Monday, 26 May 2014

17 Things We Know About TR

1. The main justification for TR, and why it got Liberal Democrat support, is to deal with short term prisoners being released 'with just £46 in their pocket'. Well, we now know courtesy of Vera Baird QC, PCC for Newcastle, that this 'won't be happening any time soon' according to her private contact with Jeremy Wright MP, Prisons and Probation minister.

2. Potential bidders for TR are driving such a hard bargain with the MoJ that the deadline for Prime Contractors has been extended to June 30th according to the Clinks website.

3. In the timeframe remaining, there's no way all the contracts can be signed, sealed and sorted before the next General Election. 

4. There are persistent rumours that some package areas only have one bidder, two at the most and some no bidder at all.

5. Any idea of 'Payment by Results' has been ditched - another justification for TR put forward to Parliament - it's all 'Fee for Service' now.

6. The Major Projects Authority has exempted TR from having a 'Delivery Confidence Assessment' due to 'commercial interests'. This is very convenient because the word is no one is confident at all.

7. The NPS/CRC staffing split is hopelessly wrong, resulting in huge imbalances in staff and massive caseloads for some colleagues.

8. Some offices are in 'meltdown' due to sickness, resignations and non-viable staff allocations.

9. The MoJ deny there is a serious staffing issue, that there has been a mass exodus from the profession and that caseloads are rocketing. 

10. Nationally there are at least 500 vacancies for Probation Officers according to an FOI request by the Labour Party. 

11. Cases being split between NPS and CRC are 'falling through the cracks' due to lack of background information or indeed any information being shared.

12. The police are refusing to provide background information on Domestic Violence cases being dealt with by CRC colleagues.  

13. PSR's are not being prepared in time or of sufficient quality due to staffing shortages, new bureaucratic procedures and lack of pre-cons and offence details from CPS.

14. The Public Accounts Committee confirm that there are significant risks with TR and yet the MoJ intend pressing on regardless. 

15. TR is not going to save any money. The senior civil servant has admitted that they have no idea how much it's all going to cost, just that it's all got to come out of the MoJ budget somehow.

16. The potential contractors know absolutely nothing about probation at all. This has become obvious from meetings between them and CRC's and confirmed by personal conversations from within the MoJ. 

17. The new Probation Institute has attracted just 70 members.

(Please feel free to add more, amend or suggest references and I'll publish an update)  



  1. Due to a shortage of POs in CRCs a large number of domestic violence cases are in 'holding' files awaiting allocation.

  2. Jim,

    As always a succinct debrief on the TR Omni shambles....

    Maybe -

    18 .The state’s evident inability to deliver its duty of care to some of the most vulnerable in custody-Nigel Newcomen -PPO April 2014 - commenting on rise in deaths in custody- No mention of TR making any difference?

    19. Parallel can be drawn between the offender management model, with its confused lines of accountability, and the arrangements now being set up in the community under Transforming Rehabilitation. That these same problems continue, after nearly ten years, to plague the delivery of rehabilitation work does not bode well.-Liz Calderbank-Former HMCIP - Jan -2014 :current incumbent has yet to offer anything memorable on impact of TR on PS!! Inspections continue almost in blithe amnesia!

    20.The proposal to commission the majority of probation and rehabilitation
    services from private sector and voluntary providers at the national level raises a number of
    serious concerns.- Head of Community Safety -Haringey March 2014

    Keep up the good work..


    Mike Guilfoyle

  3. Can I add this here from Hartlepool area Evening Gazette:

    "Fears have been raised that high risk sex offenders could pose serious danger to public safety as planned changes to the Probation Service go ahead.

    Unions fear that privatising parts of the service this year could see inexperienced staff dealing with sex offenders - while one anonymous officer working for the Durham Tees Valley Probation Service fears victims could be at risk.

    However a Probation Service spokesperson said that all staff dealing with sex offenders, including rapists and paedophiles, would be “fully qualified”.

    Speaking to the BBC, an anonymous probation officer raised serious concerns that staff would only receive two days training to deal with sex offenders.

    They said: “We are dealing with rapists, child rapists, paedophiles, people who have abused children. The staff are qualified but not with dealing with sex offenders.

    “Because we are not equipped to deal with those people there is a fear we may not pick up on things... Our biggest worry is those people could reoffend and cause further harm to others.”

    After May 31, the Durham Tees Valley Probation Service will no longer exist as a result of government reforms.

    A smaller, national service will be created alongside 21 regional community rehabilitation companies - which will be sold to the private sector in October.

    The local branch, based in central Middlesbrough, currently has a specialist Public Protection Team to deal with sex offenders.

    However, according to Tanya Bassett, national official for the probation union Napo, these changes could see “generic” probation officers take on those cases.

    “Durham Tees Valley were one of the last trusts to have a specialist team, but it has now been forced to hand out these cases to generic officers,” said Ms Bassett.

    “It is not about how it impacts on the staff, and their case loads, but the fear of not seeing the risks from behavioural changes that those who are experienced in working with those offenders would.

    “We are very concerned about these changes. We have taken strike action twice in the last six months - considering we have only taken industrial action five times in our 104 year history, you can see how strongly our members feel.”

    A Probation Service spokesperson said: “Protecting the public remains our priority. All sex offenders will be managed by the National Probation Service by fully qualified probation officers. It is totally wrong to suggest otherwise.

    “Introducing lie detector tests for high-risk sex offenders, with satellite tagging to track their movements, will give us one of the world’s toughest approaches to managing this group in the community.

