Saturday, 16 November 2013

Weasel Words

This is how the Chair of the supposedly independent London Probation Trust, by far the largest in England and Wales, explains the actions of her board:-

04 November 2013

Dear colleagues, 

Re: Transforming Rehabilitation

I am sure that many of you will have seen the article on the front page of the Guardian newspaper last week disclosing that three probation trust Board Chairs have written to the Secretary of State, Chris Grayling, requesting that he delay his plans for splitting the probation service by six months. I have since been approached by colleagues and union representatives asking why I, as Chair of London Probation Trust (LPT), do not do the same. Colleagues have also questioned me about why we have not appealed a contract variation from NOMS reducing the trust’s notice period from 12 months to 10 weeks. Given these questions, I thought it would be useful to set out fully the approach the LPT board is taking to its role in the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. 

As you will be aware, the Secretary of State began consultations on his Transforming Rehabilitation proposals in the autumn of 2012. LPT, along with in excess of 500 organisations, responded to the consultations. Our response at the time was made public and, if you are interested, is still available on the LPT intranet. 

In May 2013, the Secretary of State announced his decision to split the probation service by 31st March, 2014 into the new National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC). Since this announcement, the LPT board has taken the view that it is our responsibility to implement the wishes of the Secretary of State to the best of our ability, in line with our terms of appointment. However, we are also conscious of our duty to ensure that this is done safely and to alert NOMS and the Ministry of Justice to any unacceptable risks.

In coming up with LPT’s transformation plans the following four priorities are at the heart of everything that we do: 

- Ensuring that the proposals are delivered in a manner that minimises risk to the public. 
- Ensuring that we offer a seamless service to the courts. 
- Ensuring that we continue to offer a high quality service to our service users and that we can safely re-allocate cases where the split into the NPS and the CRC necessitates a change of offender manager. 
- Ensuring that we respect our obligations as your employer and specifically that we split our staff into the NPS and the CRC in a manner that is as transparent and fair as it can be in all the circumstances. 

We have prepared an Exit Management Plan for NOMS, however, some important elements of the plan are outside of LPT’s control. In particular some operational detail has yet to be given to us by the Ministry of Justice and, as you know, the national negotiations between the unions and employers are still ongoing. This means some components of the timetable are out of our hands. Where this is the case we have clearly highlighted it with NOMS. 

The board has also considered a request from NOMS to vary our contract with them. Specifically this request was to shorten the notice period from 12 months notice to 10 weeks with a view to our contract ending on 31st March, 2014, in line with the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. This request has been made to all 35 trust boards. 

The LPT board considered this contract variation at length at our September board meeting. Along with almost every other trust, the LPT board decided not to appeal the variation. Our reasons were: any appeal was unlikely to succeed; we have know that these changes were coming since May 2013 effectively giving us a years notice; and, finally, given that we are working hard to meet the clear deadline of 31 March 2014, there seemed to be little merit in requesting a delay. However, in accepting the variation to the contract, the LPT board once again took the opportunity of highlighting in writing any risks to our timetable. 

We are now part way through the implementation stage of the Transforming Rehabilitation 
programme. In delivering the Secretary of State’s agenda, Heather Munro and SMT are working hard to balance the needs of employees and service users, with a focus on public safely. The timetable is challenging, however, we have plans that can deliver the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda in a manner that is consistent with the four priorities I set out above. The board has set up a number of assurance mechanisms to continually assess the deliverability of our plans and will continue to monitor this until the 31st March, 2014 when the trust will cease to deliver services. We are raising issues and will continue to elevate any unacceptable risks appropriately, should they arise.

I hope this letter clearly explains the approach of the LPT board. I know that this is a difficult period for many of you. It is not easy living with uncertainty and I know that many of you are anxious to know whether you will be in the NPS or the CRC and what this will mean for you. Heather Munro has been providing you with weekly updates on any progress on the national negotiations and other Transforming Rehabilitation matters. Please be assured that we are passing on information as soon as we are able and will continue to do so. 

Finally, on behalf of the LPT board, can I express my thanks for the professional way in which all of you are approaching this difficult transition period. Despite all the inevitable distractions and concerns raised by a transformation programme of this magnitude, LPT has continued to provide a high quality service to London and there has been no dip in our performance. This is a real credit to you all. 

Kind regards

Caroline Corby 

Board Chair

I particularly like that last paragraph - it says to me 'lets really rub salt in the wound'. Despite morale at rock bottom; staff leaving in droves; massive caseloads; increased levels of sick leave; a strike, and now a work-to-rule, it says "there has been no dip in our performance. This is a real credit to you all." Or to put it another way 'f*ck you!'  

Further transmissions have been received from tailgunner over on the Napo forum, one updating the weather report and another concerning the vexed issue of continuity of service, so I thought I'd add both here:-

As reported elsewhere, the Napo Probation Negotiating Committee meets on Monday 18th and then, coincidentally, the UNISON Negotiating Committee meets on the 19th. Primarily they will be considering two things which will be the substantive agenda items at the National Negotiating Council (meeting with employer reps and the MoJ) on Wednesday (20th).

Firstly the pay claim for 2013/14. Some may ask whatever happened to that - which would be a good question. No formal offer has ever been received and the latest, now several months ago, is that the Employers are awaiting Treasury authority to make an offer. You can be a long time waiting if it suits Whitehall. 

If on the other hand, somebody like the Secretary of State wants something to happen yesterday, then it will happen yesterday. The MoJ are seeking a retrospective endorsement, by the NNC, of their National Framework for Staff Transfer or possibly ratification of the NNCs own draft agreement on Staff Transfer & Protections - not quite the same thing as reported elsewhere.

So the second item for consideration on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday is, properly, the draft National Agreement on Staff Transfer. The final draft is still being completed following on from the last NNC meeting on the 11th and the subsequent position statement issued by the MoJ . If this agreement is ratified, it will be sent out by way of a Joint Secretaries Circular and this would then be the Agreement governing the staff transfer process. It would be effectively written into National Conditions of Service and all it's provisions would, as such, have contractual status for staff. If it is not ratified, then the MoJs National Framework would be imposed under instruction by the Trusts ( probably, though not certainly, a lawful instruction under contracts between the MoJ and Trusts for the provision of Probation services). What is clear is that, in the latter scenario, the enhanced Voluntary Redundancy package would not be available. In the former scenario, the MoJ have now indicated that the scheme will be written into the commercial contracts with new providers. 

