Sunday, 25 May 2014

Omnishambles Update 49

Irritating in many ways, I nevertheless have to admit that twitter can be useful in providing an insight into what the hell is going on in probation as the TR omnishambles marches on. So, here's some edited snippets gleaned from a well known probation tweeter, all in handy bite-sized chunks, no more than 140 characters long, and I hope they forgive my unauthorised plagiarism. 

Heard probation rumour today: NPS PO will have final say over CRC SPO in any disagreement about risk escalation.

I have a stack of new policies, forms, processes, instructions etc etc that I'm told are crucial to my new role. No time to read them!

Evidence received today that sex offenders WILL be managed in the CRCs which in future will be privatised.

I see risk of serious recidivism score has been increased again. Have to score 7. 2% to be auto allocated to NPS.

Some of the greatest and most inspiring PO's I know are quitting with no job to go to. They've had enough. Ridiculous state of affairs.

Two more emails received from agencies today. Offering me work all over the country as a PO. Email said they are "desperate"

I really don't know if I can continue this twitter given I will become a civil servant soon. Managers indicated social media is a no no.

Three separate emails received today from agencies offering me temp PO jobs. Willing to pay me to live in a hotel mon-fri.

NPS allocated PO told me how she was begged to go into CRC & she has refused. Apparently it's very short staffed. Nobody has begged me! Ha.

My CEO said staff aren't leaving the service. Why do we have so many temps then? We have never had this many! TR getting rid of good staff!

Trainee PO's told they will have to be seconded to CRC for 2 days a week in order to gain relevant experience.

Much older/wiser colleague told me I should have been a PO in the 1980's & would have made a good social worker. I took that as a compliment

Informed client today he will go to CRC. He said he thinks there will be a lot of breaches so the private company can fill their own prisons

One SPO has always done allocation of work in my office. Now two SPO's and two admin do it. 4 members of staff! Nice one Grayling!

I am so behind in my own work. Add the 20 OASys I have to do for "the split" and it's tipping me over the edge! I know I'm not alone.

NPS told not to propose DRR/ATR for Mappa or high risk of harm as IOM is CRC  Another example of how well it's working.

9 emails, 2 phone calls, 7 POs, and 2 SPOs to allocate 1 new probation case.

Client phoned up the office as he is concerned he has not been seen in two months. Officer off sick with stress.

A comment left on here yesterday reflects a situation typical up and down the land:-

I knew this TR crap was going to be very bad. However it's even worse than I could've imagined. Our office in a well known university city is imploding. More than 60% of the caseload is held by new PSO staff with less than 3 months experience. Recalls, prison paperwork, breaches, OASys assessments outstanding. CRC staff drowning in totally unmanageable caseloads. NPS colleagues drowning in PSRs. Senior managers nowhere to be seen. The duplicitous processes are staggering in the extreme, the cost to the public purse outrageous. Amongst all this, clients are looking bewildered, are falling through the gaps and the cannier ones are using the chaos to their own advantage. I can't sleep, I hate going into work. I cannot believe that the best performing public service has come to this. The UK is sleepwalking into the shadow state, the government completely abdicating its responsibilities to its citizens.

Searching around on the internet, I came across this quote from a couple of months ago in the Daily Telegraph by the incoming CEO of Capita, an outsourcing company widely tipped to pick up a considerable amount of probation work. I thought it was illuminating given that I've repeatedly heard that virtually all of the Tier One bidders know virtually nothing about probation. This is what he said:-

He is handing over to Andy Parker, himself a 13-year stalwart of Capita, who said the increase in the bid pipeline was partly down to Capita being shortlisted for seven of the 21 regions under the looming part-privatisation of the probation service. “Probation officers are typically spending less than 25pc of their time on offender-facing tasks, with 75pc of it spent on admin, which they’re not particularly good at,” he said. “We see huge opportunities to free up their time for what they’re better at – front-line duties.”

I'd say the chances of that happening are close to zero.

