The name Harry Fletcher will be very familiar to all Napo members. The erstwhile Assistant General Secretary parted company with the union not once, but twice. Regular readers will be aware that he decided to seek pastures new last year, after many years service, and for reasons not fully explained at the time. He was subsequently re-hired by Napo in order to fill a very obvious deficit in relation to the fight against TR, especially in Parliament, but his services were peremptorily dispensed with earlier this year, again for reasons not entirely understood.
Despite this, now self-styled as a 'criminal justice expert', Harry continues to enjoy a high profile in the media and is regularly quoted on probation-related matters, despite having severed his formal connection with Napo. Harry is renowned for his extensive contacts within the criminal justice field and hence is often first with the news, such as this intriguing tweet:-
Probation selloff - Just how 'legal' is the contractual process? The MOJ must be put under pressure to make public its own lawyers advice!!
It's worth reading his latest blog post on the subject of the TR omnishambles:-
July 9, 2014
Probation Trusts were abolished on the 1st of June and replaced by the National Probation Service (NPS) and 12 Community Rehabilitation Companies, shadow organisations prior to the sell off nearer Christmas. At first several Probation Trusts joined with 3rd sector ventures to form Mutuals and enter the bidding process. However most have now evaporated because of a lack of initial capital and fears of financial and reputational risk. Left in the ring now and likely winners are Capita, Geo and other large multi nationals.
Parliament and the Courts remain the best ways of halting the process but Chris Grayling is determined to sign off the contracts come what may even if that means that the private operations do not commence until spring 2015. There is little Parliamentary activity at present and it is getting later and later for court challenges. Meanwhile plans to introduce supervision for prisoners serving less than 12 months seem unlikely to be introduced before 2015/16 and could go the way of custody plus. Yet the savings that would be made from the sell off was the justification for the privatisation process in the first place! Those savings are not there.
The expansion of tagging is still on the agenda and a real threat. The firms who have won the new 9 year tagging contract worth £3 billion believe that the numbers being tagged on any given day will rise from 25,000 now to 100,000 by 2020. This means that the majority of CRC offenders will be supervised by GPS devices and not probation staff. A series of Parliamentary questions drafted by Harry Fletcher in conjunction with Mike Nellis have gone down this week. opinion on the probation Institute is divided. The Institute is part funded by the MOJ, some see it as an apology for the selloff others as an upholder of Professional Standards. Whichever it is unlikely to play a significant part in any last ditch stand to save the Public Probation Service It remains essential for all information about the chaos even if it is anonymous gets to MPs and the media before it is too late to locate reverse gear.Lets hope Napo's lawyers are on the case.