An attempt to help explain the mysteries and magic that are part and parcel of 'probation'.
Haven't read the blog for a few days but I find this news unbelieveable! I don't think it will gain Grayling any support either. Sorry if you've already read it. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/08/g4s-expand-contract-freeze-government-work
"The Home Office is drawing up plans to scale up a G4S-run immigration contract despite a government-wide freeze on new dealings with the company while it is being investigated for allegedly defrauding the Ministry of Justice.According to information obtained by the Guardian, the private security firm is preparing to expand capacity by 30% at one of the two immigration removal centres it runs on behalf of the Home Office, even though it is facing a formal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for claims it overcharged the government in electronic tagging contracts.Labour said it was bizarre and wrong that the company was being rewarded with bigger contracts while it was under investigation.Brook House removal centre, near Gatwick, holds people due for deportation from the UK, and currently has space for 426 male detainees. Last month, while hosting a reception for outside contractors, the centre's director, Ben Saunders, said the company intended to increase this by 60 and then another 70 places over "the earliest possible timeframe".On Monday, the Serious Fraud Office launched a formal criminal investigation into G4S after the justice minister, Chris Grayling, revealed in the summer that its staff had been billing the Ministry of Justice for tracking the movements of offenders who had gone abroad, been returned to jail or even died.Grayling promised that G4S would not be awarded any new contracts by his department until investigations into G4S billing practices had been completed.The Cabinet Office confirmed this pledge was binding across all government departments and was itself auditing several other G4S contracts.Grayling said he had no direct evidence of dishonesty. G4S said its internal investigation had found no evidence of fraud and the security multinational was co-operating with the SFO investigation.Last month, the head of UK and Irish operations for G4S , Richard Morris, resigned in a move understood to help patch relations between the company and the government."
Probation managers are often inconsiderate and ignore the continuing risk an offender may pose to a victim, a worrying report of the victim support service warns.HM Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP) held an inspection into the Victim Contact Scheme, a service for victims and their families which allows them to receive information about an offender's progress through the prison system.The inspection, published on Thursday, warns that probation officers are failing to challenge some of the most serious criminals, and address the impact their offences have had on victims.Inspectors raised concern in over half of the cases looked at by HMIP, which included murder and rape.In one damning case, a letter sent from the victim liaison unit - within a probation trust - was sent to an unnamed bereaved mother in the name of her murdered daughter.The report calls for officers to “think victim”, in their close work with offenders.They warn that offender managers do not grasp the full emotional and physical consequences crimes have on victims, arguing that more needs to be done to keep a victim safe.Chief inspector of probation Liz Calderbank said: "Offender managers need to be more cognisant of the impact on the victim, far more cognisant of the impact on the victim”.The HMIP inspection of the Victim Contact Scheme looked at 72 cases across six trusts, following complaints about the work of probation trusts.In its inspection report, HMIP said: "We took a strong view that it was important for the offender manager to have a good understanding of the emotional and physical impact of the offence upon the victim so that they knew about the victim's continuing anxieties and fears about the risk of harm they believed the offender still posed towards them”."With that understanding, the offender manager would have been better able to introduce meaningful victim awareness/empathy work into their supervision sessions with the offender”.The damning report comes only a few days after thousands of probation officers in England and Wales walked out on strike over the government's plans to privatise large parts of the service.Members of the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) began the 24-hour strike on Tuesday.The union registered a trade dispute over proposals to transfer most of the service to private companies such as G4S and Serco, arguing that the plans will have a bad effect on both the public and offenders.The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the strike was "disappointing".
That sums it up for me Jim - "letter sent in name of murdered daughter" - too much process (send a letter and get a performance tick) and not enough thought (who am I addressing this letter to?) - that's where probation's lost its way in recent years.
Yes it's not good......
