Friday, 23 May 2014

Napo - Situation Normal

The tensions at Chivalry Road are finally coming to the surface, as indicated by National Chair Tom Rendon's resignation letter yesterday:-

Dear All

I'm stepping down from my role as National Chair of Napo with immediate effect. This is one of the toughest decisions I've had to make and I don't underestimate the impact of it.

For several months I have disagreed with the direction of travel taken by Napo's senior officials on some important matters of employment and on the campaign against Transforming Rehabilitation. Although debate is healthy, the differences here are so fundamental as to make my position untenable.

We are a professional association as well as a trade union but I strongly feel our professional issues have not been given enough weight in our central strategy. For many members, Napo is not just any trade union because part of our purpose is to affirm and promote probation values. I don't think this is either adequately understood or respected across the management team. I hope that changes.

I want to publicly thank the elected officers for their support, the National Executive Committee for holding us to account and to the many activists who make me feel proud to be part of Napo. I'm proud of my achievements over what has been a very troubled time in our history and I'm grateful for many of the experiences I've had in this post. It's been a privilege to be your elected representative.

I realise that my decision will be unsettling but I want to reassure members that I will be handing over to the Vice Chairs over the next few weeks until the NEC makes a decision about the vacancy when they meet in July.

After the first of June, I'll return to working as a probation officer; a job that I enjoy and believe in. For my part, I think stopping the re-structure of Probation was a very tall order but stopping privatisation is infinitely possible. I'll still be a Napo member and I'll do whatever I can to stop the sell off.

Best wishes,

Tom Rendon

Here's the key bit:-

"For several months I have disagreed with the direction of travel taken by Napo's senior officials on some important matters of employment and on the campaign against Transforming Rehabilitation. Although debate is healthy, the differences here are so fundamental as to make my position untenable."

Now regular readers will be aware that for some weeks I have tried to argue that the National Chair deserved support from members and that far from calling for his resignation, I maintained that members interests would be far better served by him remaining until the AGM at least, and exerting some leadership and control over the senior employees. For whatever reason this has not proved possible and, clearly feeling undermined, felt obliged to throw the towel in as his position had become untenable. 

The situation is confirmed by today's email to all members from the Officer Group:-

Subject: Resignation of National Chair – Napo Officers response
Date: 23rd May 2014

Members all received a resignation email from Tom Rendon yesterday. The Napo Officers believe it is important to clarify that the views expressed were his personal views and not those of the Officer group.

The timing is regrettable  but we promise you that the Officers will do all that they can to carry forward  all the ongoing work and to communicate with members. We  will continue to have a constructive , mutually respectful and professional relationship with all of Napo's Officials and Napo staff.

We need to all pull together to achieve the best possible outcomes for all our members in Napo at this critical time.

Megan Elliot, Yvonne Pattison,  Chris Winters - National Vice Chairs, Keith Stokeld -  National Treasurer

"We need to all pull together to achieve the best possible outcomes for all our members in Napo at this critical time."

A laudable sentiment, but in my view almost certainly just empty rhetoric given the continued dysfunctionality abundantly on show at Napo HQ. In my view the main problem has for some time been with the General Secretary, together with Napo's historic inability to effectively exercise managerial control and accountability. The possibility of that happening any time soon vanished with Tom Rendon's departure yesterday and subsequently confirmed beyond doubt by the Officers extraordinary statement today. 

Having nailed their colours firmly to supporting the status quo, it remains to be seen if the membership are willing to endorse such a complacent view at the forthcoming AGM in Scarborough later this year.


  1. Does anyone have a link to what bidders are STILL in the running? I have a feeling that if therevare not enough bidders then Messers G4S (Governemt 4 Sale) and Serco might be invited in. Either that ornthey will come in as T2 providers and just purchase a T1 set up. I know this needs Givernment approval however I am not naive enough to believe that they will decline such an offer from their preferred partners!!!

    1. I would've thought this would breach procurement rules and those bidders left could challenge the process. It would also delay the bidding process to the extent that any contract award would fall on the wrong side of the general election.