This is not unlinked to a very real and developing issue in negotiations about the staff split within Probation. It's to do with continuity of service. CRCs and the NPS are not going to be able to be cited on the Redundancy Modification Order which dictates how portable continuity of service is. If they are not so cited, then this will act as a real brake on staff moving around, either between CRCs, between the NPS and CRCs, and indeed between social work departments and the Probation Service - whatever that is in the future. In my view, this will not benefit anybody, individuals or organisations. 
To clarify, the RMO is fundamental to continuity of service under the NNC Handbook - National Conditions of Service, in terms of entitlement to leave, sick pay, maternity pay and redundancy pay. All pretty important considerations when looking to change jobs. The MoJ, in negotiations, recognise the problem but haven't come up with an acceptable, or indeed good, solution. Protection of continuity, as offered, is only for 9 months post share transfer. This represents a detriment for transferring staff and as such it conflicts with the principles of COSOP and indeed with the draft Staff Transfer Scheme that the MoJ themselves have prepared (to be clear, by this I mean the draft Statutory Instrument that will need to be tabled before April 2014 to legally enable Probation staff to be transferred to other providers.)

I must buy a new anorak - it gets cold sitting back here in a glass turret.



  2. Criminal barristers are preparing to go on ‘strike’ over Government proposals to slash legal aid.
    In a move that will cause enormous disruption to trials across the country, lawyers are planning a ‘day of action’ early next month during court time.
    The walkout will be discussed today during a protest against Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s bid to reduce the public money given to barristers.
    But such is the strength of feeling against Mr Grayling’s plans to slash more than £200million from the legal aid budget, sources say ‘industrial action’ now seems inevitable.
    Nigel Lithman QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, told the Mail last night: ‘If the Government does not change course, the next step will be a day of action within court time.’
    Mr Lithman said the proposed cuts would lead to hourly rates dipping below the minimum wage and added that commercial barristers earn in an hour what many criminal barristers earn in a fortnight.
    He warned that trials could suffer.
    ‘Rape, murder and child porn cases are at risk of failing to be prosecuted properly as less and less able individuals choose to practise criminal law,’ he said. ‘Serious criminals will be rubbing their hands with glee.’

    Mr Lithman said the Government intends to impose cuts of up to 30 per cent in legal aid fees – on top of a 40 per cent reduction since 1997.
    A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the legal sector ‘cannot be immune’ from efforts to get better value for taxpayers’ money.

  3. Caroline Corby was appointed only 12 mths ago when TR was already well on the agenda. Is she independent or does she have to many links to the private sector?

    Caroline Corby - Chair

     Caroline was appointed as the Board Chair of London Probation Trust in October 2012, having previously been a member the Board since April 2007. Caroline is a non-executive Director for the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust. She also chairs fitness to practice panels for the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Caroline was a magistrate and a local councillor and has sat on a number of private sector company boards.

    Heres what her board profile states.

    1. Caroline studied Mathematics and Statistics at Bristol University before becoming a banker. She spent thirteen years in the City ending up as the director of a venture capital company

      is this her ?

    2. Cleopatra for children by author mummy Caroline Corby

      Caroline Corby is aiming to spark young people’s interest in history by creating adventure stories about great figures of the past, writes Peter Gruner click here to buy

      THIS is a book aimed at inspiring children aged nine or older to read history but, here I am, a so-called adult, finding Cleopatra: Escape down the Nile, a real page turner.
      Hampstead writer – and former Camden Labour councillor – Caroline Corby has researched what little is known about Cleopatra’s early life in Egypt and turned it into an adventure story full of excitement.
      Cleopatra was, of course, one of the world’s most flamboyant and ambitious women, who became Queen of Egypt at the tender age of 17. Her story inspired Shakespeare and her beauty was said to be legendary.
      Middle-aged men like me remember drooling over her in the cinema when she was famously portrayed as a dark-haired temptress by actress Elizabeth Taylor in the 1963 Hollywood film epic.
      Her childhood story begins as the young Cleopatra awakes to find she is sharing her bed with a cobra snake as thick as her arm. She is saved thanks to the quick actions of her servant, Appollodurus, who quickly draws his sword and decapitates the creature.
      These are bad times for her family. Her father, King Ptolemy, a widower, is a heavy drinker of wine and highly unpopular with the poor people he rules. Cleopatra also has a ruthless older sister, Berenike, who desperately wants to be queen and is suspected of planting the snake.
      Berenike is even considering marrying her father to obtain power. Incest, we learn, was not uncommon in those days. Cleopatra’s ancestors had adopted the Pharaohs’ practice of marrying within the family: Kings married mothers, siblings or daughters. Cleopatra’s own mother and father had been brother and sister.
      There are riots; King Ptolemy eventually flees to Rome and Berenika seizes power. Cleopatra must escape her cruel sister who has sent a search party of soldiers to arrest her.
      With few belongings and in disguise, she escapes from the palace with her trusty servant and they board a boat that will take them down the Nile, hopefully to freedom and safety.
      But it is not just soldiers she must look out for. Later, as the boat is moored in reeds, Cleopatra spots the two unblinking yellow eyes of a crocodile.
      A young boy splashes an oar to frighten the beast who merely grabs the paddle with his jaws to begin a life or death tug of war.
      With the help of people from the shore the animal is thankfully driven back into the deep.
      Caroline, a mother of three children, aged 10, 12 and 14, began writing stories about famous characters from the past to encourage her own children to take an interest in history.
      “I always enjoyed history and wanted to find a historical novel aimed at the young that would capture my children’s imagination,” she says.
      “After searching without success I decided to write one myself. I knew Cleopatra led an extraordinary life, but the more I researched her, the more intrigued I became by this brave and clever young queen.”
      Caroline’s family share a long tradition with the local Labour party. She was born in Camden Town and her father, John Mills, was a leading Labour councillor on and off for over 30 years before standing down at the last election. Caroline herself represented a Kentish Town ward between 1990 and 1994.
      A former pupil at Haverstock School, she went to university to study maths and statistics before becoming a banker and ending up as a high-flying director in a venture capital company for 13 years.
      “But I found the job was progressively becoming incompatible with being a mum,” she says. “The hours were too long. I started writing, although I’d never written anything before.”
      At the same time as the Cleopatra book, Caroline is also publishing Boudica: The Secrets of the Druids.
      Further work will include the childhoods of William the Conqueror, Julius Caesar and Lady Jane Grey.

