Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The New Landscape

The musical chairs have nearly finished and we now know who will occupy most of the key positions in the brave new probation world being ushered in as part of the TR omnishambles. I'm really grateful to an enthusiastic reader publishing the information here early yesterday morning and well ahead of other well known sites. The lineup looks like this:-

Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire CRC: Martin Davies

Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC: Rob Menary

Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire CRC: John Wiseman

Staffordshire and West Midlands CRC: Catherine Holland

Northumbria CRC: Nick Hall

Essex CRC: Mary Archer

Norfolk and Suffolk CRC: Martin Graham

Merseyside CRC: Annette Hennessey

Thames Valley CRC: Paul Gillbard

Warwickshire and West Mercia CRC: Liz Stafford

London CRC: Nick Smart

Wales CRC: Liz Rijnenberg

Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Rutland CRC: Jo Mead

Kent, Surrey and Sussex CRC: Sarah Billiald

Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire CRC: Tessa Webb

Cumbria and Lancashire CRC: Kevin Robinson

The following CEO vacancies remain to be filled:- 

Cheshire and Greater Manchester CRC

Hampshire and Isle of Wight CRC

West Yorkshire CRC

Durham Tees Valley CRC

South Yorkshire CRC

The National Probation Service Deputy Directors are:-

North West: Roz Hamilton

North East: Lynda Marginson

South East: Sonia Crozier

South West: Angela Cossins

London: Sara Robinson

Midlands: Sarah Chand

Business Development: Jim Barton

As has been commented upon, there are some notable names missing, such as Heather Munro, but there are still a few chairs left before the music stops.

Many people have been surprised at the announcement yesterday by the MoJ of a Probation Institute, I'm certainly deeply suspicious of its timing, coming as it does when automatic assignment and Expression of Interest letters are arriving in the Christmas mail. Yes it's been talked about for some time and undoubtedly falls into the category of being a jolly good idea, but, as one reader put it :-

"I suspect the Probation Institute is being instituted merely as an attempt to legitimise the omnishambles." 

Whilst Professor Paul Senior does not agree, he concedes that the MoJ timing is mischievous:- :-

"No that's not correct. It has been under discussion for some while amongst many groups with interests in this work. it is still in early stages of thinking and not driven by MoJ. It offers a small light in an otherwise dark future. The timing is political spin to create just such a confused response. Its a long overdue development which might, just might offer future protection to professional standards, train, education and therefore of benefit to staff. If it was MoJ led I would not be seeing it in thus way."

The joint statement by PA, PCA, Napo and Unison says:-

"The Institute will provide professional leadership and a framework for unifying the probation workforce as a whole. A key aim is to raise the status of probation and the Institute will contribute to the setting of practice standards and support the professional development of its members, including through a voluntary professional register. It will be an independent, not-for profit organisation, with wide membership open to all staff who work in probation, commissioners, employers and partner organisations of probation."

But as Joe Kuipers points out, this 'unification' is going to be interesting, given that there's to be no requirement for CRC's to have any qualified staff at all. I think a good idea has been hijacked for the purposes of driving through this TR omnishambles crap and is part of a desperate attempt to try and stop any more key staff deserting the profession at this key point.

I was struck by comments I saw on twitter the other day by an attender at some kind of TR conference, and the fact that private sector bidders 'were surprised at the reluctance of probation staff to transfer'. They just don't get it do they? 
Of course the probation landscape is changing significantly in all directions with this announcement from the MoJ on Monday in relation to sentencing:-

In a move to improve public confidence in community sentences, adult sentences will now have to include some form of punishment.
Last year more than 130,000 community sentences were handed down by the courts. Around one-third of community sentences contain no punitive element but from 11 December this will change. Most sentences will contain an element of formal punishment such as a fine, unpaid work, curfew or exclusion from certain areas. This could affect around 40,000 offenders per year.
Chris Grayling said:
From my first day in this job I have been clear that punishment must mean punishment. A community sentence shouldn’t just consist of a meeting with an offender manager, prisoners shouldn’t spend their time in prison watching satellite television and the worst offenders should get the very toughest sentences.
Step by step we’re overhauling sentencing and sending a clear message to criminals that crime doesn’t pay. We’re on the side of people who work hard and want to get on and my message is this - if you break the law you will be punished.
Currently, only around two-thirds of community orders contain punishment such as a curfew or unpaid work. Under the reforms that will come into effect this month we expect this to rise significantly. In very exceptional circumstances judges will have the power not to include the element of punishment.
Research suggests the inclusion of a punitive requirement alongside supervision in community sentences, can be more effective in reducing reoffending than supervision alone.
Maybe someone out there can point us in the direction of that piece of research, meanwhile as Professor Paul Senior tweeted the other day:-

