Thursday, 24 July 2014

Omnishambles Update 56

“News is something somebody doesn't want printed; all else is advertising.” - William Randolph Hearst

I know what you're thinking. How can it be Omnishambles Update 56 when we've already had 57 and 58? Simple. I forgot about 56 in draft and went right by it. Of course I could have just ignored it and pretended I hadn't noticed, but I'm not that kind of person. I like things done properly and in an orderly fashion, so 56 it is, even if out of sync.

I notice that Harry Fletcher is being somewhat forthright in his latest blog in saying that, since his departure and despite the impression being given by Ian Lawrence to the contrary, his information indicates that Parliament has been largely ignored by Napo:-   
Just a Few Months Left
The process of selling off the Probation service in England and Wales remains a shambles. Hundreds of posts highlighting the chaos have been logged on the On Probation Blog. That blog should be essential viewing for all MPs and for many it already is. Staff report being taxed twice over because the Inland Revenue think they have two jobs, one for the old Trust and two at the NPS or CRC. Nothing on the IT side seems to work, scores of DV cases are unallocated and a 2 tier workforce is emerging that is class A in the NPS and class B in the CRCs.
There is and has been for months an urgent need for Parliamentary action but little has happened during the last period. Questions both written and oral and points of order should have been asked more or less every day but Ministers are getting an easy ride. One MOJ official expressed surprise to me last week at the lack of a real fuss about the sell off, another said that aspects of the contacting process and of tagging would not hold up to legal scrutiny.
There is to be a lobby in September of MPs by Probation staff, there will need a huge turn out if it is to have any impact.Simple, short, emotive and factual information is needed by all MPs of all parties to maximise any remaining hope of stopping the share sale.
I'm not aware we ever heard what the explanation was for cancelling that briefing meeting in Parliament a couple of weeks ago? To make matters worse there's this:-
Further to the confident expectation by Ian Lawrence that Chris Grayling would be appearing before the Justice Select Committee in September for a one-off TR session - my contact on the JSC has just informed me that:
"There are no current plans for the Secretary of State to appear before the Committee." 
Yesterday we had breaking news regarding the IT chaos. Despite the MoJ trying to put a brave face on things, the shite IT systems are failing:-

Sorry to go off thread but I wanted to update the OASys situation as NOMS are currently looking into a giant hole scratching their heads and wondering what the hell to do! Staff will be aware that the update last week-end caused major problems which they hoped to fix but hadn't been able to at 4:30 today. They have canvassed OASys leads to ask how long we can go without OASys as they advised staff not to create any more assessments as there was a risk they would be lost. Any that were critical it was suggested should be printed off. Looks like they don't expect HP to get a fix in the near future so the only other options is to re-set the system to last week-end. Only trouble is this would mean that any assessments completed this week will be deleted! As if things aren't bad enough for staff this could be the final straw that breaks the last vestiges of morale left. 

The IT system seems to be in meltdown with the email problems yesterday! Today in our office there were a variety of nDelius problems, log on difficulties, access to myservices, laptop security issues to name just a few! Would be interesting to hear from others if they have noticed IT getting worse this week?

We now learn that another key element of the TR omnishambles, the release of prisoners from local 'resettlement prisons' is proving impossible due to the system being rammed to capacity, and that the POA have decided to take action as indicated by this press release:-
The POA has today sent the first legal letter to the CEO of NOMS Michael Spurr as it challenges the recent decision to crowd more overcrowded public sector prisons. The prison population has continued to rise and NOMS has wasted millions of pounds in the last 2 years closing prisons, allowing thousands of staff to leave the service on voluntary redundancy packages all based on the gamble that the prison population would fall.
The POA has consistently warned NOMS and the Government that the prison population was not an exact science and that their policies would crash and burn, placing the public at risk and have serious consequences for the tax payer.Recent media interest on the prison service failings, has resulted in knee jerk reactions and placed a prison service already in crisis at serious risk of meltdown. The public has been outraged following recent revelations by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the findings of the Howard League for Penal Reform that prisons are grossly understaffed, prisoners and staff at risk of being seriously assaulted every day and level of suicides on the increase. It seems no one is listening or cares.
The POA General Secretary Steve Gillan said,
“We will not stand by and allow prisons to become warehouses or our staff to be treated like punch bags on the back of a political agenda that is designed to save money rather than rehabilitate prisoners. Overcrowding places both staff and prisoners in danger.”

Steve Gillan further added,
“That the level of suicides and violence in our prisons is totally unacceptable. Hundreds of staff are being sent all over the country every day and staff face burn out, as they are forced to work excessive long hours in an attempt to maintain Good Order and Discipline”.
A member of staff recently reported that prisoners were fearful for their safety as weapons and drugs were freely available and no staff around to protect them. When asked why the POA had resulted to legal redress, Steve Gillan said,
“When the employer won’t talk or listen to our genuine concerns we must take all reasonable steps to protect our members, the prisoners in our care and the public."
Finally, I understand that there is likely to be some breaking news regarding Sarah Billiald, former CEO of Kent Probation Trust.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Election Special

All eligible Napo members should by now have their ballot papers, together with details of the runners and riders for the top elected posts within the union. Given the unprecedented position we find ourselves in, I thought it would be worth trying to stimulate a bit of a discussion surrounding these Napo elections, and especially for the key posts of Chair and Vice Chairs. 

Regular readers will be extremely familiar with my views on the 'dysfunctionality' of Napo at the top, and judging by the extraordinary amount of comments generated by last Saturday's blog post 'Taking the Piss', these concerns are shared by others.

So, given all this, what do the candidates have to say about things internal at Napo HQ? Answer, precious little! If you look closely there are one or two carefully-crafted and coded references, but nothing that would frighten the horses after all each must already have fairly close working connections with Chivalry Road. But maybe we can flush the candidates out and tempt them to say a bit more? I know Dino has had a stab on this blog, but what about the others? Are you going to pretend things are OK at Napo HQ?

