Friday, 4 July 2014

Names Out of the Hat

House of Commons July 1st 2014

Toby Perkins (Shadow Minister (Business, Innovation and Skills); Chesterfield, Labour)
"My constituent Gwen MacDonald has worked for more than 20 years in the probation service in Sheffield. When she asked why she had not been selected to move with the national probation service—she was to move to one of the new companies instead—when someone who had been in the service for only six months had been selected, she was told that it was because the selection was done by drawing names from a hat. Does that not show an utterly shambolic approach to probation? Does it not say everything about this Government’s approach, and what is the Secretary of State going to do about it?"
Chris Grayling (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice ; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative)
"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."
This blog 'Anonymous' 3rd July 2014 17:42
"Categorically, in my old trust, names were picked from a hat. Not all, but some definitely were and Senior Managers know this to be true." 
This blog 'deb' 3rd July 2014 18:49
"Chris Grayling cannot deny this to be true when provision for it was written into the assignment procedure issued by the MoJ. I know this to be true because I joked about it on this blog and gave the page and paragraph number. I dont have it here, as all my papers are at work, but if anyone needs it in order to slap said document in front of CG, I'll gladly look it out." 
This blog 'Anonymous' 26 November 2013 19:40 
"If you think the above is bad wait til you see the actual documentation referred to. In the event a colleague's role doesn't fit the designated assignment process and there is no local assignment process available the MoJ advocates using a random method. It helpfully suggests either flipping a coin, pulling names out of a hat or assigning random numbers. So there you have it, the fate of you probation career could be decided on a flip of a coin. Such is the depths the MoJ have sunk to.............PS locally we favour spinning the bottle as our preferred method, seems as good as any other......"  
Ian Dunt website 3rd July 2014

Chaos in probation: Staff 'picked out of a hat' for privatised service

There were fears of chaos in the government's probation privatisation programme today, after it emerged staff had been selected to be moved to private firms by having their names picked out of a hat. An email chain seen by shows staff at a probation trust informing an employee with 20 years experience that he was selected for one of the new Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) by a random lottery.

"Can you please advise me on the criteria of how the PSOs [parole officers] were selected between CRC and NPS [National Probation Trust]," the parole officer writes.

"I have heard a disturbing rumour that names were placed in a hat, hopefully this was not the case." The support manager wrote back: "There was a random selection process and employee numbers were used to select between NPS and CRC.

"Employee numbers were drawn out of a hat by a panel of three."

The email chain is particularly embarrassing for Chris Grayling, who told the Commons two days ago that the claims were "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. It was based on what the balance of work staff had been doing was." Perkins commented: "It was shocking to hear that many staff have been selected for transfer by having their names pulled out of a hat. It's a shambolic conclusion to a worrying process."

Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said Grayling was "plumbing new depths".

He added: "It is an absolute disgrace and an insult to professional probation staff as well as a risk to public safety that staff are being allocated to new positions on a random lottery.

"Chris Grayling flatly denied in the House of Commons this week that staff were allocated by lottery while the probation service was being carved up. But there’s growing evidence that’s precisely what did happen, plumbing new depths even for this government.

"Treating the future of dedicated and experienced probation staff as if they’re no more than balls in a game of bingo is an insult to their professionalism and the importance of their work in keeping our communities safe."

The news also confirms fears from many critics that the privatisation of probation is turning into a disaster for the Ministry of Justice. The department's own internal risk assessment warned of an 80% risk of "an unacceptable drop in operational performance".

Grayling is understood to consider the project part of his legacy and is keen to force through changes before the election.

This blog 3rd July 2014 19:37
"18:49 is absolutely right random allocation was in the allocation process but only in respect to Case Administrators. I was sifted this way using random number generation in excel against another manager colleague who between us had over 40 years service. The Trust were advised to use this process by the MoJ TR programme team! I can tell you who was in the room at the time and they would undoubtedly confirm this. 3 other SPO with similar lengths of Service were sifted at the same time in the same way. Chris Grayling may deny that this happened but shortly afterwards I wrote to him and informed him that this was happening! I still have a copy of that letter which will be with NAPO campaigns tomorrow. They already have details of this how I was allocated."


  1. There is also the issue that staff were asked to state their preferred option without knowing what the terms and conditions, job role, location or who their employer would eventually be. And we still don't know what job roles are going to be, what we'll be asked to do, with CRC operational roles going the process of being refined. Also the senior managers and HR making out that you had a choice when in fact you didn't, whole teams being assigned to CRC with no real hope of winning an appeal because of what cases you held on a specific date.

