiate pay and conditions, including the annual pay award.

The Joint Union Response

In response, and after debate by Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee, the probation unions put forward a counter proposal to protect the NNC/SCCOG. At the same time, the unions recognised that the role and remit of both these negotiating bodies would have to change to reflect the post TR environment for both NPS and the CRCs.

In summary, we suggested that: 
  • The NNC/SCCOG remain as national bodies with jurisdiction over NNC/SCCOG handbooks and national collective agreements.
  • CRC participation at NNC/SCCOG be refreshed in line with the post share sale environment.
  • NPS to create a Joint Negotiating and Consultative Committee (JNCC) to enable formal national negotiations and collective agreements to be reached between NPS and NPS trade unions. This will mirror the existing arrangements that exist within each of the CRCs.
  • NPS JNCC and CRC JNCCs to be given latitude to amend NNC/SCCOG terms and conditions by local collective agreement, with minimum standards being the National Staff Transfer and Protections agreement.
  • NNC/SCCOG Joint Secretaries to remain available to arbitrate over NNC/SCCOG agreements, management of change procedures.
  • New local dispute and arbitration machinery involving the use of ACAS.
  • Probation Consultative Forum (PCF) which is a non negotiating body dealing with professional and practice issues across probation to be opened up to the CRCs as full participating members.
Last April the unions followed this up with confirmation that any change to the NNC/SCCOG negotiating machinery would have to be put to members for approval. We also pointed out that there would be significant resource implications for employers in reforming the existing negotiating machinery. In particular, we highlighted our expectation that employers would have to put the following measures in place first:
  • Effective employer level joint negotiating and consultative committees (JNCCs) to enable proper local negotiation to take place and reach agreements. Where appropriate, agreed Cross-CRC Forums for issues that span a block of CRCs owned by one company (this is already existing practice in many areas).
  • Trade union side representation on new JNCCs/Cross CRC Forums to enable all recognised unions to be fully represented across all NPS Divisions and CRC employer areas.
  • Sufficient facility time to enable the trade unions to play a full role in local bargaining.
  • Training for sufficient trade union representatives to play a new expanded role in the new landscape.
  • Travel and subsistence to be available at the employer’s cost for trade union representatives to attend meetings.
The point we made here was that the NNC/SCCOG machinery traditionally saved local employers a lot of money by conducting single table bargaining. This would change in any proposed new system and would lead to cost implications that employers would need to give the unions assurances over, prior to us putting any proposals to members for their agreement.

The employers responded by asking the unions to confirm if we were prepared to allow individual employers to negotiate the annual pay rise with the unions locally. The unions indicated that we would have to put this to members as part of the eventual proposals that emerge to reform the negotiating machinery.

Napo’s position

Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee met recently to consider the latest developments and agreed to submit a motion to the AGM which supports reforms to the NNC provided that a number of important principles are enshrined in a new collective agreement. These are:
  • That any change to the national collective bargaining machinery will require a national collective agreement at the NNC
  • The NNC Handbook will need to be updated in advance of any changes in line with recent agreements since 2014 to form the baseline for any local negotiations going forward
  • The NNC/SCCOG bargaining bodies to merge to form a single table bargaining machinery at NPS level
  • Any local change to the NNC Handbook must be by local collective agreement only
Pay negotiations

Given the foregoing, it’s no surprise that the NPS and CRCs want to move away from a single national pay deal for NPS and CRCs during 2016 and allow the 2016 pay rise to be negotiated at local level.

Napo has not agreed to this because this would first need our members to agree in the draft national collective agreement which we are proposing as the means of reforming the negotiating machinery.

NPS has already started talks with the unions over reforming the NNC pay and grading structure for NPS only. Napo believes that these talks could potentially be widened to include the CRCs as well to ensure that we have a level playing field on pay going forward.

Conclusion

Until Napo members have voted for whatever reforms emerge from the on-going national talks on pay reform, CRCs should be reminded that the current national pay arrangements will continue.

The employers’ side would like any new arrangements in place by 1 November, which is the very earliest that any changes could take place, but as these would have to have been agreed by the unions in advance of this date, this timetable may be aspirational.

Please look out for more detailed information about this important issue over the next week or so.

Unions seek urgent meeting on AP issues

I am grateful for the feedback from branches and members about the problems being experienced as a result of the implementation of E3 and we will take this into our upcoming meeting with NOMS next week. Meanwhile, the unions have asked for a specific and urgent meeting to discuss the specific difficulties in Approved Premises notably around: the inflexible approach being adopted towards staffing Rotas, the privatisation of night waking cover, TUPE arrangements, the matching and slotting process and pay protection.

As always, trying to find a slot for a meeting is a task in itself, but we will get more news to you as soon as we can.

