Sunday, 4 May 2014

Action!

There was a meeting of Napo's National Executive Committee last week and I understand from a number of sources that some key decisions were made, the main one being to adopt as a matter of urgency Harry Fletcher's 50 point 'Action Plan'. I also understand it was decided to extend Harry's contract to the end of September in order to see the plan implemented.

As many readers will be aware, Harry has been beavering away in Parliament on Napo's behalf for some time and clearly feels there's further work to be done in undermining the whole case for TR amongst politicians. With so little evidence of anything much going on at Napo in the fight against TR, it's got to be very welcome news for members indeed, but it doesn't appear to deal with other issues such as press and PR.

I gather there was some lively discussion of press and PR matters at the NEC, leading to some fractious exchanges and a public apology. This is not a good sign and there seems to be a remarkable ability by some people at the top to fail to acknowledge there is a problem at all, let alone one that needs addressing urgently. I hear repeatedly of calls not being answered or returned and an inability to produce timely press releases. 

Something has got to be done and I feel I must repeat my previous suggestion that engaging a PR company asap would appear to be a good use of members funds.       

51 comments:

  1. The MoJ is in meltdown, and even the Tory press are looking for anything to further discredit Grayling.
    Not using this current climate to highten media coverage about the TR shambles is shameful.
    Unless of course there are reasons why the oppertunity isn't been taken? But I can't think of any.

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    1. If they don't take this opportunity then we have to ask why we are still members! They are there to protect OUR interets which appears to be secondary to promoting their own. Anon 12:04 is correct; any longer than 4 weeks and we can kiss goodbye to this professsion and our jobs. The 'enemy' is weak, lets strike the fatal blow.

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  2. Absolutely correct....MoJ in meltdown , Grayling on the ropes and within weeks multi national companies (including Serco and G4S in joint ventures!) will be submitting their bids to run the service for 10 years.....there is no time to wait , a professional company must give the companies reasons not to bid.
    In these few weeks , the boards of many companies bidding will be deciding whether to put up the cash for the bid.
    These are not probation people and so they need to know about the unhappy workforce, the many questions that remain unanswered by MoJ , the business risk - to them and the potential significant reputational damage to their business.
    The only way to get our message across is to hit the media - facebook, twitter, press, local TV/Radio with real stories of RISK.
    I believe the timescale is literally FOUR weeks...........leave it later and the bids are in the bag...
    Bravo for the start but now move swiftly.

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  3. I was reading an article about the shambles made with the Asylum Seekers which was contracted out to G4S. One response to this was from a man from Dispatches, he gave his details and said could be contacted for whistle blowing or any information, perhaps someone can contact him and see if he could do a spin on the TR-His information and what he wrote-

    "Charlie Mole •
    Hi,
    I'm a journalist working for Channel 4's Disaptches. I'm currently looking into the issue of asylum seeker housing and wondered if anyone would like to speak to me about the issue?
    I can be contacted on charlie.mole@matchlight.co.uk
    If you would like to remain anonymous you can contact me on http://whistleblowerstories.ne...
    My telephone number is: 0141 342 2055.
    Many thanks"

    Don't know if he is genuine but worth a try.

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    1. I think its far more simple then that.
      Whether its trials breaking down because legal assisstance can't be found, innocent people having to bear their own court costs (Nigel Evans), IEP systems in prisons, blocking research into sexual assault in prisons, closing prisons and court houses and costing the taxpayers millions of pounds, everything Grayling has touched is in a state of total chaos.
      Its been clearly stated over and over and over again its all going wrong because he wont listen to the the people who are expert in their respective fields and can see consequences that he can't.
      His own risk register indicates a potential reduction in delivery performance of 80%, and thats before contracts are handed to agencies that have shown a speciallity in delivery performance reduction.
      It would not be difficult at all to get the national press to report on probation reforms concerns.
      Personally, I think even the PM should be contacted and asked that in the light of the continuous and serious failings of Graylings already rolled out policies, shouldn't the PM take the oppertunity to stop anymore justice fall out by stopping TR before its too late?
      His response to that question would get good media coverage.

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  4. I suggest you read the following for guidance
    https://www.gov.uk/whistleblowing
    a rep

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  5. *Spoiler Alert* Blow post contains swearing.
    Lots of it!




