Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Strike Special

Lets kick this off with a heart-felt blog post from a PO explaining why they are supporting the strike and I hope they do not mind me reproducing it here:-

Why I am striking for the future of public protection - Napo Strike, November 5-6 2013

HEY people, I thought I'd explain why I am joining the Napo national strike tomorrow, in case you thought it was about pay or pensions...

Basically, the government are planning to sell off 70 per cent of the Probation Service. G4S and Serco will almost certainly win all the 20-odd contracts. I don't want to work for either G4S or Serco, but more importantly, I don't think that public protection should be put in their hands.

The government says that this will allow more voluntary and charity organisations to get involved with offenders. No bad thing. But why is it considered that G4S and Serco will be better at sub-contracting to the third sector than existing Probation trusts? (who already do some such partnership work, btw).

Maybe you think "well, maybe Probation are doing a rubbish job". But we're not. Each trust was graded between good and excellent last year. And the figures that the government quote about high rates of reoffending among those sentenced to less than 12 months in prison isn't of our doing, as they are currently released without licence.

Minister Jeremy Wright finally admitted the truth on BBC Five Live earlier - it's about money. They don't want to pay Probation to manage these people effectively, so they're giving it to cheaper organisations - along with 70% of our existing work (managing medium and low risk offenders).

And yes, on the ground the work will still be done effectively, at least to begin with, because the majority of staff in these community rehabilitation companies (as they will be called) will be former Probation staff. But wait until G4S and Serco take over the contracts in 2015. Over time, professionalism will be replaced with the cheapest option, and the concept of public protection will become a distant memory.

Jeremy Wright said today that public protection will be safe because risk assessment will remain in the hands of the National Probation Service. 

But risk is dynamic, not static, so will those working directly with offenders be able to spot the signs? Will those alarm bells start to ring, based on professional experience and trained intuition? Or will the signs be missed as offender managers find themselves under pressure to hit payment-by-result targets to make each case look like a success?

Oh - and what a coincidence - the new contracts will be in place a month before the general election, so even a change of government won't stop it happening. Chris Grayling wants his legacy, for good or bad.

Tomorrow and Wednesday's strike probably won't lead to a u-turn in the government's plans. Although it just might, if enough members of the public kick up a fuss, write to their MPs, sign the petition etc, and make it known that these changes aren't being made in their name, or for their good.

I personally can't let it go ahead without making my view clearly known, and that's by going on strike and losing a day's pay. Because I didn't give up a perfectly good (and far less stressful) previous career for the money, the perks, the friendly faces or the gratitude. I would have been sorely disappointed if I had. I became a Probation Officer because I felt that I had the skills to work with some of the most challenging people in society, engage with them, manage and reduce their risk, and hopefully do my bit to protect the public. And I want to be able to continue to do this as part of an organisation with an internationally respected track record for doing so.

If you feel moved to do so, please sign the petition:


By way of contrast, this is the leader from the Daily Telegraph yesterday:-

Probation officers in England and Wales are to stage a 24-hour strike from tomorrow in protest at the Government’s reforms of the service. They object to plans by Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, to transfer responsibility for low-risk offenders to private firms and charities, with payment by results. A smaller public sector probation service will continue to monitor high-risk offenders.
A good deal of alarmism is accompanying the campaign against these changes: the public will be placed at risk; criminals will “fall between the cracks”; and the reforms are being rushed. Yet the principal bone of contention here is ideological. The probation union Napo believes this service should only be delivered by the state and accuses the Tories of privatising it for the sake of doing so. For his part, Mr Grayling says the state has failed and it is time to try something new. The notion that the private sector should be excluded from delivering probation services, irrespective of whether the current system works, is the truly dogmatic position.
Mr Grayling is trying to improve results - and if private firms can achieve that then they should not be excluded by an outmoded animus against private sector involvement. It is not as if Napo can point to the signal success of the current system to reinforce its argument. Last year, more than 600,000 offences were committed by people who had broken the law before. In addition, almost 150,000 criminals dealt with by the police and courts had committed at least 15 previous offences. The rate of recidivism is actually worsening despite an annual prison and probation budget of £4 billion. This is a scandal that needs to be addressed and not reduced to a pointless public good/private bad argument which might still exercise the unions but is irrelevant to most people who just want to see results.

These are a couple of responses from Daily Telegraph readers:-
The writer of this article is clearly commenting on a matter on which he is not fully informed. I would argue that it is indeed he/she who is missing the point and not the dedicated probation workers for whom it goes against the grain to strike...only the 4th time in over 100 years.
The Probation Service was one of the only public sector organisations to receive the British Quality Foundation Gold Award in 2011 for exceptional performance. Of the 35 Probation Trusts in England and Wales, 4 of them are rated "exceptional" and the remaining 31 "good"....all ratings achieved against benchmarks set by the Government themselves.
Offenders supervised by the Probation Service are proven to pose a significantly reduced risk of reoffending, especially those who complete accredited offending behaviour programmes.
The "unacceptable" reoffending rates being wheeled out by Chris Grayling to justify his selling off of what is a service that specialises and by the Governments own admission excels in public protection includes those of the vast amount of prisoners serving sentences of less than 12 months who ARE NOT currently subject to probation supervision upon release. The Probation Service welcomes changes being made to policy to allow the supervision of these offenders but to suggest that this can be better achieved by companies such as G4S and Serco who are both under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office for overcharging the Government for monitoring offenders subject to tagging rather than by the specialist organisation that already exists and by its own admission performs well is at best ludicrous and at worst criminal collusion!
It is immoral to allow private organisations to profit from the misery of the victims of crime and downright dangerous for the Government to rush these changes through without proper negotiation or piloting.

