Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Lesson From History

With us now entering month two of Chris Grayling's TR omnishambles, there are widespread reports of chaos, low morale, sickness, staff shortages, high caseloads and IT failures. It seems appropriate to remind ourselves of the tragic London Sonnex case and what can happen in such a situation. There is no doubt in many quarters that TR has created the perfect scenario for another similar tragedy.   

The painful lessons learned following this case included recognition that high caseloads can contribute to mistakes being made, and as a consequence it lead directly to the Workload Management Tool being developed. This is from the Guardian dated 4th June 2009:-
The disclosure that Dano Sonnex was out on a parole licence after serving an eight-year sentence for violence and robbery at the time he committed the murders is a devastating blow to the London Probation Service.
It comes just three years after an official inquiry report into the murder of the Chelsea financier, John Monckton, found that there had been a "collective failure" and numerous blunders by probation and parole staff.
The internal Probation Service reviews into the Sonnex case led to the resignation of David Scott, the chief probation officer for London, at the end of February, after allegedly being told by the justice secretary, Jack Straw, that he did not want a repeat of the Haringey social services fiascos.
The official inquiry reports released today [after the verdicts] provide a damning catalogue of serious errors and management failings by the London Probation Service. They confirm that Lewisham probation – the office at the centre of the case – was severely unstaffed, with the supervision of Sonnex left to an inexperienced probation officer with a caseload of 127 other offenders.
At the time of Sonnex's release, Lewisham probation office appears to have been in meltdown. The officer who was supervising him had a caseload of 127 offenders and had only been qualified for nine months, although she was an experienced probation assistant. She was seeing 12 to 15 people a day. Her senior probation officer was "acting up".
She was just one of 22 probation officers in Lewisham, only one of whom had more than two years experience. According to Napo, the probation union, it appears to have been management by crisis in Lewisham, with high sickness levels averaging 27 days a year and with no proper risk assessments on 650 of the 2,500 offenders they were responsible for. "This was an office under pressure with a very high caseload," says the official verdict.
Because Sonnex arrived for his probation appointments on time or even early, and was polite, co-operative and smartly dressed, he may not have seemed a priority case.
Details of the key failings in the case include:
• Prison doctor's report that Sonnex was a potential killer was not shared: In May 2004, a doctor at Portland young offenders' institution reported that Sonnex had said he "feared that his reaction to events meant he could kill". But this was not shared with prison staff.
• Confusion over his dangerousness: Sonnex was deemed a tier three or medium-risk offender when he should have been tier four or high-risk offender. There was confusion over this, with Sonnex listed high-risk on one probation and prison database, but medium on another. The prison service saw him as a drug-free, much-improved inmate, but the probation union claims that there was pressure to "tier-down" offenders. A key multi-agency meeting with probation, prison and police staff which would have clarified his statement was scheduled but never took place because staff could not print out the documents they needed for it.
• No recall after an attack on a five-months' pregnant woman and her boyfriend two days after his release in February: The police did not charge Sonnex because the two victims feared repercussions and despite repeated police visits were not willing to make witness statements. The probation office heard about the incident from social services and from Sonnex as an unsubstantiated allegation. Sonnex claimed he had left the flat when an argument started. He was given only a verbal warning.
• It took 33 days, instead of five, to issue the warrant to recall Sonnex to prison: His probation officer started the process when he was charged with handling stolen goods and remanded in custody on 3 May but there was a delay in signing off the papers as managers sought more detail on the seriousness of the charges. Lewisham was already the "top recaller" in London at time at time of prison overcrowding crisis.
There was also confusion between Greenwich magistrates court and Lewisham probation office which resulted in Sonnex being granted bail despite the recall application. Court officials appear to have assumed he was already on remand on another charge, and granted him technical bail. The effect was that the licence was not revoked until 16 days before the murders. He disappeared as soon as he was bailed on 16 May.
• Police failed to act on the recall warrant for 16 days until after the murders had happened: The Independent Police Complaints Commission say "grave errors" were made by the police who failed to deal with it as a matter of urgency. At one point the arrest was delayed as police debated whether a firearms team should be sent to arrest him. Emergency recalls are supposed to happen within 24 hours. One police sergeant has received a disciplinary warning as a result.
Postscript - I'm grateful to Mike Guilfoyle for reminding me of this piece from that other great newspaper the News Shopper dated 17th May 2013:-
Mike Guilfoyle from probation union NAPO said: "As a result of this change will Londoners feel safer or not? The weight of evidence from those who do the job is no. We believe the safety of the public will be compromised. "The potential for another Sonnex, we believe, is likely to increase."
He pointed out that the change could lead to a lack of transparency, with information about performance difficult to obtain. Mr Guilfoyle said: "A whole raft of people who probation had a public accountability for now will be farmed out to any number of organisations."
Probation officer Peter Halsall from Lewisham, also a NAPO member, said: "There's been a huge improvement since Sonnex. Why are you then taking it apart? "Do you want to entrust the safety of the population to a company like G4S which can't actually organise security for the Olympics?"
He warned that dealing with offenders meant monitoring their risk, and that would be harder with different categories of risk allocated to different providers. He said: "The more organisations there are, the easier it becomes for somebody to get missed. "The transfer process is just going to lead to a huge raft of bureaucracy. When you get that then you're putting people at risk."

