The following comment came in over night and I think it's probably a good idea to ponder on it:-
I have read your blog for a long time now – certainly since well before TR stood for anything nasty. I have seen your blog change from the musings of a grumpy PO to something of a focal point for trying to turn the tide as a campaigning blog. I admire your dedication in doing a daily blog and the visitor figures speak for themselves, but I wonder if the content of this blog is doing more harm than good.
I don’t think TR is a good idea, but I come at this from the perspective of an ex probation officer who has also worked in the private sector, and Westminster. I don’t have an ideological problem with the private sector delivering probation services – anymore than I have a problem with my dentist being in private practice (I would prefer it if he wasn’t though). This means that I am in the majority. As many of your contributors are aware we are in a political neo-liberal consensus just now, and however much you may disagree with it, I see no real signs that is going to change anytime soon. Certainly not at the next election.
I don’t say I’m right and you’re wrong but maybe it is healthy to have another perspective, and this might help explain why more of the same is unlikely to turn the tide on TR. If nothing else the following may at least cause some debate. So a few points:
1. Most of the comments on the blog will not be taken as evidence that TR split is not working. They will be dismissed as teething problems, and self-interest of staff who can’t accept change. Talk of lots of staff leaving will be taken as a positive by your opponents (less redundancy to pay). From the outside many of the comments that this blog attracts will be taken as confirmation that probation is indeed stuck in some kind of time warp badly in need of a shake-up.
2. In Westminster NAPO is seen as a bit of joke and certainly very amateurish, the comments here support that view.
3. Most staff who survive the outsourcing quickly adapt to their new ‘brand’. We all seem to have a need to belong and feelings of disgust for NOMS and MoJ and previous senior management all help secure staff loyalty to the new organisation that emerges. I saw this at HMP Birmingham who shifted their loyalty to G4S very quickly.
4. In my view the best tactic for stopping TR is to help disgruntled unsuccessful bidders appeal the procurement process. Grayling’s weakness is that he has very little contingency in letting the new contracts. Delaying tactics – especially if they can slow down the letting of any contracts until Feb / March 2015, mean that he could run out of time before the next election.
5. Ironically the more your contributors are successful in making probation look like a risky proposition, the less the unsuccessful bidders are likely to appeal (they might start to think they had a lucky escape).
Good luck with the fight. But maybe reflect that trying to resist by shouting is unlikely to be successful – unless you think that your colleagues can suddenly become universally militant.
DonIt's already prompted this reply:-
Your dentist has made an informed choice and as a customer so have you. Leaving ideology aside, the illogical bureaucracy introduced by TR and the cumbersome processes involved where they were once fast, streamlined, efficient and effective would leave genuinely 'innovative' entrepreneurs laughing their socks off. With experience in both the private and public sectors, this is the most ineffective and counter productive idea I have experienced. That is not a slur on my colleagues who battle daily with unfit for purpose IT which is not designed with public protection in mind. Commercial interest has its place but this is not it and with respect I don't think you understand what is happening.My problem in all this is that TR is a very bad idea, ill-thought-out, dangerous, unlikely to work or save any money. The IT systems are shyte, it won't deliver the desired outcomes and when the private sector take over, it will foster fiddling and fraud.
It's not as if government has a good track record on shit like this. Lets remind ourselves of two recent similar disastrous policy omnishambles, FiReControl and Individual Learning Accounts. This is what wikipedia says about each:-
FiReControl was a project, initiated in the United Kingdom in March 2004, to reduce the number of control rooms used to handle emergency calls for fire services and authorities. The original plan was for 46 current control rooms to be combined into nine regional control centres (RCC), but this plan was thrown into doubt in May 2010 when the government announced that fire services would not be forced to reorganise.All the regional Fire Control Centres were built at vast expense and some still stand empty to this day. The IT system cost a fortune and never delivered.
The Fire Brigades Union, which represents firefighting personnel and control staff at all levels within the fire and rescue service across the UK, launched a campaign against the regionalisation of emergency fire control rooms. The union stated that the project had virtually no acceptance amongst the workforce, which was of major concern to the directors and ministers. Members of the fire brigades union had grave concerns about the diversion of money to the project, and questioned the feasibility of having 30% less control staff available to answer emergency calls across the country during spate conditions. There were fears that the RCC 999 system would become swamped with calls and come to a complete standstill, and the loss of local knowledge amongst call takers was considered a significant risk. Chief Fire Officers feared they would have less control over service delivery in their county, which they felt might be a concern to fire authorities around the country.
The Individual Learning Accounts scheme was announced in the 1997 Labour Party manifesto to support adult education with a system of tax incentives from employers, as well as a cash contribution of £150 to each of a million individuals. The system was biased towards the uptake of information technology skills, following the emergence of the Internet. By the time the scheme was abandoned in October 2001, there were 8,500 accredited providers nationwide. The Department for Education and Skills was investigating 279 providers on the basis of substantial evidence of misselling, and police had arrested 30 people.TR easily has all and more of the elements required for a classic government cock-up of the first order. These aren't 'teething troubles'. These are concrete examples of fundamental structural failings of a back-of-a-fag-packet idea that is now leading to injury and death. We have a duty as concerned citizens, taxpayers and professionals to draw the folly of all this to the attention of our elected representatives.