  2. Justice questions 23 june 2014 - from Hansard:

    "Sadiq Khan: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether a criminal conviction is a disqualification for a Community Rehabilitation contract. [201106]

    23 Jun 2014 : Column 2W

    Jeremy Wright: Final bids to run the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are expected at the end of June 2014, and will be rigorously assessed against robust quality, legal, commercial and financial criteria. In the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire, bidders were required to declare that their organisation, directors or partners or any other person who has powers of representation, decision or control had no convictions in relation to criminal offences such as conspiracy, corruption, bribery or fraud and that their organisation had no convictions for criminal offences relating to the conduct of their business or profession and acts of grave misconduct. As set out in the Invitation to Negotiate, bidders are required to notify the department of any changes to the position set out in their declarations or anything that may affect their continued participation in the competition and the department reserves the right to undertake a full re-assessment and, if grounds for rejection exist, exclude the bidder from further participation in the competition.

    The MOJ also undertook extensive due diligence of bidders on a range of matters, including integrity and legal compliance issues. As a consequence we have a robust and diverse market."

    Should Serco be running any probation contracts?

    1. Guardian

      A former Serco executive who oversaw custody contracts that are at the centre of a police inquiry has become a director of another company that also services Ministry of Justice contracts.

      Paul Rennie was Serco's head of custody services in London and the east of England from December 2011 to August 2013.

      Serco has since found evidence in those regions that prisoners had been recorded as delivered ready for court when they were not.

      Rennie left Serco in the same month as the MoJ began investigating a possible fraud worth up to £40m and called in detectives from City of London police.

      He is now business development director at Taylormade, a security firm that is being subcontracted work by Serco from the prisoner escort contract.

      There is no implication that Rennie has done anything wrong, but both he and Serco do not wish to comment on why he left. Rennie says that he may be called as a witness in any subsequent criminal prosecution.

      Margaret Hodge, the chair of the Commons public accounts committee, said she would like both Rennie and the company to be open about his role because a firm in which he is involved is profiting from the same prisoner service contract.

      "We have got to get answers to key questions as to why Paul Rennie left Serco and why he jumped just before a police investigation was launched, especially since he has since turned up at another company which benefits from similar contracts.

      "At the very least this looks bad and it makes a case yet again for complete transparency where the taxpayer's money is involved."

      The development comes after the release of a highly critical report into Serco's custody services in the east of England.

      The chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, found that "persistent and pressing" staff shortages adversely affected people held in privately run court cells across Cambridgeshire and Essex.

      In August, the MoJ put Serco's £285m prisoner escorting and custody services (PECS) contract for London and the east of England under administrative supervision and called in police. Rennie left the firm earlier that month, according to his LinkedIn page.

      "Interim audit findings suggest that some Serco staff have been manipulating their performance figures to show enhanced performance against this measure," the MoJ said in a statement.

      The firm has said it will repay £2m of profits on the contract for transfers in London and East Anglia since 2011.

      Taylormade was given a contract by Serco in April 2013 to provide medical services in support of its prisoner escort contract.

      Serco also brings in custody officers from Taylormade on a temporary basis to meet high demand or fill vacant posts on the prisoner escort contract.

      Taylormade is also an approved Home Office contractor, providing emergency medical cover and support staff on deportations.

      The firm's website states that Taylormade is "the sole medical provider to the Home office for repatriation of illegal immigrants and failed asylum seekers".

      Rennie declined to answer the Guardian's questions about why he left Serco and whether it was appropriate for him to be working for a sub-contracted firm, saying he does not wish to prejudice any subsequent criminal prosecution.

      "I am aware there has been a police investigation by City of London police. I do not know whether that is still ongoing.

      "If it is, I would not wish to respond to your questions. If proceedings are brought against anyone, and I have no information whether or not they might be, I am conscious of the possibility that I may be asked to be a witness," he said.

      "I have not recruited detention and custody officers and prison escort officers for Taylormade."

      Serco would not disclose if any staff have left the company over the fraud allegations.

    2. A spokesman told the Guardian: "There have been a number of management changes both within the PECS contract and the wider business as a result of Serco's corporate renewal programme and internal restructure.

      "This programme of renewal was positively assessed by the Cabinet Office at the end of January 2014."

      Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "It is worth asking what corporate renewal means when managers can disappear then resurface as subcontractors."

      Regarding the report by the chief inspector of prisons, Serco's partnership director, David Holdsworth, said: "While we are pleased that inspectors found our staff had good interpersonal skills and were courteous to detainees, we accept that there have been some staffing issues across Cambridgeshire and Essex and that there is room for improvement."

