An attempt to help explain the mysteries and magic that are part and parcel of 'probation'.
Happy Xmas and many thanks to you Jim. This blog has kept me sane in an insane time, given me a place to vent and made me feel not so alone. I can't imagine the number of hours you put into it, it's very much appreciated. Enjoy your whisky and your time off x
Thanks to you Jim I'm beginning to enjoy the struggle. For many years I have understood how corrupt the top of society is, the way the 1% have distorted all that was good in the post war years. Their greed and lust for power has created a "Crony Capitalism" that is failing the vulnerable and now the middle class. But like most people I did nowt about it; well that was until they came after my job and attacked my family. At first I kept my head down when something needed doing and looked to survive by not openly rocking the boat. Most in my office put their family and their survival first and that is understandable. How can we take on senior management and the wider managerialist culture when all were saying:"There Is NO Alternative" (TINA).Than when I thought the end was nigh I wrote and visited my MP in his surgery and at parliament. Then I went on strike with others in my office and felt that something was happening; some still kept their heads down but not as many as before. I think it is being part of the struggle, of seeing the bigger picture and realising that the same structural forces that are at play with those we work with are impacting on my life,on my family.I'm politically active for the first time in my life, I'm a member of a new anti capitalist political party, Left Unity. I'm a member of the new People's Assembly, I have a place on my local health Commissioning Group because I'm also active in "38 Degrees" and I'm a member of my town's Anti Cuts Forum. Whatever happens to the Probation Service I'm in the fight for the long run and I'm fighting to the end. Thanks Mr Grayling for giving me back my backbone.Merry Xmas Jim and Chris :)
I think a fair few of us have joined you in becoming more politicised and that may be a good thing for us and bad news for our bosses haha interesting times ahead methinks..
i hope Mr Grayling gets much coal in his stocking tomorrow. He and the coalition have been very naughty this year. For you Jim much praise and thanks
Grayling may not even get coal in his stocking. Thanks for your hard work this year Jim, and sorry but I just can't stop being a news hound.Merry x mas! http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/chris-grayling-branded-a-scrooge-for-banning-festive-parcels-for-prisoners-9023211.html
Prisoners have been banned from receiving Christmas presents from their family and friends under new rules condemned as “mean and petty” by campaigners.The new Ministry of Justice regulations, which came into force last month, bar prisoners from receiving all parcels and packages unless there are exceptional circumstances.The rules – part of the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme – include basic items such as stationery, books and additional clothing.Although prisoners are allowed to receive a “one-off” parcel after they have been convicted, Christmas presents are not distinguished from parcels and are banned. Prisoners must use their own wages to buy supplies and luxuries.The Prison Reform Trust said it had already been contacted by several women prisoners who are struggling to get hold of clean underwear and other basic items.Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Children are no longer permitted to send home-made calendars or gifts to dad in prison this Christmas.”Placing responsibility for the tougher rules at the door of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, she added that it was “gratuitously vindictive of Mr Grayling to stop children sending a home-made Christmas present to dad in prison”.Even right-of-centre commentators took issue with the ban last night, with Alex Massie publishing a blog on The Spectator website accusing Mr Grayling of “playing Scrooge”. “Almost no one cares about prisoners, of course, so the Justice Secretary can do as he likes knowing that the press will never, ever, cause a fuss about petty and mean-spirited nastiness of this sort,” he wrote.
Grayling could do with being visited by some mean spirits & have it made clear to him what an utter jerk he is. If we work on the assimption that the Ghost of Xmas past = his expenses scandal and The Ghost of Xmas present = the TR Omnishambles etc., then the Ghost of Xmas future is likely to be a terrifying vision of despair and dismay, where Grayling has blood on his hands and nowhere to hide from the consequences of his hubris.Lets hope, if all else fails, that Grayling has to publicly squeal like a pig when his time comes. The Bully will eventually be bullied.merry xmas to all - and once again, Chapeau to Jim !!!
Grayling is just a thug in a suit. He is ignorant, thoughtless and ultimately foolish, doing massive harm that will come back and bite him on his political a***. His arrogance will be his undoing. My only fear is for those harmed by his malice.