    “Together this will be vital in preventing sex offenders from leaving more victims in their wake.”

  4. And this from the Birmingham press:

    "Police boss Bob Jones has hit out at plans to privatise the probation service, saying he fears it will lead to rising crime.

    The police and crime commissioner for the West Midlands said he could not understand the "reckless" rush to bring in private and voluntary-sector organisations to manage offenders.

    The controversial scheme, which has already attracted interest from construction firms, housing associations and recruitment agencies, had serious dangers, Mr Jones said.

    He warned: "It seems to be driven by dogma, not by any evidence to suggest it would be effective."

    He was speaking after a cross-party committee of MPs criticised plans to axe the nation's 35 probation trusts and replace them with one national probation service, responsible for managing high-risk offenders, and 21 privately-managed "community rehabilitation companies", which will manage medium- and low-risk offenders.

    The comments follow a similar warning from Mr Jones on last week on a plan to shift terror prevention away out of the control of West Midlands Police.

    The Minister of Justice is currently considering tenders from firms and organisations hoping to run the new rehabilitation companies but the Public Accounts Committee warned previous attempts by the ministry to contract out services had run into difficulties.

    The Government insists the changes are needed because too many offenders currently go on to commit fresh crimes.

    Firms bidding to create new community rehabilitation companies include Capita, which has a £120 million contract with Birmingham City Council, CRR Partnership, a consortium including Wolverhampton-based construction company Carillion, and recruitment agency Pertemps.

    Mr Jones said the changes could lead to higher crime because they would mean the end of a successful scheme which was keeping crime down, called integrated offender management.

    This involves police, the probation service, local councils and other bodies, including the voluntary sector, working together to prevent offenders committing new crimes.

    The number of crimes recorded by West Midlands Police has fallen in recent years, from 200,904 in 2011 to 174,670 in 2012 and 173,215 in 2013, a fall of 14 per cent over two years.

    Mr Jones said: "The probation service changes present one of the biggest risks to our successful strategy to keep crime down because one of the biggest drivers of that has been effective integrated offender management which we piloted in Wolverhampton and then spread out across the force area.

    "Because re-offenders drive so much crime, that's one of the main reasons we've been able to keep crime down when we have 1,300 less officers, £128 million less money. So if there's a risk to that then it's potentially a major threat to us in the future.

    "The Public Accounts Committee report reflects all the things I have been saying for 18 months - the fact that it's very much a leap in the dark, it hasn't been properly piloted and bits of it that have been piloted haven't provided any assurance.

    "Payment by results looks to be a very dangerous area in other areas and it's probably even more of a problem applied to the criminal justice system."

    He criticised the Government's decision to abandon plans to run a pilot scheme.

    "It is a reckless way of doing it. It's a big bang approach," he said.

    "Given the success in the West Midlands of the existing system, why destroy something which is working on the basis of an unproven hypothesis?"

    1. I wish our chiefs would voice the same opinions, they are blinded in their own glory of what they can achieve, without a care for things outlined above or for their staff. Its sad when an outsider from the Trusts has to point out the effectiveness of our work. They make me sick, I wish they would all get sacked.

    2. At DTV there is a new Chief coming in to run the CRC. She is holding a 'meeting' of all CRC staff next month and NPS staff are expected to manage the cases whilst they are away (although they did not tell us until last week or even ask if we could). I really did want to go as I have always wondered if it was possible to smash a Champagne bottle on a giant turd!!

    3. I think we have been fighting the wrong battle when trying to overthrow TRain, we should have been putting pressure on the chiefs, they are the ones making this happen. They are not even highlighting all the difficulties choosing to make Grayling feel that everything is okay. LIARS.

      If the champagne bottle doesn't break can I borrow it to hit our chief with, as she has a head made of concrete it will smash.

  5. James for Truth26 May 2014 at 08:39

    21. David Cameron has been significantly silent about the philosophy and financing underpinning the whole TR ominishambles-why is this?
    22. SPOs have been told to 'make it work' as senior managers into their bunkers issuing edicts based on staff 'goodwill'
    23. How often have you heard that we must cooperate with CRC or NPS as a matter of urgency? This indicates the flakiness of the whole system

  6. I work as a PO in the NPS. Last week I wrote 3 PSR's. ALL three were written without getting any additional information back from either the Police regarding DV or Social Services. This was simply due to the pressure from managers to have the reports delivered to Court on time. IMO this was to 'hide' from the Courts the fact that we are now unable to deliver the kind of service that we have in the past, ostensibly due to the significant increase in both the amount of reports we have to write and the increase in our workload.

    Whilst this is extremely dangerous, what compounds the problem is that those in the CRC are just cutting/pasting the reports into OASys, simply due to the fact that they too have seen a significant increase in their workload.

    Last week (and I believe the week prior), ALL offenders sentences were allocated, via the RSR tool, to CRC. This was due to the Court staff, again being massively overworked due to new procedures and staffing, having little time to use their own professional judgement.

    At all stages it is clear that there are significant gaps which could, and will, allow for mistakes to be made. All we hear from management is to 'do your best'. This whole process is completely unacceptable and the only people who will be held to account are those who are currently managing the offenders, most likely those in the CRC. It is an unenviable position for them in my office as there are only two PO's who now hold MOST of the DV/Child Protection cases in what is quite a large city!! There have been plenty of tears and whilst my colleagues and I are VERY stressed and demoralised, one can only look with some pity at their pretty unenviable situation.

