Saturday, 19 July 2014

Taking the Piss

Lets start with some classic bollocks from the NPS CEO Michael Spurr writing in issue 15 of 'Getting Started'
I’m really grateful for all the hard work colleagues have been doing since we moved to new structures last month. I know that the transition has not been easy and that implementing the changes has placed additional pressures on everyone.

In particular, I recognise IT glitches and the need to operate with temporary ‘work-arounds’ for some processes have added to the pressure and created understandable frustrations.

Overall, work continues to be delivered to high standards across the country and that is a tribute to the professionalism and commitment of Probation staff in CRCs and across the NPS. But I know we need to improve the IT service you are receiving and colleagues are working hard to do that.

There will be a major IT upgrade later this month which will resolve most of the current technical issues and remove the majority of ‘work arounds’. This upgrade will also restore the link between N-Delius and IAPS and will therefore provide significant service improvements.

NPS Deputy Directors and CRC Chief Executives are working together to ensure that the new systems operate cohesively. Adapting to the new working   arrangements was always going to be a challenge and create some inevitable tensions and teething problems.

Any change of this scale is bound to do that – but during my visits and discussions with Probation staff, I’ve been impressed by the determination to work through the issues and to get the ‘job done’. We must continue to do that – to work together to deal with issues as they arise and to develop and refine new ways of working to meet our responsibilities to offenders, to our partners and to the public.

Looking forward the new structures will provide real opportunities to improve practice and consistency in the NPS and to develop new approaches and innovation in the CRCs.
We have received a good range of bids for each of the Contract Package Areas and these are now being evaluated. Share sale will take place by the end of the year – and new arrangements for ‘Through the Gate’ services and supervision of offenders serving under 12 month prison sentences will be introduced across the country. 
The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms are now a reality; they are fundamentally changing the way we work. But we all retain a common goal – to ‘prevent victims by changing lives’, and effective partnership working both between the NPS and CRCs, with prisons and with local partner agencies will remain critical to the work we do for the public. 
As CEO of NOMS, I have accountability for ensuring that the whole offender management system works effectively, and maintaining a culture of collaboration and positive engagement across all parts of the Agency and with local partners is a key responsibility. 
Thank you for all you are doing to deliver the changes required – and for your dedication to the vital work we do for the public. 
Michael Spurr, NOMS Chief Executive Officer
With chaos everywhere, here's Mark Leftly in the Independent:- 
What crisis? Ploughing on with probation service reform

If you thought that teachers hated their erstwhile Education Secretary, you should talk to probation officers. Their anger at the Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, makes even the most left-wing teachers look like apologists for Michael Gove.

Probation has been in chaos since the start of June, when the service was split ahead of 70 per cent of it being handed to private sector managers later this year. Bidders for what are called Community Rehabilitation Companies include France’s Sodexo and the FTSE 250 group Interserve.
Napo, the probation union, has sent a bulletin to MPs with examples of how the changes to the service’s structure have left it at “crisis point”. These include a temporary officer leaving due to the working conditions, meaning that 21 people at high risk of harm, including sex offenders, are currently unallocated.
Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), said it was “inaccurate to paint a picture of ‘upheaval’” and “inaccurate to suggest that the transition has resulted in excessive workloads”.  
“Inaccurate” is the MoJ’s buzzword for this issue. It was the reply I received from the press office when I asked for comment on the Napo parliamentary bulletins. The ministry’s position is, then, that probation officers have simply got it wrong when they say case files have been lost, offenders not met, and that the stress of the changes has been unbearable.
An MoJ source told me this week that when Mr Grayling is “cornered, he comes back fighting” – only the language was a little more earthy. As a result, deny, deny, deny has become the mantra.
It reminds me of the 1984 Christmas special of Yes Minister, when wannabe PM Jim Hacker echoed Otto von Bismarck: “First rule of politics: never believe anything until it’s been officially denied.”
In delivering the final insult to us as a profession, we don't even have a proper minister any more. Here's Ian Dunt writing on the politics.co,uk website:-
Chaos in prisons – but the minister goes part time
For a little while yesterday, Andrew Selous' biography on the Ministry of Justice's website mentioned the fact he was unpaid. And then, as a handful of home correspondents on Twitter noticed, it disappeared.
Since then, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed to the Howard League that he is in fact unpaid. Selous will only be paid for his role as assistant whip. So the role of managing Britain's prison estate is not just a part time one – one which was only filled as something of an afterthought. It is also the lesser of the part time roles. It's not much more substantial than a hobby.
Filling the role of prisons minister in the reshuffle was a shambles from the start. It was clear everyone felt it was a hot potato. The estate is full, cash is being haemorrhaged stuffing extra prisoners into private prisons against contract, and the total number of prison officers has fallen by 30% over the past three years. A draconian new 'right-wing' regime is imposing ever-harsher penalties on inmates, including a humiliating programme of de-personalisation and solitary confinement. Many experts privately warn they are expecting riots over the summer, especially if there are prolonged heatwaves.
Since November last year, when the draconian new rules were introduced, the number of suicides in jail has doubled compared to the same period a year ago. There were 42 suicides in the first half of this year, compared to 30 the year before. "Deaths have risen sharply in recent months," Nigel Newcomen, the prisons and probation ombudsman, said recently. "It is too early to be sure why this rise is occurring, but the personal crisis and utter despair of those involved is readily apparent, as is the state's evident inability to deliver its duty of care to some of the most vulnerable in custody."
There's significant increase in male self-harm, which has risen annually by 3,000 since the coalition came to power in 2010. Last year, there were 23,183 self-harm incidents in prison. Murder rates are also increasing, with four alleged homicides in 2013 – the highest number since 1998.
As the chief inspector of prisons in England and Wales, Nick Hardwick, told Newsnight: "If you look since the beginning of the year, our inspection findings have dropped significantly. We are seeing a lot more prisons that are not meeting acceptable standards across a range of things we look at. And I go to most of these inspections and I see with my own eyes a deterioration.
He went on to describe "people being held in deplorable conditions who are suicidal, they don't have anything to do and they don't have anyone to talk to". He added: "We need to look at what's under our noses and sort that."
We are witnessing a self-inflicted prison crisis, the result of an overuse of incarceration, cuts to funding, free-market experiments, macho-posturing and a refusal to look at the evidence of what actually reduces reoffending. But far from doing anything about it, the government appears to be losing interest. The prison minister job was an afterthought. Now it is filled - part time and unpaid - by a man with no track record on prison issues.
This is not the way you'd treat a matter of priority. There's only one logical conclusion: the prison system is in crisis and the coalition doesn't care.
Finally, to round this depressing blog post off and as the radio silence from Napo continues, I'm genuinely mystified. Why would the General Secretary waste 10 minutes of an important Chairs meeting berating both myself and this blog? Perhaps even more significantly, why didn't anyone present at least attempt to counter his bluster? 