      If you "owned" a T1 set-up why would you sell it..presumably you bid because you thought you could run it and make some money?

    2. There are many entrepreneurs who set up businesses precisely with the intention of selling them on when they become profitable. It would not surprise me in the least if some of the leaders of the "mutuals" have this on their minds.

    3. There was a company which got the contract for Court interpreters and who, very quickly, sold the contract to another company pocketing several millions of pounds profit. Of taxpayers money!!

      I can see similar happening with TR.

  2. I was at a Merseyside NAPO meeting last night and the Chair said he asked the Dept CEO last week and was brushed off. There was a Management Union Liaison meeting today and he was going to ask again.

    On another point Merseyside NAPO have sent a strongly worded letter to Annette Hennessey asking for a 2month delay but its too little too late.

  3. It reads and feels like Napo is literally falling apart - after the split, it will get more difficult with umpteen different employers to negotiate with and a disgruntled membership already leaving Napo rather than apparently engaging with it.

    Then there is the Probation Institute smokescreen that as far as I can tell has not made one supportive public statement despite there being distress and despair amongst many potential members, as folk continue to struggle with introducing TR rather than outright refuse or resign their employments.

    I just wonder if members should wait for an AGM - if they cannot get Napo focusing on the things they believe are priorities via management by the NEC maybe there needs to be an early General Meeting as soon as it can be arranged constitutionally.

    If I was writing a script for the destruction of Napo in the way David Walker suggests is the aim of the Government in the 'policy Hub' section in the Guardian - I would say the Governement are doing it exactly to plan over the last few years - divide, disorganise, rule and replace.

    I think for probation to have any real integrity as not being little more than an arm of the punishment business, practitioners need to unite and get collectively active NOW, not in a few months time - the longer the debacle persists the harder it is likely to be to get a unified professional probation workforce established again.

    1. You may be right Andrew - but there needs to be a voice that emerges and behind whom people can rally. Dare I say someone like Joanna Hughes - who is not a natural leader - would be ideal.

    2. I agree wholeheartedly.

      I am impressed with Joanna's reasoning and writing style, she seems to think like a probation officer should - thorough, comprehensive, make the best of what is but do not collude with that which is completely wrong, such as TR.

      The best leaders are also the reluctant one's who only agree to be a leader at the encouragement of others and so can rely on the strength of the support of those led rather than forge out in front into battle with little regard to the views of those who are expected to do the actual fighting.

      However, finding unity amongst Napo members, who have different professional statuses maybe particularly difficult at present - unless they are sufficiently fed up with the alternative - so once in place a leader needs to be strong, and deal fairly and effectively with those who may not share the views of the majority.

    3. I agree Joanna would be great. As a leader of Napo or a leader of a new group of resistance? I would certainly join.

    4. You obviously don't know that Joanna intends to stand as an independent in her constituency of Cheltenham. Not sure if she would have time to do napo chair you know all the supervision of employees and appraisals etc

    5. See - for comments on that very point: -

  4. Ian Lawrence has blogged today about Tom Rendon and replied to his resignation on a 'personal basis'. In other words, the members will stay in the dark about the nature of the conflict, or the so-called dysfunctionality, though critics never, ever spell out the reasons for the dysfuncionality, assuming it exists.

    I am at the point where I don't care about the personalities, but I think that to cast Tom Rendon as part of the solution is mistaken. The fact is his personal ambition (nothing wrong with having ambitions) created a conflict of interest when he applied for a post in a CRC, as he was the Napo Chair ostensibly and vigorously opposed to the very concept of the split.

    What I don't understand is the dysfunctionality thing and that the general secretary is the villain. In today's blog, he wrote: 'Meanwhile, the Napo staff and I intend to work in the same way as we have always done in partnership with the elected Officers, to progress the campaign strategy that was agreed by the NEC at their last meeting.' Here he is saying quite clearly that the working model is one of partnership and he is working to a mandate approved by the NEC. Isn't this evidence of the the 'member-led' union exercising managerial control and accountability? If the NEC is signed up to the campaign strategy, then in what way is the general secretary cocking a snook at the constitution and behaving imperiously? Has the NEC been nobbled, charmed or bullied to heed the overpowering will of the GS.