39 comments:

  1. Given that high caseloads were a contributory factor, it will be interesting to see NAPO's stance when high caseloads are reported. People are leaving the Service on a weekly basis and not being replaced, the knock on effect being that their caseloads had to be allocated to others. This is before the U12 months (all 50k of them per year) are brought into the equation. In addition, I fear that there is a very real risk of redundancies, on both sides, impacting further on caseloads. I fear that this somewhat salutary lesson will be one that is not learned from and unfortunately repeated.

    Still, if previous experience is anything to go by, private companies will wash their collective hands and it will be the OM's who are hung out to dry. It may be worth remembering Jims post about high caseloads/Sonnex as this might be your defence during a SFO.

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  2. Very sobering blog today, one that reminds us of the importance of the probation service and getting it right because when mistakes happen people can die. A timely reminder of the Sonnex case, thanks Jim, I'll be forwarding it to my MP.

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  3. Yes I agree, but didn't you know - the first lesson of history is that no-one ever learns from history!

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  4. True, true, true. One CRC office in our area has a major staffing crisis with no replacements for 4 PSOs who have left/are leaving, 2 PO vacancies and no current local manager in post. Caseloads have escalated by almost 100% in 8 weeks, i.e 30 mixed bag pre-split has become 50+ med risk post-split for
    POs; up to 75+ for PSOs, with programme duties in addition. Caseloads will continue to climb as 90+% of new cases are allocated to CRC. Current estimate is 30% of oasys incomplete, especially since NPS were excused risk management plan duties. Although not necessarily the highest risk by definition, it is a widely held view that the most volatile cases, the most likely to be involved in SFOs, are within CRC, e.g. DV, PPO, IOM, new entrants to the adult CJ system.

    Bidder Beware. The Perfect Storm is brewing.

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    1. I am a PO in the CRC with a completely new caseload of 75 and rising (on a 4 day week) My two PO colleagues are in the same boat with a PSO colleague carrying nearer 100. I haven't been near oasys since the split and don't anticipate accessing it any time soon - no time. If the client's file has arrived on my desk ( and many haven't to date), and if I'm lucky, I'll manage a quick skim of the PSR, read the last couple of delius log entries and that's it prep wise. My Manager is aware of this. I've still got a copy of the enquiry report following Sonnex, and I know what I am walking into. However, I am also very clear that , should there will an SFO on my watch I will not be taking responsibility for it. I seem to remember post Sonnex that some colleagues in LPT were described as 'bad eggs' or 'bad apples' or something as the blame game started. Management had better not try that with me.....

