Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Time for DIY

We're now well into the second day when probation and other related criminal justice matters are all over the media, but not a peep out of Napo HQ. Not a hint of a press release, comment or interview. I know why, but it's pointless wasting time discussing what the reasons are, it's just too painful and appalling. It can wait for another day, meanwhile the penny is dropping that the best policy is just get on and do it yourself, like Pat Waterman, Chair of Napo Greater London Branch:-
"It will not surprise Napo Greater London Branch members that Pat Waterman and the team are regularly in touch with key media figures letting them know what is going on and passing on the views of members in a no-nonsense way.
Today the following letter was sent to The Guardian and press releases were also sent out along the same lines. Needless to say the Justice Secretary's team have been attempting to counter our efforts but we are managing to break through his defences and bypass his baseless arguments. Several key journalists are beginning to sense that Chris Grayling is now coming under intense pressure from people in grey suits (I seem to remember John Major had a colourful word for them they also appeared in Harry Potter as the Dementors) as the cracks are starting to appear and his folly is starting to be laid bare for all to see.
As you would expect from Pat and the team where he goes we go and where the corporations seeking to take over probation go we will be there holding them to account."
Dear Editor,

Probation staff have been warning for some time now that privatising the Probation Service is an extremely risky thing to do The Public Accounts Committees report published today confirms our fears and repeats our warnings. What is particularly worrying is that that according to a recent freedom of information request £9.5m has already been spent on consultants and the Ministry of Justice PR department has been on overdrive trying to misinform the public about the even greater risks they might face if something is not done about crime (well something is being done and they are working hard to dismantle it and replace it with an untried and untested system that no one else in the world would touch with a barge pole) but they have yet to come up with a compelling argument to justify privatising the Probation Service in the way they are planning to do so. 

Many politicians who have been involved in criminal justice are expressing grave concerns, a large number of academics, Probation Trust Chiefs, and the vast majority of front-line probation practitioners. Even the Justice Secretary's own Permanent Secretary Ursula Brennan has delayed matters previously exercising her right to override the minister in the public interest. So what does it take to stop this calamity taking place before the next election? Let's face it, this is all being rushed through by a poor performing MoJ procurement team in a reckless attempt to reach a point where it would be very difficult for a new administration to repair the damage that will have already been done. 

We believe that the Justice Secretary is already placing the public at increased risk as the Probation Service has been plunged into a state of crisis entirely of his making at a time when he has also caused considerable problems for other parts of the criminal justice system. The system has now reached a tipping point where services run purely for commercial gain are failing leading to mistakes, decline in the quality and professionalism of services, serious unrest, new lowest levels of staff morale and a steady drain of highly skilled staff -who have simply had enough of being messed about. 

The Justice Secretary will be responsible for major breakdowns in the criminal justice system that are already starting to occur and will no doubt continue to occur. We can only hope that he sees sense and stops his ill-judged 'Transformation' of Probation before it is too late and the public is put at even greater risk. There are some things that should never be privatised and they include Probation and Children's Services - it's just too risky to rely on private companies with poor track records to do this work on the cheap.

Pat Waterman

Our efforts yesterday resulted in Joanna Hughes being interviewed by telephone on Sky News but sadly was not able to travel to the London studios at short notice and no media broadcast vans were available. We are amateurs and on a learning curve, but there is no other option given the supreme inaction from Chivalry Road. We are learning fast and have now recruited another to our freelance operation to be a presence at the London end of things.

Watch this space, as they say, and do get in touch if there are any others out there who think they can contribute and are not phased at the idea of appearing on TV or radio.

Stop Press The latest campaign bulletin was emailed out a short while ago and has this to say:-

"Today saw the publication of the PAC report on the Probation reforms. It makes for interesting reading and has highlighted some of Napo’s concerns adding greater weight to our argument, particularly in parliament. It highlights seven recommendations which include ensuring that delivery is not affected by greater levels of bureaucracy, asks how the under 12 months custodial population will be managed in the new arrangements and calls for a plan B should any of the providers fail to deliver."