    3. Presumably being under investigation does not constitute being excluded as its not a conviction - so make hay while the sun shines. Fill yer boots, for tomorrow we're out of a job!

  3. From Hansard, 1 July 2014

    "Sarah Champion: It has come to light that Sodexo plans to bid for contracts to run 12 of the 21 probation areas. Does the Minister feel comfortable in trusting such vital work to a company that cut its staff budget so drastically that prisoners in Northumberland were able to riot?

    Chris Grayling: First, I cannot comment on the nature of the organisations that have submitted bids. We have a good mix of organisations from a wide range of different circumstances across the country, I am pleased with the progress, and we will make further information available in due course. I have been to the prison in Northumberland since the trouble there, and I have no reason to believe that the event was connected to the public or private status of the prison—my understanding from staff is that it was started by a number of prisoners who were upset that their working day had been extended by an hour."

  4. Also from 1 July 2014

    19. Mr Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East) (Lab): What progress he has made on changes to the provision of probation services. [904582]

    The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): Reoffending rates remain unacceptably high, particularly among short-sentenced offenders. By bringing in a diverse market of providers, paying by results for reductions in reoffending, and extending rehabilitation to all offenders leaving custody, we can bring down these reoffending rates. We are on track to deliver these essential reforms by 2015.

    Nia Griffith: What reports has the Secretary of State received of cases going unsupervised since the 21 community rehabilitation companies were formed on 1 June? If he has received any such reports, what does he intend to do about them?

    Chris Grayling: We have been bedding in the new system over the past month. I have been monitoring carefully what is happening. For example, the level of recalls has not changed significantly as a result of the
    1 July 2014 : Column 730

    changes. We are pushing ahead with the changes, and the organisational changes in particular, while the probation service is in the public sector to ensure that we can iron out the inevitable teething problems that accompany such a change. I am confident that good progress is being made, and public safety remains our No. 1 priority.

    Mr Nicholas Brown: What is the Secretary of State’s latest estimate of the costs of his disastrous reorganisation of the probation service?

    Chris Grayling: As a result of the reforms to the probation service, the criminal justice system will save money in the coming years as reoffending is brought down. It has for a long time been a travesty that those who go to jail for less than 12 months receive no supervision, support or mentoring at all when they leave. If we could just bring reoffending levels among that group down closer to the rates of those who do receive support and supervision, we would see a massive reduction in the costs of our justice system.

  5. From written answers 2014

    Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether staff working for community rehabilitation companies will be able to (a) recall offenders and (b) write parole reports without consulting National Probation Service staff. [201199]

    Jeremy Wright: The decision whether to recall an offender to custody continues to rest with the Secretary of State. Where a warning does not appear sufficient or appropriate, CRCs will be required to refer potential breaches to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) with a breach report and a recommendation on the action to be taken. NOMS will take the final decision on behalf of the Secretary of State. The enforcement process for CRCs and the National Probation Service was described in detail in our published Target Operating Model.

    Offenders serving indeterminate sentences for public protection will be managed by the National Probation Service: the arrangements for Parole Board hearings during their recall period will remain unchanged. If
    25 Jun 2014 : Column 212W

    recalled to custody, offenders allocated to the CRCs who are serving determinate sentences will continue to be managed by the CRC, unless their risk of serious harm increases to “high”. CRCs will need to provide information, as appropriate, to support the recall process and consideration of re-release.

    Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice whether (a) Serco and (b) G4S will be permitted to bid for community rehabilitation company contracts. [201207]

    Jeremy Wright: G4S and Serco decided to withdraw from the competition to select lead providers of rehabilitation services.

  6. Grayling talks out of his hat. Here are two extracts from Hansard, 16 June 14, about 30 mins apart:

    The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (Chris Grayling): Let me start by challenging the premise of the question posed by the right hon. Gentleman. We do not have a prison overcrowding crisis. Today’s prison population is 85,359, against a total useable operational capacity of 86,421, which means we have more than 1,000 spare places across the prison estate...

    ... Then...

    Chris Grayling: The overcrowding levels at Swansea jail have barely changed in the past four years. Clearly, I would like to bring down the number of people in overcrowded jails, which is why we are increasing the capacity of the adult male estate and why I will bring new capacity on stream this autumn. Of course, two years down the track we will open the first new prison in Wales for a very long time. It will be the first since Parc prison and the first to be located in north Wales—it will be in Wrexham—which will ease pressures on the system in Wales and allow us to detain prisoners closer to home.

