Sunday, 15 December 2013

Another Leak

This has gone on long enough and the time has come to call a halt to the madness. Apart from a few Tory ideological zealots and privateers on the make, there is absolutely no enthusiasm or stomach for this dangerous and unworkable slow train wreck of an omnishambles euphemistically called 'Transforming Rehabilitation'. 

Even though the MoJ won't openly admit it, there is insufficient interest being shown by potential bidders both in the private and voluntary sector in taking on probation work. The realisation is finally dawning that the risks are just too great and the potential rewards so tenuous that it's just not worth a candle. From every quarter there is trouble, whether it be jittery investors, an incalcitrant workforce or unhappy politicians. 

I'm told that even the MoJ is riven with disdain for a failing project that requires every effort to be made to ensure a silk purse becomes a sow's ear. Possibly Chris Grayling and Jeremy Wright still feel that the TR omnishambles can be rolled out before the next General Election, but virtually everyone else thinks differently and it's just a matter of time before their hides will need saving by resort to a cunning plan 'B'.

If evidence were required as to the real state of feeling within the MoJ, it's provided by the news of a further leak regarding the updated Risk Register that Grayling resolutely refuses to publish. Here's today's Observer:-

Plans to put private companies such as G4S in charge of supervising tens of thousands of criminals on licence in the community have a "very high chance" of putting the public at greater risk and will result in a poorer service for victims of crime, according to an internal assessment presented to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and seen by the Observer.
The probation service's risk assessment, written last month, spells out in detail how the government's high-profile programme for allowing the private sector and voluntary groups to run its offender management programme is in danger of going off the rails.
The findings – coming after G4S and Serco were last week stripped of their contracts to monitor tagged offenders, amid allegations they carried out a multimillion-pound overcharging fraud – threatens to undermine the government's case for pushing through its reforms within a short time frame.
The report is the latest in a series of internal assessments prepared for the MoJ ahead of its landmark reform of the probation service next year. It confirms that plans to use private sector firms, which the government says will help to help save taxpayers up to £200m a year, are in jeopardy.
On a scale of one to 25, where 25 is the highest likelihood of something happening, the assessment gives a maximum score to the probability that there will be a "reduction [in] performance" under the new system. It states that this will see the "potential for service delivery failure increase" and that there is a very high chance of "operational confusion". As a result, offenders will pose a "higher risk to the public" and there will be "poorer outcomes" for victims and communities. The report warns that courts would "lose confidence in the ability of the service to deliver sentences".
The assessment estimates that there is a 25 out of 25 risk that the programme will not "be delivered either in scope or within the timescale set by ministers". Other risks include a drop in staff morale, tension with police and crime plans, increased risk of industrial action and loss of public confidence. The analysis is likely to be exploited by critics of the government's privatisation agenda.
"The private sector is likely to miss cases which need recalling to custody, because of their inexperience," said probation expert Harry Fletcher. "This plan will compromise public protection."
The government had intended that current probation staff would be assigned to new private sector employers by 1 April, but concern about the way in which the reforms are being implemented suggests this timetable may slip.
Appearing before the justice select committee this month, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, seemed to concede that the timetable was not set in stone, referring to "evolution, not revolution", a change of tone from previous comments.
A delay would raise fresh questions about the government's ability to introduce its reforms of the public sector. The timetable for the rollout of the universal credit scheme had to be scrapped recently, and in November plans to privatise three prisons were abandoned.

So it's all going wrong for TR and Grayling is ever so slowly being made to realise that a way out of this nightmare is needed, and urgently, But what could that be?
As an aside I see that there's even more bad news for Serco with them set to lose the Cornwall out of hours GP service and pull out of hospital management completely:-
Serco has agreed to the early termination of its contract for out-of-hours GP services in Cornwall after the company left the county short of doctors.
The embattled outsourcing company also said it would stop running Braintree hospital in Essex as it pulls out of managing GP services and large hospitals. It follows a review of Serco's healthcare operations.
On Thursday the company, along with G4S, was forced to hand over its electronic tagging contracts to rival Capita following fraud allegations over the way they charged the government.
Serco said the Cornwall and Braintree contracts and a loss-making agreement for community healthcare in Suffolk would cost it £17m in one-off charges.
The company said: "Serco has agreed with NHS Kernow to bring forward the end of its contract for GP out-of-hours services in Cornwall. Serco's operation of the contract to date has experienced some operational challenges."
Serco said NHS Kernow would look for another company to provide an "integrated service" before the contract expires in May 2015. The company's agreement to run Braintree hospital will last until December next year.
Valerie Michie, managing director of Serco's healthcare business, said: "The services we deliver in Cornwall and Braintree are no longer core to the future delivery of our healthcare strategy."
A spokeswoman for NHS Kernow said there had been problems with Serco's service but that it had improved. Serco will continue to run community healthcare services in Suffolk, but the business has not produced the profits it had hoped for.


