Friday, 23 May 2014

Prisons Latest

It looks like those clever guys down at Noms HQ have been busy cooking-up a cunning plan for probation officers in prison and I'm grateful to the person who supplied the following:-

From: Ian Mulholland and Gordon Davison

Date: 19 May 2014

To: Governing Governors
Chief Executives of Probation Trusts

cc: Phil Copple
Colin Allars
Amy Rees
Senior Leaders Bulletin


Dear Colleagues

Further to the recent communication from Phil Copple and Colin Allars, this letter introduces the new role description for probation staff working in public sector prisons.

The attached role description sets out the new role for custody probation staff in public prisons. This role is being revised due to the PSP Benchmark. This sees the offender supervision task within custody delivered exclusively by prison officers, with the exception of open prisons and the women’s estate, where National Probation Service (NPS) cases will see offender supervision delivered by custody probation officers.

The new role, which has been developed in close consultation with OMPPG, TR colleagues and Probation professionals in the operational setting, requires the skills and experience that qualified Probation Officers possess. Accordingly, there will not be a role for Probation Service Officers (PSOs) within Offender Management Units.

The role description sets out the role probation staff will have specifically within offender management functions in prisons and does not address other areas of work within prisons for probation staff such as in programme delivery. The role will be introduced in prisons from 1 June onwards and, as previously explained, the change will take place over an extended period to allow for individual circumstances to be considered appropriately and to balance resource needs across both establishments and the National Probation Service.

We are now developing an implementation plan which will timetable the move to the new model in each establishment. We should emphasise again that the introduction of this model will not result in any compulsory redundancies among those probation staff who move out of establishments during implementation. The implementation plan and the options available for probation staff moving out of establishments will be shared with the appropriate Trade Unions prior to finalisation.

For further information please contact:
Ian Mulholland Gordon Davison
Deputy Director Head of Offender Management and
Public Sector Prisons Public Protection Group

This paper sets out the new role for custody probation staff in all public prisons. Custody probation staff will use their professional expertise to support Offender Supervisors drive up the standards of Offender Management in custody, using a combination of quality assurance, oversight and guidance. The new role complements revisions made to the role of Offender Supervisors under the PSP Benchmark. This sees the offender supervision task within custody delivered exclusively by prison officers, with the exception of open and women’s prisons, where National Probation Service (NPS) cases will have offender supervision delivered by custody probation officers.


The purpose of the role will be to provide the Governor and staff involved in offender management with professional expertise in risk and case management.

Role description

The role will comprise 3 elements:

1.Quality assuring offender supervision work undertaken by Prison Officer Offender Supervisors.
2. Directly supporting Prison Officer Offender Supervisors by providing regular advice and guidance.
3. Providing oversight of and direction for all NPS cases which are subject to offender supervision by Prison Officer Band 4 staff (except for in open and women’s prisons).

Critical to the success of this arrangement will be the mutual recognition by probation and prison staff of the complementary nature of their respective roles, which need to be dovetailed and not carried out in ‘silos’ separate from one another.

The professional expertise of Probation Officers will support and enhance the important contribution that Prison Officer Offender Supervisors will make. In the same way that prison officers involved in the delivery of offending behaviour programmes require the expertise of programme and treatment managers, so prison officers involved in offender supervision require the expertise of Probation Officers to provide professional advice, feedback and guidance.

The length of time Probation Officers work in prisons will be limited. This arrangement will avoid the risk of ‘deskilling’ Probation Officers and ensure offender management in prison is constantly enriched by refreshed expertise from the community.

NOMS Offender Management and Public Protection Group (OMPPG) will provide practice guidelines for Probation Officers working in public sector prisons, Prison Officer Offender Supervisors, OMU Hub Managers and Heads of OMU, as part of the OM model development.

A resource allocation tool has been developed to determine the complement of Probation Officers in each prison. It is based on the number of Prison Officer Offender Supervisors and is weighted for the prisoner turnover, and risk profile of the prisoners in each prison.

