Sunday, 1 December 2013

No Experience Necessary

Many colleagues will be spending this weekend mulling over what on earth to do, now that the allocation and 'sifting' process has started:- 

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Sadly, for many highly experienced officers, it's going to mean departure from the job they love, just as predicted by that MoJ Risk Register that Chris Grayling still refuses to publish. Even if he is incapable of understanding it, his civil servants obviously know that such is the powerful public service ethos and degree of professionalism amongst probation staff, that they will find it impossible to work under this shit system being proposed and will desert the Service in disgust.

It's already happening with the public being put in danger by key staff leaving and increases in sickness rates as colleagues 'fall over'. The MoJ know that service delivery is being affected all over the country and it's just a matter of time before there's either a crisis, or worse, a tragedy that will gain widespread public attention. I'm sure it could be a fruitful avenue of questioning for the Justice Affairs Committee hearing on Tuesday when Chris Grayling is due to give evidence.

I think it's worth re-publishing the following moving comment that eloquently describes the human cost of this crazy and dangerous omnishambes:-

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 regard to personal consequences on a family basis, my daughter is a qualified Probation Officer and it really breaks my heart 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.



For those readers not particularly familiar with the probation service, it might be instructive to see a couple of official MoJ diagrammatic representations of the much-talked about omnishambles:-

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To be honest I think one of the most shocking aspects of this whole sorry sad mess has been the supine role of the so-called independent probation trust boards, apart from a few notable exceptions that is. Virtually all have been willing to just implement all that has been demanded of them by the MoJ, and in most cases without demurring or even uttering a peep of public concern. So, it's particularly good to see at least one board member in Essex taking a stand:-

THE leader of Colchester Council’s Labour group has resigned as vice chairman of Essex Probation over planned reforms.

Tim Young, a boardmember for nearly a decade, is resigning in protest over the Government’s privatisation plan He said: “It breaks my heart to resign from the board of Essex Probation, as it has been part of my life for nearly ten years and I have learned so much about the criminal justice system and the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders from the excellent staff and management who work for the Probation Service in Essex.

“However, the only way I could think of to bring more attention to the Government’s privatisation plans was to resign and campaign with others, including the trade unions involved, to try to prevent or, at least, delay the proposals.”

The Government plans to abolish probation trusts next year.

A smaller national probation service will be responsible for high-risk offenders and public protection cases, while low and medium-risk criminals will become the responsibility of community rehabilitation companies. They will be funded according to their ability to reduce reoffending.


Lets finish this weekend round-up by highlighting the piece in the Guardian on Friday by Sarah Payne, the new director of Noms in Wales and responsible for both probation and prisons in the brave new world being ushered in with the TR omnishambles. She only came into probation in 2010:-

Before working in probation, Payne was chief executive of the YWCA England and Wales, a charity that helped more than 11,000 women and girls a year. This experience gave her a broader perspective on what contribution different organisations can make to the reducing reoffending agenda, she says. "I absolutely loved it, not least because prior to then most of my career had been in men's prisons."
Payne was deputy governor of HMP Pentonville and governor of Bullingdon and Oxford prisons, before becoming the area manager of the 12 prisons in Thames Valley and Hampshire.
As head of a dispersed organisation, she says she learned to be a more enabling and inclusive manager and assembled a team with different skills. "When you have a broader span of experiences you get a better insight into what good looks like. You get bolder in tackling things you really think need tackling."
She began her career at HM Prison Holloway, which was "a bit of a shock to the system for a modern languages graduate". A university trip to a local prison was "a bit of a lightbulb moment", and a strong sense of social justice and public service drove her to join the graduate scheme and pursue a career working with offenders.
"My parents didn't quite understand why the daughter they thought was particularly gifted for modern languages wanted to be in a custodial setting though," she adds.
A perfect illustration, if one were needed, that 'no previous experience necessary' really will be the new probation mantra under omnishambles proposals.

PS - I'm really grateful for a reader pointing this out:-

It is interesting that the article refers to her previous employers as the Young Womens Christian Association as she changed the name during her short stint there to Platform 51. I noticed during the last few weeks that Platform 51 is changing their name again and slashing their services as they have massive debts as a result of previously agreed contracts. Hmmmm!

As reported here on the third sector website:-

The charity, formerly known as YWCA England & Wales, will adopt its new name in November as part of a major restructure

Platform 51, the women’s charity formerly known as YWCA England & Wales, will change its name to the Young Women’s Trust in November.
The move comes less than three year after the charity – which was founded in 1855 and provides support for girls and women through courses, group activities and counselling, and campaigns on their behalf – renamed itself Platform 51.
At the time, the charity said the name YWCA England & Wales "no longer stood for anything" and led to it being confused with YMCA England. The name Platform 51, which referred to the fact that 51 per cent of people are female, was criticised at the time for being confusing.
The most recent name change is part of a major restructure of the charity. Internal documents seen by Third Sector revealed that the charity intends to transfer most of its face-to-face services to The Cyrenians, reduce the size of the organisation and relocate the remaining functions to one office in London. The documents said that the charity would retain YWCA England & Wales as its legal name.

