Thursday, 13 February 2014

Lets Have a Heated Debate!

Regular readers will be aware that the blog has recently attracted the attention of some critics or apologists even for Grayling's TR omnishambles. Naturally there's a suspicion that some of it may be deliberate mischief-making by agents involved in the rapidly-evolving TR industry, but of course there's nothing wrong with genuine debate. I've hardly ever had cause to reach for the delete button, unlike the Napo Forum.  

Things were kicked-off by a comment from Jackart, a very popular and successful blogger who has in the past done me the honour of quoting positively from this blog. Before we get to what he said, I guess it would be helpful to know where he is coming from:-

Jackart is a 30-something stockbroker whose main interests are Rugby, cricket and being rude to Lefties. Being a Libertarian, he loathes all impositions of state and bureaucracy. The blog was started as a way to let off steam, and remains a way to let off steam, otherwise his head would explode in rage at the sheer mendacious idiocy seen all around. Jackart has been posting here since 2005.   

This is what he said, followed by some responses:-

You have some interesting stuff to say. The problem is I stop reading at "Omnishambles". You sound like the perma-outraged public-sector who hasn't worked out that after a decade of tax-and-spend, the money has run out.

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You're right, the money has ran out. The question that needs asking is what can be cut further without running the risk of compromising public safety? One thing is sure is that it won't be the profits of the private companies as that makes poor business sense.

What does that leave. If a company can do a job cheaper than the Government and STILL make a profit you have to ask why and how they will do this. 

Still, it's not as if there are going to be any other victims apart from us poor Probation Officers!


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Probation folk are so 'outraged' that they carry on working positively with folk who have often been failed by society and consequently in turn do much harm to society.

In another age such people would have been exiled or exterminated - but what the core spirit of probation recognises is that we mostly - all have potential for good and bad behaviour and the experience of our predecessors taught us that determined, skilled, and persistent intervention can suppress the bad behaviour and stimulate the good behaviour.

Such work is demanding and frustrating - we rarely 'see' our successes, over a long period, but such is the response we get from folk - we know what we do can work.

It is cheaper than the alternative for our modern age of prison, but frequently needs using in combination with forced detention.

It is an operation that relies on building relationships, an activity that is frustrated by putting in loads of formalised processes, where the subjects of our attention - often aggrieved and angry, though they come to the attention of probation people, when they have been caught doing bad, need the best possible communication from the state, that recognises their basic humanness and potential. What is proposed by the Government does the opposite - we are admittedly trying to protect our jobs - but also to protect the public as when Grayling's plan fails - which it will - there will be much greater costs - both financially, in terms of criminal investigations, processing and ultimately imprisonment - let alone the costs that more victims of crime will experience as well as the secondary victims - family members of the criminals, especially their children.


If you add into the mix that many criminals have hidden neurological disabilities, like dyslexia and autistic spectrum conditions, as well as being mentally ill (sometimes a reaction to not fitting into society, as it is) and that they self medicate with illegally obtained drugs and/or legally available alcohol, it perhaps begins to become apparent that just catching, processing and punishing (by incarceration) criminals, is unlikely to bring about improved behaviour. 

The number of probation workers are much less than the total involved in prisons, police and the courts and legal systems. By destroying the system of probation that has developed incrementally since about the 1870s, the public are going to get a very bad deal.


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There must be some means of drawing an analogy between investment banking and probation? Is there a particular broking skill in investing in what others have written off or regard as rubbish such that there's a recovery and reward? Here goes nothing, maybe crass, but at least an attempt. It might help?

Probation involves the investment and application of professional and innate skills and knowledge in those who society have generally written off or regard as worthless. It demands skillful and careful reading of what investment is required, how the "commodity" is developing, and with a target outcome, i.e. some form of improvement or recovery from a downward trend. It is rarely possible to quantify the value of the investment of time, emotion and commitment.


The most successful 'brokers' never see any return on their investment, i.e. the 'commodity' never comes back on the radar. All that tomorrow brings is another portfolio of undervalued, discarded examples requiring similar levels of investment. There's no celebratory case of Bolli' or cash bonus. Its a relentless and tough gig on a salary scale between £25k to £35k when every day involves immersion in others' sadness, misery, despair or delusion. So much so that there's often not enough space for our own emotional lives, which takes its own toll.