    If I'm being frank part of me wishes that the new companies were in charge, so when the shit does, and it will, be in no doubt about that, hit the fan it will highlight the problems that we have. The sensible part of me however realises that it will be the death of a child/partner which has caused it, and this is a somewhat pyrrhic victory.

    1. The above statement is wrong!!! It has to be as this is exactly the same as what is going on in my life and I don't remember writing about it!!!!!

      The chances of this happening in two offices are just impossible ;)

      Unless someone wishes to correvtme!!!!!

    2. Correct me!!!

      Damm Iphones!!!

    3. More fool you for writing reports without full background checks. You should have put a nil in.

    4. I am not anon at 9.20 but I understand the pressure to get reports ready on time. Where I work, Nil Reports can only be submitted with manager approval. I can't imagine any would agree to this due to not having time to do background checks. Even in the current climate this would be seen as your fault due to 'poor time managment'!

    5. would the extra information from social services and the police have made any difference to the proposals?? Usually all this info will do is give extra information to justify the proposal. A guilty plea is sufficient to propose CDVP etc and I appreciate it's useful to have this info for sentence its not the be all and end all however I agree it is vital to have as the receiving OM but so long as its received in the early weeks post sentence to inform the sentence plan then in my Trust that has always been sufficient.

    6. It is difficult to get a full picture of criminogenic behaviour without having information from the DV police unit. I was able to propose IDAP/Better Relationships on the basis of DV call outs alone... It is also pertinent to the assessment of risk and professional judgment.

      My advice is to keep emails where you have informed SPO's that the PSR you are having to submit has been done without DV/Children's Services input.

      Also remember that during SFO investigations, you get abandoned by management, especially your SPO because they're busy covering their own arse. The process is meant to be one of learning, that's the way it's sold but if you've been on the receiving end of an SFO investigation you know better.

    7. In the North we have to write 'full' reports based on last Oasys (if there is one) needless to say these take ages to complete and then 90% of such cases are re-bailed with a condition to cooperate...the madness is already here

    8. Edward Snowdon26 May 2014 at 15:22

      If you are completing assessments without making ALL of the correct safeguarding checks, and this is due to mis-management, then you have a obligatory duty to report it. I am very concerned that the risks to children are being compromised by what appears to be a gung-ho approach to 'completing' reports as opposed to 'completed' reports; these should never be conflated.

      I ask, nay urge, each one who finds themselves in a situation such as above to email your concerns to the following:

      The Office of the Children’s Commissioner 33 Greycoat Street London SW1P 2QF Tel: 020 7783 8330 Email:

      This is in line with 'Whistle Blowing' policies being a directly responsible and rightly affected Public Body.

  7. This WILL go wrong so we all MUST be able to produce evidence that we formally raised our concerns with managers. Email about your work load and stress and KEEP A COPY as EVIDENCE. I can not stress enough the importance of protecting ourselves now. Then they can not say they did not KNOW if we evidence they did, if we don't that is precisely what they will say, no-one told us.

    1. I told my MM and was informed to 'do my best' and any further problems to just come and see him and he would put a entry on Delius.
      An entry on Delius, WTF does that mean??
      I left before I said something I would later regret.

      I don't blame him as he's under tremendous pressure from our ACE to 'do his best'.
      There's a lot of 'best' being done, unfortunately it's not good enough.

      Last week I missed sending out two enforcement letters (ROB) and anticipate that many more will occur. by the time the stable door is bolted, there will be many wild horse running loose and there's going to be a lot of OM's standing in front of SFO panels.

    2. Letter from the Independent.

      Privatised probation will risk public safety

      The concern expressed by a correspondent over the proposal to privatise the Land Registry service (Letters, 19 May), with the loyalty of the staff who control the property of the country transferred to a private company, is justified. However, the splitting of the Probation Service between a private company and the vestiges of the public service – which would already be in place if the changeover had not gone pear-shaped – should be frightening.Public safety in this area depends absolutely on the ability of the service to share information seamlessly across different regions, including Scotland and Northern Ireland. Yet the very nature of the plan will mean there is going to be reluctance to share information even between the private profit-making and the public-service parts which are being established within individual regional offices. The temptation to pass the buck between the different parts of the new “service” will be increased by the increased ease with which that will be possible.Tony Pointon, Portsmouth

    3. I refused to sign a PSR which I wrote because wasn't happy that some crucial pieces of information were absent. Guess what... My SPO PP'd the report. I couldn't couldn't believe it. I explained that he couldn't do that but he said he could, and that if I continued to "cause disruption and failed to follow management instructions" he would instigate disciplinary proceedings.

    4. EVERONE look after yourselves. Communicate by email, print copy off and keep in separate file & take home at end of each day & weekends. Think some managers wont tell lies about you? Think they all have a sense of integrity because of the type of work we do? Think again and take care.

    5. All evidence recorded in my area and fed back to Napo. I have had cases allocated to me in CRC, all verbal reports, no checks completed and leaving full OASYs assessment to me. One new referral was assessed as low risk but on checking previous OASYs assessment and also interviewing client for a full OASYs to be comp[leted, actually assessed as medium risk of harm to public having looked at precons and medium risk of harm to self i.e. self harming and suicidal thoughts. Children's Services were also involved. Good job I have had training in risk assessment and years of service behind me to notice this, how many others have been assessed wrongly???? God help vulnerable adults and children.

  8. 24. IOM teams - as per the PCC comments - effectiveness compromised by the split and potentially resulting in increased re-offending.