40 comments:

  1. Shame on you Ministry of Injustice for destroying lives and squandering OUR money not YOUR money on an indefensible and dangerous ideology.

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  2. Does anyone know enough (or know someone that does) about employment law to say if this process does/does not allow for a future challenge (could it be collectively?) after our grievances have been dismissed?

    I'm thinking about all the points previously mentioned about not knowing terms and conditions etc.

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  3. An excellent blog reflecting the reality and concerns of many probation staff up and down the country. Trust have failed in their duty of care towards their staff and to resist changes. Time will tell as to whether the decision makers will be held to account for any future SFO's which arise as a result of their inactivity opposition to changes. I for one will never collude with a system that makes profit from rehabilitation. Finally, I leave you with the words of my client - "I told you the Government and private company's are the biggest crooks".
    ANARCHIST PO

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  4. "Finally, I leave you with the words of my client - "I told you the Government and private company's are the biggest crooks".
    ANARCHIST PO"

    Many years ago I shared a cell where the words, "The biggest crooks are in Government" was scratched onto the wall. I dont think I believed it then, but sadly this blog and our current government have woken me up to the truth behind the statement.

    In one way or another I have been involved with the Criminal Justice System for a lot longer than most of you, and I salute the assistance that the Probation Service gave me, and the work that Probation does. I'm proud that I've worked for Probation for 14 years, and saddened that this looks to be my last year of trying to assist others, alongside inspiring colleagues.

    It's my opinion that this Government supports profits before people, welfare for rich, unaccountable private power, theft from workers, greed is good and that "this Government and private company's are the biggest crooks!"

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  5. It is interesting that the article refers to her previous employers as the Young Womens Christian Association as she changed the name during her short stint there to Platform 51. I noticed during the ladt few weeks that Platform 51 is changing their name again and slashing their services as they have massive debts as a result of previouslyagreed cocontracts.Hmmmm!

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    1. The charity, formerly known as YWCA England & Wales, will adopt its new name in November as part of a major restructure

      Platform 51, the women’s charity formerly known as YWCA England & Wales, will change its name to the Young Women’s Trust in November.

      The move comes less than three year after the charity – which was founded in 1855 and provides support for girls and women through courses, group activities and counselling, and campaigns on their behalf – renamed itself Platform 51.

      At the time, the charity said the name YWCA England & Wales "no longer stood for anything" and led to it being confused with YMCA England. The name Platform 51, which referred to the fact that 51 per cent of people are female, was criticised at the time for being confusing.

      The most recent name change is part of a major restructure of the charity. Internal documents seen by Third Sector revealed that the charity intends to transfer most of its face-to-face services to The Cyrenians, reduce the size of the organisation and relocate the remaining functions to one office in London. The documents said that the charity would retain YWCA England & Wales as its legal name.

      Delete
  6. No experience necessary! Why go to university? Why bother with a CQSW? You don't need either, just go on line, have a look around this website and for (I don't know how much) you can access all the information you'll ever need to work with any type of offenders you can think of.

    http://www.communityjusticeadvice.com/

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    1. If you want advice from the professionals, you've come to the right place.

      The team at C.J.A.C is exclusively made up of serving and former qualified and experienced UK criminal Justice professionals. We're very proud of the the pedigree of our associates and many are subject matter experts in their field.

      At C.J.A.C, all our associates are serving or former UK Probation, Police & Prison officers. They have decades of experience in working with the most challenging, and sometimes dangerous, behavour you might encounter. In addition to this, we're proud to count amongst our associates:

      National Offender Management Service Accredited Domestic Abuse Programme Tutors
      National Offender Management Service Accredited Sex Offender Programme Tutors
      Former Specialist High Risk Public Protection Offender Mangement Unit Officers
      Prolific and Priority Offender Management Officers
      Senior Probation Officers who managed Public Protection Teams & Sex Offender Treatment Programmes.

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  7. I simply can't get my head around how this can possibly work. I'm sure I'm not the only PO who has had cases where to let them know they are now considered high risk increases their risk even more. How can transferring them to the NPS be of any help? Conversely, I'm sure I'm not the only PO who works with young men who would do anything to have the 'kudos' of being considered high risk. It's taking me back to Labeling Theory. "I'm supervised by the NPS" = I'm bad and dangerous. Might as well be bad and dangerous then.

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    1. Yup! The whole thing is so dangerous and ill-thought-out and designed by people who know nothing about this line of work.