72 comments:

  1. Has anyone seen the lot refresh update additional bidders

    Northumbria - crr partnership, ingeus, MTC amey
    Durham and Cleveland - CRR partnership
    North Yorkshire Humberside and Lincolnshire - Catch 22 Rehab
    Cheshire and greater Manchester - Sodexo Justice
    South Yorkshire - Catch 22 Rehab
    Derby, Nottingham and Leicestershire - Home Group, Seetec, Geogroup.uk
    Wales - MTC Amey
    West Mercia and Warkwickshire - Ingeus
    Gloscestershire etc - Sentinel offender Services, Turning point
    Dorset Devon - Sentinel offender services
    Hampshire - Sentinel offender services

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    1. Durham and Cleveland - Sodexo now frontrunner as "predicted" on this blog and yes former Chief Probation Officer Roger Hill involved as "predicted" on this blog some time ago......

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    2. I overheard a comment that Sentinel were interested in CRCs "across the South West" and a strong hint that they wanted to combine them even further to save on economies of scale. Depressing to have this confirmed.

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  2. The concerns of the PAC have appeared in many local newspapers today.

    http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/vera-baird-attacks-plans-dismantle-7146447

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    1. The reason (I am almost certain) it has got in local newspapers is because a report was prepared by The Press Association, which has effectively been either adapted or used as it was written, with very little local journalistic input or understanding. I presume they - like (probably) Napo, Unison, GMB (SCOOP), Probation Association, The Probation Chief's Association and perhaps even The Probation Institute, had been supplied with an embargoed copy of the Public Accounts Committee, of The House of Commons' report and so some (such as the BBC) had their reports ready to go, the moment the embargo was lifted at 00,01am. today. I think the PAC report itself, contains a comment about it having been completed for printing on the 7th May - Harry Fletcher Tweeted

      "#probationselloff watch out for an important parliamentary report out Tuesday morning!Still bring the failures of TR to your MPs attention!" YESTERDAY -

      "Amateur" PR folk, 'not in the loop' are doomed to play 'catch-up' whereas if we had been able to co-ordinate in advance - we could have had a statement ready for 00.01am. as well, and people ready for interviewing from first light.

      Napo's national Communication Committee and NEC members, need to be asked to forewarn local PR folk so - next time - and there will be a 'next time' local PR folk (applies to GMB & UNISON as well) can respond to media, in a way that gets them heard - after all it is the front-line probation practitioners who the nation needs to hear from directly - if they are to get the information they need to apply pressure to the Government that produces wise action - sniping and blaming is counter-productive - let us save that for an enquiry - and we need one - or will do.

      Can it happen? - yes - the USA coastguard called off the search for the missing yacht crew - a petition and broadcast campaign - produced within 24 hours 180,000 signatures, the local MP prevailed upon the Foreign office, to prevail upon the USA Governement and the Coastguard have restarted the search - Tony Bullimore survived adrift for 5 days - so maybe there is a message in that for probation folk - the priority is public attention.(perhaps)

      On Google News there are five hundred and seventy-nine articles about this - here is a link to one of the latest; -

      http://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/us-coast-guard-resumes-search-for-missing-british-yachtsmen-after-petition-9400460.html

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  3. If you really do know why NAPO are doing NOTHING please tell us

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    1. It would possibly verge on being libellous, probably counter-productive and certainly a waste of time and I don't want to be accused of cyber bullying or some other such defensive accusation. Members will have to work it out for themselves, ask questions, particularly of NEC reps and be suspicious of answers that appear to indicate all is well. I repeat - the whole thing is completely dysfunctional with no accountability, no effective leadership and virtually no knowledge of front-line practitioner issues at the top.

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    2. I am a NAPO rep and work really hard on 10 % facility time so almost all work is done in my own time. I have written to MPs, seen my own MP, been with members to visit their MPs, written to various Lords and Ladies, the BBC ( radio and tv every programme I could think of), provided stats and information, been interviewed and handed out leaflets on numerous occasions. I am representing members on various issues - some very serious. But I am really losing heart now.
      I understand Pat Waterman gets 100% facility and I know of some on 50%, I would love the luxury of such time.
      So yes these people are working hard but so are many others on behalf of napo members.It just needs saying.....we are all working flat out.......

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    3. Thanks for reminding us of the sterling work being undertaken at branch level - my criticism is with Napo HQ.

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    4. Who appear, quite clearly, to be completely inept.

