The House of Commons debate turned out better than I expected, despite the vast swathes of empty green leather being very obvious, but with some really very good speeches from the opposition benches. By contrast those by Chris Grayling and the government were lacking conviction, were confused and sounded arrogant as usual. In particular, he can't get his head around risk and still clings to the notion that NPS and CRC's will 'co-locate'.
I know I'm hardly a disinterested neutral bystander in these matters, but listening to the argument from the opposition benches, the answer really is quite straight forward - give the extra work involved in supervising the under 12 month custody people to the existing well-performing probation trusts, at no extra cost. So simple, only ideology prevents it.
If there was any fairness about the whole charade, the government would have lost the division handsomely. But there isn't of course and, supported by 56 weasel Liberal Democrats, the opposition amendment was lost by 66 votes. The full proceedings can be read here on Hansard.
I notice that a very full briefing document had been prepared by the PCA and although very thorough, at 13 pages in length I really wonder how many MP's would be bothered to plough through it. I'm no media expert, but wasn't this the right moment for a short and simple message from the PCA - you know something like 'give us the under 12 month people to supervise for no extra cost to the taxpayer'.
To be honest this whole omnishambles is proving to me just how important the dark arts of media management really are, and sadly Napo, the PCA and PA seem to be completely at sea with it. It's quite obvious that nowadays the likes of the BBC have to be spoon fed and led by the nose to a good story. As usual, it doesn't get a mention.
On the other hand, despite confirmation that several probation trusts are now officially blocking access to this blog, including South Yorkshire, Cumbria and Thames Valley, viewing figures continue to climb steadily and now number on average 2,000 hits daily. A new record was reached yesterday of 2,598, just eclipsing the previous figure of September 19th when the probation service was officially advertised for sale. This seems to be the place to come in order to let off steam, share information and hopefully get a bit of support.
As was mentioned the other day,13 Police and Crime Commissioners have written to Chris Grayling expressing their concerns regarding the whole business, but to be honest it will only have real traction when independent or Tory Commissioners start voicing concern. Nevertheless, it's a welcome further piece of support and at one page in length, can certainly teach the PCA something about simple messages and brevity.
An article in the Guardian highlighting a recent report commissioned by NCVO into Payment by Results is interesting and can be paraphrased as 'there's a problem with the payment and the results':-
The Guardian contains another hard-hitting piece by Zoe Williams, highlighting the sad fact that much of what is going on in our field gets little attention:-