Friday, 13 June 2014

5 Grayling Lies

Today we have a guest blog by former Probation Officer Joanna Hughes who very publicly resigned her post on June 1st, rather than be employed under TR.


1. He misled Parliament over re-offending rates

Mr Grayling’s case for privatisation was based on the reiterated claim that half of those leaving prison are currently re-convicted within a year. This is false:
  • It is true that 58% of those leaving prison after sentences of under 12 months re-offend, but, contrary to Mr Grayling’s repeated suggestion, the Probation Service does not supervise these offenders.
  • 36.2% of those leaving prison after sentences of 1 - 4 years re-offend and 30.7% of those leaving prison after sentences of 4 - 10 years re-offend. The Probation Service does supervise these offenders and it is notable that the re-offending rates are significantly reduced.
  • So Mr Grayling disparages the service for their lack of success in cases they do not supervise, and neglects to commend them for demonstrable success in cases he ignores.
Another misleading reiteration is the government’s claim that it wanted to cut re-offending, although re-offending rates have been falling since 2006-07. In fact government figures unequivocally testify to the success of probation supervision coupled with a treatment programme: there has been an actual decrease in re-offending rates of 5.6% over the last 7 years.

2. He misled Parliament over the necessity for part privatising the Probation Service to work with the under 12 months custody cases 

Mr Grayling claimed that the Probation Service could not provide a viable, costed and economic plan for the supervision of those sentenced to under 12 months in prison. In fact, he was notified that several pilots have been taking place: for instance in Gloucestershire, Avon and Somerset and Yorkshire. These are either very-low cost initiatives funded by the PCC or are within existing budgets. Mr Grayling’s ignoring of cost-effective pilots within the Probation Service highlights his wilful refusal to explore and cost such alternatives and to run any meaningful pilots.

Further evidence of this can be seen in the national meeting of Probation chiefs and chairs addressed by Mr Grayling and Mr Jeremy Wright, Minister for Prisons and Rehabilitation, a year ago, early in 'Transforming Rehabilitation'. One of the chairs raised in the meeting the willingness of his Trust and others to manage the addition of under 12 months custodial cases with whatever cost saving was required. The minutes show that the response was that this option was not going to be pursued, but that no reason was given for refusing such a rational course of action.

3. He misled Parliament over the reasons for his refusal to pilot ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ 

Repeatedly, Mr Grayling and Mr Wright claimed that the time-frame would not allow for Probation Service pilots for those sentenced to under 12 months custody. They said that they could not wait for a pilot because of the urgent and overriding need for supervision for these ex-prisoners, and Liberal Democrat support was largely conditional on this presentation of the pressing issue (time and again couched rhetorically as the issue of dealing with short-term prisoners being released 'with just £46 in their pocket' ). Yet Vera Baird QC, PCC for Newcastle, has now confirmed that this 'won't be happening any time soon'' according to her private contact with Mr Wright. 

4. He misled Parliament over saving money by pressing ahead with ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ against all expert advice

Potential bidders for TR are driving such a hard bargain with the Ministry of Justice that the deadline for Prime Contractors has been extended to June 30th. Promises that 50% of bidders would be Mutuals and/or Charities, and the government criterion or requirement that there would be three bidders at least may not be fulfilled:
  • Some package areas only have one bidder, others two at the most and some no bidders at all
  • These bidders are increasingly becoming solely multinational companies and conglomerates, including ‘Sentinel’ who are connected to G4S and specialise in GPS tracking and kiosk check-in
Further, a further justification for ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ put forward to Parliament, namely 'Payment by Results', has also been ditched and replaced by ‘Fee for Service’.

Finally here, it needs emphasising that ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ is not going to save money. It has already cost in excess of £125,000,000 and £9,000,000 has been spent on legal fees and consultants. There is no final estimate, and a senior civil servant has admitted that they have no idea how much it is will cost the Ministry of Justice.

At this point it is irresistible to draw some of these threads together and conclude that the government have work to do to counter this impression: that this is a case of a highly successful, long-standing and professional public service being dismantled without genuine reason, and at great cost and risk to the public, merely so that private firms, and the politicians associated with them, can benefit.