I've also only just noticed this piece from the Prison Governor's Association on the Politics website:-
Chris Grayling's "Spartan" prison regime is leading to a "tipping point" of instability, the president of the Prison Governors' Association has warned. In a highly embarrassing intervention for the justice secretary, Eoin McLennan-Murray warned that the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme was triggering an increase in assaults and suicides behind bars.
"In order to run a safe, decent prison it is vital to have the co-operation of the majority of prisoners," he said. "This relationship is underpinned by staff having legitimacy in the eyes of prisoners and this is dependent on trust and transparency in decision making. "Some of the recent changes to the IEP system have undermined this trust and threaten the legitimacy of decisions made by staff. "If this is allowed to continue unchecked then a tipping point may be reached whereby prisons are more likely to become unstable than stable. "We are already seeing the early signs of this with rising levels of assaults, reportable incidents and a disturbing rise in self inflicted deaths."
The IEP scheme has been criticised across the political spectrum for the ban it places on all parcels being sent to prisoners. The inclusion of books in the ban sparked a protest campaign by the Howard League for Penal Reform and English PEN. The regime also limits family contact and opportunities for education and learning - all factors which have been shown to reduce people's risk of reoffending.
IEP contains a number of other draconian measures. It makes it much harder for inmates to secure 'enhanced' status in prison, where they are granted certain creature comforts, and much easier for them to drop down a status level. It is thought to have significantly increased the number of people on 'basic' regime, where they are kept alone in a cell for most of the day and denied any personal property.
On the subject of prison, almost daily we are hearing of more supposedly 'dangerous' prisoners absconding from open conditions and there's probably good reason to feel it's IPP prisoners long over their tariff's who are responding to news that Town Visits and ROTL's are going to be curtailed. Feeling that they may have little chance of being released any time soon, some may well have decided to take a chance and just walk out in the hope they can avoid recapture for a time.  

This article in the Economist offers some further thoughts on the subject:-
As a result, absconding—that is, leaving an open prison—or failing to return after a day release have become virtually the only ways to get out illicitly. Yet those who abscond rarely remain free for long. Absconders are mostly low-ranking crooks who happen to be violent. Few have the networks and money that allowed old-time professional criminals such as Ronnie Biggs and Charlie Richardson to evade capture, says Dick Hobbs, a criminologist at the University of Essex. Few are picked up fleeing the country. They are more likely to be found at an old address or lurking at their mothers’ houses.
Absconding, too, is much less common than it was. In 2013 just 204 prisoners absconded, down from 956 in 1996. That improvement is largely the result of better risk assessments of those granted some kind of limited freedom before their release. In 2012 almost half a million licences were granted to let prisoners leave prison temporarily, mostly for activities to prepare them for their final release. In fewer than 500 cases did people fail to return or otherwise breach their licence. After the recent embarrassments, Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, has tightened the rules governing temporary release. 
But some worry that this trend could reverse. The POA, which represents prison officers, says that overcrowding means unsuitable prisoners are being moved to open conditions. Andrew Neilson of the Howard League, a prison-reform charity, points to a lack of properly skilled staff to do risk assessments. Shortages exacerbate this. Between 1997 and 2012 the ratio of officers to inmates fell from one for every 2.4 to one for every 3.3. Officers who lock doors and supervise meals do not make decisions about the release of inmates. But they can provide important information to those who do. Time to get to know prisoners is increasingly scarce. Even the least adept crooks may spot more chances to get out of jail free.
The whole issue of lie-detectors and chemical castration for sex offenders has re-surfaced and if one was cynical one would think it might be connected with the fact we are now in the lead up to a General Election. Getting probation officers to use the equipment is going to pose a considerable professional and ethical dilemma for many and I suspect will serve to hasten the exit of many more skilled staff already utterly pissed off with the whole thing. 