    24. Staff split based on 'costings' on database with MoJ having no idea how this would impact on service delivery. Now have situation where SOTP cannot be delivered in Gloucestershire until they train new tutors. The other alternative is to draw on SOTP staff from neihhbouring counties - but MoJ allocated tutor numbers mean this isn't an option as too few available. SMT aware beforehand but neglected public safety and proceeded regardless.

    1. ASPT is already dependant on CRC assigned SOTP facilitators to continue as normal, they're even drawing in NPS OM staff who are trained but with no experience.

    2. how?SOTP tutors allocated to NPS in all trusts I am aware of

    3. In our area recently trained SOTP tutors had dual roles with the other role considered their 'main' job. One holds an IOM caseload therefore auto assigned to CRC.

    4. Seems to be a problem across the West Country: SOTP facilitators in more than one office in Devon & Cornwall were allocated to the CRC, presumably because they delivered other programmes too

    5. It's cos we are full time programmes but only about half is typically SOTP. So we were sifted and 4 didn't make the cut.
      Despite this I'm told I'll be sticking with the current group til October and possibly even beyond share sale. Progs in NPS and crc both inadequately staffed and increasingly dependent on sessionals.

    6. "Didn't make the cut", I hope the 4 you are referring to did not read your blog. If it was me I would be very upset. Its not that they did not make the cut they got SHAFTED. They probably had high case loads with a number of medium risk so this watered down the high risk cases. Its ironic that the people with the higher case loads were the ones who were assigned to CRC. I feel for your colleagues if that's how you see them, never mind how Grayling treated us with this SHAFTING SHITE, it seems that NPS staff are already starting to believe that they are better.

    7. You completely misunderstand me . We don't have cases, we're a full time programmes team. That team has been divided and i'm one of the few assigned to CRC, I didn't make the cut, didnt meet the required score on the arbitrary and unfair sift criteria. I was shafted and I'm now on a career scrap heap and yet, as with my first comment above, they want me to keep on as if it never happened.

    8. I apologize for being sensitive, when the shafting took place a number of those assigned to NPS did seem to have that attitude, the only way the divide was balanced by this opinion was that when people looked around and saw some of those that did make the cut, they knew them to have been quite poor at their work. Those assigned to NPS had to work it out for themselves after initially thinking that they were chosen because they were better. Graying has been so deceived being lead to belief that the most "experienced staff are in the NPS", what a moron.

  9. I think that another big issue for Graylings TR is the reluctence of the voluntary/charitable sector to get involved. I feel he assumed that many of the services provided by this sector could be drawn upon for free.
    However, this sectors own governing bodies are warning charities not to get involved, and the situation became even more complicate with Bubb this week calling on all charities and voluntary sectors to resist being subjected to FOI requests.
    Teir 1 providers are saying they would be happy to have their government contracts open to FOIs, and the PAC is demanding more openess and accountability regarding spending from the public purse.
    It's my view that as time goes on, operational function accross public/private/voluntary sectors is becoming more and more incompatable.
    At least the TITANIC had 'some lifeboats if not enough. TR hasn't got any!

  10. Comrades and friends,

    My biggest fear is that when all is said and done, when this omnishambles is in place, even a Labour Government won't be able to reverse the changes. Moreover, we too will have moved on and will have been conditioned into the new way of working.

    God help us!

    1. We'll be on zero hours contracts reading Oliver Twist by candlelight.

    2. Labour won't want to reverse it. Plus we're heading for another coalition government where crime and justice won't be their top agenda, not to mention that they do not understand what Probation does. But I agree with your comment, we will have moved on to other jobs (how many who read this blog are actively looking for another job/career?) or just adapt to the new ways of working.

    3. But the logic new and will always mean worse ways of working in the brave new world to come. We are part of a wider political/social development and if we are to be saved it will come from there not navel-gazing.


    4. Dear Jim as we move into the final days of a service that was working well to protect the public and reduce reconviction rates my stomach is in knots with grief and suppressed rage. That this shameless govt believes there is no danger in exploiting those involved in the criminal justice system - both those who offend and those who have selflessly and tirelessly worked to helo turn their lives around - for financial again makes me feel sick. Thank you for the blog and to all those contributors who have helped me feel less lonely in a truly insane situation. x

  11. The Weatherman26 May 2014 at 14:28

    Those of us who lost money standing on lines tried to do something about it...the rest hoped for a miracle.... which unfortunately never came........we should now put our individual differences aside and climb into the life boats......ladies and gentlemen, as we move into the final week of this great, rich service of ours let us prepare for the next phase, in which I predict that:
    1) Capability will be used as a weapon to make sure we 'do our best', which will never be good enough
    2) SMTs will seek to apportion blame for the failure of this system onto SPO's, the weak and the lazy of which will then blame staff
    3) Staff in CRC/NPS will blame each other
    4) Government will blame staff for not being 'fully committed' to these well thought out plans
    5) Remember CEO's and Deputy CEOs have 3 year pay deals-they will be financially secure therefore have no real reason to break sweat but fully expecting you to do so to make the pigs ear work
    6) The good SPO's will rally the team around him/her and take the flak for a flawed system-these brave souls need supporting for they will be getting it in the neck from all sides
    7) NOMS will suddenly realise that it 'needs' shed loads of ACE's to try and push things through (opportunity for Tom) and money will be found for this
    8) SFO's will occur but this time the search for systemic failure will be changed to seek out individual failure
    9) NOMS will try and coerce people to join the PI
    10) Remember , none of this is of our making and we should not try to make it work...if there is any goodwill left, shelve it quietly until reunification day (which will be years away)

    Above all follow all of the good advice on this page, protect yourself....there's a storm coming...