The public money has generally been stolen by overpaid bureau-rats or syphoned off by unscrupulous, exploitative gits. Probation has never been an expensive public service until the 2000's, when a political empire began - NOMS. It is the numerous highly paid, self-serving civil servants brown-nosing around the ambitious politicians whose tax and spend policies have cost us our profession.


I'm so annoyed at things I don't know if I'm making sense anymore.

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That's cool. Jackart - did it make sense to you? As an investment banker you'll perhaps have a different take? As a brother or sister surfer there must be a beating heart in there? If I take a stereotypical approach, you might make £25k in a week? Or a month? You might have all the cool things, i-this, i-that? But if you can sit for hours waiting, watching, then you'll know the beauty of little things, of the subtlest of movements. That's my place of work - where the joys of little things are, where in a single moment of realisation for one person the greatest change can be achieved. It might be one word, one phrase, one completed worksheet about emotional congruity. One wave, one tube, that one ride.

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Ah, the swivel eyed loons of the reactionary right are here! Yet more dreary old right wing bigotry and fetishising of wealth masquerading as 'libertarianism'. And this one is what? An 'investment banker'? Now supposing this is truth rather than feeble aspirational guff well what a wizard wheeze to be told that 'the money has run out' by one of the scumbags who take it all and think they've achieved something!

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Yesterday there was comment about the misuse of public funds and cost of public services. Look at this link.

Equally, think about the public/taxpayer costs associated with MPs expenses, prosecuting liars and cheats (Mr Huhne et al), special advisors, MPs family members' benefits, cash incentives in the form of PRP - including the alleged cash bonuses for Trust managers to get TR up and running regardless of the impact upon staff. Nice little nest-eggs for those also due 67 weeks' tax-lite pay pre-retirement.


So no, in principle most of the Probation Service does not cost the public much when compared to the invaluable intervention provided at cut-price rates. The costs are, as stated by t'other post, primarily NOMS staff on twice or three times a PO salary plus benefits, the artificial means by which rents for probation estates are nationally calculated at London City rates per sq.ft, and the pointless yet relentless publication of useless, expensive vanity documents, or regular seminars & conferences & buying of crap training packages and £Millions on IT that doesn't work and is quietly scrapped.

So, Jackart and others out there, please don't believe the hype about public sector WORKERS costing the taxpayer a fortune. Look closer to realise its the upper echelons of mismanagement filling their boots, layering their empires with innumerable strata of management to complete the smoke and mirrors. NHS is an excellent example - too many 'managers', not enough practitioners. And now the GPs are filling their boots on six figure salaries - that's the next scandal for health.


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The faux corporate identity sits so uneasily with Probation workers because that is not what we are about. The irony is these faux executives wouldn't last two minutes in the world of 'proper' privatisation (ie a genuine product or service to sell in a context of customer choice). We have just had the lastest found of 'vanity' marketing for distribution to other agencies which contains factual errors. The whole situation is shabby and would be laughable if the inevitable consequences weren't so serious.

56 comments:

  1. The thing with kneejerk reactions like Jackart's claim that "there's no money left", quite apart from the fact that there evidently is (if we can replace Trident, let alone offering a blank cheque for flood defences in Tory heartlands, we can fund public sector Probation; it's all a question of choices), is that it reveals a lack of intellectual curiosity or care about people, or indeed anything beyond profit. If you were so worried about there being no money left, wouldn't you want to see it spent wisely, by people who know what they're doing, on work which probably saves vastly more than it costs - financially as well as in human misery?

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  2. Jackart appears to have hit a nerve with you Jim. I have noticed a few posts on here over the last few weeks imploring you dial down the sensationalism and rhetoric as it detracts from the (very valid) points you are trying to make. The target of all our efforts should be on the people who can change this mess. Constantly having a go at the private sector (for doing what they are supposed to do - make money) only looks like a tantrum.

    Anyway keep going, I know most people in my office look tom you rather than SMT for information

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    1. No one who contributes to this site to my knowledge lambasts the private sector for making an honest profit. If you don't like tantrums, then spare the sophistry.