Readers might recall that initially this was work that was going to be farmed out to private contractors such as G4S, until they screwed up that is:-
The Government has abandoned plans to allow the private sector to run lie detector tests for hundreds of serious sex offenders, amid continuing turmoil over outsourcing following scandals involving the country’s two biggest contractors. The programme to test hundreds of sex offenders was due to start this month but has now been delayed for staff to be trained internally, in the latest blow to privatisation plans for monitoring former offenders in the community.
The compulsory tests for about 750 released serious sex offenders in England and Wales are part of a major planned expansion of the use of the polygraph this year despite concerns over its effectiveness.
On the subject of ethics, interestingly the Probation Institute has just closed a consultation exercise on the subject. Here's the first draft:-


1.    We believe in the ability of people who have offended to change for the better and become responsible members of society
Associated principles:
·         Desistance from offending is a process that may take time, requiring a level of patience, tenacity, care and proactive engagement on the part of probation workers

2.    We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of the individual
Associated principles:
·         Interventions must show due regard to the dignity, health, safety and well-being of service users

3.    We are committed to promoting social justice and social inclusion
Associated principles:
·         People who have offended should receive fair, impartial and just treatment throughout all phases of the system and discrimination should be challenged
·         Diversity and difference is viewed with positive regard
·         Service users should have a voice in the planning of services 

4.    We believe in the worth of probation supervision in the community, based on establishing positive  relationships with service users, to promote their rehabilitation.
Associated principles
·         Effective supervision relies on setting an environment in which sensitive issues can be explored whilst maintaining appropriate role boundaries.
·         Meeting the needs of service users will frequently involve working in partnership with other agencies and organisations in the community.

·         The most appropriate use of custodial sentences is for serious or persistent offending. Community sentences are more effective in supporting rehabilitation than short custodial sentences.

5.    We accept to protect the public the rights of service users have to be balanced with the rights and protection of victims and future victims.
Associated principles:
·         The needs of victims take priority over the needs of service users where these are in conflict.
·         Responses to the needs of service users must take account of their assessed level of risk of causing harm to actual victims and future potential victims.

6.    We recognise the importance of training for identified levels of competence and of continuing professional development.
Associated principles:
·         Initial qualifying and continuing training must be of a length and quality appropriate to the level and complexity of the work to be undertaken.
·         Individual workers are accountable for the quality of their work and for maintaining and improving their professional practice, whilst recognising that the employer also has a responsibility to enable this.

7.    We are committed to the development of knowledge, through research, to inform policy and practice in work with offenders.
Associated principles:
·         Methods of working with service users vary according to their different risks and needs and their social contexts.
·         The effectiveness of different interventions should be judged on the basis of evaluation and research that can be widely disseminated and scrutinised.
·         Supporting and contributing to research is essential for the development of good practice.

8.    We are committed to acting with professional integrity
Associated principles:
·         The values and principles of the profession are upheld and all work will be conducted in a reliable, honest and trustworthy manner.
·         Appropriate boundaries must be established in relationships with service users and colleagues.
·         Judgements should be based on balanced and considered reasoning.  Members should maintain awareness of the impact of their own values, prejudices and conflicts of interest on their practice and on other people.
·         Staff should account for and justify their judgements and actions to service users, to employers and to the general public
·         Record keeping must be accurate and professional.

Finally, look what we have to look forward to on TV shortly:-

Embedded image permalink


  1. Regarding the lie-detectors - this comment left just now over on yesterday's post:-

    Applications were invited months ago, but they (noms) hadn't a clue who was doing the training or where it would be held. Its an intensive 4 month residential course with weekly exams. Fail and you're off the course. If you leave noms within 3 years of training you have to reimburse the cost (which is considerable). Last I read there are plans for 7 full time appointments, one to each NPS region. I hear Prof Don Grubin runs a company that got the contract. Could be a lucrative option for those who are selected - there aren't very many qualified and registered lie detectorists in the uk.

    1. I was going to apply for this (pre-split) but it was only open to those currently working with sex offenders. To my knowledge no one applied (the criteria being a little inflexible). It will also entail LOTS of travel up and down the country so you will be spending lots of time away from your partner and children (maybe not such a bad thing!!) and in hotels.

