Saturday, 24 May 2014

Train Crash

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News continues to come in from all over the country about the train crash that is 'Transforming Rehabilitation'. Everywhere there are reports of offices being in 'meltdown', for instance Darlington where the remaining skeleton staff have been instructed to place all clients on four weekly reporting. A perfect storm is brewing as a result of the idiotic CRC/NPS staff split that means caseloads for some have gone through the roof and staff are keeling over and reporting sick.  

Management are becoming ever more desperate to try and paper over the cracks and are issuing draconian warnings about whilsteblowing to the media. It's reported that one colleague has been escorted from the premises and this may be connected with a story carried by local BBC news regarding inadequate supervision of sex offenders:-
High-risk sex offenders including rapists and paedophiles are posing serious dangers to public safety, claim probation officers who say they have not been trained to manage them properly. In the North East's Durham Tees Valley area, all such cases were being handled by a specialist public protection team. But under new restructuring plans some are now being dealt with by regular probation officers instead. The Probation Service downplayed the fears and said all sex offenders "will be managed by fully qualified probation officers".
The issue of workloads impacting on staff health, together with public safety, is rapidly becoming a major issue and has prompted at least two letters from branches to Trust CEO's as follows:-

21st May 2014

Dear Annette

Transforming Rehabilitation: impact on operational capacity and the risk to public safety

As the Chair of Merseyside Napo Branch, I am formally writing to you on behalf of the Branch to raise a number of concerns in relation to the matter above.

I would like to start by highlighting members concerns over workloads and an appropriate system to quantify and protect and support staff in terms of measuring workloads. You will already be aware of members of staff raising concerns, and recently staff at Wirral Probation Centre (WPC) have further muted their anger and desperation at the lack of resources to undertake their role. Their letter is representative of conversations branch executive members have had from staff trust wide expressing concerns over the impact of TR on workloads and staff wellbeing with this having a negative effect on their role to protect the public and rehabilitate. Many staff members are reporting to be ‘close to the edge’ in relation to their levels of stress and anxiety. In the open letter from staff at WPC, it was suggested that the tipping point in this regard had now been breached.

It is a matter of fact that the number of cases staff are being expected to manage in both the CRC and the NPS continue to grow. Initial estimations in February / March of 40 cases for PO grade staff and 70 cases for PSO grade staff in the CRC now appear a distant memory with typical figures being reported around 70 cases for PO’s and 100 cases for PSO’s. Likewise, it is also not an exception for PO’s in the NPS to be carrying over 40 cases, all of which will pose a high risk of violent offending or concerns of sexual offending towards the public.

These figures pose a real threat to the ability to be able to undertake quality work. However, this is compounded by the lack of any system of measuring workload which is also providing a real matter of concern for members. My recent interactions with a senior member of staff have suggested whilst the NPS is developing a system of workload measurement, it is not evident that the CRC were making any significant progress to this end. At last week’s health and safety meeting, when requesting information about this it would appear no decision had been made as to whether any tool would be based on an approach of thinking how much time would be required to undertake quality work on an average case, or whether it would be based on dividing cases by staff numbers. The latter would raise concerns for us as a trade union in that the measurement would then effectively become arbitrary and unrelated to the quality of work expected.

Concerns voiced in generic field teams are also echoed by colleagues and members in specialist teams such as court services, with one manager quoting the situation was a “nightmare” in a recent communication. It is apparent that the implementation of TR processes in courts has increased bureaucracy as opposed to making the system more efficient and cost effective. Court staff are being asked to retrospectively complete new paperwork such as the RSR taking resources away from an already stretched division in terms of the completion of the core task of reports and provision of services to the courts.

I would also raise with you our growing concerns over issues of diversity and equality. Even at this early stage it appears new documentation such as the RSR is not AT compliant and this is directing the roles of staff protected by equality at work and disability provisions. Further it is unclear as to what levels of AT support will be available to NPS colleagues post split. Given these developments I would be interested to hear whether the newly formed CRC’s and NPS will have the same level of commitment to ‘Investors in People’ status as Merseyside Probation Trust has previously demonstrated.

These issues raise significant concerns about the risk to public safety as a result of the transition to the NPS and CRC structures and are of such gravitas that I have copied this letter to our local MP’s and Ursula Brennan the Permanent Secretary.

It is our view that the above issues are a clear indicator that neither the CRC or the NPS is business ready in terms of public safety, staff wellbeing, and in terms of providing value for money to the taxpayer. We therefore call on you to make urgent representations to senior NOMS management to halt the split of staff on the 1st June and that you support an extension of the transition process to NPS and CRC’s for at least two months or until the above issues are fully resolved.

Yours Sincerely

Dear Heather

Transforming Rehabilitation: impact on operational capacity and the risk to public safety

As the Chair of Greater London Napo Branch, representing over one thousand members, I am writing to you on behalf of the Branch to raise a number of concerns arising from the process of splitting London Probation Trust into two separate organisations.

