Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Weather Report

Avid readers both here and over on the Napo forum webpages will be aware that our very own tailgunner has been on an arduous mission and some might have become concerned due to the length of radio silence. I'm happy to report that he - I know we are making assumptions here - is alive and well and reports as follows:-

The letter sent to Trusts by Michael Spurr on Friday 22nd was directed primarily at the registration of local disputes by both Napo (and now UNISON) and the issue of local consultations. Napo has issued further advice to branches on this subject today.

The issue of location is indeed likely to be critical in the mid to long term. The estate will doubtless be rationalised as new owners decide to find cheaper accommodation and there will be tensions around co-location between the NPS and CRCs (and indeed other parties such as the police). More immediately, there are a number of Probation occupied premises where there will be a lease break/ end date in 2014. So decisions will need to be made here as regards whether leases can be extended. If not, new accommodation will need to be sought, but by whom? It seems unlikely that new accommodation with co-location would be found since this would tie new owners into potentially long leases. So where staff occupy buildings where there is an impending lease break/end, searching questions need to be asked.

The MoJ are stating clearly that all Probation staff will remain in the LGPS after transfer to either the NPS or a CRC. TR FAQ 36 (issued by the MoJ on 13th November) states that staff will remain in their current schemes post-transfer. That isn't quite correct. The current intention is that all staff will be transferred to the same Local Government Pension Scheme - currently this is likely to be the Manchester Scheme. So, the intention is that membership in an LGPS is secure for existing staff but this is not a 'done deal' yet and if it is not signed off in time, there is little likelihood that April 1st will be a date that is met for the split of the staff into the NPS and the CRCs. It is worth recalling that the sale of UPW in London took three attempts ( over several years) before it was successfully completed, and it was the pensions issue that scuppered the first two attempts at sale.

The issue of continuity of service remains a very real and ongoing concern which has not been resolved. As it stands, continuity of service is guaranteed for all staff, even if they move from one employer to another for a period of up to 9 months beyond the point of share transfer (or perhaps 6 months depending on which bit of the imposed documentation you read). This represents a real detriment to all existing staff and is in breach of the principles of COSOP. What has however now been clarified is that staff will not lose continuity if they move from one role to another with the same employer.

There remains a significant lack of clarity over what it will mean for staff to become civil servants within the NPS - how existing Civil Service policies etc may be applied. Despite repeated requests for consultation over this critical issue at national level, so far it has not materialised. Without this information, again, staff are not well placed to make informed decisions about their future employment.

(Filed at 2.27 BST)

Weather Report for Wednesday 27th November (Filed at 3.07 BST)

Napo NEC meets today to review the position in the campaign to oppose the TR Programme.
The emerging picture is that some Trusts have already begun sending out automatic assignment letters and Expression of Interest letters. More will be acting on the MoJ requirement this week and some more are waiting to see how things develop. As reported before, there is significant preparatory work that should be done before letters are sent out and some Trusts are sensibly doing this in consultation with unions locally. Interestingly, reports suggest that an early keen and compliant Trust sent out automatic assignment letters even before last weeks negotiations, on the 20th, had been concluded. Some of these letters were wrong and had to be withdrawn and re-issued as we understand it. Also, the same Trust sent out EoI letters to other staff with next to no information to assist staff in making informed decisions about their future careers.

It is interesting to note that in the draft National Agreement on Staff Transfer ( the one that did not get agreed at the NNC on the 20th for reasons recorded elsewhere) there was the following clause - "The EoI form will be accompanied by a list of relevant posts available; number of posts available; a list of likely changes to location in the short to mid term ( e.g. A lease break); whether Non Police Personnel Vetting applies to specific NPS posts; information on how it is envisaged the relevant role may change in the future and a statement of the sifting criteria to be applied." This clause does not appear in the documentation imposed by the MoJ on the 13th November. Whilst this documentation was very hurriedly prepared, resulting in a number of conflicting and erroneous statements, this omission was evidently intentional. The information suggested in the above clause would have to be made available by the MoJ to Trusts and it would appear that most of it is not available. This will make it very difficult (make that impossible) for staff to make informed decisions.

Long Range Forecast

What is clear from Michael Spurr's letter to Trusts on 13th November is that there is an expectation at the MoJ that on 1st April Probation staff will continue to do exactly the same work, same caseload, same duties etc as they were doing on 31st March. Currently it would appear that caseloads will not be re-allocated until July 2014. This all notwithstanding the fact that on 1st April, staff will work for different organisations with discrete responsibilities and lines of accountability. It is understood that this arrangement will be facilitated by a Service Level Agreement between the NPS and the 21 CRCs. Details of this have yet to emerge.

