Tuesday, 17 December 2013

News, Advice and Humble Pie

I'll kick this off with the astounding news from both HM Chief Inspector's of Prisons and Probation that prisons are largely failing in rehabilitating offenders. For some reason I cannot find the actual report online, so we have to rely on news reports, such as this from the BBC:-

Efforts to stop prisoners reoffending are "not working" and should be the subject of a major policy review, two senior inspectors have said.
A joint report by the chief inspectors of prisons and probation said the lack of progress on offender management in England and Wales was "concerning". It said its findings from 21 prisons cast doubt on the Prison Service's ability to deliver required standards.
The inspectors recommended a fundamental review by the chief executive of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), which commissions and provides services for the Ministry of Justice. Chief Inspector of Probation Liz Calderbank and Chief Inspector of Prisons Nick Hardwick said they had reached the reluctant conclusion that offender management in prisons was failing.
"The majority of prison staff do not understand it and the community-based offender managers, who largely do, have neither the involvement in the process or the internal knowledge of the institutions to make it work," they said.
"It is more complex than many prisoners need and more costly to run than most prisons can afford."
Offender management involves the assessment, planning and implementation of work with offenders in the community or in custody to address the likelihood of them reoffending and the risk of harm they pose to the public. Community-based offender managers and staff in prison offender management units have joint responsibility for work with prisoners to address the attitudes, behaviour and lifestyle behind their offending.
The Prison Service is required to make changes under the government's Transforming Rehabilitation strategy, which includes an extension of "through the gate" help where most offenders should be supported by one service provider as they move from prison to the outside world. But the inspectors said they doubted whether the Prison Service could meet these and other NOMS expectations.
"We therefore believe that the current position is no longer sustainable and should be subject to fundamental review," they said
The report, which covers the period from April 2012 to March 2013, is the third of its kind. The inspectors said they were "disappointed" that recommendations published in the previous report in July 2012 had resulted in "little progress".
The new report said "outcomes for prisoners" in terms of rehabilitation and resettlement were no better than one year ago.
As well as calling for the major review, the report made recommendations for immediate action to improve the situation "until more far-reaching changes can be made". It noted that offender supervisors in prisons lacked "guidance and supervision about what their role should entail", and called on NOMS to produce a "practice guide" for them.
It said offender management was "particularly poor" at two prisons accommodating foreign prisoners, and said NOMS should ensure foreign nationals were managed to "address their risk of harm and likelihood of reoffending". The report also suggested NOMS should work with prisons and offender management services on improvements - such as all prisoners having access to an "adequate range of programmes to address their offending behaviour".
Pat Waterman, Chair of Greater London Branch of Napo, has burst into florrid print once more, but readers of a nervous disposition should note that I have taken the liberty of reducing the colour and font sizes a little, but I hope it still conveys the author's emphasis:-
Is Everybody Happy? 

In her blog this week, whilst acknowledging that some staff will be taking out a grievance, Heather Munro writes that she has met others who say “they just want this part of the process to be over”. 

I do hope that none of the members of Greater London Branch are saying that. 

If you are then I say be careful what you wish for. 

The national negotiations broke down because the trade unions were unable to secure adequate protection for their members. But, rather than attempt to continue the negotiations, the MOJ told trusts to go ahead anyway and start splitting and sifting their staff. 
LPT have done exactly what they were told to do and sent you all letters which either advise you of your assignment in the proposed new structure or invite you to express a preference. 

You will all be aware that the advice of your trade union is to register a grievance. However, despite comprehensive advice from your national officers and officials, and the example of the grievance already lodged by your national chair, Tom Rendon, I know that many of you are finding this a daunting and confusing task. So much so that I fear that some of you are feeling stymied into inaction. 

So here is my advice. 
  • Don’t feel that you have to submit each and every concern as outlined in the national guidance. Your grievance could consist of a single question. Don’t be put off. This is not a complex procedure.
  • It is important that you personalise your grievance. Make it about what concerns you. It is important that you use your own words. Do not just cut and paste the suggestions contained in the national guidance. If you do then there is a danger that LPT will chose to regard this as a collective grievance.
  • It is important that you make the grievance about the Staff Transfer Process that LPT (your employers) have decided to implement. Actual assignments have been determined by the MOJ but your grievance is against the process of transfer.  
  • Refrain from using this as an opportunity to rail against the government’s TR plans as a whole.  If you do then your grievance could  be dismissed as being outside of the scope of the policy.
  • The basis of your grievance is lack of any clarity about the future. It is still not certain what the NPS or CRC will actually do; what your jobs will be; where you will be doing them; what will be your terms and conditions and, for those who are appointed or assigned to the CRC, who you will be working for. 
  • You should frame your grievance in such a way as to indicate what outcome you are looking for or how resolution could be achieved. Try and be specific about the information you require to enable you to either make an informed choice or accept an assignment.
  • So use the national guidance but use it wisely. Do not feel that you have to put everything in and try to put your grievance in your own words.
  • I suggest that you closely follow the national guidance (suitably amended) with regard to the opening paragraph of your grievance and with regard to the two concluding paragraphs which are designed to protect your legal rights.