As the Chief Executive of the biggest trust in the country it was always going to be a challenge for you to ensure that all the processes were completed by the end of this month ready for the launch of the new organisations. It is my understanding that LPT has always been significantly “behind” other trusts. Indeed at the Transforming Rehabilitation Meeting the trade unions had with Senior Management only this week it was acknowledged that many processes will not be completed by the end of May.

You will be as aware as I am that there are significant staff shortages particularly in the Probation Officer Grade in the CRC. To meet the demand, and to seek to ensure that services are continued to the same standard, there is excessive reliance on agency and temporary staff. It is not envisaged that staffing issues will be resolved by the end of the month. It is my understanding that in addition, although the formal Staff Transfer Process has been completed, there remains a considerable amount of movement between the NPS and CRC of current LPT employees and it is envisaged that this is likely to continue.

Over the past few weeks, as cases have started to be transferred between staff allocated to either the NPS or CRC confusion and chaos has been rife in all the offices. Despite the pressure from members of your management team on staff to “Just get on with it”, I am clear that the case transfer process is far from complete nor is it likely to be completed by the end of the month. Although the statistical returns, and your own Workload Management Tool, may present a different picture (and even that some staff are working under capacity), I suggest that this is because of false accounting procedures. For example, members tell me that some of their cases have been re-allocated but that they are required to complete outstanding tasks at the same time as assuming responsibility for new work.

Although I am advised by your Head of Workforce Planning that, “The PO resource planned and assigned to the NPS includes the appropriate resourcing for delivery of forecast PSR demand”, I suggest that it might be a little too soon to say this with any degree of confidence. It is only in the past week that the organisation has ceased to allocate requests from courts for reports to Probation Officers assigned to the CRC.

As you will also know there remain a number of issues concerning IT provision that have yet to be resolved. In fact there are many matters that have yet to be resolved. Logs have been kept of the questions raised by the trade unions at our weekly meetings with Senior Management to discuss the measures that are being implemented to achieve the transformation of LPT into two separate organisations. These meetings have been taking place since the end of last year and yet, as the logs will reflect, many questions remain unanswered at this late stage.

Although according to the official statistics there has been no appreciable rise in absence rates, it is acknowledged that the figures are dependent on accurate reporting and recording. These figures do not accord with the experiences of many of my members in offender management units who advise me that there are indeed significant absences.

You will also be aware that, according to the statistical analysis compiled by your own Equalities Department, there are significant diversity issues in the allocation of staff between the two organisations.

NAPO has repeatedly expressed its concerns about the extent to which the plans to “split” the probation service compromises public safety. I suggest to you, to the extent that the processes dictated by the Ministry of Justice will not and cannot be completed by the decreed date, that this is a particular issue here in London.

In our regular weekly meetings requests have been made by this union for the Risk Register that we believed you to be compiling in respect of these changes. On 25th March 2014 you are recorded as saying that: you would check with Paul Davies (Head of Corporate Governance) as to whether LPT could share the Risk Register with the trade unions. I was subsequently advised to make a request under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act which I duly did. I have now been advised that no such register exists and I have, as a consequence, referred the matter to the Information Commissioner.

These issues outlined above raise significant concerns about the risk to public safety as a result of the transition to the NPS and CRC structures and are of such gravitas that I have copied this letter to all the Members of Parliament within the Greater London area and Ursula Brennan the Permanent Secretary.

It is our view that they are a clear indicator that neither the CRC or the NPS is business ready in terms of public safety, staff wellbeing, and in terms of providing value for money to the taxpayer. We therefore call on you to make urgent representations to senior NOMS management to halt the split of staff on the 1st June and that you support an extension of the transition process to NPS and CRC’s for at least two months or until the above issues are fully resolved.

Yours Sincerely

Pat Waterman
Branch Chair

(Pic courtesy AnarchistPO)   


  1. I think the term Clint Eastwood used in Heartbreak Ridge was 'clusterf***'.

  2. Military term for an operation in which multiple things have gone wrong. Related to "SNAFU" (Situation Normal, All Fucked Up") and "FUBAR" (Fucked Up Beyond All Repair).

    In radio communication or polite conversation (i.e. with a very senior officer with whom you have no prior experience) the term "clusterfuck" will often be replaced by the NATO phonetic acronym "Charlie Foxtrot."

    1. Synonyms

      car crash (chiefly UK)
      Charlie Foxtrot
      cluster foxtrot
      comedy of errors
      goat rope
      trainwreck (chiefly US)

    2. Nice to see 'omnishambles' in there

  3. We told them so in May last year. They cannot even do the basic staff reorganisation and caseload redistribution in their postponed time set by the Minister. Why are the Media not picking this up?