      Delete
    2. I've heard a rumour that the governments u-turn on on putting ciggies in plain packaging is to afford Grayling some extra writing space when he's developing his ideas.

      Delete
  8. Fascist government is one that represents big corporations rather than the people.

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  9. Update on my Freedom of Information Request - the one in which I asked for a job description for a PO in the new world...sent in on 24/10, just before I expected the 'letter'. On 22/11 I received an email apologizing for the delay, as it should have been completed by 21/11, and asking if I wanted to make an issue of it???? Well yes I do, and I have asked for an explanation as to why I have not had a response.

    Meanwhile back in the real world, I cannot help but think CG and Co are drumming up work/money for their buddies in Serco et al...firstly, the Police are not to use Cautions and seek to prosecute more; custodial sentences for NHS Staff and other Carers deemed to have 'neglected' their patients (probably under 12 months) and now a directive that as of 11/12 (a bit arbitrary) all community sentences are to have a punitive element, that is, Curfew or Community Service - soz, Unpaid Work, no it's now Community Payback...Com'on Mr Grayling grow a conscience and at least try to be honest.

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    1. Nice one 30 years in! How novel - a job description.....

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  10. The following is a comment from Anonymous on 30 November 2013 13:22 : -
    “Tim Young - at last a Board Member somewhere in England and Wales who is prepared to show some principles. Thank you on behalf of all probation staff.”
    Extracts from My comments added to an article about this in the Clacton and Frinton Gazette: -
    “I am surprised he is now making a public statement about objecting to the privatisation which has been probable since January and ongoing since May. I would like to see any earlier public statements from him or any other board member as if they had spoken out sooner maybe the campaign would have gained wider support.

    Meanwhile I see that Tim Young Tweeted "I am absolutely delighted to have been selected as Labour's parliamentary candidate for #Clacton. #tim4clacton" on 30th November, so no doubt Clacton & Frinton folk will be reading much more about him after the local press report that!”

    http://www.clactonandfrintongazette.co.uk/news/north_essex_news/10844800.Tim_Young_resigns_from_probation_role_over_reforms/

    Additionally, - I did seek his support via Twitter some while back and did not get any response – I saw he was photographed in Colchester alongside a Union stall one Saturday when probation staff were alerting the public to the TR omnishambles.

    Andrew Hatton

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    1. Thanks for that. Well, that's politics for you! lol

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  11. My question is, do they really have a mandate to bring in all these drastic changes? As I recall the last election, people were so fed up of all parties that they didn't give any of them an outright victory. Conservatives are therefore only in charge because nick clef decided to align his party with them. Could have so easily been different. I argue that do note rally have a right to do all they are doing, not when the peoe of this country are so anti - them currently. What do you think?

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    1. 'They' don't need a mandate.

      I am only recently coming to understand how British Government works and my knowledge is still sketchy.

      There are conventions about how both Houses of Parliament treat matters if they are in the mandate of the party from whom the prime minister is appointed, but they are conventions and as I understand it a Government in the UK, can do whatever it wishes as long as it abides by the existing laws of the land, or replaces those laws using the established parliamentary process.

      Andrew Hatton

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  12. One thing that puzzles me about the failure to publish the risk register and I think it's important is this:-
    Any company that signs a contract for TR and finds some smelly stuff hitting the fan at a latter date, can just point to the failure to disclose the risk register, claim that risks assocciated with the contract were known by the MoJ at the time the contract was agreed but deliberately hidden from them. That means the company was decieved when signing the contract and therefore the contracts invalid. So they can just walk away without having to pay anything back, the MoJ get the flack for whatevers happened and end up out of pocket. Strange.

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    1. Interesting point, however there is surely a requirement also upon the CRC to exercise its duty of care. So, for a CRC to proceed without seeing the Risk Register would arguably undermine any such defensive argument. In short, the courts might take the view that the CRC, knowing of the existence of the risk register, but not the contents of the risk register data, should have known better than to proceed. Put simply they would be seen as having taken a flying leap in the dark, in the full knowledge that they were doing so.

      It would be similar in some ways to a man buying a used car, knowing there is a service history, but either failing to ask for it, or proceeding to purchase having been told by the vendor that the vendor refused to disclose said history, then trying to sue the vendor for breach of contract when the car turned out to be a crock.
      Caveat emptor, etc.

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  13. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-tyne-25157280

    Might not know this but when taking employment with a privately contracted prison you have to sign a disclaimer so you can't claim as a result of an assult.