Thank you Jim for keeping us updated and allowing us to share our comments thoughts on this wonderful blog. I would vote for you to be head of probation and lead us from darkness into light. Wish you all the very best. Merry Christmas xANARCHIST PO
I'm not keen on Xmas; so I was out with my son driving in the car. Near Wolverhampton there is a complex of three prisons: HMP Brindsford, HMP Featherstone and the G4S gaol Oakwood; as I neared the complex an ambulance came racing past with the "blues and twos" flashing. It was 4.30pm the light was almost gone and all I had ahead of me was the Queen's speech so I decided to follow the ambulance to see what prison it went to. I had made a bet in my head that it would be Oakwood the private prison, given all the problems they have had recently, and you know what it was. God knows what the issue was and I really hope the person involved will be okay but it was odds on it would be the private prison. The problem for the future is that with "Fair and Sustainable" and now Benchmarking the staffing levels in the HMP prisons is nearly as bad as the private ones and when all the old staff have left the skill levels will down there too. God knows what the future holds now that profit is put before jobs and lives. Alas not such a merry Christmas for some tonight
I was talking to a civil servant fron NOMS recently. He commented on the developing culture and mentioned 'under Fair and Sustainable, which is neither, this initiative will lose momentum'. My computer screen got a caffeine shower it wasn't expecting.
Most likely something nasty has already happened to Grayling, probably at boarding school. Would explain his lack of empathy and coldness toward others. Unfortunately this would also make him dangerous, which is evident to us. Have a good break Jim and everyone. At least there is an abundance of intelligence, humanity and integrity among the workers within Probation, what's left of it. That's what matters. Take care x x
Controversial public sector outsourcing firms such as Serco and G4S face being stripped of their lucrative Government contracts if Labour wins next general election.Senior party sources told The Independent that they would have a “long, hard look” at the contracts, which are worth more than£6bn.At the same time shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan said he would “rip up” any contracts he is asked to sign as part of coalition plans to outsource the probation service.He added that even those contracts that had got under way by 2015 would be “forensically examined” by an incoming Labour government in an attempt to find ways to “unpick” them. Ironically it was under Labour that companies such as Serco, G4S and Capita dramatically grew in size – benefiting from generous outsourcing contracts across the public sector. But sources close to Ed Miliband said he was increasingly concerned that they were not providing “better competition” or “driving down” prices as had been intended at the time.“This is not ideological but we intend to have a long, hard look at these contracts,” the source said. “Our concern is that what we have in this country now is an oligopoly of a few companies that are not competing effectively and are providing poor value for money for the taxpayer.”A recent government investigation into contracts held by Serco and G4S found evidence of “inconsistent management” in 22 out of the 28 deals across eight government departments and agencies. One of the first areas to be reviewed by Labour will be the justice system in the wake of the investigation into fraudulent over-charging by Serco and G4S in criminal tagging contracts.Mr Khan is opposed to the Government’s plans to outsource the probation service – even after Serco and G4S ruled themselves out of the bidding. They will still be able to play a “supporting role” to other bidders.The new private contracts are due to start at the end of 2014, but Mr Khan said that if there are delays, they could become caught up in the pre-general election purdah period during which contracts could not be signed.“I warn those involved in bidding that if Labour wins the next election, and these contracts land on my desk needing my signature, I will not put pen to paper. I’ll rip them up.”Mr Khan added that while he could not commit to reversing the changes if they had been signed – because of the prohibitive cost of extracting the government from them – he would do everything he could to end them.“I say to companies that are thinking of getting involved – you’re on notice. I’ll be painstakingly forensic in scrutinising any contracts I inherit to find the slightest opportunity to walk away from them without lumbering the taxpayer with a huge bill. Don’t think this is a done deal just because this Government is obsessed with privatising probation.”
Sadiq Khan you are a hero !!
So......if you were a vampiric company looking to drain the lifeblood from the public probation service would you invest money in a project that is not going to receive the backing of a future Labour led government....getting closer and closer to jenga with each passing day.....
If you are working for a potential bidder i would ask serious questions about how sustainable this would be. Also the risk to yourself, the staff and the people you work with.
ask why Ernst and Young are involved...keep on this please
Ex-Ernst & Young Employee Gets Probation In Tax-Shelter CaseBy Chad Bray Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- A former Ernst & Young employee was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty in 2007 to a criminal charge in a scheme to promote fraudulent tax shelters. At a hearing Monday, U.S. District Judge Sidney H. Stein in Manhattan sentenced Belle Six, who briefly worked in Ernst & Young's so-called Value Ideas Produce Extraordinary Results, or Viper, group, to two years probation. "This crime took place 12 years ago," said John Moscow, her lawyer. "Ms. Six is a different age, a different level of maturity, a different level of sophistication." Six, 36 years old, of Dallas, pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit tax fraud in June 2007 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. She testified at the trial of four former Ernst & Young partners who were convicted in May 2009 in an alleged scheme to promote fraudulent tax shelters that allegedly generated $2 billion in improper tax losses. The scheme allegedly ran between 1998 and 2006. The former partners, who were all members of the Viper group, are appealing their convictions. Viper has since been disbanded. Prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan had alleged that Six, while at Ernst & Young and after leaving the company, participated in a scheme to defraud the Internal Revenue Service through the implementation of fraudulent tax shelters. Six, who wasn't a tax expert, joined the Viper group in 1998 to help develop and coordinate its sales efforts, prosecutors said. She left the firm in mid-1999 and later worked with two other entities that were involved with Ernst & Young in developing, marketing and implementing tax shelters, prosecutors said. She did so through 2004. Last week, Charles Bolton, a former Memphis, Tenn., investment adviser, was sentenced to 15 months in prison after pleading guilty in January 2009 to conspiracy in the matter. In March, Peter Cinquegrani, a former Arnold & Porter LLP lawyer, was sentenced to three years probation after cooperating with prosecutors in the matter. Cinquegrani, who testified at trial against the four former Ernst & Young partners, pleaded guilty in September 2008 to conspiracy. In July 2003, Ernst & Young agreed to pay $15 million to settle an IRS examination into aggressive tax shelters. The pact covered the period from January 1995 to June 30, 2003. -By Chad Bray, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-227-2017; firstname.lastname@example.org
The relationship between Ernst and Young and A4e is one that if E and Y are advising government then A4e should not be allowed to bid. A big question is, has that relationship been declared?
