Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Strike in Pictures

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  2. "In front of British courts last year were 148,000 people who had 15 or more previous convictions, according to government figures. These reports deserve closer scrutiny.

    The justice minister, Chris Grayling, has used these figures to suggest a need to rush through plans to privatise most of the probation service in order to reduce re-offending rates. “The public are fed up with crooks doing their time and going straight back to crime, and so is the government,” Grayling said.

    Yet all the signs are that Britain’s probation services are doing their jobs pretty well - and there is a large and long-standing body of evidence that prison itself makes criminals more likely to re-offend."

  3. Looks real good. NAPO saying No, No, No to grayling's privatisation plans. What's happened to his National Agreement which I thought was to delivered on the 4th November, after his shambolic period of consultation?

  4. PMQ's today Paul Coggins asked PM if he wouldn't at least pilot PbR in realation to TR just to see if it worked before handing probation over to G4S and Serco, who he reminded the PM were under criminal investigation.

    The reply was same old same old. The systems failing the under 12mths and his Justice Minister is busy putting that right!


    1. Not many people have noticed that the Government wants to privatise the Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust. That's because we're the Cinderella service of criminal justice. We get on with our work quietly and effectively. We're rated by the Ministry of Justice as excellent and meet targets to reduce offending among the people we work with.

      The justification for the sell-off is so that 50,000 prisoners sentenced to less than 12 months custody every year can be given help to stop offending.

      The probation service doesn't currently work with these people and re-offending rates among them are too high.

      The trouble is that the Minister of Justice, Chris Grayling, thinks the best way to do this is to abolish the one organisation that already does the probation job and replace it with companies with no experience and a dangerous track record.

      Imagine G4S, who couldn't provide security for the Olympics, or SERCO, currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, in charge of persuading criminals in Leicester to stop offending.

      Another big problem with the plans is the timetable.

      Mr Grayling wants our locally-managed Trust to be abolished on March 31, but the systems for its replacement haven't been invented yet.

      He wants things done so quickly to make sure that the sell-off is complete before the next election and can't be undone if the Tories lose.

      What he hasn't taken into account is the risk to public safety.

      There's a simple solution to the problem.

      Instead of handing the responsibility for public protection over to faceless multi-national companies whose only interest is to make a profit, why doesn't he simply give our local Probation Trust responsibility for helping short term prisoners avoid committing more crime?

      Our Trust is high performing, its staff are dedicated and it has been proven that it's good at what it does.

      No-one in the field thinks the sell-off plan is a good idea. T

      here have been several consultation processes where the overwhelming majority of responses have been negative.

      Mr Grayling chooses to ignore them.

      Academics, practitioners, police and crime commissioners and even many of the small charities he says will drive innovation all say the same.

      Stop this headlong rush towards change and think again. Let probation trusts continue to be managed by local people and decide local priorities. Don't let a political bully put our communities at risk.

      Johnnie Hermiston is a probation officer with the Leicestershire and Rutland Probation Trust.

  6. Not by usual morning paper, but....

    1. "Striking probation officers warned the public yesterday that their safety is put at risk by the government's privatisation gamble.
      Thousands of dedicated workers poured out of offices across Britain at lunchtime to raise the alarm about the 70 per cent sell-off of the probation service.
      Leaders of probation union Napo drove home their message on a bus tour of London, which passed the Ministry of Justice and the Royal Courts.
      Napo president Tom Rendon said they had "great responses" from members of the public worried about the government's "massive gamble."
      Private contractors G4S and Serco are under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office but could nonetheless be handed responsibility for rehabilitating "low" and "medium" risk offenders.
      The two firms are among the privateers who stand to win publicly-funded contracts if services are outsourced next April.
      Front-line probation officer Thomas Hudson told the Star that making profits and helping people back into society are completely incompatible.
      Speaking from the Worcester picket line, he said: "Probation work is not cheap and was never intended to be run for profit.
      "We will throw money at certain interventions if they work because it's not about whether we're going to make a profit, it's about whether or not we'll reduce the risk of people causing harm."
      Some of Mr Hudson's colleagues at the top-rated West Mercia Probation Trust have won service awards from Worcester's high sheriff.
      But he added: "The fear is that contracts will be awarded to the lowest bidder and, given that intervention work is expensive, the only way to cut costs is to lose staff or cut pay."
      The chairman of the parliamentary justice unions group Elfyn Llwyd said that Tory Justice Secretary Chris Grayling was entirely to blame for the strike.
      Mr Llwyd said: "The level of dialogue with the Ministry of Justice has been appalling.
      "When you hit a brick wall you have to use every tool available to you."
      Striking staff were joined on picket lines by other trade union members and people taking part in the People's Assembly bonfire of austerity."

  7. Mayor: Give me the power to run jails and probation like New York


    Pippa Crerar, City Hall EditorA A AWednesday 06 November 2013

    Boris Johnson is pushing for  New York-style powers over London’s £420 million-a-year criminal justice system.

    The Mayor is lobbying the Government to hand over control of jails and the probation service in the capital.Currently, his responsibilities over criminal justice are restricted to oversight of the Metropolitan Police. But he has a mandate for crime reduction which City Hall insiders believe could be better fulfilled if he had greater reach over the whole system.The powers could include the ability to hire and fire local prison governors and probation chiefs; set up new units for young offenders; and establish a sentencing unit to help victims.In a pamphlet for think tank Policy Exchange, deputy mayor for policing Stephen Greenhalgh says the move will allow Londoners to hold the Mayor properly to account for their safety.The pamphlet will be launched to-morrow with Home Secretary Theresa May. Mr Greenhalgh writes: “We are actively seeking additional powers from central government to take over formal oversight and control more of the funding of London’s criminal justice agencies. Only then will it be possible to deliver the real step-change needed to join up responses, drive out waste, and improve the service at every stage for victims and the wider public.“If the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime [Mopac] was given oversight and budget responsibility for probation and local prisons, Londoners could truly hold the Mayor to account for keeping the city safe.” He adds: “We remain one of the most centralised nations on earth. Further devolution of criminal justice services is happening — but it is slow and on the margins.”Mr Johnson’s chief of staff, Sir Ed Lister, has been on several trips to New York, where the city hall oversees not just policing but district attorneys, court buildings, probation and jails.A Home Office spokesman said re-forms such as elected police and crime commissioners (PCCs) were already having an impact. He added: “We are considering the role of PCCs in relation to wider criminal justice system matters and will study examples of good practice within individual force areas.”

    1. Link for above

  8. Jim,

    Really uplifting to see Napo colleagues across the countries acting in solidarity to oppose Graylings toxic proposals.....the fight for the retention of a public probation service remains as strong as ever.....with the ORB due for debate in the commons next week lets build on this ground level momentum... intrigued to note that Boris is keen on overseeing CJ in London.. I did try to buttonhole him recently on this issue in one of his periodic forays into the hinterland of SE London!....but maybe he could take a lead from the former charismatic NYC Probation Chief Michael Jacobson.. on retaining PS whilst downsizing prisons?...

    Mike Guilfoyle