Thursday, 6 March 2014

Latest From Napo 15

This is the latest e-mail from Napo HQ sent to all members earlier today:-

Dear Colleagues,

At a closed session of the Special General Meeting held in Birmingham yesterday I announced that our probation members in England and Wales are to be asked to take further strike action across the 31st March-1st April 12:00 noon to 12:00 noon)

Formal notice of the action will be sent to Trusts shortly and more details of the intended action and supporting literature will be sent to Branches at the earliest opportunity.

Why another strike?
Napo does not call for strike action lightly but this month sees a number of key events which will bring Chris Graylings Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) agenda under serious scrutiny.  These include
  • The House of Lords reading of the Offender Rehabilitation Bill - 11th March
  • A Napo ‘drop in’ session for Lib Dem and Conservative MP’s in the House of Commons - 12th March  
  • An enquiry by the influential Public Accounts Committee (PAC) into TR. Napo has requested an opportunity to give oral evidence to the PAC to supplement our written submissions.
  • The intention to ‘split’ probation staff into the two intended arms of the probation service on 1st April
Our action is designed to raise the profile of Napo’s ongoing campaign against the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda and the serious risk that the programme poses to public safety by the intended sell off of our members work to the private sector. Napo has signalled its intention to expose the track records of the companies who have expressed an interest in bidding and will be continuing its active campaigning in and outside of Parliament to draw our concerns to an increasing number of parliamentarians and of course the wider public.

SGM gives a warm response to the announcement. 
Napo members who had made a tremendous effort to get to Birmingham received news of the strike plans with great acclaim as can be seen from the BBC coverage that followed the announcement and the spontaneous lunchtime demonstration that took place outside Birmingham Town Hall see: and Napo News Online (

Possible co-ordinated action
Members have been asking that any action we take should be co-ordinated with other unions and organisations wherever possible and, as I announced yesterday, we are actively doing so. We have met with the Justice Alliance who are due to take industrial action this Friday 7th March and I will be speaking at their London Rally outside Parliament at 9:00 (please show your support at any local activities that may be occurring in your area see the Justice Alliance website: We hope that any further action that they may decide to take might coincide with our plans.

We are also speaking with the POA about any support they can give and I will be speaking at their rally and Parliamentary Lobby on 19th March. We also understand that the National Union of Teachers will be taking strike action on 26th March and it looks as if this could be a busy period where thousands of trade union members show their feelings against privatisation and the systemic attack on public services that is being perpetrated by this coalition government.

While Unison are not currently in a Trade dispute, I will be writing (as you would expect) to their General Secretary Dave Prentis to explore the practical support and solidarity that we would hope to see from their members during the strike.

Time for action!
While the Officers, NEC and myself appreciate that the lead in time to the strike is not as long as we would like, we hope that members will appreciate the strategic reasons why we have not made an announcement before now and until we have had talks with other potentially supportive parties. The action will provide an important opportunity to again demonstrate the recklessness of the TR agenda, expose the track records of the companies interested in purchasing the 21 CRC contracts. It will also send a clear signal to the bidders that Napo members will not be a compliant workforce, are deeply opposed to the sell off and intend to do all you can to defend your jobs, your livelihoods and stand up for the safety of the communities that you serve so well.

This is probably the most important strike that Napo has ever called in what is a critical moment in our campaign, and we will need all of our members who are to be involved to step up to the plate and show their resolve. I know that you will do so.

Yours sincerely

Ian Lawrence
General Secretary



    1. Chris Grayling is a minister in a hurry. Since becoming Justice Secretary he has announced the closure of several jails, tougher regimes for prisoners, the overhaul of the youth justice system and cuts to legal aid.
      But the Grayling reform which could have the longest lasting impact is his determination to break up the probation service, which he views as riddled with waste and inefficiency.

      He points to grim reoffending statistics – six out of ten short-term prisoners return to crime within a year of release – as evidence that the current system is failing.

      His solution is to replace the 35 public sector probation trusts with 21 privately run “community rehabilitation companies” supervising about 160,000 low and medium risk offenders each year.

      More than 700 organisations have expressed interest in the contracts, with rewards for cutting reoffending rates.

      Responsibility for the most dangerous ex-offenders, including those with convictions for violence and sex crimes, would remain with the National Probation Service.

      Mr Grayling is determined to get the shake-up in place by the next election, although he has been forced to accept a slight delay.

      One former civil servant says: “He is completely focused on his legacy, and appears to be conscious time is running out.”