1. Quality Assurance

The quality assurance dimension provides assurance to the Governor and partners involved in managing offenders about the totality of risk assessment, risk management, case management and public protection work. It builds on work already carried out in prisons, such as OASys QA, but extends this to incorporate an holistic approach to quality, encompassing not just assessment, but the management of the case throughout the sentence. It will provide a link to quality assurance work carried out by NPS in the community and builds on other initiatives within NOMS such as the Offender Engagement Programme. The clear focus of this work is to identify and address development needs of Offender Supervisors using the professional expertise of Probation Officers, not to identify poor performance.

Specific areas of work include;

OASys QA - as per current arrangements. Provide feedback to individual Prison Officer Offender Supervisors and aggregated feedback to the Governor.

Case QA - quality assurance of a random sample of case files completed by Prison Officer Offender Supervisors. Provide feedback and advice on aggregated learning needs within the OMU to the Governor.

Other QA - undertake any other quality assurance activity required, specific to any emerging issues highlighted in the case reviews and from QA of case files.

Learning Activities - advise the Governor about the learning needs and suggest activities to address these needs. It is expected that the majority of the activities will be delivered by the probation staff in the prison itself, but there may be some joint work with forensic psychologists, partnership agencies and providers within other prisons which have a similar role (i.e. resettlement prisons) and /or prisons in the same region. Activities should include developing one to one motivational techniques and offender engagement methods.

2. Support and Advice

The support and advice dimension provides continuous on-the-job learning and development for Prison Officer Offender Supervisors. It delivers support and advice about low and medium risk cases in preparation for specific tasks, but also provides regular in-depth reviews of individual cases and attendance at key meetings. The ongoing support and advice will help to strengthen Offender Supervisors’ confidence in decision-making, and ability to deliver the role effectively.

In some prisons this will not be a new role for probation staff, whereas in others it will bring a renewed focus on probation practice, which will become the core of the reformed public sector custody probation role. The intention is for all of the activity to provide learning opportunities for prison staff. This part of the role also provides for a limited amount of 1 to 1 work directly with offenders in areas such as motivation.

Case reviews with Prison Officer Offender Supervisors

The Prison Officer Offender Supervisor will bring a sample of their more complex, higher risk, or otherwise challenging Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) allocated cases, to be reviewed with the probation officer twice yearly. The probation officer will review the case with the prison officer in a supportive learning environment, ensuring that development issues are noted and that aggregated feedback (not individual) is provided to the Governor.

Case commencement support

Provide advice and support for Prison Officer Offender Supervisors about the management of their new cases. The provision of this advice will occur when the Prison Officer Offender Supervisor picks up a new case and could include advice about how to engage a particular offender, advice on intervention needs, or sequencing of support in escalating public protection issues such as domestic abuse or child protection. This can also include discussions about potential referrals to forensic psychology services or other agencies. Again, the focus here is on using every event as a development opportunity.

The level and type of support required will vary depending on the developed skills and experience of the Offender Supervisor, so there might be local variation in the focus of this task and time accordingly.

Attend meetings

Attend key meetings where the professional advice of Probation Officers is required. Probation officers will attend these meetings in a professional advisory capacity. These meetings are:

Inter departmental risk management meetings
Pathfinder meetings (Extremism)
Any additional local Public Protection meetings and MALRAPs
Advice regarding high risk case reports
Provide advice to Prison Officer Offender Supervisors on the completion of key reports including (but not restricted to) SPRL reports for parole hearings, MAPPA contributions and other key reporting areas.

Provide one to one interventions

For medium and high risk offenders where a need has been identified that cannot be addressed elsewhere, probation may undertake motivational one to one work or refer offenders to forensic psychology services or other agencies.

3. Provide oversight of and direction for high risk cases managed by Offender Supervisors.

Probation Officers will oversee and provide direction to all NPS cases managed by Prison Officer Offender Supervisors, tailored to the relative experience and competency of the individual Offender Supervisor. This oversight and directing function will support the Prison Officer Offender Supervisor role but will not entail Probation Officers having responsibility for a caseload. The probation role will involve a more active involvement than the ‘support and guidance’ function for CRC cases, and it will enable them to stay in touch with practice in the community, whilst providing a level of assurance that the NPS cases are being progressed appropriately. This additional element of work for these cases might include some specific engagement with the offender for motivational reasons, or to help the Offender Supervisor accurately assess the offender and plan next steps. Review periods, and any issues that require urgent attention would be considered jointly.