You Get What You Pay For

It's said a picture is worth a thousand words, well this is what happens to your share price if you are an American prison operator and the US government unexpectedly announces the intention to phase out the use of private federal prisons:-


Given the fondness political parties and think tanks in the UK have for US-style criminal justice matters, and especially those on the right, this announcement is potentially of great significance for privatisations over here that are clearly not working. It will certainly not go unnoticed by the privateers who were tempted to get involved with TR as a first step towards what they regard as the bigger prize of running prisons. This from the Washington Post:-

Justice Department says it will end use of private prisons

The Justice Department plans to end its use of private prisons after officials concluded the facilities are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government.

Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced the decision on Thursday in a memo that instructs officials to either decline to renew the contracts for private prison operators when they expire or “substantially reduce” the contracts’ scope. The goal, Yates wrote, is “reducing — and ultimately ending — our use of privately operated prisons.”

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote.

In an interview, Yates said there are 13 privately run privately run facilities in the Bureau of Prisons system, and they will not close overnight. Yates said the Justice Department would not terminate existing contracts but instead review those that come up for renewal. She said all the contracts would come up for renewal over the next five years.

The Justice Department’s inspector general last week released a critical report concluding that privately operated facilities incurred more safety and security incidents than those run by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The private facilities, for example, had higher rates of assaults — both by inmates on other inmates and by inmates on staff — and had eight times as many contraband cellphones confiscated each year on average, according to the report.

Disturbances in the facilities, the report said, led in recent years to “extensive property damage, bodily injury, and the death of a Correctional Officer.” The report listed several examples of mayhem at private facilities, including a May 2012 riot at the Adams County Correctional Center in Mississippi in which 20 people were injured and a correctional officer killed. That incident, according to the report, involved 250 inmates who were upset about low-quality food and medical care.

“The fact of the matter is that private prisons don’t compare favorably to Bureau of Prisons facilities in terms of safety or security or services, and now with the decline in the federal prison population, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to do something about that,” Yates said.

The problems at private facilities were hardly a secret, and Yates said Justice Department and Bureau of Prisons officials had been talking for months about discontinuing their use. Mother Jones recently published a 35,000-word exposé detailing a reporter’s undercover work as a private prison guard in Louisiana — a piece that found serious deficiencies. The Nation magazine wrote earlier this year about deaths under questionable circumstances in privately operated facilities.

In her memo, Yates wrote that the Bureau of Prisons began contracting with privately run institutions about a decade ago in the wake of exploding prison populations, and by 2013, as the federal prison population reached its peak, nearly 30,000 inmates were housed in privately operated facilities. But in 2013, Yates wrote, the prison population began to decline because of efforts to adjust sentencing guidelines, sometimes retroactively, and to change the way low-level drug offenders are charged. She said the drop in federal inmates gave officials the opportunity to reevaluate the use of private prisons.

Yates wrote that private prisons “served an important role during a difficult time period,” but they had proven less effective than facilities run by the government. The contract prisons are operated by three private corporations, according to the inspector general’s report: Corrections Corporation of America, GEO Group and Management and Training Corporation. The Bureau of Prisons spent $639 million on private prisons in fiscal year 2014, according to the report.

Yates said it was “really hard to determine whether private prisons are less expensive” and whether their closure would cause costs to go up, though she said officials did not anticipate having to hire additional Bureau of Prisons staff.

“Bottom line, I’d also say, you get what you pay for,” Yates said.


--oo00oo--

Postscript

This from the Another Angry Voice blog suggests the news from the US might just turbo-charge things over here:-

Instead of getting angry about their lost opportunity to profiteer out of the US justice system, these companies could consider shifting their attention to the ongoing Tory marketisation of the UK justice system.

The Tories are creating huge profiteering opportunities by carving up and privatising all elements of the UK justice system. They're not just intent on building more and more privately operated prisons and detention centres and allowing private companies to use prisoners as cheap labour, they've also been busy trying to privatise front line police services (Theresa May is a big advocate of police privatisation), court facilities and services, electronic tagging (subject to a massive £180 million tagging fraud by G4S and Serco), and probation services. They've also been trying to reform legal aid in order to drive smaller specialist practices out of business and hand a bigger market share to multinational behemoths like Serco, G4S and Capita.

The conflicts of interest are absolutely obvious when the privatised police unit that makes the arrest, the forensic science unit, the legal aid lawyer, the courtroom facilities and services, and the private prison are all operated by the same small cabal of corporations, then upon release the probation officer and the electronic tagging company are run by the same corporations too.

If a rare display of evidence based policy making drives the private prison profiteers out of the US justice system, they can be assured that the Tories will welcome them with open arms to help them with their project to turn the UK justice system into a conflict of interest riddled free-for-all for corporate profiteers.