      Sometimes the private sector causes problems for society - when it engages in abuses. Think only of the taxpayer billions that saved the banking sector and think of the billions in compensation that the banks have paid to customers because of fraudulent lending practices such as payment protection insurance. The marriage between the private and public sector is neatly summed up in the saying, privatisation of profits and nationalisation of risks. Both private and public sector are both deserving of scrutiny. Holding to account is not a petulant 'having a go'.

      In relation to public services, it isn't just about money either. The efficiency argument: We all know the divide well. Who can best run public services? Has the privatisation of formerly nationalised services been an unmitigated success? Are the utilities and railways better in the private sector? From state control to oligopoly! It has worked so well that polling shows a majority in favour of renationalising the railways!

      Jackart and his libertarianism is an Hobbesian nightmare - 'solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short' Does he really favour an unregulated marketplace? We have come a long way since the Middle Ages. Free market forces are a myth. Many of the regulations that libertarians detest make civilised living possible – and make their beloved market work and protect them from personal bankruptcy should their entrepreneurial magic failed them. (See '23 Things You Didn't Know About Capitalism')

      As regards public services, like probation, there is no escaping the moral arguments about mixing justice with profit and its attendant risks. The charge sheet against the monoliths like Serco and G4S gets longer by the day.

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    2. If truth be known a lot of things have hit a raw nerve with me since I started and we are heading into an election. There really must be a debate about further privatisation and all this stuff about 'shrinking the state'. The majority of the public are not in favour, so how come it's still happening?

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    3. It's not happening. The national debt is rising day by day. There are adjustments here and there but there are no net cuts overall or the state would cost less than it did last year. It doesn't because *any* government is now a captive of the electorally decisive public sector vote.

      People who live on state expenditure will never vote to reduce it. The tipping point has been reached and this looks likely to become a far less attractive place to be (economically) productive. You may all despise profit, but you live on it as much as anyone else.

      As for the hate fest here against the private sector you sound like spoiled dependent children whinging about your parents. There is no work for any of you - however caring and meaningful it may be - unless the private wealth-creating sector generates the money to pay you. You are Britain PLC's overhead. Every business has it, but it needs to be kept to a sensible minimum.

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    4. Oh give it a rest, Tom. No-one here "despises profit", we just recognise the problems of placing profit at the centre of work which isn't designed for it. And the private sector couldn't survive without the public sector either - how about the roads that goods are driven on, or the schools that educate your workers? A very silly comment.

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    5. 'As for the hate fest here against the private sector you sound like spoiled dependent children whinging about your parents'

      Yes, and you sound rather like the wife batterers and child abusers who try to blame their victim for what they've done

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  3. Straying a bit but...

    http://www.heart.co.uk/dunstable/news/local/herts-prisoners-to-be-resettled-locally/

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  4. So, say someone like 'jackart' is robbed of their 'bling', has their motor twoc'd or pad broken into. The perpetrator is caught and sentenced which includes some form of licence or supervision. Which would jackart prefer? Option A: The public sector based officer who uses knowledge & experience to identify the purpose of supervision, put subject through programme, develop victim empathy, complete one to one work to reduce likelihood of re-conviction, work tirelessly over and above contracted hours because they genuinely do not wish to see another jackart victim, and promptly and robustly enforce through court with evidence when subject fails to comply. OR Option B: Subject's file is placed on a pile of 300 others waiting recruitment of a new officer because the last remaining qualified has just left and the CEO has dividends to pay so recruiting has been on hold, meanwhile the remaining admin officer sends a letter to subject's last address (a known crack den which subject has left weeks before) asking him/her to complete a form and attend the office on a date in four weeks' time because that's when the next supervision group starts... meanwhile subject is seeking his or her next fix and next victim ... Which is it jackart?

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    1. Like most self styled 'Libertarians' of the 'Liberty to exploit/abuse/despoil' variety Mr Jackart would doubtless like any dirty poor person touching *his* property to be either transported or executed.

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    2. What ridiculous responses Anon 10.36 and Anon 11.01 - there is no evidence, absolutely none at all, that a privately managed company (who are paid by results) would be any worse than the inflated and self-important public sector probation service intent on protecting their status at the expense of reason and a willingness to accept new ideas.

      There is a growing realisation that some of these changes are actually to be lauded. Is it perfect? Of course not. Will it change over time (evolve anyone)? Of course it will.

