Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tired and Emotional

How are we going to stop all this? Everything we write on this blog doesn't seem to have any impact on this whole thing. It feels like its took a life of its own and we are powerless to stop it despite our efforts. 

Has everyone posted their letters or else we will have to go to plan 2 which is a walk out. I am ready, had enough waiting for my VR, I cannot do this job no longer, I feel as if I am having the life sucked out of me by delius and by those newly appointed managers who are trying to make a name for themselves BASTARDS.

I detect a real weariness amongst staff at the start of week three of the TR omnishambles, together with growing irritation and anger between colleagues. There's certainly a lot to get angry about and I share the frustration that nothing seems to be happening to bring the whole pack of cards down. 

But my answer is quite straightforward and the intention is to just keep on highlighting the folly and cataloguing the inevitable disaster as it evolves. The evidence cannot be ignored for ever. We have a just case and we all know that this TR omnishambles will have to be sorted out some other way. 

The clock is ticking inexorably towards the General Election next year and those contracts are proving mightily difficult to sort out. Bidders all read this blog and sense the MoJ hasn't a clue about our work because they never have answers to the myriad questions put to them. This is a project with a fixed end date. Just like the Olympic Games, it is not a movable feast and cannot be put off because we know for definite when the election will be. 

There is no way all this crap can be sorted, bidders placated, IT systems made to work etc in the time frame and especially with this degree of recalcitrance amongst the work force. In my view the defeat of TR will be hastened by hundreds of small individual actions along the lines of the last few months and in order to assist that process, this blog will be here to provide but one vehicle alongside others on the web and elsewhere.  

I notice the following has gone out to London Napo members recently:-   


Members may be interested in this letter which I received today from Ian Lawrence, NAPO General Secretary, in response to my concerns about the letter I received from Heather Munro on her last day as Chief Executive of London Probation Trust.

Pat Waterman
Branch Chair

13th June 2014
Dear Pat,

I write further to our earlier e-mail exchanges and your recent discussion with Sarah Friday Napo’s Link Official for London. Having now heard back from Sarah, I am happy to try and clarify Napo’s views about the letter from the former LPT Chief Executive Heather Munroe’s to you on 30th May 2014 and to confirm why Napo asked all of our Branch Chairs to undertake the action that gave rise to that response.


On the 20th May Tania Bassett, Napo National Official Press, Parliament and Campaigns asked by way of ‘BR62-2014 (URGENT/ACTION Model Letter from Branches) for all Branch Chairs to write to their Chief Executive, and to copy this letter to all local MP’s and to Ursula Brennan, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

This specific task was part of the Napo campaign plan, as unanimously agreed at the Napo National Executive Committee meeting in April, which was designed to highlight our concerns about the implementation of TR. Especially focussing on the impact it was (and indeed still is) having on staff, workloads and public safety and to evidence our view (then and now) that neither the CRCs nor the NPS across the whole of the Probation Service, were business ready for the 1st June split.

I would certainly agree that Heather Munro’s response to the letter was, much to my surprise, outwardly personal in its nature and appeared to be vindictive towards you and your BEC colleagues. I have to say that we have not encountered this type of response to our letter from any other former Chief Executives.

Obviously, there was insufficient time before the Trust was decommissioned for any of us to try and understand or challenge the rationale behind the response, but nevertheless I wanted to take this opportunity to reassure you that in my view, the Napo London Branch has made considerable efforts to represent Napo’s interests in respect of this important aspect of the national campaign, and I do not consider that the steps taken by yourself and colleagues has in any way brought the service into disrepute.

I am pleased to hear that you and the BEC are currently in the process of building a good working relationship with Nick Smart, Chief Executive Officer of the London Community Rehabilitation Company and Sara Robinson, Deputy Director, National Probation Service-London.

I am more than happy if you wish to circulate this letter to your members.

Yours sincerely,

General Secretary

I saw this on Facebook and it made me smile:-


  1. Yes, well done PW! She's been a stalwart at looking after the interests of london members. As for the former CEO, I've no idea what she did. She certainly did nothing to look after my interests or those of any colleagues I know.

  2. probation officer17 June 2014 at 08:43

    TR cannot be stopped. Probation has already been split and the sell-off will only be delayed by the election. TR was slowed down by the governments own incompetence, nothing else. Either we make do with our lot or we move on, that's our options. For the record all the blogging, tweeting, striking, moaning, etc, amounts to nothing. And Those silly posters achieved nothing, I saw Pat Waterman's "protest" outside capita plc and it was pathetic, but at least they didn't sing happy birthday. Hearts in the right place but Napo's whole approach has been less than professional.