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  5. Hi I just want to say, I work within the Unpaid work bit of CRC - have been informed that they are trying to get us to take on the Supervision of Offenders in light of the shortage of staff within CRC and their caseloads. Please note we are also understaffed - has only been 2 of us running our Unit since the SERCO takeover. I have not been trained to do or take on Probation cases or work. The higher body who is trying to do this, is only interested in targets, rather than the repurcussions this will create on the mental and physical health of the staff members in question. I use to love my job, but this has sent my anxiety and stress levels through the roof. We struggle with the Unpaid work as it is which has escalated since the 1st June and now this, one really doesnt know what to do anymore.

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    1. Im a Probation Officer in the CRC. One of our CSOs got a PSO job and has left - this only leaves one CSO for our LDU and the vacancy is not being advertised. So now we have been told that we have to take standalone UPW. It's a nightmare - each day before I do any of my bread and butter job I have to trawl through to see who did or did not turn up for UPW the day before. Also it is taking the best part of an hour to induct people on ICM cases - half an hour for a regular probation order plus another 20mins on top for UPW. We're all fed up - oh and the dedicated UPW CA is also being trained on the probation side of things so she can cover and vice versa - they are just spreading us too thin.

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    2. Our CRC is keen on encouraging staff to work across departments: programmes, offender management, unpaid work. All one big happy family.

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  6. Although not specific to probation, I think this article is relevent to todays blog (odd it should be in the press today with todays theme).

    http://www.channel4.com/news/zahid-mubarek-feltham-young-offenders-hm-inspector-prisons

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    1. I have no doubt that the huge numbers absconding from open prisons in the past few months is also a direct consequence of Chris Graylings personally motivated interventions.
      His removal of privilages, and more stick less carrot approach at a time when staffing levels are a chrisis point demonstrates clearly the mans utter ignorance when it comes to the management of offenders within the penal estate.
      The truth is, that many that have absconded would not have probably done so if it wasn't for the idiotic reforms he's interduced, that have no real purpose other then grabbing a quick and cheap headline in the media.
      The very concerning thing about those that abscond is that whilst at large they are detached from any form of management, unable to work or claim benefits and as such the risk of reoffending is sky high.
      How serious that reoffending may be I suggest is only a matter of chance.
      Congratulations Chris, your forward thinking is bringing the whole CJS into disrepair, and destroying public safety.

      http://news.sky.com/story/1292741/murderer-and-violent-prisoner-on-the-run

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    2. There is a serious danger that a murder like that of a young British Asian man, Zahid Mubarek, by his violent racist cellmate 14 years ago could happen again, the chief inspector of prisons has warned.

      Nick Hardwick says that despite positive changes in prisons since the murder, the drive for reform has been weakened or forgotten.

      Mubarek, 19, was murdered in Feltham young offenders' institution in March 2000 by Robert Stewart, a known violent racist with mental health problems who had bragged about committing the first murder of the millennium.

      A judicial inquiry was only held into Mubarek's death after the House of Lords ordered it following a four-year campaign by his family. The inquiry, chaired by Mr Justice Keith, identified 186 failings in the prison system, describing it as "institutionally racist". The murder has been described as the prison service's "Stephen Lawrence moment".

      Hardwick's assessment, published on Tuesday, says Mubarek's death was preventable and there are now better systems in place to make it less likely that a violent racist could be placed in a cell with a vulnerable prisoner. A list of violent racists serving sentences in England and Wales is believed to have 75 names on it.

      "However, it could happen again," said Hardwick. "Risk assessment procedures are often delayed or poorly completed and information sharing is still a considerable weakness across the prison estate. Too many prisoners still share cells designed for one regardless of sentence status, age or other issues of compatibility. Prisoners from black and ethnic minority groups consistently report a worse experience than white prisoners."

      Hardwick added that while the national offender management service had said it fully implemented most of the inquiry's recommendations, they were no longer being given enough priority when decisions were made about to use the prison service's diminished resources.

      Mubarek's uncle Imitiaz Amin said the new report showed the authorities had failed to make a long-term impact. He added that he hoped the report provided a catalyst for further action given that violence and deaths remained alarmingly high in prisons in England and Wales.

      The latest figures show that more than 20,000 prisoners are "doubled up". While inmate-on-inmate assaults have fallen for young offenders by 2,500 incidents a year, they are up by 1,500 a year for adult male prisoners.

