Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Early Christmas for Some!

The most recent blog post by Joe Kuipers, Chair of Avon and Somerset Probation Trust, as usual contains some very interesting stuff, but my eye was particularly drawn to the following:-

Ian Poree has blogged on 2 October on an internal CJG space:

"The Rehabilitation Programme team has achieved several really significant milestones in the last few weeks. We have had the outline business case formally approved, published the Target Operating Model setting out the end state design, launched the staff consultation which begins the probation re-organisation, and formally started the competition for community based offender services. All of this and we still have time to host a charity fundraising quiz! 

I am so proud of my team’s achievements which have got us to this point, as are the Ministerial team. Indeed, the Secretary of State held a reception last week to thank the whole programme team for all of their hard work! 

There is still a long way to go to implement all the changes – this is a marathon not a sprint – but we are on the right path. although some days it does feel a bit more like a sprint!" 

The following day  Antonia Romeo blogged about a TR quiz, to raise money for breast cancer. Would love to see the questions at what was described to be a 'fun event'.

Yes, wouldn't we all! In fact may I suggest that the details of the 'reception' by the Secretary of State might in particular be promising ground for a Freedom of Information request by someone out there knowledgeable and experienced in such matters? You know the sort of thing. What was the purpose? How was it funded? Who authorised use of taxpayers money in this way?

I think it's a particularly scandalous use of public funds at a time of austerity and should be viewed in the context of the following quote from a recent instruction issued to all Trusts:-

Letter from John Scott, Deputy Director – Community, NOMS Probation & Contracted Services Directorate – 10.10.13

Exit Management arrangements
This letter to Probation Trust Chairs and Chief Executives sets out a summary of “key points to bear in mind” in terms of management of contracts and expenditure over the months leading up to the closure of Trusts.
In summary, Trusts are not allowed to do any of the following unless they have specific formal permission from NOMS:

·     Spend any money on hospitality or conferences.  (Specifically, this paragraph goes on to say that hospitality “expenditure relating to staff, including staff parties ... must not be incurred.  Trusts must also exercise caution in using public funds on events towards the end of the financial year, including staff conferences.”)

      Hypocrisy of the highest order I'd say! Lets make sure they don't get to the finish line of this particular omnishambles marathon.          .


  1. I'd also like to know how much the TR team have spent on new dictionaries - clearly theirs have a more up-to-date definition of "consultation" than mine. I always thought it implied an exchange of views to resolve a problem, but clearly it's now closer to "we'll tell you what's going to happen and ignore anything to the contrary". Language is a funny thing, eh?

  2. yes that is a nice bed company, however yes they must have some sort of strange dictionary where consultation is "F***ing do as your told" a la grayling.

  3. Jim,

    FOI duly submitted!....maybe Mr P might like to reflect on his own words before the JSC -Role of PS....when he next chomps on his canapés...

    Ian Porée: That language of "in partnership" is key. Essentially, they have the nation's professional expertise in managing offenders and the complex services around that. However the market evolves, we don't want to lose that expertise. I would expect them to be working closely in partnership, as many probation trusts already do, and in a number of the arrangements we have put in place over the last few years they have demonstrated very effectively how they can work together in partnerships with others to deliver these services.

    De gustibus non est disputandam...



    1. Mike,

      Thanks for that FOI request! We await with interest.



  4. BBC Midlands to discuss Probation privatisation – this comment doesn’t fit with the posts, but thought it was worth mentioning as BBC Midlands have today said the privatisation of Probation is going to be discussed on Sunday 27 October within Andrew Neil’s Sunday Politics – the section when it goes to local news.

    The BBC website http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-24523311 states Patrick Burns will be discussing the concerns about it after Police chiefs raised concerns about how it may have a negative impact on the re-offending rates. Great to see the good work we are doing being acknowledged by the Police - shame our own Chief Officers are not doing the same!!!!

    I have just pasted a few paragraphs - too long re word count to paste in full.
    "Having spoken glibly for years about "the revolving door of reoffending", I have been amazed at just how sharply the rates have been falling in our part of the country.
    According to the latest quarterly figures released in August by the Ministry of Justice, reoffending rates in all our region's police force areas are below 10% and, in most cases, comfortably below that figure
    In the West Midlands and Staffordshire out of a 'cohort' of 53,216 ex-offenders, only 6.96% went on to reoffend, that's down by no less than 16.24% compared with 2007/8.