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    5. I am also a local rep and am working til all hours doing the above as well as providing representation at grievances, consultations, first notifications meeting, sickness absence, disciplinary, stress risk assessments, job evaluation, staff side, public service alliance meetings violent threats protocol meetings ohhh and working in court . Thanks . I really do not want to hear about the slagging off of our napo oh colleagues. I rely on them for advice and feedback and my experience so far has been positive. It is very clear to me there are a lot of people posting on this blog who have their own agenda. Joanna Hughes should be applauded for her stance in resigning....I wish I could afford!

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    6. "It is very clear to me there are a lot of people posting on this blog who have their own agenda."

      Of course we all have an agenda - surely the issue is being open and honest as to what it might be? I'm always careful to watch and if necessary moderate what is said in terms of criticism of Napo HQ. I can understand why you don't want to hear it, and maybe you get an excellent service in terms of advice and support. Others, including myself, see something rather different.

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    7. it fills me with dread every time i read this 'I really do not want to hear about the slagging off of our napo oh colleagues' type nonsense. If people are failing to represent us appropriately they need to be called to account. The fact that some of you are mates is neither here nor their - being your friend doesn't make it okay for them to sell the rest of us out!!

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    8. The agenda being to ensure that napo does not survive post st Harry because he is after all god...

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    9. if it makes you feel better to pretend there's some bizarre pro-harry anti napo agenda, you carry on. Meanwhile the rest of us will worry about the nightmare we're facing on the ground, and how our union leadership is failing in its duty to fight on our behalf. the slavish commitment/blind faith still shown by some to a Union executive that has essentially abandoned any struggle is tragic, and is making things worse for rank and file members

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    10. Everyone - even people with very little interest in my office - have started commenting on how napo seems almost dead with silence. I am sorry but the only agenda apparent to me here is those who wish to impose silence and stop any reasonable critique.

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    11. I am Anon at 19:07 and concede that unlike the other rep who has posted I do have some criticisms of Chivalry Road as I struggle to get responses when I need advice. No-one available to take calls, response times sometimes weeks later when frankly it can be too late.....so yes, I am losing heart. I just wonder if some reps get a better response than others after reading above post by Anonymous 24 who clearly has no problems. In my experience the core function ie provision of employment related support/legal advice is currently not good enough and that really is why people pay their dues.Reps, excepts those in the know,it now appears, are not receiving support. We, I repeat, are working so hard....

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  4. 38 degrees campaign have raised the following concerns:

    "Right now, officials in the US and EU are secretly negotiating a hugely influential and dangerous trade deal which would put the profits of big business ahead of our welfare, health and environment.

    It’s called the “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership”, or “TTIP” for short, but in reality it’s more like a Christmas-list for big business. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy, but leaked details suggest the deal will:

    - Allow companies to sue governments if they make decisions which negatively affect big business’ potential profits (like capping energy prices, or introducing plain packet cigarettes.)

    - Stop future governments from rolling back privatisation of our public services, such as the NHS, energy companies, or the Post Office."

    It seems to fit the pattern of behaviour this govt is demonstrating.

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    1. Excellent reason for joining the 38 degree campaign I think.

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    2. Workers of the world unite in cyber space dont need branch meetings or conferences - swift direct action which reacts to modern day realities - use blogs tweeter etc to organise inform galvanise . Look at 38 degree campaign , FGM campaign, no more page 3 campaign that's the future for organising worker resistance and opposition - to nick a phrase - I'm in - let's build on the massive success of this probation blog

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    3. I would fully support that. Direct action via internet.

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  5. I have know about this for some time in many ways its the endgame for the mega corporations once they have this power no nation-state can act against them in fear of litigation (restraint of trade) and seriously large fines.

    Its government for the corporations not for the people and its been like this since 1979.

    papa

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    1. Absolutely, you only need to look at Blackwater in America as an example.

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  6. It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have cancelled my NAPO membership after 15 years of die hard loyalty to the union. The reason for cancelling my membership is because it is now too late for anything to be done about TR. The union sleep walked us into the changes and now at the eleventh our give us token gestures by lodging a Judicial Review.

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    1. I think what you express is difficult to argue with and I'm sure many other colleagues are currently considering their position. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that at a critical moment Napo HQ seriously let the membership down and have never had a cohesive plan, or more seriously will, for fighting TR.

