Wednesday, 4 June 2014

TR Reflections Part 2

This is the second batch of consolidated tweets from Professor Paul Senior, published by him on the first operational day of TR and as part of his mammoth 'tweetathon'. 

58/107: We are in danger of turning the clock to 1930s when there were mutuals and voluntaries failing to provide a universal service.

59/107: The loss of expertise of probation staff exiting probation is one if the most serious, avoidable but damaging outcomes of the change.

60/107: Can a small agency like probation afford to lose 13 out of its 35 chief execs in a single action, just like 17 chiefs left in 2001.

61/107: Probation has successfully reduced re-offending by 8% over the last 8 years why would you not look at that success and learn from it.

62/107: HISTORY: probation staff have been attacked by different governments for the last 40 years can it survive this attack?

63/107: IOM is a cooperative model with agencies pooling resources, working together to reduce offending. Will competition stifle such work?

64/107: How will staff maintain their skills if their work is restricted by risk category and agency allocation? Expertise will be lost.

65/107: There is no example worldwide of a probation organisation being shaped in the manner being suggested for England and Wales.

66/107: Surely the cultural differences between sectors will make it difficult for probation to function as a commodity!

67/107: Does no one find it ironic that probation is revered around the world and yet govt is busy dismantling this world rated service!

68/107: Can anyone do probation practice? Is it not a unique profession with extensive knowledge, experiences and crucially values!

69/107: Resettlement prisons are at the core of the TR process but inspectorate reported on poor quality of offender management in prison.

70/107: Did practitioners through National Standards become too office-bound and struggle to maintain their historic links to communities?

71/107: The dynamics of risk management are complex and professional judgment is a taken-for-granted set of high level skills staff provide.

72/107: Static characterisations of risk as low, medium and high fails to highlight the complexity and risk of fragmentation in new split.

73/107: When parliament’s own committees, Justice Select and Public Accounts sound severe warning notes should the government not listen?

74/107: There is no doubt that private providers will bring organisational skills but can they get inside what probation really is?

75/107: Many academics have spoken against these changes and no one has come out in favour. Rarely is there that level of agreement??

76/107: When I speak to probation staff they just want to do the job well as they have done for years. Why have they been treated so badly?

77/107: The public utterances of Ministers have betrayed a deep ideological commitment to outsourcing outwith any recognition of the facts!

78/107: In forty years working in and around the probation service I have never been so disillusioned and fearful for its survival as today.

79/107: In the history of probation Jim’s blog On Probation will be long remembered for its accurate and ceaseless portrayal of TR.

80/107: There are many reports of the failure of IT and breakdown in info exchange, won’t this complex, fragmented change exacerbate this?

81/107: BJCJ provided a rich evidence which concluded TR is too risky, dangerous and should be abandoned.

82/107: Making all prisoners subject to statutory release is likely to increase the prison population rather than what is intended!

83/107: If you know a member of the probation service go across and hug them today they need it!

84/107: No agency could have done more than probation to satisfy government criticisms over the last decade with little benefit or plaudit!

85/107: Probation training is a high quality intensive programme which produces staff fit for purpose. Make sure it is retained!

86/107: Rumours abound that Grayling is to leave the justice ministry after all he has recidivist record for failing his ministerial briefs!

87/107: The history books will write that this set of changes under TR was the biggest mistake in the history of criminal justice policy.

88/107: Affirmation of the values of mutual responsibility and respect between probation and service users will be threatened under TR.

89/107: The social exclusion of people through incarceration reduces the chances of their reintegration yet prison still centre of policy.

90/107: Community service has delivered a socially useful and appropriate court sanction whatever its re-naming. Probation do it well!

91/107: 60% of offenders sentenced to short term custody will reoffend within one year yet no attempt to reduce the reliance on its use.

92/107: Voluntary nature of IOM has been seen as positive by clients and likely to increase engagement and compliance!

93/107: QUOTE: ‘fragmentation in supervision would increase the complexity of infor exchange and fracture the continuity’ Glos PCC, 2013.

94/107: The potential development of multiple cultures in different orgns will produce silos and undo all the work done to join up justice.

95/107: Whatever the qualities of the new providers their bottom line will be to manage the expectations of their shareholders!

96/107: How will poor practice be monitored? Can the Institute provide leadership to protect the standards of these myriad agencies?