I've always believed that the VLO role is incompatible with probation work, e.g. that the VLO should NOT be a part-time adjunct to a PSO role whilst holding a substantial caseload, covering court & delivering programmes. It is a serious and sombre role which requires a significant level of training and 100% attention.I've also been excavating some LibDem stuff. Theryre long in entirety so I've reproduced snippets & included a reference or link:LibDem Lynne Featherstone in 2006 expressing her horror at the notion of NOMS: "I’ve come here to plead guilty. Over the years, I’ve put out dozens of articles, hundreds of press releases and thousands of leaflets. In them all, the probation service has barely featured. So yes – I am guilty of largely neglecting what should be one of the most important public services... If we are to cut re-offending rates, that means helping people who leave jail put their lives back together, getting them out of the cycle of crime and back on their own two feet. Many of them are people who, frankly, have committed horrible wrongs and are people you or I probably wouldn’t want to sit down and share an evening with. Yet those in the Probation Service have to work them, do work with them, and we all benefit from when they succeed... But the restructurings and mergers are chaotic, and fragmentation and profit are not the natural allies of success. And the rush to launch NOMS makes us question the rigour of the business plan and the likelihood of success... The strength of the Probation Service has been rooted in it being run on a local level. The Probation Boards have brought a broad range of skills and experience to their work because they are part of the local community and of statutory services... Local co-operation between the courts, the police, the CPS and the Probation Service has been crucial in reducing crime and in public protection work, most notably with sex offenders and youth offenders. Losing this local co-operation will be counter-productive as it will be produce a less efficient and less effective Criminal Justice System... But for all that to work, we need a fully functioning Probation Service too." (lynnefeatherstone.org)
Then there was this interesting nugget about "Reform" - charity, lobby group or political thinktank? (Extracts from social investigations blogspot):"In February 2011, Reform, a free market think tank, produced a brochure based on a meeting held at global law firm, Clifford Chance, titled: ‘21st century justice’. The meeting in large part discussed the probation and prison service and the need for change. However, whenever Reform says change, what they actually mean is privatisation, and that is exactly what is going to happen with the probation service. Chris Grayling has said the government will push ahead with a pay by results system, rather disturbingly, before any assessment of the pilot schemes has taken place. outsourcing the process to private companies.The meeting last year was attended amongst others, by Blair Gibbs, Head of Crime and Justice at the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange and former Advisor to Nick Herbert MP. Mr Herbert was a co-founder of Reform before becoming an MP. Another attendee was David Banks, Managing Director, Care and Justice Services, G4S.G4S are one of the likely beneficiaries of any probation privatisation. G4S are a global security company who currently have operations in 125 countries; and are the biggest security company in the world. G4S also pay Reform to be a corporate partner and are not short of a voice or two in power. G4S has access to the very top, paying the former Labour Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Reid as a director and Lord Condon who is a Non-executive Deputy Chairman & Senior Independent Director. It would be reasonable to ask where the Liberal Democrats are in all this, but it turns out, the crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne, who is the Lib Dem MP for Taunton, sits on the Reform advisory board."
... and I quite liked the imagery from a Simon Radley, [former?] resident at North Sea Camp, who wrote this for Inside Time not so long ago:Perhaps the most intriguing proposal under discussion is the Lib-Dem plan to scrap custodial sentences of less than six months. Clarke recently admitted that this could be the way forward. But is this really as enlightened a solution as it first appears?... Community sanctions had been a spoonful of medicine given by the Probation Service’s Florence Nightingale. Now they were a punitive enema, and Harold Shipman was holding the tube.... In ripping the social work ethos from the soul of the Probation Service, the humane buffer between the offender and the lynch mob was effectively removed. The void was filled by a toxic brew of more ‘get tough’ rhetoric, populist gestures and ill-conceived legislation, infecting every pore of the criminal justice system in the process. Probation Officers were further tethered by the imposition of national standards; centralised targets and zero tolerance became the order of the day. And with community sentences now a sanction of the court in their own right, non-compliance was punishable by – you guessed it – imprisonment. The consequences have been ruinous: in 2005 alone, over 9,000 offenders were sent to prison for breaching community sentences. Far from being an alternative to prison, community sentences have become its sidekick – the Dick Dastardly and Muttley of the criminal justice system. And still the public aren’t convinced... Regardless of what may lie ahead, it is clear that scrapping sentences of less than 6 months is only one part of a bigger solution. The discretionary powers of the judiciary need to be reined in for starters, and the present review into sentencing guidelines is a welcome step forward. Breaking the correlation between punishment and prison will not be easy, but a progressive approach is not beyond us. If the alternative sentence is community based, it needs to be exactly that: a distinct and separate punishment, which means an end to the present breach-imprisonment reflex. Building on the principles of restorative justice, such punishments should aim to be inclusive and reparative for both the community and the offender. The Probation Service should return to its ‘advise, assist, befriend’ ethos, with a focus on collaborative relationships to achieve compliance rather than coercion. And more generally, the removal of law and order from the political arena as well as the acceptance of failures along the way will help the process. Combined together, these measures will protect the public in the long term – whether they support them or not."
LibDem Tim Farron, Hansard, 15 Jan 2007: "I thank the Minister for his reply. Recently, I met probation officers in south Cumbria, who expressed deep concern about the Home Secretary’s attitude towards the probation service. Given the Minister’s reply, does he accept that the Home Secretary should stop undermining the probation service with ill judged rhetoric in inappropriate places and poorly thought out legislation, and instead support the probation service by acknowledging that it has met the overwhelming majority of its performance targets this year, unlike his Department?"EDM 622 tabled 23 October 2012: "That this House welcomes the news that the Probation Service in England and Wales won the British Quality Foundation Gold Medal for Excellence in 2011; notes that no Probation Trust is deemed to be failing or in need of improvement; further notes that each Probation Trust in England and Wales is meeting its target on the production of court reports, victim satisfaction and the successful completion of orders or licences; and acknowledges the achievements of the Probation Service in England and Wales for carrying out its work efficiently and effectively."128 signatures were put to the EDM, including:14 Conservative MPs - Tony Baldry; Bob Blackman; Crispin Blunt; Peter Bottomley; Graham Brady; Fiona Bruce; William Cash; Robert Halfon; Gordon Henderson; Patrick Mercer; Penny Mordaunt; Mark Reckless; Gary Streeter; Martin Vickers; 24 LibDem MPs - Annette Brooke; Paul Burstow; Menzies Campbell; Mike Crockart; Tim Farron; Andrew George; Mike Hancock; Martin Horwood; Simon Hughes; Julian Huppert; John Leech; Stephen Lloyd; Greg Mulholland; John Pugh; Dan Rogerson; Bob Russell; Adrian Saunders; Andrew Stunell; Ian Swales; John Thurso; David Ward; Mark Williams; Roger Williams; Stephen WilliamsSo there's 38 MPs we should be targetting.