    1. With (absolutely minimal) respect, the split is no different to the creation of Trusts. It was sold as a new beginning but, in the end, nothing much happened. Custody Plus, nothing. C-NOMIS, nothing. Governments will try hard not to do u-turns but they regularly peter out.

    2. probation oficer 08:43 It is of course easy to be a wise commentator in retrospect without actually having to leave the comfort of your armchair. Doom and gloom merchants are two a penny and in open plan offices they often find themselves in a corner near a window where they cannot contaminate too may people with their negativity. PW et al on the other hand are out there doing positive things and engaging in any number of different activities and occasionally some of these provide light relief and are fun (not all) others of a more serious nature will ensure -at the very least- that the best is made of a bad deal. In the picture you refer to they were following national campaign instructions that came from a members suggestion.

      You are naive to imagine that all resistance and activism is futile and just because it is difficult to see the point or is in your view pathetic. You talk about lack of professionalism yet those who are, including myself, see a well managed campaign at local level appealing to carefully targeted groups and increasing awareness of the issues and campaigning activity. In saying nothing works you are actually doing the MoJs PR departments job for them and your rationale plays into the hands of the neoliberal spin-doctors who would herald you as a convert to their cause.

      What is 'pathetic' is to criticise without feeling able to make constructive comment that might move the debate forward.

    3. We are fooling ourselves if we think the sell off is not going to happen. best hope is that it doesn't happen everywhere. Do not trust Labour / coalition govt to turn any of this back. I was a PO in the 80s and 90's and well remember the hope that Labour would roll back private prisons. They did not and actually laid the foundation for the position we now find ourselves in. Neo-liberal views prevail in Govt and the UK as a whole so far as I can see.

    4. Blimey probation Officer you are wrong ?

      If indeed you are an officer ? Up to a point we all hope its not going to be a sell off to any bidder at any cost cutting price. Yet collectively we are all agitating voicing concerns and making it clear this situation is not going to achieve any of the Grayling claims.

      Some staff report to me their work feels largely unchanged NPS yet those in CRC working through transfers and suchlike can see the total disaster and additional process to do what were common place simple and well tested paths.

      Those posters you refer to are dedicated people, who obviously have energy and feel the need to demonstrate in ways that inspire and give others hope. It keeps morale up and why would you knock them ?

      Pat W needs no defence she can do all that for herself but She is defending all of us and by her attendance anywhere Pat is promoting the cause getting the message out and generating conversation. In that you slate her I think you highlight just what being a good activist is about, campaigning against all the doubters and critics like yourself Pat was there on members behalf's.

      You will struggle long and hard to find someone on this site to agree with you. Lets all work on to ensure you are wrong !


  3. With reference to my piece on Grayling's lies, I have now sent it to all Lib Dem and Labour MPs and intend to send to Conservative MPs as well, as we need to break down the MOJ's wall of silence. I also sent it to some of the media and there has been interest in pursuing the story from two major organisations, so I agree with Jim completely that the evidence cannot be ignored forever, and hundreds of small individual actions will make a difference. We must carry on fighting and please don't give up, probation officer at 08.43!

  4. Keeping going with a campaign is the only viable alternative to collusion with TR as the omnishambles intensifies.

    Latest contradiction of which I am aware is that despite Probation Trusts having been decommissioned at least the CEOs remain employed and according to Joe Kuipers, the Boards also in place until July, at least. Can you clarify legal situation and also whether probation officers continue to be 'officers of the courts' and the legal consequence for clients, the judiciary and the public of the current unclear status, especially for CRC workers who seem employed by the MOJ rathet than as previously on behalf of the MOJ?

    1. Interesting and unanswered question, as a CRC SPO get the feeling no one is too concerned about clarifying the legal status of PO as officer of the court, seems a key point what is position of a company wholly owned by the state.

    2. CRC handbook said whilst CRC owned by the government pos can legally write psrs but shouldn't and that upon share sale legally prohibited from writing psrs.

    3. The issue is not about writing reports for a court, that is a management issue and also an issue for a court who is called to give evidence.

      I hope Courts will realise they are allowed to seek information from anywhere to aid their decision making and I hope it becomes common practice for Defence advocates and courts to require probation practitioners to give evidence about clients they have been supervising.

