Tuesday, 3 June 2014

TR Reflections Part 1

Monday June 2nd was the first fully operational day of the split that divides probation in two between 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies and a much smaller National Probation Service.

It was the day chosen by Professor Paul Senior, Director of the Hallam Centre for Community Justice, for a mammoth 'twitterthon'. As an outspoken critic of Chris Grayling's plans, during the course of the day and at approximately 5 minute intervals, he tweeted 107 'reflections', one for each of the 107 years that probation has existed as a statutory public service in England and Wales. 

The case for TR demolished in 107 tweets. Here they are, in consolidated form:- 

Probation in existence for 107 years but the govt decided, on no evidence, to slash it in two. From 8 reflections on this every five minutes

1/107: 31 May 2014, 35 probation trusts, after 107 years of public probation was dismantled, split asunder,

2/107: Probation does not deserve this fate nor do the service users who have looked to probation for support, encouragement and change.

3/107: Probation around the world cannot understand the state would want to lease its commitment to justice to an untried & untested system

4/107: It is unsurprising that Grayling is constantly being criticised for his selective attention to evidence. He is a serial offender here

5/107: Probation worked in partnership with the VCS, police, prisons, LAs, health. Will such a cooperative model be possible in the market?

6/107: Today sees the destruction of probation after 107 years. Tomorrow what will it bring? I worry for staff, service users and the public

7/107: IOM has begun to show an impact on ‘revolving door’ service users changes will destabilise an initiative which has shown such promise

8/107: If ‘custody plus’ was too expensive can the stat supn of all u12 month people released from prison really be cost free? What must go?

9/107: The cost of prison is (3.2 billion) and probation (800m) The best way to reduce costs is to stop the overuse of prison. Too simple?

10/107: The commitment to innovation and reducing reoffending is part of the DNA of probation Why not utilise that not denigrate/destroy it?

11/107: Probation’s mantra was ‘advise, assist and befriend’now recognised that believing in someone a key element in desistance ideas.

12/107: Probation staff do a difficult, thankless job with quiet authority, commitment and a sense of vocation. Cannot put a price on that!

13/107: Probation is being split in two today but its still PUBLIC for now. Now is the time to stop and not risk public safety any further.

14/107: FACT: Probation Trusts have consistently shown a reduction in reoffending of clients under community orders. Makes sense to get rid?

15/107: FACT: Probation Trusts have strong local partnerships and understand local communities! Let’s ditch that expertise then!

16/107: FACT: Probation Trusts have consistently performed well by any measure of government standards! That counts for nothing then!

17/107: Peer mentoring has a real contribution to make to support people but its part of a range of interventions not one size fits all!

18/107: The need for a probation qualification framework to build on the excellent probation qualifying training could not be more urgent!

19/107: If you were a change management expert would you attempt to use an untried, untested system nationwide without any piloting? Folly!

20/107: TR rides roughshod over the lives of probation workers and treats with disdain rights of victims and communities for public safety

21/107: Massive risk to public safety with staff shortages, demoralised staff, complex bureaucratic allocations systems and so much more.

22/107: HISTORY: Probation staff have always shown professionalism, expertise, dedication and care. Why destroy that culture. It works!

23/107: Probation staff care, that’s in their job description, have government cared enough about them? Stress levels dangerously high!

24/107: Government pressed forward with plans to reform probation despite strong resistance from practitioners, clients and communities

25/107: HISTORY: probation has been innovative and changed its practice over the century in response to evidence and research.

26/107: A pause, a rethink, even an abandonment of the current TR competition must be put in place to avoid a disaster. Not too late!

27/107: HISTORY: The death knell of rehabilitation was sounded by Martinson in 1974 but probation continued to believe and find solutions.

28/107: QUOTE: ‘The early days of What Works was fed by a culture of curiosity!’ (Peter Raynor, 2012) Bottom up innovation practitioner-led!

