Sunday, 27 July 2014

TR Week Eight

For the first time in many years I feel genuinely stressed with work. I have felt demotivated for months now. But the change wrought up on us has meant that my case load has slightly come down but my report writing has doubled. It's not doable. So I keep trying to write good reports as I always did but my work otherwise suffers. What was a nice office to work in these last years has seen most of us become more hassled, less inclined to help and more short fused. It's all very sad. Thank goodness it's Friday and I can forget about the mess that is probation for a couple of days.

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Just left work now, but could easily have stayed until Sunday night. Cannot cope with the work, its coming from every angle like projectile vomit. My head is pounding and I don't know which task to do next they are all a priority. Please someone SORT IT OUT. What an utter mess.

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Told the boss today my workload is crazy, I'm making mistakes & it's dangerous. She said "they have it worse in the next county".
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Assistant Chief said there is national shortage of Probation Officers. Not enough staff to cover the governments proposed agenda. Whoops!
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The whole idea of Chris Grayling's reform was that people would be released from their local prison. Except they won't. Cos jails are full.
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Probation officers in Court now not allowed to have printed copies of court results, go into court offices or see a judge unless accompanied
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Court NPS now prioritising Breaches of orders in favour of the NPS to detriment of CRCs. Breaches being abandoned!
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Apparently the probation email system has been hit by a virus - meaning no emails are to be sent. Oasys was updated at the weekend too - only to botch up what was already awful - it seems that assessments and reports completed this morning and yesterday could have been completely lost.

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No OASys, no email. Apparently Delius was working but no one can tell.

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I'm in NPS and I have a higher caseload than before the split. Of course now all of them are high risk. Numbers of oral hearings are going to increase three fold because of a recent Supreme Court ruling. Also when a case is transferred to NPS because of risk concerns it then stays with NPS permanently. These issues together with loads of PSR's make my job completely untenable. NAPO really needs to sharpen up its operation and communicate this to the people in power.

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The other month, for the first time in my career, I felt unsafe during a prison visit. Free flow of prisoners but not enough staff to open doors to allow them to get where they were going. I won't be going back any time soon - videolinks it is for me for now. I am genuinely worried about staff and prisoners who have no choice but to be there. It's going to be a long hot summer. 

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In relation to the IT problems...I do hope that once it is resolved, an entry will automatically be placed onto every case, that due to technical problems any records, reports, risk management or sentence plans that may have been completed after Sunday 20/7 to - the date fixed. This will safeguard staff in the event that anything occurs during this period resulting in an SFO or if your integrity and competency is questioned.

I have done 3 SDR's in this period, and will be mightily pissed if they have to reset the system, wiping out all that work. Oh and I am telling Judges why no information has been received from external agencies - cos our Email system is rubbish. Those dreaded Case Allocation Forms - they ask before each section, have you had time to consult with others etc -- well, no is the answer, as the Courts timetables don't work around our IT maintainers ability to provide and maintain.

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Oasys not working again today. Pressure is on from every angle but we do not have the IT to do our jobs, its chaos upon chaos. Who ever gets voted in hurry up and sort this mess out. From meltdown Manchester.

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Was told of 17 year old sent to prison because court worried about chaos & he wouldn't be safely managed when he hit 18.

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Something in my working day needs to give, so I can safely manage my dramatically increased workload.
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Seeing more examples of people being given different jobs / promotions. What ever happened to a competitive, unbiased interview?

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These retiring chiefs and professional managers who insist “Probation is always changing” (while sweeping their arms in a circular shape) and that “these structures just come and go and the spirit of probation will always live on” are just deluding themselves. TR is not just another incarnation, it distills all that is bad in the last twenty years and destroys everything that was good. The time will come when we will have to pick up the pieces and I hope that someone, somewhere will have the guts to stand up for social work.

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I am so relieved to arrive home and to feel safe. I know it sounds mad but everyone is so stressed we have a constant under tow of aggression in our office now, where previously we all got on and I feel anxious all of the time. This can not be repaired.

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It's sad that we are made to feel like this at work, all the goodwill and case discussion we had to enhance our practice is gone. I would be very surprised it the private companies would be interested in such a demoralised workforce.

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MARAC report to write for a colleague on leave. Thought it would be straight forward but the prison have taken the OASys and NPS have got the Delius because there's a new PSR needed.I know nothing about this man. It's ludicrous.

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Dear Bidder. My work is meaningless and without value and so will your shares be. Total Quality Management in action a la Grayling...