    Might practitioners simply contact their local media - ask for anonymity - especially BBC local radio who all have phone in programmes and simply explain one aspect of one thing going wrong in their office. I believe at the very least the 1st June date will be postponed.

  4. TR is not working instead of asking for an extension, we should be asking for it to be shelved/binned.

    I know of 2 people in our office that have started to suffer from palpitations. This is horrible and needs to stop. The impact on our health is immeasurable, no one seems to care. We have not even got the strength to take out grievances, this is what Graying wanted, make us weak and destroy us without a fight.

  5. I suggest some LPT staff ring LBC now and read Pat Waterman's letter - above - to the Ken Livingstone/David Mellor programme and relay their personal experience. Programme starts at 10 am they will be taking calls now, it is now a national programme via DAB or Internet.

    I was on it ages ago - cannot even remember the content - they like to hear from professionals with inside knowledge of public services.

  6. Slightly off topic, and not sure if this is old news, but the clinks website has this ..."Last updated: 23rd May 2014 | 14:30 Reason for update: Timeline amended - deadline for submission of Tier 1's bids has been put back to 30th June"

    MoJ must be getting desperate, and the unfortunate thing is that it will be playing right into the hands of the unscrupulous firms who will drive a hard bargain to ensure their profits are maximised. MoJ are no doubt out of their league. Big business 1 - tax payer 0

    1. Thanks for that - I didn't know.

  7. I am reading on Twitter comments about Capita Electronic Monitoring Enforcement Staff being transferred into NPS and also possibility of Prison Service staff being TUPEED to CRCs but sadly I do not know details and communication is not as easy to follow as it would be if in an Internet Forum with specific 'threads' such as Napo offer: -

  8. The Civil Service World interviewed (24/04/320140, Antonia Romeo who is in charge of this mess. She acknowledged “the majority of the contract will be on a fee-for-service basis.” and “being set through the competition”, she says, with the MoJ “asking people to tell us how much they’re prepared to put at risk, and what reduction in reoffending” they think they can achieve. So, as the above has said, with no competition, the main players will be laughing all the way to the bank.

    On cash and contracts

    In December, the MoJ announced that 30 bidders had passed the ‘pre-qualification questionnaire’ stage – a mix of private companies, consortiums, and probation trusts working towards ‘mutual’ status. At this point in the process, Romeo won’t say much about how the probation budget will be divided – either between the CRCs and the rump National Probation Service (NPS), which will manage high-risk offenders and write court reports; or between the ‘fees for service’ paid to CRCs for delivering their core work, and the funds awarded according to CRCs’ success in reducing reoffending. She does note, though, that “we’re not seeking to take a huge amount out of the overall probation budget over the next few years” – the challenge is to improve productivity to fund a rising caseload, rather than to maintain quality as income declines – and that “the majority of the contract will be on a fee-for-service basis.”

    In fact, it sounds as if Romeo hasn’t yet made the final decisions on the risk within the payment-by-results mechanisms: it’s “being set through the competition”, she says, with the MoJ “asking people to tell us how much they’re prepared to put at risk, and what reduction in reoffending” they think they can achieve. The important thing, she says, is that the competition isn’t designed to deliver a set of defined services for the smallest possible sum, but to identify those contractors who’ll provide the best possible service within the set budget. “This is not a price competition; this is a quality competition,” she says. “It’s about getting incremental reductions in reoffending over the long term, to help us live within our means in future years.”

    1. Excellent article and well worth reading in full, Thanks for highlighting.

    2. Moving safely in a risky world

      As the ministry introduces the new system, Romeo argues, it’s taking every precaution to ensure it’s robust. “To get large transformation programmes working, you’ve got to have really good assurance in place so that you know you’re not believing your own hype,” she says. “We have external, independent assurers telling us if we’re doing the right thing and, before we proceed with any part of the programme, whether it’s sensible and appropriate to do so.” NOMS has a business assurance board designed, she adds, to “give me, the senior responsible officer, the assurance that this is going to work and isn’t taking on any unnecessary risk.”

      Equally crucially, the ministry has “a very thorough programme of communication with the trusts themselves; and transition managers who spend all their time talking to trusts about what’s going on. I know that one of the risks in a major programme can be the people at the centre of the programme not understanding how it’s bedding down, and I’m determined to make sure that doesn’t happen. So I personally listen very carefully to what people tell me; and I go out all the time and talk to trusts, and to local authorities, and to police and crime commissioners.”

      Romeo is sure that the new system will improve results. “At the moment, we have a very serious and professional group of probation staff working incredibly hard with local partners to reduce reoffending,” she says. “We’re seeking to allow those that move out to the CRCs the freedom and innovation to bring in new and better ways of doing things.” And in that process, she adds, “my job is to make sure that we don’t take any unnecessary risks as we move; that we look very carefully and seek assurance that what we’re doing won’t lead to any reduction in ‘business as usual’ or to any risks.”

