Friday, 6 December 2013

Panic at Petty France

It would seem that Chris Grayling has finally realised just how serious the situation is becoming with many probation staff leaving, 'falling over' on sick, working to rule, or just so demoralised that service delivery is suffering. The situation was graphically summed up late yesterday with this comment from a reader:-

Some brief facts that may be co-terminus with Grayling's Theory of Evolution (aka TR) in our local office:

1. Sick leave has doubled
2. Morale has plummeted
3. Some staff are so frightened of CRCs that they are effectively bullying managers to allocate them high risk cases because they believe it guarantees them NPS status (not healthy, but hey, who cares anymore?)
4. Some staff are so disillusioned by MoJ/Trust behaviours that they are applying for ANY jobs they think they have a chance of getting
5. Many other staff are so despondent that they are (wholly uncharacteristically) detached from office dynamics and disinterested in colleagues
6. Some staff believe the hype and are distraught that they are not deemed "good enough" for the NPS; nothing seems to ease their angst and they are becoming increasingly depressed
7. I've simply returned to old patterns of behaviour (something my career as a PO seemed to ameliorate) and I just fucking hate everything again.


We know Chris Grayling and the MoJ use this blog in order to help guage the feeling of staff and yesterday he was panicked into writing a letter to try and stem the widespread mood of revolt. We have Andrew to thank for the text of the letter and which is posted on the Napo forum:-

5 December 2013

IMPLEMENTATION of the TRANSFORMING REHABILITATION REFORMS

Given the important stage the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms are now at I wanted to write to you to thank you all for your ongoing professionalism in working closely with colleagues in NOMS and the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme to begin implementation. I know that this could be an unsettling time for some of you, but by looking again at how probation is organised we will be able to build on and extend the good work you already do. Ensuring that statutory rehabilitation is available to those offenders who serve short sentences, and who currently receive no statutory support despite having the highest reoffending rates, will help to bring down reoffending rates and make our communities safer places to live.

The opening up of the market to a wider range of rehabilitation providers will free up frontline professionals, those of you already working in probation, to think innovatively about what works to reduce reoffending. The 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) will work alongside the National Probation Service (NPS) to deliver services that will protect the public and reduce reoffending.


Every part of the Criminal Justice System is under pressure to deliver better services, at less cost. Funding for the supervision of offenders makes up a sizeable proportion of the Department’s budget, and we, like every other part of the system, are faced with the challenge of trying to do better for less. We can either impose further cuts on the structures we have, risking increases in re-offending and leaving short-sentenced offenders without support after release. Or we can reform the system so that it provides more effective rehabilitation at a better value to the taxpayer. We want to do this in a way that is sustainable for the future and I am committed to reinvesting most of the savings we make in order to support supervision for short sentence prisoners. We can only do that if we bring in the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors to work with offenders; it is the reforms in their totality that will bring us closer to the important goal of a year-on-year, incremental reduction in re-offending rates.

I know that many of you will now be wondering in which organisation you will end up working. One of the reasons it is important that Trusts have started the staff assignment process is so that you can begin to have some certainty about your future role. There will be good opportunities in both the CRCs and the NPS to work in new ways – whether this is exploring how best to use mentors to help turn an individual’s life around or focusing on protecting the public from the most dangerous offenders. Both types of organisation will be engaged in existing local partnerships as well as working with new organisations to develop innovative rehabilitation services. Under the new system probation services will be provided differently but the work done in both the CRCs and the NPS will continue to be enormously valued by the Department and the ministerial team. Everyone will be playing an important role in helping offenders and protecting the public. However, I am clear it is important that, despite the changes to the system, we retain the valuable knowledge and expertise of probation professionals. These reforms are about the evolution of the delivery of probation services and the system we are putting in place will build upon your expertise and skills, while giving you more freedom to do what works to drive down reoffending.

We have now filled more than three-quarters of all leadership posts. I am very pleased they have agreed to take on these important roles, leading staff through the transition process into the new structures.