I think the media is missing the point, and the government are encouraging this: the (Gold Standard and Internationally lauded) Probation Service is a distinguished part of the establishment and its work encompasses professional and highly skilled management of a range of offenders which includes Terrorists, Murderers, Rapists, Muggers, Domestic Abusers, and on down through the categories to shoplifters and brawlers. To disband the entire service over an argument about the best way to tackle shoplifters is reckless to the point of madness.

Napo's General Secretary Ian Lawrence can be seen here being interviewed by RT Underground from about 14 minutes in, and this is from his latest blog post:-

Our Probation members across England and Wales are being asked for only the 4th time ever to take strike action. This comes after every effort by your Union to persuade Ministers that their plans to deal with re-offending rates are fundamentally flawed and operationally dangerous, and after pleading with the same Ministers to retain what currently works within Probation, and at least trial their scheme in a structured and measurable way. 

Their predictable response is that they can no longer delay implementation because the issue needs to be tackled now, and that TR is necessary because (as just stated by Jeremy Wright on Radio 5), 'it makes common sense'. If this were all about common sense, then the likes of G4S and Serco would have been ruled out of any involvement in the contract bidding process. They have already shown by 'tagging the dead' and lying about prisoner transportation, that they are unfit to be trusted with Taxpayers money. 

If common sense was being applied in any meaningful way, then Chris Grayling and Jeremy Wright would have found a way to ensure that Probation was involved in the management of the under-12 month custodial community straight away alongside additional providers that we and the public could have confidence in, and that a Payment by Results (PbR) mechanism would have been created which did not subsidise would be providers for failure while still receiving fees for service. A 'Rehabilitation Revolution' sold to the British public as a scheme based on real evidence instead of a farrago of inconclusive statistics from two prison pilots that cannot be compared with what could be achieved with the right strategies that you know that you can offer. 

But common sense is not what this is all about. It's about political vanity and free market ideology and the fragmentation of a service that has proved over 100 years that it has the professional expertise, the commitment and the appropriate values to make a real difference to peoples lives.

Ian makes reference to Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation Jeremy Wright's performance yesterday on BBC 5 Live with Victoria Derbyshire. A Napo transcript yet again ably demonstrates a certain failure to fully grasp his brief:-

Approximately 21 minutes in (whole programme starts approx. 6 mins in)

Victoria Derbyshire: You haven't done any pilot schemes... You are bringing in a big reorganisation of the Probation Service of England & Wales based on zero evidence.

Jeremy Wright: It's based on common sense.  We have a pilot in Peterborough.

Victoria Derbyshire: Tell me about the evidence.

Jeremy Wright: It only deals with a small part of the reforms....

Victoria Derbyshire: Tell me about the evidence from Peterborough!

Jeremy Wright: We're making changes to the law...

Victoria Derbyshire: Please tell our listeners about the evidence from Peterborough.

Jeremy Wright: The evidence is encouraging from Peterborough but we're in the early stages...

 ***question from Sue Hall from PCA***

Victoria Derbyshire: (in a withering tone) Would it be possible for you to get someone from your office to get the figures please Mr Wright.

Finally, here we have Mark Johnson, CEO of User Voice, being interviewed by Russell Webster and giving his thoughts on the TR omnishambles. As a former offender and member of the London Probation Trust Board, his views are particularly relevant and give a rather different perspective on things. As far as I know, we are not aware as to his reasons for parting company with LPT some four months ago.  

PS I've been pointed in the direction of several letters on the subject of TR published by the Guardian yesterday, including this:-

In a piece of disinformation often used by the government to justify the privatisation of 70% of the probation service, the Ministry of Justice mentions plans for supervision of 50,000 prisoners currently "released with no statutory support" (Delay probation shakeup or risk deaths, Grayling is told, 29 October). In fact, the probation service does not and never has worked with these problematic offenders sentenced to less than 12 months, though the probation minister, Jeremy Wright, and the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, trot out the statistic to suggest that this high rate is a failure of the service. The probation service was awarded a BQS gold award for excellence in 2011, but a more important measure of its success is that the public are often so oblivious of it.
However, based on past experience of G4S and Serco (both currently under investigation for defrauding the public), one has a firm basis for fearing that probation work will be far more visible if the privatisation goes ahead.
Joanna Hughes
Campaigning committee, National Association of Probation Officers (Napo)


  1. Good article in contrast to yesterdays telegraph here.


    1. • It's disingenuous of the MoJ to justify rushing ahead with privatising probation on the basis that it consulted widely and that experiments at Doncaster and Peterborough prisons were successful. It has failed to allay the plethora of concerns expressed during the consultation, and the experiments were brief and far from conclusive. Another experiment in the West Midlands and Staffordshire that involved the probation service was stopped without securing an evaluation.