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  14. "Due diligence" is the process of investigation and disclosure in business by the parties prior to signing contracts. Inadequate disclosure by parties to investors can be a reason for legal action. Interesting concept when related to Omnishambles and the Risk Register don't you think ? Ignore the staff, deceive them even but do be careful Mr Grayling with the investors .........
    angry PO

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  15. TOP BUSINESSMEN MULL SERCO'S FATEA trio of top businessmen will help the Cabinet Office decide whether Serco, the beleaguered outsourcing company, will be allowed to bid for government contracts again.Ian Tyler, the former chief executive of Balfour Beatty , Ed Smith, a former senior partner at PwC, and Tim Breedon, a former chief executive of Legal & General, have been recruited to an "oversight" panel, which is expected to report in the next few weeks.

    The Sunday Telegraph

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    1. All about business then? Not bringing in anyone to make a moral or ethical assessment?
      Just disgusting!

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    2. Oooooh. I wonder whst they'll saaaaaay.

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    3. EOI letter arrived yesterday. Has to be back by 11th. Allowing for post days doesnt give much time. No idea what preference to put with no job desc or which crc will get contract. so depressed.

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  16. I'm so angry. I love my job and take a lot of pride in being part of the service. I am absolutely disgusted and appalled by Grayling!! I can't believe it's still going ahead. . . I still have hope that it will be pulled. I feel humiliated and undervalued! My concern isn't about my job. . . To be honest I don't know if I want to be part of this. My concern is for those we work with, the implications it will have on them and the public!!! It is so evident that those who are enforcing this rubbish have no clue regarding the complexity and demands of our work!!! Rant over. . .

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  17. Be angry and rage against the way Grayling is treating each and every one of us. We are loyal public servants who regularly work in excess of our hours and the demands of our jobs are huge given the stress of working with dangerous, violent and sex offenders. And what is our reward for this from the NASTY party headed by the posh boys ?

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  18. guess most of us were born wrong side of the tracks, no protection, no cover, nowhere to find consolation or respite from the bullying of ignorant greedy fascists. If you fit in, if you do their bidding, if you swallow the story, they'll look after you. I'd put good money on the odds that Maiden broke the rules, got his wrist slapped but everyone was gagged to protect him because he'd already opened the Trust doors and let TR in. What could he disclose to help reverse this scenario? Grayling broke the moral code regarding expenses, but was only carrying out Thatcher's bidding by making up his 'salary' with expenses claims and as such was rewarded for being dutiful. They're dangerous in every sense. The naiive LibDems must carry a high level of responsibility for the shitstorm we're enduring. I think its time to abandon the scary bollocks that will be the ersatz 'statutory' system in 2014.

    Screw you, Grayling. I'm angry, but I' m not going away. Like an earlier commentator I climbed over the fence to get here. I've seen and survived some tough times. It takes more than a self-important, nouveau riche prick hiding behind his posh mates to knock me back.

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  19. A whisky, I think ...anon at 20.50? Glad to hear your not going away, part of me thinks that is what this Government wants - smooth passage, not in my lifetime!!! Cheers!

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    1. and your good health, 30 years!

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  20. Sad sad times, I agree with the above few comments. It really is absurd that the government can do this to our service, the service users and the public. I can't leave yet, but will as soon as I find an exit strategy. Sunday nights are truly now depressing!!!

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  21. Expression of interest, what a joke?!!! May as well toss a coin :(

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  22. Just a quick point.

    As Trust Board Meetings are open to the public , what stops probation people from going to sit in and hearing what they have to say , especially as the proposed "contract variation" will be about to be served. Whilst I don't advocate direct action against democratic process , we are been shafted and perhaps a "wake up call" to Trust Board meetings might create a little public interest - if you are thinking like I am thinking !!

    I know when my next Trust Board meeting is ......do you???

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  23. Well, I've got a "can't decide which one to put you in" letter, which no doubt reflects how my vast and diverse portfolio of skills is causing problems for decision makers. So now I'm looking forward to some sifting fun. But let's not be too hard on the MoJ - they're only following orders - or on Grayling, who's only implementing what Ken Clarke wanted to do but never got round to and which has been coming, for anyone with eyes to see, since Carter. Best to blame everyone who's voted Tory, LibDem or Labour since Carter then. Pity too about the Trusts not having eyes to see, maintaining their ridiculous little fiefdoms when a bit of rationalisiation could have left them better placed to influence events. "Well it's too late baby, now it's too late", as the song goes.

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  24. Please stay angry and keep posting how you feel. I hate feeling alone in all this. I live on my own and it's hard burdening my friends with this crap. Most of them have little idea what I do all day. I for one need to have the support of my colleagues who feel the same. I'm angry, upset and I feel powerless to stop this dangerous experiment with people's lives.

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  25. Jim those 2 comments above are spam... unless Torque is the Totally Objectionable Rehabilitation Quango Universally Endemic...

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    1. Martin,

      Cheers - offending spam removed.

      Delete
  26. Well, if this is "successful" it will result in cries of "put more officers on the street" - not for probation but for catching repeat delinquents once again. As a wise man once said "You can squeeze a balloon here, then it comes out ... there" ...

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