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  7. Email received today from my trust stating 'critical training' for 29th and 30th may 2014 . 3 members of staff must attend from each office to cascade essential information to their office colleagues. A few days before the split and the following issues are still requiring 'critical training' to be frantically arranged:
    case administration
    Info sharing between NPs and CRC
    Template problems on delius
    Faults and 'work arounds'
    This is very basic stuff and its still not ready, tested and even an acknowledgement that there are faults still in the systems at the 11th hour but we will show you some 'work arounds' . Whatever happened to the promise that split wouldn't take place until safe to do so .
    Plus - files haven't been split still laying about all over the place, now would be a good time for the inspectorate to check how info is being handled by probation, it's a mess at the min.
    Plus no way in my office will all cases be transferred between nps and CRC by 2/06/14
    Plus reports for court being missed, and quality rubbish due to the haste they are being produced, many clearly seeing large chunks of the reports being copy and pasted from previous reports with minimal collatoral info being gathered, which doesn't serve the sentencing process, protects the public and paints and inaccurate pictures of the service user - totally unprofessional and any probation officer knowing putting these type if reports to the courts is a disgrace (really need a strong judge or magistrate to question probation court officers the sub standard of oral and fast track reports)

    So there you go - it looks as if Probation is finished it's been destroyed it lacks credibility it has no integrity. Some staff are colluding, some staff rapped up in shameless I'm all jack mode, some staff have given up, some staff have left, some staff are digging deep to keep up the opposition and resistance in the face of overwhelming odds and incompetent union leadership, it's so sad and I like some many others feel so helpless. And yes if you haven't submitted a grievance or you didnt support the democratic decision ti strike you have assist TR, you have no integrity no backbone and are not in any position to lecture service users about loyality, community spirit, commitment , democracy, integrity, principles you know who you are and you should hold your heads in shame, attacks are expected from some right wing quarters but from probation colleagues!!!!!

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    1. Oh yes the strike strategy was a resounding success wasn't it, and yes have a go at your colleagues who didn't strike, believe it or not they had integrity as well...

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    2. Exactly you talk about being attacked by colleagues so what are you doing, oh yes your justified aren't you...

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    3. What's needed us a strong judge or magistrate to question probation court staff about accuracy and information contained in an oral FDR or written FDR, the info is so limited its worthless. As far as barristers, solicitors and their clients are concerned I think they should all challenge the value of these 'reports' . After all they are dealing with real people's lives both offenders and victims and these reports should be thoughtfully written and researched not rushed out with little thought or respect for the victims or the court. The British legal system is an absolute farce now and very intelligent people know this and are standing by and watching it be destroyed by people like grayling supported by Cameron and clegg et al - come on you intelligent people come out of the shadows and oppose the smashing if probation and the CJS

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    4. Anon 21.28 and anon 21.39...strike action was totally undermined by napo members who did not strike: fact, anti TR campaign has been totally undermined by napo members who have failed to raise a greivance : fact. as far as integrity is concerned if you oppose TR and believe in democracy and are a napo member this definition re integrity maybe of interest....to hold moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty. Now if you say you support TR in all it's forms and that's why you broke strike etc then I would concede that you are holding to your principles but would question why you are a napo member, however if you oppose TR but have not joined in the collective action, well that's questionable. Sometimes you have to take personal responsibility for your own actions and if you can justify your actions re strike breaking etc, well that's up to you I guess, but personally I feel let down by you and I think it is important that you know that.

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    5. Not a NAPO member don't believe supporting a union who pay off someone who should have been sacked £160000. And feel fully justified in not supporting a strike which has proven to be of not importance. The strongest thing we have always had is logical and moral argument. I responded to someone who yet again attacks colleagues while decrying myself for attacking them. I think it may make you feel better to make negative comments about colleagues, and I suppose that's an emotional release for you....but nothing more.

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    6. Think you miss the point - it's not about supporting napo it's about opposing TR in all it's pernicious forms. I'm not attacking colleagues what I'm saying is fact, those who did not support strike which was a stand against probation privatisation have made the fight that much harder. This is not a personal attack against you or anyone else, it's a logical argument - imagine if every probation worker had walked out on the strike days the impact that would have had. Imagine if every probation worker submitted a grievance regarding the disgraceful way the allocation to NPS/CRC had been handled, think of the collective support and confidence to oppose TR that would have given to all instead of the isolation & division that has been caused - but finally don't dare imply that I feel good about seeing colleagues suffer and see their profession destoryed - unity is power

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    7. Well there must be some reason for attacking colleagues, you believe as you do, well and fine promote your view but why descend to a shot at colleagues. We are all entitled to our views, if unity is strength why the negative.....

