Friday, 25 July 2014

Dear Mr Spurr

14 July 2014 11:16

Dear Ms Brennan and Mr Spurr,

Please find a parliamentary briefing on the state of the Probation Service, voiced by front line staff and halt this part-privatisation as soon as possible before a serious further offence occurs. Both Mr Spurr and Ms Brennan, you have a duty to stop this utter disaster before it becomes worse. I am a Probation Officer who has resigned in protest at these changes and continues to fight the destruction of a world class service. Please read this as I have sent it to Parliament through appropriate channels.

Yours sincerely,

Joanna Hughes


21 July 2014 13:52:19 BDT

Dear Ms Hughes,

Thanks for your email to myself and Ursula Brennan attaching a 'Parliamentary Briefing' about the Transforming Rehabilitation Reforms. I am responding on behalf of the Ministry of Justice.

As you will know the Transforming Rehabilitation Reforms have been set out in Parliament and are enabled through legislation (the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014). I recognise that you strongly disagree with the reforms and I note that you have resigned from the Probation Service in protest. I do regret that you felt it necessary to do this but of course I respect your view and your strength of feeling. Like you I care deeply about the work the Probation Service does. The current reforms will change the way that community services are delivered and will retain a strong public sector provision working with a range of other providers and partners incentivised to develop innovative approaches to reduce reoffending. They will also introduce statutory provision and support for the first time to offenders serving short prison sentences. These provide really positive opportunities for us to improve outcomes for offenders and the public.

These reforms have a legislative democratic mandate and it is our job to implement this policy effectively and that is exactly what we are doing. I don't for one moment underestimate the challenge of delivering the reforms but equally I don't accept that this is a 'disaster'. It is not, and to suggest that implementation is a 'mess' undermines the professionalism of your former colleagues.

The 'Parliamentary Briefing' you have attached appears to be a compilation of comments from staff about a whole range of issues. I assure you that we have mechanisms in place to deal with issues as they arise at local and national level and I am confident that we are doing just that.

I don't recognise where the £125m figure for the TR Programme comes from but it is wildly inaccurate. The Programme is being delivered within the MoJ's allocated budget and we will fulfil our duty to ensure that as the programme progresses we continue to deliver services effectively for the public and deliver value for money for the taxpayer.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Spurr
Chief Executive

22 July 2014 15:48:05 BDT

Dear Mr Spurr,

Thank you for replying to my email. I know that you are not correct about strong public sector provision and innovative approaches to reduce re-offending. Half the eight bids that involved probation partnerships have dropped out because they believe they cannot deliver a safe service with the funds available. How is electronic tagging, now extended to the under 12 months and probably in future to all low and medium risk offenders (as this will be the only way to make a profit) going to help reduce re-offending? Do you have any idea what reduces re-offending? After 17 years, the one thing I learnt is that it is the relationship between client and officer which is the overriding factor on whether a person re-offends or not. How is Sentinel, with its emphasis on tagging and check-in kiosks going to help with the relationship? How is payment by results going to work when all evidence points to the fact that, in fact, it restricts one's ability to perform any task other than the most menial.

I have just sent you information on the under 12 months custodial group that belies your belief in a 'legislative democratic mandate' and I again send you more evidence of ways in which parliament were misled over this. I am certainly not undermining the professionalism of my former colleagues and it is ridiculous to say so. They are working heroically in the most adverse conditions, having been treated appallingly. There are no mechanisms for dealing with all the issues listed by staff below and they would laugh in your face if you said that to them directly.

Unlike Michael Gove and Chris Grayling, why didn't you listen to the professionals who actually know what they are talking about? What kind of egoism takes place in the minds of those who feel born to rule? I am only asking, Mr Spurr, because you are doing their bidding and, in doing so, ignoring those of us who have actually performed this work day in and day out. This job is a career, which you have ruined for many, and it is ultimately not about business models, private companies wanting to make money or governments wanting to impose a neo-liberal model on society. This is about offenders, human beings who have often never had much of a chance in life, being used as pawns in a political game where rich people get richer and poor get poorer.

I don't expect you to understand me. I talked to you after your speech at the Napo conference in a corridor and you told me that your risk strategy for those who move between low, medium and high risk was solely based on the fact that people were staying in the same offices. Those people are being turned against each other, bureaucracy is increasing risk and you will have a serious further offence on your hands before too long. You and Ursula Brennan have a duty to stop this and Ms Brennan has pledged that she will not proceed if it is too risky. It is too risky,

Yours sincerely,

Joanna Hughes

35 comments:

  1. Thank you Joanna, please keep this up because he will eventually run out of minimisations and justifications. I am reminded of the work we do challenging sex offenders who place them selves in a bubble of untruth where reality becomes what they dictate to suit their needs.It really is extraordinary.
    These people no longer have any leverage over you and I for one think you are brilliant to have done what you have. Please think what we can do to help you with the provision of information or even travel costs, I am happy to contribute. I feel you are our ambassador now.

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    1. Well done Joanne. These exchange of correspondence may one day come back to bite Mr Spurr; I hope this is the case.