    We have Grayling cocking up the following:

    Jokewood riots
    An ambulance being called on average EVERY day to Jokewood
    Riots at Northumberland
    Guitars
    Books
    Clothes
    Legal Aid
    Blocking the Howard League
    Gagging Probation
    TR
    Sucking the teat of G4S (Government 4 Sale) and Serco

    Each and every one a open goal for NAPO. What do we have instead. Tom fucking Rendon doing a fucking Maria Miller!! FFS, it's a joke. Unless something is done, in LESS that 4 weeks we are all either on the dole or looking at a significant impact on out wages and T&C.

    Oh, and while I'm on my high horse, if you are stupid enough to use volunteers just remember why they are volunteering. It's because they are no jobs in Probation. I can assure each and every one of you those volunteers will crawl over your still warm corpse to take your job for you. Chase then and have nothing more to do with them. By the time you're sacked and they are doing your job (remember a 'responsible officer' can be anybody), please don't come crying on here as your own stupidity will have been responsible not only for the loss of your own job, but that of your colleagues!!

    That officially makes you a twat!

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    1. Does anyone know if he resigned? Given how out of touch they are the membership will probably be the last to hear so I expect to hear the news on hear first as usual.

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    2. No resignation as yet. People really are missing the point if they think Tom is the main problem. I think you will find it's much more likely to be the GS.

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    3. From what I've heard it's not just the GS. This needs to be sorted and hiring a PR firm is going to be the best thing Napo can do. Lets spend some money on some professional PR support. No time to lose.

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  6. National Napo people might do well to learn from others. My own Branch in London seems to be doing what they can to fight Grayling and Co. Our Chair sends out regular messages that are helpful and often spark discussion with colleagues. All the Branch people I met have been helpful and work hard to answer questions - at least thats what the people I work with say and my own experience. We have also seen the Branch Chair regularly gets letters published in The Guardian and Evening Standard and she has been on community radio and even on alternative stuff like The Artist Taxi Driver https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dM-65om68p4 Someone played this on atheir Ipad and we thought its great and there has been 37,000 views or something so I think thats a good thing. There is also other stuff of=n Facebook and Youtube that spreads the word whats going on. We have our own Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/napoukglb and Twitter @napoukglb that are good and members can post comments. Maybe we also need to learn from people like Franes Crook who seems to be ready for anything on prisons but I heard she has a journalist working for her who worked for theDaily Mirror so has lots of contacts. Whenever there are events members of London Branch are there in force and it all seems very organised with photos and professional writeups appearing almost immediately. I know during the strike we got lots of local press coverage using the press releases sent out and helpful advice about using local media and we just got on with it without waiting for anyone to tell as what to do or waiting for the professionals to do it for us and all we needed was a bit of advice really. So if London where I wok and no doubt some other branches can do it I guess napo National could too using the talent that is around rather than spanding money on expensive PR companies. So I dont think Napo is too bad really when you look at what a branch does locally really.

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    1. Given the obvious and very serious rift between the MoJ and Frances Crook, and the obvious talent she has for getting her views presented in the press, could the NAPO execuitve not make an approach for assisstance in that direction?

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    2. Pat Waterman invited her to one of our Branch meetings recently and I saw her talking with her a lot and when Frances Crook spoke she said that she would help and So I think she does that So I know she is talking with London Napo people because I saw it then. I think National napo should talk to her as they need some help because she is very good and realy clever at explaining and arguing her point She said something about voluntary organisations losing their status or something so maybe that could be used.

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    3. London Branch and Pat Waterman in particular have been brilliant, but I think you will find it's all been achieved despite Napo HQ. There are significant dysfunctionalities everywhere and the members need to start asking awkward questions. I understand all requests for funding PR initiatives by London Branch were refused.

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    4. I'm of the opinion that the current climate allows significant oppertunity for a wealth of PR exposure without any funding being required.
      Everyone can see it, so why is that oppertunity not being taken by our leadership?

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    5. There's no one at Chivalry Road with the experience!

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    6. Sometime passion, belief in whats right and standing against what you know to be wrong is a more formidable weapon then experience.

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    7. With respect that's an extraordinary position to take! We need press releases, interviews on radio and tv, some sign of at least an attempt at controlling the news agenda on TR. You need to be a professional to sort that, just like anything else in life.

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    8. I agree with you Jim, we need to focus on getting professional support in this area. Locally we have been managing to get in local papers, on local radio stations, but nationally it seems to be a different story. It's clearly not that easy nationally with each media outlet having their own agenda. I don't feel that it's undermining the national press officer or negating the work she has done to ask for her to have some support in the way of a PR company. This can't be about individual egos it has to be about getting heard and now is the time to do this.