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  8. reports are rubbish especially low / medium FDRs and I don't just mean court ones but those done in field teams too. I use these reports as a base for my Oasys assessment and there are only crumbs of information there - authors are ticking that things are problems but then not substantiating how they arrive at this conclusion in the body of the report. Eg, if Johnny is showing anti-discriminatory attitudes can you not just tick 'yes' can you give a brief example of how you arrive at this conclusion?? Quality of work's crap and i'm finding that i'm having to return Orders to court as various requirements are unworkable for one reason or another.

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    1. Yes, entirely agree about inadequacy of many court reports. This is hardly assisting the courts in their sentencing.

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    2. But important to remember if reports are just now being produced at "sub-standard" this is not due to wilfulness/incompetence but trying to work within unrealistic structure. We need not to pile guilt on colleagues surely?

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    3. Not just FDRs / Orals. I have seen some shocking content in SDRs which are 'gatekept' but then ripped apart at court by defence solicitors, and criticised by court. I put this down in part to lack of training / understanding of presenting information in context of court process - an aspect of PO training often non existent. Presumably things can only get worse!

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    4. Anon 23.05, I think the issue of poor quality reports is nothing new, but has been compounded by the more recent chaos. Ever since the advent of tick box reports that could be completed by PSO colleagues after 1 day of training, the status of our profession has never been the same. I have seen some very thorough supposedly FDR's, but an awful lot of dross. And yes, I have seen shocking SDR's by experienced colleagues too.

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  9. I have noticed an increase in FDR female reports being written with very little information. One case I had managed previously, very angry violent young woman with huge child safeguarding issues had a very poor report with no background information whatsoever for a violent offence. I fear this practice will increase because of work pressure, to the detriment of our female service users.

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    1. Do you, who criticise court team colleagues, have any understanding that we get 1 hour 30 minutes to produce such reports? Total. That includes obtaining the CPS and pre cons ( often on the day reports), interviewing ( fighting for room space with legal reps),making enquiries needed ( you try getting a response in such a tight deadline) hand writing the report, photocopying the report and delivering it to the court, yes all in one hour thirty minutes so what you get ( all of you critical colleagues above) is "good enough".

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    2. Hear hear, FDR shouldnt be used in complex cases, but hey, get them to do FDRs and we can double the number of reports we allocate them. You get what ya pay for!

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  10. Maybe the justified anger is what we need, to get us to the next stage of a campaign that needs to continue.

    What drives me, is the certain knowledge that TR is a worse and more publicly dangerous model for probation (never mind - for the minute - privatisation) than that which is being replaced. The stupidity of the 'split' is at the heart of the nonsense - by keep saying this, there is a chance it will be"heard" before untold damage is done, and in any case, sooner than if we say nothing and just wait for a CJS breakdown, that might do far worse than cost jobs and cause bureaucratic and administrative disorder.

    Napo exists as a going concern, it needs its practitioner members to control its action - every step of the way - and it needs to acknowledge that we need unity although there are many disagreements amongst us about priorities, tactics and more.

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  11. Thanks for that. Any more examples of chaos and despair please for a blog post tomorrow? We've got to get the message out.

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  12. New PO posts seem to be appearing left right and centre for NPS side. CRC side inundated with cases at rate of 6 or more per PO a week. Where do they all come from? Many/most are DV cases - and now DV checks with police at PSR or start Order stage have been officially abandoned because, we assume, Police quite rightly won't share their public protection data with any tom, dick or harry. So risk management is compromised and no clarity of past behaviours can be established. Children, partners, staff all at increased risk because of this catastrophic loss of data. Still, when the children's services have been sold off it will just mean more profit I guess.

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    1. And Atosz will be assessing more staff as fit for work after stress leave.

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    2. More gobbledegook from the PAC in March - why coukdn't Mrs Hodge just print this?

      " Q13 Chair: So, Mr Spurr, are you giving this Committee the assurance that these new processes will not add additional administrative costs to the running of the system? Yes or no?

      Michael Spurr: I am giving an assurance that we will minimise the amount of cost of using the processes.


      Q14 Chair: But will there be additional cost or not?

