Thursday, 2 January 2014

Moving Forward Together!

Well, just when you thought this slow train crash TR omnishambles couldn't throw up any more surprises, it turns to tragicomedy. Thanks to David Hurst over on his blogsite, we have a transcript of Chris Grayling's New Year video message to all probation staff. It's absolutely brilliant and if not a spoof, I wonder which bright spark in the MoJ Communications Team thought this wheeze up, and more importantly, who wrote the script?! It's hilarious!

I'm just guessing here, but surely these DVD's are destined to become prized TR souvenirs? Bags I get one!    

Hello there, 

Can I start by thanking all of you for carrying on doing the jobs you're doing and looking after and supervising offenders, in what I know are difficult and uncertain times in Probation. What I wanted to do was give you a chance to hear from me, a bit more about why we’re doing this and what we’re trying to achieve.

First of all you have to understand the financial background against which we’re working. The Department is facing huge cuts to its budgets over the next few years and we’re having to take really tough decisions in the level of staffing in prisons, in the level of Legal Aid we pay, in what we do within the courts and big cuts to the Department’s head office as well.

But we’re treating Probation a little differently, and we’ve won a battle with the Treasury to treat Probation a little differently and the reason for that is that if we’re going to carry on bringing down the cost of the Criminal Justice system in future, we have got to improve our performance on tackling reoffending.

If you look at crime in Britain today, the number of people entering the Criminal Justice System for the first time is coming down, fewer crimes overall being committed but more and more of our crime problem is about people who are committing crimes again and again, going round and round the system and what we’re doing, rather than having a situation where, as we would be other wise in Probation, closing trusts, merging operations, making people redundant to meet a tough budget settlement, what we’re actually doing is spending more money on supervising those people who go to jail for 12 months and less, who at the moment walk onto the streets with £46 in their pocket, get no supervision and more likely to reoffend than anyone else.

Now you know and I know that the rate of reoffending for those people who are not supervised post prison is much higher than for those people who are, and that is something we have got to change. So the obvious question is why not just do it within the current system?

Well there’s a number of answers to that. To start off we have a system that is much too bureaucratic. I mean you all went into the Probation Service to spend time working with offenders, and all of the evidence I see is that the processes that we have in place means that much too little time is spent working with offenders, much too much time is just dealing with the systems. So what I want to do is to create a Probation system where the professionals working in the front line have got much greater freedom, don’t have the interference of central bureaucracy and have got much greater freedom to innovate and do things completely differently.

We looked at whether that could be done across the current system of 35 trusts and actually the last government looked at whether we would provide supervision for the under 12 month group, using the current system. They came to the conclusion it wasn’t affordable and that we would need to do things differently. I don’t think we can afford to carry on with a situation where we’re not supervising those under 12 month people. And the other thing I don’t think we can carry on with is a situation where we don’t have a proper, through the gate service.

So let me explain to you briefly about the 2 new organisations. The Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service. The CRCs are going to have much greater freedom than has ever been the case before for front line professionals to do things completely differently and they give a real opportunity to all of you to think about new ways of providing support to offenders.

So for example, if I was running a CRC one of the first things I would do is set up a housing operation. I’d probably negotiate deals with landlords, so that you knew when somebody comes out of prison that you’ve got somewhere to place them. Now the truth is Treasury rules just don’t allow us to do that kind of thing in the public sector, but the CRC's will have that sort of freedom in the future and I think that can make a real difference and I think there’ll be real opportunities to build on some of the things that the trusts do at the moment, for example in tying in with Welfare To Work Services, in working with rehab services, so a real opportunity to do things differently.

And there is a really important point to make as well. I know there’s been a lot of chatter around the system - G4S and Serco are not going to be involved in the bidding process to take over CRC's. Instead we’ve got a list of partnerships very often between private sector organisations and voluntary sector organisations. Some of the biggest charities that work with offenders, coming together to take up the partnership role with the public sector that will exist in the new system. And I think there’s a really exciting opportunity for people to build their careers, working with different organizations that offer not only the opportunity to do more within the CRC's, but also the opportunity to do more, more broadly in future.

The world we’re trying to create is where we have a partnership between public sector, voluntary sector and private sector: Private sector to help us run our systems and our processes and our organisation more efficiently, voluntary sector to add mentoring skills to the work our probation professionals already do and of course continuing to use the risk management skills and expertise that exist within the public sector.

And the other point to make, which I think is also very important, is the process of bringing in new partners is not going to be about price were not about selling the operation to the lowest bid. That is not what this is about. This is about improving quality, it’s about innovation. So what we’re going to be asking the people who bid to take on the CRC's to do, is to demonstrate to us that they're giving us the best value in terms of improved reoffending outcomes, for the work that we’re doing with them and for the money that we’re paying.