      Four prisoners were murdered inside jails in England and Wales last year but this was unusual. There were 26 murders in the decade before the introduction of a cell-sharing risk assessment in 2000, since when there has been 20 homicides in 13 years.

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    3. Another prisoner absconds from Hatfield. It is clearly an epidemic, although Grayling today (I'm slightly suprised to say), defended open prisons juring justice questions.
      Yet the crisis has become so large that even the Big Issue is reporting on it.

      http://www.bigissue.com/features/4029/inside-britains-prisons-what-is-going-wrong

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    4. Former Home Secretary Michael Howard’s infamous two-word phrase – “prison works” – has never sounded so hollow. The prison estate appears to be failing, and failing badly: underfunding and overcrowding has led to the worst crisis in many years.

      The 40 publically-run jails in England and Wales have been told they need to find accommodation for 440 more prisoners (even though all but six jails are full), and private prisons will be paid to cram as many as 600 more into their cells. Recent weeks have seen irate convicts take over a wing in a Northumberland prison, and lurid tabloid stories about murders and thieves on the run from leaky open jails. What is going on?

      In prisons today, austerity’s demand to “do more for less” is a particularly bad joke. There are ongoing budget cuts, rising numbers of prisoners, fewer prisons and far less staff, and yet the government wants nothing less than a “rehabilitation revolution”. Justice Minister Chris Grayling doesn’t want lags sitting about watching telly – he wants them working and preparing themselves for life on the outside. He knows this stuff plays well with the public: criminals are supposed to be paying their dues, after all.

      But the officers’ union, campaigners for prison reform – and prisoners themselves – are all seriously pissed off. They are fed-up hearing about the need for prisoners to be “purposefully occupied”, without the programmes in place to make it possible.

      Last year HM Chief Inspectorate of Prisons found overcrowding remains a significant barrier to providing the kind of educational activities, training and work that might help prisoners reform and stop them reoffending. “Resources are now stretched very thinly,” the report stated. “The quantity and quality of purposeful activity in which prisoners are engaged [has] plummeted.”

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  7. I am reminded that in the lead up to the 2001 election I confronted Straw on a radio phone in - I was then working at a local prison and among other things doing pre discharge work with ACR cases. One Probation Service with which we regularly dealt in urban area had specialised to the extent that all ACR cases were held in almost regional offices where the staff were run ragged and so overworked they could not deal with issuing reporting instructions or enquiries about men expected to be homeless and other problems.

    I put this to Straw - he denied it. I cannot remember all the details but it came down to one officer dealing with many dozens of clients. I think at the time the CPO was high up in the then Probation Chief's organisation.

    We struggled, doing our best, for many years and our bosses and Board members did not draw our plight to the attention of politicians and presumably the Inspectorate largely missed it as well. I was too busy getting on with the work then to look at the bigger picture, in ways I now can as a retired person.

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  8. Any word on the bidders? If someone would do the honours of publishing the shortlist

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    1. I think it may be a very shortlist. I also think it will be some time before any news seeps through- wouldn't be cloak and dagger otherwise.
      I think the only way of maybe getting any indication at all is to look on the known bidders wesites and watch what jobs their advertising for. Maybe if say Carrillion a building firm are advertising for a dozen probation staff there may be a clue there.

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  9. I was reading Z communications yesterday and it was reported that secret political talks about the privatisation of vast swathes of the public sector in all western nations. There will be contracts offered that span many years and it will be almost impossible for any nation state to re-nationalise the failed sectors. Now we know what they talk about at Davos. Listen they don't give a toss about Probation, the NHS or the people generally, it's all about their mates and money.
    papa

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  10. Must read.

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/01/quit-probation-service-ill-thought-out-reform-chris-grayling

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    1. The government's part-privatisation of the probation service kicked in last month with 35 probation trusts in England and Wales replaced by 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) to supervise medium- to low-risk offenders and a new national probation service to supervise the remaining "high-risk" offenders. If you have not heard much about it, it is probably because information has been tightly controlled and misinformation disseminated.

