Friday, 11 July 2014

Latest From Napo 36

Here's the latest blog from the Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence, abridged by leaving out all the tedious bits:-
TR- The MoJ claim its really not in the public interest
Lots to catch up on today back at base, following another 'full on' week, including a positive NEC so more on that (and more besides) next week. Meanwhile, a quick blog posting to alert you to yet another extraordinary response to one of our Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, this time seeking information about the outcomes from the 'Testgate' process 1,2 and 3.
Essentially, we wanted to know how the Minister could justify authorising the shambles he has created, and what exactly was the evidence that made him and his officials believe that it was safe (and in the public interest) to have gotten us to this sorry state of affairs.
Anyway, as you will see from the section of a reply which covers other issues still in scope, the long and short of it in respect of the Testgates, is that the MoJ do hold some of the information that we are seeking (not exactly a revelation in itself, which is why we asked in the first place oddly enough) but the Mandarins don't believe that it serves the public interest to give it to us!
So there you have it; well actually no you don't, and no, you jolly well won't!
We await further advice from our own learned friends, but it does seem to prove the notion that the so-called testing process is written by those who think that only they need to know the answers. It's not fair to blame Grayling (on this ocassion only) for what the FOI Act says, as it was designed to allow the Establishment of the day to hide behind the same old excuses. But as we all know only too well by now, the first casualty in war and politics is always the truth. Nevertheless, it won't stop us seeking it.
Freedom of Information Request
Dear Mr Lawrence,
Thank you for your letter of 16 May to Amy Rees, Deputy Director, Transforming Rehabilitation Programme, in which you asked for the following information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ):
Napo would like to request full details of the results of Test Gates 1-3 insofar as they provide:-
- an assessment of the Trusts' implementation of the new operational processes;
- identification of any areas where action or contingency plans are needed;
- an in-depth understanding of the risk profile for the Department; and
- an assessment of business readiness for 1 June 2014
We are particularly interested in the level of preparedness of multi-trust areas, ICT issues and pay, allowances and other HR data for those transferring to the NPS. Finally we are interested in information relating to staff allocation against predicted caseloads/workloads.
Additionally, we request a copy of the terms of contracts upon which expressions of interest have been requested of bidders for each of the CRCs.
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). I can confirm that the department holds some of the information that you have asked for, but in this case we will not be providing some of the information that we hold to you as it is exempt from disclosure.
Concerning your request for full details of the results of Test Gates 1 to 3, we are not obliged to provide information if its release would affect the delivery of effective central government and other public services. In this case, we believe that releasing documentation relating to the outcomes of the Transforming Rehabilitation Test Gates would be likely to inhibit the free and frank provision of advice (section 36(2)(b)(i)); inhibit the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation (section 36(2)(b)(ii)); and otherwise prejudice, or would be likely to prejudice, the effective conduct of public affairs (section 36(2)(c)).
In line with the terms of this exemption in the Freedom of Information Act, we have also considered whether it would be in the public interest for us to provide you with the information, despite the exemption being applicable. In this case, we have concluded that the public interest favours withholding the information. When assessing whether or not it was in the public interest to disclose the information to you, we took into account the following factors:
Public interest considerations favouring disclosure
There is a public interest in disclosing information which helps further the public’s understanding of the way in which Government operates and contributes to the accountability of Ministers and public officials so as to increase public trust in the governmental processes. This can particularly be the case when information relates to the successful delivery of a relatively high profile programme, such as the Rehabilitation Programme.
Public interest considerations favouring withholding the information
Against disclosure is the public interest in preserving the willingness of senior managers to seek frank and open independent advice about programme delivery without the risk of premature disclosure. Disclosure would be detrimental to the integrity and effectiveness of the Department’s testing process. This may also impact on timely delivery of test reports as more iterations and clearances are required. It is in the public interest that officials have discussions about the threats to delivery of the programme and the opportunities offered by it in a protected environment that allows such matters to be evaluated frankly and in a way that helps to address them. This ensures that the Programme takes the actions required to maximise the chances of successful delivery and focuses its resources to that end.
We reached the view that, on balance, the public interest is better served by withholding this information under Sections 36(2)(b)(i), 36(2)(b)(ii) and 36(2)(c) of the Act at this time.

Outside the scope of the Act, and on a discretionary basis, you may find it helpful to know that, from the outset the Department’s intention has always been that these reforms will be rolled out in a controlled way that makes sure public safety is maintained, and this continues to be the case.


  1. It may well be the case that their "intention has always been that these reforms will be rolled out in a controlled way that makes sure public safety is maintained" - indeed, how could they say otherwise? - but the growing distance between their intentions and the developing reality is frankly stunning.

  2. Bring on the Judicial Review.. I hope NAPO do not lose the nerve, and definitely proceed towards having a Judicial Review. I have forgiven NAPOs other mistakes, but I will be unwilling to forgive them if they chicken out of "paying for a Judicial Review". They can afford pay offs/compromise agreements when it suits them, so they best be prepared to use OUR subs towards the legal costs of the "impending?" Judicial Review!