And then there’s the National Probation Service, which is going to have a very different focus to the CRC's. Looking after the most challenging offenders, working in a multi-agency basis to supervise people who are a real risk to our society and having responsibility for risk assessment, for allocation of offenders to different risk categories, for decisions about recalling people to court and I think increasingly operating in new areas as well.

I’m for example very keen to see the National Probation Service much more involved in decisions about release on Temporary Licence, so that we’ve got real expertise in taking decisions in an area where we’ve had problems in the last few months.

So let met tell you a bit about the process going forward. We’ve already got the new leadership teams of the two organisations in place, and we’re moving quickly to allocate people into their new teams. I don’t want there to be a long period of uncertainty. But then after that there is going to be a long period of bedding in, in the public sector, making sure all the new systems are working. Were not rushing to move problematic cases from one part of the future (?) to another. We’re not going to take risks with public safety. We’ll take most of this year bedding in the new systems, long before we ever actually involve any of the new partners who are going to be coming in and working with us.

Now I know that all of this is disruptive and unsettling, and there are of course going to be changes. We are inevitably going to be merging back office operations, we’ll be simplifying systems and there’s no doubt there’ll be some changes in the organisation as a whole and I’m pleased to say we’ve now reached agreement with the unions on the transition arrangements, on the voluntary redundancy package, on issues around continuity of service, and I think there’s now a really good package for everyone that I hope will give you greater confidence going forward.

So what does the future look like? Well my vision is of a network or CRC's working in the resettlement prisons, preparing people for release, meeting them at the gate, mentoring and supporting them for 12 months after they leave prison, with a particular focus on that new group of people who will be supervising the under 12 month group, really bringing down reoffending rates and doing it in new ways, finding innovative ideas to help them get their lives back together.

And then alongside that a highly professional team of specialists in the National Probation Service, dealing with some of the most challenging offenders, providing real protection to the public against serious risk of harm.

So I think there’s a strong future for the people who work in the Probation Service, for our Probation system. It’s going to be different but this all about quality, innovation, bringing down reoffending rates and easing the pressures on our Criminal Justice System, and I am absolutely confident that together and with the skills that we’re going to be bringing in to this area to work alongside you, then actually everyone can make a real difference for the future.

Thank you.


  1. I hear that Grayling's pre-Christmas message "to all staff" still hasn't been distributed in some Trusts, presumably in the interests of avoiding disruption to "business as usual" through incandescent rage that was seen in many places. If this is genuine, and it seems as though in its leaden-footed way it might be, I'm sure these collectors items will be sat at HQs up and down the land or mysteriously "lost in the post". I think my comment from December still holds true: who the bloody hell at Petty France thought this was a good idea?

    But I do sincerely hope that these DVDs exist and find their way out to the front line, if for one reason only: there must be someone out there with video editing skills who can 'amend' the message in such a way as to show what the Secretary of State really thinks...

    1. ROFL! Yes wouldn't that be sweet....

  2. Happy New Year, "we’re treating Probation a little differently".

    It's called the Tory Touch - Dismantling, Disrupting Dismaying, Destroying. Decimating...

    1. I would also like to add Insulting and Demeaning. He talks of the highly professional team that will be NPS so those in CRC's are not. We are all highly trained and professional regardless of whether we are in NPS or CRC, how dare he!!!!!!!! He knows nothing about what we do but feels he knows the best way forward, some Minister of Justice, get him out!!!!!!!!

  3. This is strange now that we are exposing the corruption at the heart of government he come up with this??

    Machiavelli said if you cant flatter them into submission kill them or something similar. Grayling has got it the wrong way round the fool. No lets just keep digging I think we are into a rich vein with the incompetence at best but more probably corruption with the IT fiascos and the outsourcing losses. Perhaps its time to look at FOI's; or is good old Edward Snowden about to release something?

  4. First time I've seen this, but to be fair am still on Christmas leave so dont know if my area is one of those withholding this gem. However where to begin, all that chummy rhetoric, the vapid assurances its all for the best.....? Does the video depict CG in a fireside chair, casual attire, family photos on a side table, Christmas tree in the background?....How dare he think it appropriate to tell us what he would do if he was running a CRC? Word to the wise here CG- it requires people who know what they are doing to run something, and there's been precious little evidence of the right skill set to date in your department ref this. In fact the amount of implied criticism towards previous MoJ imposed practices in what you say, I wouldnt be surprised if your staff aren't all secretly up in arms as well at being undermined. I also agree with Anon 18.49 about the insulting and demeaning tone, however have long found the ministerial releases from this Govt to read/sound as if written by an 11 year old (no insult intended here towards 11 year olds).
    I could get angry but really this is just 'same old same old' - and bottom line I just find it completely pathetic.