      Probation officers like myself were gagged, and threatened with disciplinary action if they did not comply. As an experienced probation officer, I believe the changes are so ill thought-out, so skewed in favour of corporate interests, so hastily carried out, so threatening to public safety, so inimical to genuine rehabilitation and the ethos of the service, and so grotesquely misrepresented that I felt it impossible to carry on.

      When I started my career I trained with social workers and our remit was to "advise, assist and befriend" and, despite moving away from social work, I have always loved my job. I have felt immensely privileged to listen to people's stories and help them facilitate change and if there is one thing I have learned over the years, it is that the relationship between the client and the officer is paramount to creating positive change. I am appalled that this relationship will be put at risk. Building relationships takes time and skill. In contrast, the short-term aim of the private companies invited to bid to run services is to make a profit.

      Grayling's key emphasis has been that there are higher, and unjustifiable, reoffending rates for those sentenced to under 12 months custody. I agree. But he neglects to acknowledge that the probation service does not and never has supervised this group of offenders. He has also ignored the pilots that have been taking place across the country, where services have demonstrated their viability in doing this.

      The government's line is that work with short-term offenders can only be done by the new CRCs if they are outsourced on a competitive basis with at least three bidders. However, mutuals and charities (supposedly 50% of bidders) are pulling out. Some areas such as Northumbria now have only one bidder.

      By March 2015, the plan is for the CRCs to all be in the private or voluntary sector. I have seen myself the dangers following from the adapted IT system: officers cannot access information and records. The process of writing court reports now takes twice as long as previously. So, where magistrates' courts could expect four on-the-day reports, officers can now only provide two. Staff are unable to access risk registers such as child protection, domestic violence and sexual offences. Staff I've spoken to talk of "chaos" and "meltdown" and of finding the situation "utterly impossible".

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    2. I should have pointed out that the above Guardian piece is by Joanna Hughes.

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    3. It's good to see that Joanna is using her own time to continue to highlight the TR train wreck.

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  11. More chaos on the way.

    https://uk.news.yahoo.com/grayling-vow-support-services-111515784.html

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    1. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has identified mental health and drug support services for people leaving prison as the "next big priority" for his department.
      He said he would be doing some joint work on the issue with the Health Secretary with whom he said he had discussed it last week.
      The Tory MP for Epsom and Ewell was responding to a question from Labour's Meg Munn (Sheffield, Heeley) during justice questions in the Commons today.
      She asked: "When did you last meet the Secretary of State for Health to discuss the issues of mental health services and drugs services?
      "These services are very much under pressure in many of our areas and in terms of supporting people coming out of prison and ensuring they have got access to these services, this is a vital thing that needs to be followed up."
      Mr Grayling replied: "I completely agree with you. The last conversation I had with the Health Secretary about this was about a week ago.
      "We intend to do joint work on this. I see it as my department's next big priority. It is something we have to tackle and tackle effectively."

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  12. http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-fd94-Two-million-will-strike-on-July-10
    It's a pitty probation workers who have been treated so badly, and faced the full force of graylings MOJ are not out on 10th. This blog clearly details the hurt, danger and risks associated with the privatisation of probation. Hope NAPO will have speakers at the various rallies around the country