This 2012 speech sounds like it was made in 2016 (Mike Crockart, LibDem MP & time traveller):“Currently, the probation and rehabilitation services are dominated by a few large companies - they should be made subject to Freedom of Information request. At the same time, not enough is done to address illiteracy nor is there enough support for offenders with mental health problems. Liberal Democrats believe we need to do right by our communities by preventing repeat offending through a rigorous and tough approach to rehabilitation. As part of this, more effort should be made by the Government to open up the process to small firms which are closely linked to their communities and will create jobs in their area."Mike - what are next week's lottery numbers?
I'm reminded of something my Dad used to say, "Nappies and Politicians need changing regularly, and for the same reason"
Thanks very much indeed for unearthing these quotes!Cheers,Jim
In the brave new world of TR who WILL do the victim work?
The debate on Monday is a three line whip so it is very unlikely that Ed Milliband's amendment will carry. I think are best hope now rests with napo's legal challenge. The Court is now our only possible salvation. If the High Court rules that the Coalition must publish the risk assessment and that it must be adequately piloted before implementation then this may delay things by six to twelve months. With only a few months to go before the GE the Coalition may take the view that other pieces of legislation are more important to push through parliament before the GE campaign in Spring 2014. Sorry guys, but writing to LD MP's is a waste of time. Clegg will make sure they're all whipped good and proper.
Politics is a funny business and the Lib dems wield considerable influence. What if Nick Clegg and his colleagues had second thoughts about the whole omnishambles and were persuaded that it just might be in their interests, and that of public safety, to change their minds? Writing to your MP is never a waste of time, in my humble opinion. In the circumstances, I think it's wise to continue pursuing every avenue.
It is a pity and a disgrace that the political classes can excuse their ignoble behaviour because they claim to have been "whipped". Whatever happened to honour? Perhaps Salman Rushdie had a point?"Shame is like everything else; live with it for long enough and it becomes part of the furniture." - SALMAN RUSHDIE, ShameEver since reading Cuckoos Nest I've had a soft spot for Kesey:"There's shames a man can never reason away, though he looks back and piles up reasons over them forty dozen deep. And maybe those are the shames a man never should reason away." - KEN KESEY, Sometimes a Great NotionBut if there was ever a reason not to give up:"The humiliation of shame requires disapproval or ridicule by others. If no one ever learns of a misdeed there will be no shame" - PAUL EKMAN, Telling LiesSo we have to keep exposing their lies and their cheating and their immoral choices - if we're lucky it might just eat them up. In this age of technology we can be more certain than ever that their grandchildren will learn of their duplicity, their deceptions and their dereliction of duty. As a grandparent I can certainly say with conviction that what my own kids think of me is irrelevant, but its very different when it comes to the grandkids.
Very well put and I agree technology is making a huge difference to the political process and accountability.
If you think this country is a democracy then think again. In most western countries the legislature acts as a check and balance on the executive. However, in the UK if the ruling party has a majority then it forms what's known as an 'Elective Dictatorship' which means they can push through any legislation they want. The Whip System also ensures that there are no disenters. Sorry to spoil the party but that is why it is pointless writing to LD MP's, as they will be threatened and cajouled not even to think about dissenting. Don't get me on to the undemocratic 'First Past The Post' voting system. This results in 95 per cent of seats being 'safe' meaning that elections are fought and lost in just 50-60 out of the 560 total seats. This means that 95 per cent of the electorate are what is termed as 'electively disenfranchised' meaning even if they vote for a different party that party has absolutely no chance of winning that seat. Then there is the House of Lords. We claim to be the 'Cradle of Democracy' yet we are the only western country with an unelected chamber of parliament. The there is the fact that all the major parties now are so close together. They all promote the interests of the elites and banks rather than the average person. The manifesto commitments are of renegaded upon and forgotton as soon as they get power. We are not a democracy - it is all a charade!
I agree! But politics is the art of the possible and things rarely go to plan even if you have a majority in the House of Commons. You may deride the Upper House, but the reality is that they can sometimes be a more effect opposition. This is a coalition government with a General Election getting ever closer. Each of the partners now has an eye on gaining advantage over the other and wanting to highlight differences rather than similarities. I'm going to repeat that contacting Liberal Democrat MP's and registering concern at these proposals is not a waste of time and can only help MP's provide evidence of the strength of feeling to the leadership of the party.Of course it's all a charade - but I'm just interested in winning this battle at the moment and don't really mind how it's achieved.