    3. Caroline Corby
      As a child

      Caroline Corby was born and brought up in Camden Town, London. She was the second of four children - three girls and a boy. As a child Caroline loved reading, particularly historical novels, history and biographies. She still buys every political biography on the day it's published. Caroline went to the local school. She lived in the same street as her two best friends and together they would walk there and back, usually taking much more time than they should have. She still often runs late.
      As an adult

      After leaving school, Caroline studied Mathematics and Statistics at Bristol University before becoming a banker. She spent thirteen years in the City ending up as the director of a venture capital company. During this time Caroline struggled to balance the demands of being a mother with her career. In September 2000, she decided to leave her job to spend more time with her young family. Caroline always enjoyed history and wanted to find a historical novel, aimed at children, which would capture her daughters' imagination. When she searched without success, she decided to write one herself. Cleopatra: Escape Down the Nile is her first story and is the start of a new series, Before They Were Famous. Each book explores the early lives of some of history's most fascinating characters, who, in shifting, dangerous worlds, struggle to make their mark but grew up to become heroes. Books on Boudicca, William the Conqueror, Lady Jane Grey, Pocahontas and Julius Caesar are expected in 2008 and 2009. Caroline lives in Hampstead, North London, with her husband and three daughters aged thirteen, eleven and nine.
      As an artist

      Once her children have left for school, Caroline goes straight to her desk and starts writing. She works in front of a large window overlooking a park, and tries not to daydream too much. Caroline selected the characters in the series because they all grew up in times of great change and uncertainty. She researches each book meticulously, using all known facts, along with authentic descriptions of the food, architecture, culture and religion of the age. But first and foremost she wants each book to be a gripping read. Once a book is almost finished Caroline tests them out on her daughters. If, at lights-out time, they beg her to keep reading she's happy but if they're looking sleepy, she knows an edit is needed.
      Things you didn't know about Caroline Corby

      At school, Caroline was so bad at sport she was always picked last for any team.
      Caroline was in the same class at primary school as her husband, but they don't remember each other from then.
      Caroline has three children, all girls.
      Green is Caroline's favourite colour as she's mad about gardening.
      Swimming in waves is one of Caroline's best things, particularly when her daughters are bobbing around her.
      Caroline named her eldest daughter, Scout, after her favourite character from the book 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.
      Caroline would love to have a cat - but unfortunately her husband is allergic to them.
      Caroline's spelling is atrocious.
      At school Caroline liked maths so much that she went on to study it at university.
      Caroline turned vegetarian aged seven with her three best friends, Sarah, Rudi and Zoe, because they all decided it was mean to eat animals.

    4. Her father

  4. Sex, drugs and rock and roll, isn't just a british thing thanks to outsourcing giants Serco....

    1. Staff at Australia's immigration detention centres have undergone retraining after a guard provided by the private company Serco was sacked for having a sexual relationship with a detainee.

      Serco, the British contractor that manages the Christmas Island centre, confirmed that a male employee was dismissed in October following an investigation.

      "We take a zero tolerance approach to inappropriate relationships and any sexual contact is completely unacceptable," said Serco spokesman Paul Shaw.

      The matter had been reported to police and the immigration department, Serco said.

      A spokesman for Scott Morrison, the immigration minister, told ABC TV the conduct was "appalling and completely unacceptable" and that the department would seek further information from Serco.

      The company revealed that three other Christmas Island staff, members of an emergency response team, were reassigned after breaking protocol by drinking alcohol.

      "During the periods when they are not at work but on call, they must remain ready for duty at all times," Shaw said. "This means that they are not permitted to consume any alcohol."

      News of dissent among staff at the Christmas Island facility comes as the Australian government faces criticism for operations in its detention centre network, including the separation of an asylum-seeker woman and her newborn baby.

      The refugee advocate Pamela Curr condemned the latest misconduct. "A sexual relationship between a guard and a detainee is like a relationship between a student and a teacher, between a doctor and a patient. The power relationship is such an imbalance it can never be acceptable, it is exploitative," she told the ABC.

      Serco said it had addressed the problems. "After our investigation concluded in this matter, we held formal refresher training sessions for our staff across the immigration detention network, reinforcing the importance of professional boundaries and respect for the people in our care," Shaw said.

  5. What a load of bollocks from london.

  6. Thanks for Publishing that from LPT chair Caroline Corby - I hope Greater London Branch of Napo use it, perhaps with advice from Tania Basset and other PR specialist, as the basis for an ongoing media campaign.

    For my part I regret not understanding, at a practical rather than emotional intelligence level, the oft repeated cliché about being 'an officer of THE court'

    I could not work out precisely which court that was, because obviously the local Magistrates' Court, the Crown, Court or Court of Appeal, and even in my situation House of Lords (now Supreme Court) are all different and we have a different sort of loyalty to them.

    However, on the one occasion I was involved in a case that was appealed to The House of Lords; An Independent Social Work review of my Local Authority's decision to place a child for adoption against the wishes of one parent. I knew that in the eventual court order I might be involved as a supervisor, (I was) I thought I best be present when the Judgement was announced.

    That Judgement then becomes the Judgement of The Family Division of the High Court, which supervises the Court Orders and deals with Applications from the Parties - I guess some readers go back to the days of the cases that were identified in the monthly Form 30s (I think they were) as "Matrimonial Supervision Cases?


    1. continues….
      Anyway back to that House of Lords hearing where I felt I should attend (I do not remember being supported by my own SPO).

      Part of the LAs case had been that I was biased towards the parent, even though I had not suggested the child be returned to the sole parent who wanted him, but merely that I could not do a full assessment as ordered by the Court without being able to be present at a time the child was in the company of the parent - on several occasions.