As a starter, lets look at this blog post from Sunday June 1st:-  
This dysfunctionality and disagreement regarding policy direction has been present for some time and long before Tom took the extraordinarily unwise decision to apply for an ACO post in the London CRC. This one key mistake sadly sealed his fate in the power game at Chivalry Road and he was unable to prevent the summary dismissal of Harry Fletcher from his temporary employment, contrary to the wishes of the NEC. The loss of Harry meant that his well-thought-out 50 point Action Plan was effectively consigned to the bin. 
It's quite likely that one of the officials who so singularly failed to back their Chair will assume the vacant position temporarily and possibly join other candidates in seeking a mandate from the membership (before) the next AGM. I think the membership will want a number of questions answering before casting their vote and in particular may well want to hear what plans any candidate may have in dealing with a whole raft of issues, such as:-
  • An independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the departure of the previous General Secretary
  • An internal constitutional review of governance arrangements
  • An effective member involvement and communication strategy
  • A financial, staffing and office accommodation Review 
  • An Action Plan for the continued resistance to TR, sale of the CRC's and member retention  
Lets be blunt about this. I'm reliably informed that there is to be no attempt at a Judicial Review of TR, not necessarily because there is no strong case, but because there is no money to fund it. This was probably always the case, but there's been a certain reluctance to share too much financial information with members. The publication of the Annual Financial Report gives some detail, and members might feel salient questions would be in order.

It's simply madness not to acknowledge that the next Chair and fellow senior colleagues are going to have to take some very serious decisions in relation to the internal structure, staffing levels and future of the union shortly after assuming office. Fighting TR is one thing, but there are serious internal issues to be dealt with as well. 

All the candidates appear to have wide union experience, so I have not republished their respective Napo battle honours, but rather just their statements on what they intend to do. I would advise members to read the full details on each candidate before casting their vote:- 

Robbie Bourget

I have always had a strong belief in strong social justice and am proud to belong to a union which I feel represents this belief. I believe that Napo can and should be at the forefront of all campaigns that centre on a fairer and more equal society because those we work with suffer when social injustice continues. I want to work to improve Napo's reach within Probation and Cafcass so that we become stronger and can carry the struggle forward to improve conditions not only for staff but also for those we serve, whether it be Courts or the clients. I am not afraid to put my views forward (which my MP will attest to) and I am willing to give freely of my own time to meet the challenges ahead and feel that I can represent all areas of the UK because I do not feel too bound to any one area and enjoy the diversity that is the UK. I reside close enough to London to make it easy to keep in touch with Napo Head Office and officials, but do not see London as the centre of the UK, merely a very large population base in a rather small area. London has special needs but other areas' needs cannot be forgotten as they are equally valid. I hope I can have the opportunity to represent all areas of the UK as Chair. Together, let us work to retain our professionalism and our rights as employees.

Yvonne Pattison & Chris Winters (Job Share)

We have chosen to stand as Co Chairs because we believe that collectively we bring a wider range of knowledge, skills and both trade union and professional experience. Whilst we share preferred learning styles (activist/pragmatist), our strengths lie in different areas, enabling us to use them to support each other for the benefit of Napo We have worked together as neighbouring Branch Chairs and more recently within the Officers group and we have evidenced shared views and a commitment to doing the 'right thing' for the wider membership.
In our view the priorities for Napo should be as follows:
  •  Fight the threat of privatisation linked to Transforming Rehabilitation, including the use of an effective media and Parliamentary strategy.
  •  Protect members' pay, codes and conditions.
  •  Ensure that Napo is a supportive and inclusive union for all members irrespective if they work in the Family Courts, Community Rehabilitation Companies, the National Probation Service or Northern Ireland and in whatever role.
  •  Retention of our members and active enrolment of new members, at all levels and in all organisations.
  •  Ensure the promotion of equality and diversity is fundamental to everything which Napo does
  •  The promotion of professional values, training and practice in all sectors of the Family and Criminal Justice systems.
  •  Support Branches/sections and ensure that Napo's structure are responsive to the external challenges but also meets the union and members' needs.
  •  Ensure a continued open dialogue between members and Napo centrally and be open to change within Napo structures if necessary

Dino Peros

Probation is split yet we are not divided! Our spirit and resolve remain strong and we will continue to fight the governments TR plans despite more to come!

The share sale, widely understood will not deliver a safe way to protect the public! We must persevere to ensure Probation remains a Public service and is never for profit.

Your vote to elect the most effective Chair decide who has appropriate experience skill and knowledge to support our common purpose our survival.

It is time for different strengths in this difficult role. Implementing change while incorporating views, from a range of mediums and proactive chairs and members. Ensuring our continued resistance against TRs appalling process.

Allied Unions involvement should be more obvious. PR Napo's priority continuing support to branches prolific posters, tweeters, getting probations defence recorded, recognising members who have been tireless.

Failing I.T, N-delius, resignations unfair selections flawed appeals Sickness increase and collapsing good will. Lack of confidence in the employers accompanied by excessive workloads! New dispute action cannot be ruled out.

I want to ensure transparent reporting for members on all issues. During this crisis! We will find reserves, retain our membership and encourage others to loin. Its not too late.

Having served as Vice Chair, I have the experience to manage immediately taking all members interests forward. We should build the case for judicial review legally challenge the distortions which have been shamelessly spread about Probation.
Vote for me. Thanks!

There are three candidates for two vacant positions of Vice Chair:-

Dave Adams

I am committed to fighting to save Probation and preventing the proposed share sale which will place Probation in the hands of the "privateers". I have led a high profile media campaign in Warwickshire and have had many articles published in local and national media and have been interviewed on local radio on numerous occasions, I have shown on numerous occasions that I am prepared to stand up and be counted and go on the record to publicise the scandal that is TR.

As vice chair I will use the resources that this position provides to continue to promote Napo's opposition to TR and reach a wider audience. I will also work on increasing the membership of Napo in CRCs and NPS in order to improve Napo's influence and representation.