5. He misled Parliament over promises that the risk to the public would not be increased

There are numerous instances emerging of significant and increased risk to the public at the time of writing - the middle of only the second week of ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’. Here are just two representative cases, selected for their importance, from what is inevitably a volatile and many-faceted situation, but for which there is much more evidence available:

Regarding sex offenders:
  • Inexperienced staff are dealing with sex offenders. Speaking to the BBC, an anonymous probation officer working for the Durham Tees Valley Probation Service raised serious concerns that staff would only receive two days training to deal with sex offenders.
  • Thames Valley Sex Offenders’ Programme is unable to run in some areas in the South West as the amount of National Probation Service staff allocated was miscalculated. Judges in Crown Courts are seriously frustrated at their inability to sentence offenders to programmes.
Regarding Probation staff:
  • The Ministry of Justice deny there is a serious staffing issue, with staff leaving the profession and caseloads rocketing, but our reports suggest otherwise and a FOI request by the Labour Party has disclosed that nationally there are at least 500 vacancies for Probation Officers. 
  • There are offices reportedly in danger of disintegration because of sickness, resignations and non-viable staff allocations. Specifically, the National Probation Service/Community Rehabilitation Company staffing split has resulted in unworkable imbalances in staff allocation and massive caseloads for some colleagues.
  • Cases being split between NPS and CRC are 'falling through the cracks' due to lack of information being shared (and shareable). Computer systems have been described as ‘in serious meltdown’. One issue, for instance, is that the police are refusing to provide background information on Domestic Violence for cases being dealt with by CRC staff. 
There are hundreds of examples that could be cited from serving staff, but we conclude with a quote from a Probation Officer in the CRC, taken as one index of this widespread dysfunctionality:

‘I am a Probation Officer in a CRC. Last month I was managing 40+ cases, either high risk of harm, sex offenders, serious mental health problems or domestic violence. I was writing a Pre-Sentence Report a week and Parole and breach reports when needed. This week I have 17 cases, no reports to write and once I've caught up on the backlog of the previous difficult caseload.... very little to do. Meanwhile, my Probation Service Officer colleague has 91 cases, my old colleagues in NPS are overwhelmed and we are advertising for people to come from Australia and New Zealand to do what I was doing and still can do. Just bloody bonkers.’

Joanna Hughes


  1. Hopefully this excellent piece by Ms Hughes is being shared with the media. Good stuff Joanna. Its a piece of work worthy of a gen sec of a national professional body and union.

    1. Hear hear! Excellent piece Joanna.

  2. Totally agree. A clear and direct statement of the reality we face as a result of this utter shambles. Is there anyone who can change things listening though?

    1. Yes the person who assisted JH in producing this article, they know who they are!

  3. Totally agree with above - excellent piece - concise and powerfully highlights the folly of this process.

    On another note, the blog the other day about The Chalk Ventures consortium pulling out of the process rings alarm bells for me. They stated ... "but all three were in agreement that the contract contained some commercial and operational terms which, for us, were too difficult to bear" and ... "However, unfortunately this is not possible for us on the current contract terms, and so the only real option to maintain our integrity was to withdraw from the competition".

    As someone commented, on the original blog, for A4E to consider pulling out on integrity grounds is quite astounding. What the hell is in the contract that they found so concerning???

    Now, it would be great if Sarah Billiald were to detail publicly just exactly what these concerns are.

    1. Annon 08:20 this article from last month regarding private companies with contracts in the welfare to work programme may give some food for thought on the reluctance of outsourcing companies to sign government contracts for TR.
      Its also worth noting that when ATHOS very publically announced it wanted to terminate its contracts with government, it gave considerable bargining power to any other company seeking Whitehall contracts.

    2. Its about risk. The contracts are making the new companies responsible for the financial risks. Shareholders for some of the small - mid companies are not prepared to put up that kind of money(30-60 million) in case something goes wrong and they are left accountable.