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  2. I say this a lot, but well done Joanna!

    But let's not forget to congratulate Michael Spurr as well - it's quite an achievement to be both patronising and defensive in the same message. Mr Spurr - I laughed out loud at your line about undermining the professionalism of Probation staff; if you're concerned about that, then you need to look closer to home, perhaps starting with a mirror. How does it feel to have to implement "reforms" that you know can't possibly work, and are told can't possibly work on a daily basis?

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  3. what 'legislative democratic mandate'? None of this was in any manifesto - it has just been steam-rollered through by Tory privateers. Well done Saint Joanna!

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  4. If they don't listen I think we should all tie ourselves to Buckingham Palace gates. Then the media might take notice and also the patronising LYING politicians. It is amazing how they cannot comprehend the destruction they have caused and continue to ignore.

    Joanna on a positive note, you are absolutely brill, and its good to know that you have response to your letter, up to know it looks like they have been ignoring everything we say to them, at least now he has read something that may just prick his conscious.

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  5. Joanna and Jim if we asked I'd bet that Michael Mansfield or Geoffrey Robinson would act for us because they know that this administration is corrupt. Someone at NAPO should ask the bloody question.

    papa

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    1. I had the same thought papa, they love high media profile cases and the challenge. I think I have read somewhere Michael Mansfield has represented people without payment due to the high profile nature of the case. Its worth a shot.

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    2. Bet NAPO WOULD NEVER ASK MANSFIELD..... NAPO like us all are probably too scared for the uproar it would cause.....

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    3. I think Joanna Hughes might though.....

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    4. I am amazed that we have not engaged with some of the bright people at the Howard League I am aware of several cases taken to JR by them in our old Trust....would make a great name for themselves to defeat Grayling....

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    5. NAPO's leaders will never ask. That would risk someone saying yes. That could put TR at risk. NAPO's leaders plainly don't want that.

      Simon Garden

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    6. Simon I am so tempted to challenge your remark but the longer I think about it the more I (sadly) think you are right.

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  6. As ever Mr Michael "Dick Spurt" Spurr comes out with an ejaculatory nonsensical response.

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  7. He talks about a democratic mandate and completely fails to address the universal contempt for TR amongst all Probation staff. He is either arrogant or deluded...probably both. IN A DEMOCRACY YOU GENERALLY TAKE ACCOUNT OF THE VIEWS OF THE PROFESSIONALS HAVING TO WORK TO ANY CHANGE SURELY!

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  8. For the first time in many years I feel genuinely stressed with work. I have felt demotivated for months now. But the change wrought up on us has meant that my case load has slightly come down but my report writing has doubled. It's not doable. So I keep trying to write good reports as I always did but my work otherwise suffers. What was a nice office to work in these last years has seen most of us become more hassled, less inclined to help and more short fused. It's all very sad. Thank goodness it's Friday and I can forget about the mess that is probation for a couple of days.

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  9. Just left work now, but could easily have stayed until Sunday night. cannot cope with the work, its coming from every angle like projectile vomit. My head is pounding and I don't know which task to do next they are all a priority. Please someone SORT IT OUT. What an utter mess.

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    1. It is friday, you have 2 days to recover you have done as much as you can. It is squarely the idiots at NOMS and chris graylings fault, not your own.

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  10. I am so relieved to arrive home and to feel safe. I know it sounds mad but everyone is so stressed we have a constant under tow of aggression in our office now, where previously we all got on and I feel anxious all of the time. This can not be repaired.

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    1. Its sad that we are made to feel like this at work, all the goodwill and case discussion we had to enhance our practice is gone. I would be very surprised it the private companies would be interested in such a demoralised workforce.

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    2. They are not interested and that is why the tendering process is such a shambles, with the MoJ not only moving the goalposts but making new rules up on the hoof and being both the referee AND the linesman. The ball will ALWAYS be awarded to the other side and you and I will ALWAYS be on the losing side.
      Why?
      Because Grayling wants this to work and he will sacrifice anything and anyone rather than look a fool. When you are all giving it 100%, each and every day, take a second to consider why. It will make not a tuppence of difference once the private companies come in, as their first aim will be to recoup some of the money spend, and the only feasible way of doing this will be either staff redundancies or reduced pay. Lest we forget out T&C's are only protected until April when they take over....from that point on we will all be little more that numbers on a spread sheet.

      And it is for this reason why I could not give and airborne act of copulation!

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  11. MARAC report to write for a colleague on leave. Thought it would be straight forward but the prison have taken the OASys and NPS have got the Delius because there's a new PSR needed.I know nothing about this man. It's ludicrous.

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  12. got a belter of a breach result today on someone who's messed me around for a couple of weeks - its little moments like these that make the job worthwhile !!!

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    1. What was the result, pray Anon at 20.35

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  13. an extra 60hrs UPW which is a good result for a Mags - my breach report threw the kitchen sink at him and I left him and his defence no 'wriggle room' !

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  14. Do you think the extra 60 hours will better able him to live successfully & without reoffending - is the supervision aspect of the order discharged?