29/107: HISTORY: It seems to have been conveniently forgotten that the last attempt to impose National Probation,2001 was an abysmal failure

30/107: Desistance theories offer the social glue for practice to shape effective supervision. Probation were integrating this already!

31/107: The implementation of complex new systems without piloting, staging and insufficient time to embed is risky, dangerous and foolhardy

32/107: We know that if the contracts are not let before the election labour with @sadiqkhan will not implement. Don’t give up yet!

33/107: To support probation is not to say its got everything right but it has a culture of social justice which cannot be replaced!

34/107: Voluntary sector play a vital role in justice services but it is complementary to statutory probation services not a replacement.

35/107: Incentivisation to achieve high quality practice is not just associated with cash but in probation staff is linked to vocationalism.

36/107: If you were implementing change of this scale would it not be sensible and safer to do it in stages. Can this change avoid mistakes?

37/107: QUOTE: ‘Era of market triumphalism has coincided with time when public discourse was empty of moral and spiritual substance’ Sandel.

: HISTORY: The death knell of rehabilitation was sounded by Martinson in 1974 but probation continued to believe and find solutions.
38/107: QUOTE: ‘If probation is a morally significant activity... it requires a competent, critical and reflective workforce!’ Steve Collett.

39/107: No example exists of a probation service across the globe organised in the manner suggested by TR!

40/107: The sheer organisational complexity that will result from the pace TR is being implemented will jeopardize operational efficacy.

41/107: Probation has been hugely successful over the past decade in terms of kite marks, reductions in reoffending and worker satisfaction.

42/107: Probation practice capability has never been so extensive, evidence-based and high quality. Why jeopardise this?

43/107: Trusts avoids arbitrary patchwork of provision creating fragmentation, loss of continuity of care which must heighten risk.

44/107: NPS is an uncertain home for the institution of probation. No practice independence in a command and control structure of NOMS.

45/107: This rush to change ignores the golden thread inherent in the 2007 OM Act which was the public sector management of all offenders.

46/107: Contracting is a threadbare model of accountability and government does not have a good track record in managing public contracts.

47/107: Many of the gains of the last decade are under threat in the next few months: offender engagement, IOM, RJ, peer mentoring, CBT.

48/107: Research provides case studies demonstrating that speed of change can undermine and derail even well-meaning implementation plans.

49/107: The MoJ’s own risk assessment suggests an 80% risk of an unacceptable drop in operational performance. Who will pick up the mess?

50/107: In a sound bite world probation is not a sound bite organisation. Staff just do the job quietly and with professionalism.

51/107: I feel for probation staff today. Set against each other, working across the same rooms but feeling like different jobs and worlds.

52/107: Chaotic clients do not deal with arrangements easily how difficult will it be when probation has been thrown apart, who will guide?

53/107: Many current providers will not become partners as there is a real danger that smaller local VCS organisations will simply lose out.

54/107: The rump of the old probation service is being rebadged into a new National Probation Service. Where will it get its identity?

55/107: It will be hard for the NPS to retain a meaningful local presence. More staff will become peripatetic and have to travel further.

56/107: The key skills in the NPS will be those of brokerage and allocation - risk assess, write reports and manage high risk.

57/107: QUOTE: ‘Main focus of police court missionaries was much more akin to detached community work with socially excluded' McWilliams,1983

(More to follow in part two) 


  1. Paul Senior = Hero

  2. Probation staff are the heroes. Standing up to the bullying tactics of an uncaring and out of touch justice for profit Ministry who cannot see a good thing when it stares them in the face. Probation is still public for now keep fighting!