    2. "If sex offenders can be imprisoned on the basis of polygraph tests, why can't people clear their name with the same methods?" This is a excellent point, because if they can be used to convict they should also be used to acquit.

      Given that lie detectors are considered by many experts to be pseudo-science and results inadmissible as evidence in most courts, I wonder how they fit in with the core values and principles espoused by the Probation Institute. Have they got the moral fibre to express an opinion? I will not hold my breath waiting for a response, because the PI will not want to upset one of its main financial backers - the MoJ.

      I find it disappointing, and unethical, that probation staff will volunteer for this stuff.

    3. Truth and Justice25 May 2014 at 17:23

      I was at an oral hearing recently with a long term denier, with no programmes available (due to his denial) he has reached an impasse and the judge agreed with me that polygraph testing should be considered for those in denial in custody as a tool for further discussion at oral hearings, I remain hopeful that this pseudo-science will come back and bite NOMS in a place where it doesn't want to be bitten..

  2. An alternative career on Jeremy Kyle ! Bliss, not, but they would pay well...

  3. Wow - Jim Brown has been busy - well done - there is a mass of information - I defy any single person to have a grasp of it all. - thanks to Jim - you have spent many hours getting that post above together.

    I hope in the coming days Jim gets the chance to bring to us Napo Branches letters to their CEOs and Ursula Brennan, similar to those from Merseyside and Greater London yesterday - another opportunity missed by Napo which could be using them to support daily press releases and could be made available on the members website for ALL the public to read.

    I scanned past the Probation Institute stuff - in the short term they are irrelevant - I note they have made no public statement about the dangers that are enveloping probation professionals as the 1st of June comes nearer and comments from practitioners reveal that the public risks from disenchanted and poorly monitored and supervised convicted criminals have already increased and maybe extra consequential crimes and violence have already very regrettably been committed.

    It will be hard to count the casualties or to apportion responsibility to any one unique cause but it is certainly overdue time for the media to shape up and pay close attention rather than just keep on recycling ever more comments about whatever is 'trending' in the 24/7 news machine that detracts most of us from seriously attending to long term policy issues.

  4. I thought the charter for the Probation Institute was vacuous and platitudinous – and these were its good points. Nothing in it about reasonable and manageable caseloads. We are reading daily on this blog about excessive and unmanageable caseloads. The charter harps on about core values, but we know that there are other core values that operate in the workplace, JFDI, for example. Nothing about the need for employers to maintain an optimal working environment and user-friendly information technology. In fact it is context-free. Although virtually every intelligent commentator who has considered the likely impact of TR and it fragmenting effects on service delivery and working relationships, has concluded that an integrated probation service in the public sector is the winning model, there is no place for a preferred model of service delivery in the charter. It just assumes that it's core values and ethical principles transcend the realities on the ground – yet it can still point the finger of responsibility. It's all Maslow and no Marx, by which I mean it dwells on the aspirational stuff without making sure the basics are in place.

    It loads all the responsibilities onto frontline staff. On skills, for example, individual workers are responsible..'for maintaining and improving their professional practice, whilst recognising that the employer also has a responsibility to enable this. 'This sentence is upside down, as the primary responsibility should lie with the employer to ensure that professional skills are maintained through reviews and training, whilst recognising that the employee has a responsibility undertake funded training. There is no mention of any 'corporate responsibilities'. Will employees have to pay for their own training? I can see such practices taking root, with proponents citing the charter in support of self-funding. After all you can stretch what staff are responsible for endlessly – and that way cut terms and conditions of employment.

    On victims, the charter states that their 'needs' will always take priority when these conflict with service users. This is unbalanced and unrealistic. It should always be about responding to the reasonable needs of victims whilst having regard to the human rights of service users. The use of geographical exclusions have been popular in parole conditions, but just because a victim seeks one of these it should not be granted merely because the victim's needs take automatic priority. It's about what's reasonable and proportionate, but there is no sense that the charter wants to acknowledge the conflicts of interest that have to be managed in real life. But the charter simplistically and stereotypically asserts: 'The needs of victims take priority over the needs of service users where these are in conflict'.