      At the HOL, the practice was that the barristers (bar - get it) and parties stand at the bar of the House and the Judgement is announced by the Judicial Committee of The House of Lords sitting down the Main Chamber facing the bar. The principle parties entered by the public entrance and stood at the bar.

      At the hearing in the Family Division, the Judge had made great play of the fact that I was 'his' welfare officer - the child being his Ward of Court.

      So I wanted to make a visible demonstration that I had a different status to the other parties to the proceedings - the local Authority and the Parent - the LA had LOTS of lawyers - robed up and the parent several, but I was on my tod. So with advice from Probation colleagues at the Court of Appeal - who handled the admin support for such hearings - I approached the admin dept. of the HOL Judicial Committee and told them I needed to enter the hearing through the same door as them - and it was thus arranged - I came down some back stairs and into a side entrance of the at the bar section - whilst the parties came via the public entrance and the Lord of Appeal from somewhere at the back of the chamber. I at least 'felt' independent which was boosted when as the senior Law Lord read his judgement - he quoted great paragraphs out of my original report which had been written much earlier.

      So, I went through my profession feeling that I was the officer of whatever court the order I was supervising emanated from, but in practice I was an officer of my local petty sessions division in whose name my warrant card was issued. Somehow that got separated and those local Magistrates were removed from being represented on the Probation Committee (Now Trusts) that employed me. I think the magistrates protested a little but I did not and we have got to the state where Caroline Corby speaks as agent for The Lord Chancellor, NOT the local magistrates who after all were the first LOCAL Authority in England and probably Wales long before the Local Government Acts of Parliament that set up County Councils and more in the late 19th century.

      We need a system of judicial governance that gets back the local link in the administration of Justice at the community level. Meanwhile we need to get the shameful announcement of Caroline Corby, presumably speaking for the majority of her Board and any like it exposed in the media and Parliament.

      Andrew Hatton

  7. The London Probation Trust board letter reminds me of a game we used to play as kids called "Follow my Leader", and they seem to be playing it so submissively and obediently.

    Yes, the Secretary of State, otherwise known as failing grayling (who was it who said the trouble with political jokes is that they get elected) announced in May 2013 his blindly made decision to split the probation service by 31st March, 2014 into the new National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC), but failed to announce and National Conditions of Service, in terms of entitlement to leave, sick pay, maternity pay and redundancy pay. All pretty important considerations, I reckon, when making such a decision.

    Here we are a few months later with Omnishambles update 26 which pointed out, “But it's anyone's guess what the actual situation is in any location with confusion, rumour and misinformation seeming to be widespread. This increasingly appears to be 'situation normal' for operation omnishambles

    And, “But it's anyone's guess what the actual situation is in any location with confusion, rumour and misinformation seeming to be widespread.

    Happen the “situation normal” for operation omnishambles is quite an effective tactic, as one politician said, “If you can’t convince them, confuse them!”

    Due to booked leave, I now have about 12 working weeks before I, and many others get herded into a CRC holding pen, with terms and conditions only at the point of transfer, until such time as were sold off to the lowest bidder.

    I reckon, there should be an Appendix 2 in NAPO’s advice:

    To whom it may concern,

    As you will be aware, Napo has served notice to Trusts that its members will be taking action short of strike from 14th November 2013. This action includes working to contracted hours. As a member of Napo I am actively participating in this campaign. My contracted hours are ..... per week / .... per month.

    I attach a copy of my timesheet which illustrates that I have fulfilled my contractual hours for this period. I have outstanding pieces of work that must be completed by ...... As my line manager please can you advise me how to effectively concentrate and keep up with my work when there is Omnishambles all around.

    Today, after speaking to my CEO I signed up for “Stress Awareness” and “dealing with TR change”. I may be uncharitable but I honestly cant get too positive about these training sessions which management have put on for staff support.. As I pointed out to my CEO, If a thirsty person was to come to you for water, and if with every best intention, you gave them and empty cup, you wouldn’t expect to solve the problem.

    Anyway, I’m hoping that there will be at least a National Agreement next Wednesday, and if not that the three unions concerned have a speedy back up plan for as time is moving on.

  8. On the theme of todays blog title I'd like to highlight this letter from way back when. Remember the recent press release about the public sector not having a monoply.....

    London Community Payback announcement

    Please find below Colin Allars’ letter to Napo, Unison and GMB-SCOOP with Friday's announcement that community payback provision in London is to be awarded to Serco. Also below is the Justice Secretary’s written ministerial statement.Jonathan Ledger issued the following statement to the press:"The loss of CP provision by the London probation trust is bad news for the Service and the community it serves. The supervision of offenders in the community should be the responsibility of skilled staff working as part of a publicly accountable service. Probation has some 40 years of experience of running community service projects. The introduction of a profit motive into the dispensation of justice undermines the commitment to decent, fair and challenging supervision which has characterised the probation ethos. This government's fixation with the introduction of competition in the public sector is putting public safety at risk."Napo’s link official is liaising with Napo’s Greater London Branch.Branches will be kept informed of further developments.Colin Allars letterJustice Secretary's written ministerial statement.

    1. Gradually, gradually after getting ourselves respected individually & personally by Magistrates at our local courts we have not gained the support of local people especially lawyers and Justices as the legal system and what happens in court becomes ever more the 'property' of the Executive Government so that the separation of powers is diminished.

      "The Probation and After-Care Service is not a department of the local authority; nor is it administered by the central government. Probation officers are employed by local committees of magistrates within areas corresponding to those of local government, and these committees are funded both from from central and local government sources. This arrangement gives probation officers independence from the administrative arm of government, enabling the courts to receive impartial information and advice." page 1, "Advise, Assist and Befriend - A History of the Probation and After-Care Service, by F.V. Jarvis, publisher National Association of Probation Officers, November 1972, price 50p, 71 pages"

      Andrew Hatton

    2. "The Probation and After-Care Service is not a department of the local authority; nor is it administered by the central government. Probation officers are employed by local committees of magistrates within areas corresponding to those of local government, and these committees are funded both from from central and local government sources. This arrangement gives probation officers independence from the administrative arm of government, enabling the courts to receive impartial information and advice."