It brings to mind an NEC meeting earlier in the year when Joanna Hughes dared to ask the General Secretary some questions and was treated to an astonishing verbal haranguing for her pains. Not a peep out of the assembled throng I'm told, although the collective embarrassment was palpable apparently.

Only after the meeting were complaints passed to the monitors and both a verbal and written apology were forthcoming. My point is to illustrate the dysfunctionality of leadership and accountability that exists at the top of Napo. I've heard the NEC referred to as 'wimps' and I continue to maintain that they are completely incapable of exercising line management of the General Secretary.

Why does this matter? Because we're supposed to be fighting a battle against TR, that's why. It's what I'm doing. It's what this blog is doing. It's what I think the vast majority of readers and contributors are doing. I just wish we could be assured that Napo at the top was as committed and capable. Oh, and just for the record, I'm not interested in talking to the General Secretary either. His line manager would be a different kettle of fish on the other hand.

I really don't care how unpopular I am down at Chivalry Road or Petty France. I will continue to speak as I find and challenge bullshit and bluster from wherever it comes and especially when it interfere's with the current fight to save an honourable profession.  

Let me spell it out. In terms of fighting TR, what we are witnessing at Napo HQ is nothing more than some 'going through the motions'. The absolute minimum necessary that tries to give the impression that 'something' is going on. I'm outraged by it and I think many others are too. Things are getting desperate and we don't want to hear bleating about the evils of social media - we want to see some bloody action! So, just to reassure readers, this blog will not be taking a holiday and will carry on the fight against TR throughout the summer. 

As ballot papers go out to Napo members, stay tuned if you share my concerns and worries for the future, not just of the probation service, but our union as well. We have the opportunity to debate the issues as openly as possible and send a clear message to all the candidates that the membership are in no mood to tolerate the status quo. Chivalry Road has got to be shaken up! 

101 comments:

  1. I am SO sorry Jim. I could have gone to the Chair' s meeting last week as a former Chair of a now merged branch. After looking at the agenda, I chose not go. I didn't feel the content warranted the effort - most of the morning agenda was just disseminating info which IMO could have been done via written bulletins. If I'd know that you were to be subject to an haranguing in your absence I would DEFINITELY have gone and stuck up for this blog. Am concerned to hear that no one else did.
    Deb

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    1. Whoever is leaking info to you Jim, I think you need to ckeck the veracity of what they are saying, From what I have heard from speaking with someone twho was there, your blog was not discussed and you were not berated...

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    2. On this particular point I tend to think my source is pretty accurate - but who knows where the truth lies in all this? I'm told IL talked about the problem of 'social media' at the GLB AGM on Friday and regularly rages about it at Chivalry Road, so I'm inclined to think my info is correct.

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  2. Very kind of you to say so Deb, but don't worry as I'm convinced the penny will eventually drop. More and more awkward questions will be forthcoming as the debate gets going amongst the candidates for election.

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    1. But WHERE will this debate take place?

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    2. Sorry, PS to above- who is the Gen Sec's "line manager"? Why haven't they done anything earlier if things are so bad?

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    3. The debate will take place on social media in the main. The General Secretary's line manager is the National Chair representing delegated authority vested in the NEC from the membership.

      Why haven't they done anything earlier? Weak, ineffective leadership. The whole set-up is dysfunctional. How many times do I have to spell it out guys?