Trusts will probably continue to exist in some shape or form post April 1st, if only to deal with 'winding up the business'. Staff will be sitting at the same desks doing the same work. they will work for different organisations - but all still in the public sector. Probably, email addresses, letterheads, signage and security passes will have been changed and hopefully there will be systems in place to enable everyone to be paid.

There will be a critical date sometime in early January by when the MoJ will have to decide whether they have a 'system-go' situation enabling them to issue Trusts with termination notices on their contracts to provide Probation Services. If they can't, who knows what will happen.

The staff assignment process is a part of the Human Resources workstream. There are many other workstreams which will need to be system ready by 1st April in order to enable the MoJ to press the button and issue notices to Trusts in January. Many rivers yet to cross for the TR Programme. It isn't a done deal yet.


  1. This madness remains untenable. We cannot engage with it. The details reveal that the impetus is foolhardy and placing the whole infrastructure of community supervision as well as it's credibility in grave jeopardy. Why are we even considering the process when it is profoundly destructive.


  2. Mmm we all thought the CRC's would be the problematic bits. Looks like some questions around the NPS are going to be at least as vexatious for all. Hopefully this nonsensical nonsense will hit the buffers in January.

  3. Some light relief:
    A probation officer met his Fairy Godmother, who offered to make his wish come true.
    "I want to live forever", he said.
    "I'm sorry" said the fairy, "I can't grant wishes unless there's a specified timescale".
    "Ok" said the probation officer. "I want to live until the MoJ starts talking sense".
    "Crafty bugger" said the fairy...

    1. So even wishes from Fairy Godmothers have to be SMART now, eh?

  4. NAPO and Unison are giving different advice regarding what to do when we receive the letter, I believe Napo are advising members not to make a choice/respond to being directed and to submit a grievance....The NAPO members in our office are very anxious that if they do not make a choice/respond, they will be left very vulnerable!! Why cant the 2 main unions get together and issue the same advice so that everyone can stick together?? Its a complete joke if you ask me!!! There are numerous loyal NAPO members in our office that will not make a grievance because UNISON members have been given the below guidance. NAPO members feel they will be less protected and I think that they will simply respond to the letters and make a choice rather than a lodge a grievance.


    When you receive your letter from the Trust, UNISON advises you to act as follows:

    * Follow the instructions set out in the letter from your Trust

    * Respond to the expression of interest process, if this applies to you

    * Cut and paste the attached UNISON model letter into a separate Word document and alter it to include your personal circumstances. Your UNISON representative can help you with this if you have any questions.

    * Send the personalised letter to your Trust Chief Executive to reserve your rights and protect your interests.

    * This should be a hard copy letter signed by you, not an email.

    * Make two extra copies of the letter: keep one yourself and give the other copy to your UNISON branch secretary or local representative

    * Every member needs to do this personally; UNISON cannot do this for you.

    * Submit an appeal against your Trust’s automatic assignment decision, if you do not agree with it.


      This UNISON bulletin advises you on how you should respond when you are written to by your Trust about the staff assignment process for delivering the Government’s probation reforms.


      As you will be aware, the Government plans to split the Probation Service into two new organisations on 1 April next year. About half the existing workforce is likely to be transferred to the new National Probation Service (NPS), and the other half transferred to one of the 21 new Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).
      UNISON’s last bulletin (PROB/16/2013) informed you that the Probation National Negotiating Council has not been able to reach agreement yet on how to manage the transfers or the protections which will be given to you. Without this agreement, the Ministry of Justice has instructed all Probation Trusts to begin the staff transfer process. Trusts will do this by notifying you that you will be either:
      • Automatically assigned to either the NPS or one of the CRCs, or
      • Asked to express an interest in being transferred to either the NPS or a CRC, if you have not been automatically assigned


      Your Trust will write to you personally with a letter, which will let you know which of these two options applies to you. There may be some differences in the letters locally, but generally, these are the options you will be given. Your Trust may ask you to acknowledge receipt of the letter, tell you whether you are to be automatically assigned, or ask you to express an interest in either the NPS or CRC if you are not automatically assigned.


      When you receive your letter from the Trust, UNISON advises you to act as follows:

      • Follow the instructions set out in the letter from your Trust

      • Respond to the expression of interest process, if this applies to you
      • Cut and paste the attached UNISON model letter into a separate Word document and alter it to include your personal circumstances. Your UNISON representative can help you with this if you have any questions.

      • Send the personalised letter to your Trust Chief Executive to reserve your rights and protect your interests.

      • This should be a hard copy letter signed by you, not an email.

      • Make two extra copies of the letter: keep one yourself and give the other copy to your UNISON branch secretary or local representative

      • Every member needs to do this personally; UNISON cannot do this for you.
      • Submit an appeal against your Trust’s automatic assignment decision, if you do not agree with it.

  5. Is there anything in place to stop prime contractors selling TR contracts on if they decide they don't want them anymore?