    In West Mercia out of 10,039, 9.61% reoffended, down by 0.79% over the same period. In Gloucestershire, out of 4,520 8.98% reoffended, down 6.02% and in |Warwickshire out of 4,505 7.66% reoffended, down by a thumping 17.85%"

    Deputy Chief Constable Dave Thompson says; "The figures demonstrate how the police, the Probation Service and others have formed a cast-iron partnership to prevent people from reoffending. The result of our new approach to offender management is that crime levels in the West Midlands are being driven down to levels not seen in a decade."

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
    So while things are going this well, why on earth is the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling promising a "rehabilitation revolution" including the privatisation of 70% of the Probation Service: the service of which Deputy Chief Constable Thompson speaks so highly?

    For a start, the progress being achieved in the West Midlands is not being matched elsewhere; national reoffending rates are significantly higher than our local figures.
    Mr Grayling points to the 600,000 crimes committed every year across England and Wales by people who have offended before and which cost the country an estimated £13 billion per annum.

    A Napo spokeswoman said industrial action was "a racing certainty" following a ballot in which 80% voted in favour, out a 46% turnout.
    The Conservative Justice Minister and Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright said this was "disappointing" but there were "well-established contingency arrangements".
    And the plans are strongly supported by the right of centre research organisation Policy Exchange, the original architects of many of the changes.
    According to the exchange's Max Chambers, "there are huge opportunities that payments-by results can offer staff including greater professional discretion, more freedom to innovate and a chance to have a stake in their own mutual organisations".

    But here in the West Midlands the Deputy Police Commissioner Yvonne Mosquito is worried that the Government plans could put at risk all the progress being made in places like Dudley.

    She says the proposals "have the potential to undermine successful integrated offender management not just here in the West Midlands but across the country too. Anyone with an interest in offender management, rehabilitation and probation services should take a look at the consultation and let their MP and the Ministry of Justice have their views."

    1. Re my post re BBC above - great change for local or national NAPO to contact the BBC, try to get on the show and ensure that the usual spin put out by the Conservatives is challenged.

  5. http://m.professionalpensions.com/professional-pensions/news/2302200/greater-manchester-pension-fund-awarded-moj-probation-contract

    Was everyone aware of this? Not really sure what to make of it myself yet.

    1. Thanks - the MoJ has decided that all pension admin for probation staff in the 35 trusts will be transferred to one local government fund the Greater Manchester Pension Fund. Those already retired will find that their pensions will be transferred also and will be paid by GMPT

    2. I hope they hold an annual members event in central London like the London pensions Fund authority do.

      I have been several times,and found it useful and enterrtaining.

      I cannot see why my pension needs to go to an authority 200 miles further away.

      Hardly localism!

      Andrew Hatton

  6. I had to highlight this article because I found the language used by Turning Point so amazing. They seem to have learned outsource speak.
    I think reading between the lines they're preparing to go all in on TR gravy.


    1. Thanks - I have covered the Turning Point story before, but it's worth repeating as a warning to probation staff as to what lies ahead when outfits like this take on CRC's or become subcontractors. They sacked all the staff and imposed generally worse terms and conditions in order to remain 'competitive'.

      Colleagues really must wake up to what is happening before it's too late.

  7. From Facebook


    "Via private message. A liker's views. Letter t 'Probation' from 'Chris Grayling'.

    To the Probation Service.

    We have looked at the figures of reoffending rates amongst a group of people with whom we have not allowed you to work i.e. those with short custodial sentences of under 12 months and have realised that despite not working with them you have been unable to reduce their reoffending rates.

    Therefore we are going give someone else the opportunity to complete the job that we didn’t allow you to do and also take away your existing work.

    We feel that there are other people much more likely to contribute to the conservative party to whom we can give the contracts to do the work you do now.

    If you are lucky they may keep on existing staff members but we have ensured that there will be no need for them to tupee you over by creating a ‘new’ employer for yourselves in the interim.

    This will mean that you will be able to maintain your employment with our new providers at a much more economic (for them) rate.

    We have also changed employment law so that should they not want to keep you we have kindly reduced the notice period that they need to give you.

    We are sure that you will agree that this is in the best interests of reducing reoffending for the future.

    However should you not agree please remember that if you are found to be voicing that disagreement in any manner we will use our rights to terminate your employment immediately.

    Yours sincerely

    Christopher Grayling
    The Conservative Party."

    1. Thanks Andrew - very good!



    2. Thanks for reminding us of exactly what this government is doing to ordinary people. The nation is strapped for cash, so lets steal from the poor and give benefits to the rich. Top jobs get big payoffs and yet the poor get their Tupe taken away from them!