  3. Another week and the chaos is rapidly getting worse. Everyone is walking around like headless chickens, we're all running about and achieving nothing. No one knows what to do and how to do it. We are trying to keep to the practice we had before but delius Is not allowing us to. Every task as simple as logging a case onto delius takes 3 to 4 staff and about 36 clicks of a button, this has gone beyond a joke. Please someone this is effecting our wellbeing, people are leaving and cases just piling up with nowhere for them to go. This has got to stop, and those in power need to stop pretending that things are going smoothly, they are not. NOMs need to spend just half a day in an office to see just how the systems and good work we do have been destroyed. Bidders this is not a good business to get into you would be better off starting a company from fresh and moulding it to how you want it.

  4. KBO as Churcill said. Keep your heads down, its going to all come crashing down, watch your back and watch your mates back. Personally, I don't trust the union at a national level unless they're looking to set up a quiz night or a fact finding trip to cuba. Look after yourselves and your mates. A geordie PO xxxx

    1. We don't often invoke Churchill on here - 'Keep Plodding On' when women present or 'Keep Buggering On' when men in earshot apparently. Just for those who were wondering and no I'm not adding it to the glossary.

    2. Jim, I read this blog about 10 times a day and although you have admirably kept us up to date with what's going on do you happen to know in lay mans terms whether this whole fucking shtye TR is going to stop before members of staff get seriously ill. Who is accountable for our wellbeing, Grayling should be sued for the devastating impact he is having on us. The Service has turned into a circus with Grayling as the ring master.

    3. A very good heartfelt question and I really wish I could tell you it will all be right soon. What I can say is that I've linked up with some very dedicated people as equally determined to do everything we can to try and stop it, but we need help. We need even more information about how shyte TR is and the effect it's having on staff and clients. Napo needs this, but so does this independent blog.

      It's an old cliche, but this blog, just like a union, is only as good as it's contributors. People do send me stuff, often anonymously, and as we all know, information is power. We all know TR is a dangerous disaster and will only be defeated by hundreds and hundreds of individual actions and a continual barrage of negative stories in as many media outlets as possible.

      Please keep sharing the anger and pain - don't suffer in silence, seek support from colleagues, look out for colleagues, take care of your health and stay in touch.

      Thanks for reading and commenting,



    4. NPS is very quickly silting up, with few cases ending and more arriving by the day...have just learnt that we are responsible for those people who have been given notice of deportation, doesn't matter if they are high risk low risk or no risk just in the community...and we have to identify cases for trainees to manage , so will that be the rapist the murderer ? But it is the relentless demands from every angle that is doing for us...the Parole Board and prisons for reports and oral hearings, courts for additional information, recall section for annex whatevers( and on the right form please) ...and we find the oasys is lost in cyberspace. As has been reported elsewhere in the blog, it is the rubbish IT that will do for us finally, as it truly does take dozens and dozens of clicks to complete even the most minor of tasks such as allocating a case or adding a letter, yet we will be held accountable for this if we get it wrong. It is difficult to know where to start to provide evidence, as it is the basic concept that is so fundamentally flawed that it can never hope to work as it shows no understanding of the work that we do nor the complex problems of the people caught up in the criminal justice system...but it cannot work and I despair of the total lack of leadership and challenge. It is making us all sick.

    5. "It is difficult to know where to start to provide evidence, as it is the basic concept that is so fundamentally flawed"

      I understand and agree, but may I make a plea that people try and give some concrete examples, obviously taking care with too much detail that might make identification possible.

      This information is needed for MP's to ask awkward questions, for lawyers to bolster legal challenges and for the media to quote in articles.

      Please try guys and thanks for reading and commenting.

    6. I can imagine it is difficult to give details as well - but like Jim and now Harry Fletcher believe it is by exposing what is actually going wrong will lead to parliament or the courts actually influencing the way policy is instigated or the governement getting such a bad reputation from the publicity that change is inevitable.

      That info can really only come from the practitioners.

      I suggest writing in a little detail about one issue each week and sending it to your MP, copied to Napo and this blog or the Napo forum will make a difference - by publishing what you send - it will show to others how it might be done and if others do like wise - folk will learn from each other.

      Can also copy info to media - anonymously even - the radio Gloucester bloke - where Joanna Hughes was interviewed was inviting anon comments and others have also got into local radio and local papers.

      I applaud all probation folk that keep reporting on the details.

  5. You know it's bad when your first thought on hearing g a CRC colleague (caseload 100+) has broken a bone in her foot and will be in plaster for 6 one of JEALOUSY....I keep throwing myself at pot holes when out running but to no avail, nothing sprained or broken so far.....
    Meanwhile slowly slowly our CRC team grinds towards complete standstill.......

    1. This week I spoke to a colleague who had lost an entire report unrecoverable and had to start again from scratch. More pressure, anger and frustration.


    I’m hearing rumours that Chris Grayling is “in line for the chop” at the next government reshuffle. Sources tell me that the government is looking to bring in younger faces ahead of the next general election, and that Grayling’s performance is up for debate on matters such as Legal Aid Reform and his “hardline approach” on the prison book ban; which was designed to thwart the entry of drugs in prisons.

    The truth is that this is still all hypothetical; but with the top Tory heavy-weights performing well – such as George Osborne, Michael Gove, Theresa May and William Hague (who may relinquish his post as Foreign Secretary) – future reshuffle possibilities are narrowed down significantly.

    Milton is not a betting man, but if he were, his favourite to replace Chris Grayling would be Dominic Raab; who probably should have gotten the job last time around, because he was an actual lawyer.