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    3. Yes it is not necessarily public good and private bad or vice versa and I suppose it is inevitable that those who have seen good practice in either public or private services, or vice versa will defend what they adjudge best.

      It does seems so far judging by our experience in probation - facilities management - hostel management and now Serco with Community Payback in London, that a good model has yet been found for private operations.

      I won't add into the list IT systems - I think some of the problems with that have been poor commissioning. That they were dreadful is certain. OASys was just coming in as I was leaving Probation in 2002, but so poorly was it first presented that some behaviours that had been legal for decades were identified as illegal in the first assessment and about the only one I attempted.

      Of course there are shortcomings within public services but in my experience, generally public or private practitioners give of their best subject to the directions they are given and resources provided. We need to elevate the discussion about probation practice above the public versus private.

      My main concern is that what I have seen of the arrangements for moving from public to private is that without testing, it is being introduced nationally - that is foolhardy. Even Mrs Thatcher's Government tested the poll tax in Scotland, before implementing it in England and Wales - I was involved as a probation officer with rioters before it was withdrawn because it did not work - so we have another example of where a Government carried on with a grand scheme ideologically, despite practical flaws, discovered in the testing (Scotland), not first having been corrected.

      I would be as opposed to the plans for reorganising probation if say, the CRCs were to be run by local public authorities.

      The problems will firstly come from the practicalities consequent on having TWO separate probation agencies in every locality in England and Wales. I would welcome more comments from current probation practitioners on the practical difficulties they foresee and possibly also on solutions that would work, even if there are to be two separate probation agencies in every locality, as seems inevitable unless implementation is delayed past the general election.

      Andrew Hatton

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    4. Is Anon at 11:19 Chris Grayling? I think we should be told!

      If there are any successes in TR - amid the chaos - it will be because private companies have been freed from the stifling bureaucracy that New Labour instituted. There is no reason to suppose that if public sector bodies were freed from some of the absurd targets, we wouldn't be just as innovative. In fact, given that the CRCs will be filled with THE SAME PEOPLE WHO DO THE WORK NOW, I'm absolutely certain of that.

      Sorry for shouting.

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    5. People who dø the work now are leaving.

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  5. Oh yes there is! Serco for one lol.

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    1. I presume Jim's response at 13 February 2014 11:31 is to Anonymous at 13 February 2014 11:19, not mine at 13 February 2014 11:31

      Andrew Hatton

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    2. It's NOT about private bad v public good. I've seen bad practice in probation and behaviour that would make your hair curl but it's the transparency of use of tax payers money that matters. Commercialism has its rightful place where genuine profit is to be made from genuine customer choice. Privatising the criminal justice system is inhumane.

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    3. Does the free market have a conscience?

      http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=5039&headline=Capita%20hands%20130%20ex-council%20workers%20redundancy%20notices

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    4. The private corporations control politicians, they lobby them, bride them and go to the same schools and parties. The welfare state is about to be carved up by the money men and their political poodles.

      We have a 300 year high in the Bond market and a hosing bubble is almost fully inflated. When it goes BOOOM who will be bailed out again and who will suffer? In this I agree with jackart let them fail and rot; Iceland did and they are recovering nicely now. No the private corporate sector is a value sucking vampire

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  6. This from the Huffpost fits quite nicely into todays debate I think.

    http://m.huffpost.com/uk/entry/4774906

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  7. Off topic I'm afraid, but any social workers reading this need to know that they're coming for you too: "trainee social workers taught too much theory" quickly becomes downgrading social work training and therefore status.

    ://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/13/trainee-social-workers-taught-theory

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  8. Why the ad-hominem about what you think I might earn? For the record, and for the benefit of the idiot commentators, I am not a banker. I do not work for a bank. I did not benefit from the bail-outs, which in any case cost "the taxpayer" within a rounding error of nothing. (It's true...).

    The fact is I read your blog because I agree with you about how prisoners are failed by society, and much of criminality is either a result of mental illness or the war on drugs. But most of the rest is facilitated (if not actually caused) by the grotesque incentives of the welfare state.

    Too many people who should enjoy mental health support, instead enjoy police attention.