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  7. We need a focussed push on the main issues to alert the players that they are bidding for Pandora's Box. Only this time, we all know what is in it. Volunteer mentors are NOT going to replace trained Probation staff. It will never get off the ground because there are not enough committed, relaible and competent people available for FREE (it's so obvious, it is ridiculous). All but a tiny number of 'Old lags' will be at considerable risk from those they are supposed to mentor and the lay mentor will be an open target for 90% of the offenders they meet. The skill set for managing a prisoner in a secure environment is of limited use in transferring to the managing offenders in the community where the absence of locks, keys, cameras, alarms, regimes etc means that the only resource available is the skills of the practitioner. My 24 years experience in this field leaves me fearful of the impact on staff of the work that will be expected of the exisiting staff. The idea that others will be entering this field in the long run with inadequate training and skills fills me with dread. Community based Probation work is HARD! It is complex, demanding and profoundly nuanced and will not thrive against two dimensional target setting and simplistic performance measures. Meeting the contract specifications will not be enough to secure change and the risk of failure to businesses at every level is obvious to those of us already doing the job.

    It is bad policy, badly implemented hastily and with arrogance and unconscious incompetence on the part of both NOMS management and the MoJ. Any businesses that see a profit in this are allowing themselves to be deluded by the sales pitch of the equally ill-informed. This TR debacle will be one of those stories we read about for decades to come, along with the shaking of heads and comments like 'how did we let this happen'? 'how did we let them get away with this'? We need our union to mobilise its resources to secure the support of those already willing to help - we can win because we are RIGHT. The privatisation of Probation is a mistake that will prove catastrophic. And quickly.

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    1. Because the cases are being 'split', the database is also being divided. When we commented on the impact for court officers - who need to get their hands on as much information as quickly as possible, we were met with blank looks. I am sick of being told that this is going to work, while all around is crumbling. What an almighty f**k up waiting to happen and for snr managers to waffle on about how nothing much will change leaves me feeling quite will.

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    2. Well said Anon at 15.10

      I particularly despair at so called national probation leaders trying apparently to make TR work rather than speaking out with integrity.

      Their own professional reputations are at stake as well as all those 'consultants' advising the prospective bidders.

      If they cannot envisage a job outside of probation, let them go back to being front-line staff, I gather there are plenty of vacancies!

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    3. Andrew, in my office there are those, myself included, who are going out of their way to make things not work. I'm sure we're not alone. What is disappointing in the now very apparent split between the CRC and NPS, with the latter now quite literally sitting round chatting and doing little else and the former carrying caseloads of 60+. This is made worse by the 'split' down the middle of the office, with CRC on one side and NPS on another. There is no tangible barrier there, but it truly exists.

      Just weeks ago all would have sat having a chat and catch up, now it's catching up on Oasys/Delius which takes priority. Solving or helping to solve clients problems comes a very poor third, just after extracting you head from your arse :(

      It's a poor show to be sure.

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  8. no 3 way handovers in our office - just a variety of CAs passing 'new to me' cases from NPS colleagues. One I hadn't met before failed to attend his first apt with me - the preceding officer had no clue why and after I did a bit of digging it transpired he had been remanded on outstanding matters since mid April. When I told his old OM I was met with the response 'ah - he must've breached his bail'. Brilliant - no 3 way handover and the case is one with current on-going Crown Court proceedings.

    It's the little things that pee you off and like anon said earlier - NPS colleagues doing little (not their fault persee) and CRC running round like headless chicks - apparently at 60 cases I've still got capacity for 20 more!!

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    1. In our office it's the opposite, NPS have huge caseloads and CRC have very few (I think this may change in the very near future though!)

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    2. Speak to your Union Rep & Manager. This high a caseload is clearly untenable and places you at risk of stress related illness. You work to live, not vice versa. Make sure you are taking lunch (it's illegal not to) and please spend some time away from your computer/work, even if it's only a 5 minute walk outside the office. I really do feel for my CRC colleagues as I can see the strain they are under on a day to day basis. Whilst outpr ACE did his best to ensure handovers were done on as many cases as possible there were still some where the OM did not know who they were and what offence they had committed. Without Oasys ( and you'll soon be losing this) they would have no idea at all who was who. It's a disgraceful situation, make worse by the complicity of Senior Managers (you know who you are) who continue to further their own agenda at the expense of their staff's generosity, goodwill and now apparently health and emotional wellbeing.