      Grayling's refusal to pilot his proposals underlines the fact that the approach to the probation service, unlike the commendable objective to reduce reoffending, owes more to ideology than criminology.
      Jeremy Beecham
      Shadow justice spokesman, House of Lords

      • When I heard of proposals to privatise the probation service I wrote to the Ministry of Justice to say I assumed that such a move would not go ahead without good evidence from pilot studies about the effectiveness of such a transfer. After protracted correspondence, I was directed to two pilot studies. It turned out that these were in the very earliest stages of recruitment and in no way provided such evidence (as confirmed by the researchers themselves) but also the studies were not addressing the proposals I had questioned. I was not sure whether to be insulted that I was being palmed off with this information, or distressed that people in the MoJ could conceivably have imagined that they had provided an answer. The only evidence I now have is that the move is based on dogma rather than evidence. There's a surprise.
      Dr David Griffith

      • Any experienced probation officer could tell the government and any organisation that believes it will make money from the supervision of low- and medium-risk offenders (How to make recidivism and costs rise? Privatise probation, 31 October) that high-risk and sex offenders are the easiest to manage because they are usually either in prison or, in the case of sex offenders, turn up for all appointments. The low- to medium-risk offenders who will be farmed out on a payment-by-results basis, are in the main the sofa surfers, the homeless, the drug and alcohol misusers, who are not known for their reliability or co-operation. Payments by results? I can't wait for the realisation that they have shot themselves in the foot.
      Patricia Fagg
      Retired probation officer, Bristol

      • As a member of the public, I read with increasing concern that the government appears to be proposing placing 70% of probation work in the hands of untrained companies, some of whom are under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

      The quality of supervision is crucial in reducing reoffending. The probation service is rated " good to exceptional" by the National Offender Management Service, with reoffending rates down by 5%. It deals with the police, the courts, CPS, mental health, social services and other key agencies. The proposed changes would lead to a fragmented service unable to co-ordinate responses to a situation in which 80% of further serious offences are committed by people deemed to be medium- to low-risk.

      Payment by results has been seen to fail. The Work Programme has cost £5bn with little to show for it. If some of our lawmakers were quantified in such a unitary way, there probably would be few A*s or value for money.
      Mildred Williams
      Brewood, Staffordshire

    2. • I have to wonder how "grounded" in probation practice Sarah Billiald (Interview, Society, 23 October) actually was, given her short time at Kent probation trust. The privatisation of probation trusts, which she seems happy to profit from, is predicated on the high reoffending rates of those sentenced to less than 12 months imprisonment – exactly the group of people who have no contact with probation. A simple solution to this would be to extend supervision of these to the current probation trusts, which have a proven track record in reducing offending rates, rather than to give this important work to unproven organisations driven by a profit motive.
      Gregory Moreland

      • The supervision of offenders requires skills acquired through rigorous training, and through experience. The ability to assess risk is paramount, but along with this is a need to understand and work with people to enable them to lead law-abiding lives.

      I cannot believe that the likes of G4S and Serco could possibly deliver a service to offenders and to the public. How are they going to make a profit from supervising offenders, other than by employing unqualified people on lower salaries and poorer conditions?

      Our probation service is respected throughout the world, but not apparently by this government.
      Kate Willan
      Retired probation officer, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

  2. Probation are wrong. The poluce are wrong. Barristers are wrong. Prison officers are wrong. Now, even the prison inspection team are wrong.


    Guess Grayling just knows better then everyone else in the land?

    1. Speaking to the Express & Star during a visit to Wolverhampton, he said he recognised there were problems at the £150 million Featherstone site – but claimed they would be resolved by management.

      When pressed about a deadline for the changes, he said: “I wouldn’t put a time-frame on it.”

      HMP Oakwood – the UK’s biggest prison with 1,600 inmates – has been dubbed ‘Jokewood’ after a damning report listed a string of criticisms over its performance.

      The report found criminals were abusing drugs and alcohol while serving their sentences, as well as raising concerns over high levels of violence. It also claimed hundreds of sex offenders were due for release without having behaviour properly addressed.

      Last month inmates managed to get onto the roof to stage a protest, while a trainee prison officer is suing the jail, claiming he was badly hurt during training.

      Despite the catalogue of problems, Conservative MP Mr Grayling said he was optimistic that once initial ‘teething problems’ had been overcome the prison would be ‘very good’. He said:

      “It’s a newly-opened prison. Every new prison has teething problems, whether public or private.

      “I am very optimistic for Oakwood. It is a first-class facility. It is the most impressive set of facilities I have seen on a prison estate. Clearly the management of the prison need to address the problems but it’s a prison that will be very good.”

