Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Latest From Napo 33

There's been a veritable flurry of activity on the Napo website, including a very long blog post by the General Secretary earlier today and from which I quote:-

The questions that we are asking

Below is a summary of a number of questions that we have sent across to Noms/MoJ which Napo will be raising at tomorrow’s meeting of the TR Consultative Forum. They were pulled together by Mike McClelland following feedback from the Regions at this week’s Napo Officers and Officials meeting. I have reproduced them to show yet again that your issues and concerns are regularly being tabled at the highest levels:


Napo requests the following issues for inclusion in Thursdays agenda:

1. Workloads - kind of covered by the item on Workload Prioritisation etc - nevertheless, rapidly becoming a No.1 concern for our members.

2. Training - another No.1 concern. We would like an update on the current state of play re PQF. Moreover, since the current contract is due for renewal in 2016 (when in 2016 please?) and the procurement process is likely to take the best part of a year, we would like the Review to start now and we, the unions would wish to be a part of that review as key stakeholders.

3. Update required on procurement process - dates for ITT etc

4. We believe Sentinel are prime bidders in at least 3 CRCs. This would be the same Sentinel who have set up Offender Funded Probation Services in at least 3 US states - Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia and who have been the subject of a Human Rights Watch report? We would seek your absolute assurance, in writing, that Offender funded probation Services will NEVER be allowed to operate in England and Wales.

5. Communicating with members in the NPS - Group emails - possible? Also communicating with CEOs and D/Ds - see recent email correspondence.

6. HMIP have recently provided a Ministerial briefing on workloads. We would like to request a copy. Anticipating that you will say that Ministerial briefings are not released, we would ask why that would be in this instance and we would ask you to consider this as an FOI request if needs be.

7. Official travel in the NPS - (small but important) it has been brought to our attention that, presumably using Redfearn On-line, staff have to use their own credit card details to access the service. Is this correct? If so, it is unacceptable practice. Early experience of the service is very poor.

8. Mainstreaming consultation - can we have a discussion about when and what elements of our consultation should now be mainstreamed and to where? PCF?

9. NPS Secondments & Shared Services (again hopefully small but important) - it has been brought to our attention that some seconded staff have not been initiated into the finer points of Shared Services - probably because they don't have Probation email addresses. I hope they're all going to get paid at the end of the month. Is a reminder to local management an idea?

10. Length of service not showing on Phoenix - again small but important to staff. Why is this seemingly not possible?

11.Clinical supervision - I raised this some weeks ago with Jac Broughton. Now she is leaving, she is referring me on to Christine Straw. What are her contact details and can we discuss in TRCF anyway?

12. Archive material - not offender records but 'stuff' held by trusts up to 31 May. Can we have a discussion about its future. We would be concerned if we thought Probation's heritage was destined for a skip.

And finally: We have posited this (not really for discussion but to express our concern and disappointment) as we receive emails like this every day from members:

"... The TR changes have returned me to the anxious and depressed state you may recall I was in 2010 after .......

I have worked for xx Trust for yy years which I believe makes me the longest serving officer in the county. However, I have never been closer to resigning than I am now.

In terms of compulsory changes to our unit, the Crown Court Probation Officers are being asked to take on 2 PSRs each and every day (an increase of 70%) in addition to trying to provide court cover to support our two PSO colleagues who will otherwise be covering 10 courts over three sites on their own (xxx ). On our busiest days (Thursdays and Fridays) we have previously needed six staff members to cover the court workload alone so the new arrangements of 2 PSOs entails a staff decrease of more than 50% which, on busy days, will make their tasks impossible. There is, as yet, no provision for sickness or leave cover. There is no allowance for the quality of reports expected by the Judiciary, nor the fact that Crown Court reports are often of greater complexity and seriousness than lower court ones and that report preparation now involves additional assessments for allocation purposes. My real concern is that the 2.5 hours allocated for Crown Court PSRs will result in abbreviated assessments and corner-cutting in terms of other checks and interagency liaison. The lack of court duty staff risks jury verdicts, PSR requests and other sentences being missed or incorrectly gathered with knock on consequences for offender managers, the smooth running of the courts and the excellent reputation this team has worked so hard to establish.

Our Admin team has recently been cut with the termination of two temporary contracts leaving our administrator alone to do all the traditional Admin tasks as well as new ones. The team has faced most if not all of these changes and challenges, unsupported by management following Anons departure not long into the New Year. We are being told to do things differently but have so far received little guidance on how to facilitate changes. There has been no formal liaison with the judiciary to provide information on TR and how it will impact on the probation team. All of our health is suffering and I have recently had to admit defeat and take anti-depressant medication in the hope it gives me the mental attitude to survive in the job which I have loved for so many years but no longer recognise. I know others are experiencing similar difficulties but thought it would be worth sending you a perspective from the Crown Court."