      An excellent choice of quote - and when that changed, when the role of Probation was politicised, the profession was placed in the hands of manipulators and self-serving weasels. If my memory is correct there was a past Chief Probation Officer in the east midlands (Colin Edwards) who fought the centralisation of his service in its earliest days and I believe remains the only CPO never to be given a 'gong' as punisment for his resistance. I understand he was replaced by a suited & booted hatchetman who, it would be nice to think, was so impressed by the professional work & commitment of his staff that he became the reincarnation of his predecessor, as this press report from 2004 reveals:

      “The head of a probation service that was blamed for failing properly to monitor a drug addict who killed a policeman while out of prison on licence said yesterday that he took full responsibility for its errors.
      But David Hancock, the chief officer of Nottinghamshire Probation Area, said he would not be disciplining any of the staff involved and would not be resigning.
      He blamed the failures that allowed [client] to be free when he killed [victim] on his staff's heavy workload.”

      Now that's what I call leadership (and I don't doubt there are examples of behaviour to the contrary, but its the same David Hancock who now writes academic papers about probation work)

      P.S. I'm not related to any of the above, honest.

      P.P.S. - Tailgunner is a brave soul - as far as I'm aware there ain't no pilot

      P.P.P.S - legislation announced today will impact upon social workers and probation staff. BBC news site states: "Downing Street said the proposals would apply to health workers throughout the UK… Never again will we allow substandard care, cruelty or neglect to go unnoticed". Its already been suggested this will extend to any professional who is involved in making decisions relating to the health or care of others, e.g. child protection. And perhaps the victim lobby might utilise the legislation to imply that lack of action by probation staff led directly to acts of harm, cruelty or neglect.

  9. In her post-hoc justifications for not opposing TR, the London Trust Chair echoes what Spurr said at the AGM: it's the will of a democratic Government and I must implement – and, likewise, the Chair sees it as her responsibility to implement the wishes of Grayling. She throws in lots of misgivings, but says there is no point in appealing as they are bound to lose, and they are doing their best. She does it all with a heavy heart. Basically she just confirms the general futility of Trusts. Sure, three have made a stand which shows that a principled stance is possible and that there is nothing undemocratic in opposing a policy and its progression, if you believe it is not in the public interest. We don't give politicians carte blanche when we elect them, they represent the will of the people and the will expresses itself more than once every five years. This government has a history of making policy U-turns – there are loads: GCSEs, West Coast Mainline, selling of the forests and even pastry and caravan taxes – and loads more -

    What we have in London and elsewhere are those only too happy to kowtow, as that way they keep in the good books of those authorities who bless them with appointments on public bodies and regulators. Why fall out with your bosses? It's not the pragmatic thing to do, is it? They are not public servants – they are meretricious and contemptible lickspittle.

  10. The question is....where will I end up??? NPS or CRC??? Do I get to express a view?... uninformed as it would clearly be anyway given the shambles that TR is! However, I am lifted by the words of praise for the staff of London that Caroline Corby has most generously offered (Yes, I am avn a laff) that letter raised morale through the roof! (oh, rite i see, that was the choice language from staff that blew the roof off). Anyhow getting back to the BIG QUESTION....where will I end up? how do I decide even if I get a choice? Well clearly I cant decide if I dont know which RICH FAT CAT (no offence to any fat moggies meant) is going to be my employer (sorry, slip of the tongue, meant to say LEECH).....The only sane criteria on which to make my choice is quite obviously, without question, beyond any doubt....yes wait for it.....WHO HAS THE BEST UNIFORM??? I dont look good in bright colours you know!!! Perhaps Caroline Corby has some advice for her staff on this?? Fickle as these comments may seem to some of you when reading this, It is merely a reflection of how frustrated and fed up I am about the FARCE that we find ourselves embroiled in. My motivation in now quite frankly non existent but I am sure it will lift to unheard of heights when I don my fabulous new uniform and see my 100 or so 'no risk' cases...Roll on the SFO'S...Ah it will all be the NPS' fault anyway,..I hear the corporate 'we didnt assess him/her' coming through loud and clear' little understanding but so much money to be made!!!! Well I am away to the gym to make sure i look fab in my uniform :-) Adios for now chums!

  11. I feel grave concern for the NPS. If it is to be 30% of the existing service, it will have to be spread quite thinly. It will manage all high risk offenders, and given concentrations of populations in areas such as London, Birmingham, Manchester etc, then I can only assume that 30% will be absorbed into those areas, leaving the rest (not enough) to cover the rest of the nation.
    Having to do ALL risk assessments is also of considerable concern. As the first question asked in any SFO inquiry will be what was the offenders level of risk? Consequently as the NPS are responsible for risk assessments thats where any blame or failings will come to rest.
    I also worry that the relationship between the NPS and CRCs will not be a very harmonious one. I see many disputes occuring about almost anything you can think of.
    I feel the NPS will be a very high risk workplace for its employees, and I'm not at all sure that I'd want to be part of it.

    1. Exactly - a rock and a hard place spring to mind.

  12. I hear its nearer 55%/45% in favour of CRCs.

    1. I feel the exact figure is more likely to be decided by Grayling over his cornflakes one morning rather then based on any logistical need for deployment.
      I also feel its all gone far to quiet, and theres something in the offing thats going to elevate TR to the front page pretty soon. Calm before the storm.

  13. In many respects where we end up makes little difference to the main point here - sorry if that is too forthright.
    The main issue throughout IS the wrecking of a fantastic service that provides such a brilliant public service.
    I never thought I would be so emotional thinking about how others would step forward and provide a great deal of b***ocks about how THEY intend to change the world.......HOW DARE you , you have NO heritage is this area, you have NO skill, no knowledge and certainly NO commitment to the public that we are here to serve....You all talk of value for money , more for less and innovation ........WE talk about effective practice,values,equality principles,dedication and service to our communities......NOT one of us thinks about a PROFIT and that is what bring me to tears...The only accountancy principles that I think about are that THIS service is greater than the SUM of it's parts.

  14. The way this Government have treated the Probaton Service after 101 years of public service says it all. While we are between a Rock and a Hard Place. This government are positioning themselves between a cushy place and a safe place - between the rich and the big corporations. They are quite happy to take from those who have less to give to those who have more. I think they forget that they are public servants, and happen they should be paid like public servants, maybe then they would work their socks off for those who have less, and not for those who want more.