Now more than ever Napo need vice chairs who will show leadership and who will fight to "save probation".

Chas Berry

Napo's strength in the battle to defeat TR has been our willingness to lead an independent strategy, including the use of industrial action, to force concessions that protect significant parts of our terms and conditions. It is this pressure and the threat of further action that is the key to seeing off the privatisation of the CRCs. We can have no confidence in Labour coming to the rescue and must maintain our independent position 
of opposition to privatisation up to and, if necessary, beyond share sale.

Independence does not mean isolation however, and we must try to build on common ground with UNISON, GMB and other unions. Alongside our colleagues in Family Courts we face the common problems of low pay, high workloads and the threat of privatisation. Unity in action around pay can unite us all and seize back the initiative from the privateers. General strike action on this issue would raise the confidence of all workers and send a powerful message that we will not accept the degradation and ruination of our livelihoods.

I am a member of the Socialist Party and have stood twice in local elections under the banner of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). With all the major parties following the same big business agenda it is vital we use our political fund to back candidates that won't do their dirty work for them This means helping those like TUSC who want to see a new party that represents the millions not the millionaires.

Katie Lomas

The last two years have been challenging both locally and nationally. We face further challenges in the months and years to come. Having fought to preserve our proud and precious service, we must continue to fight for our future. It would be all too easy for us to retreat to a safe place at this point. to hide ourselves from any perceived threat or exposure. Despite these feelings we must continue to fight, we must ensure that the public, the Government, the opposition and most of all the media, know what is really happening and the risk being taken with public safety.

This is not the only threat to Napo. we also need to grow as a union, to develop and leave behind the difficulties of the last few years and to become stronger. We are a small Union with a big voice. We need that voice to be heard. I will work to build the Union and make it strong, as I have done in my branch, nurturing activism, ensuring inclusion and that the branch does the work that the members require of it.

I would apply the same approach nationally. The democratic workings of Napo must be accessible to members and  those that carry out the work of the union must represent the membership and be accountable. Being a leader is not lust about being strong, it's about supporting those around you to be strong too, so that together we can fight the threats we will inevitably face.

A few comments have come in already:-

Just got home to open Napo election material. Feel encouraged by the positive & assertive Vice Chair candidates standing: maybe its because I've had a day from hell at work but have no sense of inspiration from those for Chair however. The choice of our NEC reps is going to be even more important.

I would urge people to vote for Dino Peros for chair. He is a brilliant rep who knows his stuff inside out. He has been my rep on one occasion and obtained the desired result. He is very feisty and I feel we need some one like that to deal with the likes of Grayling and the MoJ. He predicted a lot of what has been happening a long time ago. He has a long history of trade unionism and I think he will give Grayling a good run for his money.

I'm impressed by the election statements from Yvonne Pattison & Chris Winters (job share) but know little other than what is written in said statements. Are any readers of this blog able to recommend them? Also, Yvonne / Chris do you read this blog? Be great to hear from you if you do!

One would imagine that ALL candidates would be familiar with the sentiments of the staff as reported on this blog....perhaps THIS will be the forum of choice for their canvassing! 
At least one candidate has started to engage on here...perhaps Jim you might be able to encourage further involvement from the candidates....

Yvonne and Chris for Chair - Good solid and dependable grafters who won't set the world on fire but will certainly get the job done. Chas and Kate for Vice Chairs (though Dave seems ok too) Richard and Ikki for NEC Black Reps. Let's get it right this time for the members people. Show boating, self promotion, cushy directorships, laziness, personal agendas, scandals etc NO THANKS!!!!!!! 

Just listen to the members concentrate on doing what your elected to do and nothing else is required (or else we'll send Pat Waterman in to sort the lot of you out - so behave yourselves!!!!!). Thanks.

Napo needs a strong leadership. If only Pat Waterman were to run for the National Chair. Tough job ahead for the elected National Chair. Yvonne and Chris may be seen as a pair of safe hands but are they capable to lead the union through this challenging times? We need someone who is capable and able to steer our much loved service away from the mess Grayling has put us in. Having said that, respect to those candidates who have put their names forward. We just need to get it right this time round as we appear to be losing members in numbers.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Privatisation Special

Lets kick this off with 'mission impossible'. Serco are looking for an 'ethics' officer. The closing date is July 28th:-  
Serco Group plc is an international services company, established for over 50 years, delivering essential services for both the public and private sectors. It is well-respected for being a values-led company with a culture and ethos that is at the heart of everything it does. The company gives its people real responsibility and allows them to put their ideas into practice to truly make a difference for customers and the public. Serco employs over 120,000 people worldwide, including over 40,000 in the UK. 
Due to Serco`s continued focus on business ethics we are currently recruiting for an Ethics Officer to strengthen the support we provide to our senior management team. The Ethics Officer will act in support of the Directors of Ethics and Governance (of both our UK and Europe divisions) by supporting the Senor Ethics Officer in monitoring and reporting results of the ethics activities of the company and in providing recommendation and reporting for the two Directors on matters relating to ethics.