    Getting an offender out of the habit of a lifetime requires more than dumping him on the street with £50 odd quid, but ensuring he's unemployable (CRB checks etc...) and investment in the Probation service strikes me as one of the better investments a government can make.

    But.

    Much of the social work agenda BEFORE people get to gaol, seems designed to foster dependence upon the state, something that becomes near total when they go to gaol.

    My point is not that I know what to do about it, or even that you're wrong but you've gone from being constructive and interesting to shrill and bitter and it detracts from, rather than adds too your argument.

    Is all.

    The Government is dealing with the big picture problem - a decade of Labour overspend due to the inflated tax-bills by bubbly banks. When this easy money dried up, so did the fat years for all state employees. I've seen my other employer (the army) cut to the bone, police numbers cut, the NHS facing real terms cuts and so forth. All of this is necessary because the Labour party spent too much, taxed as much as they could and left no slack when the music stopped.

    Some acknowledgement that savings must be made wouldn't go amiss.

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    1. Considered alongside your proudly trumpeted right wing extremist outlook note of your profession and likely income doesn't constitute an 'Ad Hominem' line of reasoning. When you're trotting out the same old right wing drivel about how 'the money's all been spent' and 'savings must be made' - when it comes to the underprivileged that is - and trying to present it as truth, then your motivation, your way of viewing the world and your way of living is directly relevant. You point out that you're not a banker. I guess the confuse stems from the fact that you say you work in the 'Investment Banking' industry. You otherwise detail how you're a stockbroker. So what's clear is you work in the financial sector. In short your very lifeblood is the kind of exploitation and abuse people writing here stand against. There's little surprise that you don't value much of what's being said as with your outlook you couldn't understand and anyway clearly wouldn't want to understand - I mean where's the profit in that?. Every day Probation staff try to help to mitigate agains the harm done to those whose lives are destroyed by the actions of people like you. The people we work with and their victims are all in turn the victims of a way of living foisted upon the rest of us by the parasites like you who think of nothing but their own advantage, and try to pass this off as some sort of ethical outlook - and all while simultaneously looking to portray the havoc reeked on poorer peoples lives as stemming for some kind of moral failing on their own behalf. The poor People of this world are created by the bankers and the stockbrokers who walk among us, puffed up and proud, as though they've achieved something...

      Simon Garden

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    2. It must be nice to believe that anyone who thinks in a different way is evil. Comforting even. But not very bright.

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    3. It is far too simplistic to say that problems with delivery of probation and prison services began with the Labour Government in 1997.

      The training was destabilised in about 1995 by Michael Howard - when Leon Brittan was Home Secretary he used subterfuge to massage, that he was letting folk out of gaol and he also started the nationalisation of probation.

      There were always major resource issues from before I qualified in 1975, as parliaments had dumped any number of tasks onto probation (then mostly just) officers (there were a few so called Ancillary workers) - since the Courts first found having someone from a social work background, available was useful.

      I seem to think there were about 79 statutory tasks for probation officers detailed in the probation manual - neighbour disputes, marital reconciliation, etc., etc. - and quite a few non statutory ones - I don't remember the precise number - perhaps someone will clarify -

      There was never the resources to offer the service that legislation recommended to prisoners not eligible for any sort of licenced release, so prioritisation was always a major aspect of the work, with some things just never getting sufficient attention.

      The more criminal justice in general, and latterly probation in particular has become a party political issue, the more scrutiny and monitoring has taken place, leaving less and less to the discretion of individual probation workers. Plus there has been ever more legislation with some later laws making the operation of earlier ones more difficult. Probation managers have largely been compliant, the management is no longer overseen by a magistrate's court committee, i.e. local - nor is any of the funding from local council tax - at one time it was 50% funded in that way.

      Interestingly despite a vast increase in costs, due to the bureaucratisation, front-line practitioners get far less administrative support, than back in the 1970s, when it was roughly one admin worker to two probation officers.

      A major reason, I had to seek early retirement was because, being dyslexic and dyspraxic (which was not acknowledged by my employer) I found it more difficult to be self administering than others and got ill trying to do it all.