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    4. Sorry I asked....

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  3. This blog is filling a major void that should be led by NAPO. There is no other collective space for staff to vent their concerns and share their day to day experience of the TR shambles. I have never felt so unhappy or out of control at work and can't see it getting better anytime soon. NAPO should not be criticising this blog they should be harnessing its energy and information.

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    1. Well said. It's a shame that those over at NAPO HQ struggle to see this. If our union cann't see the benefits of this blog in the fight against TR then what do you think that says about NAPO's commitment to fight TR. They should very quickly wise up and get real otherwise it will start to cost them a heavy price in the long term.

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    2. "There is no other collective space for staff to vent their concerns"

      I would amend that to "There is no other *well read* collective space for staff to vent their concerns"

      What concerns me is that many in probation seem to feel powerless to change their own situations or even to voice their concerns.

      Way back - this blog was one probation officer writing anonymously - and no one commenting: -

      "Saturday, 4 September 2010
      In the Beginning
      All blogs have to start somewhere - and this is it. I'm fed up with work - a job I absolutely loved has gone horribly wrong and is about to get a whole lot worse. I moan endlessly to colleagues - and clients - they listen politely and think 'poor sod, he'll be retired soon'. Nobody understands what the hell probation is all about - there's never been a decent tv drama series and this void of universal ignorance is ruthlessly taken advantage of by successive governments in order to wreak havoc upon us. We've been nationalised, rationalised, marginalised, bureaucratised and will shortly be privatised. I feel helpless as this madness goes on around me and then suddenly all becomes clear - start blogging! - NO COMMENTS "

      Surely the whole thing about being a probation OFFICER is being a person who supervises & oversees clients - informs and expresses opinions to courts and others and IS CREATIVE IN FINDING SOLUTIONS FOR problems - not just saying - no one lets me say anything -

      All most anyone can start a blog - post comments on the message forums that already exist - including Napo's

      http://www.napo2.org.uk/phpBB3/viewforum.php?f=2

      comment on articles via newspapers comment pages, write to newspapers, Use Twitter and Facebook to challenge what others are saying - communicating directly with those you disagree with.

      Turn up at Meetings where policy-makers are speaking and ask questions, use 'phone ins' on the radio - question-time type programmes on TV & radio and I have probably forgotten a few.

      I am not sure when I started - probably just as I was sitting up in my cot - but I got encouragement - when feeling rather cut off - having moved from a City probation job to a semi rural one - which conveniently was far nearer to London than previously - I went to a public meeting of NACRO or THE NEW BRIDGE or some other penal reform group - I can't remember and Leon Brittan as Home Secretary said some stupid things and I got up and challenged him and was fobbed off and angry - also in the audience was David Mathieson - CPO Merseyside, & my CPO when I moved in 1982 - at the end he made a point of seeking me out and congratulating me for speaking publicly - I haven't stopped since - please do not deceive yourself that we have no outlets - we do.

      Thanks to Jim for consistently making this one available.

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    3. Great post Andrew (and "re-post" within) . As an aside, I can remember at least one SERIOUSLY BAD tv drama...Hard Cases, anyone? Or was it Jack of Hearts?

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    4. Hard Cases! Based in Nottingham I think. Opening scene the SPO going off the rails and burning his files? - drove a Morris Traveller which sort of nicely dates it - indeed I used to have one,,,,,I think he lived on a narrow boat, or am I losing it?

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    5. From the archives - this from 08th October 2010 (it actually led to my trademark picture of Windsor Davies)

      'If Only We Were on TV'

      To a great degree the Probation Service is a secret service. In my experience public misunderstanding is quite widespread, even amongst the chattering classes. It's always been a great mystery to me why there has never been a successful tv drama series. There are some brilliant story lines, all human life is there somewhere, but the only effort in recent memory was 'Hard Cases' set in Nottingham way back in the 1980's. If I remember correctly there was only one series, possibly eight episodes in total. The SPO wore a tweed jacket with elbow patches and at least one PO drove a Morris Traveller. Even so I thought it was pretty good, but it obviously didn't inspire the public sufficiently. Maybe not enough sex, violence, pathos or comedy perhaps? Well there is on my caseload.

      Going back even further, I believe their was a black and white series imaginatively called 'Probation Officer' with a PO in trilby and trenchcoat. I've seen at least one episode and it was similar to Dixon of Dock Green, but then I can remember that's what passed as good Saturday night tv in those days and it did recruit people. So, why have all other parts of the criminal justice system had the tv treatment, but not us? They've covered CPS, Courts, Judges, Customs and Excise, Lawyers, Prison, MI5 and Police endlessly but probation is nowhere to be seen. For me this isn't just an issue of idle curiosity for discussion in the pub, it's much more fundamental because it means there is a huge gaping void in public knowledge about something quite important. But it's even worse than that as this level of ignorance sadly often includes our elected representatives, some of whom form governments, develop policy and ultimately legislate.