    It possibly is a good result for all - I cannot know - but I always felt a sense of failure if I needed to instigate breach procedures, it indicated I had not convinced client of the value of compliance - however, I except we cannot be successful with all clients and extra upw is better than custody - unless he is offending prolifically now, in any event.

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  15. Dear Bidder
    my work is meaningless and without value and so will your shares be.Total Quality Management in action a la Grayling...

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  16. Challenge to Andrew Selous' blithe misrepresentation of Union role in staff TR split and "random" allocation.Ian Lawrence quoted http://www.politics.co.uk/news/2014/07/25/privatisation-lottery-admission-shows-grayling-misled-the-co P

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    1. New evidence has emerged that Chris Grayling misled the Commons when he denied that a lottery system was used to move probation staff to private firms.

      Earlier this month the justice secretary told MPs the allegation was "absolute nonsense".

      Labour MP Toby Perkins later told the justice secretary he would raise the issue as a point of order if he did not correct the record.

      Grayling wrote back by hand, saying: "You can raise it all you like. Selection was not done by drawing names from a hat."

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      But new prisons minister Andrew Selous has now admitted the allegations were true and that staff were moved from the probation service into private firms by random lottery.

      In a parliamentary answer to shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan, Selous said allocations were done via an "automatic assignment process" and failing that a "local evidence-based assignment criteria".

      But he then admitted that the allocations had been done by lottery where other methods had not worked.

      "In those few situations where neither process led to allocation, and only in the case of administrative support staff, then the guidance allowed for agreement on transfer to be reached on the basis of a random assignment process," he wrote.

      "This was designed to ensure that staff in similar circumstances had an equal opportunity to be assigned to either of the new organisations."

      Despite insisting that the method had only been used in a "few situations", Selous was unable to provide information about how many probation trusts had been forced to use the method.

      "We do not hold figures relating to the number of trusts which made use of a random assignment method or how many staff were affected," he said.

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  17. Went to see NPS manager I am CRC shafted. He wasn't in his office so I had a sneaky look at a memo on his desk from CEO, I know its wrong, but there's a war now and we need all the information we can get to see what they are up to. Anyway the memo said to offer all NPS jobs to those that have just qualified and did not get PO jobs post split for a fixed term with a view to permanent jobs, and for all those who had previously applied for NPS jobs such as agency staff and are on the reserve list. This makes a mockery of the shafting once again, so as we were all made to feel like shit they are now offering our jobs to those who were not even subject to the degradation of the shafting process, were is there transparency and fairness in this. Dirty Bastards. By the way this was from an office in dismantled Manchester.

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    1. I understood all CRC staff can apply for NPS vacancies up to point of share sale it was in a doc sent near to point of split ( sorry there has been so much material to read I cannot recall which doc). It had instructions for CRC staff to log in to NPS system so they can apply but you had to register first.
      BUT just want to say think carefully about NPS my experience is so negative I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND IT. Please do not think that NPS is the system we know continuing. It is unbelievable chaos with everything changed and perhaps the main point is that no-one knows what we are doing. You have read it here many times about new processes untested and unworkable with no practitioner input into development, that is the reality of NPS. IT systems that do not work and due to undergo massive change again next week to remove some of the "work arounds" (meaning temporary systems put in place to fix the bits that do not work and are now being removed - this represents change of the changes and further processes to learn) I can not stress enough how frightening it is to work in NPS at the moment.
      Also, please consider whether there is any security in NPS, which seems to be what everyone thinks. TR must be costing a fortune and it is not a bottomless pit, when Grayling needs to make further cuts and he will, he cannot take it from CRC and the only budget left will be NPS. I am NPS and fully expect to be made redundant within 2 years. Share sale will happen and then it will be full steam ahead to strip out NPS.

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  18. In my view all vacant nps jobs should be ring fenced for Crc staff as you require a particular skills set just like prison officer jobs are.

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    1. They seem to be treating CRC shafted staff like they have scurvy, they seem to have forgotten that we had no choice in this, and it seems there is no way back. They would rather employ anyone that can read and write rather than give the post to CRC staff, so much for the "most experienced staff" that was branded about to humiliate us and make us feel that we were somehow less experienced, and worthy, bullshit. With the sort of staff now being employed by NPS such as newly qualified, inexperienced agency staff this makes a mockery of those that were shafted into CRC. Well done Grayling you have managed to manufacture a service that will struggle to meet the demands of managing serious cases, arsehole, this goes against your objectives of the shafting process and shows how fundamentally flawed it was.

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  19. MofJ is trying to "have its cake and eat it too".If CRCs snd NPS are separate organisations then how can NPS say it will only employ staff from CRCs on secondment? This is presumably to "protect" a loss of staff from CRCs but thats not the concern of NPS. Can this secondment restriction not be challenged nationally I wonder.I think I've seen something from a TR Forum on Napo website about this; will have a search. Needs to be raised with Unions..P

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  20. West Midlands is seriously going downhill. We need urgent unannounced inspections which will reveal dangerous practices. If there are any journalist looking for a story... here's your chance.

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    1. Can u expand on why West Midlands is going down hill

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