      “I wouldn’t put a time-frame on it,” he added.

      HMP Oakwood has faced criticism in recent weeks following the publication of the damning report by inspectors.

      Announcing the report, the chief inspector of prisons Nick Hardwick said the jail needed to make urgent improvements and said the results of the surprise inspection were ‘very concerning’.

      Fresh concerns have also been raised about Oakwood by shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan on a visit to the region.

      Mr Khan claimed he had ‘serious concerns’ that a number of issues at the jail were not being addressed.

      Mr Grayling’s comments come after the Express & Star revealed proposals to turn part of Oakwood and nearby HMP Featherstone into open prisons had been shelved by the Ministry of Justice following an outcry from villagers.

      The proposals would have seen prisoners at Featherstone allowed into the community, as well as a Category D wing created at Oakwood. But Jeremy Wright MP, parliamentary under secretary of state for justice, confirmed the plan had been dropped in a letter to South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson.

      Mr Grayling was speaking during a visit to find out first-hand how the Wolverhampton Youth Offending Team operates – and he hailed the organisation a shining example for others to learn from. He met staff members and youth offenders at the organisation’s base in Beckminster House, in Birches Barn Road, along with Wolverhampton South West MP Paul Uppal.

      Mr Grayling said: “What has struck me here is the relationship that exists between staff and offenders. This is one of the best performing youth offending teams in the country. It is impressive work they are doing here. What is happening here in Wolverhampton is something other parts of the country could learn from.”

    2. Care workers were wrong, social workers were wrong, teachers were wrong, doctors were wrong, nurses were wrong, housing officers are wrong, benefit advisors are wrong, fire fighters were wrong
      .... I see a pattern developing.

  3. Crime could rise if plans to privatise probation goes ahead says commissioner

    Published: 05 November 2013

    Crime in Bedfordshire could rise as a result of the Government’s planned privatisation of probation, according to Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins.

    He has made the statement ahead of an address to a rally in Bedford of the National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) today as the members take strike action from noon.The protest is against Government plans to privatise up to 70% of the service.Commissioner Martins said: “The Government’s privatisation of probation will smash the excellent partnership work that, by working with some of our most prolific and persistent re-offenders, has helped cut crime in Bedfordshire by more than the national average in the last couple of years.“Without this work the offenders who cause most harm will simply continue to commit crime and make more people victims.”Under the privatisation plans, the day-to-day management of 200,000 offenders nationwide who have been released in the community will be handed over to private companies. They include firms such as G4S and Serco – the same firms that stand accused of overcharging the Government tens of millions of pounds on electronic tagging of offenders.Commissioner Martins added: “I am a strong advocate of tackling the revolving door of the criminal justice system but before any widespread changes are implemented I would like to see the evidence that they will actually deliver results rather than just destroy what we have already.“In my view the Government’s plans have simply not been thought through and the reckless pace with which they are being introduced threatens to destroy the excellent work our Integrated Offender Management (IOM) partnership has done since 2011.“Bedfordshire Probation Trust contributes 45% of the resources to this pioneering initiative that brings together probation, the police, local authorities, drug projects and a range of other agencies including from the community and voluntary sector. This partnership is amongst the top 10 performing IOM programmes in the country.“But in just six months’ time our probation trust will be abolished and there is no guarantee that the private company that replaces it will match the trust’s commitment to IOM. Indeed, there is no incentive for the private sector to invest in IOM under the ‘Payment by Results’ regime proposed by the government.Commissioner Martins has added his support to calls for the Government to reconsider its plans to privatise probation. In his view and those of a growing number of other professionals, the unproven nature of the changes and the breakneck speed with which government is implementing them pose a grave risk to public safety.Ahead of the debate on the matter in the House of Commons on Wednesday, October 30, 13 Labour Police and Crime Commissioners wrote to the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling asking him to think again.The debate was called by Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan and marks the first time that Parliament has had a chance to scrutinise the proposals.Commissioner Martins added: “We all want to cut crime and make our communities safer, but I think there are more effective and less risky ways to do this than dismantling our local probation trusts.“I would also like to see how these proposals work in practice as a series of pilot schemes or trials, when there is still a route out of trouble if they don’t work as well as expected. To have no option for a Plan B seems foolhardy.“I urge Chris Grayling to listen to the concerns which have been expressed about these plans across the board and work with police, Probation Trusts and other agencies to look at innovative ways to lower reoffending that do not endanger the public.”