97/107: When you pull away the veneer underpinning TR it is about policy driven evidence not evidence informed policy!

98/107: PBR has always produced gaming and there is no reason that the same will not happen again. Its for public consumption only!

99/107: Most of the prescriptions for change probation would have endorsed it disagreed almost totally on the mechanisms to achieve them.

100/107: Trusts were accountable bodies, integrated with providers, locally sensitive and comprehensive. Makes sense to get rid of them then.

101/107: What are implications for professional freedom of probation staff in the NPS becoming civil servants? Corporate silencing the norm!

102/107: The likely site of probation culture and history is in the CRCs! We need to make them work for us to avoid their privatisation.

103/107: Epitaph - ’in the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends’. (Martin Luther King Jnr).

104/107: The temptation is to leave and walk away and yet, and yet, our service users still will need probation and you.

105/107: I have lived through over a third of history of probation and believe without proviso that a just state must have public probation.

106/107: The hollowing out of the state experienced by multiple outsourcing is an indictment of our commitment to social justice.

107/107: In this final tweet I call upon everyone to continue to fight these changes, we are not done yet, let’s make our views count.


  1. Funnily enough we can't access this blog from our work internet for some reason... I wonder why...

    I cannot believe how badly and ineptly these changes have been implemented - the procedures are not in place or badly-thought through, Delius seems to have been updated to make it more difficult to use, there is no clear communication, no clear leadership, no clear direction or idea of what the f**k we are meant to be doing - both on the CRC and NPS sides.

    Shared Services and Phoenix are pretty to look at but crap computer systems - have tried to book a hire car for two days only to be told that I cannot as the local Enterprise is all booked out. Yet our office's two pool cars (now CRC owned) are sat unused in the car park.

    It's a Towering Inferno of a f**k-up, and nobody has any extinguishers.

  2. Well I can top that. Overheard two manager speaking today and it appears that Court staff will be required to complete FDR's on DV perps. This (and the RSR) will be completed without having any additional information from Social Services or Police given that it is normally a 90 minute stand down by the Court and clearly insufficient time to gather information.

    The case will then be dumped on the CRC as the scoring will be well below the 7.1 for NPS!! Given that over 95% of cases are going to the CRC and they are clearly overworked to start with, what do you fancy the chances of a full background check being immediately done?

    Joe or Jane Blogs will be seen for their first appointment and sent home to live with partners/children who might be at risk from them.

    How fuxxxxing scary is that!!

    1. Stan's gran4 June 2014 at 19:36

      As a Court Officer this is 'fuxxxxing scary'. I cannot see either me or my colleagues putting their name to a risk assessment without being fully aware of the facts which inform risk. But, even with knowledge of DV or risks to children, you do know this has little bearing on the RSR tool?

    2. Experience suggests that unless you're Fred West (or Chris Grayling) you have no chance of being allocated to the NPS.
      I feel sorry for the number of cases going from Court to the CRC, especially when I see how overworked they are at present.

    3. And this is the problem. As a CRC Officer I am being allocated new cases and NPS cases at a rate of knots. The NPS cases I can't even access on NDelius and the CRC cases are all off the back of FDR's and I don't have the time to gather any additional information pertinent to risk before seeing them! I have that many new cases, I can't even remember their names, let alone their individual issues. This is complete madness and I cannot fathom how anyone thinks that NPS or CRC officers are expected to cope, let alone do a good job!

    4. Furthermore, they will also have PSO's writing reports, who have had no training or experience in both writing PSR's and risk this should not be allowed, they don't get paid for this and they should refuse. The unions should take this up.Additionally its unfair on staff assigned to CRC many of them whom have talked about how they saw PSR writing as bread and butter of their work.The service had enough PO's prior to the shafting and should re-assign them. Its all wrong.

  3. Just got my letter about my 'move' to CRC. One line in there states that members will be 'encouraged' to join the Probation Institute.

    Encourage away, I'd rather shit in my hand and clap!!

  4. start clapping my friend, it looks as if they are gonna pay for you, number are so low...

  5. Have a look on MOJ website. Go via Google for probation service level agreements listed. In there is a paragraph that states that the NPS can second staff to the CRC! Is that of interest?