In open and women’s prisons, the Probation Officer role will be to act as the Offender Supervisor for NPS cases. The Probation Officer staffing group would still also be required to provide support and quality assurance for other cases, which are the responsibility of Prison Officer Band 4 Offender Supervisors, as described above.


  1. Prison officer offender supervisors - "poos"? Really?

    "Morning. How many poos will you be supervising today?"

  2. Just a week away from the transistion date for the TR programme & this is pasted up. Not much going on in the field then? Is it possible to be more out of touch with all that is going on (or rather not) in Offices around the country today. My Office in the West Midlands is in meltdown. The seniors in charge of the NPS LDU have not yet been confirmed, yet the last two days have been taken up with the logistics of everyone and I mean eveyone moving desks. This will take two days out of Ops in the first week of the new regime.The senior managers have at last discovered the secret of invisibility & noone seems to know what is going on. How about putting the blog back into the world of field officers & what is being thrown at them & how their careers are being wrecked.

  3. TR and Jim's blog are not just about field offices and not entirely about being a probation worker as a trawl back will quickly reveal. Prison PSOs being decanted, PO colleagues becoming side-line managers and never mind the issues for Prison Officers.

    On Tom's resignation, we clearly have chaos at the top of our union. The professional association bit was always going to be difficult to reconcile with union stuff at a time like TR and it looks like those conflicts have led to distraction and loss of focus.

    1. In response to 10.24 Jim runs an accommodating blog which reflects interests & concerns of posters as much as Jim's "starter for 10". I'm still getting my head round these changes outlined and wonder if they could not lead to PO staff ultimately being viewed as surplus to requirements. A "mentoring" (of Prison colleagues)role requires certain skills(not least diplomacy) not necessarily held by all seconded colleagues. .re anon 10.47 asserting impact of TR on our profession, hobbling valuable time & complicating communications across split organisation key issues for Napo as both prof assoc and union to assert and campaign on. I don't understsnd thr personalised TRendon account of differences of opinion.Thrre is sn Officrrs group of 4 at least from Prob not including Chair who act ss employrrs of Officials on behalf of members.Is he saying Officials running the org?? This should have been communicated as issue long ago(NEC/SGM)if has been rumbling a while as Tom implies. Twitter suggests is s National Chairs meet today-if so hopefully clarity will result. There are at least 2 very experienced National Officers in my opinion left "holding the fort"..lets hope for more info asap.

  4. Another PCC warning about the risks with probation privatisation.


    2. The scale of private sector involvement in the UK’s prisons and probation service has increased dramatically in the last four years and the overwhelming majority of contracts are held by just three companies, according to a new report published today (Friday) by the TUC.
      Justice for Sale is the first in a series of reports from the TUC and its seven unions with members employed in the justice sector, and is the first activity of the Speak Up for Justice campaign. The research was undertaken by the New Economics Foundation and looks at the growth of outsourcing – where work once carried out by the public sector is now being handled by private companies.
      The report looks in detail at what has been happening in the three areas of offender management in England and Wales – prisons, probation and electronic tagging – in an attempt to assess the implications for the taxpayers, public safety and the rehabilitation of offenders.
      One in six of the UK’s prisons is now run privately – a higher figure than anywhere else in Europe, says the report, and there are now fewer staff and they are employed on lower wages.
      While supporters of private prisons say that they are both cheaper and more efficiently run, the report says that they tend to be more overcrowded and that this has been the real reason for any savings achieved.
      In 2012-13, 29.3 per cent of prisoners in privately managed prisons were being held in overcrowded accommodation compared to 21.8 per cent in those run by the state. There are real concerns over the impact this has upon inmates, says the report. It also notes that all prison contracts are held by just three companies – G4S, Serco and Sodexo.
      The report also highlights concerns over the involvement of private firms in the electronic monitoring of offenders. The Serious Fraud Office is currently investigating claims that two of the companies which once had tagging contracts alongside Capita – Serco and G4S – have overcharged taxpayers to the tune of millions of pounds.
      Much of the probation service will have been handed over to the private sector to run under the government’s transforming rehabilitation programme by next year, says the report.
      The government argues that outsourcing in probation will help reduce reoffending and save money. But introducing a payment by results mechanism will encourage private companies and voluntary organisations that win the contracts to concentrate on those people least likely to reoffend, and leaves little incentive work with anyone who has already committed another offence, says the report.

      TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Privatisation of the justice system didn’t begin under this government but it has certainly upped the pace. The dedicated professionals who work in our courts, prisons and probation services have real concerns about the effect that widespread privatisation and cost-cutting is having upon the justice system.
      “Not only is it likely – given the performance of the private sector in this area to date – that standards will slip, there is also a real danger that the safety of the public could be put at risk. It can’t be right that so much of our justice system should be placed in the hands of such a small number of private firms whose ultimate concern is shareholder profit rather than providing a good deal to taxpayers.”

  5. For a while now we've known this was coming. I'm disgusted with all involved in implementing TR that they insist all prison staff are sifted into NPS when they knew that a few weeks later there would be no role for prison PSOs. Disgusting.

  6. I see from a number of recent MoJ communications that they have published details of a few new bidders but refuse to say who has dropped out. Most worrying factor is that in the NYorks/Lincs/Himberside CPA Catch 22 Rehabilitation are prime with SERCO as a sub or JV!

  7. A particular office in West Mercia is in absolute meltdown!

    1. Which one?

    2. Can't give specifics, don't wish to compromise the blog... The merger with Warwickshire hasn't gone down too well either. West Mercia is recruiting SPO's and POs, I wonder why... People leaving a sinking ship?

  8. Looks like Tim Rendon was truly on his own in seeing fundamental strategy differences with Napo management over professional issues/values versus trade union activities. Seems clear his immediate colleagues are not in sympathy with, or feel the tensions, that made his position become untenable. Though many thought it was already untenable.

    Nonetheless I was intrigued that he was so conflicted and it's a pity he did not elaborate on the divergences.

    It seems almost quaint to to refer to professional values, because they have been in demise for a such a long time. What was the target culture and managerialism if not an assault on professionalism? Both these forces sought to squeeze out any autonomy which is the beating heart of any professional ethic and turn everyone into a bureaucrat and make every act thereof flowchart compliant.

    Feeling the itch or pain of a lost professionalism almost seems on a par with feeling the ache in a phantom limb following amputation of the real one.

    All Napo members
    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
    This email address is not monitored.  If you wish to reply or comment then please send an email to

  9. Agreed - the real job was lost 20+ years ago when it was decided PO's needed " managing". Bet netnipper wrote great SER's, from a blank page. Remember ?


    2. Anon 12:40 - oh how I long to write a PSR from a blank page - halcyon days indeed ........

    3. After Theresa May's warrior queen appearance at the Police Federation, there can be no doubt Tory ministers are gearing up to destroy police trade unionism in its present form.

      It's a fair bet that, if they are in power again after next May's general election, they will go after other public sector unions, the Prison Officers Association, Napo, and the Fire Brigades Union; before long even Unison and the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) could be under siege.

      The home secretary has a particular agenda based on her personal ambitions in the Tory party, which probably include the leadership. Her controversial speech also chimes with the extraordinary set of measures the government has taken to deprivilege the police. May had the temerity to say something no previous Tory home secretary had admitted: that police numbers had very little to do with the level of crime.

      The Cameron government has created elected commissioners to boss chief constables, inserted a hatchet man instead of a chief constable as head of HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, run an aggressive review of pay and conditions, and attacked police practice (stop and search) and ethics (Plebgate). In a recent book, the former chief constable of Gloucestershire Tim Brain called it deliberate deprofessionalisation.

      But so far it has worked. Since 2011 there have been no riots, so the government has not had to rely on police loyalty. Public opinion, moreover, seems broadly to share May's criticisms of uniformed officers.