    1. Maybe they should get PbR eh?

    2. No, because then they would complain about getting below the minimum wage!

  15. Just spotted this article which I think is very interesting and Grayling will have to respond to.

    1. Two women killed a week. One in five 999 calls. Families driven from their homes. Lives destroyed by fear. If there was this much violence at football matches, there would be government taskforces, new laws, strong campaigns. Instead, the opposite is happening. Work done over many years under the last Labour government to reduce domestic violence, increase the number of prosecutions and keep more victims safe has been cut and the clock is being turned back.

      The impact of domestic abuse is immense. I've talked to a woman who was so afraid of her husband that she locked herself in her children's bedroom each night for months before she found the strength to leave.

      Prosecutions and convictions have fallen heavily since the last general election, in 2010. More domestic abuse is being reported to the police. But 13% fewer cases are being sent for prosecution, with a big drop in convictions as a result. Bluntly, that means fewer criminals stopped and more potential victims at risk.

      Legal-aid changes have made it harder for victims to take out injunctions against abusers. And there has been no leadership from the home secretary. Theresa May isn't demanding the action we need.

      We don't have to accept this cycle of violence and abuse. We need strong leadership and new national standards. Practice by police and councils varies too much. We need a new commissioner – modelled on the children's commissioner – covering violence against women and domestic violence, with the power to ensure standards are raised.

      It's not only about criminal justice. Vera Baird, Northumbria's police and crime commissioner, is doing great work in the north-east to get employers to sign up to training and awareness. But why isn't the government promoting this nationally, too?

      And why is the government still refusing to do more to prevent abuse among teenagers? It's time we had updated, compulsory sex and relationship education in schools to teach zero-tolerance of violence – to boys and girls. Yet Michael Gove, the education secretary, opposed Labour's amendments to the children and families bill proposing that reform.

      Violence within the home has been ignored for too long. Hard-won progress has been too quickly discarded. There should be a national outcry about the scale of domestic violence in Britain – and the lack of government action to address it. It's time to put a stop to hidden violence and abuse.

  16. Didn't Hitler have a similar idea?

    1. It sounds like Mr Simmonds wants to move back to Detention Centre's and Borstals to me. And if it's for the whole family it would not be cheap. You might be able to house Kettering's prolific offender/families in a derelict army base, but I reckon it would get tricky when it came to those families in a big city. The phrase, "clutching at straws" comes to mind.

    2. Feckless families should be put through ‘two years of hell’ in boot camps to turn their lives around, a crime tsar has urged.
      Layabout parents – like the characters in hit TV show Shameless – would undergo an ‘intensive’ programme to keep them out of crime and unemployment, says Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northamptonshire.
      He said derelict Army bases could be used to house them while they were taught basic household skills, ordered to stop drinking and smoking, and given basic job training.
      Their children, meanwhile, would be educated properly. ‘You’ve got to break the cycle, tackle that poverty of ambition,’ Mr Simmonds told The Mail on Sunday.
      The PCC – whose pioneering plan to merge police and fire services won praise from Home Secretary Theresa May – insists his idea would be cheaper than repeatedly sending career criminals to jail and taking their offspring into care.
      An adult prison place costs £40,000 a year while it costs an estimated £140,000 a year to keep a young person in a children’s home.
      The Tory PCC said that in Kettering, Northants, police believe that just ten families are responsible for the majority of burglaries.
      He added: ‘The kids don’t go to school, none of them are in work. They cause the bulk of the problem – they go to prison, come out, generation after generation.
      ‘I’d like to take them out of Kettering, put them somewhere else to retrain the family.
      ‘We’ve got to be more radical than sending social workers to get mum and dad out of bed. Sending them to prison hasn’t worked so what else do you do?’
      Under his plan, the most troubled households would be told they could escape the cycle of reoffending and unemployment by agreeing to go into a new residential programme.

    3. Is that a call for the return of the workhouse?

  17. Maybe they should ask for a deposit on reception aswell?

    1. Prisoners who smash up their cells will be fined up to £2,000.

      It means offending lags – who are paid between £1 and £3 a day for prison jobs – could pay for vandalism for the rest of their sentence.

      Prisons Minister Chris Grayling, who launched the policy this month, listed the maximum fines rowdy inmates face.

      They include £224 for damaging a bunk bed, £62 for breaking a table, £40 for a toilet, £832 for a cell door, £522 for any damage to floors – and £57 for a new TV.

      Last year the Prison Service recorded 6,881 cases of wilful damage to prisons but it is up to the taxpayer to fork out for repairs.

      A spokesman for the Prison Service said: “For the first time, offenders will be made to take financial responsibility for their actions.”

      But the Howard League for Penal Reform said the policy may be distressing for vulnerable inmates.

    2. A bit of Government PR comes to mind, but I don't have a problem with this. If I was to commit criminal damage on the out, I would expect there to be consequences. But I do have a problem with failing grayling.

    3. I think one of the issues is ensuring there is a due legal process involved.

    4. Because there is money involved it will be abused for certain in the Serco and G4S run prisons.
      If theres 2 or 3 in a cell who pays? Will short term inmates be made to take the blame by longer term inmates? And what compliance will inmates have if they face no canteen for a couble of years?
      I agree people should be held responsible for damage they cause, but I think this is (as with all Gralings ideas) ill thought out and impulsive.

    5. Oh David, your getting more like failing grayling every day - just not thinking things through!

    6. A small point - there is a minimum 'canteen'' earnings a prisoner must be allowed - similar to the minimum that there used to be with Income Support - so it is unlikely to be down to nil however it is all riot inducing stuff but Grayling knows that doesn't he?

      Sadly it seems not and if a riot happens it won't be him trapped in an emergency chained up section of a prison with the prisoners as could happen to some staff who are not quick enough to withdraw - and never mind the staff trapped in a secured area where a riot is happening, not every prisoner will want to wreak havoc.

      We can then have a lot of media attention and 'lessons must be learned enquiry' again

      Cynical - me - YES.

    7. Whoops Jane! But least I listen to others and can admit when I might be wrong!

    8. And don't forget prisoners will soon be withdrawing from nicotine when ciggies are stopped! Maybe thats designed to make a few bob from potential damage.
      On a very serious note however, there are prisoners who will cause damage for damage sake. But there are also many that thrash their cells because of being able to cope.
      A massive difference between willful damage and inabillity to control emotions or capabillity to cope. Just my opinion.