Duties include:- Champions the ethical values of the organization, promoting and embedding our ethics policies, code of conduct and business principles across the division.- In conjunction with the Senior Ethics Officer reviews, maintains, and recommends revisions and further actions with respect to policies and procedures for the general operation of the Ethics Programme and its related activities to prevent illegal, unethical, or improper conduct. Supports in the day-to-day management of the Program.- Collaborates with other departments (e.g., Risk Management, Compliance, Legal Department, Employee Services, etc.) to direct compliance issues to appropriate existing channels for investigation and resolution. Consults with the Corporate attorney as needed to resolve difficult legal compliance issues.- Working with the Corporate Investigations Team, responds to alleged violations of rules, regulations, policies, procedures, and Standards of Conduct. Work with the Senior Ethics Officer to oversee a system for uniform handling of such violations.- Acts as an independent review and evaluation body to ensure that ethics Issues/concerns within the organization are being appropriately evaluated, investigated and resolved.- Monitors, and as necessary, coordinates ethics related activities of other departments to remain abreast of the status of all compliance activities and to identify trends.- Identifies potential areas of vulnerability and risk including risks around bribery and corruption, facilitation payments, human rights, conflicts of interest, competition law etc; develops/implements corrective action plans for resolution of problematic issues; and provides general guidance on how to avoid or deal with similar situations in the future.- Provides reports on a regular basis, and as directed or requested, to keep the two Divisional Ethics Committees and senior management informed of the operation and progress of compliance efforts.
This is an important and high profile role within Serco and as such we are looking for a Compliance subject matter expert with a proven track record in influencing stakeholders in the ethical agenda. Ideally you will possess knowledge of working with public service providers, preferably central government and have an inclusive, approachable and consultative nature. In return we offer a role with autonomy and scope to progress you career in the ethics space. The role attracts a competitive salary and benefits.
Nicely timed for the run up to the party political season and General Election next year and due to the runaway success of privatising the probation service, it's interesting to see that old chestnut about privatising job centres is back on the agenda. This in the Guardian reporting on a report just published by Policy Exchange.:- 
Job centres are failing to help about a third of their customers – mainly the long-term workless – and should be restructured to enable private companies and charities to compete with government providers, a report by the influential centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange has proposed.
The report, which came out on Monday, says jobcentres are failing many of the 11.5 million people in Britain with a long-term health condition, especially those with a mental health problem. It says the employment service should be rebranded as Citizen Support and advise the unemployed on the best personalised service available to them, including the data on their previous success rates. This would give the jobless person the advantage of being able to decide which service they wanted to commission to help them find work.
The call to reform employment services is not confined to the centre-right. Sharp criticisms of their performance have been made by the Labour MP David Lammy and, from a different perspective, by the centre-left thinktank the Institute for Public Policy Research. The Policy Exchange call for reform comes before a report for the government into whether the benefit sanctions regime is failing too many unemployed, especially those on the work programme.
The report claims that the system is in urgent need of reform and tries to make the case for that new buzz term 'personalisation' arguing that the next logical direction of reform is a radical new structure centred around the specific needs of the individual. It all sounds so comforting and cuddly, but this is a right-wing think tank:- 

  • Jobcentres should be completely overhauled. The employment services part should be mutualised and be allowed to compete with the private and voluntary sectors as well as other public bodies to provide specialist support for people looking to find work.
  • The remaining part of Jobcentre Plus should be expanded and rebranded as Citizen Support. It would effectively act as the primary and central hub for accessing government services, enabling advisors to identify an individual’s specific barriers to work and suggest providers that could help meet that person’s needs. The advisor would also show the success rate of each provider using comparison data to help the jobseeker make a more informed decision about which providers are most appropriate to help them.
  • Instead of the budget being allocated directly from central government to different providers as is currently the case, the money would be allocated to the individual claimant and then be funnelled to the provider of choice who is paid on the outcomes they achieve.
  • Unlike the current system, the provider of choice would act as an individual’s ‘caseholder’ – a specific point of contact. That lead provider will then coordinate specialist support suited to that person’s unique needs.
Seamus Milne writing in the Guardian on the other hand confirms that public opinion is very definitely against privatisation:- 
Privatisation isn't working. We were promised a shareholding democracy, competition, falling costs and better services. A generation on, most people's experience has been the opposite. From energy to water, rail to public services, the reality has been private monopolies, perverse subsidies, exorbitant prices, woeful under-investment, profiteering and corporate capture.
Private cartels run rings round the regulators. Consumers and politicians are bamboozled by commercial secrecy and contractual complexity. Workforces have their pay and conditions slashed. Control of essential services has not only passed to corporate giants based overseas, but those companies are themselves often state-owned – they're just owned by another state. Report after report has shown privatised services to be more expensive and inefficient than their publicly owned counterparts. It's scarcely surprising that a large majority of the public, who have never supported a single privatisation, neither trust the privateers nor want them running their services.
But regardless of the evidence, the caravan goes on. David Cameron's government is now driving privatisation into the heart of education and health, outsourcing the probation service and selling off a chunk of Royal Mail at more than £1bn below its market price, with the government's own City advisers cashing in their chips in short order. No amount of disastrous failures or fraudulent wrongdoing, it seems, debars companies such as G4S, Atos and Serco from lucrative new contracts in what is already an £80bn business – and one with an increasingly powerful grip on Westminster and Whitehall.
Again in the Guardian, more evidence that privatisation just isn't working:-
Successive governments have pursued an agenda of market competition, outsourcing and privatisation within public services. Their aim? Innovation – the kind that clunky, state run services apparently cannot deliver. For our politicians, the market has become synonymous with better services at lower costs.
But is this actually the case? Evidence is surprisingly hard to come by. Decades of restructuring and reform have gone by without much effort to find out. What limited evidence there is gives cause for concern. A recent survey of 140 local authorities shows the majority are beginning to take services back in-house, citing concerns about rising costs and decreasing quality. Pay and conditions for services staff have plummeted and transparency has given way to commercial confidentiality. Power has been concentrated in the hands of a few supremely wealthy private providers, now dogged by a series of high-profile scandals and widespread public mistrust.
What, really, did we expect? Attempting to force innovation by pitting providers against each other naturally breeds fragmentation and opposition between stakeholders – which in turn discourages the partnerships and holistic thinking necessary for joined-up and preventative services. Efficiencies are sought by squeezing workers' time, undermining the potential for caring services; and by cutting wages, causing diminishing morale, retention rates and productivity. New targets and auditing regimes have been introduced to regulate a diversity of providers, side-lining local priorities and knowledge in the process. Shareholder value has been allowed to trump social value, eroding collective responsibility and solidarity.
As the 'we own it' website makes clear, now is the time for a grown up debate about public ownership:-
For the mainstream political classes, public ownership remains anathema. For New Labour types, nationalisation in particular is the political equivalent of the word “MacBeth” for the acting fraternity; words that cannot be spoken for fear they will bring bad luck or, more to the point, undermine their pro-business credentials. Suggestions by the Tories - and their pro-business friends in the media and the City of London - that nationalisation presages a return to the dark days of the 1970s lead Labour to beat a hasty retreat from raising any serious critique of how our economy is owned and controlled.