    1. Coming??? It's lifted my piggin house and deposited in a land full of cowardly lions. I have no faith in my SPO to cover my ar*e when the sh*t hit the fan and each and every time I'm given anew case I raise holy hell (via email with a copy to my Union rep and also BCC to me). I fully expect to be sacked either this year or next, most likely on the grounds of 'capability' which is just another word for me not playing their game or covering up the f*cking massive cracks that are appearing. If anyone is not covering their ar*es on this then they are a dam fool to themselves and too their family who rely on your wage coming in to put shoes on their feet and food on the table. Kick up a stink, email everyone and as posted many times on here KEEP A COPY FOR YOURSELF!!!!

      It will be your only defence when things go (even) more Pete Tong!!!

  12. I think extending the deadline for bidders until 30th June may be political juggling giving time for the resuffle to happen, Graylings exit as Justice Minister, and for whoever comes in to that possition to put the brakes on a bit.
    Theres just too much going wrong in the CJS and too close to the general election to take too many more risks. IMHO anyway.

    1. Dont know if youre right or wrong but interesting, and given the time elapsed already for bidders to express interest another 4 weeks is not going to change much I would of thought.
      Terms for redundancy are due to be announced soon too?

    2. Is the redundancy bit true ? Please don't suggest this if you do not know anything as I suspect you are someone making mischief not a probation worker at all....are you one of the JFDI managers scared of losing your £3000 bonus? are you NOMS/ MOJ? Is this a way of frightening people who genuinely care? Or are you afraid of the power of the probation staff who will not make this work at all costs because it is UNSAFE?

    3. No-ones being horrible or trying to upset anyone.
      A EVR was to be made available in March this year, but the MoJ postponed it until June. To my knowledge no statement has since been made to suggest that it is to be further delayed (or who will be eligible)
      Its perhaps the case that with all the mayham TR is causing its been forgotten about. I dont know but maybe HQ could advise.

    4. EVR is not available to all grades, reserved for jobs that disappear at split date so largely senior management and so called back office jobs eg IT. So would be surprised if made available to us plebs - I mean can you imagine the rush, there would be no-one left!!!

    5. I would welcome it, and wouldn't waste a minute in taking it. Bring it on.


    1. A violent fugitive has gone on the run from an open prison in the second escape from the same place in just two days while a third inmate absconded from a different prison last night.

      Lewis Powter, 30, was jailed indefinitely after nearly hacking off a man’s arm with a 3ft machete and served four years.

      The thug admitted launching the violent attack on Luke Shepherd, 22, who was left with a gaping 10-inch wound on his arm.

      He is the second prisoner to escape from Hollesley Bay in just two days after Paul Oddysses, 49, escaped on Saturday and is still on the run.
      Meanwhile, Wayne Mcleod went missing from Springhill Prison in Buckinghamshire on Sunday evening.

      The 36-year-old is described by police as 'black, 5ft 11ins tall, of heavy build, with brown eyes, clean shaven, with black hair, which was cropped short.'

      Officers believe he may be in the Reading area, in Berkshire.
      Powter was jailed indefinitely by a judge who said he posed a 'high risk' to the safety of the public.
      But now the thug - who has a tattoo of Dennis the Menace on his arm - has gone on the run after escaping from custody.
      Suffolk Police said: 'Police are asking anyone who may have seen him or anyone with information about where he is to contact officers.
      'You should not approach him or take any further action.'
      Powter, from Cambridge, previously spent 18 months in jail in 2002 after spraying a bouncer with CS gas.
      The last time he was seen he was wearing a blue jumper with a white t shirt underneath, blue jeans and white Ralph Lauren trainers.
      He is white, around 5ft 10ins, of medium build, with brown hair, blue eyes and clean shaven.
      Oddysses, who is still on the run, was serving a life sentence for attempted robbery and robbery with a firearm.
      Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey said she was concerned to hear about the latest escapes from the open prison.
      But she added that there was a need for open jails to help prepare prisoners for release into society.
      She said: 'We need to have confidence that the right people are being put in open prisons, but it is important to prepare prisoners for life outside.'
      A spokesman from the Ministry of Justice refused to comment on individual cases but said every escape is 'taken seriously'.
      He said: 'The Justice Secretary has been clear that keeping the public safe is our priority and has ordered immediate and major changes to tighten up temporary release processes and open prison eligibility.
      'Absconds have reached record lows under this Government, down 80 per cent over the last 10 years.
      'But each and every incident is taken seriously, with the police contacted as a matter of urgency.
      'Open prisons and temporary licence are an important tool in rehabilitating long term offenders but not at the expense of public safety.'

  14. If, as has been often suggested and is likely, if key Noms and Moj staff are reading this blog, is it not possible that the evidence of the TR impact to date from so many contributors is taking its toll?

    We know from daily experience that the majority (if not all) of our local Trust managements are shallow, feeble and compliant - staff in crisis are a barrier to their bonuses. But the more intelligent at the heart of this shitstorm must be starting to get anxious.

    Jim's opening entry today lays bare the bleedin' obvious, contributions identify a widespread collapse of a previously robust public service, and the personal disclosures about fear, distress and abusive practices are painful to read.