      At that point managements might thing it is after all good practice for actual supervisors to offer to submit written progress reports rather than have staff spend long periods attending court - although in my view current supervisors should always attend, as I learned in training and in my confirmation year on Merseyside unless otheractivity needs to take greater priority.

      The issue about the status of probation officers in CRCs & the NPS about whether they are an officer of the court or not is a wider issue.

      In actual fact I believe, whether or not anything is actually stated about this ALL probation workers with direct responsibilities for work with probation clients are actually officers of the court and owe their first loyalty to the court because whether or not they are writing a PSR, supervising any person who is subject to a court order, be that defendant, community order client, prisoner or post release prisoner the work is all being done in consequence of an order made by a court, not an order made by the MOJ (they set conditions to parole etc.) or their employer be that a CRC or ultimately the MOJ.

      I hope this is clarified in a legal statement obtained on behalf of probation workers, possibly by the unions or employers, otherwise it will just be a case of dealing with matters case by case with regard to the precise court order made in each case.

      I am particularly concerned about the Rehabilitation Activity Requirements of the ORA 2014, yet to be implemented, Section 15, because my reading of it suggests that a commercial company, or even the MOJ is empowered to set conditions NOT the sentencing court, this seems totally wrong to me.


    4. Legal provisions regarding role of officers of the court are, in my reading of 91, 03 & 07 Acts, the ONLY reason the 'new' NPS exists. If he could I'm certain CSG would have sold the lot. But legal definitions cover those who provide information to the courts and other bodies, e.g. parole board, prison boards. I suspect CSG had advice that re-defining those roles was a step too far - for now. He's probably got a team of interns and spads working on that as we reel from the ongoing bullshit tgat is TR.

  5. Off topic, but a good read if you hold the opinion (as I do), that Grayling has no regard, and little knowledge of all the sweeping changes and reforms he's implemented, all based on his 'crystal ball' gut feeling.


    1. Much has been made of the Prime Minister’s recent praise for Magna Carta but as always with David Cameron, the proof is in the pudding. His actions as Prime Minister expose his words as the sentiments and platitudes that they really are.

      Paying lip service to the principles of Magna Carta is all we can expect from a coalition government that has, in the person of its Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling, done more to undermine the rule of law and the operation of the legal system than any in modern times.

      His failure to manage the brief is near total. He has presided over the dismantling of civil and now criminal legal aid, the privatisation of the probation service, chaos in the courtrooms, an overcrowding crisis in our prisons, expansion of secret courts, attacks on human rights and restrictions on access to justice for victims and those of limited means.

      And what next?

      The Criminal Justice & Courts Bill represents the coup de grace. A frontal assault on the key legal remedy of judicial review. The cumulative effect of the proposals in this Bill – alongside new fees, cuts in Legal Aid and shorter time limits – is to hobble the principle method by which the administrative court can prevent unlawful conduct by the state in the way it – in all its manifestations – makes decisions.

      One of the 17 experts who gave evidence to the Bill Committee memorably described the government’s proposals for judicial review as a constitutional provocation. 16 of the 17 opposed them outright. The 17th, the head of planning for Taylor Wimpey UK, did support them, but slightly undermined his case by confessing "I have only had sight of the Bill…and I am attending at late notice".

      It is not surprising that the secretary of state could find no one qualified to support his position, which is based as usual on his gut instinct, that judicial review is being used to defeat government policy for political reasons. He elaborated on his belief that judicial review is "a promotional tool for countless left-wing campaigners" in a widely-panned op-ed for the Daily Mail.

      Again with Grayling the evidence just is not there to support his gut. Judicial review is essential for holding the executive to account when they get it wrong or even worse. For example when the High Court and Appeal Court ruled against the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt when he tried to close Lewisham Hospital A&E, it was judicial review that revealed he had acted unlawfully. Speaking afterwards, Rosa Curling, who represented the Save Lewisham Hospital campaign group in their case said that, “the decision to dismiss the appeal also reaffirms the need for judicial review, a legal process by which the unlawful decisions of public bodies, including the government, can be challenged by the public.”

    2. This is why it is so important we completely oppose any attempt to water down and restrict judicial review. We need to see it preserved as an essential check on executive power.

      Under these changes, the true purpose of judicial review, to hold the state to account, may be severely weakened if not lost. This is an extraordinary position for a Lord Chancellor to take. Chris Grayling is the first non-lawyer to hold the post of Lord Chancellor in over 300 years, but he needs to brush up his British constitutional history.

