Friday, 18 April 2014

All Going to Plan 2

Whilst I'm rolling with the changes and making the best out of a bad situation I've noticed in the past week I've drastically changed my working practice. My caseload has increased by 20 so I'm on 60 cases and still have more to come. All I can say is that everything is rushed - I even saw a client in reception today and just got him to sign his next apt, another client who's a pensioner and likes to use supervision as a 'chat' was hastily curtailed after 10 mins - I'm not a social worker and so long as I'm content his risk is stable then I've little interest to hear about his daily routine that has absolutely nothing to do with Probation. 

I find myself being more intolerant of the tweens who moan they cant get work but then find every excuse in the book to avoid engaging with ETE - if they cant be bothered why should I - so long as they're not going to re-offend then all I care about is that I can prove to auditors that I've referred them. I've also started putting loads of them on monthly and any that don't come in then I cold call and hope they answer so that I can re-engage them - the last thing I have time for is recall or breach. I don't like my job anymore, it's too much of a gamble, it's not forcing people to look at their offending behaviour but I'm hoping once I've got my full caseload I can start revisiting some of my reporting decisions and reel some of them back in. 

One thing that concerns me is some of my caseload do a 30 mile roundtrip for supervision which even in the car is not far off a 2 hour round trip - on public transport add another hour and the most common complaint I hear is the distance they have to travel - whilst it saves money having large Centres it forces people to struggle to comply - if you're on Programmes and work then some of mine report not getting home until pushing 10pm again because the Progs department is another 10 miles further up the road!! 

To top it all we have a new management and I just hope and pray they are not to pernickety over accepting absences or offenders re-scheduling appointments because the last thing I need is a manager breathing down my neck - flexibility is the key in this brave new world. Despite everything tho I enjoy change, I'll do what I can to make it work because what else can we do?

It sounds incredibly stressful, rushing around to do things with very time to do it. I feel that experience is now all very common across the service throughout different Trust. We are now in the danger zone where something is likely to happen very soon. I worry for myself and my colleagues. I went to see my manager today regarding a sex offender who turned up to report after being sentenced from Court yesterday. There was no paperwork, no information, no induction packs, nothing recorded in Delius regarding what was said to him, by whom, where he was living and with who. I was instructed to see him and I had to refuse. I’m sorry but I don’t get paid to see people without the proper risk assessment procedures and paperwork completed, as I'm not going to take responsibility in case after he sees me, does something and I get blamed for it. I ‘told’ my manager he needed to see the client. He did not. Instead (to my amazement) another officer volunteered to see the person which left me feeling flat. My manager has referred my refusal up to the ACE level. We will see what happens next. 

At the moment I'm not finding it stressful but I've noticed this afternoon I was really tired and had backache - something I don't suffer from. Considering this is only for me week one of the new working practices I wonder how I will cope in the next few weeks, all I know is I've got to morph into something that's alien to me but on the other hand something that my employers encourage - they only want us to target resources at those who's criminogenic needs dictate so. The problem I've got is learning to stagger cases throughout the month so they don't all come in the same week. I'm very relieved not to be doing anymore reports, I do feel as though a bit of a weight's been lifted and it's one less deadline hanging over my head. The next thing they need to look at is a short format oasys - far too laborious and time consuming in its current state especially for CRC cases - no point doing fabulous war and peace sentence plans if I'm not going to be seeing people and carry any of the objectives out!!

I'm more likely to be killed on the roads of Britain than by a punter at the moment. Been in shadow working since Monday and I've already driven more than 200 miles in the huge rural area I work in. I'm rushing around with a head full of stuff, not knowing where I'm going or who I have to see. Tireder than a tired thing in a tired place. Just completely exhausted and stressed to pieces.

Ah Jim, it’s truly mental. We are beside ourselves with confusion. 6 of us from Weary Town have been sent to Dreary Town. 2 from Dreary Town have been sent to Weary Town. We took all our stuff: files, stationery, phone books, chairs, mouse mats, mugs etc.... Unfortunately all the clients have stayed in the same place so we are going to work in the morning, driving back to our old office, sitting in our old desks but with none of our resources or equipment. I feel like I’m going mad in a parallel universe.