  4. Time to move away from traditional outsourcing of public services

    After a series of outsourcing scandals, the government should be putting its focus on the public and social sectors Tuesday 5 November 2013 08.00 GMTThe government is proceeding with the controversial outsourcing programme of the probation and rehabilitation service. Photograph: Paul Faith/PAJohn TizardThe resignation of Chris Hyman, CEO of Serco, is one of many recent stories affecting public service outsourcing.There have been other hasty departures of senior executives at Serco and G4S, and lots of stories and reports that affect the future of outsourcing. There are police investigations, Serious Fraud Office investigations, an Office for Fair Trade inquiry, Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office reports, evidence of underperformance and in the case of welfare medical assessments, some crass behaviour, contract terminations, and much more.Meanwhile, in too many cases, frontline staff have been forced to accept less than the minimum wage. Social sector providers have been under-funded and forced to act more like corporate businesses to bid for work and funding, only to find themselves excluded from service delivery opportunities.The litany of issues goes on, and they must have dented public confidence in public service outsourcing to large corporations. There is a growing level of public unease about both the nature of what has been described as 'predatory capitalism' and the wider ethics of some of the business sector, as well as intellectual and popular challenges to what has been the dominant orthodoxy of 'neo-liberalism'. In terms of public services this is demonstrated by a poll, carried out last month bySurvation for We Own It, which found that 46% of the electorate were more likely to support a party in favour of publicly owned and managed services rather than outsourcing, while only 11% were less likely.There is also growing anecdotal evidence that some public sector bodies, including some local authorities, are now questioning the wisdom of traditional public-sector outsourcing. Leaders in these organisations are not convinced of the service and financial benefits; or of the appropriateness of inflexible long-term contracts in a period of austerity, cuts and uncertainty; or of the benefits that might accrue from lengthy and expensive procurement processes.

    1. Where is this from please?

    2. Cont.
      However, the government seems intent on proceeding with major public sector outsourcing programmes such as the probation and rehabilitation service. There is similar activity in the wider public sector, including the NHS and local government.This surely is the time for public sector leaders to question the wisdom of outsourcing as the default model.Perhaps public opinion is ahead of politicians and public sector executives on this issue. There is a growing view that competition and market-based approaches may not be the most ethical and practical means of securing long-term sustainable and responsive public services. There are great differences between transactional 'back office' support and IT services – and social care, offender rehabilitation, children and education services or health provision. The public differentiates between these.Some argue that by removing and replacing senior executives, adopting new ethical codes and rebranding, businesses that have had a bad press will be able to put the past behind them and win new contracts. And while we should applaud those businesses for encouraging their leaders to accept responsibility and 'fall on the sword', I am far from convinced that the solution is that simple.Equally, some argue that what matters most for the public sector is not having a political debate on the role of a market versus a social approach to commissioning and delivery of public services – but rather, investing in improved procurement processes and professionals. I have little doubt that the latter is necessary and would make a positive difference. However, I am also convinced that on its own it will fail to address the fundamental issues that need to be debated and answered, such as:• The limits of markets in public services.• Models for new collaboration with the social, voluntary and community sectors.• Opportunities for co-design and co-production with service users and communities.• The role of staff or user-led co-operatives on how to modernise and invest in publicly managed public services.• When public services are outsourced, how to secure full transparency, accountability and ethical approaches.Public leaders need to focus not on traditional outsourcing but on affordable, sustainable and responsive public services that contribute positively to public and social value – a focus more towards the public and social sectors.John Tizard is an independent strategic advisor and commentator.• Want your say? Email us at public.leaders@theguardian.com.

    3. I googled and found it here: - http://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2013/nov/05/public-leaders-wisdom-outsourcing

      The Guardian - public service delivery hub - John Tizard - Guardian Professional,

      Andrew Hatton

  5. To big to cut and paste on smart phone but interesting article here


    1. Have you noticed lately, all over the world, the ever creeping in of "outsourcing?" In other words, government run institutions which the tax payer pays for, are "outsourced" to private companies and corporations? In drips and drabs, the postal service, schools, universities, hospitals, health insurance, roads, transport, electricity supply, prisons, security companies, refuse removal and in the UK it is now even being suggested that the law courts become private institutions run by corporations.

      Basically, the services that we pay for with our taxes, have, are, and are going to be replaced, "outsourced" to private corporations. Not only will you still be paying tax on anything and everything, but over and above this taxation, you will be paying again to private companies and corporations. Unlike government departments, who in the interest of the people who elected them, control the pricing of these services and maintain low levels of profitability in order to keep costs down, these private companies and corporations have no such compunction.

    2. Euphemisms are us - remember - CONTESTABILITY!


      "Thus, the government as cradle-to-grave provider of public services gives way to a model in which government departments as 'purchasers' procure services from a range of 'providers' from the public, private and voluntary sector through a marketplace based on free competition, or 'contestability'"