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    6. Trouble with the "huge gap in public knowledge" is that much of current stylised tv drama wouldnt help much! There was another more recent one I was thinking of earlier- it had keith allen as a hard-boiled "sweeney"-style PO who gave his cases HIS HOME PHONE NUMBER and leapt out of bed to the rescue when they phonef IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT! This is about as realistic as "eastenders" and god knows what the viewers thought. Maybe (hopefully) there's an ambitous production co out there who could present us in warts-n-all docudrama style....

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    7. Don't forget Anna Friels effort see couple of years ago.

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    8. Ah yes 'Public Enemies' - got a damned good drubbing off me and elsewhere - never been repeated to my knowledge!

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  4. NAPO action all along has been nothing but 'don't worry, everything is in hand, keep sending in your examples', 'we are receiving some great examples, keep them coming in'. For crying out loud how many flipping examples do you need. DONT YOU GET IT NAPO we need help NOW.
    I find it astonishing that NAPO GS is critical of this blog. I get more information from this blog then I do from his posted updates. Who does he actually think he is and who gave him the right to be critical of others. All what Jim is asking NAPO to do is to fight TR as a union. That's what they get paid for right? That's why I pay my memership right? So NAPO get bloody fighting TR.

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  5. I am so angry - bloody NAPO leadership - I preferred it when they were silent...but seems they've been taking lessons in Bullshit from Michael Spurr. I left NAPO when they capitulated over the essential car users allowance, not because I was greedy, but it was the sign of things to come........weak, ineffective leadership, and I urge people to leave. I know some people who are only members, just in case they need representation, well if I need it, I'll represent myself - and I'd rather be represented by Basil Brush than some of these people at the top of NAPO - self serving, detached, spineless fuckwits.............................I exclude all those in the local areas, as they have always worked their socks off...sadly, with little if any support form the hierarchy....I just cannot adequately express my contempt for them - how dare they criticize this blog and JB...........

    Thanks to JB and all those who contribute to this blog, which is a source of information and comfort.

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    1. 100% echo ur comments. NAPO have taken it to a completely different level. Fucking toss pots.

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  6. Fantastic Blog Jim, one of the best .... I think we all know when you are pissed off now , and today is such a time.

    "NPS Deputy Directors and CRC Chief Executives are working together to ensure that the new systems operate cohesively. Adapting to the new working arrangements was always going to be a challenge and create some inevitable tensions and teething problems." - This reminds me of the excellent post by a contributor a few weeks ago , para phrasing - lets seperate , now lets work together.
    This is the civil service speak of a man shitting himself!
    To do this is not in the plan - these two entities should be seperate and functioning independently by now - NOT working together.

    The tone suggest the whole bollox is nowhere near ready for share sale and he wants us all to muck in and get ready for the Christmas slaughter!

    He says that "We have received a good range of bids for each of the Contract Package Areas and these are now being evaluated." This is where the real interest is "a good range of bids" which means what ?
    there is a shit bidder and someone who knows their arse from their elbow in every packet!
    It could mean that non of them have any idea how to run a probation service and there may need to be some back room shenanigans to get some sort of "going concern" in place.
    The staff are revolting(!), the bidders are shit , we now have a reservist minister ( does the job as a hobby) so NOMS and MS are so far up shit creek they can see the source.
    Good Luck Mike , but better luck Jim et Al , I know you are pissed off and unlike our bullying SoS you will fight fairly and not bully and herrange others to get to the finish line.

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    1. "NPS Deputy Directors and CRC Chief Executives are working together to ensure that the new systems operate cohesively. Adapting to the new working arrangements was always going to be a challenge and create some inevitable tensions and teething problems." - This reminds me of the excellent post by a contributor a few weeks ago, para phrasing - lets separate, now lets work together.

      Yes thanks for reminding me - you mean this:-

      Bosses last few months: We're splitting in June - get used to it! We'll be two new exciting (etc) organisations.

      Bosses this week: Why are you acting like we've split? We need to work together for the sake of the business!

      I know for a fact that this comment has circulated widely within MoJ/Noms HQ to much amusement.

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  7. "fucking toss pots" ...classy.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I think it is abusive and vile to make such comments. BTW from one Gareth to another...could you either change your name on this or put your full name on the post, i'm getting people thinking it's me posting under the name of Gareth!

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    3. I support the use of coarse terms in heated debates on blogs if it helps people them let off steam. And my name is NOT Gareth.

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    4. I'm Sparticus!!!

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    5. Why didn't the offended Gareth, who posted as anonymous for some reason, post his full name to distance himself? I thought Gareth, who has now deleted his comments, made a good point about plain speaking. And calli g someone a fucking tosspot isn't vile in my book. It's abusive, edgey, satirical. Vile is what we see on the news.

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    6. I am not offended by such terms - even 'taking the piss' but they are not words I would normally use when giving evidence in court - I will be criticised for this comment - so be it.

      It is oner thing to express anger, but if we use what some would term obscene language it will help to aid the likes of Grayling to dismiss us.

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  8. Its time for a coup we need an open and democratic union led by its membership in the workplace with power rotating so that it is unable to be corrupted. No" Top Table" we vote electronically for motions and all members are active. The Union should not be about terms and conditions it should be about shaping policy too. We do the work we know what needs to change and we are best placed to shape policy.

    papa

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    1. An idea I know you've floated many times before papa. I wonder what any of the prospective candidates might have to say about it? Lets start the debate.