    The charter should go down well in the MoJ.

  5. I understand there is much concern at MOJ / NOMS about low numbers joining the Probation Institute. The remedy ? We will be joined as a "gift" post split....that should improve the numbers eh? I have been told this offer is about to be made when we all have our CRC away days / initial training but what of NPS ? Surely a matter of time before PI becomes part of the NOMS must do too....I do not want to be part of the PI, its purpose is to professionally undermine us and sometimes "something" is definitely NOT better than "nothing".

    1. How will this work when you have to pay £40.00 (or a discounted fee of £20.00 at the moment) per year? If people are signed up as a 'gift' surely they just won't renew their membership the next year? I know I wouldn't!

    2. If signed up I will resign, but I guess they really need this to work so will offer massive discount if joined en masse? I just wonder why it is so important to the MOJ, will they see membership of the PI as being the baseline for staff, with the PO qualification weakened/replaced?

    3. If this is actually done and called "a gift", I'd consider that to be a Grayling gaffe on a par with his imbecilic comments about "experts" in the NPS.

      Count me in as another who will resign if signed up automatically. The only way the PI would be worth anything to me is if it represented a licence to practice - and that would fatally undermine TR (not that it needed anything else to do that).

    4. I too will resign if joined up and I certainly wouldn't pay £40 a year to be a member. Waste of money.

  6. Both TR and the probation institute do not pass the smell test. It is maddening that this is going ahead, going to be a complete mess.

  7. Netnipper has highlighted some excellent points. The other thing that cross my mind is the absence of socio and economical factors which drastically impact on clients progression into changed lifestyle and behaviour. The probation institute, to have any real credibility need to actively challenge oppressive structures and systems which keeps many clients trapped in a cycle of repeated oppression. There is an absence in the probation institute of a commitment to challenging legislation such as welfare reform or the universal credit, housing benefit cap. It needs to have a human rights agenda and work towards challenging the attitudes of politicians and society on how they view ppl who offend. The neutrality of their ethics is superficial and meaningless.
    Anarchist PO

  8. Work load and employee care agreement to combat excessive workloads. The policies were all agreed locally although no doubt out of shape over time. I am worried to hear and read of staff suffering the fear of over allocation. Jim re published the strength of the agreement that will be carried over in the split. Napo central will clock the need to re-establish a dispute over workloads based on the agreement so fingers crossed.

    1. NAPO need to keep an eye on folks being put on Personal Development Plans (3mths of monitoring with monthly meetings with SPO/HR/NAPO) - in my neck of the woods they are the first stage of the Capability Procedure and believe you me it can be very easy to find yourself on the receiving end of this - ie fall behind on delius; put a comment on delius that could be linked to risk and fail to put a projessional judgement comment to justify why you didn't follow up; you name it, many competent staff have fallen foul of the system. Has to be said it only tends to be the same SPOs who put staff on these but it stinks if the current situation is used against already overworked, stressed out staff.

    2. In our service 2 people have been dismissed under capability and there are another 25 cases on going. These are the NAPO represented ones, god knows how many others there are with other unions or ones who are not in the union.

      Does anyone think that they are trying to get rid of staff, have they something else up their sleeves. This does not feel right.

    3. 25???? someone I know was put on one from a well-known SPO for this kind of thing, the 'victim' insisted on being managed by another SPO in the building and what do you know - suddenly no issue with their work and they sailed through the PDP.

    4. Well done Dino. Head above the parapet. You're in the right place for debate, I hope to hear a lot more from you.

    5. Get an SPO that takes a dislike to you for whatever reason, race, disability, the way you look etc and you've had it! I had an SPO who made my life hell so am talking from experience. It's difficult to have a grievance upheld against them too.