The irony is that it is the UK’s political class that is out of step with the times. Public ownership is back on the public policy agenda in much of the rest of the world as the failures of three decades of privatisation become increasingly apparent. In Germany and France, but also in large swathes of Africa, Latin America and even the United States, new forms of public ownership at local, regional and national levels are being introduced that take whole sectors back into democratic control. Even the European Union’s commissioner for energy policy has recently suggested that if key strategic priorities around tackling climate change are going to be met, the electricity grid across the continent should be returned to public hands.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Latest From Napo 37

Here is the latest email from Pat Waterman, newly re-elected Chair of Napo Greater London Branch:-


Phew...........what a scorcher

On Friday 18th July (on what has been the hottest day of the year so far) over 120 members attended the Branch AGM. Our Guest Speaker was Ian Lawrence, NAPO's General Secretary. Unfortunately Yvonne Pattison, National Vice Chair, was too ill to attend but a statement from her was read out by Patricia Johnson, Branch Vice Chair.

After the Branch had voted to adopt the Annual report and Accounts there was an election for the post of Branch Chair. I am honoured, privileged and delighted to have been re-elected as the Chair of Greater London Branch for a further two year term of office. My commiserations to Robert Hull. On behalf of the Branch Officers and the Branch Executive I do hope that he will use the experience and knowledge he would have brought to the post of chair to the service of the branch.

It was a lively AGM and I am grateful to all those who attended and participated, especially the proposers and seconders of motions and our NEC Representatives who gave a very comprehensive report back to the branch. As I said in my last e-mail (Meeting, Meetings Meetings) there were some very important meetings last week.

On Tuesday, together with the Branch Vice Chairs, I attended a meeting between the Senior Management of both the London CRC and NPS and the trade unions. We were the only trade union present. Members may recall that, in a letter to me just as LPT was about to end, our then Chief Executive said:

“The case transfer process is largely on track. It was not expected that all offenders would have been transferred by the 31st May, as those cases identified as “critical “ have a longer time period and it is not expected that these to be transferred until the end of June.”
At the meeting on Tuesday we were advised that the process of Case Transfer is far from complete. Many cases are still not in the “right” place and although over 6,000 cases were transferred before the end of May there are still over 4,000 cases which have yet to be transferred. It is envisaged that half of these transfers will be completed by the end of July and the rest by the end of August.

As the schools prepare to break up this week, those of you who have been working in the field for some time will know that the summer is always a difficult time as staff take leave. I have never known an office to be fully staffed over the summer period and that was before staff started resigning as a result of this omnishambles.

So now we are told everything will be sorted by the end of August ..........really.

The London CRC has just published on London-i a consultation paper for staff and service users entitled"Influencing the Future of the London Community Rehabilitation Company”. As one of the recognised trade unions in the London CRC we have been invited by the CEO, Nick Smart, to participate in this consultation exercise. We have as yet reserved our right to participate in this consultation exercise subject to consultation with members of this branch. Please e-mail MAIL LONDON NAPO and let us know whether we should participate and if so what we should be saying on your behalf.

On Wednesday I attended a nationally organised meeting of Branch Chairs and Vice Chairs. Ian Lawrence , NAPO’s General Secretary, addressed the meeting in much the same way as he had addressed the NEC the previous week and would address this branch two days later at our AGM.

He made clear his views about anonymously critical comments of both himself and other NAPO employees on social media. This branch has chosen to engage with social media, as part of our campaigning activities, to the extent that we have our own Face Book page and Twitter account. It is used as yet another way of communicating with members and providing them with information and links to other sites which they may find useful and relevant.

At the meeting on Wednesday Ranjit Singh, National NAPO official, launched the union’s “Recruitment and Organising Campaign: A five point plan”. This plan will be discussed at the Branch Executive meeting this afternoon.

The Branch Officers have already started an extensive mapping exercise to help us identify the “gaps” in membership. In conversation with the chair of another branch, who had devised spread sheet which she agreed to share with us, she told me that it took her two full days to map 300 members. We have close to 1,000 members so this exercise will take some time.

Napo is planning a national lobby and rally at parliament on Wednesday 3rd September. The focus of the Rally will be ‘Members’ Voices’ and on briefing MPs on what is happening to the service in reality. More details to follow but please note the date in your diary.

Please also note the following date:

National AGM 9th -11th October in Scarborough (more details to follow)

And finally:

People have sometimes commented on how angry I seem. I make no apologies for this. I am angry; 
  • Angry at seeing a profession, in which I have worked my entire adult life, being destroyed.
  • Angry when I read about the aggravation so many of you are experiencing as you try to do your job
  • Angry about the stress many of you are experiencing as you try to grapple with IT systems that are not fit for purpose
  • Angry on behalf of you all as you become increasingly frustrated on behalf of your clients as well as yourselves.
And so I will, with the help and support of the Branch Officers and Branch Executive, continue doing what I have been doing. In the words of Johnny Cash:

I won’t back down (if you don’t know the song look it up on YouTube and be inspired)

Pat Waterman
Branch Chair

Manchester in Meltdown 2

As an experienced officer I have never known a time like this. Here in Manchester, managers have a habit of saying 'yes we will do' to everything. I think if Chris Grayling said someone clean my arse, some manager will turn round and say 'yes we can do'. Of course the manager won’t be because they are too busy chatting away whilst the work force is worn down to the ground. They are just pushing and pushing to make it all work when nothing is fitting together. I’m reaching breaking point and worry that either I will go off sick, will snap or even just walk out. Who will they blame, it will be me no doubt.