      The result is that the historic overhaul will be driven through in the face of hostility and scepticism from MPs and peers of all parties, as well as probation staff and police and crime commissioners.

      Even an internal risk assessment by the Ministry of Justice warned of an 80 per cent-plus risk of “an unacceptable drop in operational performance”, causing “delivery failures and reputational damage”.

      Their resistance may well be seen by the Tory Right, whose support has been courted by Mr Grayling, as evidence of institutional antagonism to change.

      The Justice Secretary insists the part-privatisation is not designed to trim money from the £1bn probation bill, but to spend it more effectively.

      He argues that if the moves drive up standards, the reforms will reduce social harm – and save cash – by cutting reoffending. It is, he asserts, “obviously the right thing to do”.

      Opponents are queuing up to disagree. They warn that the division between ex-offenders being variously supervised by private companies and by the public sector will cause confusion, while Sadiq Khan, the shadow Justice Secretary, has accused Mr Grayling of “a reckless gamble with public safety”.

      The moves are being fiercely opposed by the National Association of Probation Officers, which this month stages its second protest strike. The union has also encouraged members to appeal against their enforced transfers to the private sector and hundreds have succeeded.

      But they are running out of time to prevent the part-privatisation and there is no sign of a weakening in Mr Grayling’s resolve.

      Bizarrely, he has been helped in his mission by a gift from the last Labour government, which legislated for the break-up of probation trusts, but never acted on the powers.He has not needed to bring in a Bill to implement the sweeping changes

      The 35 trusts will be wound up on 31 May and the new system fully in place by next April, a month ahead of the general election. Whatever the result on 7 May 2015, part of the Grayling legacy will be in place.

  2. Ian Lawrence says the strike will send a clear signal to the bidders – but, at best, it will send a mixed signal and, depending on the actual turnout – because even stalwarts get cold feet- possibly a weak signal. If it's so terrible, bidders may ponder, then why is Unison working normally?

    Those in Unison should consider leaving and joining Napo, as it is apparent that Napo is the only probation union that puts its heart and soul into the probation cause. I think Unison is so accustomed to having many of its members on poverty wages, that it's unperturbed by the prospect of some further erosions in probation. All the heavy lifting in this campaign has been undertaken by Napo members. The failure of Unison to provide a united front is a betrayal. Maybe Ian Lawrence will tell Dave Prentice so. No wonder neoliberalism triumphs when two TUC affilaites can't actually stand shoulder - to – shoulder during the most important period in the history of the probation service. Unison has more in common with the mentality of bidders. I hope their members hang their heads in shame when they cross picket lines.

  3. Come on Unison members, express your concern to your union about their lack of action. WHAT WILL IT TAKE FOR UNISON TO STRIKE?????
    Show some support take some action for all of our sakes......PLEASE SUPPORT NAPO....... PLEASE SAVE OUR SERVICE

  4. O dear tokenism again. 2 half days might protect your pension but will it really help keep your job and prevent TR now? How about NAPO withdrawing from probation institute immediately, lead by example napo leaders. The PI is an important part of TR so withdraw NAPO, pull the plug. As for as striking napo will need to do a massive piece of campaigning work to get members on side. I can see NPS going in and CRC coming out. Most admin going in because they are mostly Unison. Still no co ordination with strike day and others in CJS who are facing attacks. More divisions amongst staff which will cut even deeper than before and last longer. These divisions will definitely compromise NPS/CRC communication practitioner to practitioner, and indirectly and I guess directly in some situations compromise public safety in the future. So the message is, napo leaders get in line with your membership, totally withdraw from PI, seek to co ordinate with other workers in public sector. And potential bidders if you take any probation trusts over, you are taking over an absolute mess on every conceivable level.

    Yeah napo this is a really important time even more reason to pull the plug on probation institute. Napo withdraw now that would send a clear message to graylings mob and also to membership that the NAPO leadership mean business. Sometimes it's not just about what the members do
    Sometimes it needs the leadership to put their money where their mouth is and join the battle instead of sitting on the hill directing things.

    1. Nps staff in our area are talking about being fearful of reprisals from moj. They already feel moj threats about achieving results with crazy workloads are intimidating. I can't see any striking. And crc staff are haemorrhaging en masse to unison - "if i'm no longer in the probation service, why pay extortionate subs for nowt?"

    2. MoJ are already downgrading targets to hide the dip in performance being caused by TR. Don't think this malarkey is an easy ride for them. They are not nearly home and dry.