      So what next? Chris Grayling, at justice, will effectively be rid of Napo, the probation officers' union, if his giant contracting scheme goes ahead and private firms take over the bulk handling of offenders. How many of its 8,000 members would be allowed or could be bothered to organise membership if they were transferred to a private firm, which might be actively hostile to employees getting together to make demands? Another Tory government would surely see another bid to insert private suppliers into offender management, which would eat away at the 31,000 membership of the Prison Officers Association. As for the 41,000 members of the Fire Brigades Union, how many will still have jobs in fire and rescue by 2020?

      Mainstream public sector unions already face existential threats from the decline in public sector employment since 2010 and from outsourcing, which is still gathering pace despite the setbacks to Serco and G4S. Might they, in addition, confront a deliberate campaign to marginalise them or even to end collective bargaining?

      Ministers have signalled their wishes. Two years ago Eric Pickles announced his intention of ending "corrupt" union practices. The corruption he was referring to was about councils allowing union officials paid office time to conduct union business, and the chorus of attack on public sector unions was joined by the then defence secretary Liam Fox and Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude. Since then, it is true, not a lot has happened. Pickles forced councils to publish certain kinds of information, including how much "facility time" they allowed their union representatives.

      The Guardian's Alan Travis recalls Tony Blair naming the Police Federation as the most powerful trade union in the country – a description once upon a time reserved for the National Union of Mineworkers. The federation has, it's true, been beset by internal wrangling and disorganisation. But now we have a Tory government prepared to take on the police and their union. And if the Tories can defeat and disarm the group of public service workers with whom they once so closely identified, what might happen to those public sector staff in local authorities and Whitehall, for whom Conservative governments have never had much affection?

    4. Jim, Isn't Teresa May's husband a director of and fairly major shareholder in G4S? Funny that.......

    5. "A Scandal! Theresa May, Prudential & G4S

      .... it appears Theresa May & her spouse owns a small, non-controlling shareholding in Prudential, which in turns owns a small, non-controlling shareholding in G4S. As do hundreds of thousands of people who have Prudential AND Legal & General life policies and pensions. Crikey, it seems they are all scandalously corrupt!

      By the way, May & her spouse bought the Prudential shares in 2002, quite a few years before the G4S got involved in the Olympics…

      It is indeed a scandal. A scandal of many straws being grasped."

  10. This prison thing has been coming - saw vacancies in W Yorks not long ago - poisoned chalice if ever there was one; anyone who applied and interviewed may now be surprised by the job description which has just become available and what it means for PSO colleagues.

    On the coal face - it's chaos - and I note with some odd pleasure that Delius will not be available from Wed 28th - Monday 2.6 and that is if, it comes back on on Monday 2nd. Contingency planning is our managers watchword and as nobody has a clue what tha plan is, the contingency plans must look rather confusing. It reminds me very much of a very old episode of Keystone Cops - without the laughs.

    As NPS I've been advised to print off my training history and leave etc as this too willbe erased from the systems, to be replaced by some Noms shite on 1.6.2014.

  11. I am a PSO currently working in prison. We are a team of PSO's, PO's and prison officer band 4's - all doing virtually the same job. Only difference is the salary - guess who is at the bottom of the food-chain? To say I feel used and abused is an understatement, I don't know why I feel surprised, it's what I've come to expect. I would like to wish my PO colleagues best of luck for the future, I only hope they have some prison OS's to advise - most of ours are re-deployed on a daily basis due to lack of staff to actually run the prison Back to job hunting!

  12. Salary & the quality of work us cheaper pso's do, who know far more about risk of serious harm than most prison officers.
    If I was a po in prison I would now want out. Sounds like a management position on the cheap?!

    1. Both POs and PSOs get trampled on by management. Working relationship between POs and PSOs from my experience have been great. I genuinely believe that POs appreciate PSOs for their contributions, it's a shame management doesn't and never has!

  13. Our Governor didn't actually know the PSO's weren't PO's until the first letter about getting rid of us came out! It doesn't make sense when we are cheaper and do the same job. I also think it's a shame for the development of PSO's as a secondment opportunity because you get to deal with cases you wouldn't do in the community, attend Oral Hearings etc which gives you greater confidence for a return to the community.