As I mention above the Trusts have begun the assignment process to determine where in the new structure staff will transfer to. If your job function has been identified as only appearing in either the CRCs of the NPS you will be ‘Automatically Assigned’ to the relevant organisation as appropriate. If your job function appears in both the CRCs and NPS then an Expressions of Interest method of assignment is being used. In both situations there will be opportunities to appeal the decisions that are being made, and this process should have now been set out to you in letters from your Trusts.

I understand that some of you will be worried about the impact the implementation process will potentially have on your day job. I would like to assure you that public safety remains our top priority and the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme, working with colleagues in NOMS, will support Trusts with the transition process to minimise the impact on operational delivery.


I also understand that there are some concerns about how cases will be allocated to staff in the new system. Again, we will not compromise operational safety during the move to the new system. I entirely agree that at all times every offender should know who their offender manager is, and this approach is exactly what we will maintain throughout the transition. If there are specific circumstances that make it necessary for cases to remain with the relevant case manager for a longer period to mitigate risk, then that will be the approach we adopt. All of this will be done in consultation with Trust leadership so that a safe handover can be achieved.


It is crucial that the transition to the NPS and CRCs by 1 April is done safely. This is, of course, a first phase in the transition, and is designed to give us the maximum possible time in public ownership to embed the new arrangements after that date and before we then proceed to the award of contracts towards the end of next year. In doing so, we are seeking to maintain as much continuity as possible – in terms of the staff managing the caseload, the buildings that are being used and the readiness of the ICT systems. I want you, in the run-up to this date and during the next phase of transition, to keep on communicating with your managers, the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme and NOMS through the existing channels so that we are aware of the issues that are concerning you and so we can generate real-world solutions.

You will all now be aware that the NNC/SCCOG meeting on 20 November did not endorse the Staff Transfer and Protection Framework. This is very disappointing, particularly because of all the hard work on all sides that had gone into getting agreement on the majority of the package. Unfortunately, the Unions turned down the package for staff transfer and because of this the Department is unable to implement the offer that was made around Voluntary Redundancy. Nevertheless, the deal that exists for staff is still very fair, remains unchanged from 13 November and thus still includes:

No compulsory redundancies before 1 June 2015.

A guarantee of a job in the NPS or CRC if employed by a Trust on 31 March 2014.

Continuity of Service protections for staff as part of the transfer to the new organisations.

A guarantee of pension protection for all staff transferring to the new organisations.

I do understand that these changes can be both personally and professionally challenging but by putting them in place we can create a system that will have a positive impact on our communities by further reducing reoffending rates. I’d like to thank you again for the work that you are currently doing to work with offenders and to prepare for the transfer to the new system.

CHRIS GRAYLING


Meanwhile I notice that Napo Greater London Branch have circulated some helpful suggestions in relation to the 'work to rule':-


Suggestions for Working to Rule:

Inform your manager that you are working to rule. This is national advice, please be mindful that your manager may be a NAPO member and working to rule too. Let them know you are taking part in industrial action. If you do not have enough time to complete all tasks in your contracted hours you may have to escalate this to your manager. For example I would write to my manager stating I have X OASys reviews to complete and training. Therefore I would write asking should I postpone OASys and attend training or complete OASys and cancel training.

  • Your manager will not have all the answers and may need to escalate this to their manager, so there may be a delay in responses. This is an opportunity for you to identify what you can and cannot do during industrial action. For example as above if I had not received a response from my manager I would use my own initiative and write to them to inform them that in the absence of a response I have decided to prioritise public protection and will complete the OASys and cancel training. 
  • Set you alarm, if you are working your hours when you arrive at work before you turn the computer or the kettle on. So if you start at 08:50am set you alarm for 4:50pm. When it goes off leave work. 
  • There will be times when you may have to work over your hours (emergency recall, troubled client, upset staff member, or emergency paperwork has to be processed for breach or recall...the list goes on). It is simple if you work over your time by 2 hours today, record the toil and take it immediately (within the week). 
Some staff that work in offender management state that they try to have a client free day so they can catch up on paperwork, referrals etc. If you incur 2 hours toil Monday make sure you have taken it back by starting work later or finishing earlier before the Friday.

