I think, at the end of the day, it will be our service users who scupper this ideological nonsense, as in the main they are clever, street wise, take no prisoners and unless, positively stroked (in an appropriately therapeutic way) will rise up and bring the whole crock of shite to its knees; a part of me, can't wait.
I certainly got the impression at a recent meeting involving a potential new provider (long story, don't ask.....) that they sincerely believe that probationers will be grateful for the new 'all singing, all dancing' services they intend to provide. They clearly have no inkling of the tsunami of resentment heading their way from those prisoners who currently knock out their u12month custody in 1/2 the time, then away, but who will now be subject to a year's supervision! Good luck with that one folks, a tall order even for the most experienced staff.
It's a very good point indeed, and one I made a few months back. There will be considerable trouble in enforcing clients compliance for something that they will say is grossly unfair. They've 'done the crime: done the time' and will basically refuse to cooperate with a new proscriptive regime which they will see no need for and they're likely to 'kick off' bigstyle.
Up till now, voluntary and third sector organisations have been working largely with a willing and cooperative client group. This will not be the case under TR and there will be a huge amount or resentment, and as we all know, some quite ugly scenarios are likely to result. Breach action will become routine and enormously burdensome and bureaucratic, prisons will silt up, but most worrying of all, the perfect conditions will have been created for escalated client reoffending. As always it's the clients that end up paying the price. Of course it would be entirely different if support for the under 12 month people was voluntary, but Chris Grayling thinks he knows best.
An interesting insight into the arrogance of the man was provided recently by Russell Webster highlighting this quote from the Institute for Government report on how government is failing to manage outsourcing contracts properly:-
"Chris Grayling came to the department....with a very specific idea about what he wanted to achieve : the Work Programme would be based on a 'payment by results', prime provider and 'black box' model. These key decisions were nonnegoatiable. Grayling not only took a highly hands-on approach in the design of the programme, but set the demanding timescales of less than a year for implementation....Grayling convened a tight coalition of senior officials from across the department, sometimes meeting as often as two or three times a week."
As we now know, this is a very risky strategy, not least because it can seriously go awry if key people leave, and the pace of implementation inevitably leads to poor decision-making, cock-ups and as the IfG notes, risk management processes being sidelined. In fact exactly the situation that Chris Grayling is now replicating at the MoJ with the TR omnishambles.
Wherever you look there's utter dismay about these plans. You'd think that a specialist criminal justice employment agency would be enthusiastic, but Criminal Justice Skills, part of the RedSnapper Group is utterly scathing:-
Following an obscure publication from the Ministry of Justice, the "prior information notice" has revealed some unexpected details concerning Grayling's radical reform agenda.
Previous estimates no longer seem valid as the recently published figures highlight the unexpected scale and pace of the planned privatisation of the probation service. The formal bidding of "payment by results" schemes are now set to start in August 2013.
Furthermore, the divide between the private/voluntary sector and the public probation service has also widened. Estimates formerly stated how 70% of the rehabilitation services would be privately/voluntarily run leaving 30% to the public, however following the addition of further caseloads to cover 50,000 extra short-sentenced prisoners, this balance has now shifted.
The MoJ has stated that this figure has risen to 88%, thus leaving a mere 12% of high risk offenders in the hands of the public probation service. The rump of the public protection service will be left managing 31,000 offenders deemed "high risk" - typically those offenders involved in sex or violent cases. The 236,000 low and medium-risk offenders will be in the hands of the private and voluntary sector, such as private security firms and charities.
Effectively, responsibilities for the likes of assessing the risk posed by each offender, providing courts and parole board with pre-sentence reports and making final decision on whether the offender must return to prison will be under the public probation service control.
Nonetheless, an overwhelming proportion of probation work will be transferred to the private/voluntary providers, hence why Grayling has previously prophesied the likelihood of a large majority of probation staff switching to the new providers.
One way for the 35 soon-to-be-dissolved public probation trusts to stay active is by converting into "mutuals" and then bidding for contracts in partnership with private companies and voluntary organisations. There is however no guarantee of bidding success.
It's estimated the new rehabilitation and supervision contracts will go for the likes of £5bn to £20bn over the next 10 years.Disregarding Ken Clarke's two pilot tests in Peterborough and Doncaster, Grayling has decided to turbocharge the scale and pace of his ‘revolution'.
Ignoring the valid assertions that this reform is not tried and tested Grayling wants the radical probation service privatisation in place by the next general election - this is only two years' away.
What could possibly go wrong guys?