    1. Page 11 from London Service level agreement: -

      The NPS agrees that it will in good faith and for the purposes of maximising career development opportunities for employees of the NPS, consider offering to any of its employees who wish to do so the opportunity to be seconded to a CRC on such terms as may be agreed from time to time and to do so under the Agreed Form Secondment Framework Agreement wherever possible. Copies of the Agreed Form Secondment Framework Agreement may be obtained from Human Resources"

      Is that to which Anon at 20.08 refers?

    2. my understanding is that any moves are VOLUNTARY only

    3. they're making it up as they go along.

    4. "in good faith" hahahahahahaha!!

      That's a good one!

    5. The reality is that they have the wrong people in the wrong places. It's an utter mess and people are just turning up to collect their wages. If you look closely there is nothing behind their eyes. Only thoughts of how to get out of this disorganisation..

  6. The new trainee officers will have to spend some time in the CRC probably.

  7. New trainee entry qualifications criminology, police studies degrees ? God help us more clones

    1. I agree that this a most limited demographic from which to select future probation officers. I thought that it was even more limited in scope, with just a degree in Criminal Justice or Criminology?

    2. I was out of touch with the pre entry training qualification requirements but it seems as if for the Probation Graduate Diploma those 4 degree subjects were set when it was first introduced in 2010 - I do not know, precisely what other routes there are into qualified practise other than with a social workers training (that was confirmed to me as still valid by a recruitment agency I contacted a month or so ago)

      There are links to the policy document on the Napo Forum which includes a response from Mactailgunner regarding an ongoing paper that is up for discussion.

      Possibly Probation Officer placement trainers know more -

      Incidentally I have been in discussion with MOJ bods about all this via a Facebook Page -I know also see that my LinkedIn Profile has been checked in the last 4 days by a security bod at the MOJ

      John Nicholson

      Head of Corporate Security & Business Continuity Branch at Ministry of Justice

      London, United Kingdom
      Government Administration - fascinating!

    3. Andrew, you are doing valuable work that helps us all, please submit FOI request regarding you being checked out...

    4. Interesting suggestion, but unnecessary, I know people at the MOJ have been looking up in one directory about me and so assume they will have checked other things, possibly including records held by public authorities, so be it. They know I know, you folk know I know.

      One MOJ member of staff - who astoundingly - describes himself as John Nicholson, Head of Corporate Security & Business Continuity Branch at Ministry of Justice (surely I am not so important that the most senior member of the Security Dept at the MOJ has personally enquired about me?) - and consequentially has had it published that he checked my use of an internet directory - so be it.

      I endeavour to express opinion or state fact in public fora, usually politely and respectfully, I cannot see that under English and Welsh law I have anything to fear - unless you know differently - I am sure others who cause embarrassment and discomfort to politicians or Civil Servants etc are also likely to be investigated.

      This whole business is not about individuals but about inadequate policy instigated by parliaments (plural) and implemented in a foolhardy way by a government who do not have the skills necessary in their executive arm to do so effectively or without increasing the actual difficulties of the people they employ and creating harm and extra financial cost among the populace.

      Focusing on individuals is mostly a distraction, we need to focus on publishing what is happening, questioning that and alerting the public in any way legally permissible, in order that the Government and its executive see sense and change the policies and ways of implementing and managing their policies - that is what this Blog is now mostly about and what I aim to continue to do.

  8. Keep the applause running then, because today I heard through the vines and then officially that the local bidder has pulled out. It is now public as the shaw trust who have done so much over the year to develop a serious bid for our work even employing ex ranking probation staff in the process !

    I have to say, they were the preferred option given their value base, but they have decided after considerable investment to walk ! Please keep clapping readers as we watch the Shaw Trust leave the game.

    They were a major contributor to the TR agenda and to our local branch concerns yet now they do us a great service by dumping their TR aspirations which leaves the bidding without a third contender and damages the competition process . Helpfully just late enough we expect to create a delay for the 21st of June bidding submissions deadline. From NAPO SW Branch Thank you !

    In relation to the fear comments above, It is amazing to me at least the expectation that POs would be able to switch all their risk awareness, information gathering and checking skills and somehow just forget to make informed professional assessments on their work. Added to that incredible belief that it might really be acceptable to formally bar them from access on a the IT system to files and professional work they actually wrote . To make it worse some have been drafted into role without any appropriate skills to oversee colleagues within the CRC.

    It is not confusion it is destruction which seeks to divided colleagues unfairly and inappropriately yet in time, these new walls will come down.