  1. Also, chris grayling would do well to remember this, the result of too many cases and too few resources, and what cases 'falling through the net' means in reality :

  2. Yes, this has gone on long enough and it must stop.

    Please sign this Petition against privatisation, as it's very important that our Public tune into the SOUL of Probation's Heritage and a Public Service that has served this country well.

  3. Outsourcing companies are there for one thing only- to make a profit. And like them or loath them you can't knock them for that.
    But when it comes to public services however outsourcing companies are ALWAYS going to be in trouble.
    If its health care or managing offenders you're faced with the unpredictable nature of human beings, fluxuating levels of need or risk, and huge reputational damage when it goes wrong- wheather its your fault or not. Infact as Serco and G4S have proved recently, the cost of something going wrong can cost far more then any profit you stand to make. Indeed it could destroy you!
    So when outsourcing companies bid for public services that involve the management or care of people, they would do well to remember that in the end success or failure will be determind by your market, which because of its unpredictable nature you have no real control over.
    Thats not outsourcing- thats gambling! But I think thats something thats being understood by outsourcers at present. Unfortunately, hindsight can't help G4S or Serco.

  4. Hurray that it is being spread wide what a force this TR evolution is. Got a horrible feeling that Mr Grayling will still try and force this through despite the evidence suggesting that it clearly isn't going to work.

    I hope that Mr Grayling will now be forced to show this risk register that he has somehow managed to get out of showing others.

  5. Well said Dave. Probation heritage is very much rooted in public duty & service to the community. Sadly some managers & Chiefs have lost sight of this.


  6. Off topic but somehow relevent I feel.

    1. You can't make this stuff up!

      "MPs are to be given compulsory ‘honesty training’ by the standards watchdog to teach them how to behave in public life.

      The announcement comes after a number of scandals which have increased the public’s distrust of politicians.

      The training will involve practical courses in ethics similar to those given to lawyers, accountants and bankers.

      Lord Bew, the new chairman of the standards watchdog committee, told the Sunday Times: ‘People are thrust into situations they don’t expect and they are not necessarily equipped to know how to behave.’

      While acknowledging that MPs should already know what it means to be honest, Lord Bew conceded that it may be more complex than that.

      ‘It’s the unexpected and complicated nature of situations you can find yourself in,’ he said.

      ‘You could be starting with an honest intention but find yourself in a situation that is a bit more complicated.’

      The standards watchdog will instil the fundamental principle that MPs should behave with ‘integrity, selflessness and honesty’.

      A poll earlier this year showed that politicians are the least trustworthy professionals in Britain, behind estate agents, bankers and journalists."

  7. Grayling will indeed be eating rats anus in the jungle next December. Like "Fred The Shred" his staff in the MOJ will loath the bully and will leak to give him what for. He's been at the top long enough now to have gained enemies, psychopathy is rife in politics and no one will give a damn when he is knifed in the back. Too much baggage now with the failing Work Programme and now the failing TR Cameron would be a fool to take Grayling into the next election as failing Minister. I wouldn't be surprised if Jeremy Wright jumped ship before it sinks totally because he is young ruthless and ambitious like most of them.

    Also can you imaging what would happen if the banks imploded again; we have a 300 year high in the bond market and that baby is ready to blow. Now that would slow down TR a tad.

  8. From the centre come even more rumours of civil service staff disagreeing with the TR agenda but being overruled from the top....reminiscent of the Berlin bunker in 1945

  9. This is great news! I think contributors have been calling for MoJ staff to do this and hey presto here it is. There can be no argument now....this excellent blog is read by MoJ !! Never look a gift horse and all that...and since there will never be a denial let us give the credit to those in MoJ who share our views and support the cause Well done!

    1. There is also another leaked document today regarding a clandestine cap on EU immigration by the government.
      It appears that even those involved with government policy implementation are becoming sick to the stomach of it all.