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    2. Here is what one nominated Vice Chair says -

      (meanwhile - we have a Union [3 in fact] but I think Napo is the only one open to all - better not reinvent the wheel - but fix the one we have already - it has been done before - most significantly in late 1970s, when it became a TUC affiliate)

      Chas Berry - Candidate for Vice Chair writes
      ===================================

      http://www.napo2.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=751

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  9. Napo is a disappointment. As stated above, how many more examples? What do they do with them? MPs suggest they are not being briefed adequately, if at all. Cameron doesn't seem concerned. Are they giving them to Grayling so troublemakers can be picked off? So I give my examples to you here.

    Yesterday, from just one CRC PO in one office in England - a DV case rang me from another county. Told me he'd been arrested & charged last week with a new s.37, bailed to court, can't go home. Living in a caravan in a layby. Nowt forthcoming from our police intel because they can't talk to me without a 5 page written application from me with specific questions. I used to get emails or phone calls on the day if one of my cases was in the cells. And another case awol after prison release - couldn't get police intel as to whether she was in cells anywhere or involved in any new offences because I'd been unable to correctly answer a question in the 5 page application. I know nothing about her as there's no case file (yet) and no access to IT records because they're locked to NPS. I used to ring the intel unit direct, have a good chat and both sides had a mutual understanding. TR is Bloody dangerous and bloody stupid.

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    1. I have seen elsewhere that the police have probation on their business risk register - that is appalling!
      It has taken years to develop the relationship and it could be lost in the blink of an eye.

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    2. This is absolutely amazing and needs highlighting at the highest level.

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    3. might be worth asking IOM colleagues what their police colleagues are reporting back to the senior officers - the risk could be significant

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    4. I must say its nothing more extraordinary than many examples sent already to napo. Which is why I am wondering what napo is been doing with them.

      Also, we have no iom at this time because not enough staff are here to cover all the workload. It is not known if iom role will be refilled.

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    5. Police officers being taken out of IOMs in Northumbria - these are teams where they have made significant Advances in working with choatic service users and managing risk and reducing crime rates. That's despite so called partnerships who do not deliver !!!! And actually hinder rehabilitation work

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    6. I work in the IOM and get some very probing questions by the Inspector at the Police station. I've been totally honest about the situation and he is not too impressed at what is going on, to the extent that he has raised it with the P&CC at a recent meeting.

      The officers I work with are now shouldering a greater % of the workload, this simply due to me being allocated non IOM cases which whilst not as resource intensive, still need ISP's, still need apt, still need referrals. Welfare visits are now a thing of the past and I feel very much out of the loop, something picked up on by both my IOM colleagues and offenders. Anyone who has worked or has knowledge of the IOM cases know that if these offenders go off the rails, it's unlikely that it will be one victim that suffers but many.

      Still, as long as it's not Grayling or his cronies and PbR is on the back burner, who cares about the proles?

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  10. I like the blog, I'm on the dysfunctional NEC, and am still fighting locally and in the NEC. I assume you're having site meetings, branch meetings, staging walkouts, talking to the press yourselves, and bringing motions to your branches and AGM? Napo's always been a "liberal, middle class" professional association and struggled with it's trade union identity, but please get real about who has the power, who owns the media and who's class war this is. What have the TUC done?? Where's Unison? Where's Labour, the left? Yes napo is far from perfect and with 20:20 vision we can all point fingers. But napo is not the enemy, and to think that napo HQ can stop TR in its tracks is simply naive. The only way to fight is to get active, organise, make the link with others locally and realise we are a small unpopular marginalised part of the justice system, let alone part of the public sector. Keep up the good work.

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    1. could not agree more

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    2. look around the country and world, Gaza, Ukraine,Bankers, Press etc etc there is real impotence wherever you look , bullies rule - we art a small cog in a very big wheel - our strength is to plug away when others have forgotten the cause, to make an argument and to highlight the issues , that's what we need to continue to do . Talk of strike and walkouts as usual are falling on deaf ears

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  11. Slight and temporary diversion - just wanted to say thanks and recognise the excellent support & efforts of staff (specifically hmps, probation, nhs, shelter) at HMP Durham. Very difficult case. In the current climate they have been exceptional and all have gone the extra mile IN SPITE OF staffing cuts, crap IT systems and systemic failures. Its been a triumph of humans talking, discussing and acting upon professional decisions. No commercial barriers, no bullshit, no splits or rifts or shafting - just professional excellence, like in olden times before the TRagedy of TR.

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  12. This blog is a pin prick of light in what is becoming a very dark universe...I wrote, a long time ago now it seems that at the top Napo are complicit in this shambles but for what reason and why..answers that might soon be forthcoming...

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    1. I have had similar sentiments expressed to me time after time in anonymous private correspondence. It's either conspiracy, sheer incompetence, or mixture of both.

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  13. Well if you have piss on your chips now just wait until they ask CRC to mentor the new TPO's as they are unable to hold high risk cases.

    We'll see who takes the thirty pieces of silver.