    So, Romeo, Spurr, Grayling, Brennan, Wright and others - we know how deep you are in this mire and we know you can't back off. Maybe you truly believe it will work? Many others think you're deluding yourselves, the evidence is against you and the cost to the public and the staff complement is far greater than you could have guessed. Even prisoners are deciding the price to pay for absonding is worth the risk - that's a measure of how screwed up your policies are.

    To those civil servants working on TR, perhaps ignorant of the impact upon others with jobs, families, commitments - are you comfortable with the idea you are helping to dismantle the probation service? You're next on the list... once social services and nhs are sold off, the civil service is next. You're digging your own graves.

    Here's my experience of the last few weeks... When I speak with noms staff in recall or re-release teams, they are horrified when its explained to them the reality of our situation. They tell me they've been told a different story, that TR means streamlining and improved effectiveness. A regular contact there could not believe CRC meant I was no longer allowed to be involved in recall or re-release decisions. We had worked closely on a number of cases involving complex negotiations with the Parole Board in order to explain the intricacies of those cases. As a result some very good and well-informed decisions had been made as to whether re-release was appropriate or not. The Panels' decisions often acknowledged the extent of additional effort, and the cases involved also recognised that the decision reached was fair.

    No longer. I'm CRC. I'm now a DV perpetrator processing machine. No more reports, no more sex offenders (at least, not according to the offence/s charged) and a dangerously high caseload. Its started already - 18 new cases in the last 4 weeks.

    Almost 30 years' experience thrown out with the bathwater. By contrast I'm told I can look forward to my own electronic tablet, an incentive scheme, a forward-thinking employer, an opportunity, a new direction, blue sky thinking, creative ways to problem solve, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I thought I'd left all that bollocks behind 30 years back when I quit working in the city. It feels like the 1980's all over again: Thatcher, money, privatisation, crushing the notion of society, greed, bullshit, and bankrupting the nation to line the pockets of the privileged few.

  15. West Yorks have asked for volunteers to go in next Sat and Sun to do Delius stuff, presume - ensure it works and all the cases are in the right place etc....they are offering overtime...just want my colleagues to know that people care and they are watching and sadly, if you are one of those volunteering - you will, as I have always said in relation to colleagues accepting SPO/TM roles, as far as I am concerned you'll have given up your Trust Card! Please colleagues, do not assist the Apocalypse.......'the horror, the horror'

    1. There were arguments amongst staff in our office - pso's were queuing to do this work as they were being offered overtime at 2x rate. Anyone scale 4 or above was on plain time. Sadly the arguments escalated into calling TR the "pso cash cow". Thought it was just our area, seems not.thanks, 30yi - helps clarify its not a local conspiracy.

    2. Can I ask what the issue is with accepting SPO role? If a manger can support you through these difficult times rather than ignoring the above issues is that not a good thing?

    3. Who would want to spend their weekend on Delius?! Its bad enough that we have to endure it during the rest of the week.

    4. My area are giving everyone who helps 30 pieces of silver and a place at the front so they can get a better view of the crucifixion of their colleagues.

    5. Thanks for making me laugh, on a serious note I thought all the 30 pieces of silver had been taken by our management.

    6. Nah, plenty out there taken from 'hard working taxpayers'. I think they should be targetting the fecking lazy idolent taxpayers :)

    7. Re: SPO Roles - I was speaking personally - I have, over more than 30 years had a mixed bag of SPO's from the very keen and supportive - who have generally remained keen and supportive SPO's to the sinister and power hungry nut jobs, who have prospered and climbed the greasy pole - usually way beyond their capabilities, who rarely have the bottle to stab you in the face and always wait until your back's turned and have a few mates watching! Sadly, in recent years the latter have been the most prominent - the same people who may well be adopting the "do your best" or "JFDI" style of management.

  16. Merseyside's got a similar email - work next weekend to check systems working for time and a half - it wasn't too long before we got another email to say they were 'now sorted'.

  17. I hope no one in my area does this overtime



  19. I may put this on my Facebook page and twitter

  20. our NAPO rep has warned us that if people go off sick with stress and they've done any sessional work then NAPO would be in a very difficult position when representing them at sickness interviews because essentially you have taken on over and above. NAPO also said that you may have a manageable caseload one day but the next day have a spanner thrown in the works as inevitably happens in case management.


    1. A former Serco official who worked at the UK's Yarl's Wood immigration detention centre has spoken out about "endemic" anti-immigrant sentiment among staff and repeated sexual abuse at the facility.

      The whistleblower, who resigned from the private outsourcing company last year after raising his concerns, said vulnerable women were deported without their mental health being properly assessed.

      He also detailed a case of a detainee with profound psychological issues being sexually assaulted.

      "The lack of engagement with mental health in relation to assessment and safeguards was very concerning," the former employee told the Observer.

      "They weren't doing assessments to rule out mental health. God knows how many people they had deported without a proper assessment.

      "Officers would say openly: 'They need to go back, they need to leave the country, they're only coming here to use NHS resources,'" the whistleblower added.

      "A common phrase was: 'They're only putting it on to block their removal.' I've actually heard [senior staff] say: 'These people are putting it on.' It was endemic...even the senior management structures were saying this, it was a mindset."

      The whistleblower, who is the first senior employee to have broken ranks since the detention centre opened in 2001, corroborated allegations from former detainees that some women felt they had to flirt with staff in order to obtain everyday essentials such as toiletries.