      Over an intense 50 minutes, Antonia Romeo has answered every question about this wholesale transformation of our probation services – but the risks involved in the reforms remain substantial. Convicted criminals are an unpredictable set of people, and the stakes are high: if contractors take their eyes of the ball and their clientele break the law, people will get hurt. Given the MoJ’s past mistakes in outsourcing schemes, the programme’s success is far from guaranteed.

      Yet Romeo is clearly aware of the dangers, and determined both to manage the process as carefully as possible, and to watch carefully for emerging problems. “We need to progress this in a really disciplined and controlled way. We don’t take any risks in moving from one phase to the next,” she says. “My job as senior responsible officer is to make sure we deliver the benefits of the programme. We need to really understand what’s going on – and there are no prizes for not listening.”

    3. Taking the con out of contract

      Asked about contract management, Romeo emphasises the role of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) in approving and monitoring its new contracts. In the courts interpreters scheme, PAC said, the MoJ’s own credit rating report recommended that its chosen provider “should not be awarded a contract valued at more than £1m” – but the ministry ignored it. This time, Romeo says, things will be different: “The Cabinet Office has a very clear process for awarding contracts.” The CCS has “brought together all the things departments need to be doing, and obviously we are following those guidelines”: the ministry is currently “building a best practice contract management function, and that will have the deep domain business expertise that is required as well as the commercial expertise and the corporate services support.”

      The ministry’s proposed payment-by-results model has also come in for criticism, with the Social Market Foundation arguing that the 3% margin for error initially set out by the ministry would incentivise contractors to let reoffending rates creep up. “One thing is clear: we will not be operating a payment mechanism that incentivises people to do nothing,” Romeo responds. “We published our payment mechanism so that people could give us feedback, and we have looked at what people said in developing the final version.” For example, the MoJ moved from a “binary mechanism” – which required offenders to completely stop breaking the law – to a “hybrid mechanism”, rewarding both complete cessation of offending and a reduction in the number of crimes.

      The contracts are expected to run for 7-10 years, but they’ll include a set of penalty clauses and the right for the MoJ to “step in” and take over a failing service. “We’ll have, both within the contract management function and also within the NPS, expertise in probation services,” she points out; the ministry will be equipped to take over if required.

    4. Getting it right this time

      The complexities of the new system are bound to make its introduction challenging – and it’s far from proven that the ministry is capable of successfully managing such a big outsourcing project. After all, four days after the CSW interview in which Ursula Brennan rejected the challenges put to her concerning the courts interpreters project, the Treasury quietly published a response to the Public Accounts Committee report in which it accepted every single recommendation: at that time at least, there were clearly big holes in the ministry’s outsourcing capabilities. So let’s run through some of the things the MoJ got wrong that time.

      First off, PAC found that the MoJ “did not have a clear understanding of its requirements under the new system”, and ended up being “driven by bidders’ proposals rather than its actual requirements.” What’s more, it didn’t pilot its scheme before implementing it nationwide. What evidence is there that the new probation system will meet the MoJ’s aim of reducing reoffending? Romeo acknowledges that the ministry hasn’t trialled its final proposals anywhere. “You have to turn on the statute once nationally,” she says. “You can’t provide rehabilitation services to under-12-month cohorts in some areas and not in others – not least because people go in and out of prison, and end up in different areas, so whether they were covered by the statute or not and whether that service provision existed would become impossible to manage.”

      Furthermore, she notes, there’s “a timing issue, because the government’s policy is to roll it out by 2015, so we can really start feeling the effects in reductions to reoffending.” There is clearly a political timetable behind the pace at which the MoJ is moving – but Romeo argues that the ministry’s payment-by-results pilot in Peterborough prison has “a lot of similarities” with the probation reforms, providing confidence about the new system. The Peterborough scheme offers the under-12-month cohort intensive support from local charities, with investors rewarded according to their success in driving down reoffending.

      Here, says Romeo, the interim results show a 10% reduction in reoffending, compared to an increase of 10% nationally. “The providers have chosen to commit quite a lot of resource to ‘through the gate’ services,” she says. The MoJ’s belief is that, by setting out expectations in contracts and using payment-by-results incentives, it can encourage CRCs handed a much broader caseload of offenders to maintain that focus on rehabilitation.

    5. All very plausible. But what are they basing the decisions on. NONE of these companies have experience a managing offenders in the community or of delivering holistic offending related interventions. In sort, it will be based on a sales pitch rather than evidence. Trrraaaiiin wreck.

    6. Compressing the quart

      The MoJ’s plans involve squeezing these additional 50,000 offenders into the budget that currently funds around 150,000 low- and medium-risk offenders overseen by the probation trusts. But this isn’t about telling service providers to “stick with your old processes and take on an additional 50,000 people,” says Romeo: by changing the roles and expectations of those working with offenders, she believes, the scheme will cut the costs of reducing reoffending. “This work is going to be done in a completely new way,” she says.

