I know what you're thinking. How can it be Omnishambles Update 56 when we've already had 57 and 58? Simple. I forgot about 56 in draft and went right by it. Of course I could have just ignored it and pretended I hadn't noticed, but I'm not that kind of person. I like things done properly and in an orderly fashion, so 56 it is, even if out of sync.
I notice that Harry Fletcher is being somewhat forthright in his latest blog in saying that, since his departure and despite the impression being given by Ian Lawrence to the contrary, his information indicates that Parliament has been largely ignored by Napo:-
Just a Few Months Left
The process of selling off the Probation service in England and Wales remains a shambles. Hundreds of posts highlighting the chaos have been logged on the On Probation Blog. That blog should be essential viewing for all MPs and for many it already is. Staff report being taxed twice over because the Inland Revenue think they have two jobs, one for the old Trust and two at the NPS or CRC. Nothing on the IT side seems to work, scores of DV cases are unallocated and a 2 tier workforce is emerging that is class A in the NPS and class B in the CRCs.
There is and has been for months an urgent need for Parliamentary action but little has happened during the last period. Questions both written and oral and points of order should have been asked more or less every day but Ministers are getting an easy ride. One MOJ official expressed surprise to me last week at the lack of a real fuss about the sell off, another said that aspects of the contacting process and of tagging would not hold up to legal scrutiny.
There is to be a lobby in September of MPs by Probation staff, there will need a huge turn out if it is to have any impact.Simple, short, emotive and factual information is needed by all MPs of all parties to maximise any remaining hope of stopping the share sale.I'm not aware we ever heard what the explanation was for cancelling that briefing meeting in Parliament a couple of weeks ago? To make matters worse there's this:-
Further to the confident expectation by Ian Lawrence that Chris Grayling would be appearing before the Justice Select Committee in September for a one-off TR session - my contact on the JSC has just informed me that:
"There are no current plans for the Secretary of State to appear before the Committee."
Sorry to go off thread but I wanted to update the OASys situation as NOMS are currently looking into a giant hole scratching their heads and wondering what the hell to do! Staff will be aware that the update last week-end caused major problems which they hoped to fix but hadn't been able to at 4:30 today. They have canvassed OASys leads to ask how long we can go without OASys as they advised staff not to create any more assessments as there was a risk they would be lost. Any that were critical it was suggested should be printed off. Looks like they don't expect HP to get a fix in the near future so the only other options is to re-set the system to last week-end. Only trouble is this would mean that any assessments completed this week will be deleted! As if things aren't bad enough for staff this could be the final straw that breaks the last vestiges of morale left.
The IT system seems to be in meltdown with the email problems yesterday! Today in our office there were a variety of nDelius problems, log on difficulties, access to myservices, laptop security issues to name just a few! Would be interesting to hear from others if they have noticed IT getting worse this week?
We now learn that another key element of the TR omnishambles, the release of prisoners from local 'resettlement prisons' is proving impossible due to the system being rammed to capacity, and that the POA have decided to take action as indicated by this press release:-
The POA has today sent the first legal letter to the CEO of NOMS Michael Spurr as it challenges the recent decision to crowd more overcrowded public sector prisons. The prison population has continued to rise and NOMS has wasted millions of pounds in the last 2 years closing prisons, allowing thousands of staff to leave the service on voluntary redundancy packages all based on the gamble that the prison population would fall.
The POA has consistently warned NOMS and the Government that the prison population was not an exact science and that their policies would crash and burn, placing the public at risk and have serious consequences for the tax payer.Recent media interest on the prison service failings, has resulted in knee jerk reactions and placed a prison service already in crisis at serious risk of meltdown. The public has been outraged following recent revelations by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the findings of the Howard League for Penal Reform that prisons are grossly understaffed, prisoners and staff at risk of being seriously assaulted every day and level of suicides on the increase. It seems no one is listening or cares.
The POA General Secretary Steve Gillan said,
“We will not stand by and allow prisons to become warehouses or our staff to be treated like punch bags on the back of a political agenda that is designed to save money rather than rehabilitate prisoners. Overcrowding places both staff and prisoners in danger.”
Steve Gillan further added,
“That the level of suicides and violence in our prisons is totally unacceptable. Hundreds of staff are being sent all over the country every day and staff face burn out, as they are forced to work excessive long hours in an attempt to maintain Good Order and Discipline”.
A member of staff recently reported that prisoners were fearful for their safety as weapons and drugs were freely available and no staff around to protect them. When asked why the POA had resulted to legal redress, Steve Gillan said,
“When the employer won’t talk or listen to our genuine concerns we must take all reasonable steps to protect our members, the prisoners in our care and the public."Finally, I understand that there is likely to be some breaking news regarding Sarah Billiald, former CEO of Kent Probation Trust.