      We might only have 4 weeks to save the Service but I think that the damage will take much longer to repair, if at all.

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  9. anon 19:17 are you sure that Oasys is to be scrapped - if so this would make my job so much easier - that is the Achilles heel in the TR process, it's longwinded, cumbersome and more importantly time consuming which as a CRC member of staff is something I don't have. In addition each assessment can be open to interpretation by whoever is writing it or indeed countersigning it - I agree offenders need a sentence plan but Oasys in its current form is not the answer for the low/med cases.

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    1. Apparently Oasys will be the preserve of the NPS. Once the Court team have completed the RSR they will do a level one Oasys and CRC will be bound by the sentence planning. God only knows what will happen to recording changes in risk, either increase or decrease as it will be read only fir the CRC and then only for CRC cases. I took a telephone call on Monday about CRC case and whilst I was tempted to say that it was not my case and kick it back, my own values led me to give the requested information. I'm not sure what would happen if the CRC took a call regarding NPS cases and there was no NPS staff in the office.

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  10. OASys must go it sucks up most of our time and resources its a monster that must be fed. It is part of a top down bureaucratic command chain that could be done a millions times better by anyone with half a brain. The privateers will kill it off or it will kill them. In the old days (part A B and Cs) I would see someone and over a couple of weeks I would establish what the key needs were and design a plan of work that would change as the relationship I had with the client developed. Just stick that in a simple quick way on the computer and you are sorted.

    papa

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    1. Oh God yes - how I long to go back to pink Part B's!

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  11. http://www.acjrd.ie/files/Professor_Paul_Senior_Martin_Tansey_Memorial_Lecture_2014.pdf

    Gloucester Police and Crime Commissioner stated:
    “Fragmentation of the supervision of offenders,
    with the public provider responsible for high risk
    and MAPPA cases and the contracted provider
    responsible for low and medium risk offenders,
    would increase the complexity of information
    exchange and fracture the continuity of offender
    supervision, adding substantially to the risk of
    public protection failures.” (Office of the Police and Crime
    Commissioner Gloucestershire 2013: 7)

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    1. Also, given that MOJ commissioned this report, one can only assume they thought it would be a good argument for TR. Given that TR has all but dismantled IOM across England and Wales we should be using this research to shout out and publicly discredit TR http://www.shu.ac.uk/mediacentre/new-offender-management-system-cuts-crime-say-researchers

      I'm sure that's what a good PR company would do!

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    2. A new integrated offender management system has slashed crime by more than half in a two-year period, a new report by Sheffield Hallam University researchers shows.
      The research was carried out on behalf of the Sussex Criminal Justice Board (SCJB) by the Hallam Centre for Community Justice (HCCJ) at the University.
      It demonstrates that the use of a new Integrated Offender Management (IOM) framework cut the proportion of offenders reconvicted in Sussex by 57 per cent, and the frequency by 69 per cent over a two-year period from October 2010. As a consequence, the number of people who were victims of crime also fell.
      IOM is an overarching framework that integrates the work of probation services, police, local authorities and other agencies, to provide a high level of monitoring, supervision and support to offenders. It allows different agencies to work together and pool resources to ensure that those offenders whose crimes cause most damage and harm locally are managed in a coordinated way.

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  12. Shockingly, I have been asked if I want to do some sessional reports for the NPS! I made an expression of interest for the NPS, got the CRC after an unsuccessful appeal, and now they want to buy in my skills and experience when they could have had them full time! Feels like I am in some Lewis Carroll fantasy world. Although the money is tempting, I just can't do this.

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  13. I've been asked to write extra OASys for extra money I said stick it........They are getting desperate.

    papa

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  14. submitted a leave slip for a weeks leave in March, SPO came to me and said if I was just taking it to use up (due to year end) I could come in, get the money but write some reports. Said no thanks.

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    1. Massive credit to all three of you :) No more work just to keep things ticking over, let the whole shambles fall down round their heads.

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    2. Absolutely. Ironic how it's assumed money is the bottom line for everyone - you are actually acting with integrity. Brilliant. They must be scratching their heads in puzzlement. This could be the key to the whole unravelling.

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  15. anxiousmammal4 May 2014 at 21:41

    This Programmes PO is assigned to CRC but expected to continue delivering SOTP 'at least' until share sale.