      Most offenders, she points out, have “a very complex and intractable set of problems that need to be looked at holistically.” Reducing reoffending involves helping people tackle challenges around housing, drug use, skills, literacy, mental health and a host of other issues; it means coordinating public and voluntary sector bodies’ work; and it demands new services, such as one-to-one mentoring, and ‘through the gate’ programmes that prepare offenders to leave prison and support them once they’re free. The MoJ’s plans are built around the idea that ‘community rehabilitation companies’ (CRCs) – contractors that bring together the finance and systems of large firms, and the skills and local knowledge of local charities – will monitor offenders more cheaply, and reduce reoffending more effectively, than our existing probation service.

      Probation is currently delivered by 35 probation trusts – each with its own board – whose boundaries align with those of the police forces; however, there will only be 21 CRC areas, with each contractor overseen directly by the MoJ’s National Offender Management Service (NOMS). Given that the programme is ostensibly designed both to mobilise local charities, and to foster cooperation between local public service providers, the probation reforms look remarkably like a classic top-down reorganisation. But Romeo emphasises that the system will vary from place to place: “We’ve got to design a system that works locally, and we spend a lot of time engaging with local partners,” she says. “We’ve got competition teams whose job it is to make sure that we really understand, in running these competitions, what the local issues are. Police and crime commissioners and local authorities are very involved.”

      With the contractors looking upwards to NOMS, why should they engage with other local organisations to build those holistic services? “Because they’ll have some of their money at risk against reductions in reoffending,” she replies. “What works is working across the piece with local partners – so they’ll be highly incentivised to do that.” At the “stakeholder events” being run in each area, she adds, “we’re finding that potential bidders really want to understand the local landscape and how those local partnerships work. And we’re asking bidders to say how they’ll sustain and build on local partnerships. We’re not just hoping it’s going to happen; we’re expecting them to tell us in their bids.”

    7. The last time Civil Service World interviewed a senior Ministry of Justice figure, in March 2013, it wasn’t a comforting experience for either side. The MoJ’s programme to contract out the management of court interpreters had not gone well, with many criminal cases delayed by shortages of skilled linguists. But when presented with the concerns raised by two select committees and the National Audit Office, permanent secretary Ursula Brennan kept giving the same answer: the MoJ had needed to move fast to avoid “further confusion and the belief that we weren’t determined,” she argued. The desire to appear confident about the scheme, it appeared, had trumped basic elements of good practice such as properly assessing the task at hand, acting on the warnings of the MoJ’s own due diligence assessors, or piloting the planned reforms.

      Given this history, when CSW returned to the MoJ’s Petty France HQ to talk about the probation outsourcing programme with Antonia Romeo, director-general of criminal justice, it was with both a long list of questions, and a certain amount of scepticism. After all, since last year the MoJ’s mismanagement of the electronic tagging contracts run by Serco and G4S has raised yet more questions over its ability to manage private suppliers. And the probation scheme is far bigger and riskier than either the interpreters or the tagging projects.

      The probation scheme does, though, have the advantage that it’s been conceived to introduce new approaches to rehabilitation and increase productivity – allowing probation services to be extended to a new group of offenders – rather than simply to cut costs. Those sentenced to prison terms of less than one year currently receive no support when they’re ejected back into the community: “The point of this programme is to bring into scope 50,000 offenders,” explains Romeo. “This is an affordable way of extending provision to the under-12-month group, where we think we’re likely to have the most impact in terms of reducing reoffending.”

    8. Our chief has been all for this change as long as she secured herself a nice job out of this. F***k the staff, and boy has she done that. She would never make noises that all is not well. It was our trust that started the mutual first, without the mutual there would never have been any bidders. They have all lined their pockets believing there will be opportunities, they will be made to eat their words. They think they are business people, watch when the big boys get in.

    9. Sounds like Sarah Billiald to me.

    10. Or Annette hennessey

    11. WOW were all the chiefs at it. For the record it wasn't those 2.

    12. Sarah Payne?

  9. '"We need to progress this in a really disciplined and controlled way. We don’t take any risks in moving from one phase to the next,” she says.'

    Anyone in the Trust hierarchies who informs the MoJ that things are ready to move on is complicit in any of the SFOs that will result from this omnishambles.

    1. Not only that, they will be blamed for it. MOJ will simply say the chiefs mislead them into thinking it was safe to continue. I know in our area our chief has her hair buried firmly in the sand and is refusing to acknowledge that things aren't how she wants them to be. Our high risk cases have been transferred on ndelis but the old pos continue to be responsible for them and no handovers have taken place. I have raised this and am keeping a records of responses given. It's a fu**king mess!

    2. head not hair!!!