  4. Excellent piece by Joanna Hughes, maybe we should consider a Donation fund to assist Joanna who has given up her security in the name of TR? This press release should be circulated to all media sources including radio chat shows to give opportunity for discussion, I did call BBC London and was on the air prior to strike and at that time they knew very little on the subject; replicated across the country this could have negative impact on election and more importantly TR. Avoid MOJ how about appointment with Cameron and Chair of Scrutiny Panel. Let’s ditch Grayling, it is amazing how there has been collusion to avoid holding him to account, particularly BBC, his previous Employer. I must explore Whistleblower guidance as Grayling has conned everyone in Parliament to get this rubbish through, he needs to be held accountable, sounds fraudulent to me! Let’s pursue some donation system to assist Joanna at this time?

    1. Agree we should set a donation fund, does anyone know how we can set one up.

  5. There's quite a rift becoming evident between the coalition about new knife crime laws proposed by the Conservatives. It is however likely to be supported by Labour. In any event its being debated in the house this week.
    With such a clear rift on this Criminal Justice issue, isn't everybodies duty to contact any liberal dem mp they can, pointing our how they've been misled by Grayling, and by the way when will the 12months and under become subject to supervision. With the NPS/CRC split now having taken place you must at least have a target date for this huge part of TR to 'go live'. Haven't you?

  6. Ninety prisoners are on the run from Ford Open Prison in West Sussex, the BBC has learned.

    Ford and other open prisons have seen a series of high-profile disappearances in recent weeks.

    Nick Gibb, MP for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, said it was becoming a pattern and he was very concerned.

    Sussex Police said a special team had been set up and the force was focused on returning "each and every one of these people to prison".

    This week, the force was criticised for waiting four years to tell the public there was a convicted murderer on the loose.

    In a statement, Sussex Police said it did not proactively seek the help of the public or media every time a prisoner absconded, but considered each case individually, taking into account the risk.

    In November, the force found there were a number of people who had absconded whose cases had not been regularly reviewed, and a dedicated team was set up to review each case.

    Since then, 23 absconders have been located and arrested.

    The statement said: "There are currently 90 people missing from Ford. Some have been missing for a matter of weeks but others have been missing for a number of years.

    "We are focused on returning each and every one of these people to prison."

    This week, the force made an appeal to find armed robber David Blood, after he absconded from Ford, and also Robert Donovan, a convicted murderer.

    In May, violent robber Simon Marcus Rhodes-Butler also absconded from HMP Ford. He was arrested in London early on Friday, police said.

    Earlier that month, Sussex Police admitted it had no idea of the whereabouts of dangerous prisoner Kevin Brown who walked out of the same prison seven weeks previously.

    The issue of open prison absconders hit the headlines after Michael Wheatley, nicknamed the "Skull Cracker", absconded from HMP Standford Hill in Kent on 3 May. He raided a building society while he was on the run.

    1. Chris Grayling is responsable for many of the welfare reforms introduced by the coalition.
      The system is in meltdown, and has cost the 'hard working taxpayer' a fortune.
      Chris Grayling is responsable for the prison reforms that has brought the system into chaos.staffing cuts have made prisons far more dangerous enviornments where rehabilitation no longer exists, violence has increased and the murder rate in custody is at an all time high.
      Empty prisons he's closed are dotted around the country and cost the 'hard working taxpayer' a fortune.
      He is also responsable for bringing the courts into chaos, legal aid cuts, collapsed trials, expensive appeals and closures and relocations of courts that have (guess what), cost the 'hard working taxpayer' a fortune.
      His probation reforms have brought chaos and breakdown to a highly performing service, its increased risks to public safety, created the potential for a swelled prison population, and would you believe it, it's cost the 'hard working taxpayer' a fortune!
      There is no longer any part of the CJS that functions properly and that too costs the 'hard working taxpayer' a fortune.
      If this government were really serious about tackling the defecit, they could make considerable progress by ousting Grayling.
      Maybe its time Cameron put '£46 in his pocket' and discharged him not just from office but from government itself.
      And I'm certain that anyone who employs him would soon discover that he's actually a serial offender.

  7. Grayling can push this through because he has media power and we don't, but this is the way to hurt him lets continue with this push to expose him in the press.Eating rats anus in the jungle is still possible for him.

    Also it looks like leaks are spring up everywhere, 90 at large in the Home Counties they want like that.