At least you have been offered money we have been directed to do PSR's in Manchester. If money was offered however, I would refuse. It sounds though the whole service nationwide no longer has the same practices and policies everyone is on survival mode.

In Manchester the membership fee to join Probation Institute is being paid by our CRC. Management have been actively encouraging us to join by telling us how good it is. Even willing to pay the membership for every person in the CRC. Can you believe this shit? In supervision, my manager spent more time trying to convince me of joining rather than spending time discussing the f***k up which the split has caused. 

In a recent staff meeting we were even asked to explore the benefits of privatisation & the 'creative opportunities' available for staff. Biggest pile of shit I've ever heard. Trying desperately to convince us that crap will be good. What bit do they not understand, staff do not want privatisation. 

As someone who is working flat out in Manchester the idea of the mutual with Sodexo will not be a mutual but a full takeover by Sodexo. The management who are puppets of the profit making machinery are full steam ahead. I worry about myself and my colleagues as we know very well, that at the end of the day we will not be working in probation but for Sodexo. If Sodexo think this is going to be easy they need to think again. We fully intend to expose and leak info to media of as many issues as possible.

There are areas of Manchester with OMs holding 70+ cases in the NPS. The split went very wrong there.

It’s chaos in Manchester CRC. Been allocated a domestic violence case and my manager has instructed me to put him on three week reporting so that I can take on more cases. Before I even got back to my desk I was allocated a further ten cases. I am getting cases allocated to me that I do not even know about. I have complained to my union but they do not seem able to do very much except asking me to send examples into NAPO HQ. What good will that do. I need help now. 

On Thursday last week I had a phone call from reception saying that an offender is here to see me. I was not expecting anyone, did not know he was coming, he does not know me, I have no prior information or history of who this person is & I am expected to induct him without a case file. It turned out that he is a sex offender low to medium risk. I went to see my manager and complained. I was told just get on with it. I tried to explain to my manager that this is not professional practice and was told that no one will be investigating anything and just do whatever you can. When I tried to argue against this I was told that if you do not like it you can leave. How can anyone work in such a climate i.e. health and safety of their staff is actively being ignored. If this is how things are now I can’t imagine what it would be like post share sales.

Trouble is when you are that saturated and overwhelmed you have no energy for a grievance although in reality that is what is needed. Manchester needs a big shake up as they got all their figures wrong and they were harsh with their shafting, arseholes they deserve what they get which is an enormous meltdown. They have treated the CRC staff disgracefully.

"Had to do a report for an Initial Child Protection Conference. Took longer to upload the thing onto Delirious than it did to write it! And it took three of us to work it out". - Same problem in Manchester, and then you loose it. I have been doing my PSR's in word, then the clericals can cut and paste them into a document. Its great it now takes 2 to 3 people and lots of man hours to write a report.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

TR Week Seven B

"....and we have to identify cases for trainees to manage, so will that be the rapist or the murderer?"

This is actually a very relevant comment. I've been in the job for *cough* years and one of the things I enjoyed was mentoring a TPO. All TPO's start off co-working low risk cases, first time offenders etc, cases you have identified that the offender is unlikely to offend in the future. How does this work post split? I do not have one offender on my books who I would be happy to co-work, without micromanaging the whole thing, distracting and impacting on my time and potentially undermining the TPO. On the flip side, I cannot see many of my colleagues who have been shafted into CRC wanting to help out somebody who is doing their job, and is possibly less qualified, after they have been kicked in the teeth; it does not sit well. Additionally, will the CRC (post sale) be able to train TPO's, or indeed get paid for it?

I believe it is only a matter of time before the MOJ/NOMS comes for individuals on code of conduct/OSA issues. This is not going well for Grayling and he (or perhaps his successor if he is replaced in the Cabinet reshuffle) will turn his ire on the workforce soon. So I guess it is vital to keep recording what is happening whilst we can.......

In Lancs biggest pressures are in smaller offices, trying to run Court services/write reports with smaller team, managing the farce of dual office duties etc and still have pressures that will come from summer leave....

Last week our NPS started using PSOs to write PSRs, something that we haven't done before. At the same time POs in CRC aren't even permitted to write sessional reports. For us, this is the start of role boundaries moving. Any other examples out there?

It has been like this in our LDU since day one. Agency staff are being given overtime to paper over the cracks. CRC staff no chance. I was told nearly a year ago that I would be in the CRC by my line manager. Needless to say we had clashed on several occasions. No shaft just a settling of scores, Which I was not allowed to question as the chief said she had to support her staff.

The whole system has been an absolute shambles. The selection process to determine who is CRC/NPS is the most discriminatory process I have ever come across. I find it difficult how colleagues are not up in arms about this. Sometimes I question what exactly IT will take for colleagues to say 'enough is a enough'.

I'm a PO in South Wales. We have NPS and CRC staff in meltdown. Both sides holding 65 cases each which is well and truly above the work load management tool (which is suspiciously now not working?). The rate of new allocations for the CRC is very high, a PO informed me that he received 6 new tier 3 cases within 4 days that was after he informed his line manager that he couldn't cope with his workload! 

I'm in NPS and am struggling with the high level of reports and still trying to get to know all my new cases. The sift still makes no sense to me, with some excellent experienced staff being in the CRC, whilst newly qualified are in NPS? Managers seem to be walking around blindly, living in another planet whilst the staff on the coal face a struggle to keep their heads above water! Today alone, we had 4 members of staff in tears and that was before 10am!

Been told that in some offices staff are working until 11pm to keep up with the demand of reports. You wouldn't catch me ever working late, I know it's easier said than done but all you're doing is attempting to paper over the cracks. TR WILL NEVER EVER WORK!! Please someone save us before we lose all our good staff either by stress or because they got out!! Staff are being treated disgracefully, the basic good management of staff and consideration of welfare/duty of care has been thrown out of the window. I look forward to the work related stress cases before the Court!! CRC's best get your cheque books out......