Off topic but cant resist when CG gets upset! Doesn't really suit his vision of a privatised world either. What will the LibDems do? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2530182/Grayling-fury-EU-bid-bring-human-rights-Justice-Secretary-says-plan-absurd-power-grab.html
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today condemns Brussels over an ‘absurd’ proposal to bring dozens of new European human rights into British law.If introduced, it is feared they could lead to a deluge of claims against businesses and the Government.The rights are contained in the European Union’s controversial Charter of Fundamental Rights. The UK opted out of the charter in 1998, but now the European Comission has suggested it could be imposed on all member states.Mr Grayling said the suggestion showed Eurocrats were aiming to create a European justice system that overrides domestic courts. ‘This country never wanted a charter of fundamental rights and the idea we would sign up to changes that meant it took over our domestic laws is absurd,’ the Justice Secretary said.‘The European Commission should stop trying to create a European justice system, and should let member states get on with solving the real challenges we all face.’ His intervention marks a significant stepping up in Tory efforts to demonstrate how they want a looser, more trade-based relationship with the EU ahead of the European elections in May.Mr Grayling’s anger has been prompted by a document produced by the European Commission suggesting that the charter should apply in all member states.The blueprint, which contains 54 provisions – including the right to strike and the right to collective bargaining – was attached to the EU’s controversial Lisbon Treaty.
Welfare to work firm A4e is a key player in the government's bid to get people who are long-term unemployed back to work - but BBC Newsnight has evidence the company knew about widespread potential fraud.What is A4e?The name stands for Action for Employment and the company's core business is helping people find work. It works with government, private firms, the public sector and others in Europe, Asia and Australia. Set up in Sheffield in 1991 to help retrain redundant steel workers, it expanded across the UK - where it has 200 offices and employs more than 3,500 people - and abroad. It has been working with UK governments since 1997.What happened?The firm is at the centre of two investigations - one a police probe into alleged fraud into its offices in Slough, Berkshire, the other involving a team of auditors from the Department for Work and Pensions. Four former members of staff were arrested on suspicion of fraud in February and bailed. It is understood the police probe does not relate to the company's work on the government's Work Programme. But the DWP launched its own investigation in March, following an allegation of attempted fraud in connection with its Mandatory Work Activity scheme.Why has it hit the headlines?Because the firm handles millions of pounds worth of government contracts for its welfare-to-work schemes - a key part of its policy to overhaul the benefits system. It is involved in the government's Work Programme - which sees contractors paid to help find work for the long-term unemployed. And its former chairman, Emma Harrison, was appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to be the government's "family champion" in 2010. She quit that role, and the chairmanship, in February saying she did not want the "media focus on me to be any distraction for A4e".What does A4e say?A4e says the alleged fraud being investigated by the police dated back to 2010 and had been uncovered by its own investigation. A4e chief executive Andrew Dutton said the company had "zero tolerance" towards fraud and was committed to using taxpayers' money to deliver the best public services. He said: "I will not sit by and let these accusations discredit the hard work that our staff do to support thousands of people into work."What does the government say?The Department for Work and Pensions says it is taking the matter very seriously and, if any evidence of "systemic fraud" is uncovered, it will terminate its commercial relationship with the firm.
Probation union leader Ian Lawrence on govt plans to privatise … http://probationvoice.blogspot.com/2013/12/probation-union-leader-on-govt-plans-to.html?spref=tw
I note that the reporter, at one point, talks about the risk categories and how the high risk will be managed by the most experienced probation officers etc. This is what the public have been led to believe. Am I alone in thinking that this cannot possibly be the case, as the split of staff was based solely on a snap shot of people's caseload on some random date in November. As we all know, caseloads are under almost constant flux and snapshots mean little. The government would not have planned to give the companies the least experienced staff in reality would they.. That would make it far too easy for them to fail and/or be criticised. The randomness of the choosing criteria leads me to believe that the ultimate aim of this government is to privatise the whole of probation, once the companies have 'cut their teeth' with the low and medium risk. It makes no financial sense running two probation organisations after all. That's my take on it.
