Thursday, 10 October 2013

Omnishambles Update 22

By all accounts the Napo Lobby at Parliament yesterday went well with over 270 members packed into two committee rooms along with 40 MP's and Peers. It would seem there's still some scope for the parliamentary process to cause trouble for the minister Chris Grayling in the coming weeks. 

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I notice Sadiq Khan, Labour Shadow Secretary of State, has written to both Margaret Hodge and Sir Alan Beith, respective chairs of the Public Accounts Committee and Justice Affairs Committee, encouraging them to urgently scrutinise Graylings dangerous and ill-thought-out TR proposals.

I'm not sure how his welcome speech went down with delegates down the road at the QEII conference centre, but I see one delegate was moved to tweet somewhat sardonically:- 

"Congress, the probation service is effective and cost effective...so I thought I'd privatise it and sell to those with a record of failing"

Joe Kuipers felt the minister was in rather a hurry to make his speech and get off back to the Commons, but I notice he couldn't avoid David Masterson, deputy chair of Greater London Napo branch, who button-holed him outside and apparently got him to state that "probation didn't need saving".

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For those who are possibly pondering the following question:-

So what of Mr Grayling himself, does his background and character suggest a man who can be trusted to oversee what on any view represents a new frontier in the boundary between public and private sectors in criminal justice and affecting more than 240,000 supervisees? 

the answer can be found here on a blog post entitled 'Chris Grayling : attack dog with lemming tendencies'.

Meanwhile, the whole TR omnishambles seems to roll on relentlessly with G4S advertising for a Head of Operations (Rehabilitation Services) at £85,000, clearly indicating that they are confident of winning significant probation contracts, SFO enquiry notwithstanding. I notice Frances Crook of the Howard League has been told the enquiry hasn't even started yet. I wonder why?

This blog post by Simon Bastow on the LSE website picks up on the damning HMI report on HMP Oakwood mentioned yesterday. This new prison, run by G4S, yet again demonstrates significant problems with inexperienced (cheap) staff and the author sees similar issues likely to feature with the TR contracts:-

More broadly, there are important lessons for government’s radical plans to open up the provision of probation services to the private and third sector. Radical reform may be fine in and of itself, but to do so without allowing existing public sector probation trusts to submit applications to run services (either unilaterally or in collaboration with private or third sector organizations) runs the risks of exactly the same type of large-scale experience-deficit problems occurring. Government has announced funding to support mutual bids from public sector staff, but it not clear what kind of impact this will have in competition with large and well-organized private/third sector offers.


So to expect these brand new and large-scale regional probation contracts to go from scratch to high impact is naïve. But to do so while at the same time actively side-lining a vast wealth of actual existing probation experience across a whole public sector system seems to risk the same kinds of problems down the line.
Just in case there is still any doubt as to what happens when public services are privatised, I see that the French catering firm Sodexo have just announced 200 redundancies at HMP Northumberland. They are due to take over the running of this establishment in December, which is actually the result of amalgamating the former HMP's Acklington and Castington.  

Finally, according to this piece on the Third Sector website, the initial enthusiasm by charities and other third sector organisations in wanting to bid for probation work seems to be waning:-  

Clive Martin, director of Clinks, said he was pleased by the level of not-for-profit involvement in the programme, but was cautious about whether sector organisations would find themselves with the capacity to bid for prime provider contracts.


"At the moment there isn’t much detail," he said. "We aren’t sure that the high level of interest will lead to anything. At the moment all you have to do is tick a box to say that you’re interested. You don’t have to meet any criteria.
"The detail is so vague that there’s little understanding of the risk capacity or scale required. So the drop-out rate of sector organisations might prove to be quite high.
"I’m hopeful, but not certain, that sector organisations will win some prime contracts. I’m not sure whether they’ll be existing organisations or spin-outs from the probation trusts.

22 comments:

  1. Sadiq Khan yesterday yesterday also called for FOI requests to be extended to private companies that undertake government contracts. It is he said something a Labour government would make happen.
    He was asked if this would not deter private companies from bidding for government contracts?
    He said if it's tax payers money thats being spent, then people have a right to feel they're not being ripped off.

    I wonder if G4S/Serco shareholders will be comfortable with this possibility?

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that - FOI must be extended to government contracts in the interests of natural justice - just a matter of time I think.

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    2. He spoke on the Daily Politics Show BBC.

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  2. Its so depressing that this is a government fraud from top to bottom that is going to lead to serious consequences for safety and public protection. Mr Grayling is going to walk away from this with no come back for his failings.

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  3. Before I forget in the midst of massive work loads, can I thank all those who went to London yesterday and Johnny PO from Leicestershire, who yesterday managed to restore my faith, as he made valuable comments on an item and managed to express his dismay about CG and his nonsense plans - about 9.00 on Radio Five Live - Nicky Campbell's programme. Johnny was on a coach en route to London, bless ( not in a religious way) you young man, and to top it off he's a Scot, just like me!!!!

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    1. Interview starts 28 minutes into Programme and begins as response to calls about parole.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03c3f0d

      Andrew Hatton

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  4. Meanwhile I have noticed a brand new sophisticated debater in the great probation debate: - PROBATIONHULK - with no lower case on his keyboard.

    https://twitter.com/PROBATIONHULK

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  5. has anyone seen this astroturfed A4E sponsored website

    http://www.probationfutures.org/

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    Replies
    1. Yes am slowly working my way through it and trying to construct some positive responses - watch this space as they say!

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    2. As for PROBATIONHULK - I just can't do with people shouting - it gives me a headache.

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  6. It may be interesting to read 'the void'
    Political bias apart....

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    Replies
    1. Yes I'm reading that thanks - could well feature in a future post.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  7. Analysis of the HMP Oakwood report here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24443586

    What made me chuckle was the quote by Chris Grayling back in February of this year. I'll not spoil it by putting it here, you'll have to read it yourself.

    The irony is that it's very likely to be true!!

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    1. "To my mind, it is an excellent model for the future of the Prison Service."

      Chris Grayling Feb 2013 House of Commons

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    2. HMP Jokewood to the residents.

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  8. Brilliant effort by all staff travelling to London yesterday, message received was "it's not a done deal " and note at last staff in my area appear fired up. So WHY can't we get the E petition past 100k signatures? Now at 26,109. COME ON FOLKS IT MATTERS.

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  9. Does anyone know why CRC CEO vacancies are back on EPIC?? Some have been filled others are re advertised Why?

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    Replies
    1. I would like to think it is because nobody applied but I doubt that is the reason!

      Meanwhile more from Russell Webster with his comments on the MOJs "Payment Mechanism - Market Feedback and Development Considerations" and a link to its paper.

      http://www.russellwebster.com/latest/

      Andrew Hatton

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  10. Russell is such a cheerleader for this nonsense, suppose it's a living trying to talk up bullshit

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  11. any idea of the names, need to be named and shamed.

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  12. I really do not see why we cannot engage Service Users - objectively inform them of what is happening and how it may impact on their lives and their supervision....I can confidently say that 50 of the 51 on my caseload would sign the E petition....we'd have no trouble hitting 100.000.

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