  10. It's not going to be a payment by result model-and that was a large part of the case for TR put to parliament and voted on.
    Have Parliament been misled? I think so.

  11. Off topic, but...

  12. High-risk sex offenders in the UK are to undergo compulsory lie detector tests under new plans announced by the Ministry of Justice.

    Up to 1,000 offenders will be given polygraph tests every six months. The aim is to monitor convicted paedophiles more closely and reduce the danger they pose to the public, according to Sky News.

    Seven officers will administer tests to sex offenders deemed at high risk of reoffending or those convicted of the most serious offences in a 12-week training programme coordinated by US polygraph experts.

    Don Grubin, professor of forensic psychiatry at Newcastle University, whose company Behavioural Measures will train officers, said the aim of the testing is to assist managers in supervising offenders.

    "There is not a specific crime you are investigating, not a specific security breach - it's much more of a general tool to look at how they are behaving under supervision and to see whether there is a need to intervene," Grubin told Sky News.

    "It's important to emphasise that nobody will be recalled because they failed a test. Polygraph testing both facilitates the disclosure of information and alerts offender managers to possible deception, allowing them to work with offenders in a more focused way."

    In addition to undergoing lie detector tests, the government also announced plans to monitor offenders using satellite tags, and make use of "chemically castrating" libido suppressant drugs.

    "We are determined that Britain has one of the toughest regimes in the world for managing sex offenders to stop reoffending and to protect victims," Justice Minister Jeremy Wright said.

    The government said a pilot lie detector scheme conducted between 2009 and 2011 in the East and West Midlands found that offenders who took the test were twice as likely to admit having breached the terms of their licence or confess to having thoughts that suggested they continued to pose a risk.

    Sex offenders currently have to abide by a series of licence conditions including signing the sex offenders' register and adhering to curfews, exclusion zones, non-contact orders and internet restrictions.

    According to official UK government statistics, between 2011 and 2012, the police recorded a total of 53,700 sex offences across England and Wales.

    “We are determined that Britain has one of the toughest regimes in the world for managing sex offenders.” Justice Minister Jeremy Wright

  13. What we all need right now is a pro probation militant styled chair to replace the vacancy left by Rendon. The election should be fast tracked!

    1. Oh I think it needs rather more than that! It needs someone with the bottle to take on the General Secretary and remind him which end of the dog the tail is. Impossible in my view unless they get support from a whole new raft of elected officers who hold the same view.

      It's not going to happen and Napo will just suffer a long and painful death in my humble opinion.

    2. Big Whitehall projects at risk of failure

      By Sarah Neville, Public Policy EditorSuccessful delivery of about one in five government projects, including new aircraft carriers and the HS2 high-speed rail line, is in doubt and requires urgent action, according to ratings released on Friday by the Major Projects Authority.A total of 41 out of 199 projects, with a collective value of close to £500bn, have been given a “red” or “amber-red” rating, compared with 31 projects a year ago.Of the eight projects rated “red” in September 2012, only one still held that status a year later, the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carrier project.The project has been dogged by cost overruns and late last year Philip Hammond, defence secretary, disclosed that the price of building two of the carriers would rise by another £800m to £6.2bn, due in part to the need to build a sophisticated aircraft landing system on the ships.The MPA said that a new contract had now been agreed with the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, a partnership between government and industry, which would “provide stronger incentives for the shipbuilding industry to construct the ships to the agreed budget”.The contract was based on “a realistic cost structure” for the first time and included “better cost sharing arrangements to help keep the programme on budget and on track”, the Ministry of Defence said.Universal Credit, the government’s flagship welfare reform, which last year fell into the “amber-red” category, has not even been assigned a rating, on the grounds that it was “reset” last year – an omission that is likely to fuel doubts over the progress of the troubled project.The Department for Work and Pensions insisted: “Universal Credit is on track. The reset is not new but refers to the shift in the delivery plan and change in management back in early 2013.”