  9. If you go to there is a message to say 'This site has now moved. For news and information about probation services in Kent, please visit'. There is no mention of the NPS. Is this significant?

  10. I intend to keep fighting this is all we have left , I've spoken to colleagues who have been told they can't take their toil because there is to much work! Stop doing more than your hours your helping to make this train wreck work.i know work to your hours has ended but FFs stop doing over and above what you should be Come On We Still Have Something To Fight For!!

  11. I have had the day of hell. Can't say what happened as it could identify me. My boiling point was reached today. Spent pretty much most of day in tears or feeling tearful. Only time I wasn't was when I was with my clients

    1. Look, Chris. I know it's tough but you brought it on yourself

    2. NOT FUNNY - my sincere commiserations to the colleague Anon at 22.45 - the determination some probation folk are demonstrating to support clients is impressive - but they are not responsible for the omnishambles and their employers have a duty of care to them - they are not supposed to be at a very high level of stress day after day - if they feel like that they need support, if that support is not willingly available within the job including via the union, it is reasonable, they should ask for advise from their own family doctors. Probation workers |(obviously) also have responsibility for them selves for the sake of their families - I wish all peace tonight and am very relieved I am out of it by several years.

    3. Anon 22:45 if it makes you feel any better I was the same today. In tears 3 times and I only work part time so not even in the office all that long! I hope your colleagues are being supportive as mine have been x

    4. Thanks for support . I appreciate that'

  12. Now that third sector are deserting the TR Omnishambles, is it not time for the so called 'staff mutuals' to do the honourable thing and remove themselves also. Once the mutual are gone there will be no legitimacy. There appears to be no-one now speaking up for TR, and the inclusion of 'mutuals' is the only thorn in the side of the anti-TR campaign.

    1. Mutuals are an anomaly and as far as the MoJs PR dept is concerned they have now served their purpose ie to hoodwink some soft Tory MP's into thinking that the probation service was being allowed to bid (when in fact they were not). Now that the gloves are off they are nothing more than an irritation and more of an interest to the MoJs nemesis The Cabinet Office than to anyone in the MoJ. Irritatingly some of the bidders are referring to the 'justice market' as a 'new investment frontier'. We need to convince them that the potential for reputational and other damage as a result of their ventures, including to their share price, could result in some severe collateral damage to their other interests. Any voluntary sector organisations may well lose charitable status if they do deals. If I were a large corporation then I would leave the UK justice sector well alone as it is very precarious and is quite possible teetering on the brink of widespread implosion and collapse that will need a lot of cash thrown at it to sort the mess out. A couple of Sonnex type cases and a riot or two in the Summer may well see share prices plummeting as there is considerable international appetite for such matters if they involve serious shortfalls and the government will not wish to be seen subsidising private sector companies when they were being run quite well by the public sector who were providing taxpayers with genuine value for money..

  13. Really sorry to hear about your distress. It's awful. I heard a few people around the office saying that if they had known how awful it was going to be then they would have gone out on strike for a month and found a way to sabotage the computer system to make sure anyone foolish enough not to join them wasn't able to work. It is a complete disgrace when you hear that some staff are putting in extra hours to make things work when employers have had more than enough warning. Dont try to plug the holes and bail them out let it sink and say good riddance to bad rubbish. If they think its working they'll carry on. Some people are still behaving as if they are working for a Probation Trust. For the first time in my life I am working full time for a company with the prospect of it being taken over by one involved in human rights abuses and military work. I wouldn't have chosen to work for scumbags like that and they will get precious little work out of me to meet any of their targets. From now on its 9-5 and the bare minimum. I'm not working to put money in their shareholders pockets. The message should be keep probation public

  14. Sadly we have napo members (po & pso) working overtime to ensure 'migration' of cases is successfully completed. I am at a loss to understand.

  15. Exactly! Napo and unison members who are still doing over and above their hours to help. Don't you are just helping to paper over the gaping holes that are appearing everywhere. If you are working over your hours and not being allowed to take toil then ask to be paid. In our area there are not enough staff in NPS and the influx of PSR request has risen to such an extent that we are nearly at breaking point if we can only disrupt the courts more then it won't be long until a solicitor or judges start making comments and airing their concerns.

  16. as a service user my concerns are the lack of contact and consistency of rules/policy, the changes LP are going through have had a bad impact on the quality of 'real' user management.