    6. I have experienced that too

  9. wow, looks like a comment from the NAPO top table.....why might that be one wonders?....Bobbyjoe

    1. Whose comment is from the Napo "top table"? I don't recognise any of the Napo Officers or Officials signing posts on here

  10. That's a good thing NAPO leadership are adding to this blog. We all need to do our bit and come together to stop this madnes of TR.
    Anarchist PO


  12. I don't disagree with you Anarchist but there were no heads above the parapet before the NAPO chair post became available......perhaps its me being too cynical.......Bobbyjoe

  13. Dino is jncc rep . Not at top table

  14. Replies
    1. Joint (employer and all the trades unions) negotiating and consultative committee -(at local Branch/Employer -currently Probation Trust level) I am pretty sure - I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong - it is probably explained in Napo constitution. -

      The local equivalent of the (National) JNC - Joint Negotiating Committee - Trades Unions and Employers representative organisations (Currently Probation Association) with (I think) the MOJ as participant non voting observer/adviser and I think also the Probation Chief's Association as a non voting observer - but I might be wrong.

    2. Link to latest version of Napo constitution I found on Napo website -

      This does not contain the Amendments made at Extraordinary General Meeting at Birmingham this year: -

      In the Glossary JNCC is given as "Joint Negotiating Consultation Committee"

    3. Thank you for the comment above. I am a JNCC rep. A regular reader and our branch circulates Jims blog daily to our branch members. We hope to increase coverage and promote solidarity.

      I followed the blogger on open naming and will be supportive, if I am able to offer something.

      I was assigned CRC and as yet have done nothing to assist the TR roll out. Sadly I will be operational from the 2nd of June.

      Yes it would have been a positive step had the centre worked to include all of the prolific posters and those with considerable followings to gravitate to collaborate with Jim and others through the Blog. The coverage and audience reading figures are much wider and could only have been of positive use.

      Nevertheless, our local Branch business will shortly engage in temporary arrangements for a new WPEC. Efforts to protect members from what is going to be an incredible year if there is to be excessive cases and lack of professional case management oversight to protect everyone.

      We can still protect members and confront the TR plan if we can develop a strength of new confidence. Members confidence to reject excessive work allocation and to hand back work where appropriate. When workload exceeds safe and reasonable agreed limits for our hours !

      Dino :)

    4. I would also advise . If members are stressed and experiencing stress related symptoms .. To do as I did and ask for work place stress assessment. Mine was in the red .. They have to act on that Jilln

  15. Sorry for confusion. Finally able to post on here. Usually do facebook and twitter. Not as eloquent as some on here. Dino is based down my way. I think he is talking about WPEC. (Think that's the thing). Our office not using WMT now and if agreed workload tool was now used . It would show that we are massively over


  16. If Farage can knock this govt over, so can we.

    1. I agree and I hear that July 10th may be a strike by many unions .. Largest coordinated strike for some time. Be good if we were part of it

  17. Another IPP goes AWOL.

    1. A prisoner has gone on the run from a Suffolk jail - less than 48 hours since another man absconded from the same facility.
      Police issued an appeal after they were contacted last night by officials at Hollesley Bay prison, who informed them Lewis Powter was no longer at the premises.
      The 30-year-old - who has a Dennis the Menace tattoo on his right arm - was last seen at 6.50pm and was not present for the 8pm roll check.
      He was serving an indeterminate sentence for grievous bodily harm with intent, and is described as white, around 5ft 10ins, of medium build, with brown hair, blue eyes and is clean shaven.
      The last time Powter was seen he was wearing a blue jumper with a white t-shirt underneath, blue jeans and white Ralph Lauren trainers.

      Police say he has connections in the Cambridgeshire area.
      It comes after Hollesley Bay contacted Suffolk Police just after 1pm on Saturday reporting that 49-year-old Paul Oddysses had left the premises.