    1. Full jails told to take in more prisoners

      9 minutes agoForty prisons have been told to take in more inmates, although 34 are already fullThe Ministry of Justice has ordered dozens of already full jails to take more prisoners because the jail population is increasing faster than expected, it has emerged.Forty prisons in England and Wales have been told to raise their "operational capacity" in the next two months, according to documents seen by the BBC.All but six of these are running at full capacity or are overcrowded.They include Wandsworth in south London, Lincoln, Leicester and Durham.Other prisons affected include Bedford, Leeds and two other London facilities, Pentonville and Brixton.'Very difficult'The jails have been told they need to find accommodation for 440 more prisoners, in total.This figure represents about 0.5% of the prison population of 85,410. On average, the 40 prisons affected will have to find space for an additional 11 inmates each.More prisoners may be required to share cells originally designed for oneBBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw says it will be very difficult for prisons to deal with any increase in inmates.Some facilities are already at 150-160% capacity, he says.He adds that the order to take in more prisoners is very embarrassing for the Ministry of Justice, which has closed 16 jails in the past four years.A further two prisons were converted to immigration removal centres, after prison population forecasts suggested numbers would stabilise or rise only slowly.The MoJ has yet to respond to a request for comment.Twin bedsThe Prison Officers Association described the development as a "fiasco".It said emergency measures were also being put in place to recruit staff after thousands of prison officers took voluntary redundancy.Retired officers and those who have recently left the service are being offered short-term contracts to re-join until the end of the year.The governor of Coldingley Prison in Surrey, Eoin McLennan-Murray, who heads the Prison Governors Association, said he had been told to find space for an extra six prisoners, which he was doing by putting extra beds in cells designed for two people.Other jails are likely to fit twin beds in single cells.'Perfect storm'Mr McLennan-Murray said the prison population was now expected to rise by 1,000 more than earlier projections."All the planning assumptions are based on smaller population projections."He said this issue combined with prison staff shortages, a new prison regime and increasing numbers of assaults and incidents, was creating a "perfect storm"."All of these things will de-stabilise prisons," he said."I struggle to recall a time when there were so many issues and problems."

    2. And all those under 12months are going to be on licence and because of their problematic offending drivers are, I suggest, a very high risk of recall!
      I wonder what Mr. Graylings gut feelings will do next.

      I've just spied this little article too that suggests Grayling just doesn't tell lies, but he's pretty sneaky too.

    3. The CJS isn't in a mess at all....... It's just what the public ordered!!!

    4. Prisons have been ordered to take additional inmates despite overcrowding fears because the public want to see more criminals behind bars, Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, insisted last night.
      Forty jails in England and Wales have been warned they will be expected to take scores of extra inmates.
      Latest figures, published by the Ministry of Justice, showed the prison population reached 85,410, up 182 on last week and more than 1,700 more than a year ago.
      The Prison Officers Association claimed the system was “truly in crisis”.
      Jails affected include Bedford, Durham, Leeds, Leicester, Lincoln and three facilities in London - Brixton, Pentonville and Wandsworth.

      But Mr Grayling said: “I make no apology that we are sending more criminals to prison - that’s what the public want. I’m just taking sensible steps to make sure we can accommodate everyone the court sends to us.
      “We have had a small increase in prison population in last few months. And as a result, we’ve opened up some of our reserve capacity.
      “To do this we are planning to take on a number of former prison officers, up to 100, on short term contracts.”
      He added that 2,000 additional adult male prison places are due to open over next nine months.