      Andrew Hatton

  6. Just appeared in the guardian on line.

    Probation officers strike in protest at privatisation plans

    Probation officers in England and Wales stage 24-hour strike against plans they say put communities at risk Tuesday 5 November 2013 11.27 GMT4 commentsCampaign posters protesting privatisation of the probation services at the Labour conference this year. Photograph: David LeveneAlan Travis, home affairs editorThousands of probation officers across England and Wales are due to stage a 24-hour strike from midday on Tuesday in protest at plans to privatise 70% of their work.The National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) said it expected 7,500 of its members to take part in what is only the fourth such strike in the probation service's 106-year history.Ian Lawrence, Napo's general secretary, said: "These are unprecedented times for our members as they fight to save the 106-year-old probation service. They strongly believe, along with other criminal justice agencies and experts that Chris Grayling's plans will undermine public protection and put communities at risk whilst also not providing the adequate service offenders need to turn their lives around."The Ministry of Justice has said that it will put contingency plans in place. It says that more than 700 organisations from across the world have expressed an interest in the contracts.The justice secretary has invited private companies, charities and probation "mutuals" to bid to take over the supervision of 225,000 medium and low-risk offenders on a payment-by-results basis.Under the plan, 21 "community rehabilitation companies" will supervise those released from prison and those serving community punishments. For the first time 50,000 short-term prisoners will also get "through the gate" supervision and help. A smaller national probation service will be responsible for managing high-risk offenders and public protection cases.The chairs of three probation trusts, which are to be abolished in April under the plans, have written to Grayling to demand a six-month delay claiming the current timetable, which will ensure the changes are embedded before the general election, will put public safety and lives at risk.The strike comes as the Serious Fraud Office announced it hadlaunched a formal criminal investigation into two major potential bidders, G4S and Serco, in connection with allegations of overcharging worth tens of millions of pounds on their existing justice ministry contracts to provide electronic tagging of offenders.Lawrence said: "It is wholly unacceptable that these two companies are allowed to bid for the Probation Service while still under investigation for fraud regarding tagging and given their recent track records with the Olympics, private prisons and prison transport."The probation service is possibly the best performing public service we have, meeting and exceeding all government targets, reducing re-offending and being awarded the British gold award for excellence in 2011."Justice minister Jeremy Wright has described the strike as "in favour of the status quo and high reoffending rates".

    1. Thanks for that! - but a link would be handy and I know it's a pain from a smart phone - but any chance of some paragraphs guys?! I'm grumpy remember lol



    2. Link requested above.


  7. This link may help those on picket lines keep in touch with whats happening around the country.


  8. To follow the thread of anon@09:38, Chris Grayling - you are wrong. Apply some of the skills that we are paid to introduce to many of our clients - stop, think, listen, consider, discuss, re-consider, think again. Its many times more effective than fighting a losing battle.

    If your view that your version of TR is right, prove it beyond doubt with a pilot scheme - who can argue then? Why the hurry? You've publicly stated that TR won't be a quick fix, more of a slow-burn of steady improvement. So why rush in?

    None of the opponents of TR are against any partnership working with anyone. Voluntary sector partnerships exist; private sector partnerships exist; its the wholesale vandalism for personal & ideological gain that people are objecting to, allied to the immorality of handing vast sums of public money and social power to fraudulent, abusive multi-national businesses.

    Chris, I know I'm probably trying to teach my granny to suck eggs but those global bullies don't care about reoffending rates - all they care about is money. The tagging farce should be evidence enough. It wasn't a batch of rogue individuals amending invoices in a linen cupboard, nor was it left-wing activists secretly adding invoices to the pile overnight - it was pure greed; fatcats wanting to line their own pockets because they know they can get away with it. They're canny business people and they know how to run rings around public sector finances - it takes years for it to come to light, by which time they've retired early to a Scottish estate of several thousand acres. You know how it works, you didn't fare too badly yourself by legally but creatively dipping into the MP's expenses pot. It swelled your own coffers a fair bit. So please don't pretend you're "shocked" or "surprised" or "stunned".

    Be honest for a change; be brave; admit you're wrong. Set up a pilot or two. Show us the evidence. I'll admit I'm wrong if you can do that. I'll even bet the equivalent of today's lost wages on it and send a cheque to a charity of your choice if you can prove your vision of TR through a properly monitored and measured 12 month pilot scheme,

    1. I like it! Could turn up on tomorrow's post.



    2. Sometimes you just have to do what you believe without waiting for actual evidence.

      Like when you know there's an election coming up and you don't fancy your party's chances of being involved in government for another five years, and you recognise that properly monitored pilots would take years to deliver proper results.

  9. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/05/giant-firms-running-privatised-cut-down

    1. Imagine going to a job interview where you aren't quizzed about your track record and no references are requested from former employers. This may sound silly, foolhardy even – but when it comes to outsourcing billions of pounds worth of public services, this is exactly what's been happening. When G4S, Serco or Capita, for example, put in a bid for a prison, or a tagging service or a welfare-to-work programme, their previous performance of running privatised services is never taken into account. Just as well for the shareholders of these outsourcing giants, since a catalogue of failures lie in their wake, from "serious failings" identified by the prison ombudsman at the UK's largest privately run prison, managed by G4S, to Serco's "substandard" GP out-of-hours service in Cornwall, and the countless missed targets for getting people into jobs by the predominately private sector firms running the Work Programme.

      With such an abysmal record, it beggars belief how any of these companies could be in the running to win more public service business. Yet Serco is among 10 bidders that made it through to the second stage of a £800m contract to deliver older people's services in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

      How can this be? Simply because EU procurement law has, until now, decreed that previous performance – however bad – is not a measure for how well a bidder could deliver a public service in the future.