      No, blaming 'new Labour' for the problems of probation delivery is simply wrong. As a nation we have more social needs than we have resources to meet - I am avoiding entering into the dependency issue - related to the availability of suitable work - it was ever thus - in my time we have legislated to provide extra support to people with disabilities, parents and much else, but our industrial base has deteriorated and the nation is less effective at trading internationally - vast complex issues - beyond that of a retired probation officer.

      If we are going to double the number in custody, at a time of falling crime there can be little wonder the financial consequences are - to put it mildly - testing!

      Andrew Hatton (No pseudonym!)

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    4. Who was it who wrote 'Well it isn't fucking fair, and neither's life. Some people are born rich, pretty and intelligent and some are born poor, ugly and stupid'? oh yes - it was you, on your blog http://brackenworld.blogspot.co.uk/2005/12/anyone-who-reads-guardian-is-twat.html

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    5. An intelligent, reasoned comment, with which I am not qualified to disagree. Entirely devoid of Angry ad-hominem, and well-argued.

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    6. Anon. Yes. I did write that. And my point (as you've taken a deliberately provocative phrase out of context) is that attempts to deal with that by the state are fraught with unintended consequences. Which is why I favour a CBI.

      http://brackenworld.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/who-advocates-for-poor.html

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    7. My earlier praise was for Andrew Hatton's comment, and it was not sarcastic. Genuinely informative comment.

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    8. So maybe Jackart who excuses his own angry comment as letting off steam in frustration - or something similar - accept that those working in probation also have a need and perhaps as much right as anyone else to 'let of steam' though maybe it is not always wise for any of us to do it on a public 'forum' which effectively is what this and Jackart's blogs are.

      The probation clientele also get frustrated, many perhaps being more 'visible' and close to the edge of survival than bloggers, when they let off steam, get apprehended because that is how our laws are constructed - to sustain the 'Queen's Peace' or some similar term.

      What probation and social workers do is to try to better enable folk to stay on, or get further from the edge of survival, and not to break the law, so that they and everybody else, can better ~enjoy~ 'the Queen's peace'!

      Andrew Hatton

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    9. Letting off steam is good. Doing so by blaming a class of people (bankers in this case, though it applies to idiot righties blaming benefits people too) is wrong.

      What probation officers do is valuable. What the economy must do is decide HOW valuable exactly in a world of scarce resources. Resources which have ultimately been taken by force from someone else.

      I don't doubt working for the state is frustrating. This is why I work for myself.

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    10. I'll leave it to others to comment if they think Jackart is being too liberal with his blame, as I am sure some are when they blame 'bankers', as a class.

      The whole point of social work and probation, is that blame - as an end point - is counterproductive and unhelpful.

      What is helpful is understanding causes, how individuals get caught up in what might be termed a 'social flood' and how they can enable themselves not to get into the flow unless they are properly equipped, and that the equipment has been purchased legally.

      The frustrating aspect for social workers is to keep on coming across folk who are socially drowning and find that although there might seem to be a rescue line, it is not strong enough to hold their weight or does not reach the dry land. Then having tied several ropes together, we find that the social conditions are not adjusted and when the next storm comes the same folk are again up the creek and without a proverbial paddle!

      Incidentally, I spent my first eight years after leaving school at sixteen as a bank clerk, and had the opportunity to experience local and international banking at first hand. Back in about 1972 I witnessed outright tax dodging and market fixing in different ways from one of the world's largest 5 banks.

      Sadly I did not have the intellectual capacity or social stability to challenge it then. I suspect banks and bankers have been fiddling the markets, probably since time immemorial.

      The detail of one fraud - bank's only need to (and in my opinion should by law) only trade currencies and loans to satisfy the requirements of their customers.

      On this day, my employer was 'square', in their overnight Eurodollar position, very early in the morning - in other words at that time had no customers seeking to lend or borrow a significant amount of Eurodollars that day

      What I saw the chief dealer do was unnecessarily lend US$20,000,000 at ¼%, more than the then daily market rate thereby upsetting the market - and later in the day covered that loan by borrowing a total of US$20,000,000 at ¼% less than it had been lent out earlier thereby making a profit for which the customers of those banks had to pay for the trading that was unnecessary.