      He also claimed that a female Serco officer informed him of a "blind spot" inside Yarl's Wood which was not covered by CCTV and was a well-known location for sexual encounters. The area was where an officer had previously made a female detainee pregnant.

      "She said: 'This is a blind spot, this is where people come.' They seemed to know where all the blind spots were."

      The whistleblower estimated that more than half of the detainees at any one time - over 200 individuals - had either self-harmed or were at risk of self-harming.

      He said one of the incidents he witnessed involved a women pouring boiling water over herself. She was left in a state of shock for hours. Another woman tied a ligature around her neck while she was apparently under observation.

      Norman Abusin, Serco's director at the detention centre, told the Observer: "We absolutely refute the suggestion that there is an endemic culture of disbelief towards the women in our care at Yarl's Wood.

      "We feel that such general allegations are unfair to our hardworking and dedicated staff. The wellbeing of the people in our care is always top priority."

  22. I know this may sound harsh coming from a committed PO, but we've got to now accept the reality of the situation we find ourselves and make the best of a terrible set-up. This blog won't reverse TR and neither would another hundred blogs. This whole TR ideology was thought about a long time ago by the government. There was statutory legislation that was passed to make way for probation outsourcing/privatisation by the then Labour Government. The incumbent administration has just sped things up and added blue spices of their own .

    NAPO should have made more noise when the legislation that paved way for all this nightmare was unfolding. We were too slow to realise the end game.

    1. We (Napo) did make a noise! I've still got some handouts from the time and what were warned to be the risks are now coming to pass . Napo wasn't slow in understanding the issues it was MPs who denied what doors 2007 legislation would open.

  23. You miss the point, when the legislation was established no-one was aware it could be used in this way....the original plan was for the Trust to be "providers of probation services"..... this government manipulated TR away from the intent of the original Act...and got away with it......

  24. Disagree. Only the naïve didn't see this coming.

    1. errr so who saw this coming and when? and why did they not tell the rest of us....
      sure, we saw it unfold, we were all there on the picket lines but predict this from that Act? No-one did....
      I belong to a union, not a soothsaying coven

    2. It was wholly predictable from Carter, if not earlier, since then it's simply been gathering momentum and it just took grayling to make it really take off.

    3. yes with hindsight. like I said no-one can say they foresaw this, no-one.

    4. Maybe not foresaw the whole sorry mess but a few predicted that the concept of traditional probation was finished with the implementation of the 1991 Criminal Justice Act that changed the probation order from an alternative to a sentence (in practice - before the 1991 CJA it was a type of Bind-Over) - what I did not simultaneously realise was that the attack was enhanced by the introduction of automatic parole - ACR.

      That was the "just desserts" era - originally announce by probation minister John Patten - which was itself a development of the increased political control from the Minister in charge, which was began by Leon Brittan as Home Secretary and his SNOP (statement of national objectives and priorities) regime from about 1984.

      I expect it is possible to go further back to the de-professionalisation of individual probation officers, at least to 1936 when I think SPOs were introduced, which was resisted by some!

      Sorry for the digression - Carter was a major point - but the destruction was already well down the road - we took our eye of the ball (or I did) after we got back the DipPS and did not manage to stop the loss of work that was for a short time - about 1976 to 1995ish the complete preserve of pre-entry trained probation officers - and completely lost the 'role boundaries' issue perhaps because - rightly in my opinion - PSOs were by then full members of Napo.

      It is so much easier with hindsight - nonetheless it is vital that there is no collusion with TR which will kill the last vestiges of the true spirit of probation unless the 'split' is reversed and probably some sort of local control is reintroduced, where those in control are not all government appointees.

  25. We daw the idea. We just thought no-one would be dumb enough to implement it. Clearly we were wrong

  26. Check out Joe K's blog folks

  27. Weasely Lib Dems got the kicking they deserved this weekend. Party Chair Tim Farron looked like butter wouldn't melt. Constituency? South Lakes. Personal mentor? Peter Maiden. Sound familiar? Mike Maiden's brother. Hmmm...

  28. We can not EVER give up fighting against privatisation. If we do then they have won. We have to resist & make life diffiuclt for those sell out CEO's. Don't forget these are the CEO's who have been appointed by the MOJ to carry and see through TR. Use everything, no good will, stick tightly to your allocated work, don't work above and beyond what you are expected, don't do overtime and more importantly don't try and make TR work.

  29. Agree with you totally, they will not get an extra minute out of me, and I will do all I can to continue the fight. I certainly will not make it work, how can you make something work that you or the implementers don't understand. Our mangers don't seem to have a clue," just do your best" is not part of any Act/ Policy. Or have I missed something.


    1. • We dispense the people's justice, but it isn't easy. Some who come before us speak other languages, so interpreters play an important role here. Therein lies a problem. Last year, MPs castigated the Ministry of Justice for its "shambolic" handling of the court translation contract, which was given to Capita. Interpreters failed to turn up, leading to the cancellation of trials, and others turned up but botched the job. Since then, the news has continued to be sorrowful. Last week it was said that the cost to the taxpayer of hiring court interpreters has almost doubled to £15.5m in just one year. The quality hardly seems to have risen in step, though ministers claim "dramatic improvements" with more work undertaken and big privatisation savings for the taxpayer. Tell that to the judge. One man, charged with perverting the course of justice was accused – via the interpreter – of being a "pervert".