      Michael Spurr: I cannot say that until we have gone through and seen what the bid process is.

      Dame Ursula Brennan: I don’t think you can simply say, “There will be additional cost,” because—


      Q15 Chair: With respect, you were saying there were savings.

      Dame Ursula Brennan: What I am trying to say is that we are not saying, “Here is how we do it now. We are going to do something that adds cost to it.” We are saying, “Here are all the costs now. They are going to lie in different places, and the procedures are going to look different.” So we are not simply saying, “Here is a process; we are adding cost to it.” We are saying, “Here is a process that is going to operate in a different way.”

      It never ceases to make me giggle helplessly.

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  13. Man appeared at 3.50pm in a far flung probation office, I am Duty Officer. My first duty in my new relocated CRC Team. He said he had been instructed to report by the Court anytime between 2 and 4pm the following day. We had no notification and weren't expecting him. Left him in the waiting room for ages while I was trying to find out about him, he was getting really wound up. Turns out he's a high risk sex offender who had appeared by videolink the day before after being RIC'd for breach of SOPO. The videolink broke down so he was given reporting instructions via the prison. He was released and spent a night sleeping rough before attending to see me. He had no connection with our area, apart from committing the offence there. Luckily it was late night reporting in the area he was from 21 miles away so I gave him £11 for bus fare and sent him on his way to report at 6.30pm. He didn't get there on time and spent another night sleeping rough before reporting in the right office the next morning. Thankfully no offences happened as far as we know. One phone call from the Court could have saved this but they're not allowed to ring us. It all has to go on Delius and we don't find out til they arrive on the doorstep. When CRC and NPS split computer systems, it will be even worse. And more dangerous.

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    1. Wow! This is just so fucking stupid and dangerous!

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    2. I fear - we will hear of many more such situations - I do not believe it is reasonable to expect probation workers to deal with such a situation - which is why I personally (were I still working) almost certainly, would have by now given in my notice and be prepared to stack shelves in a supermarket or go door to door seeking work, if nothing else was available.

      I did that once - and a year later ended up back in probation for another 13 years before retirement - it was stressful - but not as stressful as either dealing with that bloke at 3.50 pm or having to deal with the consequences of an enquiry if he had re-offended. Clearly the processes are not up to the job - IT never has been very good - What is needed is Senior Managers and - evennow Probation Trust Members to say it publicly - I suggest they all phone up their local BBC radio station and provide information about just one difficult situation each - Grayling would stop TR dead or the Prime Minister would!

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    3. Bus fares gone on Merseyside! He would have had to walk.

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    4. We seem to have a new way of allocating cases. unfortunately no one has explained this to us. Case sentenced two weeks ago, instructed by court to attend last Tuesday at 5.15pm at the new NPS office despite being a CRC case, nobody knew he was due. He didn't turn up, nothing done because no one knew. I found out yesterday when he suddenly appeared on my case list. I've sent a new appointment!

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    5. That sounds dangerous, this is a total mess. Going to be increasingly dangerous after 2nd of june.

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    6. Anon 20.23 this doesnt make sense-high risk go to NPS ditto Registered sex offenders so Court team surely should have alloc and alerted NPS ???

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    7. I'm anon @ 20.23. You are absolutely right @ 22.10. It makes no sense but that is what happened. I cannot explain why, I just did my best to make it better.

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    8. Thanks for reply anon 22.31 from 22.10 ! What crazy crazy time it is!

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    9. Despite the rhetoric on risk, there WILL be sex offenders and dv perpetrators assigned to the CRC. The documents refer to them as 'low risk' sex offenders etc.

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    10. DV perpetrators yes - and loads of 'em, from what I can see. Sex offenders - or those who are on the register, which is close to 100% - are all MAPPA nominals, so all NPS.

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  14. First case arrived to me with a report in the new system, done as an FDR on a basic layer OASys. Absolutely no content in the OASys apart from a very brief Offence Analysis. All previous records on this Tier 4 previous IOM client wiped out. Risk of Harm section only related to the current offence and no reference to previous behaviour or victims despite him being known to us for 12 years. Dangerous.