I agree. It is only a question of time before all of probation is privatised
I have had the following concerns that NPS will be deliberately oversubscribed & lead to compulsory redundancies eventually, and then as you say eventual privatisation. Some very experienced colleagues who have bags of experience of working with high risk will not be in NPS, because they did not have the case load criteria on the 11/11. For example the tutor, who did not have a caseload at the time, but whose pupil was automatically allocated.
Good ole Europe. I think we should all be fighting to have these new laws. The British people have far fewer rights than they might imagine and this would help all of us.
Graylings objections to the new EU rules are that they call for fair and good working conditions for all, fair reward, and the right to withdraw your labour in protest if these conditions are not afforded to you.All the things that you wont get in a world of privatisation. I'm interested to see what response the LibDems have.
Not much news to find at the moment, but this article I missed on boxing day concludes with an interesting concern that I hadent really thought about before. http://m.fenlandcitizen.co.uk/news/what-did-the-probationers-do-for-us-or-from-a-parody-to-a-paradox-1-5766855
Do you remember the film ‘The Life of Brian’ and the line “What did the Romans do for us!?” Well, they may not have given us the roads, the bridges and the aqueducts, and we’re not living in Jerusalem, but the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Probation Trust Payback Teams have contributed much to improve the lot of all of us living in Cambridgeshire – and all for free.It’s now more than 4 years since they first came to Newton in the Isle during which time their contribution has ranged from clearing snow on footpaths to improving the drainage on the playing field (yes – we have found a pipe). Hedges have been cut, paths improved, the roundabout repaired, trees pruned and much debris and scrub cleared from the old school site; the list is not exhaustive. Beneficiaries include the church, the bowls club, the village hall, the parish council, the Newton fete and, ultimately, all the residents of Newton.The Newton playing field project benefitted to the tune of £1900, the value of their work in-kind contribution when costed, and enabled an equivalent sum to be secured in grant funding for play equipment.Throughout, there has never been a cross word, dissent or failure to deliver the goods. Their willingness to help is a tribute to the skill and dedication of the line managers and supervisors whose job it is to ensure wrongdoers pay their debt by giving something back to society: And what about the boys (and some girls) themselves? You may consider some to be a lost cause but it is not for us to judge. The majority appreciate a challenge and work cheerfully to deliver a result.Do you remember the film ‘The Life of Brian’ and the line “What did the Romans do for us!?” Well, they may not have given us the roads, the bridges and the aqueducts, and we’re not living in Jerusalem, but the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Probation Trust Payback Teams have contributed much to improve the lot of all of us living in Cambridgeshire – and all for free.It’s now more than 4 years since they first came to Newton in the Isle during which time their contribution has ranged from clearing snow on footpaths to improving the drainage on the playing field (yes – we have found a pipe). Hedges have been cut, paths improved, the roundabout repaired, trees pruned and much debris and scrub cleared from the old school site; the list is not exhaustive. Beneficiaries include the church, the bowls club, the village hall, the parish council, the Newton fete and, ultimately, all the residents of Newton.The Newton playing field project benefitted to the tune of £1900, the value of their work in-kind contribution when costed, and enabled an equivalent sum to be secured in grant funding for play equipment.Throughout, there has never been a cross word, dissent or failure to deliver the goods. Their willingness to help is a tribute to the skill and dedication of the line managers and supervisors whose job it is to ensure wrongdoers pay their debt by giving something back to society: And what about the boys (and some girls) themselves? You may consider some to be a lost cause but it is not for us to judge. The majority appreciate a challenge and work cheerfully to deliver a result.If achievement can be measured in terms of tea, coffee and biscuits consumed then I suggest it is a small price to pay. Altogether, it is a mutually beneficial and satisfactory arrangement.For the good of us all may they long continue to help – but a chill wind is blowing.There is talk of privatisation, devolution and profit. The free service may not continue to be free and work could remain undone unless money (that dreadful stuff) changes hands. What a dilemma for us and for the Probation Trust – if we cannot pay will the payback teams be forced to sit around drinking tea whilst we’re faced with having to do the work ourselves? Hark! do I hear the sound of feet retreating into the distance?
Guess we've all watched Shawshank Redemption.Will local councils have to foot the bill for payback work?
'Cool Hand Luke' was on over Christmas as well - I just can't stop myself watching right to the end even though I know both films backwards. Both have so much in them and as all brilliantly written and acted pieces of story-telling are timeless and can still speak to us today.