    1. Serco has sold its London streets maintenance and UK transport technology business to Cubic Corporation for an estimated value of £43.5 million.

      Acting CEO Ed Casey has said that the operations had become “non-core” to Serco’s strategy.

      The sale comes as the outsourcer faces exclusion from all current and future government contracts and is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) after allegations that it, along with G4S, overcharged on a Ministry of Justice electronic tagging contract.The controversy resulted in Serco’s chief executive Christopher Hyman stepping down.

      Serco also recently warned that its operating profits are going to be £18 million below forecasts and that it will be cutting 400 jobs.

      The disposed business provides maintenance for transport infrastructure, such as traffic signals and CCTV systems in London, as well as the design, installation and maintenance of UK transportation management technology.

      A statement said that the under Serco’s ownership, “future growth and profitability were expected to be restricted due to limited synergies” with its core UK transport portfolio of operation public transport networks.

      For the year to 31 December 2013, the business brought in £42 million of revenue and £8 million of adjusted operating profit.

      However, John O’Brien, research director at analyst house TechMarketView, isn’t convinced of the motives behind the sale.

      “This view doesn’t quite seem to stack up with our analysis of Serco’s UK transport activities, as at least two big London transport deals, Boris Bikes and the fully automated Docklands Light Railway, are both heavily reliant on technology,” said O’Brien.

      “One of differentiators Serco offered this space was its strengths in front line support services and technology services.”

      He added: “Serco is going through a very difficult time right now with top management departures and the SFO investigation into its electronic monitoring contract. This latest disposal only adds to further uncertainty around the future shape of Serco’s IT-enabled support services operations once the dust has finally settled.”

  6. See final paragraph of the Napo paper sent to members today on Grievance where it recommends replying to letters on EoI or assignment and also submitting a grievance. Napo members can find the relevant paper on Tolkny's post on Assignment in the Napo forum via Jim's link on his earlier blog today.Have tried to copy and paste w/out success.

    1. Thanks for that advice - I tried to copy and paste the third document without success too. It's the 'how to do a grievance' one.

  7. on further try this link might work. It's the paragraph entitled Summary

    1. The above worked for me, but if there is still a problem - Napo Members who get emails from Napo should have received it direct as one of three attachments on the bottom of an email resent by Napo early this (Weds 27/11/) morning.

      It sure is hard to keep up and there is now a surfeit of some info and opinions some of which almost inevitably cause one to question, what is written somewhere else.

      In cases of doubt, I would think it best to check with local Union Branch officers and officials

      Andrew Hatton


    1. Thanks - I don't understand it.

      I am tempted NOT to post it on the Napo Forum because there is too much confusion around already, but I might later.

      For now I would like to know if it has any relevance to the current situation concerning Probation Trust employees.

      I note that the operational date is said to be January 2014, that is before Probation Trust employees are expected to be reassigned to either a CRC or the new style NPS.

      Hopefully someone from Napo or Unison will read this message and post a response and if necessary get authoritative advice.

      Andrew Hatton

    2. during briefing on mutually assured destruction we weretold in no uncertain terms that moj are NOT using TUPE legislation, thus one might assume the TUPE info doesn't apply. i'm not sure but can't seem to get satisfaction in relation to any qyestions about transfer of employment, e.g. noone semed able to tell me why my timeless probation service contract with my probation area employer could suddenly become a 3 year rolling contract with a Trust (sic); similarly noone can tell me why i'm being back-scuttled without any rights in 2013. what happened to employment law?

      however rushed this omnishite is, surely there's no excuse for the way in which employees are being left uninformed, unsure and unprotected against this abusive behaviour. the unions are, after all, paid a handsome sum to protect us and advise us.

      as for the mutual? enthusiastic amateurs being dangled on the end of a line by canny business people in a bid to tug at heartstrings. they think that 6 months of rubbing shoulder pads with business consultants means they're ready for the dragon's den - they don't see that they're the sprats to catch the mackerel. wouldn't buy anything from them - a bit like the door to door children operated by the modern day fagins; the kids earn about tuppence from a day's sales, whilst fagin suts at the end of the road watching from the leather interior of his brand new range rover. it was a sad experience, but made moreso when seen in the context of working for the moj and their immoral backstabbing antics.

    3. Entering "tupe changes 2013" gives various sites with various ways of expression which maybe easier to understand.

  9. With reference to NAPO and UNISON guidance not matching.

    Everything that is happening is being rushed because of Grayling' timeline. Mistakes are inevitable and a consequence of this induced chaos. Don't blame your allies.

