Well I've really been heartened by the responses this blog has attracted recently, thus confirming that there does seem to be a need for some kind of vehicle or platform where people can sound off, exchange thoughts and information and hopefully gain some comfort and support, knowing that they are not alone amidst the unfolding omnishambles.
As one commentator recently put it, it may not be ideal, but barring some techy alternative solution emerging, it seems to be serving a useful purpose given the obvious unwillingness of NAPO members and others to use the official Forum site. I have to say that given the present state of panic and confusion that the whole profession finds itself in, exactly what kind of kick up the arse does the Union need before it does a bit of introspective analysis and sorts the Forum out? The fact that some union members say they find it intimidating should be cause for some serious soul-searching.
So here we are with the knowledge that what is being proposed is far, far worse than first imagined. We're no longer talking about 70% of the Service being privatised, it's actually 88%. No more thoughts of Trusts being forcibly merged, they are being abolished with the rump nationalised and run directly from NOMS/MoJ HQ. All the hype about some Trusts or staff being helped by the Cabinet Office to form mutuals, so much smoke and mirrors given the ridiculously short implementation time frame that will make successful bidding all-but impossible.
Despite learning that when the Probation Chief's Association recently met Chris Grayling they apparently 'dissed' him with trappist-style silence, as yet we haven't seen any sign of anyone 'falling on their sword'. Ok it might be deemed a futile gesture, but sometimes that is the sort of thing some of us might expect given the dire situation we find ourselves in. Surely at least some of the chief's can see that they simply don't have a future under Grayling's plans?
A theme that continually emerges in this sorry saga is the lack of inspirational leadership. Some would actually go a bit further and say any leadership. I have to say I was utterly dismayed to see Sarah Billiald bemoaning on twitter that in some quarters the chiefs were getting the blame for the mess we find ourselves in.
Without going into the legitimacy of that view, is it really a good move for a chief to broadcast that they've been 'flogging their guts out for probation!' Isn't that what we have a chief for? Isn't that what a great deal of ordinary staff do on a daily basis, and all on considerably less money and without the benefit of a Head Office support team that's available to a chief FFS!?
One thing is certain and that is Main Stream Media's interest in our plight has proved remarkably short-lived, the Guardian being a notable exception. On Andrew Neil's flagship BBC1 Sunday Politics Show this lunchtime, the subject didn't warrant a mention and Sue Hall, the PCA chair, was edited down to 30 seconds on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire opt-out. That's a disgrace, but graphically highlights the state of our national presence. Clearly it's close to zero.
Before I forget, I wanted to highlight something Chris Grayling said on the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme the other day. In response to a question that possibly the plans hadn't been fully thought out, I'm sure I heard him say that they'd 'spent 6 months designing it' - a whole 6 months FFS! I also heard him have the temerity to moan that only 25% of a probation officer's time was spent productively on face-to-face client contact. Well that's a 4 year-old statistic and it was never our fault, but his bloody department and the effect of imposing OASys on us.
A bureaucratic nightmare and a completely wasteful distraction of valuable probation officer's time, privateers like G4S and Serco will try and avoid OASys at all costs and it will mostly be left to the poor bloody rump Public Probation Service to carry on filling the damned thing in. Oh and some information for any of my readers from G4S or Serco etc out there. Everything you've ever heard about OASys is true and guess what guys, the revised version OASys R is indeed even worse and proving an utter nightmare. You'll need to factor that into your bid guys!
No good asking them to sign the No10 petition, but there must surely be some other readers out there who haven't signed up yet? Here it is.
PS Please keep the comments coming in - 'every little helps' as they say.