Saturday, 29 June 2013

Outlook Improving

Those of us who tend towards the cynical end of the spectrum have laughingly remarked that the MoJ probably doesn't read all those carefully and lovingly crafted responses we so painstakingly put together during 'consultations'. Real cynics would say it's just a bit of a PR sham that you have to go through in order to demonstrate that you're 'listening' when in fact you're doing nothing of the sort. 

Of course politically it's probably quite important to demonstrate that you've 'consulted', even if you take no notice of what's been said, and I guess there might be some legal requirement to at least be seen to have 'gone through the motions'.

As we know, the legal profession made a huge number of submissions recently on the proposed cuts and changes to Legal Aid, but somewhat alarmingly, according to twitter conversations, people have been receiving automated e-mails saying "deleted not read - consultation now closed" . 

Now I'm assuming the responses involved were indeed submitted before the closing date, so it looks to me like the MoJ is going to have to come up with some convincing arguments pretty quickly in order to explain these e-mails. I understand the Bar Council and Criminal Bar Association are taking a keen interest in the matter and Chris Grayling does well to be concerned at the mere mention of Judicial Review in certain quarters. Things just keep getting worse for this guy don't they?

Still on the subject of our legal colleagues, it's great to hear that their No10 petition has passed the 100,000 mark and there is a strong move amongst the profession to encourage mutual aid  for our own somewhat more modest petition currently standing at just over 23,000 signatures. This is a very encouraging gesture and will serve to demonstrate to government that the criminal justice system is made up of complementary elements that work together and have many shared aims.

The last few months have undoubtedly been gloomy for probation and our future prospects, but I get a sense that there is indeed reason to feel that the outlook might well be improving. We've had the leak, the government defeat in the Lords, Paul Senior's lecture is on YouTube and a Justice Affairs Select Committee hearing is scheduled for next week. Napo has a new General Secretary and probably a new public affairs person very soon. The Lawyers are really getting their teeth stuck into the Lord Chancellor and some of their acerbic writing is just brilliant.

All that's missing is the theme tune and video - hang on here it is!          


  1. Interesting time team special on telly tomorrow night at 8 pm. Inside Lincoln prison. A historical look at some approaches within the criminal justice aimed at curbing crime and reoffending......and how they went so very wrong.
    If your watching Mr Grayling, please dont come up with any new bright ideas.

  2. Thanks for the message about the Tv Prog, there was a great two part series on Radio 4 recently about the history of imprisonment - featuring convicts and staff from Brixton Prison - now the oldest in London, but a few hundred years newer than the comparatively recently closed, Lackluster(oh the joy of predictive text - Lancaster) Castle, where I visited in 1970s - I don't think my visit led to the closure - it was in use from the 11th or 12th century.

    Sadly the Brixton Prison Radio Programmes were only left on the iPlayer thingy for a week but will maybe repeated eventually.

    There are some extracts from the two programmes on the website and a bit of a write up on the pages for the episodes

    Andrew S Hatton