Freedom of Information Request

Dear Mr Lawrence,

Thank you for your letter of 16 May, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):

Napo would like to request full details of the results of Test Gates 1-3 insofar as they provide:-

- an assessment of the Trusts' implementation of the new operational processes;

- identification of any areas where action or contingency plans are needed;

- an in-depth understanding of the risk profile for the Department; and

- an assessment of business readiness for 1 June 2014

We are particularly interested in the level of preparedness of multi-trust areas, ICT issues and pay, allowances and other HR data for those transferring to the NPS. Finally we are interested in information relating to staff allocation against predicted caseloads/workloads

Additionally, we request a copy of the terms of contracts upon which expressions of interest have been requested of bidders for each of the CRCs.

Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

I can confirm that the department holds the information you have asked for, and it may be subject to a qualified exemption.

In this case, the information you are seeking is exempt under Section 36(2)(b)(i), Section 36(2)(b)(ii) and Section 36(2)(c) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, as it relates to the free and frank provision of advice; free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation and the prejudice, or potential prejudice to the effective conduct of public affairs.

In line with the terms of this exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, we have to consider whether it would be in the public interest for us to provide you with the information requested despite the exemption being applicable. However, we have not yet reached a decision on the balance of the public interest in this case.

Under Section 10(3) of the Act, we are able to extend the statutory time limit of 20 working days where the information held is exempt under a qualified exemption, and we require more time to consider the balance of the public interest when deciding whether to disclose the information or not.

I consider that it will take an additional 20 working days in order to reach a decision on where the balance of the public interest lies and we plan to provide you with a response by 11 July.

You can find out more about Section 10(3) by reading the extract from the Act and some guidance points we consider when applying this exemption, attached at the end of this letter.

You can also find more information by reading the full text of the Act (available at and further guidance

You have the right to appeal our decision if you think it is incorrect. Details of how you can do so are set out below.

Yours sincerely etc

Justice Unions and Parliamentary Friends

On my way to Brighton shortly to speak at the Unison 2014 Conference Fringe: ‘Public Services not Private Profit’, but just time to quickly report that that we had a really positive meeting of the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group this morning which was also attended by Labour Shadow Minister Jenny Chapman, who, alongside our friends and stalwarts such as John McDonnell and Elfyn Llwyd, have promised to do all that they can to help us keep up the pressure on the Government and Senior Civil Servants about the TR disaster.

Another Early Day Motion has been submitted this week and we have agreed a number of steps that we hope will help to secure a backbench debate before the summer recess and we will be providing another comprehensive briefing for the Justice Committee. This will include the empirical evidence that you are continuing to send us via the inbox. Keep it coming and make sure your MP understands what is happening out there.

Judicial Review

Another pre-protocol letter has been submitted to the Secretary of State and we will be reporting the outcomes from the reply to the NEC and Members as soon as we are able to. As the NEC appreciated at its last meeting, and I have continually reported to members, this is a complicated and high risk route, but one that we intend to exhaust if it becomes clear that the chances of succeeding with a legal intervention are favourable.We will also be speaking with the other unions to see if they will join the party if this turns out to be the case.

That’s another decision for another day but I wanted to let you know that the issue is still ‘live’.

More next week.


  1. two notices from Innovo on the Merseyside Information Centre today saying that their bid is ready for submission and that they are quite confident of success.

    When will the winners be announced??

  2. August is when preferred bidders should be announced. Weirdly enough the MoJ e-sourcing portal for TR today sent out an email saying that the deadline for submission would change from 30/6/2014 to..get this...18/6/2014. At 4pm the system then sent out the automated email saying the competition was now closed!!!

    I can only assume that this is in fact a mistake and that they meant to say change to 18/7/2014 ie an extension of 2 weeks...either that or they've pulled the plug :)

  3. Its good some NAPO questions a little late though focusing on training as they have just de-professionalised a raft of experienced practioners. Insulted the hard pressed and pay frozen increment structure yet seek to recruit at double the pay to wider overseas officers or tell a friend in the advert ! Spend 9 Million on consultants pay off the gagged ex CPOs, publish recruitment that will be for post graduates then place all risk management above any of their considerations in a drive to see us off to non existent competition because the only group left to snap up a deal is the sort of organisation that have no sense of morality and ethical compass.
    I do mean you Sentinel and other USA based provision. PI absolute joke get out stay out and stop the debate NAPO its not good to be in a club then give it authority credibility to then watch it undermine us because someone thought oh what a good idea ill look good with that director title. It is a distraction and another disaster ! I don't need to rehears the reasons why here, other posters have done an excellent job already.

    The real battle that will unite our members in NPS and CRC has been identified a while back and will not go away. I keep saying it and we had better start to work through an agreed national dispute process as the workload outstrips the resources in staff and then outstrips our mental well being. Sickness will jump and the fall back has to be the Workload and employee care agreements set in place under Judys leadership (Greater days) and call to strike action. The agreement is still there. So is the argument of stress and foreseeability. Mike MC dis so much to promote years back that protected many of our members well.