    1. Brilliant Paul thank you

    2. Thank you Paul
      Nearly 38 years in

  3. Look like Chris 'Midas Touch' Grayling has got it wrong again. Costs appear to have doubled!!:

    • We dispense the people's justice, but it isn't easy. Some who come before us speak other languages, so interpreters play an important role here. Therein lies a problem. Last year, MPs castigated the Ministry of Justice for its "shambolic" handling of the court translation contract, which was given to Capita. Interpreters failed to turn up, leading to the cancellation of trials, and others turned up but botched the job. Since then, the news has continued to be sorrowful. Last week it was said that the cost to the taxpayer of hiring court interpreters has almost doubled to £15.5m in just one year. The quality hardly seems to have risen in step, though ministers claim "dramatic improvements" with more work undertaken and big privatisation savings for the taxpayer. Tell that to the judge. One man, charged with perverting the course of justice was accused – via the interpreter – of being a "pervert".

    • Funny until it isn't, and the president of the family division, Sir James Munby, has had enough. Last week, when attention was focused on the elections and Ukip, Ukip, Ukip, he raised a voice. Hats off to the law site suesspiciousminds for noticing. Munby presided over a custody case that required a Slovak interpreter. A "very sad case", he called it. The interpreter failed to show, and when he complained he learned truths so shocking that he detailed them in the judgment. He learned that Capita took the government's money to provide the interpreter, farmed out the work and could eschew liability if the translator didn't turn up. That if it had to cancel, it could do so as late as 2pm on the day before the hearing, at which point it would often be impossible to find a replacement. And that on the day of his ruined hearing, Capita had only 29 suitably qualified Slovak language interpreters when it needed 39 to meet its obligations. So much for the supremacy of the market.

    • Takes a lot to make a top judge go public, but Munby didn't mince his words. "Whether the underlying causes are to be found in the nature of the contract between the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty's Courts translation services or whoever and Capita, or in the nature of the contract between Capita and the interpreters it retains, or in the sums paid respectively to Capita and its interpreters, or in an inadequate supply of interpreters (unlikely one might have thought in a language such as Slovak), I do not know. We need to find out." Something for Chris Grayling to crack on with, one would think. Wouldn't like to see him hauled before the beak.

  4. Reports are coming in thin & fast of Delius issues all around the Country. It's a flip-in joke & we are supposed to be a professional organisation. Social services contacted me for some risk information relating to an offender. I couldn't access the records because case previously was NPS.

    1. ETE and UPW and colleagues in CRC - not able to access NDelius to write casenotes up if they see NPS clients, so they have to email it through to officer who then has to copy and paste. however you cant access the drop down boxes for the CRC staff. The odd one may not sound much but when u get a number of these and also we have to do the letters as CRC can't access the case- time wasted/duplicated soon mounts up.

      Courts team cant start up cases on Ndelius. Breach officer can't enter breach feedback.

      NPS in our office are feeling overwhelmed. We still have CRC cases as CRC are waiting for more staff. Meanwhile we have lost two POs who are going to other posts, one PSO is on loan two days per week to the adjoining county ( as our city and that county are now one LDU) due to long term sickness. At the team meeting today most of spoke about how overwhelmed we are feeling.
      I have already had a stress assessment about two weeks ago which indicates urgent action is needed. I am waiting for my CRC cases to be taken away and I have an OHA next week. The way I feel right now is that I would go to my GP and if he offered me a sick note, I could easily accept it. The only thing that is stopping me is the impact it would have on my workmates/colleagues and that I won't let Mr G beat me

    2. Programmes teams also unable to access NPS NDelius to input information.

      Also, if any contact is made about an NPS case to a CRC officer i.e. if they used to manage them and information is required. Unable to record what was said on NDelius and just have to be hopeful that the NPS officer records the contact. Not really good enough - CRC staff need their own record of the case to evidence what was said and to whom. What are we meant to do, wait a few years until the case comes back to CRC then update the contacts ourselves?!?! ;-)

  5. Just so people don't forget. Probation may NOT be sold to the highest bidder!!!

    It's just as likely to be the lowest!!

  6. In case it's been over looked ( I certainly sem to be the only one talking about it), Sally Lewis spoke out openly against TR in radio interviews. I presume she'd been gagged until now and its late in the day, but for someone in her position to say Probation wasn't broke and didn't need fixing is, in my view, a big deal.