  7. strange how in our office the SPOs bezzie mates who are CAs got to stay in NPS and the CA who is lovely but keeps herself to herself and does a fantastic job was shunted into the CRC. We all saw this coming - i'd like to think it was names out of a hat but I honestly thing there's been some fiddling going on to protect friends. If the SPO did not have a direct hand in it she's certainly sent word upstream - that's how it feels anyway but maybe we're wrong but it's all just too coincidental. Do they all think we're stupid??

  8. Please don't use the term sifted. There was no sifting, only shafting. We have all been shafted!

  9. Two questions.

    1. What type of offenders are dealt with by NPS.

    2. How will probation personnel from CRC apply to get into NPS? Will it work along transfer lines, like in the police or will the vacancy be externally advertised?

    In terms of picking names out of hats when ones livelihood and future career depends on it is abhorrent. The sad thing is that people with many years of loyalty were simply disregarded during the sifting process. Seniority as well as merit should count for something.

    I'm afraid that the probation service has been sold out completely. It has now become, I'm afraid to say it, but a third class (public) service provider.

    1. Surely some of these cases must amount to constructive dismissal. Picking names out of a hat ffs!!

    2. I have always felt the same Anon 9.02, and believe that we were made redundant when shafted into the CRC without a redundancy payment a cheap way out for CG. I am sure in employment law it states that you cannot be made to do a job you don't want to do, so how comes we have all taken the shafting without legal challenge. Never mind it can't be reversed as most people believe on this blog if this is illegal, immoral and unethical why has it allowed to be continued. IT SHOULD BE CHALLENGED, COME ON UNIONS.

    3. My grievances are ongoing and I'm in touch with a solicitor. I haven't given up just yet.

    4. I hope you win, and if you need any help or support I can pass my details onto you via Jim. As I have said before we only need one case to win as a test case and the whole thing can come tumbling down. GOOD LUCK.

  10. Just a thought the 61 Mil that CG has put aside for redundancies may have been put aside to pay compensation to those shafted into the CRC's after he looses any legal challenge regards the process. Lets face it we are so understaffed that they can't afford the frontline staff to be made redundant. Just a happy thought!!!!

  11. A message from Annette Hennessy :

    Innovo CLM are back in the running - they have amended their bid (to exclude the Manchester College) and had it accepted.

    I think this is quite good news - definitely wouldn't want Interserve; Carillion or A4E.

    1. Of course it was accepted. They need to make up the numbers m.

    2. you're right its to make it appear to be a fairer field. They don't stand a cat in hells chance.

      It will be interesting once the post-mortem commences to see if any of the losers start spitting their venom - they'll be bad losers the lot of them.

    3. So who's bankrolling the £37M that TMC said they couldn't commit to? Its not like a few tinshakers on a few street corners would raise that amount. Maybe they've been made an offer they can't refuse by Mike Maiden's Carillion (Hennessy's predecessor at Cumbria)? Or Roger Hill's Sodexo?
      What's it to be - horse's head or horse shit?

    4. Have just seen that the CLM Mutual aka as Innovo has linked with Geo group who are also partnrred up with the mutual covrring NYorks,Humberside and Lincolnshire (Delta) and a 3rd mutual jnvolving Willowdene,Warwickshire and West Mercia I think...Grayling a pparently not for sharing list of bidders..whats he hiding then?

  12. Signed off with work related stress, I went to GP today. Locum, so I had to start the whole sorry story again. Mid account, she asked where I worked. "Probation Service" I said. Her face fell. "Stay away" she said, scribbling.

    1. Very sorry to hear that - take care and hope things work out ok for you.



    2. thanks. appreciated Jim. I have great family, great friends, great neighbours. Sadly a crap government, a cowardly management and betrayed vocation

  13. Probation Officer4 July 2014 at 18:42

    What an awful state of affairs. This confirms what we suspected. It's bad enough Trusts we required to do this, even worse they actually did it. It also confirms my fear all along that we are simply moving towards an outcome that has long been decided.

    Then they came for probation - and there was no one to speak for us!

    1. Read the article and it made me upset that no one has stood up and spoke for us including us. I think all our management should be ashamed of themselves salivating at the mouths to prepare mutuals to have as partners murdering unethical companies, where are their principles and morals, how can they allow themselves to be a part of companies that have been involved in murder, torture, rape of vulnerable women etc. I can find no corner in my mind where I can agree to this and I don't know how the mutual can.