  18. So now there is an enquiry into trade union activities in Grangemouth - can't this Government act quickly when it wants to decry the unions ( and labour by proximity, the union concerned is labour's biggest donor)? Hope the enquiry will also look at the behaviour of the employer AND the change in political climate to reduce the rights of decent working people ( in juxtaposition to the emergence of a new, unelected ruling class ie high net worth individuals including bankers and venture capitalists). Any relation to the probation PbR ominshamles....CLEARLY.

  19. ... And another enquiry into the behaviour of bankers in the Royal Mail privatisation, due to concerns that shares were under-valued. Any issues for probation to watch in relation to this ? CLEARLY given the eventual sell-off of CRC shares to the new providers of medium/low risk probation services under Grayling's wonderful omnishambles. One to watch closely me thinks!

  20. I think I was a bit hard on Trust Chairs – suggesting they were lickspittle, etc.. I had not realised how tough it is to be a Chair. Just read about the unfortunate Rev. Flowers who was the £132,000-a-year Chair of the Co-op bank. He has been caught out buying cocaine. He sent this text: 'I was grilled by the Treasury Select committee yesterday and afterwards came to Manchester to get wasted with friends.' He has blamed the pressure of his job. On the bright side for aspirants there is a job vacancy, but, remember, it's a tough job!

  21. Talking with an old friend yesterday evening opened some thinking for me - she's just retired after 30 years on checkouts and 'floorwalking' at Waitrose. She said she's glad to have finished because in the last two or three years the working atmosphere has become "toxic". She had never been politically motivated until Thatcher sold off the public housing stock - "That's when I realised how clever they are - get everyone tied into debt with mortgages and the unions power is diluted by the fear that comes with it. They put warnings on everything - your home is at risk if you don't keep up payments and all that."

    Her partner worked for Royal Mail - he thinks that the ParcelForce and now Royal Mail sell-offs were another disgraceful chapter in the history of the UK government: "They keep saying that public sector stuff is useless but they've robbed the nation of billions in revenue - we were minting it, now they've just given it away to their mates with boxes of cereal."

    That led me to recall the recent demand for all MPs to declare their Royal Mail shares (it might have come from Margaret Hodge MP?). The concern was that not only was the RM sell-off seriously undervalued, but that many MPs were very much aware of the timing & limitations so they could bid for exactly the right amount of shares - and thus make the biggest killing: "Having been priced at 330p the night before, following months of marketing to investors, the shares opened at 450p and later climbed as high as 459.75p as more than 100m shares - 20pc of those sold - changed hands within the first hour." Those who hung on (perhaps the better informed speculators) might enjoy this news from international business times: "Royal Mail shares could hit double the government's original offer price, according to a leading City analyst, as the government faces criticism for undervaluing the 500-year-old communications firm and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds from the sell-off." If you had a spare £10K knocking around you could now be looking at holding more than £15K - £5K profit in a month - but perhaps more if you haven't already cashed in. That'll cover a few grammes of coke, your reverendness.


  23. indie article:

    Executives from scandal-hit corporate giants Serco and G4S face a public grilling from a powerful group of MPs, who are determined to "lance the boils" of failing government contractors.

    A source on the Public Accounts Committee said the two companies, which have seen their shares battered this year, will be questioned on Wednesday about "suspicions that they cheated on contracts".

    The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has launched a criminal investigation into G4S and Serco, following allegations they had billed the Ministry of Justice for monitoring 3,000 non-existent offenders on a lucrative electronic tagging contract. The companies could potentially have made tens of millions of pounds for claiming that they had tagged offenders who were already in custody, had left the country, or had died.

    Serco, which runs the Docklands Light Railway in London, schools inspections, and the Atomic Weapons Establishment in Reading, has struggled since the scandal, issuing profit warnings for both 2013 and 2014 last week. Staff have also been referred to the City of London police over irregularities in a prisoner escort contract.

    G4S, which is one of the world's biggest employers with 620,000 staff, has found itself under public scrutiny for the past two years after it failed to provide enough security guards for the London 2012 Olympics. Both companies have said that they will co-operate fully with the SFO investigation.

    Representatives of both companies together with Paul Pindar, chief executive at emergency services communications provider Capita, and Ursula Morgenstern, the UK and Ireland head of IT giant Atos, will give evidence to MPs. The four companies are the public sector's biggest suppliers and worked on contracts valued at £6.6bn last year, but have all been recently criticised for paying little or no corporation tax in the UK.

    An industry source said that he expected committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge to "lance the boils that are the problems of outsourcing". Successive governments have turned to the private sector to run public services as they attempt to reduce spending, but this has led to accusations of privatisation by stealth and that firms involved are massively overpaid.

    The showdown, expected to last two hours, is the first in a two-part probe into the outsourcing industry. Next week, top officials from the Cabinet Office, Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Justice will be questioned over how closely they kept watch over companies entrusted with delivering such sensitive public work.

    A committee source said: "These officials are supposed to be looking after these contracts. Are these failures actually their fault?"

    The Ministry of Defence is in the middle of a selection process for one of the most contentious outsourcing contracts the country has ever undertaken. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is considering bringing in a consortium of consultants and public sector contractors, potentially including Serco, to run the £16bn budget agency that buys and looks after communication equipment, grenades and submarines.

    Unions fear thousands of job cuts at Defence Equipment & Support, while insiders have told The Independent on Sunday that they are "sickened" by the quasi privatisation. "The great majority of staff care deeply about the moral correctness of what they do and are dismayed at what's happening," said one senior defence official.

    Ministry of Defence commercial director Les Mosco is likely to be questioned over whether the deal will truly provide value for money, as it has emerged that there are fears over the financial case for handing DE&S over to big business.

  24. and the end of that article:

    However, Cabinet Office chief operating officer Stephen Kelly and chief procurement officer Bill Crothers are likely to come under the most intense scrutiny, as their department is charged with making government a leaner, more efficient machine. Mr Crothers is leading a Cabinet Office review into Serco and G4S in the wake of the electronic tagging debacle. He insisted last week that outsourcing remained an important part of government policy.