    5. This is a recipe for a riot. Obviously lesson were not learnt from the Manchester riot.


    1. Apparently the mere mention of the Howard League is enough to make the justice secretary's blood boil. Chris Grayling dug in his heels on the prisoner book ban, despite wary political analysts advising him to let it drop, apparently out of a personal hatred toward the group. He rejected an investigation into rape in prison when he found out the Howard League was behind it. He's even said to have stormed out of a speaking event organised by Tory MP Rory Stewart when the author of a report praised the group.
      Now the Ministry of Justice is refusing to even reveal how often the group has been mentioned in internal correspondence.
      Prison reformers fired off a Freedom of Information request a few weeks back, asking for civil servants to check their internal systems electronically for mentions of the group. 'No can do', came the response.
      "I am afraid that I am not able to confirm whether the Ministry of Justice holds the information you have requested," the department wrote back. "On this occasion, the cost of determining whether we hold the information would exceed the limit set by the Freedom of Information Act and, as a result, I am afraid will not be taking your request further."
      Apparently responding to this simple request would cost more than £600 ("equivalent to 3½ working days' worth of work, calculated at £25 per hour").
      This is standard operating procedure for the MoJ. Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan fired off a raft of parliamentary questions about Grayling's draconian prison reforms last month only to have them all dismissed as too expensive to answer. Some of them were on the type of thing you might expect the MoJ to be on top of, like how contraband enters prisons.
      "To identify the manner in which the contraband entered the prison and any subsequent referral to the police would require a manual interrogation of incident reports. This could be achieved only at disproportionate cost," came one response.
      "To determine the numbers of staff engaged in this activity for the periods in question could only be determined by asking each prison to calculate these numbers using historic records. This cannot be done without incurring disproportionate cost," came another.
      Of course, this is a standard government tactic for questions it doesn't like. The Home Office refuses to publish how much it spends on the legal battles of the notoriously litigious Theresa May, despite the fact the bill probably runs into hundreds of millions of pounds. Again, the costs of finding the information are considered "disproportionate".
      Of course, the real disproportionate cost comes when ministers appeal unwinnable legal cases without any fear of financial scrutiny. That's an expensive ignorance to labour under.
      The MoJ's response claims they can only search electronically for the headline of an email, not the body of a message. I honestly don't know how I would find anything if that was the restriction on my email system. They may as well use fountain pens and magnifying glasses.
      But the real problem is more serious than the ineptitude of government IT systems. Grayling's department has now pulled down the blinds. He competes only with Iain Duncan Smith for closing down opposing voices and evidence.

    2. The opaque nature of the department is problem enough in itself. But what's really concerning is that we still don't know how severely Grayling's hatred of the Howard League is affecting his ability to do his job. His decision to kill off the prison sex investigation may be keeping a cover on a massive public health disaster. We just don't know. It seems as if the British system is relatively rape-free, but then that's what they said about the American system until they investigated it and found the most appalling abuse underneath the officially-enforced silence. Grayling is even reported to have demanded the removal of condoms from jails until his advisors stepped in to warn him of the catastrophic health consequences which would follow.
      No matter how many Freedom of Information requests they deny or parliamentary questions they shoot down, a picture is emerging of Grayling's department. It appears to be defensive, uninterested in evidence, and unwilling to subject itself to scrutiny.
      Ian Dunt is the editor of

  9. Regarding the establishment of a donation "fighting Fund" for Joanna Hughes I think this is an excellent idea. For a set period, that could be extended why not set up such a fund with direct debits. Perhaps NAPO could assist, I would donate.


    1. Grayling really is having a bad day at the office today.

    2. The day just keeps giving- must read this.

    3. Elements of the lord chancellor’s guidance for granting legal aid in exceptional circumstances for immigration cases are ‘unlawful’, the High Court ruled today.

      Giving judgment in six linked cases - Gudanaviciene & Others v director of legal aid casework and the lord chancellor [2014] EWHC 1840 (Admin) - Mr Justice Collins said the guidance issued by the lord chancellor is in ‘certain respects unlawful’ in that it is ‘too restrictive’ and ‘not in accordance with the law’.

      Collins ruled that the guidance misstates the test for the circumstances in which legal aid should be granted: in order to comply with Articles 6 and 47 of the European Convention on Human Rights; the circumstances in which Article 8 requires legal aid to be granted; and the circumstances under Section 10 (3) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 in which legal aid should be made available.

      Collins said the guidance ‘sets too high a threshold’ and ‘produces unfairness’ by denying publicly funded legal advice to applicants in ‘exceptional cases’.

      He said it was ‘a fundamental principle that anyone in the UK is subject to its laws and is entitled to their protection’.

      ‘Thus there must be a fair and effective hearing available and the guidance, as the facts of some of the cases I have dealt with show, produce unfairness,’ he said.

      Collins quashed all six decisions made by the director of casework at the Legal Aid Agency to refuse legal aid.