  5. I hesitate to make such an analogy but... Being instructed to prepare all cases for reallocation crc/nps as deemed by TR, with crippling deadlines and merciless/heartless directives by drones (who we believe used to have human form) is reminiscent of someone being directed to dig their own grave and thence to lie in it, awaiting execution.

    Insult to injury, ALL cases to be transferred MUST include a three way, face-to-face handover. No exemptions. Reminiscent of being asked to load the weapon they will use to execute you before you lie down in the self-dug grave, perhaps?

    And how, exactly, will one and a half days without pay (whilst others crack on in't warm & dry sipping coffee) help?

    By the way, two half days did NOT stop our Trust taking additional stoppages for pension payments - contrary to NAPO advice we were penalised, as well as isolated. Managers came to work and stood outside merrily chatting to committed NAPO members for protracted periods, laughing about how they were still being paid.

    Convince me why I need to stay NAPO, why I should support the strike, and why there are still people believing this will somehow go away? I want to be convinced, but I'm struggling to take the union seriously. Just look at the emails today as highlighted by Jim - oops, got the strike period wrong. Sorry...

  6. I'm tired of fighting. I'm hiding in a hole, shaking and waiting for the enemy to get me.

    1. For the sake of my beliefs and my commitment and my integrity I've had my head above the parapet for years, and been shot at so many times I look like an ancient, battered colander - and I AM worried that one day the next shot will be fatal, professionally or personally. So yes, I am scared, and yes I am tired. I am angry at NAPO's incompetence to date (esp the cringe-making ledgergate) and I DO need re-enthusing. I'm not hiding, but I'm trying to regroup my energies and passion and belief. Anon 20:43.

  7. I understand the scepticsm which I previously shared to some extent, indeed I am still not really sure about the efficacy of any action.
    For me the question is do I give in or do I do what little I can to put flies in the ointment - I've decided, partly out of a sense of union loyalty & partly out of what I consider to be my own sense of self-worth to keep on fighting.
    Others have to make their own decision to do what they feel they can comfortably live with - I would not criticise anybody's decision....Bobbyjoe

  8. Struggling to see many striking. Those that are safe won't bother and those that are in CRC will not bother as they are already resigned to their fate.

    1. "Those that are safe won't bother" - safe? Surely people sifted into NPS aren't feeling 'safe' are they? If so I think they need to start boning up on what NPS is going to be like under a command and control system on reducing budgets under the auspices of the Official Secrets Act whilst taking responsibility for SFO's on their assessments prepared without meeting clients. 'Safe' it won't be.

  9. in my area it feels like i am being asked to build my own gallows and be happy with it. There is a lot of talk about innovation and opportunity, building new systems and new ways of working however it doesn't acknowledge that once the share sale happens and the ink dries the new companies can F*** everything off and do what they want.

    1. And in the meantime whilst u are smarting from getting what u did not want u are likely to be doing same role for the next few months. I feel for you.

  10. I went to a TR briefing today, and it seems management are now putting flesh on the bones of the TR plan. During the briefing an analogy was given of the journey will we make from Trusts to CRC/NPS over the period from April to June. Management painted the picture of a fast flowing river with two banks. The ugly ducklings leave one bank ( 1st April into shadow CRC/NPS) and paddle, paddle paddle to get to the other side. Some of the ducks will get to the other side easier than the others. But once they get to the other side (CRC/NPS june 1st) they will become like beautiful swans! To be fair the briefing was quite informative, but the analogy was difficult to relate with - more like sinking ships than paddling ducklings!

  11. While the Probation Institute is a great idea, it's a sop to the breaking up of our service - lets not fall for it. I'm a NAPO member but people join UNISON - I think - 'cos NAPO is so expensive comparatively: NAPO OFFICIALS TAKE NOTE. We should come out - what's the loss of a day's pay compared to giving a last stand; at least our consciences will be intact. I'm NPS which makes me even more determined not to abandon colleagues in CRC who are appealing their assignment. And the bit about managers chatting on the picket line: in my area, there were more managers out proportionately by far than main grade.

  12. What's the point? TR IS 'kin WRONG! That's the point!

    All I have heard for months is 'what are the union doing'? Then, when they do something it's 'why are they doing something'? Thank God its just the Probation Service not votes for women, civil liberties or something important.

    I will be on strike because it is necessary. If those who don't strike do not understand why, why are they seen sneaking in the back door, coming in early before the pickets arrive. We strike because it MATTERS more than a day's pay.