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  14. Why is no one still fighting what is happening in London? Serco taking over everything and making demands. They reckon we aren't doing our jobs well enough.

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    1. Captain America19 July 2014 at 16:27

      For those of us who are not in London could you explain how this is happening on another post the more we know the better armed we are

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  15. No-one in our office will help NPS out. More because they chose CRC to get out of NPS - yes I know its strange but not all POs in CRC were shafted there but that's not to say they'll help NPS out.

    I also firmly believe some POs deliberately shafted to CRC so that they would have some POs with lots of experience and be a saleable asset to bidders. The whole thing stinks.

    With regards to NAPO I am really disappointed, haven't had any email from our local rep for weeks - i'd expect regular chestbeating emails reminding us to 'work to rule' etc but we've heard nothing.

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    1. Does your local rep get much/any facility time?none are fulltime rrps andhave casework and reps to juggle.maybe other membrrs need to help?

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    2. I'm a PO who chose the CRC. Not because I believe in the project, but the thought of being a civil servant under Grayling was nauseating.

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    3. So working for profit for share-holders is ok then? Grayling is temporary. The privateers will have a lengthy contract with a massive buy out fee if terminated early.

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    4. Here, here, Anon 15:42 you are lucky you had a choice.

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    5. @ Anon 18:33 You make it sound as though working for profit is wrong in principle - I'm going to assume that you mean specifically in the criminal justice sector. As it happens, I agree with you on that - and I still would rather work in a CRC than be part of Grayling's state control apparatus. Yes, Grayling may be temporary (9 and a half months and counting, Chris!!), but I don't see any improvement coming from the Opposition benches. If the CRCs are in 7-10 year contracts, well the NPS won't be changing any time soon either.

      @ Anon 21:28 Yes I know I'm lucky to have a choice, but why should I be condemned for exercising it? Because I opted for the CRC, someone else will have got a place in the NPS instead.

      It's a whole sorry mess, and I've opposed this as much as anyone (well, not as much as Jim and Joanna Hughes!) and will continue to do so, but there's no reason I have to be part of the NPS to do this.

      Delete
    6. We'll I wish I had the choice on if I help NPS or not. In CRC as got 3 points less than next person, having to continue write PSRs on complicated cases. Not good enough to be in NPS but good enough to still to write PSRs ! Where is NAPO or as I'm feeling right now, CRAPO!!!!

      Delete
  16. Great blog Jim. As a Napo member I have become increasingly frustrated with the upper echelons dismissing challenge at AGM, only to find yourself monitored for being provocative. They need to get a grip and listen to what their members really think. Keep it up.

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  17. NAPO in Gloucestershire sent an email this week to a senior NPS manager to highlight that things in NPS are past breaking point and requesting they address the situation immediately. Not sure what they can do, apart from looking to recruit temp staff. Which will be another kick in the teeth of CRC sifted colleagues!!!

    MoJ - stop spouting the bullshit. You will be left to carry the can when someone is killed as a result of this mess, whilst Grayling will be off destroying another service and maintaining that he left everything just peachy and safe. Have the courage of your convictions and whistle blow.

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  18. CRC colleagues in my area have been doing flate rate psr's. This seems to be an illustration of why we were so easily shafted..... err split. Dangle some dosh and people cave in. Why are people helping paper over the cracks/crevasses.

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    Replies
    1. At least you have been offered money we have been directed to do them in Manchester. If money was offered however, I would refuse. It sounds though the whole service nationwide no longer has the same practices and policies everyone is on survival mode.

      Delete
    2. Our crc team is outrageously understaffed and overwhelmed by cases - no amount of money would justify report writing 'on the side'. How can it have become so wrong so quickly? It takes a very special fuckwit to do so much damage in such a short timescale.

      In fact I can picture CG as bullying commander of the Pro-Russian fuckwits bringing down a commercial passenger plane, thinking it was a great idea at the time then, when faced with the reality, denying responsibility, blaming someone else and getting his foot soldiers to cover up the evidence. A heinous crime which beggars belief it could happen in the modern world.

      Delete
  19. In Manchester the membership fee to join Probation Institute is being paid by our CRC. Management have been actively encouraging us to join by telling us how good it is. Even willing to pay the membership for every person in the CRC. Can you believe this shit. In supervision, my manager spent more time trying to convince me of joining rather than spending time discussing the f***k up which the split has caused.
    In a recent staff meeting we were even asked to explore the benefits of privatisation & the 'creative opportunities' available for staff. Biggest pile of shit I've ever heard. Trying desperately to convince us that crap will be good. What bit do they not understand, staff do not want privatisation.

    And during this time where is NAPO. Nowhere to be seen, they have failed me and others miserably. I agree with someone who made the comment earlier that we need a new approach to a union.

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  20. To anon 10:38 I'm not from London but this blog posts a lot of material from Greater London Napo branch which Id have thought made clear its an active branch protecting members?

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  21. Well what can I say. I'm speechless Jim. Your blog allows people to come and share their thoughts. Absolutely nothing wrong with that.

    My view is that NAPO should hear and listen to these voices of discontent so that we can all work together to defeat TR. Keep it up mate, your doing a fine job comrade.