Also in Wales we have been asked by ACE & managers if we would like to volunteer to join a CRC workstream to do a 'Gap Analysis' of our areas of expertise. They are basically looking at all current Tenders and asking Partners to give all their work info to have ready for when the new company takes over. Asked for staff to give briefings on new housing law, and directories of outside contacts and agencies we work with. Turkeys getting ready for Christmas!

Wales....probably the first area where this brave new world first reared its head when our trust appointed the truly odious Sarah Payne. In the NPS, they continue to hold peer review days of cases...where two people go through supposedly random selected cases. Prior to the split you can imagine how poisonous this got and people were really slagging cases off and what the OM had or hadn't done. You can imagine what this has done for already awful morale that we continue using up resources and taking people away from their work to continue to partake in this fucking charade.

I'm still writing emails & entering delius. Catching a ride to glorious isolation in the morning. Partner can drive as I won't be home til after midnight. Grayling take note, this is for the clients, not you - you pisstaking tosser. £30k pa for 200 hours a month. I shouldn't but its not about TR, its about the clients. Shoot me dead, but those guys and gals should not pay whats due to grayling and co.

Napo, Grayling - what should I do next? Over 50 CRC cases, 29 brand new this month, no oasys on the new cases (either nothing at all or no-one can find them). Left home at 7am today, had to see clients at remote office with no access to IT this morning. 3 cases being released this week, all complex, all involving dual diagnosis (mental health & substance use/dependency), all NFA; 2 very demanding cases in the community, one with learning disability, the other with aspergers - neither with allocated social work support as they are adults and funding has been withdrawn for all but "acute" cases. 

New procedures for CRC supervision requires all new cases to be assessed using new toolkit BEFORE completing ISP oasys. Just finished 2 hour interview with distressed DV victim (and client of mine) where safeguarding social worker was reassuring him about safety of children. Male victim, no resources for male survivors - funding cuts. Three hours totality on phone during course of day trying to get chaplaincy or similar to notify case in custody about sudden family death. Saw 6 clients today (incl dv survivor). No time to enter a single case contact from today on delius as yet. I'm now on 3 weeks' annual leave - but still 40 mins drive home. Stay behind & enter the records and get home at midnight? Go home and leave clients + colleagues in the shit? Drive directly to airport and get a job in New Zealand?

As someone coming to the final years of my working life, I do not have that time to squander so I will be off to a new job in the next few months. Less pay etc but I cannot, in all honesty, allow TR to taint my working life for much longer. If I was younger I suspect I would stay and fight my corner, along with my colleagues, but, post 60, it is a big ask.

Working my socks off - come in early to do a report and have been blocked out my computer. Short staffed and fed up.

Derby is short staffed and feel abandoned by management.

West Mercia has really poor management, no diversity to speak of, perhaps one black face in each office and lends no support to staff. Please don't get me started about West Mercia!

A number of offices in West Mercia can't make outgoing calls. Rumour is that phone bill has not been paid! 2nd day of no phones might I add.

Gloucestershire going down! NPS staff sickness rate is rising due to workload. Stressed out staff trying to manage case loads and extra PSR writing due to the split where about 60% of report writers were sifted into CRC. They are now talking about CRC staff covering PSRs.

Also, I heard a rumour that all enhanced voluntary redundancy applications for support staff have been turned down!!! Not sure what to make of this - surely they can't need 3 different Finance, Estates or HR, Computer staff? The cynic in me thinks it could be a smart move by MoJ - offer the enhanced VR to ensure they collate and manage all the number crunching that was needed to set up this unholy mess. Still, a real kick in the teeth and I can't see how the applications could be refused.

I wrote my resignation letter today and then realised I don't have another job to go to & I have a mortgage to pay! Yes, TR is that bad!

I think they threw away the original fag packet that the plans were originally worked out on.
TR is not saving money! We are now at crisis point. Both NPS&CRC in Wales are advertising agency Probation Officer jobs at £24 per hour.

IT system so slow today it took me 30 minutes to print out a pre sentence report. 1 page every 5 minutes!!

TR Week Seven A

I am in a nice simmer of fury tonight and could provide more unintended consequences about the delius entry that couldn't be accessed to check the offender arriving at probation from outside area for whom a warrant was outstanding.... high risk of course...and who sat in the waiting room with vulnerable woman with her child in tow...and therefore breached his SOPO on probation premises.....or the offender who gives the court an address where he is prohibited from living at as his child resides there on CP Plan but he is not allowed there with the child and CDO for some still unfathomable reason could not access her IT...or the probation officer who has been assured by the manager no extra work will be given and then gets 2 more psrs because of staff sickness and then has a full meltdown and is signed off straight away for 4 weeks.....

I share everyone's ire at the idiot Grayling. But I think in the event of a tragedy the audit trail leads back to the old trusts senior management teams. They knew full well what this idea would bring and opted for the Nuremberg defence. Grayling is (I believe) ignorant, whereas our leadership know the complexity of what we do. Yet they stayed supine and only a very few gingerly raised some concerns. Imagine what would have happened if all SMG's just said 'No'. Call me an idealist if you like but there you go.

There were lots of things they could have done. I still can't quite compute the shocking reality of hearing my colleague tell me over the phone that they cannot access 'the system'. They don't know who is walking through the door. This is MADNESS. It feels strange that Management have allowed this to happen so easily. They have been bullied by this discriminatory Govt without any co-ordinated effort to resist it. It's called wilful blindness and others suffer as a result.

Aren't the new RSR and CAS forms completely pointless & a waste of valuable time. Saying the same thing that's in the OASys already?

More demoralising of the experienced CRC staff, today at our office 2 newly qualified officers got contracts with NPS, one has had 2 previous interviews and didn't get through and the other has been on the trainee course twice. We didn't even know that there was any vacancies, so much for the "most experienced staff going to NPS", they now have newly qualified staff that have never held a high risk case load. Its absolutely disgusting how CRC staff are continuing to be made to feel.