If I were a company considering bidding for a CRC I would consider in great detail the way that NOMS and the MOJ meddle in everything, embrace bureaucratic systems and move the goalposts at every opportunity. They will demand minute detail of all that the CRC do.
Just a warning we already know in the Probation service how it works on a micro level - total unbridled chaos and weak management.

Quote: "The staff list for the CRC is full of so-called back office staff with frontline workers as rare as hen's teeth, whereas the NPS is mainly made up of practitioners. Do bidders know they will inherit a load of IT staff and office managers-that will supervise them a lot of offenders?" 

Bidders should not assume that the staff list they are given by MoJ is accurate. These lists were very hurriedly compiled, barely checked, and I know for sure that the one from my own PT had plenty of mistakes and, crucially, lots of missing detail and context. For example where there are act-ups or secondments the lists bidders see might show who is in the substantive posts instead of the actual ones, but without actually highlighting this difference. So bidders might believe they are getting a particular staff mix, when actually they will get a significantly different staff mix. Let the bidder beware!

My organisation was a potential Tier 2/Tier 3 bidder for CRC work. 

Reading this site persuaded me not to be part of this process. It also gave me the information I required to go to my Board of Directors and say “don’t get involved” and we withdraw from the process. 

Be critical of many things but not of this site.

I'm in exactly the same position. Have refused offers from a number of Primes to support their tenders as 'bid candy' and the information gleaned from this blog has given me much information to justify my decision to the Board. In fact, we intend to close the organisation rather than become involved in TR, with that decision being made both on 'business-case' and moral grounds.


  1. We may yet have a lot to thank Dr Mattu for -

    "£10 million cost of gagging an NHS whistleblower: Tribunal backs cardiologist hounded out of job after exposing deadly hospital failings"

    A landmark ruling that may prove invaluable in the not too distant future.

  2. Whats very clear is that the whole criminal justice is in meltdown. Prisons, police, courts, probation, all have been meddled with by external agents (Grayling /MoJ), who have no real understanding of how they work.
    The CJ system is now as fragile as rice paper, and once it cracks it will all come tumbling down.
    I notice Grayling has gone very quiet since the book ban battering he took last week. It's his normal practice I've noticed. Cause outrage and run and hide till it all goes away.
    But it doesn't make things any better, and he himself knows just what a devastating mess he's made of everything. But he can't put it all back together again.
    It's my personal opinion that Graylings rehab revolution will be big news again within a couple of weeks, because the rice paper can't hold out much longer.

  3. I could not agree more "fragile as rice paper" is a good description.....and it is starting to rain.......
    The mantra (previously posted on this very blog by what many in my Trust believe to have been one of our Directors) is JFDI but the reality is no-one knows what is to be done. There is a vacuum of process and the expectation is that the void is to be filled by force of will, to resolve whatever problems arise. Well, my friends,having lost the goodwill of a really productive work force how is that going to happen?
    This is the time of "shadow-running" when both systems (one defined by policy and practice established over time) and the other well frankly, yet to be developed, are supposed to run in tandem.
    Where is corporate governance, where is accountability, where is the duty of care the employer is bound by law to exercise? If none of that matters ( and it does not appear to) what does?

  4. "JFDI" that aint gonna motivate anyone! Given these people are losing their power, it aint gonna threaten anyone either ! It just shows contempt not skill.

  5. Isn't time flying by, and although it looks like my team will be given the message, deliver NPS services, as you see fit, I wonder if that should best you can. Issues of Duty cover, Court cover, semi specialist groups of report writers, rotating specialisms, specific lifer and mental health caseloads etc etc - in principle, yeah, let the practitioners come up with solutions, but in practice....we have only 4 weeks in which to do it...sadly, still a crock of shite - have an enjoyable and restful break from the madness everyone.

    Oh, I do like to share stuff from the shop floor - a client came in yesterday and myself and a final year PFQ colleague completed our pre SOTP work with him...whilst this has been something of a challenge to him, he did make an interesting point about the, pre-sentence service provided by a well known organisation who offer a 12 week 'group work programme' at the cost of about £700, he told us that he appreciated our work with him, as he felt in the other group, he was given a false sense of security and the main message he received from them was "be kind to yourself". Interestingly, we have been less than kind to him, in a very professional way, but he expressed his gratitude to us, saying "this is what he really needed".

  6. The 'Cherry Picking' appears to be alive and kicking in Northumbria! The very clear message from our seniors are to 'stick as many as you can on monthlys', take telephone calls as contact to avoid breach and 'be creative' with what you class as contact.