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  22. Dear Jim
    great blog and thought provoking. I am so disillusioned that I consider nearly every week resigning my branch position, I feel so ill equipped to do the day job and then have to grapple with being a rep on shifting sand and constantly worry about the advice I am giving due to this.
    However when significant issues emerged and I needed to request national reps for several members there was no hesitation, case assessed at Chivalry Road, nat reps appointed...appropriate and skilled support for members. I just wanted to share my experience to reassure members that something is functioning well.
    a northern rep

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    Replies
    1. I've tried finding Wales Probation Trust and it's no where to be seen! hmmm

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    2. Possibly because funding comes via The Welsh Assembly, so possibly the accounts are not put alongside the English ones

      Delete
  23. Off topic- I see the Probation Trust's 2013/14 accounts have been published (just google your particular trust + accounts) and you can see in £sd just why the various Chief Officer's kept quiet. Some very nice exit packages being paid out (inc pension). Just a shame we can't access the EVR scheme.

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    Replies
    1. Wonder whether DTV think Russell the Bruce was worth £178k remuneration for 2013/14 + £230k redundancy.

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    2. I honestly try to see some good in everyone but in his case I failed.

      Delete
    3. He was welcome backed into his village...sorely missed by many :)

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    4. One presumes as 'an idiot'.

      Russell was only as good as the ACO's he had round him, each as much use as marzipan dildo. With one exception, they all strove to achieve mediocrity.

      The exception can be compared to a carrier bag up a tree.....nobody knows how it got there and until it starts flapping round making a load of noise, everyone was happy to ignore it.

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    5. he shafted us then trousered our futures...

      Delete
    6. "Marzipan dildo" - there's an intrusive thought. I'll never eat Christmas cake again.

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    7. Yeah, well don't make the same mistake as I did when I last baked and got confused between Marzipan and Temazepam!!

      Missed the piggin Queens' speech and everything...including the whole of the next day :)

      Delete
  24. I would just like to say that local NAPO Reps do brilliant work and from what I understand, their flexi time has been hugely curtailed. Many reps go over and beyond the flexi time that they are allocated in order to represent members. I do however believe that the people at Chivalry Road are a complete farce. There used to be a female GS, but her name escapes me right now (Judy McKnight?), am not sure whether she would have been a safer pair of hands in the present situation. My gut feeling is that she may have been.

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  25. Jim and others Google New Unionism and read about its flat democratic nature and the new active role of the membership. If you like what you read let's discuss it further and perhaps then we need call some sort of meeting. Papa

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    Replies
    1. Papa - can I entice you to pen a guest blog on the subject?

      Delete
  26. Jim ignore Napo, your blog has been invaluable to me since TR began, and I have also learnt a lot from reading it and been able to share my frustrations of how the shafting and TR has effected me and others. Its been effective where others haven't and that's probably Napo's concern. I'd be lost without it so fuck off Napo.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Some great posts and all supportive of the blog as indeed I am too. Rightly or wrongly some things are said that reflect the views thoughts and feelings of posters and these can be a little sharp at times. It has been said this is preferred over the extreme censorship that was undertaken on NAPO forum.

    Posters on Jim Browns blog find this a simple mechanism to make comment on a regular basis.

    Daily updates and refreshed discussion items which are news worthy provide information that has triggered a huge readership. Followers of this site and the readership count shows this blog has an influence and has become a resource.

    The wider issues, as we learn from other areas and posters experience does help. I post openly and carefully given my name and post openly as a local rep as I see things and experience much of what is being said by posters.

    We need to consider the current mechanism for national collective bargaining with a protective view and which is well recognised. It remains within the agreed framework of the national employers and that NAPO is the officially recognised Union. We need to ensure we retain our membership and ensure those mebers are proud and assertive about their union . We have build our memberships confidence and their willingness to ensure support for any action is 100% strong and we can only do that from continued patience and encouraging our leadership to change its direction. Positive suggestions and less attacks we need to work together and take a tough stance on what we are facing together. Workloads and the nature of the work being devolved the IT mess not fit for purpose not properly assessed no data protection migration issues are all substantive grounds to mount disputes and we just stop doing the work we are not trained to do. We hand back excessive work . We argue to deliver only what is actually required of us and we all gain confidence knowing colleagues will join us we join the teams in our buildings and our other offices as we all join together across the country !

    We have to protect that process Napo generally has served us all well for many years and this is an incredible time and a corrupted reasoning for the attack on criminal justice. The lawyers brokered an deal against this is new era of aggressive and poorly skilled con-dem government.

    Let us not forget we have all seen this coming . Tories sell everything off to ensure they have rich chums in the shareholder business club. They get well tipped off for stacks of new profits from false markets created in government contracts set to last forever . Council house stock , British steel, Coal , OIL , Gas , The utilities , national health schools and railways, Post office all sold.

    Nothing is sacred to the self interest and greed of these elite thinking classes. Anti union is just the sort of unrest they would encourage and welcome. Please let us work together to ensure our mechanisms work more aggressively and consolidated behind a wave of newfound solidarity. What is clear is that we could all do with some change in the agenda and our committees and activists will pick up on the current trends and strength of feelings.