      He said that in some of the six cases legal aid ought to be granted and in others the decision to refuse legal aid should be reconsidered.

      He said it was not necessary to make any formal declaration of relief and said it would be ‘wrong’ to quash the guidance, as it was only part of it that he found to be unlawful.

      The cases concern the circumstances in which legal aid should be granted in those cases not normally eligible, but where a refusal to grant public funding would lead to a breach of the claimant’s convention or EU rights.

    4. The government is resorting to "underhand tactics" to cover up its mistakes on the management of prisons by buying in hundreds of extra emergency places for inmates from the private sector, Labour has said.

      After 40 prisons were put on notice to raise their "operational capacity", Labour's shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan blamed the "cack-handed" closure of nearly 20 prisons for the decision to ask private companies to provide an extra 412 places at a cost of millions of pounds.

      Khan has written to Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, to ask her to examine the "unacceptable" way in which the government is seeking to hide its embarrassment by refusing to disclose the cost of the extra prison places.

      Khan spoke out after Jeremy Wright, the justice minister, announced in a parliamentary written answer that 412 extra places at six private prisons have been purchased by the Ministry of Justice since February this year. They range from 100 places at Altcourse prison covering eleven months to thirty two places at Lowdham Grange over six months.

      Wright declined to disclose the costs of the prison places on the grounds that the information is "commercially sensitive". A place in the HMP Oakwood private prison costs £13,200 a year while the average cost of a Category C prisoner is £31,339 a year.

      The disclosure came as the BBC revealed that 40 prisons – all but six of which are running at or above full capacity – have been told they need to find accommodation for an extra 440 prisoners by August. One of the prisons – Wandsworth in south west London which has an official capacity of 972 – already has more than 1,500 inmates.

      Khan blamed the need to resort to the private sector for emergency prison places on the decision to close 18 prisons in recent years at a time when the prison population is increasing. The number of prisoners in England and Wales stood at 85,410 on Friday.

      Labour acknowledges that the National Offender Management Service, which manages the prison estate in England and Wales on behalf of the MoJ, has opened two new prisons. They are the controversially private run HMP Oakwood and HMP Thameside which is also privately run.

      Khan told the Guardian: "The acute shortage of places is one of this government's making. Chris Grayling [justice secretary] has closed down so many prisons so quickly – many of them high performing prisons – that he's been left with no space. He's had to resort to underhand tactics to cover up his mistakes.

      "Now he's had to buy emergency prison places from big private providers, but refuses to say how much this is costing the taxpayer. It's an utter disgrace and an insult to the British public that he refuses to admit how much his failures are costing the taxpayer. If he hadn't been so cack-handed in closing down good prisons, he wouldn't be lumbering the taxpayer with these extra costs."

    5. The MoJ said that there are 1,021 spare prison places – the difference between the size of the prison estate (86,431) and the number of prisoners (85,410). Grayling acknowledged that there has been a small increase in the prison population in recent months, prompting the MoJ to open up its reserve capacity and to take on up to 100 former prison officers on short term contracts. An additional 2,000 adult male prison places will also be opened up over the next nine months to ensure there are more places in this category than the government inherited in 2010.

      The justice secretary said: "I make no apology that we are sending more criminals to prison – that's what the public want. I'm just taking sensible steps to make sure we can accommodate everyone the court sends to us. I'll take no lessons on this issue from the Labour party who let thousands of dangerous prisoners out onto our streets early because they failed to provide enough places."

    6. Graying really does play on what the public want to hear, but they not realise the problems he is causing. I only wish more clients would appeal, they seem to get things moving. I think a good plan would be to encourage clients to appeal, the system will then be changed. There must be some loop hole somewhere that can be open to challenged.

    7. I wish I had a choice.

  10. brilliant quote, lifted from the comments section of that Law Society Gazette article
    "Sometimes I wonder what it must be like to be a MOJ spokesperson, forever talking double speak, never named, always ridiculed.

    Then I realise it doesn't matter, because they never hear the mockery, or any kind of response. They drift off, in a kind of a bubble, into the sky. Accountability is for mere mortals."