    3. Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, welcomed the transparency inherent in publication of project ratings but said the failure to rate Universal Credit suggested a “veiled compromise” within government, designed to avoid revealing the “chaos” surrounding the project.Nigel Keohane, deputy director of the Social Market Foundation, seized on the decision to exempt the Ministry of Justice’s payment by results system for prisoner rehabilitation from a public rating, on the grounds that it could be “prejudicial to commercial interests”. He said: “It is ironic that two of the big programmes where there is considerable concern – benefit changes and the Ministry of Justice’s reforms to probation services – are two schemes where the Major Projects Authority isn’t ready to comment.”Meanwhile, the amber-red rating for HS2, unchanged since last year, showed that “the focused attention that is being applied to addressing the remaining issues must continue”, said the MPA, while stressing that many projects in their early stages still had problems to overcome.The decision to publish assessments of progress by the MPA, established three years ago to oversee big ticket spending, is part of a Cabinet Office attempt to drive up performance through greater transparency and improving civil servants’ skills.Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister, said that before the last general election there had been “no central assurance of projects, a lack of the right skills and problems were not systematically highlighted before they spiralled out of control”.Improving project management had helped to save £1.2bn in 2012-2013 alone, Mr Maude said.Of the 31 projects rated either red or amber-red last year, more than half did better this year and only one had got worse, said the MPA. However, of the 122 projects that were assessed both this year and last, 32 had got worse while only 27 had improved.The MPA said the “main reason” for the decline in performance was that 47 new projects had been added to its portfolio this year and “we are naturally at this stage less confident in their delivery than in those projects that left the portfolio during the year”.However, one project descended from the “amber-red” into the “red” category: a plan to upgrade the IT used by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency. The MPA said the performance slippage “was due to a part of the upgrade being delayed, and a correction plan is being developed with the supplier”.Now falling under the National Crime Agency, the project was still on track to achieve savings of £213m over 10 years, said the MPA.

    4. If the probation sell off had any chance of being successful, then surely the MoJ would be happy to have it rated and be shouting from the rooftops to bidders about what a wonderful thing they're selling?
      Instead they're keeping it hidden from being given a rating under the guise of it may affect competition. I have no doubt that if TR was given a rating it would affect competition. No-one would bid at all.
      If I was a bidder then I'd be very concerned and I'd take great notice that the other project being hidden from the ratings is IDS's wonderful Universal Credit.
      If TR is going to be as successful as that then 'roll up' bidders, you must have more money then sense.

    5. You're dead right on that, if it was all ready to rock and roll we'd never hear the end of the crowing. Buyer beware!!

  14. Anonymous24 May 2014 11:07
    - I agree with ur comments but they will not accept any responsibility. Like Grayling they will spin the matter away from themselves. Probation officers are under extreme pressure, balancing too many systems and processes. This has been purposely designed so that when an SFO occurs management can say 'there was no review of OASys when he stopped smoking and if this was done in a timely manner the risk would have been reviewed'. The point is they can blame it on anything. There's no way to protect yourself because of the huge workload and the additional stuff with TR.

    1. Oh yes, I didn't say it with any hope that it would actually happen!

  15. Suggestion to protects ourselves;
    1. on Monday ( Trusts are still legally our employer), write to your line manager explaining your are unable to manage your increasing workload and specify this is because of additional work you have been given (eg x cases transferred to me in x days and x SDRs allocated within x days- be very specific).
    2. if additional cases have been allocated because a colleague has gone sick also specify, eg X cases from XXs case load,not to apportion blame but specific evidence.
    3. point out how many hours over your contract you have willingly worked to try to help eg last week as you know I worked X hours over my contracted hours
    4. state clearly you are feeling stressed because of your workload, then ask for your manager's assistance in prioritising what must be done and what must be left undone - and follow this advice doing those tasks identified by management
    5. do not accept "just do your best" accept only specific guidance
    print off and keep safe this email - this, and any response, is your defence when doing your best proves insufficient defence to an SFO investigation
    6. make sure you are in a union, there is trouble coming for each and every one of us as Grayling will never be accountable for this and sadly, some of us may need legal support to protect us
    7. start keeping accurate notes in your own personal diary/notebook of what occurs each day, again this can be good evidence. Keep your work diary scrupulously up to date with each task undertaking and the timing, again it is evidence
    a rep

  16. Anonymous24 May 2014 14:44 - many thanks, very kind of you to take the effort to mention the above. I will be encouraging other colleagues to do the same. thank you

  17. Apologies if this has been linked before, but interesting report published yesterday from the TUC/New Economics Foundation - 'Justice for Sale'.

    Press release:

    Full report:

  18. Reading all this makes me feel ill.

  19. 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 processses 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.

  20. More news to get Grayling and Wright featured in the weekend press and broadcast news reports.

    Two more dangerous criminals have absconded from prison, police say
    Charlie Casey ran from HMP Sudbury last month and may have stabbed a woman since, while Paul Oddysses absconded from Hollesley Bay prison on Saturday"

    1. How come none of this news is affecting his position. He seems to do as he pleases without question.

    2. Police admitted on Saturday that two dangerous criminals have escaped prison, including one who may have since stabbed a woman. The two cases, which are unrelated, are the latest in a recent spate of prisoners absconding that has embarrassed the government.

      Charlie Casey, 22, escaped from HMP Sudbury open prison in Derbyshire last month, where he was serving a four-year sentence for robbery and false representation. Police have now revealed they believe he went on to attack a 24-year-old woman in St Leonards, Dorset, on Wednesday evening. The victim, from Wales, suffered a non-life-threatening injury to her body and was taken to Poole hospital.