    We need to see this turned into action and promotion of the issues in ways we can all get behind and reignite the energy required to fight back on this incredible mess we are in.

    Both NPS and CRC staffing in crisis and soon to be in meltdown across various parts of the country. Staff working in fear and of the risks we know the Tories are now exposing the public to who we are supposed to protect. Share sale is the next big fight not our union.

    Congratulations to Pat well deserved recognition in your return to London Chair post yesterdays election.

    Dino

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Dino. As one of the candidates for National Chair, I wonder if I can invite you to pen a guest blog? I'm more than happy to extend this invitation to all the candidates for Napo Chair and Vice Chair positions. Just get in contact via the email on the profile page.

      Delete
    2. Do not forget Liberal Democrats in the condemnation of Government policy making - they are as responsible for the fact and methodology of the polices and Labour are much to blame as well, because they were totally dishonest about privatisation pre 1997 and then did not give proper attention to the experiences of front-line practitioners and were foolish enough - whatever their intentions - not to make the Offender Management Act 2007 watertight against being used for the sort of decimation of the structure of probation and privatisation as is actually happening.

      Labour also advanced the separation of probation governance from the local area by the constitutions of probation trusts with the boards being appointed by the secretary of State not local government, or the county/area Magistrates Courts/Justices of the Peace Committees - which have all become (under Labour) the "toys" of the Lord Chancellor who appoints and regulates the geographically large Area Courts Boards without much need to consult parliament - thus moving the administration of local justice ever closer to the centre of government

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    3. Okay Dino, when can we expect NAPO to join the fight?

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    4. Anon at 16.51...what a fuckwitted comment to make...are you in NAPO yourself?

      Delete
  28. Guest blogs from candidates are a good idea - maybe fairest to set a maximum word total - for what it is worth, for comparison - I calculate Jim's blog today to consist of 1894 words!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrew,

      Not bothering with all that bureaucracy! I'm not the BBC - it's just a blog and I'm sure some candidates won't want to play ball anyway - it's up to them and members can draw their own conclusions.

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    2. Give me a few days and I'll see what I can do. Technically how do I do it.

      papa

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    3. Well the easiest is to send it as an email to the address on the profile page - assuming you have an anonymised email account - if not, then we'll have to think of something else.

      Delete
  29. Someone asked earlier about serco. The managers turn up at our office every month and demand to know if we have made improvement in managing the caseload. Apparently we don't manage the service users properly.
    They are demanding that we address the issues and make improvements on it every montj.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tell Serco to fuck off. I'm too tired to think of anything else to say, I hate private companies demanding this and that when they have appalling humanitarian records themselves, maybe they can improve on that.

      Delete
    2. Having given it serious consideration, I cannot think of a better reply. Nice one :)

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    3. Thing is that serco are right. People don't know how awful the management of service users has been. They are only asking that people do their jobs properly and they have every right to do that. Our own management should have been expecting us to sort it out anyway.

      Delete
  30. In response to Dino19 July 2014 15:00 -

    Dino, your comments are encouraging and I can see your passion for an active and strong Union come through clearly.

    What is needed in my opinion, is a Union which involves a complete overall and re-structure of the way things are done. My experience tells me that Napo is just to dam middle class and laid back for its own good. It has over the years disconnected with local activist groups and the wider political struggles, sadly ‘forgetting’ what it stands for in its core values. The only way to effectively challenge TR, is not simply by sitting on a table and talking but you also need a functional arm made up of pressure groups consisting of strong committed activists who can organise and take direct action to disrupt the agenda of privatisation by being present at meetings and other forums – like the kind of action that Pat Waterman did some time ago. We need a good PR strategy that can attract and promote our issues much more widely then the current system. You need to bring to the frontline those who are keen to take action and use their spare time and their skills in whatever they can do to promote and advance the ‘fight’. We need to promote and advance the achievements and successes wherever possible to show that a union is a force to be reckoned with.

    In my view probations destruction has been contributed by our Union’s inactivity and distancing itself from other local campaigning groups which have a wealth of knowledge and expertise on campaigning issues. There is much we can do together. The question is do we have the political will to take action and fight for what we believe in.

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  31. Will look forward you tabling a motion Anachrist, taking it through branch and hopefully will hear it at AGm, it can then be voted on democratically.

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    Replies
    1. Em, you need someone to second a motion, first. Unfortunate, the people who are in our branch although good willed seem to be completely out of touch with local issues and campaigning strategy. So when you get someone coming into an established clique with fresh ideas it unsettles the group and their response is often to isolate, dismiss and give less importance or value to what you say. If only some people were open minded as yourself who can see the benefit of activism without resorting to “who the hell do you think you are, we have been on the branch for the last 20 years”. Says a lot about what they have done to help nurture and support the next generation of Union members doesn't it.

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  32. FFS "middle class" .... here we go again....I am a colleague, a fellow union activist and was made welcome when I became active in my branch! Don't spit your dummy out if not every one immediately agrees with everything you say.

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  33. Jim I have enjoyed the debate on the blog today, its been good that lots of people had contributed.

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