      Now that the Education Secretary Michael Gove has stopped the circulation of the Prime Minister’s copies of Magna Carta to schools, there must be a lot lying around in Downing Street.

      Next time the Lord Chancellor is there he should read a copy. He will find the memorable words: ‘we will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either justice or right’.

      Upholding the rule of law, allowing the citizen to challenge the state and other powerful interests, is at the heart of our constitution. Judicial review became in the twentieth century a powerful tool for effecting those rights. It is this that the government now seeks to fetter. David Cameron lauds Magna Carta but it is his government that is undermining its greatest legacies.

      Andy Slaughter is Labour MP for Hammersmith and a shadow justice minister

  6. I think the Ministry of Justice is becoming an independent state with Grayling as the self appointed monarch.


    1. The Ministry of Justice has refused to pay compensation to Victor Nealon, the former postman who was wrongly imprisoned for 17 years before being freed on appeal last December.

      Nealon was convicted in January 1997 of the attempted rape of a woman leaving a nightclub in Redditch, Worcestershire, and was not paroled because he consistently denied the offence.

      Despite judges having decided the conviction was unsafe, Nealon's application for compensation under the statutory scheme has been turned down. The MoJ told Nealon's lawyers that the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, had reviewed the information and "concluded that your client has not suffered a miscarriage of justice as defined by section 133 of the 1988 Act".

      Mark Newby of Jordans solicitors, who fought for Nealon's release, said they would be seeking a judicial review of the decision. He said: "It's a nonsense. At the end of the day, his conviction was quashed on the basis that someone else was responsible, so why should he not be entitled to compensation?"

      Nealon is now living in temporary accommodation in Birmingham, where he has been since being suddenly discharged from the category A Wakefield prison in December. He said: "I'm still picking up the pieces of my life. My fight isn't over. It's going to take years."

      The Criminal Cases Review Commission finally referred Nealon's case to the court of appeal in 2013, after accepting his legal team's argument that DNA traces from a single, unknown male on the 22-year-old victim's clothing may have come from the attacker. The court of appeal ruled that had the jury been aware of DNA evidence, as well as weaknesses in the identification evidence, "it could well have led to the appellant's acquittal".

  7. I really hate grayling.. I've had a really awful day re a case xfrd to me .. Released from prison not happy re various issues .. Case was xfrd amongst others that I've had no time to get my head around. Other issues meant there could have potentially been a very risky situation ...

    1. I hate him too the man is an imbecile and horrible creature that's making my life a misery. He is the human version of delius, difficult, doesn't retain information, makes things up, doesn't listen, lies and makes me want to vomit.

      17 June 2014 21:34

    2. Ha ha . What a brilliant analogy

    3. I certainly do not think Grayling is an imbecile - even though that legal definition was repealed many years ago. Clearly he does not understand probation or the operation of a criminal justice system, but he is (perhaps) not actually responsible for what he understands or the position he has in government. My real animosity is directed toward the Prime Minister for appointing him and his cabinet - LibDems and Conservatives who agree to serve in office when such impracticable and dangerous CJS policies are being progressed and further for every member of parliament, MPs & Peers who support the Government in office.

  8. DTV CRC staff conference today, expensive hotel, over 200 staff, focus on volunteers managing our offenders, they were praised, not the staff. Keith Norman stating the bleeding obvious, he should manage my 97 offenders instead of selling us down the river. Keep sending stories of chaos to every local MP and stop working beyond hours, remember this is Grayling's time now.

    1. Been doing that for the past 6 weeks (as the staff in Crustys will testify). I agree though, much said, little learned. Well, I did learn something but to put it on here could be seen as Libel although I feel that you know who already knows that she's a you know what.

    2. All management have sold us out, the way they have treated staff is appalling, they have had no regard for us and the hard work we do which has got them into positions where they are being praised, whilst we are all an inconvenience. Bring on the VR's.

  9. You can always just give Graylings contact details to offenders who 'may have questions you cannot answer'.


    Obvioulsy there is a very very very small chance some offenders may cause mischief with his email.

    Now that would be a shame;)

  10. Grayling bangs on about getting rid of the human rights act. He's sick he says of people using their right to a family life to exploit their possition and circumnavigate government policies. But look at this. Hes using the same act he moans about so much to try to implement his own policies.
    You couldn't make it up!