      Dorset police said they believed Casey was in the Binfield and Slough areas, to the west of London. But officers said they thought he had now moved on to Gwent, in Wales, and urged the public not to approach him. He was described as white, 6ft 1in and of average build, with short, dark brown hair, blue eyes, and an Irish accent.

      Detective Sergeant Andy Bell said: "Officers are searching for Charlie Casey and we are following positive lines of inquiry. If members of the public see anyone matching the description, or anyone hiding or acting in a suspicious or unusual way, then I would urge them to call their local police straight away. I would like to appeal directly to Charlie to make contact with the authorities as soon as possible."

      In a separate case, Paul Oddysses absconded from Hollesley Bay prison on Saturday morning, where he was serving a life sentence for attempted robbery and robbery with a firearm. Police described him as white, of thin build, with brown hair, brown eyes and clean shaven. He also bore a scar on the back of his head and tattoos on both arms. Suffolk police said he had connections in the Hertfordshire and Essex areas.

      The two are the latest in a series of cases of prisoners absconding. Michael Wheatley, known as the Skullcracker, absconded from HMP Standford Hill on the Isle of Sheppey earlier this month. He escaped while serving 13 life sentences for bank raids, but was recaptured and charged with carrying out another attempted armed robbery.

      Two other prisoners, Damien Burns and Dean Jackson, absconded on Tuesday. Burns was serving an indeterminate sentence for a knife-point robbery, while Jackson was on remand awaiting a sentence for a theft-related offence.

      Conservative MP David Mowat said the spate of prison escapes reflected badly on the government. "In their own words, the government have said it's not adequate and it's not acceptable," he said. "What I think is it should be done quickly."

      "Accountability seems to be missing. A mistake has been made, but are we learning from it?"

      Conservative backbencher Philip Davies has criticised the decision to relax security over Burns as "disgraceful". He said: "It is completely ludicrous that a serving life sentence prisoner is even in an open prison where they can simply walk out.

      "As far as I am concerned whoever allowed him to be in an open prison should be sacked, it is a complete disgrace.

      "The top priority for the prison service should be the protection of the public. [Justice secretary] Chris Grayling needs to put in charge of the prison service someone who will see protection of the public as a top priority."

      Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan demanded an immediate independent inquiry into the recent spate of prison escapes, which he said were "now beyond a joke".

      "This is now beyond a joke and a full, independent and immediate inquiry into these escapes is the only way the public's confidence can hope to be restored," he said.

      "It's crucial they're recaptured as quickly as possible but the public have lost confidence in this government being able to do even the most basic things right."

  21. Jim,

    Do you know if whether CRC will offer the local government pension scheme?

    1. Yes - I expect folk transferring to CRC's will have their membership of LGPS sustained and new permanent employees will get to join up to the time of a sell off but I am not sure about new employees after the sell off, presumably those employment contracts will depend on decisions of individual CRCs.

      I presume - if - the sales go ahead, the terms and conditions for new employees beginning to work permanently for CRCs will be generally worse than are now available at least as far as long term job security, including pensions are concerned.

      As a young man, I gave no serious thought to pensions and even tried to get out of LGPS in about 1977 because I was struggling with my overall family budget and that seemed an outgoing I was then getting nothing for. I am extremely glad I was not allowed to withdraw from it -

      When the opportunity to withdraw from the LGPS was later given by the Conservatives I was a strong advocate to stay in - some of my colleagues transferred out of the LGPS or subsequently did not join, if I remember correctly. The pension scheme was a very important part of my contract despite my disregard of it when I was in my late twenties.

    2. I would advocate very strongly indeed for members to remain in LGPS. Just remember, the benefits also transfer to your partner in the sad event of you passing away. So at least you know that your loved one's would be looked after.

  22. NOW: -

    "Lie detector test training for probation staff" according to articles on BBC web pages, Sky News and Mirror Newspapers websites.

    More here: -

    1. 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.

  23. Use a lie detector on Probation Managers. It would explode!!!!!

  24. Make Do and Mend?
    Probation staff and not coping and I think we should recognise the stress middle managers are under in this process, senior managers are offering no support as they have " bigger matters" to deal with and are instructing those beneath them to "just make it work". There are no tested systems, no processes in place that are complete. There is only chaos and frankly, the reality is more make do and mend and how can that ever be acceptable or SAFE with our market, err sorry meant to say, the management of offenders?
    The focus has to move from this point of merely letting off steam to all of us doing what we can to keep ourselves and our colleagues safe. Stress can start with simply too much pressure and becomes serious when you are unable to cope. If you are in that position, seek help. This is not your fault, this is something being done to you in connection with your employment and should have serious consequences for the employer.
    We, who understand the value of what we do, have been shocked by how little it seems to matter to the public and therefore politicians. Our service users only matter when they attract negative headlines, perhaps we should rephrase what we do in terms of "no more victims" then people may understand more.

  25. oops, first "and" should read "are" - sorry