Totally agree, breaches rejected by NPS staff who then refuse to discuss because you are CRC staff. Made to feel like second class Probation Officers who are no longer capable of doing their job!

Refusing to discuss a rejected breach is taking even this insanity a step too far. Raise it as an issue. As an NPS court officer I would be furious If I worked with that kind of attitude around me and would not tolerate it.

Breaches done by CRC and rejected by NPS which then leads to further delay increases risk. Recent case were DV client was breached on grounds that he failed to attend his appointment. Enforcement action was timely. Order was returned to court but, because a home visit was not conducted, a decision was taken to withdraw the breach a few days before his Court appearance. A home visit was conducted where he lived alone in his flat. There was no response. A further appointment was offered and when he failed to attend, a fresh set of breach papers prepared and sent into court. 

By now there has been a delay of several weeks before he last attended the office. Before the next court hearing the offender stabbed his partner and charged with section 18 wounding. This could well have been an SFO case. Guess who would have been conveniently blamed, not the f**king senior managers who are implementing this pile of shit system. Not the breach officers in court, who is being instructed to carry out their work by the f**king manager. The blame was squarely put on the CRC PO. Why, because one f**king home visit was not done. 

We could have protected this victim if the breach was allowed to continue, given that his index offence was DV. Maybe his court appearance at breach court could have shaken him up and he realises that he needs to get his act together. Maybe he might not have attended court at all in which case a warrant would have been issued and the police would have been looking for him. Is anyone going to tell the victim that maybe if we prosecuted him at the first point this could have been avoided. No. The fact is that our actions failed this woman and as a consequence she was subject to a serious assault which almost cost her life. How can management sleep knowing that TR is increasing risk? They can because they don’t give a shit about you or me. They don’t give a shit about the victims. The only thing they care about is their own sense of power and covering their own backs. That’s the f**king reality of what we have to work in. 

I don’t apologies one single bit if my language is offensive and I have caused offence. I am offended by TR and offended by the way the procedures are failing victims. 

And if you asking why I'm anonymous, then fucking guess why... in case I get bullied for exposing the dangerous practices which are occurring in the name of TR. 

I would not have rejected your breach and have never in long service come across or used such a feeble excuse for not proceeding with a wholly appropriate course of action in timely manner with view to enforcing order of the court and protecting known victim. I agree with everything your have said, I empathise with your anger and frustration that your work has been obstructed by nonsensical decision making leading to as you rightly say, potentially avoidable harm...

Yesterday, from just one CRC PO in one office in England - a DV case rang me from another county. Told me he'd been arrested & charged last week with a new s.37, bailed to court, can't go home. Living in a caravan in a layby. Nowt forthcoming from our police intel because they can't talk to me without a 5 page written application from me with specific questions. I used to get emails or phone calls on the day if one of my cases was in the cells. 

And another case awol after prison release - couldn't get police intel as to whether she was in cells anywhere or involved in any new offences because I'd been unable to correctly answer a question in the 5 page application. I know nothing about her as there's no case file (yet) and no access to IT records because they're locked to NPS. I used to ring the intel unit direct, have a good chat and both sides had a mutual understanding. TR is Bloody dangerous and bloody stupid.

I have seen elsewhere that the police have probation on their business risk register - that is appalling! It has taken years to develop the relationship and it could be lost in the blink of an eye.

I work in the IOM and get some very probing questions by the Inspector at the Police station. I've been totally honest about the situation and he is not too impressed at what is going on, to the extent that he has raised it with the P&CC at a recent meeting.

The officers I work with are now shouldering a greater % of the workload, this simply due to me being allocated non IOM cases which whilst not as resource intensive, still need ISP's, still need apt, still need referrals. Welfare visits are now a thing of the past and I feel very much out of the loop, something picked up on by both my IOM colleagues and offenders. Anyone who has worked or has knowledge of the IOM cases know that if these offenders go off the rails, it's unlikely that it will be one victim that suffers but many.

Still, as long as it's not Grayling or his cronies and PbR is on the back burner, who cares about the proles?

Our crc team is outrageously understaffed and overwhelmed by cases - no amount of money would justify report writing 'on the side'. How can it have become so wrong so quickly? It takes a very special fuckwit to do so much damage in such a short timescale.

NAPO in Gloucestershire sent an email this week to a senior NPS manager to highlight that things in NPS are past breaking point and requesting they address the situation immediately. Not sure what they can do, apart from looking to recruit temp staff. Which will be another kick in the teeth of CRC sifted colleagues!!!

MoJ - stop spouting the bullshit. You will be left to carry the can when someone is killed as a result of this mess, whilst Grayling will be off destroying another service and maintaining that he left everything just peachy and safe. Have the courage of your convictions and whistle blow.

No-one in our office will help NPS out. More because they chose CRC to get out of NPS - yes I know its strange but not all POs in CRC were shafted there but that's not to say they'll help NPS out. I also firmly believe some POs deliberately shafted to CRC so that they would have some POs with lots of experience and be a saleable asset to bidders. The whole thing stinks.

Bureaucracy in prisons is undermining the whole system, Offender Supervisors are spending their days chained to their computers completing OASys and variety of reports and risk assessments. The result is prisoners are not being seen, stresses are building and violence is on the rise. Many in prison have mental health issues and many have been damaged via their contact with the state or damaged from within the home. They need to be seen, they need to talk about their problems but this is the last thing on the minds of overstretched prison staff. 

I fear for the well-being of staff and clients in what is becoming a long hot summer in the prison estate. Prison managers have no idea how the impact of a fragmented Probation Service will affect them; blindly they follow the demands imposed on them by the fools in Westminster and NOMS. They are managerial Zombies similar to our very own senior management, "forgive them for they know not what they do".

The whole operating model for TR is based on ignorance, erroneous assumptions and a lack of informed and consequential thinking. This also applies to Grayling's prison policy. It is a time-bomb that is going to go off any time. A tragedy is inevitable and prisoners are already dying. How much evidence is enough?