    MPs will also take a fresh look at the privatisation of the Royal Mail on Wednesday, when the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee takes on bankers who advised on its stock market flotation. There have been criticisms that the Royal Mail was sold off on the cheap, possibly depriving the Exchequer of nearly £650m.

  25. Good afternoon...The article at 16/11 - 22.48. I read with interest, but I cannot get a particular incident out of my mind. A few years ago, a Conservative MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice; whose responsibilities included, Prisons and Probation, Youth justice, Criminal law and sentencing policy and Criminal justice, attended our offices, and gave the impression of being interested in Probation, sadly he voted against us last Mon and so perhaps, he didn't really. What particularly annoyed the hell out of me, was he sat through an entire, quite lengthy and difficult interview for a SDR, with a man, whose offences included Assault upon his wife, Threats to Kill his wife, assaulting Police Officers and Paramedics, in the course of their duty etc etc. Now, this character was fairly standard, he found it hard to accept his marriage was over: he had lost his job, due to poor timekeeping, had become jealous and possessive in respect of his wife, took to alcohol and finally, after numerous previous Police Call Outs - decided he'd create an environment in which he could make a statement - sorry, stage his demise...yes, he lite candles and placed them around a blanket in his shed, where he had been living, and having consumed lots of paracetamol, washed it down with lots of whisky. Unfortunately, he did this within a time frame in which his wife would, with thier children, be calling him in for dinner...and so his wife, fearing the worst, sought to revive him, call and ambulance and after the subject assaulted her, as she was holding their infant child, another child, then called the Police. Of course, it was not his fault, and he bemoaned how he had had to leave the Army, due to his drinking and convictions, how the world had been against him, you know how it goes. As I am well experienced in dealing with such individuals, I openly sought for him to take responsibility for his own behaviour, to help him see beyond his own hurt and to accept that he had done something serious, which had brought him before the Court. He became aggressive and abusive toward me and expressed a high degree of hostility and disrespect toward the victim; so much so, I had to remind him, that his two daughters (who should have been at school, but as he was "having contact with them" he'd brought them to our office, they were in the next office, doodling with some paper and pens). The interview - lasting in excess of 1 hour and 20 minutes, I thought had been a bit of a triumph for common sense, for professional standards and values. It was a fair reflection of what we put up with and what excuses perpetrators make for their bad as I drew the interview to an end, I thought it a good time to ask if the Minister had any questions? Yes, he did, he stood up, moved toward the man, arm outstretched to shake his hand and asked "what Regiment were you in?".............I was speechless, and when he was asked to feedback to the entourage he had with him, he shook his head and said " I wonder if that man knows just how abused he is". Staggering, and so I don't hold out any hope for anyone from the Coalition to appreciate what we do, let alone the general public...happy days!

    1. Although it can be said that the important work done by the probation service is generally considered invisible when it comes to the public, I think it's going to be a case of 'not knowing what you've got till its gone'.
      I think the public will begin to realise the value probation contributed to society once the wheels of TR begin to fall off.

    2. There is no doubt that the wheels will come off. Question is, who will get hit when they do, and who will the rest of the truck run over?

      It has been said that money, oxygen and sex are very similar, in that they really don't matter until you can't get any... I think as a society as a whole we are about to add 'competent effective probation staff' to that list.

  26. The fat lady has started singing colleagues and her song? " How can I help you to say goodbye" by Laura Branigan.

    1. When discussing this at the last team meeting, my SPO was not too amused when I started singing 'Too late baby' by Carol King. :)

    2. Lovely song and singer, " How can I help you to say goodbye" - public servants getting victory over this government, a national strike, and a general election would help, I reckon.

    3. I feel that Graylings plans are so ill thought through that they may yet face unexpected problems and issues from unexpected quarters.
      I think the 'fat lady' should take a little longer tuning up before she starts to sing. It does look like she'll get the gig, but the venue is still a bit of a mess.

    4. Anon 17:48

      Agree. Theres much going on in the private sector that may yet mean a total rethink by the government.
      Unrelated to probation but the following article makes an interesting read.
      I do not suggest TR will not happen, but lets never say never just yet.

    5. Yes, hopefully the government will have a total rethink:

      We warned in earlier articles that replacing NHS Direct would all end in tears.

      The Andrew Lansley experiment of breaking up a nationwide NHS phone line manned by doctors and nurses into a fragmented low-cost call centre run by handlers with only a few days of training seemed madness to me.

      And it proved to be.

      Ambulance dispatch rates increased – as did visits to already over-stretched A&Es.

      We face a real crisis in our accident and emergency departments now.

      The number of NHS walk-in centres, where you can get treatment without an appointment or going to A&E, have been slashed by this coalition by 23 per cent.

      Now Sir Bruce Keogh’s review of A&E has come up with the answer – go back to a phone service manned by clinicians and medical experts!

      Once again, the Tories are proving the NHS is not safe in their hands.

      This week the Public Accounts Committee will report on the inadequacy of out-sourcing £6.6billion of public service contracts to companies such as G4S, Serco, Atos and Capita.

      According to the committee’s chairman, Margaret Hodge, the National Audit Office, which has studied them, found “poor service, poor value for money and government departments completely out of their depth”.

      We have to remove the market from the NHS before it, too, needs emergency care.

      Only a nationalised health service can offer treatment free at the point of delivery, based on need and not your ability to pay.

  27. Interesting article from inside times. I wonder if the successes of private sector management of prisons outlined here will be carried over to TR? What say you?

  28. Interesting thought - just supposing that there's an outbreak of rationality and TR gets knocked on the head. Who takes the Trusts seriously from then on?

    (P.S. A need-to-get-out-more point Jim - turrets were made of perspex, not glass. Fascinating collection on display at the Yorkshire Air Museum - respect to those guys who sat in them)

  29. Two good points - Trust's have largely been shown up to be part of the problem - maybe there might be a role for these bloody PCC's after all?

    Gun turrets were indeed made of perspex and the Yorkshire Air Museum has a fine collection as you say - maybe tailgunner is a bit younger than some of us? lol

  30. Not just younger he wears a kilt and tammy - presumably why he calls self - I think he is a he - mactailgunner!

    Andrew Hatton