  11. Anybody see the webchat yesterday? Was there anything contentious or was it all bland pre approved questions and inane answers by Grayling's puppies Spurrs and Payne?

    1. Bland. Weasel words. 'That is not my understanding', 'I am told...' denial that there are no bidders for Wales etc. Spin or dishonest?

  12. Maybe we should have a whip round and take out ads in the National papers with J Hughes article then the whole countrh would realise what is going on!!

    1. Now I would donate for that, but someone is needed to run such a scheme - I am not willing.

      I would also be willing to make a contribution to a deposit and expenses for a general election candidacy, and am sorry she has not commented about that in this write up - which is nonetheless excellent

  13. Thank you Joanna, great blog

    predicted staff split 30:70
    actual staff split 50:50

    hmmm so how did that happen?
    ooo I know, too many cases have gone to NPS!
    how do we deal with that then?
    I know let's "adjust" the RSR tool and the case allocation tool so that the very vast majority of cases go straight to CRC
    err shouldn't the really risky stuff go to NPS?
    No it's ok 'cos our tools say they are not risky

    so that's alright then....

  14. NOMS were warned before they migrated users that the main case management system had 4 MAJOR defects and numerous level 2 defects. Normally the service would not proceed with just 1 major defect. They disregarded the problems and went ahead regardless. Result? Users, including those monitoring sex offenders, can't record their work. I am employed in corporate services in a CRC. I and most of my colleagues have applied for voluntary redundancy - or have already left. Vacancies in the National Probation Service haven't been filled due to lack of applicants.

    And this is all supposed to improve offender rehabilitation? It won't even save anything - in fact, I believe it has wasted £millions - let alone distracted 18,000 dedicated staff from the incredible work they've done over the years.

  15. Excellent blog by Joanna. I agree with all the above comments in terms of financial assistance. I would be more then happy to donate. I also think Joanna would be an excellent Chair for NAPO. Joanna's credentials in defending true probation values is unquestionable. I only hope she puts herself forward. This would help to restore the tarnished image caused by recent events.

  16. JOBLESS mechanic Leon Humphreys shocked magistrates by demanding the right to trial by combat under medieval law when he appeared at a Suffolk court.

    Mr Humphreys, 60, made his request after being charged with failing to notify the DVLA that his motorcycle was off the road.

    He claimed he was entitled to ask the court to establish his guilt or innocence by allowing him to fight to the death against a champion nominated by the DVLA.

    Mr Humphreys, of Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, said the fact that he had opted for trial by combat meant he did not have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

    But JPs in the town decided to log his unusual request as a not guilty plea and adjourned his case until November 22 to fix a date for his trial.

    The right to trial by combat was introduced in Britain by the Normans after the invasion of 1066. Under the law people used to fight each other to solve disputes. It was assumed the person in the right would win as God would back the victor.

    The law used to allow people like priests, women and the elderly to substitute champions to fight on their behalf.

    The practice was commonplace until the 1300s when the system of trial by jury began to be introduced instead.

    1. In December 2002, a 60-year-old mechanic named Leon Humphreys was fined £25 for failing to notify the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) that he had removed his Suzuki motorcycle from road usage. He refused to pay and claimed that he had the right, under medieval law, to choose a trial by combat with a "champion" nominated by the DVLA. This claim was denied by a court of magistrates in Bury St Edmunds, and he was further fined.[18]

  17. I made a choice to join the CRC based on no information (as none was provided). I cringe when I see some of the issues arising on both sides of the split, a deep divide which is causing barely controllable levels of tension in a small rural office location... I am yet to meet a practitioner who can offer a good argument for these changes, despite having visited offices in seven counties across the Midlands... Every officer I talk to is confused as to the need for change and worried (some deeply concerned) about the dangers posed by such a shambolic, rushed, poorly organised 'transformation'. I do hope someone somewhere in a position of power is reading this and other articles

    1. More humiliation for Grayling.

    2. The Ministry of Justice is pleading for prison officers who have recently been made redundant to come back to work.

      Ministers have been forced into the humiliating reverse after being caught out by an unexpectedly large increase in the prison population.

      Up to 100 redundant officers are to be asked to come back on short-term contracts and hundreds more are being transferred from their usual posts to beef up staff numbers in prisons where there are shortages.