    1. The FT.

      Warning on offshoring civil servant jobs

      By Gill Plimmer and Jim PickardPlans to offshore up to 1,000 civil servants’ jobs in a potential £2bn contract for back-office functions across Whitehall could spark an “exodus” of “demoralised” staff, a cabinet minister has warned.Steria, the French outsourcing company, has won the contract to provide procurement and finance across three departments – Work and Pensions, Environment, and Food and Rural Affairs – as well as the Environment Agency.It took over 1,200 employees on November 1 and has agreed to delay any offshoring for the first six months. But it is understood that shifting jobs abroad will be a key part of the deal, which is aimed at shrinking central government and cutting costs.Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, has sent a letter to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of the outsourcing, raising alarm over the deal.“I am worried about the possible staff exodus and demotivation – and the risk to service even before the bidders have taken over,” he wrote.The dispute comes at a time when public sector outsourcing is in the spotlight after a series of botched contracts. Offshoring is doubly controversial because of the loss of jobs overseas at a time of high unemployment.Another confidential memo from the executive committee of Defra, the environment department, said it was opposed to any offshoring of jobs. “The Defra committee . . . judged a significant element of [or any] offshoring to be not acceptable,” it said.The memo, addressed to David Heath, sacked last month as minister for Defra, warns that s taff opposition “could become a barrier to more important structural changes or commercial deals”.It also warned of data security concerns with “employee and detailed financial data being transmitted, stored and processed outside the UK”.A spokesman for Defra said the concerns had been resolved since the two letters were written in the summer, without specifying how.Under the deal, 1,200 staff were transferred to a new company called SSC, 75 per cent owned by Steria, with the rest owned by the UK government.The contract is initially worth £500m over 10 years but has the potential to grow to £2bn as more departments and agencies are added. Serco, Tata and BT were among other bidders.The Cabinet Office argues that the move – part of a wider drive to reconfigure the civil service – will save taxpayers £600m a year. The aim is to create a maximum of five independent shared service centres to cover HR, payroll, procurement and finance.The decision marks a U-turn in policy. Chris Grayling, now justice secretary, told parliament in 2011 that he had intervened personally as employment minister to stop a plan by Hewlett-Packard to offshore jobs on one of its DWP contracts.“It is important that we do not see government-controlled employment move offshore. We have a job to try to maximise employment in this country . . . it is by far the best option to see people investing in the UK,” he said.Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “We have grave concerns, not only about the security of people’s jobs but also about the threat that work will go overseas.”Steria, which also provides back-office functions for hospitals and the police, said: “It is not relevant for us to comment on Defra’s internal communications, which are four months old.” The French IT company employs 4,800 staff in the UK, 60 per cent of whom have transferred into Steria from other public sector and private organisations.

  10. Have been following your Blog Jim since January this year and wish to thank you for being a tremendous source of information for the events that have unfolded during 2013. With so much confusion being expressed on a macro level, the impact on individual employees of Probation Trusts at this present time seems to be overshadowed by recent postings. It's really useful to hear about what's happening across the board and the apparent disregard by our present government to the personal impact on individuals and their families.

    I'm pretty convinced that when I submit my Expression of Interest Form and separate grievance letter at the beginning of December, not much interest will be paid by my employer to my individual circumstances and concerns. I'm aware that I'm only a 'number' to be processed and being in a specialised role which has no defined sifting criteria, my future will be decided on a random basis.

    This has left me feeling humiliated and depersonalised. I hope that by expressing my feelings on this blog, it's an avenue for drawing some attention to the micro level implications that will have far-reaching consequences for thousands of other employees.

    Having worked in Probation for 18+ years and worked hard to progress in my specialised role through achieving a number of additional qualifications at vocational and Masters level, I feel that the specialised knowledge and experience I possess will mean nothing when a coin is flipped or my name taken out of a hat in the near future. Who knows what the consequences may be.

    With regards to personal consequences on a family basis, my daughter is a qualified Probation Officer and it really breaks my hear to listen to her worries. Working late hours at present to manage high risk offenders, she is the main breadwinner for her family and is financially supporting her partner and 3 young children. Who cares about the future financial security of such young families?

    We will both be spending time over this coming weekend drafting our grievance letters. One thing is sure, despite the apparent lack of empathy being showed by the current government, we will survive as a strong family unit whatever happens in the next few months. There was a time when in Probation where you felt part of a strong Team unit and could trust your colleagues and employer to support you through difficult times. It's ironic that we are employees of 'Trusts' - unfortunately values of loyalty to hard working and dedicated staff who have worked over and above role requirements have long disappeared.

    This has been a means for me to vent my anger and disgust at what's unfolding. I hope you have read this far and I'm aware that my story is probably repeated on a wider basis.

    1. Thanks very much indeed for taking time to share your thoughts - it really is heartbreaking to see what is happening and I'm positive there will be many colleagues who will echo your sentiments.

      I'm hoping to compile a number of similar contributions into a further dedicated post, specifically addressed to ministers.

      Thanks again and I hope things work out well for you and your daughter.