      Somehow the banking regulations allowed such unnecessary dealings or made it possible for them to be concealed - that was a very, very simple example(but possibly not clearly expressed-sorry), compared to the complex arbitrage, forward, derivative deals that have been done latterly - but ultimately some poor Joe Tax payer or benefit claimant ends up paying for or losing out as a consequence of such dealing.

      Private is not automatically bad, but where maximising short term profits is the whole reason for business it can be very tempting for folk to cut corners, bend rules and worse.

      Maybe fixed salaries with only a small percentage allowed as a possible bonus would take some of the temptation away from those who use money making to satisfy their self esteem?

      Andrew Hatton

      PS. Back in 1972 that bank would have done several deals a day of amounts as high as US$20,000,000, $5,000,000 deals were small - I imagine the amounts in single deals nowadays are vastly more - it certainly led me to do a double take when a month or so later I heard a judge seeming to risk apoplexy as he raged on about a theft of a couple of thousand pounds!

      Andrew Hatton

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  9. It IS about 'public good , private bad'. When profit is foremost, nothing else matters. As long as the 'results' look right on paper in order to get the money these companies won't give a fuck what else happens - they don't care about crime, or victims or turning people's lives around - they want the money. The Client group might as well be sides of beef. There won't be an interest in improving their lives or changing their way of thinking. Just money. Money money money.They don't care about us as professionals either - they will milk us for as much as possible and destroy any notion of doing righteous, heartfelt and rewarding work, and all while paying as little as they can possibly get away with to the few of our number they actually to keep on the pay roll

    Public vs Private? Why should the client group accept being exploited as a way to make money. How is that paying your debt to society? Ripped off and abused all your life, you end up getting in trouble and the result? You're a good earner for some faceless company who couldn't care less about you except for the fact that they're glad your life is a nightmare so they can ring some cash out of your predicament.

    Why would anyone view being at the beck and call of a private company as the legitimate exercise of justice on behalf of the state? 'Why the fuck should i care about seeing you every week - all you're bothered about is the money you get for me coming in!' 'I know you're not gonna take me back to court - your bosses won't allow it cos then they don't get paid' 'you don't work for the court, you work for G4S/A4E/Tescos, you can't tell me what to do'. I'm glad staff are talking about not complying with the changes, but wait until the clients get their head around it!

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    1. More assumptions about me: I am not "a good earner for some faceless company" because I am self-employed.

      "It IS about 'public good , private bad'. When profit is foremost, nothing else matters..." and societies that think like you have been the most hellish and murderous in history.

      Without the profit motive (which is about allocation of resources to the most efficient) all you have is allocation of resources to the most powerful. This is why command economies end up a pile of corpses.

      But you carry on thinking profit evil, private bad and public good.

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    2. Jackart, If only it was about the allocation of resources to the most efficient. Isn't that Adam Smith's classical , 'invisible hand' economics? But that was before the days of monopolies, cartels, oligarchies and protectionism. Modern economies are social markets: free markets need social infrastructures which are collectively provided through taxation. It is always about striking the right balance between a overweening state and rampant individualism. Shrinking the state for ideological reasons is as socially damaging to the greater good as a command economy.

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    3. Malcolm, (Jackart) you know you are not self employed. You work for your Dad in Hitchin. Can't you see we've given this self indulgent individual far too much time. Read his blog it's full of hate and spite towards anyone vaguelly left wing. He dresses up as a soldier at weekends and spends his days blogging cause he's got hate in his heart and too much time on his hands.

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  10. Perhaps read it again, Jackart, maybe a bit more carefully. As I'm afraid you may occasionally find in the rest of life from time to time 'it's not all about you'...

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  11. Ok! Hard to tell with text only :)

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  12. Bit bored of this Tory plank - You disagree with us! You pretend you think the 'profit' motive is a force for good! Well fancy that! - can we get back to the matter at hand?

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  13. By the way, I totally agree with your comments about crony capitalism. The problem is that politicians are bad customers (they're spending others' money). Given the state did so much so much worse before outsourcing, my solution broadly boils down to getting the state to do much less. A small, but effective state, promising less, but over-delivering.

    I quite openly admit I don't know where probation fits in this vision. Which is why I read your blog.

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  14. I'm with Anon 16:10. To paraphrase Eric Canona, aren't we overfeeding the seagulls? Jackart is beginning to behave like a one-legged duck...