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Went to see NPS manager I am CRC shafted. He wasn't in his office so I had a sneaky look at a memo on his desk from CEO, I know its wrong, but there's a war now and we need all the information we can get to see what they are up to. Anyway the memo said to offer all NPS jobs to those that have just qualified and did not get PO jobs post split for a fixed term with a view to permanent jobs, and for all those who had previously applied for NPS jobs such as agency staff and are on the reserve list. 

This makes a mockery of the shafting once again, so as we were all made to feel like shit they are now offering our jobs to those who were not even subject to the degradation of the shafting process, were is there transparency and fairness in this? Dirty Bastards. By the way this was from an office in dismantled Manchester.

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They seem to be treating CRC shafted staff like they have scurvy, they seem to have forgotten that we had no choice in this, and it seems there is no way back. They would rather employ anyone that can read and write rather than give the post to CRC staff, so much for the "most experienced staff" that was banded about to humiliate us and make us feel that we were somehow less experienced, and worthy, bullshit. 

With the sort of staff now being employed by NPS such as newly qualified, inexperienced agency staff this makes a mockery of those that were shafted into CRC. Well done Grayling you have managed to manufacture a service that will struggle to meet the demands of managing serious cases, arsehole, this goes against your objectives of the shafting process and shows how fundamentally flawed it was.

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MoJ is trying to "have its cake and eat it too". If CRCs snd NPS are separate organisations then how can NPS say it will only employ staff from CRCs on secondment? This is presumably to "protect" a loss of staff from CRCs but that's not the concern of NPS. Can this secondment restriction not be challenged nationally I wonder? Needs to be raised with Unions.

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West Midlands is seriously going downhill. We need urgent unannounced inspections which will reveal dangerous practices. If there are any journalists looking for a story... here's your chance.

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PSR "Unfortunately, due to the recent split of the probation service into two separate entities I no longer have access to detailed records'

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Told publicly owned CRC's are currently excluded from increasing establishment due to possible share sale. What happen's if workload increases in the meantime? Is this decision putting public safety at risk?

44 comments:

  1. Sorry to contradict you Mr Spurr et al.......it is, as Joanne suggested, a mess, a huge, huge, enormous mess! You are deluded if you think this manner of running an organisation has any silver lining.

    Colleagues, I know the temptation is to work longer, take on more work, even go in at weekends, but don't, hand back that which you know will be too much for you or anybody in your position. Spurr, Grayling et al, are depending on us, to go the extra mile, because we always have, for clients...let's make it absolutely clear, our compassion is restricted to those we work with and alongside....and not the tyrants trying to destroy our service, demolish our work ethic and moral, and divide and rule us.

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    1. Hear hear-spot on!

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  2. i am seeing less and less of clients - I am chained to my computer. Oasys after Oasys, homevisits eat up so much of my week because of the large geographical area that our office covers. I've always been a loyal member of the Probation Trust but I cant physically or mentally sustain this. I am seriously worried about my health, I am definitely more anxious than I was 6 months ago. CRCs answer is to put everyone on infrequent reporting and link them up with an agency but I'm finding I have no working relationship with my caseload and we all know how important that relationship is to the success of the Order. I already have a breach that I can pinpoint to the fact I have not been seeing them weekly as per old National Standards. Local offices have been closed down which means offenders, in some cases, have a 2 hour round trip for supervision and are usually so frazzled that they're too irate and tired to engage properly anyway - don't forget a lot of these people are struggling with drug or alcohol misuse. We have been cut back to the bone and then some. There is nothing left to cut. Thankfully we have a really good senior but but he is not a magician - he cannot make new orders disappear, they have to be allocated. I have given up working extra hours to keep up because it is pointless. I love my job but I just cant do it anymore, the volume of work and hours do not fit.

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  3. Excellent article in the Independent today. Let's keep the pressure up!
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/exjustice-minister-backs-opponents-of-probation-reform-9630880.html

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    1. A damning dossier of evidence and interviews compiled by The Independent on Sunday reveals the extent of Britain's probation crisis, as Labour calls for an inquiry into whether the reforms meant a preventable murder took place this month.

      The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has repeatedly denied that the service has nearly ground to a halt as a result of changes introduced at the start of last month. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling split the probation into two ahead of privatising 70 per cent of the service that deals with low-to-medium risk offenders, as 35 trusts become 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). High-risk offenders are overseen by a new National Probation Service (NPS), a separation that has infuriated experienced senior officers.