  10. Ian Gould @iangould515 December 2013 at 14:09

    My only comment is thank you

  11. Off topic again Jim sorry. But I think its something worth a mentioning when local council are about to cut back on outsourcing as a method of saving money!!!

    1. Birmingham City Council is considering tearing up contracts with an outsourcing giant worth £120 million a year in a bid to stave off austerity cuts, the local authority’s deputy leader has admitted.

      Last week Labour council leader Sir Albert Bore announced the local authority is negotiating a £20 million reduction on the core IT contract with Capita, which costs the city council between £50 million and £60 million a year.

      While other contracts relating to one-off projects, the call centre and other services are also being looked at for cuts.

      Questions were asked when Capita charged the council’s catering firm £7,000 a year for a single computer. And last month it emerged that Service Birmingham had charged the council £1.2 million to set up the new Library Of Birmingham website, with Birmingham based web developers claiming they could have done the same job for a fraction of the cost.

      Capita has also sparked controversy in 2011 when it attempted to export Service Birmingham IT developer jobs to India. The jobs were returned to the city at a cost of £1 million a year to the council.

      The Labour administration has been threatening to cut the costs of the deal since it took over in 2012.

      The City Council is already on course to reduce the number of one-off projects with Capita.

      It has all but ended its business transformation programme under which new council-wide computer systems, offices and a call centre were set up to improve efficiency, while dozens of out of date offices were closed and staff cut, saving an estimated £1 billion over the first ten years

      The Service Birmingham contracts with Capita have come under increasing scrutiny as the council looks to close a £460 million funding gap over the next four years.

      Under the agreements Capita has provided computer systems and IT support, a call centre, and council tax revenue collection among other services.

      The deal was first signed in 2006 and during the first six years the city council paid Capita just short of £1 billion. It has been criticised for being poor value for money to the taxpayer. The deal runs until 2020 and it has been claimed early cancellation would be too costly.

      But Council Deputy Leader Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) said they are now weighing up this option.

      “We have asked officers to work out the best deal we can get on reducing the costs of these contracts, and what the financial benefits are,” he said.

      “We are asking what it would cost us to end the contract early, and then what it would cost to re-establish our own in-house IT department and call centre. We need to work those costs out over the life of the contract and work out the best deal for the taxpayer.”

  12. Happen it would have been wiser for the leaked Risk Register to have been disclosed to Parliament, rather than sticking with a half-baked plan for Probation Privatisation

  13. Come on managers and civil servants of the MOJ, this has got disaster written all over it. Please do the right thing and stop this nonsense.

  14. A message from Pat Waterman, Chair Greater London Branch

    NAPO @ilawrence @tomrendon et al has been asking to see Chris Grayling's (#failinggrayling ’s) risk register for ages so I was glad to read in The Observer this morning that they have seen it. The MOJ's own internal assessment spells out "how the government's plan to allow the private sector and voluntary groups to run its offender management programme is in danger of going off the rails."

    A probation expert, Harry Fletcher @hfletcher10 , is quoted as saying that the government's plans will compromise public protection.

    NAPO has been saying this since these plans were first mooted.

    But still the madness continues.

    This weekend some members of staff of London Probation Trust received letters advising them of their assignment to either the National Probation Service (NPS) or the Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). Others received letters asking them to express a preference for which organisation they wanted to work for in just over three months time.

    Given the lack of information about these organisations and what the future might hold how are any of my members supposed to make a decision?

    To paraphrase Professor Harold Laski, my members are being asked to exercise their judgement in a miasma of distortion. As he also said, trying to do so is to ultimately go astray.

    I do hope that all members of NAPO will refuse to engage with this nonsense and will ,at the very least, register their concerns with their employers by lodging a grievance. Anybody who chooses to express a preference or accept an assignment without comment is, I am afraid to say, colluding in their own oppression.

    The Board and Senior Management of London Probation Trust are waving goodbye to all their staff. I hope that they don't add insult to injury by wishing them all a Happy New Year.

    Your comments as always are welcomed.

    1. Thanks David - you certainly were quick off the mark - I only got it at 16.43! Lol All this networking underlines probation is quite an extended family.