    And this is only the first month, heaven help us all when we get all of the under 12 months on Licence!!!

    1. So the rot sets in. Disgraceful.

    2. Very much alive in Teesside too. It appears that the PTB have adopted the ethos of the Back to Work Programme; Parking & Creaming.

      This used to be a good job, now it's just a job. Unfortunately that too will go.

    3. Ditto in Leeds. I was at a (re)allocation meeting this week and when I asked my Manager how I was supposed to see my high ROH clients weekly AND write two PSR's (at least) per week I was advised to 'just do my best'. Clear as mud then!

    4. Please exercise great caution, I would advise only moving people to monthly reporting, accepting phone contact or varying the reporting of High ROSH clients after being instructed to do so by a manager;
      1. record on the contact log that this was approved by your manager eg " after discussion with manager x moved to monthly contact"
      2. type a contract with the client that says "I will report to probation if x y z happens" and get (s)he to sign it
      3. email your manager (with a receipt flag) to express concern and keep your email, the receipt and any response to it and PRINT IT OFF.
      4. Managers, ensure the emails are forwarded to LDU directors so they are aware of the scale of "adjustment" with a receipt flag and keep it and any response and PRINT IT OFF.
      5. Managers, ensure you have a supervision appointment with your line manager. Make the LDU directors accountable at their level for decisions and KEEP AN AUDIT TRAIL.
      I offer this as a means of explaining what happened in the event of any SFO or suicide of a client so that you can demonstrate you behaved appropriately in the circumstances. Remember raise any concerns and keep records ( but keep them only at work, securely marked private and confidential)
      a rep

    5. Good Advice. The only things I would add are:

      1. Insist on discussing ongoing practice issues at briefings/team meetings and refer to these in correspondence with line managers including date and time. Make sure concerns are continually raised and this is properly recorded with actions.
      2. Do not be tempted to forward any email that identifies a client outside of the employers secure email system eg to your home email address.
      3. Resist the temptation to copy all and sundry into your emails
      4. Keep hard copies of correspondence at work securely marked private & confidential and under lock and key
      5. Make sure a signed copy of any agreement with a client is placed on the case file.
      6. Join a union or if already a member ask your union reps advice

    6. From northumbria as well what a load of rubbish this comment is.

  7. Grayling is in Private Eye this week re his shenanigans over his expenses and mortgages. The Eye said " As justice secretary, Grayling is making a name for himself by banning prisoners books. If his expenses claims are ever properly investigated, might he discover for himself what life is like inside? perish the thought!

    Lets dig for victory people :)


    Everything is for sale.

    1. A consultation launched today proposes that local authorities should be able to outsource most areas of children’s services in what would represent a momentous shift in how children’s social care is provided.

      Under the plans councils would be able to outsource child protection services as well as duties in relation to children’s trust boards and implementing children and young people’s plans.

      The only area of children’s services that would be excluded from outsourcing would be delegating the functions of independent reviewing officers.

      Meanwhile adoption services would still only be able to be outsourced to registered adoption agencies.

      The consultation, which closes on 30 May, calls for the views of children’s social workers, care leavers, children in care and care providers on the plans.

      The document states that the changes would “not remove responsibility from the local authority for ensuring their statutory obligations are met”.

      In addition, Ofsted will continue to inspect any outsourced service as part of its single inspection framework and will hold councils responsible for poor practice.

      “These changes will broaden the range of approaches available to local authorities as they look to secure the best outcomes for children in their area,” the consultation document states.

      “They will allow authorities to harness third-party expertise,” as well as “set up more agile delivery structures outside traditional hierarchies.”
      However the Local Government Association (LGA) is sceptical outsourcing will improve failing child protection services.
      A LGA spokeswoman said: "Councils already make extensive use of the expertise of other organisations including private companies, charities, and voluntary organisations to help them deliver the best possible services.

      "We have found some barriers where councils are working to help each other out and would welcome more flexibility, but it is clear that in every case of service failure, it has been councils with their committed professionals and democratic accountability that have turned the situation around and as yet we are not seeing other organisations stepping forward with the ability to do the tough job of child protection."

  9. Please read Private Eye 1364 page 8 about Grayling's expenses it is absolutely disgraceful.....

    1. Glad you like it. More coming soon