I am aware that some members are feeling that if they are invited to express a preference, and do not  do so, they will be disadvantaged and treated less fairly. 
Just remember that even Heather Munro said this process was not fair but still she is implementing it. 

Now that’s something to be aggrieved about. 

Pat Waterman
Finally, I'm grateful to a reader for bringing the following nugget of sweet news to my attention concerning my favourite blogger, Sir Stephen Bubb:-
Tory MP forces Bubb to backtrack over politicians "hate" charities claims
Acevo chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb was forced to eat his words from a recent blog about right-wing politicians that "hate" campaigning charities after Conservative MP Robert Halfon described it as offensive and outrageous.

Sir Stephen wrote the blog shortly after The Daily Telegraph published an article in the summer which criticised various international aid charities for paying their chief executives more than £100,000 while their income was declining.

He wrote that many MPs on the Right "hated charities who campaign and particularly dislike international charities that have been so effective at raising the concerns of the world's poor".

Halfon seized his opportunity to publicly harangue Sir Stephen over the blog at a meeting of the Public Administration Select Committee this morning, where the Acevo chief was giving evidence on the subject of charity executive pay.

He said he considered himself  to be "on the Right" and listed a number of international causes that he has personally been involved with, before stating that he found Sir Stephen's remarks "quite offensive" and "stereotypical".

He then went on: "It's the equivalent of me saying that you, Sir Stephen, are a quangocrat aristocrat that lives off the taxpayer and leeches off the charitable sector and has his birthday parties at the expense of the taxpayer and the charity sector - but I wouldn't say that because I don't believe in stereotyping.

"Wouldn't you agree that your comments were wrong and outrageous?"

In response, Sir Stephen said that Halfon had already raised this with him privately and that he agreed his comments were ill-advised. "That was stereotyping and a generalisation which I regret," he said.


  1. Thanks Jim for the post.

    My Grievance has now been sent to management/HR, in response to my letter, and I good now that it has been done because as Heather Munro said this process is not fair.

    Just been trying to get on top of my work before I break up on Friday, and keep hoping that something good might come out of the ACAS meeting yesterday.

  2. This will get you to the full prison and probatio report 2012/2013


    1. This is what sadiq khan had to say about the reports findings:-

      Sadiq Khan MP, Labour's Shadow Justice Secretary, said the report depicts "a shocking picture" of how bad things have got in the criminal justice system over the past three years.He said: "David Cameron came to office in 2010 promising a rehabilitation revolution yet today this is in tatters, with the Inspectors confirming this a failure".“The government’s plans to recklessly privatise probation have been shredded", he said. "It’s time that Chris Grayling broke the habit of a lifetime, listened to the experts, and abandoned his dangerous and half-baked probation privatisation before he puts the public’s safety at risk".

  3. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-25419060

    1. Allegations a woman who suffered a miscarriage in prison was forced to clean up after herself are to be investigated by the government, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said.

      Nadine Wright, 37, lost her baby at the privately managed Peterborough Prison.

      Leicester Crown Court heard she was left to clean up after herself while the foetus remained in her cell.

      Mr Grayling told the House of Commons that if the claim was true it was "wholly unacceptable".

      The court was also told appropriate healthcare was not provided to Ms Wright, of Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire, for a further three days.

      Shadow justice minister Jenny Chapman raised the issue in parliament.

      She said: "You will be aware that, last week in court, it was reported that a woman at a Sodexo-run prison miscarried, the first night in her cell.

      "She informed healthcare workers, she was not given any assistance, she was made to clean up on her own. She received no assistance for three days, no pain relief."

      Mr Grayling said the Department of Justice would be seeking explanations from private firm Sodexo Justice Services, which manages the prison.

      He told the Commons: "Let's be absolutely clear - that if what has been described is true, it is and would be wholly unacceptable.

      "My team will clearly be following this up with Sodexo.

      "Sodexo themselves will want to address this issue because nobody would seek to defend it."

  4. Would that be THE Peterborough prison that Failing likes to mention often? How truly awful for that woman.

  5. Does anyone remember SWIP in prisons? I don't mean a variation on SWAT: those dressed to kill in quasi-military attire, if I remember correctly it was an initiative about social work in prison, performed by prison officers. Anyway, it was a failure. Then we had Sentence Management – and that was a failure and the latest has been Offender Management – also a failure in prisons. Probation and prisons have always been silos. Prisons, in general, have always had a dog in a manger attitude to outsiders with a rehabilitative attitude. I am not sure how you get a rehabilitative mindset into the mainstream when we have governments that still insist on emphasising the punitive. This thinking, unfortunately trickles down.