      • Funny until it isn't, and the president of the family division, Sir James Munby, has had enough. Last week, when attention was focused on the elections and Ukip, Ukip, Ukip, he raised a voice. Hats off to the law site suesspiciousminds for noticing. Munby presided over a custody case that required a Slovak interpreter. A "very sad case", he called it. The interpreter failed to show, and when he complained he learned truths so shocking that he detailed them in the judgment. He learned that Capita took the government's money to provide the interpreter, farmed out the work and could eschew liability if the translator didn't turn up. That if it had to cancel, it could do so as late as 2pm on the day before the hearing, at which point it would often be impossible to find a replacement. And that on the day of his ruined hearing, Capita had only 29 suitably qualified Slovak language interpreters when it needed 39 to meet its obligations. So much for the supremacy of the market.

      • Takes a lot to make a top judge go public, but Munby didn't mince his words. "Whether the underlying causes are to be found in the nature of the contract between the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty's Courts translation services or whoever and Capita, or in the nature of the contract between Capita and the interpreters it retains, or in the sums paid respectively to Capita and its interpreters, or in an inadequate supply of interpreters (unlikely one might have thought in a language such as Slovak), I do not know. We need to find out." Something for Chris Grayling to crack on with, one would think. Wouldn't like to see him hauled before the beak.


    1. First there was Skull Cracker. Then there was the Scarborough Slasher. On Monday police were seeking the latest felon with a violent past and a lurid identifier to abscond from an open prison – a man with a Dennis the Menace tattoo.

      Lewis Powter, a 30-year-old who was sentenced seven years ago to an indeterminate prison term after he chased a man and split his elbow to the bone with a 3ft machete, became the tenth inmate to walk out of a Category D jail in the last fortnight when he failed to appear for roll-call on Sunday at HMP Hollesley Bay.

      Powter was the second inmate to escape from the prison on the Suffolk coast in as many days after Paul Oddysses, a convicted armed-robber serving a life term, absconded on Saturday afternoon.

      The escapes underline the growing impression that hardened criminals are managing to throw off the bonds of the penal system by absconding at will from “Cat Ds”, the relatively lightly supervised “open” prisons which form the stepping stone between incarceration and reintegration for prisoners coming to the end of their sentences.

      Their disappearances followed hot on the heels of Michael Wheatley, aka Skull Cracker, who left HMP Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey while serving 13 life sentences for bank raids and was arrested on suspicion of carrying out a fresh robbery; and Damien Burns, who earned his “Scarborough Slasher” nickname with a knife attack on a teenager and last week walked out of HMP Hatfield in South Yorkshire.

      The absconders, which include a man who is suspected of a knife attack on a woman in Poole last week, are embarrassing for a Government which has been unafraid to both trumpet falling crime figures and trim the budget for the justice system by some £2.2bn. Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan has said the situation regarding the recent escapes is now “beyond a joke”.

      Justice Secretary Chris Grayling last week attempted to seize back the initiative by tweaking the rules for the transfer of prisoners to Category D prisons, which house about 4,100 offenders – less than 5 per cent of the total jail population of 84,000.

      Henceforth, prisoners who have previously absconded will no longer be transferred to open conditions and unrestricted “town leave” for inmates will end.

      But although the escape of 10 prisoners in 14 days may sound alarmingly high, it is in fact about average – one inmate escapes roughly every 43 hours from prisons in England and Wales.

      There are also far fewer escapees than there used to be – in 2002-03 some 1,301 inmates left custody unauthorised, either by walking out of an open prison or failing to return from a temporary licence. By last year the figure had fallen to 204.

      Reformers are concerned that the outcry over the latest rash of absconders, many of them lifers convicted of heinous crimes, will result in a kneejerk tightening of a system which has been proven to reduce re-offending rates by slowly reintroducing to the mainstream prisoners who have been institutionalised.

      Introduced in the 1930s, open prisons represent one of the major evolutions of penal theory away from the Victorian model of hard labour. Sir Alex Paterson, a prison reformer, summed up the thinking, saying: “You cannot train a man for freedom under conditions of captivity.”

      As a result, Category D prisons generally deal with inmates convicted of serious offences with sentences of four years or more and recommended for transfer by parole boards. So-called Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) programmes allow inmates to work or study and return home for brief periods and some 500,000 day-release licences of this kind are issued each year, with a “failure” rate of less than 1 per cent.

      However, professional bodies and campaigners are becoming increasingly concerned about the viability of the practice in a prison and probation service which has had its funding cut by some £880m since 2011. The Prison Officers’ Association has warned of a staffing crisis in jails which results in dangerous prisoners being transferred to the open system.

    2. Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “Open prisons help to keep us safer. But... you need very skilled staff and there are no longer enough of them across the system. As a result we are seeing prisoners who are unsuitable being put into open prisons.”

      Last week, seven men were jailed for a total of 30 years after police broke up a £1m drugs ring being run from inside an open prison in Wales, while last year, HM Inspectorate of Prisons described the open wing at HMP Lindholme in South Yorkshire as “the worst establishment inspectors had seen in many years” with drugs and alcohol widely available.

      In a statement, Mr Grayling said: “I am clear that open prisons and temporary licences remain an important tool in rehabilitating long term offenders but not at the expense of public safety.”

  32. Tier 1 Bidders by CPA area, updated,

  33. Interestingly it doesn't say who has pulled out from the original list. A voluntary organisation for the northeast (vonne) state there are three bidders left for the northeast, with only two of those bidding for Northumbria. Sodexo remain a frontrunner.

  34. After careful consideration I have come to the conclusion that Grayling is the devil's spawn!