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  15. By no means in defending NAPO but the situation is an unprecedented set of circumstances. That's were wisdom & experience counts which the leadership appear to be lacking. I would have expected NAPO HQ to support & organise local branches to take direct forms of actions, arrange meetings and talk through TR related matters. I would have expected NAPO to pool together all interested ppl & discuss and share strategies, to get every view and try out different things. If WE all do something that different but with one goal i.e. to 'resist TR' that's much better then putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead we have a peculiar situation were NAPO HQ think it's their fight. They have forgotten the membership & that it is OUR fight.A great example was when bidders visited a local probation office & staff walked out. Organised by local office workers union and non-union members. As soon as NAPO got wind of this, they were encouraging other to take similar action. If NAPO were willing to listen to this kind of direct action (rather then play it safe) maybe we could have made such a massive difference nationally & attracted large media attention. Instead NAPO again were too late on the issue and lost the momentum.

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  16. Grauniad, Mirror, Torygraph - why not have Dame Brennan's quote on your front page? These are the highly paid people at the heart of government. And they're talking utter drivel, blatantly lying and screwing up the country. Its a disgrace.

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  17. Supposed to have all my medium risk cases transferred to CRC by end of week. I have already received several high risk ones to replace them. Problem is these high risk cases are very demanding and asking me questions only their previous PO can answer. I'm looking discredited already and I can't even remember their names. Totally stressed. An meanwhile I'm suddenly getting inundated with drug related PSRs because none of the POs in IOM, DRR or PPO teams got into the NPS and now aren't allowed to write court reports anymore. What an incredible loss of skill and experience!! It's utter chaotic madness!!

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  18. I sent off a Parole Report today that was garbage. I was under such stress I just needed to get rid of it. Thought it would just be easier to apologise at the oral hearing and do the best I can with their questions. It's crushing to think my work has come to this. Feels like I'm just waiting for the next SFO. I look around the office and people are just trying to stay sane. Nobody dares ask for any goodwill from colleagues. What used to be a highly organised and professional workforce is just trying to get by and lurching from day to day.

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  19. Emails exchanged yesterday between NPS colleague new in post in a new LDU area. Sent yesterday to me now CRC 'partner': (Not verbatim but otherwise absolutely true).

    NPS: Hi CRC person, I've got some of your High Risk of Harm cases, can you give me a bit of a brief synposis on them?

    CRC: I'm not going to have time today, and I'm off til Tuesday next week but will do my best! Can you remind me who you've got from me?

    NPS: I don't really know, the manager is on leave for a week and all I've got is a handwritten note with surnames on. I don't know who they are.

    CRC: You are suddenly prioritised. Send me the surnames and I'll give you a quick heads up.

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  20. Perhaps Dame Edna and Mickey Mouse can assist - again, from their March 2014 performance.

    " Q16 Chair: With the greatest respect, that is not what you were saying, Dame Ursula. You were actually saying that going from 35 to 21 will save costs. The fact that we are going to a national body will save costs. All I am saying is that, on the other side of that equation, will there be additional costs from the fact that you have got a process where you have to have communication between 21 trusts—21 separate organisations—and a national body, because of people, first, being allocated in the first instance and, secondly, being moved? How many do you expect to be moved? What proportion? In your experience, how many people go up and down that risk register? You must know.

    Michael Spurr: In terms of risk changes, there are factors—


    Q17 Chair: How many? If I was wrong about my one in four—

    Michael Spurr: I do not have a figure, because we do not retain a figure in that way.


    Q18 Chair: Well, how do you know the one in four is wrong?

    Michael Spurr: Because when I talk to probation chief officers and probation officers with the experience that you have identified, although risk might change, moving the offender manager—the probation service officer who is managing the case—is not a normal response to that change in risk.


    Q19 Chair: No, I know, but you are designing a different system.

    Michael Spurr: My aim would be to minimise the amount of movement of the people who are managing cases.


    Q20 Chair: How many do you reckon? What is your idea of this?

    Michael Spurr: Relatively small.


    Q21 Chair: What does that mean?

    Michael Spurr: It means what I say—relatively small.


    Q22 Chair: I don’t understand that. When you are trying to predict processes, how many does it mean?

    Michael Spurr: I don’t think it is fair for me to pluck a figure out of my head at this minute.

    Chair: I think it is.

    Michael Spurr: I can’t do that."

    So thats cleared that up then?