    1. Thanks Deb for helping to paint a picture - a nice roaring log fire and comfy leather chair......

      The language is truly astonishing - doesn't he know PO's can see straight through such vacuous bollocks? We all know he's a bully and bullies definitely don't talk like

    2. Log fire. Comfy leather chair. Why am I thinking of Rowley Birkin QC? ( Maybe someone with good editing and merging skills could be creative here.

    3. Hi Deb, that 'thing' called Chris Grayling who has not got the faintest idea about what probation staff do and how they are having to cope with his message of destroying probation is both patronising and insulating at the same time. Who does he think he is, he is way out of touch with reality, the plonker. Makes me feel angry hearing his words more so this time for the year.

      I can think of a few pictures I would like to paint of him! Might be explicit to mention these in public - leave that to your imagination!!!!


  5. Given Grayling has no respect for probation professionals, this is a really interesting attempt to engage with us. Why ? Why now ? It is on the specific advise of consultants and the start of a change in emphasis. There is growing alarm at the response from grass roots staff, blogs are being monitored. Keep on the Ernst and Young search there is much to discover.

  6. If CG wrote this, the Tory's will do well to keep him a long way from writing any pre election mandate promises. It is a good laugh thou.....everything being so "different" in the new world... It is bollocks and accurately reflects the total disrespect and contempt this Government has for the common people....CG treating us all like his own sycophantic losers; he really is a liability!

  7. There's War in the Babylon. The right of the Tory party are taking Cameron on, Leon Fox made it clear today that its time to sell off the NHS to the private sector and Grayling want the same with Justice. I think the right wants to make a killing now before the election and before the mass of the population wakes up. The threat to Probation has snapped us out of a 30 year torpor and placed us at the vanguard of British conciousness. Keep digging lets wake this nation up.

  8. What I will do with this message Mr Grayling will give it to every victim of serious crime that suffers as a consequence of money saving lets make a profit half baked plan. After every murder reported in the press I will provide the media with a copy of this message so the world knows that you put ideology before public safety, that you are responsible for selling public safety to the cheapest bidder.

    It is you Chris Grayling that values public safety so little that you are prepared to sell to anyone as long as its cheap.

    1. Behind you all the way, great plan!!!!!!!

  9. I think people are missing the point. While I disagree with what he says and think a lot of it is insincere bollocks that won't work in reality, it's actually not badly written. I take a few messages from this:
    1. It's more softly worded than most grayling stuff. He thinks of himself as a thatcherite guy and yet the tone of this is friendly. He's trying to get alongside us! e.g "you know and I know".
    2. So why is it done like this? Well I can see two target audiences, probation staff and lib dems. Look at the CRC stuff he takes the time to mention "if I was setting up a CRC I'd want a housing department, blah blah, bollocks, blah". Like he gives a fuck about homeless prisoners given what his government is doing to welfare but he's telling us that this would be a good thing. He's trying to soften it all, make it fluffy, love it up. I think he hopes that he might buy a few of us off by conning us that he cares about people. But more importantly he's appealing to lib dems and trying to assuage their aching consciences so they can allow themselves to vote for this fuckfest. I bet copies of this DVD go to lib dem MPs.
    3. So why go to the trouble? Ever the optimist, I think he's worried. I think we're getting through, he's had some big kickings recently with numerous bad press stories around outsourccing and the lib dems are trying to look more like lib dems and less like tories. For an arrogant cockmuppet like grayling to take a day out of his diary to record this pile of poo is a big deal.
    Meh. Back to work next week. HNY all.

    1. I agree its a big deal and he's worried- but its not the time to cut him any slack either. His ideological mindset wouldn't underdtand it. Take this time to remind him that charged with office that has responsibility for public safety he is responsible for selling it cheap to anyone, even if they come from the construction industry, just so long as they are cheap.
      If he's worried now he'll be even more worried when the PM is answering questions accross the dispatch box.
      Do you Mr. Cameron fully endorse these seriously ill thought out TR plans?