History repeating itself. Probation staff haemorrhaging out of Trusts from all levels. First as farce (2001) now as tragedy.

Everyone in this business, including the MoJ, knows that as the TR omnishambles rolls on inexorably to become as one commentator said recently, 'the slowest train wreck in history' trying to maintain business as usual is becoming impossible. Or as Cllr Tim Young recently put it in his resignation letter from the Essex Probation Trust, 'someone's going to be killed'

It was a pleasure to serve as your Vice-Chair and it was a privilege to spend 
some months as Interim Chair of Essex Probation before your appointment. It 
is only because I am so committed and passionate about the work of the 
Service that I feel I have no option but to step aside so that I can campaign 
with others to stop or, at least, delay the government’s deeply flawed and 
dangerous plans. As was said at our recent Board Meeting it is “certain” that 
someone will be killed who wouldn’t otherwise be killed as a result of these 
changes. I must, in my own small way, do something to prevent that from 


  1. So Jeffrey Archers wife is heading up Kent CRC....scraping the barrel for the MOJ's bagholders aren't they!

    1. I think you mean Essex...

  2. Just on the assertion that adding in punishment lowers refoffending.

    There is a good Prison Reform Trust paper on this very topic. Two quotes: 'Every requirement is punitive to the extent that it involves an element of coercion and / or deprivation of the liberty of the offender. It is unhelpful and misleading to attempt to separate the punitive and non-punitive elements of an order. Despite the limited discretion built into the new duty, we believe its effect will be to restrict the freedom of judges and magistrates to set an appropriate sentence based on the particular facts and circumstances of the individual case.'

    'We are particularly concerned that the new duty does not contain sufficient safeguards to ensure that those with particular support needs such as mental health problems, learning disabilities and difficulties, substance misuse and people with primary care responsibilities are not subject to inappropriate punitive requirements.'

    Who needs a Probation Institute for research when we have the excellence of the PRT? The MoJ may well cool on the Institute idea once TR is finished. The timing does legitimise and makes things look joined up between the PA, unions and MoJ. Perceptions, as politicians well know, can be more important than the reality.

    1. Thanks for that Netnipper. Another quote directly contradicts the MoJ's assertion:-

      "Community sentences must command the confidence of the courts and the public. However, we are concerned that an emphasis on making community sentences more “punitive” could
      undermine their success at reducing reoffending and damage, rather than reinforce, public and court confidence in community provision."

  3. The Probation Institute is part of the MOJ plan to have an exclusive elite little group at the top to lead the rest of the CRC grunts by the nose. It's a distraction from their wilful destruction of a good service.

  4. Thank you.

    Jim has refrained from commenting that the only 'partner' agency in the Probation Institute venture not to have apparently issued an independent welcoming statement is Napo, whereas an agency who is a supporter rather than partner, the MOJ has issued a strong approving statement. It

    Why now - it is not due to 'open its doors' until March? I suspect it is to distract us from the real priority - to mitigate the damage from the whole Transforming Rehabilitation proposals.

    Meanwhile, The Offender Rehabilitation Bill has completed its committee stage and will be returned to the whole House of Commons, for further amendment, rejection or approval. I will be keeping an eye on my 'In Box' for an email link to the whole amended Bill. Now might be the last viable time to alert MPs to specific good and bad points of the Bill with the hope that what probation folk get to work with is - workable and enhances the prospect of rehabilitation and does not result in extra judgements for imprisonment, immediately or as recalls after breach.

    Let us all not be distracted from the appearance today of Grayling and Wright, before The House of Commons, Justice Committee. There are links on the Napo Forum, so it can be followed live or later.