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  15. Well I suggested a heated debate.......

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    1. I for one find a heated debate with a right wing bigot about as useful as a chocolate teapot. It's self indulgent. Probation staff many of whom are very experienced and are longstanding are losing their roles and being sold off to free marketeers. Lets not take our eye off the ball with self indulgent 'debate' with a loon.

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    2. Well we've had it and I disagree - it helps clarify the issues.

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    3. Malcolm Bracken is a racist right wing bigot and you gave him a platform Shameful!

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    4. Oh come on! It makes a refreshing change to the charge that we're just preaching to the converted and indulging in mutual admiration. Some of our clients are racist right-wing bigots, but it doesn't stop us treating them with the same consideration and professional concern as any other. I'd rather have had the discussion and argument here than have it moderated and censored on the Napo Forum.

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    5. I know not who Jackart is, and find it as unhelpful to think of anyone as a 'loon' in the same way I find it unhelpful to primarily think of anyone as an 'offender' - all, unless they are compulsorily detained in some way are as entitled to vote as me and therefore potentially able to influence the policies of State institutions such as the probation service(s)

      It is tempting to sum people up pithily and dismissively but it does not aid community and society so to do, rather if they act as I do when I feel 'attacked' and become more 'defensive' than normal it makes understanding any human unity more difficult.

      As a social worker/probation worker I felt something of a bridge between wider society and those who are excluded or feel excluded - I find it constructive to endeavour to maintain such characteristics, when I am in a public venue, such as an internet forum, as ultimately I benefit when there is more experience sharing rather than 'attacking' of each other.

      Andrew Hatton

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  16. https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BgNAYeiIYAA2wxX.jpg

    Andrew Hatton

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    1. This tells a little about the origin of that poster, linked above.

      rhttp://www.plebs.com/

      I didn't send an Email - BUT am sure we need some candidates(one at least) at the General Election to stand up for the integrity of Public Service - preferably where the current majority is small - do you have any suggestions of constituencies or people, I am NOT available and my constituency WITHAM in Essex is a 'walk in' for the Conservatives, again.

      Andrew Hatton

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  17. Oh I would so love for Jackart to spend a week with me, I don't think we'll win him over or any arguments, because he really doesn't get what we do - I won't comment on the value or usefulness of what he does, coz I don't know what he does either.

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    1. I do he plays at being a soldier at weekends and his name is Malcolm Bracken and he works for Redmayne Bentley a Broker in Hitchin. You coudn't make it up!

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  18. Phew, what a scorcher!!

    In amongst the exchanges of heated highbrow abuse I didn't manage to work out if Jackart answered the points highlighted in Jim's opening blog made by, presumably, a surfer?

    To ease myself into a bottle of red, here are my favourite surfing memories:

    Black Rocks Sands in October/November
    Praa in April
    La Rochelle in June
    Mission, La Jolla and Scripps Pier in February
    Godrevy Sands anytime

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    1. Malcolm Bracken.
      A respected stockbroker,analysts and anger managed cycling one man rogue.
      Been questioned, warned and charged with numerous damage offences by police in relation to traffic and vehicle damage over the past four years.
      He is a very dangerous angry man of the naughties who has no remorse for his actions but seems to find his way around the legal system to be able to act in a animalistic manner.
      The sooner he is off the road the better. I pity his girlfriend and anyone who has the misfortune to meet this biggotted fool.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. One clear fact is that it is always far cheaper financially to operate probation than what it is an alternative to - custody - assuming those criminals who do not need/merit close attention by the State have been dealt with by way of fines or discharges.

      If/when probation fails and reoffending occurs, the State is ultimately likely to impose a more expensive adjudication - custody - on top of the costs - physical, emotional and financial to victims of crime and the costs of detection and processing through the criminal justice system.

      I have not mentioned the extremely expensive (in the UK ten times more than in the USA) cost of tagging - home detention curfew - or part time imprisonment in the criminals own place of residence - I do not think there are any statistics linking its use to any impact on the rate of reoffending - as far as I am concerned it is largely, simply a way of transferring money from the State to a private company and creating some employment for workers - although it serves no practical use.

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362785/G4S-whistleblower-Nigel-Mills-reveals-criminals-roaming-free-security-firm-blunders.html

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