    We get all these references to dysfunctionality at the top of Napo, but no-one actually desconstructs it and explains what is going on in plain language. Is it about egos or is it about structures that are incapable of using their vested powers in the best interests of the membership? Is power being abused? We know it has been in the Police Federation, is Napo operating in a similar culture?

    I don't know the answers to any of these questions. I think there have been weaknesses in the campaign strategy but I don't think it's unfair to solely blame the GS. The email from other Napo Officers today is basically supportive of the GS, whilst distancing themselves from the former chair.

    On the allegations of dysfunctionality, it is time they were given some substance.

    1. For me it is also important to have more information. I don't need specifics if it would be libellous but I do need a fair idea whether to keep fighting to make the union better from ground up or whether it is something that can't be fixed and we need to start again.

    2. Here's what the General Secretary has to say in his blog today:-

      "Members will by now be aware that Tom Rendon has decided to step down from his role as National Chair. I have replied to Tom on a personal basis and wished him well for the future. He has many talents and has made a major contribution to the life and fabric of the union.

      I believe that the Napo Officer Group have themselves made a statement in response to Tom’s resignation which should be going out to all members later today.

      Meanwhile, the Napo staff and I intend to work in the same way as we have always done in partnership with the elected Officers, to progress the campaign strategy that was agreed by the NEC at their last meeting. This will be crucial as we approach the critical period during which Grayling will seek to push through his blatantly corrupt attempts to sell off of your work and your professional careers."

      There has been a power struggle and the General Secretary is victorious. This is great news for all members who feel that Napo's campaign against TR has been a success, and will continue to be a success.

      Meanwhile a small group associated with this blog will continue to plough our own furrow.

    3. Netnipper23 May 2014 18:29 - another interesting perspective and food for thought. Fascinating stuff.

  5. Well Jim count me in. Just let me know where and when.

  6. Jim Brown isn't a pseudonym for Tom Rendon is it ;)

    1. No, I think it's a pseudonym for Harry fletcher!!!

    2. Meanwhile from Twitter

      "Harry Fletcher ‏@hfletcher10 53m

      #Probationselloff Essential that all TR problems sent to blogs are passed on to MPs/media now.TR can be stopped by rank and file pressure !"

      AND: -

      "Harry Fletcher ‏@hfletcher10

      #Probationselloff Local results show that hoping labour win in May15 will stop TR is no strategy.Its stopped by exposing the mess that it is"

  7. well someone from Durham Tees Valley did their bit - anyone hear it on Five Live or see it on Look North?? sad it is so misunderstood on NAPO website forum

    1. Yeah, and the shit hit the fan over that and somebody was escorted from the office!! It may have been unconnected but who knows as the Chief and MMG were after blood!!!!

    2. Well done that person/s from Durham Tees. There is no way of proving who did what. Anyway if enough of us do it they can't sack us all!! Remember that media ban they tried to impose on us at the start of all this?!?

    3. Brilliant we now have a martyr someone who was brave enough to stand up and be counted I am so sorry that they have had to stick their neck above the parapet when so many let us down including st Harry . But thank you

    4. Here it is:

    5. Anonymous23 May 2014 21:01 - "...sad it is so misunderstood on NAPO website forum"

      If this is a comment on the thread I started over there please explain exactly what's been misunderstood.


  8. On Comments
    From TWITTER - Have you heard capita enforcement officers are being transferred to NPS? MP's need to know. Huge concern. So experienced POs and PSOs with a wealth of experience are sidelined to CRC and this is happening via back door - if NAPO and UNISON don't do something to stop this - then it really is GAME OVER.

