I thought it was time to round up various bits and pieces before I forget, so in no particular order, lets start with Chris Grayling at the Justice Affairs Select Committee on the subject of Legal Aid. If he thought that spiking their guns by telling them in writing on Monday that he was caving in on client choice of solicitor would ensure an easy time, he was mistaken. He got a good going over and Sir Alan Beith remarked in true British understated style that 'eyebrows had been raised' - blimey!
The committee didn't seem that impressed to hear that 'he didn't think it was a good idea all along' to remove client choice of solicitor or his supercilious remark that 'he'd read the consultation responses and changed his mind'. He got shafted by the legal Establishment, that's what happened. Actually on the subject of the consultation, the automated e-mails 'deleted unread' came up and his response was basically 'trust me, they didn't get deleted, but I don't feel inclined to prove it'.
I'm not sure if people have noticed, but there have been developments in relation to Operation Fairbank and one Charles Napier was arrested last week. Most amazingly of all it seems that seven boxes of evidence have been retrieved by police from a warehouse. The Elm Guest House scandal has the potential to make the expenses scandal and phone-hacking scandals look like side shows. The whole political landscape could be thrown into turmoil very shortly guys and that would seriously affect the government's agenda.....
At long last, some Napo members will be relieved to hear their new General Secretary state:-
This cynical rush to get TR implemented without proper public and Parliamentary scrutiny is why Napo and Unison have now launched indicative ballots to test our members resolve to take Industrial Action so that we can develop the next stages of the campaign.
Now seeing as industrial action is a key risk factor identified in the leaked government risk register and we are talking about the very existence of the Probation Service, I really do think it behoves members to send a clear positive message to government through this indicative ballot. We all know that probation officers and indeed most probation staff have an historical aversion to industrial action, but look guys, don't we all owe it to our forebears, our clients and history to put aside qualms, past bitterness and even disillusionment and just bloody well vote?!
I haven't heard much reference to this article in the Guardian recently on the likely introduction of compulsory lie-detector tests for certain types of sex offender and following recent trials.
Finally, with all this depressing stuff around, there's still time to catch Peter Jones, one of the stars of Dragons Den, on i-player interviewing John Timpson and his son James who run Timpson the national shoe repair business. Timpson's positively recruit ex-offenders and routinely carry out interviews in prisons, saying that many make excellent employees and respond positively by being offered a 'break'. It's not a publicity stunt with son James explaining that it's often better to know the whole offending history from the outset and that 'crack dealers often make good cobblers' due to their entrepreneurial skills.
I found the programme lifted my spirit because father John Timpson has a refreshingly different approach to management and employee relations. He positively encourages staff to exercise discretion, trusts them to get on with the job, gives them their birthday off and lets them use company holiday homes free-of-charge. Having fostered over 90 children during his lifetime, he comes over as a genuine guy who proves that you can care about staff, as well as make lots of money. Have a look on i-player and reflect on your own experiences of employers you've known over the years.