  • Take your lunch breaks. Do not work through lunch breaks (toil will not be honoured for working lunch breaks due to it being a legal requirement to have one). 
  • Take your lunch break and encourage colleagues to do the same, use staff room to catch up with colleagues, if you have not got one, get out of the office try to make it collective. Some members are trying to organise gym classes during lunch, Christmas shopping or simply catching up over lunch. 
  • By taking you lunch break collectively you will feel more empowered and will be able to share ideas of working to rule and future industrial actions (watch this space). 
  • Please note staff that have been working to rule have reported back that they have seen improvements in their work life balance and emotional well being. If anything else is it not worth that.  

34 comments:

  1. Nothing new at all in that letter from Failing Grayling. Meanwhile 3 people have left my office for pastures new in the last week. What is happening to their cases...yep that's right they are being spread out amongst the rest of us with no guarantees of extra staff coming in to back up.

    Surely on another note....there has to be a legal challenge about the 12 month supervision for everyone who receives a prison sentence? A drink driver who serves a six week sentence is then going to be under supervision for 12 months....no matter what their circs. Surely that's disproportional justice?
    This afternoon looking forward to attending an LPA roadshow....during which I'll probably have to sit and listen to our newly appointed NPS deputy Chief Execs tell us what wonderful plans they have for the future. The same self centred individuals who have got their jobs in the brave new world....while the rest of us grunts await our fate. I am so so angry about how shabbily we are being treated.

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    1. Not sure how our chief exec isn't totally embarrassed at having become the figurehead for the CRC in our area. Anyone know what kind of package was offered for these head of CRC posts? I presume they won't be looking at a derogation of their pay and conditions like us plebs (who actually do the meaningful work with offenders as it happens).

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    2. Head of CRC's have been offered a 3 year guarantee of pay and conditions. Some have also been offered/accepted a pay increase.

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  2. 3 staff at our office are leaving, having obtained new jobs. The rest of us will be receiving our letters today. How can Grayling justify any of this is beyond my comprehension.

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    1. Grayling is surrounded by shoe lickers and sycophants, if all you have is 'yes men' praising then his type will never feel there is anything to justify.

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  3. I wonder what the collective amount of toil owed to staff comes to? I'd like to know the £value of all those hours, and illustrate just how much staff actually save Whitehall just by doing their job?
    As for Grayling and his 'wormtounge words'? Well I think he's a becoming aware that even those around him involved in implementing this omnishambles are looking on bewildered. I wonder which one of them will have the self respect and dignity to loose their spanner in the works?

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    1. YES - really do think Grayling is beginning to back pedal - the change is as Harry says dropping the R from revolution - NOW is the time to get after the Tories and LibDems who are frightened of losing at the General Election!

      "Having witnessed the Minister’s evidence, and having regard to other matters, I believe that everything is still to play for.

      Harry Fletcher http://www.napo2.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=368 "

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  4. yup-in answer to question on NAPO forum-that is the Luton lot again

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  5. Presumably the guarantee of a job until June 2015, does not guarantee it will be the same job at the same salary?

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  6. It's at least 18 months too late to start engaging with staff, Chris. Your preferred modus operandi is clearly "doing to" not "doing with", so why have you suddenly lost the courage of your convictions? Is it because you know the Trusts are rapidly draining of the "expertise and skills" that you laud? Gratitude doesn't suit you, quite frankly.

    I am dumbfounded that anyone at the Ministry thought this would be a good idea. Unless it's actually a wind up, to try to "slim down" the workforce even more rapidly.