    Andrew Hatton

  5. It's worth pointing out that the MoJ statement made absolutely no reference to Napo's involvement with the Probation Institute, though the PI website itself does mention Napo involvement and the union - at national level at least - appear quietly in favour. Inevitably Grayling just had to link his announcement with TR, "driving down" those "stubbornly high" reoffending rates - thus guaranteeing that it would be viewed with instant suspicion. What's the opposite of the Midas touch?

  6. I can just see the little stamp above the letter heading on all the stationary used by those involved with TR contracts..." probation Institute approved".


    2. Let's speculate a bit on what that might mean, would pproval mean a guarantee that all staff working directly with service users have minimum level of qualifications and that certain tasks require higher level qualifications? Would it mean that there has to be in place transfer arrangements between the CRCS and NPS to allow professional updating, the training of new probation officers and to ensure good practice permeates across the whole provision? Might it mean that new providers would benefit, even welcome, professional standard as they are working in the dark to soe extent.? Might it mean an independent voice talking about and researching on what is actually happening in practice and helping expose poor practice? Might it mean the unions, professional assns, sector skills councils and higher education institutions working together to ensure the institution of 'probation' does not wither on April 1. Might it be a response to a long overdue need for a professional home for probation?
      Political timing is crap and in desperation perhaps MoJ are wanting to appear at the table here and the timing might signal their desperation but the work on the institute has been going on quietly and assiduously. The is no done deal. There is a long way to go and it would work better if the while omnishambles was abandoned. But don't throw the champagne out with the cork. The are still many fellow travellers trying to support the future of probation.

    3. My personal opinion is that it will mean non of the above. It will give the illusion to the public that this whole omnishambles is overseen and governed by a proffessional institute, and give some protection to the builders, water management and waste collection companies that will win TR contracts. I'm not convinced its just bad timing by the MoJ at all.

  7. Seriously, if the MOJ is sooo good at Machiavellian plotting how come the new probation arrangements are so crap ?

  8. I am staggered to hear today that my Trust has been unable to 'automatically assign' anyone in my team - although we have been working with HR cases since the start of 2013. Consequently, we will all be getting a letter next Wed asking for expressions of interest! Actually I am not interested and I am finding it more difficult on a daily basis to take anything coming from NoMs or the Trusts seriously. For instance, and this is a personal grip, there are, I think 7 PO's in my Trust, of which I am one, trained and qualified to apply the ERG22+ (Extreme Risk Guidance Assessment Tool) and engage service users in the Foundation, Healthy Identity Interventions and HII+ - I would have thought, I would be automatically assigned, as it is highly unlikely that those convicted of Extreme Offences will have PSR's written on them or be managed by the CRC's or maybe I am being too analytical...too sensible, my mum used to say! Seems I get to express my opinion...well, I certainly would not wish to be on the receiving end of my opinion!! It also made me wonder what the Trust has been doing over recent months? Clearly, they have not been looking at their staff to hard - much easier to let us seal our own fate. Apart from everything else this is so disrespectful...they would do well to remeber, you get what you pay for and you reap what you sow!

    1. The thing is I think the decision to allocate or sift is based on an arbitrary date 11/11/13 and what your caseload looked like. Shocking!

  9. Off topic but talking today regarding cyber technology Grayling had this to say

    The U.K. spearheaded the push to amend the 2014 deadline for introduction, and country officials want the plan to be perfected before anything is introduced. “I want to see us agreeing data protection legislation that works for the U.K.,” U.K. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling toldBloomberg in a statement. “As the Prime Minister has made clear, it is better we take the time to get this right rather than rush into something that proves unworkable and costly.”

    Yup! The same Grayling introducing TR.

  10. I recommend inviting Harry Fletcher to write a 'guest blog'

    His write up on the Napo news website is getting loads of views and hopefully cheering many up - now is not the time to ease up. Grayling is backing off as his dates slip, which is also being reported by Sally Lewis

    Here is Harry's post - I expect most have seen it by now: -

    100 views in about half hour just on the Napo Forum and it is on main Napo website as well!

    Andrew Hatton