      The need to increase prison officer numbers, in contrast to the reductions driven by austerity measures over the last two years, has been exacerbated by fears riots and other disturbances will erupt during the summer because of overcrowding.

      Prisons have just been told that, having until now been instructed to close down as many areas as possible, they must prepare to take in an extra 440 prisoners. Cutbacks have also meant the closure of 16 prisons.

      The announcement was met with a scathing response from Peter McParlin, the National Chairman of the Prison Officers’ Association (POA), and Steve Gillan, the General Secretary, who said in a joint statement: “The prison system is truly in crisis.

      “The POA take no pleasure in saying that we told you so. It appears that only NOMS [the National Offender Management Service ] and the Coalition Government were unaware or chose to ignore the perfect storm of a rising population, a lack of staff and too few prison cells.

      “This is tantamount to an abrogation of responsibility by those tasked with the essential protection of the public. Once again prison staff will have to deal with the consequences of the fiasco in the management of the Criminal Justice System.”

      The prison population has risen over the last year by 1,749 to 85,410 prisoners and is putting increasing strain on the system. In the last two years the Prison Service’s Gold Command, the officials who co-ordinate the emergency response to serious outbreaks of violence, has experienced a 153 per cent increase in the number of call-outs.

      Room for the additional 440 inmates is expected to be created by squeezing two prisoners into single cells and three into double cells.

      Justice Secretary Chris Grayling played down the significance of having to ask redundant prison officers to return.

      “I’m just taking sensible steps to make sure we can accommodate everyone the court sends to us,” he told The Times.

      Sadiq Khan, the Shadow Justice Secretary, said the u-turn was humiliating to the government and expensive to the taxpayer.

  18. ‘Pass the parcel’ at a children’s party and the fallout from the Divorce!

    If a recent experience of a recall is replicated across the country we really are in trouble. A CRC recall where the risk had escalated, different levels of staff had a different understanding of the process, with deadlines approaching before going Out of Hours, the task was batted across both organisations like ‘pass the parcel’ at a children’s party! Don’t get me wrong, I recognise this has happened but we really are now going through the fallout! The cancelling and reorganising of tasks; who is responsible, down to visitation and access rights to our place of work. These Divisions are damaging; colleagues who have worked together for many years are now at opposite ends of the divide and displaying behaviours symptoms of anxiety and stress both physical and emotional. As predicted, In between the ‘welcome’ to the new organisations, the Voluntary Redundancy options have started at the top and is likely to work it’s way down both organisations. Once share sale takes place this will no doubt move to Compulsory Redundancies particularly in the CRC but not exclusively.
    For the future, there will be no Mediation across the divide rather this will be replaced by the MOJ having Contract Meetings with all concerned to the backdrop of Shareholders whose only interest is how much profit they will be making. This blog documents the true emotional and financial cost that this omni shambles has had on all concerned; the impact on victims, clients, partners and staff (and our families). The true cost is undetermined: MPs, Lords and the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committee have been conned to believing this ‘revolution’ would make positive changes. Grayling is an example of someone who has abused his power and needs to be made accountable; no one is untouchable as recent high profile Court cases have shown.
    Moving to today, Grayling will wake up to the papers who highlight that those Prison Officers who were made redundant are being offered the chance to go back to work on contract as it appears when they shut 16 prisons the MOJ got there sums wrong! I don’t think anyone reading this blog will be surprised by this little snippet of information. Surely someone in the MOJ should be Whistleblowing for Grayling covering up his wrong doing?

  19. Gayling justifies his lack of legal background which gives him a fresh outlook on our justice system!

    Just seen Press Release on MOJ site

    Talks of 'young barristers fighting for scraps of business in the magistrates’ courts, his reasoning; number of advocates working in our courts has risen significantly in recent years, whilst the level of crime has fallen. Put simply, there is not enough money or work to go round.
    High quality, diverse legal profession and competitive market needed. That should not be a knee-jerk change for change sake … but it should be purposeful, thoughtful and considered, based upon evidence, discussion and debate’

    Despite consulting with Probation Trusts, it's a shame he didn't give need for 'evidence' a consideration before he trashed his way through Probation!