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  7. Hi Jim

    In the last months I've seen 3 staff leave for pastures new and there are 2 more leaving by the end of the month, ALL because of TR and the stress and depression that has become so readily associated with it.
    Yesterday I spent and hour and half with a member of staff in tears. Certain of being allocated to the CRC she didn't know how to tell her family that this effectively meant a 15 month notice of dismissal. To be honest I found it extremely difficult to offer any glimmer of hope. I've seen this happen in my previous career. Within 6 weeks of the new provider taking ownership they issued staff with notice of a change in the job description. This lead to us having to either 'job match' or go for interview. Those that survived the culling found themselves on less money and less annual leave. Given the necessity for a 20% - 30% reduction in spend by the CRC this practice is, I fear, a forgone inevitability.

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  8. I'm sat at home writing this, due in the office in 15 minutes. I don't feel I can go into work anymore. I was once motivated, enthused and proud of my work. Now I am drained, now I am anxious, now I am sick in a way I have never known. This is the human cost Christopher Stephen Grayling.

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    1. I recognise that - I said I'll go tomorrow - but for me that tomorrow never came but thankfully after 10 months 'on the sick' I got out alive and began to recover 3 years later - without Napo and especially Rita Nicholson, I would probably be dead!

      I had flogged my disabled self for thirty years without recognising I was truly disabled neurologically (dyslexia/dyspraxia) and mentally(addiction)

      Andrew Hatton

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  9. MOST IMPORTANT TODAY - SO FAR

    http://www.napo2.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=373

    Time to register for Napo Forum & see what else is there - maybe - Jim is good - but he is one bod - I hope he stays away from busy traffic and lorries that might blow over!

    http://www.napo2.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=373

    Andrew Hatton

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  10. Interesting that Failing Grayling is now all concerned about risk issues prompted by this wholesale change of cases. What price an extension of that bedding-in period for the CRCs where risky cases don't change hands (already said to be up to July 2014) until rather nearer the election in May 2015, to limit the chances of a very bad news story?

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  11. We have heard that from December 11th all community orders will have to have a punitive element,involving fines,tag or unpaid work.For ourselves working in community payback there could be a large percentage of 40000 cases to be distributed amongst the trusts.

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  12. Seriously. Is he having a laugh? He doesn't mention that his plans for a fragmented future will probably rely on some staff movement but no protection of continuous service means services will find it very hard to a attract staff only to lose any benefits built up. Is that the kind of real world solutions he meant. What a total joker. He has zero regard for front line staff and thinks that he and his equally inexperienced colleagues know best.

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  13. In his letter Grayling displays 'fantastical thinking' and appears to have discovered the HR version of alchemy. Having more cases and less people to do the work is going to 'free up frontline professionals'. Amazing.

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  14. It seems to me that an initial cull of staff will happen in January, prior to March 2014 as 'staff employed by trusts in march 2014' are guaranteed employment. I sent back my EOI letter. I'm going through the motions. I have absolutely no intention of following through. The jobs in either NPS or CRC are poisoned chalices, even more poisonous the higher up the chain of command you go. Grayling wants us to transfer cases safely. Impossible. It's been rendered impossible by low staff morale, staff having left, staff not caring through demoralisation and staff having lost their respect for the leaders (with a few notable exceptions) . I also think it would be dishonest to say that a large body of staff didn't want the whole silly omnishambles to fall on its backside and that cannot be healthy either. So it's doomed in my opinion. Hopelessly and irrevocably flawed. In all conscience I cannot and will not be a part of it. Thanks Christopher grayling for making our country less safe.

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  15. And the omishambles will not be the end of the farce because Serco and their mates will cut further and faster chasing short-term profits for their shareholders. This is the logic of the model they are trapped in, if they do not act this way they die. The private sector is doomed now that capitalism is global. Soon our former clients will be supervised via call centres by low paid offshored workers who will give instructions from their computer screen. There is now way to escape this logic-- well there is REBEL, REBEL.

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  16. How about we all send his letter back to him unopened or with our own letter attached knocking his out of existence?