    1. It's ok, though, because what the public sector has failed to do in nearly a decade (in large part because of a lack of resources and sky-high caseloads) will, once handed over to the dynamic and innovative private sector, with all their relevant experience, be up and running by lunchtime on 1st April 2014.

    2. Wow - Netnipper - yes - SWIP - Shared Working In Prisons between prison and probation officers - Jepson and Elliot - bit of Eighties nostalgia. You're right about the rest.

    3. SWIP in prisons was in action in 1992-1994 when I was in Acklington HMP, the officer on my wing was known as Mr Probation!

    4. According to this SWIP started in 1977.


      I remember being involved in exchanges with prison officers from Liverpool gaol in the late 1970s and similarly with Chelmsford goal in 1980s when I declined to do the prison exchange because I had done it at least once before already, but had a prison officer on attachment for about a week. Prison Officers were always amazed at the scope of probation work and especially at how they were received in the homes of probation clients' families and surprised, that for many family life had strong similarities with their own or what they considered 'ordinary' family life.

      Such shared working was the basis of the neighbourhood Borstal Schemes, I was part of the one at Hindley for only 18 months when I was pired with two separate prison officers who were 'house' officers in the two houses where my inside clients resided.

      Prison Officers, who were sometimes interested were never resourced or trained sufficiently for their 'social work' to be more than a side interest when other work, did not take priority.

      Andrew Hatton

  6. To be blunt, prisons have never done rehabilitation in any meaningful way. They just maintain the pretence. There are pockets of good practice but, in the main, it is not on anyone's agenda.

  7. On receipt of the grievance letters our area is asking for more time to deal with them. The cheek of it!

  8. I wonder which outsouce company is responsible for the IT systems and inputting- maybe a word in smiley sonias ear would be of some help? Just a thought.


    1. The spending watchdog has launched an attack on the government’s strategy to confiscate criminals’ assets, calling its implementation “incoherent”.
      The National Audit Office’s (NAO) report to parliament finds that decision makers across the criminal justice system are often not prioritising policy, with out-of-date ICT systems, data errors and poor joint working hampering the effectiveness of enforcement.

      The NAO said that, based on the annual amount of fraud perpetrated by criminals in England and Wales, offenders keep on average £99.65 out of every £100 generated by the criminal economy.

      “The use of confiscation orders to deny criminals the proceeds of their crimes is not proving to be value for money”, said Amyas Morse, head of the NAO.

      In 2012-13 there were only 6,400 confiscation orders, out of a possible 673,000 offenders convicted of a crime.

      “The government has not specified a target but only about 26p in every £100 of criminal proceeds was actually confiscated in 2012-13”, said Morse.

      The watchdog found that there is insufficient awareness of the proceeds of crime and its potential impact.

      Forty-five hours a week are taken by HM Courts and Tribunals Service to simply enter information manually into multiple systems, says NAO, with numerous data errors present, especially in the inputting of information after court hearings.

      The lack of data and the absence of an agreed success criteria also makes it impossible to make meaningful cost-benefit assessments of the enforcement of different orders.

      NAO says that the main sanctions to criminals “do not work”, with only 2 per cent of offenders paying in full once the threat of a further prison sentence was imposed.

      “The fundamental problem is a lack of strategic direction and agreement on what level of confiscation would constitute success”, said Morse.

      “This is compounded by poor information, lack of knowledge, outdated IT systems, data errors and ineffective sanctions”.

      Morse said there is “a sharp need for a coherent and joined-up cross-government strategy” because current implementation is not “a credible deterrent to crime”.

      Sadiq Khan MP, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: “The law-abiding public will rightly be shocked that government incompetence is seeing criminals getting away with not paying the full price for their crimes.

      “The government needs to act swiftly, and order a root-and-branch review across key departments and agencies involved", he said. "Unless they get a grip, criminals will continue to live off the financial fruits of their illegal actions".

  9. Told today 791 sent EOI letters back wanting to be placed in NPS and 63 CRC. No surprise there as the feeling seems to be better the devil you know than the devil you dont. Will find out xmas eve after sifting.

    1. Not that surprising I suppose, even though there's no job description for a PO's job at NPS.

  10. From the centre.....April 2014 is about to become July 2014....and then some...a 'theoretical split' now being talked about along with whispers about a new face at Justice.....watch this space and see the tide slowly beginning to turn

    1. Grayling will fall. People like him always do.

    2. Do you have information? Going to do a grievance this week however feel really crappy for doing it. Enjoy my job, the team i work for and this is what it has come too. Government completely ignoring reason and managers being complicit in this farce.

    3. The tide turning sounds good to me.

    4. Easy to say managers being complicit, define 'managers', define 'complicit'...