  9. Its been game over for a long time - I think it is time folk stopped clinging to false hopes that TR will be stopped. No chance in my view despite all the new shock/horror stories - & there will be more........Bobbyjoe

  10. Anon24......I really, really hope you are not probation staff........Bobbyjoe

  11. Of course....NAPO member since 1993, 11 of those years on my branch exec, will be working as a PO in the CRC come June 1st. I don't think the split will change, what might change is that the CRCs remain public if bidders pull out - I still think it is game over for probation as we knew it and I am very angry, upset & sad about it. What also makes me sad is a response like yours just because you don't agree with me.....I thought users of this blog were better than that......Bobbyjoe

  12. Heard today that the membership of the Probation Institute has reached 70.That's less than the membership of Earth, Wind and Fire, isn't it?

    1. Great pressure from MOJ to increase membership..."Probation Institute must not fail" this space for "offers" to staff to be enrolled for "free" in CRCs to boost couldn't make it up the crass manipulation of staff who may not want to join for good reasons. You will join or be joined!

    2. The Probation Institute appears to have borrowed Napo's public relations machine, since I've heard very little from them apart from the initial, muted, fanfare. You would have thought that they'd at least have sent an email to all staff explaining how to join, or some kind of mailshot via the Trusts?

      On Anon 07:06's point - well if they can enrol us automatically, then surely we can make an active decision to resign membership? At this stage the criteria for the PI is so vague and so diluted that I see no benefit to it for me at all.

  13. PO since 1981 and cling to hope we remain in public sector and something can be retained, logically I know TR has happened. In CRC and probably in mourning in some way for a Service that has been dismantled and had its heart ripped out over the last 15 years. Can sometimes smile at the irony of the job I used to deliver in the 80s is now the way forward, by that I mean therapeutic relationships, working with individuals in their social context and building on their strengths.....

  14. I've written to my MP again and signed it off as follows:

    My apologies for the flippant tone of this e-mail but I am tired of this whole thing and don't know what it's going to take to be listened to or taken seriously. For now I am doing what I can which is inform my local MP (you) so that when the stuff hits the fan I can categorically say that you knew what was going on and did nothing to stop it. I will be in touch.

    PS If you could also help me out with stopping cuts to legal aid I would appreciate it. Thanks.

  15. From 'What do they know':

    "I wonder if it is possible to clarify if 'bonus' payments or similar have
    been offered and/or are being made to staff in Probation Trusts in
    England and Wales by way of incentive to comply with any or all of
    (i) preparation of those Trusts for dissolution, (ii) the splitting of the
    caseloads in those Trusts, (iii) the introduction of the TR agenda
    and (iv) facilitating the sale of probation services.

    Is it also possible to clarify, and quantify, the structure and costs of
    any performance related pay scheme paid to Trust staff, e.g. Senior
    managers and Board members, in the financial years 2008/09,
    2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and 2013/14. If a figure by
    Trust is not available under the FOI procedures, then a simple
    overall figure would be helpful, e.g. total cost and number of staff in
    receipt of such payments for England and Wales.

    Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

    The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) does not hold the information that you have requested. This is because there is no legal or business requirement for us to do so. To establish whether or not the information was held within the Ministry, I conducted a thorough search, and made enquiries of the following business areas: the Directorates of Probation and Human Resources in the National Offender Management Service; and the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme. If the information had been held by MoJ it would have been held by one or more of the above-mentioned business areas.

    Please be advised that the Freedom of Information Act does not oblige a public authority to create information to answer a request if the requested information is not held ..."

    1. So, any management bods out there prepared to confirm if payments were made or have been promised, and how much? Its public money but there doesn't appear to be any "legal or business requirement" for such payments to be recorded. Perhaps the PAC might be able to assist? We're already over £9M short after lining the pockets of mysterious consultants, something moj didn't want to disclose. Transparent Government, Dave? What are you doing, Dave?

    2. Just finished reading a novel in which one character talks ofa prisoner not being able to read or receive parcels. Grayling's Britain 2014? No, Stalin's Russia 1952.

    3. Moj will not provide FOI about Trusts! This is their get out, the info on so much of TR is held within the Trusts and therefore will need to go to each individual area. So many requests are failing on this point?

    4. You want to ask about Allen and Overy , MOJ legal eagles if you want to knoe where the money is going

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    6. There are only 35 Trusts, surely there are more than 35 individual readers of this blog who could each make a separate request for this information about bonus payments?

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