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    1. THE number of workers set to take part in the July 10 walkout swelled to two million yesterday as Unite members facing a fifth straight pay cut voted to strike.
      Unite, which represents 70,000 local government workers, became the fourth union to throw its weight behind the action.
      Sixty-eight per cent of members voted Yes for a strike in response to the latest “insulting” 1 per cent pay offer made by council bosses.
      Unite national officer for local government Fiona Farmer said the two-to-one result reflects “the depth of feeling” among staff.
      “Poverty pay is widespread across local councils. Household bills continue to soar, but our members’ buying power is constantly being eroded,” she said.
      Ms Farmer said that around 400,000 council workers paid below £15,000-a-year for delivering vital local services were now “choosing between heating and eating.”
      Knowsley Council social care worker Betty Wilkinson said it was her lowest-paid colleagues doing the “really tough jobs.”
      She told the Star: “Cleaning, kitchen and refuse staff are all on low pay.
      “They do really important jobs — the whole operation would grind to a halt without them.”
      The strike vote was cheered by a thousand Unite members as it was announced by general secretary Len McCluskey at the union’s conference in Liverpool.
      The National Union of Teachers, Unison and the GMB have all already named the date to demand an end to poverty pay.
      Con-Dem ministers who imposed the public-sector pay freeze also face a rebellion by their own civil servants after PCS union members voted by 73 per cent for strike action.
      The union’s executive will confirm whether it will join the July 10 walkout at a meeting this morning.
      It means up to two million workers will join picket lines in what Unison leader Dave Prentis predicted could be second biggest strike ever witnessed in Britain.
      Tens of thousands are expected to join a traffic-stopping march through London on July 10 that will end in a huge rally at Trafalgar Square.
      And Sefton Council clerk and Unite rep Sharon Payne said her members were ready to take even more action.
      “As much as it’s going to kill them to lose a day’s pay, a lot of them want to be out as long as it takes because they’ve had enough of how local authority workers are treated.”
      People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn said momentum behind the July 10 strike and the TUC’s October 18 demonstration will “maximise resistance” to cuts in the run-up to the general election.
      He said: “Getting these things right will create a political crisis for this government and can hold Labour to account over its commitment to austerity.”
      And midwives in England said they were prepared to take industrial action over pay.
      The Royal College of Midwives said that 94 per cent of midwives and maternity support workers taking part in a consultation said they would consider strike action.

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  13. Grayling has spent today answering justice questions in the House.
    There are several DeHavilland press releases that I can't access because it's subscription, but this first line of one link is this:-

    Shadow Prisons Minister Jenny Chapman asked why there had been file losses, staff had been unable to access information and four charities had pulled out of tenders under the Government’s probation reforms. She called on ministers to delay reforms. ...

    Perhaps more news will filter through in a day or two- unless anyone is a subscriber?

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  14. Some shocking statistics- but no problems in the prison system!!

    http://www.expressandstar.com/news/crime/2014/07/01/hundreds-of-assaults-in-midland-prisons-revealed/kinver-21-dg-2/

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    1. HMP Oakwood, the £150 million privately-run prison near Wolverhampton, has the third highest assaults figure in the country, with 137 reported in 2013.

      Neighbouring Featherstone recorded 16 while Brinsford, which houses young offenders, recorded 59.

      HMP Birmingham, which is now run by private firm G4S, recorded 62 assaults on staff and HMP Stafford recorded four.

      Overall, assaults are down on 10 years ago apart from at Brinsford, where there were 34 assaults in 2004.

      It comes 10 days after the Express & Star reported allegations that assaults at Featherstone Prison near Wolverhampton were going 'unpunished' and that prisoners were able to get hold of a synthetic cannabis-type drug called Black Mamba.

      The figures were revealed in response to a Parliamentary question by South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson, who said concerns about Featherstone had also been raised with him.

      Mr Williamson asked what steps the Ministry of Justice was taking to ensure assaults were 'vigorously' investigated and that the perpetrators are appropriately punished.

      He was told there was a 'new approach' where the Ministry was working with the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to push for prosecutions when prison staff are attacked.

      There were 3,148 assaults on prison staff across all UK prisons in 2013.

      HMP Oakwood was the third worst prison nationally, after HMP Thameside and HMP Feltham.

      Mr Williamson said: “I am glad that action is being taken to address these appalling statistics.

      "Prison staff are required to do an extremely difficult job, in often challenging conditions, and we need to ensure that they are free to carry out their duties without fear of being violently assaulted.

      “These criminals need to learn that any violent behaviour will be met with severe punishment. It has to be made extremely clear that assaults will not be tolerated in our prisons.”

      Prisons minister Jeremy Wright said: “We do not tolerate violence of any kind in prison and take any instance extremely seriously. We are working closely with the police and CPS to develop a new joint approach to report crimes in prison – this included pushing for prosecutions when our staff are attacked.

      “We are comprehensively reviewing how we manage violence in prisons to introduce further improvements to ensure prisons are safer places for everyone.”

      The figures go up to the end of 2013.