      Oddysses, who was serving a life sentence for attempted robbery and robbery with a firearm, is described as white, around 5ft 6ins, of thin build, with brown hair, brown eyes and clean shaven.

      After Oddysses' disappearance, a Ministry of Justice spokeswoman 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% 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."


    1. A rapist, arsonist, two burglars, a gun criminal and a string of robbers feature on a list of on-the-run convicts that government officials tried to keep secret.
      The Daily Mail can reveal the fugitives’ identities after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling intervened to end the ‘nonsense’ of their privacy being protected.
      He said: ‘They are wanted men and should be treated as such.’
      A row erupted last week after officials at the Ministry of Justice refused to release the names of 18 criminals who went on the run between May 2010 and March 2013.
      This newspaper had applied for the names to be released under Freedom of Information laws – pointing out that it could help to track them down.
      But officials said there was a blanket ban on releasing the criminals’ identities because it was their own ‘personal data’ and it would be ‘unfair’ to them.
      The decision was taken without the knowledge of Mr Grayling who has now overruled the civil servants. Of the original 18 names, he has published 13.
      They include rapist Robert Jones, arsonist Shied Riasat, burglars Viorel Avadanii and Steven Fortnam and robbers Sean Morrisey, Cesk Hanja and Islam Aslam.
      Also at large are Andrew Akuffo who was serving life for wounding with intent, drugs and firearms offences, Michael Collinson who was given almost seven years for wounding with intent, and Tom Zolynski, a carer who stole £10,000 from a frail, elderly man.
      The other three are fraudster Ismail Hasko, drink driver John Wilson and drug dealer Leacroft Wallace. Seven of the inmates walked out of Ford open prison in West Sussex.

      Of the five names being withheld, two have been recaptured and face criminal charges, while police have asked for three more to remain classified on ‘operational’ grounds. The Mail submitted the Freedom of Information request three weeks ago after Michael ‘Skullcracker’ Wheatley absconded while on temporary release from an open prison.
      Since then, there have been a string of other incidents of inmates absconding from open conditions, including murderer Arnold Pickering. He, like Wheatley, has been recaptured. Over the weekend, details emerged about four more inmates who had absconded.
      One, Charlie Casey, 22, who went on the run in April, is wanted after a woman was attacked at a holiday park in Dorset last week.
      Police have been prepared to release details in the immediate aftermath of an inmate disappearing. But the Ministry of Justice would not release a comprehensive list.

      Mr Grayling said that would now change. He told the Mail: ‘Prisoners on the run from open prisons have been in the news too often of late.
      ‘Open prisons are used to prepare those coming to the end of very long sentences for reintegration into society. Without them all the expert advice is that more people would reoffend after release. The number absconding from open prisons is a small fraction of what it was ten years ago under Labour. They’ve conveniently forgotten how bad things were when they were in office.
      ‘But we take any abscond very seriously, reporting it to the police immediately. The police catch most of them quickly. Even so, I think the rules in open prisons have been too lax, and I am tightening them.
      ‘There’ll be more stringent risk assessments, tighter rules about what people are allowed to do, and anyone who absconds will get a longer sentence and will be banned from going back to an open prison.
      ‘From the end of this year, we’ll use GPS tags to monitor where they are. And there’ll be no nonsense about data protection laws when it comes to prisoners on the run.
      ‘They are wanted men, and should be treated as such. That’s why on my watch we will not hold back their names, unless the police ask us not to for operational reasons.’

    2. If 200 people a year abscond from open conditions and are randomly distributed through the year we would expect an average of 4 a week to go walkabouts. We may expect some seasonal variations and some random clustering. It is beyond my maths but are we really seeing an increase and if not then best we don't play into the scare tactics of Grayling and the mail.


  20. "On my Watch" Mr Grayling you destroyed the award winning probation service and replaced it with utter chaos making you responsible for;
    1. more victims and reduced public safety
    2. reduced performance of the workforce with their values trashed
    3. growth in multi national companies delivering justice in this country
    4. huge government expenditure to force this through