  15. A PLEA ! Thank you to the person of integrity who leaked this information, truly this is a way to save lives. It may sound melodramatic but as experienced professionals supervising offenders we KNOW that lives will be lost when offenders are mismanaged by the inexperienced private sector. The only way to stop this is to rely on the staff who are being forced to push TR through at all costs and against all evidence, to do the decent thing and subvert this. Grayling and the politicians are not listening because we are WARNING them. Please continue to act as you have been and feed the risks to the press. THANK YOU.
    Hardworking PO

  16. I was a PO for nearly 20 years. I have no salary to lose, no pension to compromise, no managers to upset. And, to the MoJ readers of this blog, I am a rarity in that I actually voted conservative during the Thatcher era. But I wouldn't vote Tory now, not if you paid me. This TR slo-mo train wreck is inherently wrong. It is morally wrong. People will die if you do this. I'm serious. Rape, murder, aggravated burglary, domestic violence, child abuse, you name it, it will rise. Tony Blair said, when Iraq was invaded, that history would be his judge. Hmmmm.... Well, Mr Grayling, how would you like to join in the judgment of history? All you have to do is... nothing. Just let this TR obscenity unfold. Victims are not statistics, they are people. And they vote. Like me.

    If there is an ounce of decency in the MoJ leadership (which I am sad to say I doubt) then I look to you to have the courage to do what is right.

    1. People like Grayling do not care, as long as they get paid & have power. There have been many people in probation who have messaged his ego for their own selfish interest. The sadist part is that these people once stood up for decent human values. Now they are signing to the tune of their corporate image. Truly sad times.

      ANARCHIST PO - @AnarchistPO

  17. I wonder if it got top scores for a risk register? Off to a cracking start with at least two 25/25s. Potential for a mimisterial egg meets face situation? - that's got to be another 25.

    However, I think TR has got off to an early start. I drove past Reading nick this evening - the front door was open!

    1. Sadly Reading Gaol was an early casualty of cost cutting and I would imagine will become a visitor centre/hotel or biscuit factory!!

    2. During office hours you can just walk into HMP Dartmoor - you're supposed to ring the bell first, though.

  18. Risk of harm re TR should have been disclosed & logged with parliament. What would happen to PO if didnt log or take action on serious risk!

  19. Some one once said that "mortgages make cowards of us all" and the fear that there is no alternative stops all but the most fearless from fighting.

    Well lets use this small victory as great inspiration, bullies can be beaten and we can beat them. Tell your colleagues in all our offices that the truth is coming out and the rotten core at the heart of this government is being exposed and exposed from within.

  20. David Cameron - stop wasting your time & our money getting your picture taken (didn't you employ your own photographer at some exorbitant sum?) and bring the rogue, psychopathic Grayling & his team into line. You are the 'prime' minister, the number one minister who carries the can for the incompetence and mistakes of your government. Wot!?! No Risk Assessment disclosed until the press got hold of it? Wot!?! 100% risk!?! Wot?!? Not on time or budget or in any format as claimed by Grayling and Wright? Dave, you already suffer from IDS, an expensive gut-wrenching condition that never seems to end. Do you really want a bout of CGI (Chris Grayling's Incompetence) too? It could be terminal if not treated immediately.

    1. Right on the button.
      You've been told by everyone and not just ignored it, but hid your own independent advice and insisted time and time again that there was no risk in your ill thought out plans.
      Now the PRESS and the PUBLIC are aware that what you say is just not true.
      It will take only one unfortunate event to occur to find you wanting and bring an end to few high profile political careers.

  21. More MoJ bollocks.

  22. CONCERNS over the amount of taxpayers’ money wasted at Dorchester Prison have been taken to the top.

    Members of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA) secured talks with MPs at Westminster Hall about the millions of pounds spent on the North Square jail ahead of its announced closure.

    The doors of the prison will finally close tomorrow.

    A total of £23m has been invested in the capital projects in the last 15 years, according to union official Mike Sear.

    This included a new healthcare suite, gate complex including roof, windows and bars, a new gym, a refurbished chapel and reconditioned education block.

    Dorchester is one of four prisons being closed in England to save money.

    The Echo revealed in September that more than £7.3m has been wasted on refurbishing the prison in the last three years.

    Mike Sear, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said: “My continuing concern is the waste of taxpayers’ money in closing the prison.

    “Over the last 10 to 15 years about £23m has been invested in the establishment in capital projects.

    “Far from being an old Victorian edifice the prison is essentially completely refurbished.

    “We met various MPs, mainly from the Labour Party, to highlight our concerns over this and also about the increasing problem of overcrowding in the prison service which has been exacerbated by these closures.