  10. ... perfectly timed to coincide with the 2 radio reports today criticising Probation, implied anyway, about a prisoner that absconded from Cat D (how many times have you heard an interview with a victim on national radio following a fail to return from home leave on what appears to be a standard Cat D ROTL?) and the troublesome prisoners asking for directions in the villages next to Brinsford, Featherstone and Oakwood because they are just let out to fend for themselves... no buses to get then to Wolverhampton or Cannock apparently... can't the prison put on a bus or can they be met at the gate the local MP asks???? That last story was on Radio 5!

  11. - came across this article in The Telegraph dated 11 May 2009.

    There are comparisons here between his new year message "So for example, if I was running a CRC one of the first things I would do is set up a housing operation....

    Go to the link to read the full article. Also I wonder whether Ernst and Young help to advise Grayling regarding his financial accounts & perhaps there is some connection here between offering them a lucrative contract as consultants.

    “Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary claimed thousands of pounds to renovate a flat in central London – bought with a mortgage funded at taxpayers’ expense, even though his constituency home is less than 17 miles from the House of Commons.

    Mr Grayling, who represents Epsom and Ewell, lives in a large house in Ashtead, Surrey, but also claims expenses for a flat in Pimlico, near the House of Commons. MR GRAYLING ALSO OWNS OTHER BUY-TO-LET FLATS AND HAS FOUR PROPERTIES WITHIN THE M25.
    Within weeks of first being elected in 2001, he bought a flat in a six-storey block for £127,000. In 2002, he set up an unusual arrangement with the Parliamentary Fees Office, claiming £625 a month for mortgages on two separate properties, both the main home and the new flat in Pimlico. This is usually against the rules, but Mr Grayling negotiated an agreement because he was unable to obtain a 100% mortgage on the London flat that he had bought.
    Mr Grayling has a sizeable property portfolio. The Pimlico flat, which is only a short walk from the Commons is believed to have risen in value despite the recession. A studio flat in the same block is currently on sale for £235,000.
    On the Parliamentary register of interests, Mr Grayling declares that he rents out two further houses that he owns in London.

    The family home he shares with wife Sue and their two children in Ashtead is inside the M25 and in the heart of Surrey’s commuter belt. The imposing house with its sweeping drive and grounds cost £680,000 in 2000.



  13. Jim ,
    How about a bounty for the first copy of the DVD !!
    I could rustle a few quid together and I am sure others might be willing to do so, in the style of the Western Movies you love to hate ....
    Wanted DVD of Failing Grayling - Reward $ 100 dead or alive.......

    I could also see a You Tube hit for the remix version, ref Cleggies "I'm Sorry" ( hey am I getting all innovative here??)
    So come on colleagues who have been asked to hide these DVD so that nobody can find's the weekend tomorrow - sneak them out of the policies and procedures file (cos that's where I would hide it ) and publish and be damned....

  14. The officers in the CRCs will have massive caseloads. Exactly when will they get the time to go around every prison in the country? Not realistic. Also, I've had tier 3 MAPPA cases who have been up tiered to 4 high risk for a short period whilst I liaise with police, social services alcohol services etc. Risk comes down again after short period as protective systems established and the person calms down. In this new system, in the CRC, I would now not be able to take decisions on a case I know well. Instead I would be referring to a collegue in NPS who as far as I can tell would be in a different office. They take the risk decision instead of me and my manager. Who does the ringing round police etc? Me? The NPS colleague? once they get around to looking at my case (because they are more professional and their cases more risky and deserving if their attention (apparently). Many tier 4 cases come from tier 3 and even tier 2 (because serious offenders don't usually start out commiting serious offences - there is progression) and decisions have to be made quickly. Very quickly. De-skilling those in the CRC will not help protect from risk. Quite the reverse. Persistent repeat offenders often have drug and alcohol problems as well as mental health issues. MH workers will often not work with these cases as they cannot distinguish between primary MH problems and the effects of substance abuse. We have struggled to get help for dual diagnosis clients for forever..

    1. I supervise a sex offender who has just been made subject to a DRR. I wonder if they will toss a coin when they decide whether the CRC or NPS will manage him.

  15. 'And then alongside that a highly professional team of specialists in the National Probation Service, dealing with some of the most challenging offenders, providing real protection to the public against serious risk of harm.'
    This isn't meant for us. We know the truth.
    5 DVDs per trust? This is for country's media - to counteract and assuage the concerns which probation staff have been outlining.
    So we'll have a manic attempt at getting systems in place for the rest of this year in 'public sector' then companies will take over and change them again. That's at least another 2 years of chaos.

    I'm tired of juggling eggs in the air. I feel like I've been juggling with eggs for years. I no longer care whether this works or not. I'll just buy sturdier locks for all my doors. I'm walking away for the sake of my sanity. My eggs can fall and smash.