    The GS Blog welcome as it is says little when the real issues are jumping across staff desks allocations transfers held up N-delius totally flawed . Transfer of a case across counties has to go up to NPS across to the other NPS and back down to the other CRC ! No this is not a dream and this is our future !

    Government reshuffle hurry up please. If they move Mr grayling it will be the clearest sign TR will fail as its his mess . Any replacement will stop take stock and delay will see the election resolve it one way or the other. If he stays then we had better get behind something that unites our membership in avid passion to the cause in a way like never before to see him off or he might really well get away with flogging us for nothing as his glare for final victory starts the home run.

    Too many more politely framed questions and offers to appeal in public interest obviously isn't scaring anyone over there !


  4. My view has always been it is the small stuff ( forgive me for referring to members issues thus) that will bring TR down. We seem to have gotten bogged down in the grand gestures and posturing...and it is not working. There are legal challenges to be made and my view is that unions should have focussed upon a number of strong individual test cases. They are there but I am bewildered why this has not been a deliberate strategy.
    a rep

    1. Yes entirely agree with this point anon 20:27 and yet we have had clear intelligent avenues neglected. The Public service duty on equality. The requirements to publish the demograph of staff age gender ethnicity disability, followed by two equality targets to be published and acted on.

      In the incredible employment law twisted and bent out of shape appalling selection procedures of TR There must have been enough examples across the board to illustrate breaches of the equality duty. The identity and make up of the two structures will create a new demography and the minorities will most likely be further undermined and under representative in what is left of public services. Not by choice !

      The incredible Cosop substitution should have been TUPE Not challenged just accepted . The attack on Trade unions and the facility time half time agreement another failure to challenge let alone properly. Largely abandoned yet they are the life of what we are about.

      Now this week we have the negatively skewed enhanced voluntary redundancy deal . Rushed into agreement prior to Christmas ! No gift that deal 7 months on we see expressions of interest sought from a pre determined group. Hardly a proper process as volunteers for the pay off are restricted.

      Only staff over 55 will be able to afford to go as pensions will be restricted. Those who may get in difficulties later on and under 55 will lose out substantially and which groups will this unfairly impact on ? Pre split they had to do a formal risk assessment for equalities prior to the staffing allocation but we all know these were cobbled together out of date and not fit for purpose. It would have been inexpensive to instruct for a decent legal opinion on all of the assessments to see where a basic inequalities' case could be brought . PI was more important though I guess. Still no JR on any front I am surprised grayling has not had some buy him a red carpet !

  5. How about, tomorrow, we tell them all to fuck off?
    Not in so many words although this is obviously down to the individual, but we just knock back PSR's and allocations on the grounds that we are pissed off.
    I'm sooooooooo tired now. Each and every day, non stop keyboard bashing. For what? So my manager can go to the AMM and say he is meeting targets? All is well? Nothing to see here, move along.

    Tomorrow, they can all go and kiss my big hairy arse because I really cannot take any more and there is a very real risk that my manager will be in the 'Removing the keyboard from your arse Ward' of the local hospital by 5pm.

    I anticipate that they will then transfer him to the 'how fucking far is that mouse up your colon Ward' after this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. I share your sentiments, my eyes are going fuzzy I am starting to get dizzy spells and I think my blood pressure must have increased significantly. I feel like I will have to work every minute of the day and weekends for the next few months to catch up with all I have to do. I no longer enjoy my job and am finding it impossible to make the changes that are expected by the TR shit.

      What I also find strange is that there have been over a million comments on this blog and there is not one comment or suggestion that we have been able to use to overthrow TR its incredible, there must be one bright spark who can come up with a useful suggestion, how about you Jim.

    2. Life isn't fair. Politics isn't fair. Shit happens and TR will be defeated by a relentless drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip of endless examples of just how shit it all is until something changes. Probation staff are renowned for patience and persistence.............

    3. Yeah, collectively we tell them to fuck off. But via the Union.
      If only there was some way we could get our Union to act......

      They hold the key to all this and an all out strike, as someone suggested, where we all just sod off home, will kill this whole thing dead.
      What can they do if we are not there to make it work? Not a fucking thing, that's what.

      Still, playing 'hide the sausage' is probably more interesting than listening to your members.

  6. On point 10. "Length of service not showing on Phoenix - again small but important to staff. Why is this seemingly not possible?" - I was advised that the date holding which we can view on the employee service online is our civil service start date, which is obviously 1st June 14, and our continuous service and trust start dates are held on the HR system, just out of our sight, but can be checked with a call to the HR contact centre. Just wanted to share! One less thing to worry about...!

  7. I think there will be a few test cases going through court soon enough but these will be in spite of union support not because of it. Maybe we should be supporting colleagues with their fight, not leaving them to go it alone.