  14. A miracle or something else....isnt it wonderful how, after months of roadshows announcements etc the Cumbria/Lancs Innovo bid crumbled when Manchester College pulled out last week.... yet today a new bid rises from the ashes as Innovo go into partnership with I'm not a hard nosed businessperson but how a could a new bid be negotiated in 72 hours to ensure that all parties came out with a degree of could suppose that it couldn't...but if it could how much time and effort was then spent working the bid with Manchester College and was it necessary? The fear of course is that it was less of a negotiation and more of a "will you please go into business with us and tell us what you would like from us".....staff mutual.....staff schmutual more like.....

    1. News
      Press Release: The GEO Group UK Ltd and Innovo (CLM) CIC Announce Partnership for TR Competition
      Friday, July 4th, 2014

      The GEO Group UK Ltd and Innovo (CLM) CIC have today announced that they are to form a Joint Venture to bid for the Ministry of Justice's Transforming Rehabilitation competition in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside.

      Phil Watkins, GEO UK's Managing Director said:

      "We are delighted to be announcing our relationship with Innovo today. Innovo is the third staff mutual organisation that GEO has partnered with in the MoJ's Transforming Rehabilitation, following Delta Rehabilitation (North Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire) and Mercia Community Action / Willowdene Farm (West Mercia and Warwickshire).

      We share joint values and a vision for transforming the lives of offenders, reducing re-offending and keeping the public safe. Together we have offered the Ministry of Justice an innovative and strong proposition."

      Innovo's Director, Geri Byrne-Thompson said:

      "The staff who make up Innovo have been managing offenders for many years, helping them to turn their lives around. We are excited by the opportunities this competition brings and are delighted to be working with GEO to build services which will serve the needs of offenders and the local communities of Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside"

      Editors' notes:

      1. The GEO Group UK Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The GEO Group Inc., a world-leading private offender management company with strong criminal justice experience in the UK, United States, Australia and South Africa managing over 70,000 offenders. In the UK, GEO operates Immigration Removal Centres for the Home Office and the Prisoner Escort and Custody Services contract for the Ministry of Justice through its joint venture GEOAmey.

      2. Innovo (CLM) CIC is a not-for- profit community interest company comprising the staff groups of the former Cumbria & Lancashire and Merseyside Probation Trusts.

      3. The Ministry of Justice's Transforming Rehabilitation competition was launched in September 2013. Further details can be found on the Ministry of Justice website.

      For more information about the GEO Innovo Joint Venture, please contact:

      GEO UK's Press Officer on 01628 519900 or 07710 489048.

    2. I suspect the staff groups of the former trusts (a) haven't a clue about this and (b) didn't have a voice in this.

      About as mutual as rape & pillage.

    3. How was the meeting facilitated? I would imagine MoJ staff "suggested" Innovo speak to GEO ....but this during the most critical part of the competion...If it smells of is shite!
      The other bidders might want to take note and perhaps have a word with their legal teams ...there is a claim here if you don't win!!!

    4. isn't the bid out of time - the deadline was 30th June or is it a case of MOJ want Innovo and will do what it takes to get them through ie move the goalposts. I am convinced that they will win.

    5. Didn't Ethical Walls marry Lord BBC some years back, after leading us a merry dance? Nice to have you back with us, ma'am.

  15. Wouldnt it be wonderful if we could pick who we wanted to be our SPO out of a hat?

  16. no but it would be wonderful to have managers who errr manage...

  17. Can you image if a PO said "well I have this offender coming out of prison who's a high risk of causing serious harm but I don't know whether he should be released to Approved Premises or go back to live with his parents. I know there's OGRS, RM200 and OASys but I just don't have the time to go through a proper static or clinical assessment process so I think I'll just toss a coin to make the decision!" Rightly they'd be disciplined. Or if a Judge said he couldn't decide whether to send an offenders to custody or put them on a Community Order so he would toss a coin instead! They'd be dismissed. But the MpJ demonstrates all the decision making skills of a crack cocaine addict (except their addiction is to money, power and neoliberal econimics) and that's considered by them to be perfectly acceptable. What happened to pro social modelling by the MoJ?

  18. Based upon the premise of today's headline blog, in a bizarre kind of way I like the idea that a young pup of a PSO shafted to NPS can instruct a PO of 20+ years' experience (shafted to CRC) in how to conduct a breach. I imagine fur would fly. Oh what fun and games Grayling has set in motion with his Bidders Edition of that popular public school game, "my cock's bigger than your cock".

    1. On the opposite side as CRC shafted I have been asked by newly qualified officers to help with assessing risk and how do they do XYZ, so much for the most experienced staff being assigned to the NPS.

  19. oooo people careful, we should remember we are and will remain colleagues, you all sound as if this split crap has worked....IT IS ALL FALLING APART