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    1. So serious SNAFU all round then, the upper management will be all about on boarding desperate to make this work when it is clear to see that this will fucked up,

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  21. Although this blog is a useful tool for discourse and sharing information,it has crucified Napo and played into the hands of Grayling and his cronies, we are supposed to be intelligent yet contributors are efffectively carrying out cyber bullying. Why do you think the blog is powerful ? What difference has it made? I will continue to campaign and on the advice of Napo I have written to Ursula Brennan today and sent copies to Sadiq Khan and my MP, I keep collecting evidence which I am sending to Margaret Hodge, I have managed to get on local radio twice and we got great coverage of the strike. I don't agree with some of Napo's strategies, but why get personal. Write a letter to the Guardian, not a nasty blog.

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    1. Woah! Think it's time to remove the rose tinted glasses. Nothing nasty here, just genuine concern, debate and whistleblowing that wouldn't be tolerated on the napo forum. Good on your activism. Keep it up.

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  22. Life sentenced prisoners transferred during parole windows. People refusing to take cases until they have everything, including activity requirements up to date yet dumping high risk cases without assessments or urgent mappa forms completed because 'I'm not allowed to do high risk stuff anymore'. Forms that make no sense but take hours because 'the systems are bedding in'. Meanwhile, management plan to make sure we can fiddle the figures and prove it's all working great? Dump professional judgement and reinstate national standards. Prioritise oasys and record keeping so the targets are hit and bugger the needs of the cases or the staff. It's a nightmare.

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  23. If there is someone out there who likes making FOI requests - Try a request on the amount of work/cost of Allen & Overy - legal consultants with MoJ

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  24. http://m.spaldingtoday.co.uk/news/crime/my-new-life-dawns-after-journey-to-hell-1-6070940

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    1. An ex-prisoner who journeyed into the hell of high security prisons and mental institutions wants the world to share the moment he started his new life.

      Richard Vernalls (38) is the first to admit he has been jailed for “very bad” crimes, but says his life may have been very different if his chronic anxiety disorder had been diagnosed at the outset and he had been given the treatment he needed.

      Instead he turned to alcohol to ease the pain of his illness and began committing crimes as a result.

      Richard said: “I just spiralled out of control.”

      “I was mentally unwell.

      “People didn’t know what the hell to do with me. I was passed from pillar to post. I have been in ten mental institutions and God knows how many prisons.”

      Yesterday he was looking forward to putting it all behind him and continuing his new career as a hairdresser – and says he owes his new life to the probation service.

      Mr Vernalls invited the Free Press along to the Probation Office in Spalding so he could make a public thank you to the service he says has helped him start again.

      He said: “They have got me back to the man I was. I had become very institutionalised. They have helped me integrate back into the community.”

      Richard also praised police for their understanding and his GP.

      He was a hardworking lorry driver and the sort of man who was the first to help anyone.

      “I just got out of bed one day and started to shake, went to the doctors and was told ‘there’s nothing wrong with you’,” he said. “Basically my trouble started through alcohol. I used alcohol to stop my physical pain.”

      He began committing public order offences and these became more serious – with Richard getting involved in a nightclub dispute and setting out to “blow the doorman up”.

      He said: “I took butane gas, an axe and a crowbar – and I got tasered.”

      Richard made attempts on his own life while in prison, but after 18 months’ probation has begun to discover the man he was before his troubles began 13 years ago.

      He’s trained as a hairdresser at his own expense and is now fully qualified.

      Richard says: “I have never been a bad man. I have been a man that’s been unwell, that needed help.

      “If I had been treated at the beginning for my illness, properly, I believe my life would not have ended up this way.”

      Police inspector Mike Burnett said: “We are delighted Richard has managed to turn his life around and credit to Richard for his determination and hard work in improving his quality of life.

      “A big thank you to our partners and local neighbourhood beat teams – without their assistance and perseverance we would not be in the position to celebrate and share in Richard’s success.”

      MP John Hayes championed the rehabilitation of offenders when Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning.

      He said: “Serious crime can never be excused, but this story shows how even someone with a long track record of doing wrong can get it right in the end with the support and care of professionals and those around them.

      “By rehabilitating former criminals and putting them on the right road they can abandon a life of crime.

      “In this case, Richard’s rehabilitation has enabled him to get a job and I wish him good luck with that and in the future, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped him.”

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    2. This is a great story - but why is a police inspector quoted and absolutely no-one from Probation??

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