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    1. SOTP tutors in my area are all NPS

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    2. anxiousmammal5 May 2014 at 07:57

      We got sifted because we're generic (stop, bbr/Idap, gobp) and Pre-vue data figured 2.8 sotp staff were enough when it plainly isn't. They can't meet demand without us continuing to run SOTP despite being CRC. Rumor has it we'll be getting two logins, screens and phones.

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  16. At the office I work in, this week sees the staff split with NOS moving into one building and CRC the neighbouring office. However, the cases are not being split yet so offenders will move to the office where their OM is now based, knowing that in a few weeks time, they will return to their original office but with a new ON. No-one can tell us when the cases will split as we are waiting for staff to be directed from other offices. The whole thing is chaotic, with staff being offered extra pay to do OASys in their own time, normal hourly pay for POs and time and a half for PS Ps.

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    1. Sorry, autotype has gone mad, meant OM and last word should have said PSOs

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  17. In the midlands area, they want it done by the 12th may, with full split happening on the 31st.

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  18. Something else thats sure to piss Grayling off this bank holiday.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/may/04/planned-closure-womens-prisons-stopped-legal-action-askham-grange-east-sutton-park

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    1. Two women's prisons which the Ministry of Justice last year scheduled for closure have been prevented by legal action from being shut down.

      Askham Grange in Yorkshire and East Sutton Park in Kent were due to be taken out of service so that prisoners could serve their sentences closer to home.

      But their successful records in encouraging rehabilitation and enabling mothers to remain with their young children have led women's groups and other organisations to oppose their closure.

      The Independent Monitoring Board warned earlier this year that shutting Askham Grange open prison could lead to an increased risk of re-offending.

      No children are understood to have been separated from their parent at the prison's mother-and-baby unit for the past five years, according to submissions made to the MoJ.

      By comparison, at HMP Styal, in Cheshire, one of the prisons expected to take prisoners redistributed from Askham Grange, more than 22 children are said to have been taken away from their mothers, mostly at birth.

      There are 3,860 women in prisons in England and Wales, a level that marks a sustained decline in the female prison population, which stood at well over 4,000 until 2012.

      Confirming the delay, a prison service spokesperson said: "The planned closure of the two open women's prisons is currently subject to ongoing litigation, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.

      "To ensure we have a fit-for-purpose prison estate, we keep it under constant review. We will always have enough prison places for those sent to us by the courts and continue to meet the needs of female prisoners."

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  19. I don't think I have come across a 50-Point action plan before. Which plan does it replace?

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  20. As a union we were hoping that the complete mess created by TR would grind the whole process to a halt. However the trusts have found money from somewhere to pay for Oasys and reports to be done on a sessional basis. Of course the fact that this is tax payers money which has been inappropriately used to cover up the fallout from TR gets ignored.

    I had a personal experience of this recently. I arrived at work one morning and there were three people, one of whom I knew, an ex Probation Officer who had left the service about 10 years ago and set up his own 'Probation company'. These bods had been asked to come in by our management to take as sessionals the backlog of reports created by the TR fallout. What was particulary curious to me was that experienced colleagues, indeed active NAPO members welcomed these people and helped them regarding the local processes in our office to smooth their work. I was frankly gobsmacked. I don't have any idea what ongoing training these people have; I don't know who or if any reports they are doing are being gatekept; if so by whom? The owner of this company was welcomed to our office as an 'old friend' and no thought or reaction was evident as to what he was actually there for! I hearsd him tell former collegues he used to work with that in his view there was a lot of waste in the Probation Service. I know I shouldn't generalise but there are a lot of naive or self interested people in the Probation Service. I think the people who come into this job tend to be perhaps socially sensitive about conflict and minded who look for the best in people, sometimes out of self interest of course....not so bad it's the way of the world perhaps now but it also indicates a lack of a collective spirit and ignorance of the reality we face imo.......but perhaps that is just my office. However to be frank the campaign isn't going too well is it and we seem to have bucket loads of self interest and inertia at Chivalry Road as well. What we lack is leadership, someone to cut through all this naivity!

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  21. "However to be frank the campaign isn't going too well is it and we seem to have bucket loads of self interest and inertia at Chivalry Road as well. What we lack is leadership, someone to cut through all this naivity!"

    Tom, your time to shine has arrived! Get a grip, kick some ass, adopt the action plan and get one for the media. All will be forgiven and the members will rally round - but we need 'action this day!'

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