      But sources claimed there had been five staff assaulted or injured within three days this year at Featherstone, including one case of a worker being hit in the face with a broom handle.

      HMP Oakwood next door has also been beset with various problems, including prisoners holding a nine-hour stand-off with guards in January.

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  15. It is reported below the death of Bob Jones the PCC for West Midlands - my thoughts are with his family at this difficult time.

    What people may not be aware of outside the area is that he was completely Anti TR and refused anything to do with the programme which in its own way has caused problems and issues locally.
    I wouldn't suggest for one moment elation at the passing of a high profile PCC at Petty France , but there was no love lost in his approach to the omnishambles.
    The loss of a PCC like any elected official initiates a by election (within 35 days). Now you might think I have been in the sun too long but what about somebody with integrity to stand at the election to gain some publicity and perhaps some power , supported by probation folk , there is a link with the partnership between police and probation and certainly similar concerns in the force , ....what about Joanna Hughes??? Only a thought!!


    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jul/01/death-west-midlands-pcc-bob-jones-trigger-byelection-35-days

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  16. Thank you anon at 18.45. I might have a look at the job spec! Just to say that I sent the piece on Grayling's lies to all Labour and Lib Dem MPs and had a lovely reply from Jenny Chapman. She seems to have benefited from the info in questioning Grayling today and it is worth carrying on giving MPs info so that they can take it into parliament and ask awkward questions.

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    1. That's a maybe then!!

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  17. Comments on Twitter today predict increase in tagging. I have said all along that NOMS have tried to make us (POs) increase proposals for curfew in recent years (because the tagging contracts are with their private sector buddies??) but we haven't done it so only way is to bring report writing into civil service and try to direct us that way. Will you be swayed?

    Harry Fletcher ‏@hfletcher10 · Jun 30
    #Probationselloff strong rumours that huge rise in tagging on agenda post 2015 from 25,000 now to 100,000.So much for supervision!

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  18. Dumb policy making from the ill-informed. Tagging is little more than a minor inconvenience to the worst recidivists.

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  19. http://m.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/gosport-mum-sent-letter-to-son-who-was-murdered-in-2003-1-6153436

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  20. Word is that not all of the 21 crc s have to be signed. Is this true? Looks like more fudge from mr grayling and co

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  21. Have just written to Toby Perkins MP -his comment to Grayling about names being pulled out of the hat let Grayling off the hook in my view-actually that would have been fairer because everyone would have had an equal chance -whereas some of us have not had one.
    In response to 11.11 it has always been my belief that not all the CRCs have to be signed off -if there is not viable bidder the CRC can remain as a "state company" and managed by the local NPS until ,of course, the dust dies down and it can be sold to one of the big bidders-ignoring the rule about percentage control. Perhaps I am just a cynic

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  22. Off topic, sorry, but I thought I'd post Grayling's reply to a question put to him on 1/7/14 about the sift process as found on They Work for You ( I think the site should be changed to 'They work for the rich and for big business' - also see the Guardian list of business and people who attended a Tory fund raising dinner last year)

    http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2014-07-01a.725.10&s=grayling+probation#g725.16

    "What the hon. Gentleman says is absolute nonsense. Names were not drawn from a hat. There was a carefully constructed process of selection and a proper appeal mechanism for those who were unhappy with where they had been allocated".

    Well, as we know, the "carefully constructed process of selection" was in fact akin to musical chairs.

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    1. The guys a nut case, I wish he is shafted by the same process and he would know what a blunt barbaric instrument he used to de-professionalize some very experienced and capable officers. And as for the appeal system, what a load of bollocks, paying lip service to people to make them feel that they were given a chance, a court of appeal would have behaved more humanly and used the evidence more fairly, the appeals came down to does your face fit. The man is insane and he should compensate all those shafted into the CRC. BASTARD BULLY.

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    2. Another MP raised it as a Point of Order after Prime Minister's questions, so the detail can be checked later via Hansard or tomorrow via 'They Work for You' - the Speaker gave an explanation longer than I recall getting at Napo AGMs from the Chair of Steering Committee and I think I missed the main point!

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