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  17. Look the simple truth is that we do not want to give the extra unpaid hours any more - it's done it's over. We are loyal public servants and we have been treated appallingly. Enough ! I loathe Chris Grayling, Cameron, Osbourne and Clegg and everything they stand for. They have no regard for public safety or public service. Let's just see how well this gets implemented with a really pissed off workforce.......might just have shot yourself in the foot Mr Grayling......

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  18. I have been with the service for 15 years. It used to be a job that I enjoyed and until "work to rule" I did not appreciate how much extra hours I have done for my employer.

    Now I am very angry and disillusioned. I feel like I will be making a decision that will affect me and my partner's life by rolling a dice and hoping for the best. As far as I'm concerned Mr Failing Grayling is a wolf in sheep's clothing, who in that patronising letter that he sent yesterday tried to give the impression that he valued probation staff and empathised with our worries and concerns. When in reality he doesn't give a flying £$%&.

    He is relying on the goodwill of staff whilst at the same time destroying it. He intends to separate staff into NPS or CRC by 01.04.14 and then cases will not be reallocated until July 2014. Not too sure how he thinks that morale will not get any lower at that time, when staff members are holding cases which are no longer part of their new roles, and to presume that resentment and anger will not rise even higher at that point.

    I for one, will continue to work to rule. Whilst I will maintain contact with my caseload (which is the only part of my job that I can bear at this time) and will continue to put on a smilie Carole Smilie face. I no longer give a damn about targets, or what happens in team meetings.

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  19. After 24 years with Probation, 5 different Services, Areas or Trusts, 8 different roles, PSA, PO and SPO, I learned today that I am to be automatically assigned, against my will, to a CRC. Others with service of less than 12 months are going to the NPS. It is ironic that they call him the 'Justice' Secretary.

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    1. I am not sure that the NPS will be any better than CRC. At the moment CRC's are being made to feel like they are second class. But the way I look at it is that even Serco and G4S with all there dealings and tax avoidance, are not likely to be as bad as this Government. I reckon the key word is "profit" rather than "justice" and I am just appalled at the way that this public service and my colleagues are being treated.

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  20. Get your appeal and grievance in!

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  21. To suggest that Grayling & MOJ use this blog to gauge morale is utterly ridiculous. Whilst I welcome any forum that encourages dialogue to suggest the above is as mad as Graylings plans for TR. Can we stick to facts please and not use untruths just to promote this forum!!!!!!

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    1. My thoughts are not be facts, but I would not be surprised if the MoJ and even Chris Grayling himself, has not used this blog.

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    2. The aren't many facts available. THAT's the problem!!

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    3. Why's it so fanciful to believe that at least someone at NOMS reads this blog? I mean, Grayling probably doesn't, if only because he's too busy filling in expenses forms, but there will be someone in the Media or Communications department at the Ministry of Justice whose job is to monitor things like this *waves cheerily at that person*. And why wouldn't they report back, at least in brief, about some of the things that are being posted here?

      Obviously the way the MoJ acts indicates an incredible level of ignorance - but let's not assume that they actually are ignorant; perhaps they just don't care. It gives me some measure of satisfaction to know that they will care, desperately and too late, when the shit hits the fan in 2014.

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    4. Anon at 23:44 - Yes, sorry - utterly ridiculous!

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    5. It was the context in which this statement was made that leads the reader to think this blog is indeed read by MOJ staff. The words 'We know' is a statement of fact. I would suggest that this is re-phrased. Considering the amount of blogs, forums etc on the internet it is actualy more likely that the MOJ dont read them and concentrate on official forumsm

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  22. As a PO whose been asked to express an interest between a choice that consists of a rock and a hard place, I especially hate they way it is causing resentments between colleagues as in the above comment. We (dedicated and hard working staff) are all being treated appallingly whether we have been doing the job for 1,5,10 or even 25 years. No one signed up for this shambles.

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