  7. Sally is someone with great integrity and will be sorely missed. So many good people lost to the cause!

  8. Assigned to CRC was one of the biggest blows many of us have felt in Probation. How demeaned I felt today when I could not access a PSR I was writing because on the first adjournment it went to someone in the NPS. Then when looking for reports in the drop down menu I think all assigned CRC staff have no option for it. Only a few days ago I could access it all to do my job properly. I felt physically sick and my feeling was shred with many. We have well and truly been SHAFTED. Worst of all management all seem to be on board with this nonsense, I wish Grayling would take a hard look at the system he is trying to devise and see how utterly CRAP it is, not fit for purpose, and the human value and feelings are immeasurable. BASTART BULLY.

    1. Press your IT dept for dual access.The more pressure for this the better

  9. It would be poetic justice if Grayling would be sifted into being a clerical worker and he had no access to all the money grabbing private companies.

  10. We had our first nps team meeting today. We had someone from shared services Noms to discuss stuff about HR matters. We have to book our own hire cars now through this 'shared services site'. I asked questions about taxis, travel warrants or bus vouchers which we used to book or obtain from our business support officer who is based in our office (who is now CRC). It was clear that this was something that had not been thought of as they were not able to answer instead they stated they would have to check and get back to us

  11. Doing away with management meetings in my CRC, in favour of CRC 'huddles'.

    1. I wish they would do away with CRC.

  12. No cases allocated to the CRC since the split cos they can't - computer says no.
    All the UPW hours have dispeared too

    1. Addresses disappeared too to be replaced by random / old addresses. Shambles.

  13. Yes - the do it yourself service that is - shared NPS services - not only are we overwhelmed with reports, deadlines, and a serious lack of information coming to us in relation to those reports or the IT we are now supposed to pick up with ease, all whilst IT briefings are being delivered to all grades of staff on the basis that we know what's going on, they may as well be using hieroglyphics as a learning tool.

    Our Business Manager and Finance dept used to do all the 'support tasks' ie travel warrants, (now you need to complete a form) they would book/hire cars via a local service, (now you have to book your own)..the labourious excel time sheets - oh and check this new system, if you can follow the instructions, have in fact got your bank details correct by 10/6/2014 or you won't get paid. Phoenix and Firefox - I have always thought of as good names for race horses, now they join, Lotus Notes, Oli, Epic, nDelus, Oasys and and the rest of the bureaucracy,they were supposed to replace and/or improve.

    Oh and Anon at 22:33 - don't press your IT dept for dual access - why put yourself out to make this work and remember come the sell off - CRC;s will not be a Public Service and therefore have no more right to access sensitive information than Charlotte's Ice Cream Parlour.

  14. I did my BA Hons Community Justice at Sheffield Hallam University and the course leader was a stunning man by the name of Dave Phillips. The course was a refreshing insight into the core values of probation and the lecturers were former probation officers in most cases. It's nice to see them voicing their disquiet as an academic underpinning helps. Bravo to Professor Paul Senior.

  15. I'm assessed as being a known person at high risk of serious harm from a previous case. I'm now working for the CRC. I looked to see what information the team would be able to see about this person: it is nothing.

    I have a good Team Manager.,Now nobody is allowed past our secure reception area unless we fully know the risk they present.

  16. I received an email welcoming me to the NPS... I'm CRC ... Omnishambles.

    1. Maybe you got mine! Am NPS and did not get the promised email. The call to report this takes forever. Personal information has been recorded incorrectly. Office chaotic because no one nps or crc is able to access the info they need on ndelius. What a farce. Goes to show Grayling in his ignorance has NO IDEA WHAT WE DO or HOW we have been doing it as an AWARD WINNING PUBLIC SERVICE. Watch the SFOs roll in. Currently 450 - 500 per year apor I understand. That figure needs monitoring. What a despicable way to treat human beings.