      But the lawmakers are finally coming to their senses. From next year, changes to EU rules will mean that piss-poor performance under previous contracts can be explicitly permitted as grounds for exclusion. While this long-overdue revision is to be welcomed, it alone may not be enough to break up the oligopoly that now exists in the UK's pseudo-market in outsourced public services that is estimated to be worth an astonishing £100bn. The size of the contracts and capital required to bid has also kept all but the largest companies from getting a look in. But under the new rules, tenders could be broken into much smaller lots and public bodies will even be able to reserve the award of many health, social and cultural services to social enterprises and public service mutuals owned by either employees, users or stakeholders, or a combination of all three.

  10. Deloitte Quit Welfare To Work: Are The Wheels Falling Off The Workfare Gravy Train?

    A very interesting post on THE VOID today could Deloitte be the first of many that could turn their nose up at government contracts?

    1. Here is a link to that about Deloitte

      Andrew Hatton

    2. In a humiliating blow for Iain Duncan Smith’s flagship back to work programme, one of the largest investors have announced they are selling their stake in the scheme.

      Tax dodging specialists Deloitte own half of Ingeus, one of the welfare-to-work companies who are contracted to carry out the disastrous Work Programme. They are now selling that stake and pulling out of the sector altogether.

  11. Greetings from the picket line day one. Well this is it , the STRIKE is on. It was so positive to walk out with NAPO colleagues and to be on the picket line. We were joined by local Unison officers and members in their lunch break. I have to tell you however that roughly 30% of NAPO members in my office did not strike. Still, I am happy to fight to save ALL probation jobs, aren't you ?

    1. I think it is probably high time NAPO put a bit of money into producing a brief synopsis of Trade Union history to send out to all our Members. Maybe then the 30%ers will realise that striking WORKS if we stick together and also how easily the hard won employment gains will be lost if we dont. I personally am sick of hearing that 'striking wont achieve anything so I'm not going out', esp when the very same people may come to me as Branch Rep and expect me to put a considerable amount of my time (with no facility time backfill) into representing them. Its all take, take, take with some people, and no understanding of collective decisions and responsibilities. I'm sorry you had to walk past 30% of your NAPO colleagues today. Shame on them, all of them.

  12. NEWS UPDATE: -

    "It has been announced today that Cafcass will transfer to the Ministry of Justice in April 2014"


    "Lord McNally - 'Bringing Cafcass into the Ministry of Justice will be of great benefit to the family justice system' http://bit.ly/18VQNd8"


    Andrew Hatton

  13. I will not be striking again should NAPO decide to spread a 24 hour strike across two working days again and I will resign my membership. It probably seemed a good idea to Chivalry Road with the aim of causing maximum disruption. Unfortunately having to be on picket lines 2 days running is a problem if you do not live near to your work place. I have hours to fill before I can go into work and just feel really frustrated given I have a high work load ( well who doesn't?). I realise I will be criticised for my view but I just think the strategy is ill thought out and has disillusioned me.

    1. It seems like a valid point to me and I don't think I've heard an explanation for spreading the strike over two days. Does anyone know?

    2. Our HR manager has told us that as the strike is over 2 days, we do NOT have to pay to make up for lost pension contributions, but we would if we were on strike for one 'single' day.

    3. Sorry, anonynous 19.20, but NAPO cannot run its industrial action strategy around your needs. I have heard nothing but 'I can't afford...', 'I am busy...', 'I didn't vote for it...'. Sorry, guys, but it's never going to work for everyone. It puts people out. But complaining about the inconvenience doesn't wash with me. None of us do it for a laugh, FFS..

    4. I still haven't heard a good reason for spreading the strike over two days.........

  14. Thanks for your informative post and it's good to be listening to Fireworks outside, and also reading about them online! I have just watched Looked North, where Napo colleagues from South Yorkshire gave a right good presentation on the work of Probation, why they are supporting the Strike and why they opposed to the privatisation of 70% of the Probation Trust.

  15. It was great to be out spreading the message in Coventry today. I would estimate that 80 to 90 per cent of napo members were out and our brothers and sisters from Unison join us for lunch time. Members of the public I spoke to were absolutely horrified when I told them of Graylings reckless vandalism. THIS IS BY NO MEANS A FAIT ACCOMPLI. The pressure on Grayling is growing. If you don't believe me then just do a google search under "probation privatisation" and you will see dozens of local news articles from all around the country. Judges (who have been virtually silent so far) will soon realise how much they need us when they get dozens of nil reports. Mappa meetings tomorrow morning will have to be cancelled as they cannot operate without us. The message is getting out there. We can defeat them comrades.

  16. I have monitored the Twittosphere, not your favourite place Jim , I know!
    There is lots of positive vibes from the branches ,plenty of evidence of pickets and meetings and press coverage. I engaged in leafleting and getting people to sign the e petition (in the street, technology eh!) and feedback was very positive.
    I have no doubt this action has had , and will have an impact on the public and will reinvigorate the staff.

  17. Lets just say I appreciate twitter can have its uses! It's just gone 11.30pm and the counter tells me the blog will almost certainly make 3,000 hits today - I do sense the day has been productive and the message is getting through - so well done everyone and sleep tight.



  18. Wednesday 06 November 2013

    Outlook The reason that G4S made such a pig's ear of the London Olympics is that it failed to hire enough staff to do the job.

    Guess what Ashley Almanza is planning to do as part of his turnaround plan: that's right, he's cutting jobs. About 400 of them in Britain.But, of course, the problem with companies such as G4S is that their customers' interests are secondary to the City's interests. And the City expects to hear a new chief executive talking about job cuts and restructuring when he comes in. It's called earning your spurs.In reality, it's questionable whether even the City will find all that much to cheer about from what Mr Almanza has said, as the shares' lacklustre performance demonstrates.The company is planning to restructure or sell 35 under-performing businesses, which might look good but they only account for about 5 per cent of group turnover.It's hard to argue with his plan to invest the money in faster growing emerging markets, but it does rather look like tinkering around the edges when G4S may in fact need more radical surgery.The problem with the company is that it runs a huge array of businesses, many in sensitive areas, with operations in 120 countries and more than 600,000 employees.Mucking up the Olympics is one thing. Mucking up the operation of prisons, or detention centres handling asylum seekers? That's much more serious, and given G4S's size it is very easy to see how serious problems can develop in far flung, or not so far flung regions, without management being aware. How could they be?There have been calls in some quarters for a break up, but Mr Almanza appears to have put them to bed with his rejection of a £1.55bn offer for the group's cash security business. Meanwhile problems such as the inquiry by the Serious Fraud Office can be blamed on past sins.However, questions about the operations and the quality of vast outsourcing companies such as G4S and its ilk remain. They may require better answers than a bit of tinkering if G4S is caught in the crosshairs of another big controversy.

    1. Cheers - got a link for this please?

    2. Smart phones Jim sorry, back and forth and prove I'm not a robot 12 time before I can post a comment. Heres the link.


    3. More from the independent


    4. "It was billed as a strategy update. But the news from G4S on Bonfire Night turned out to be less a whizz-bang-pop announcement that would propel the scandal-struck security giant back towards being outsourcing’s biggest star, but more of a damp squib.

      The spotlight fell on new boss Ashley Almanza, the former finance boss of BG Group, who took over in July after his predecessor Nick Buckles was torched by shareholders. Investors had pushed for the new boss to announce sweeping changes, such as the sale of a significant part of the business, or plans to shrink the world’s largest security group, which has 620,000 staff.

      Some in the City were calling G4S’s capital markets day for investors the “biggest day” of Mr Almanza’s career.

      But if that’s the case, he’s got an extremely boring working life ahead of him.

      Mr Almanza was willing to concede to shareholders that G4S had suffered “damage to our reputation”, but then went on to unveil a strategy update… with no new strategy. In fact, the South Africa-educated chartered accountant turned the phrase “the core strategy remains the same” into something of a refrain."

    5. Thanks guys. Keep up the good work newshounds!

    6. Wouldn't be gearing up for a nice little bit of the TR money pie by any chance?


    7. Changing Lives (the new name for the Cyrenians) is to take on six services and 64 members of staff from Platform 51 as the women’s charity drops its name and pulls out of frontline service provision.

      Women’s charity, Platform 51 is “withdrawing from face-to-face services” following a restructure, said chief executive Carole Easton (pictured). It will relocate its head office from Oxford to London and is changing its name to Young Women’s Trust with a view to increasing its campaigning and influencing work.

      Platform 51’s spending has outstripped its income by more than £1m each year since 2008. For the year-end March 2012, the latest available accounts, its income was £4.8m with a spending of £7.2m and it employed 117 staff. The charity was previously known as YWCA England and Wales and rebranded to Platform 51 in 2010. In 2012 it closed three of its centres.

      Easton said: “The trustees are delighted that we were able to reach this agreement with Changing Lives, which ensures a bright future for many girls’ and women’s services and secures jobs for many of our staff.”

      A spokeswoman for Changing Lives confirmed that money had changed hands but was able to disclose how much, or in which direction.

      Discussions between the two organisations began in May and the transfer agreement came into effect on 1 November. Changing Lives is taking on Platform 51’s projects in Middlesbrough, Doncaster, Liverpool, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Wales.

      Platform 51’s website says that it runs women’s centres in Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Knowsley (near Liverpool), London, Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Kent.

      A spokeswoman for Platform 51 said that elements of the restructure are “ongoing” and that a new brand and website would be made public at the end of November.

      Last week the north-east-based Cyrenians revealed its new name, Changing Lives, and announced that it planned to expand services across the UK. It has an annual turnover of almost £12m, employs 300 people and provides services for homeless people, recovering addicts and offenders.

      Chief executive, Stephen Bell OBE, said: “This move both expands and complements our existing service provision for women and girls, and builds on our established track record of gender-specialist projects.

      “We understand the importance of tailored provision for women and girls, and the role the project's existing high-quality work can play in empowering those they work with to achieve more.”