      The dossier reveals:

      *A backlog of 75,000 unseen emails, many containing vital information about offenders, to and from probation officers built up in London alone, with similar problems in Norfolk and Suffolk;

      *Overworked probation officers: in May, the Gloucester office had 23 staff who wrote 35 pre-hearing reports for adjourned cases, but after the split only six staff completed 27 last month;
      *A trust chief executive from Somerset said she has quit because she feels the "fragmentation" of probation is not the "best framework for public protection";

      *Former coalition justice minister Crispin Blunt said Mr Grayling should have tested such "revolutionary" reforms rather than just transform the whole service overnight.

      There are fears the reorganisation might have prevented proper supervision of a man after he was put on probation for domestic violence. He is understood to have been allocated to the NPS and then transferred to the CRC. The IT changes are believed to have resulted in a CRC officer being unable to access his NPS case file. The man has since been charged with killing a woman in the Home Counties about seven days after the initial sentencing.

      Read it all here:-

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/crime/exjustice-minister-backs-opponents-of-probation-reform-9630880.html

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    2. The article closes with a gem of a quote from moj stating the roll out of TR is controlled and measured so the public are safe, and that staff are not under threat if they speak out against TR.

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  4. Another unintended consequence. Most of the people with prebooked summer leave before the shafting have gone to the CRC. In one week in August we have four staff covering all five offices in our county.

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    1. Is that because part time working mothers have gone to CRC? Certainly seems like it in our area.

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    2. God that's so true in Teesside too!!!!

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    3. Serves their bloody right. I'm a working mother that has been shafted into CRC and I have previously said that I feel discriminated against because of this

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  5. I'm shocked to read the above comments. It is appalling how ppl feel. I feel devastated on how things have turned out it is disgusting and professionally demoralising.

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  6. The fact is that managers and Grayling have bastardised probation for good.

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  7. ...and in all this were are NAPO. O ye I forgot there is no fucking dispute. Fucking disgraceful. I'm struggling at work because of the way things are and no one gives cares.

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    1. Now now. You can write to your MP, or email NAPO HQ with an anonymised example of how bad work is - or how about taking a photo of yourself looking miffed? In fact, if you really want to take a stand, why not cancel a briefing for MPs or put yourself forwards for a CRC executive role...


      Simon Garden

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  8. FFS who do you think has been getting all the various stories in the press??? how long do you think it takes to get info to be put in the papers?? did you see spurrs reply to Joanna ... he speaks about 'comments' without any hard proof and a union to back things up all the comments on here can be dismissed. don't just depend on reading this blog, IF you are in NAPO you should have got an email update detailing all they are doing and also read the GS blog etc

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    1. Were are these emails u are talking about. Were are my 50 odd examples that I sent into NAPO HQ with a comment to say "thanks for sending these in...keep sending more in", u mean the GS blog that says "we are doing something but don't know what but we are doing something. We might even do a JR". This blog helps me to express and get shit out of my head. More then what NAPO has offered. So how dare u talk me about a failed union like NAPO who are way behind things and have their hands in the pocket of grayling with probation institute.

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    2. Napo consists of 8,000+ members not just GS or an Exec. Whatever one thinks about the PI there has been campaigning against TR- where do you think the evidence for the "damning dossier" cited in The Independent came from? Members via Napo.If one really wanted to look for an "invisible" union in all this I fear it's more Unison than Napo.

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  9. Woman murdered by her ex after cuts to probation service, Labour Party leaders claim

    A woman was murdered by her ex-lover because of Tory changes to the probation service, leading Labour politicians claim.

    The man said to have carried out the attack had already been convicted of domestic violence and was thought so dangerous he should have been under constant surveillance.

    But his file went missing for a week as the service struggled to cope with being privatised. It was during this time “off radar” that he killed his ex-girlfriend .

    Shadow Justice Secretary Sadiq Khan said he had warned that the new system would pose a risk to the public – and demanded an inquiry into the tragedy.

    He added: “I wasn’t alone in warning the Government that their probation privatisation would create a confusing system for supervising serious and violent criminals.

    “This is a terrible tragedy which might have been avoided if probation wasn’t in utter meltdown.”

    Under the changes, 70 per cent of the service is being privatised with firms taking over the supervision of all but high-risk criminals.

    Sources claim the man was first categorised as high risk but downgraded because of a lack of staff in the remaining state service. And because his files weren’t transferred with him, the private firm wasn’t able to keep tabs on him for a week.

    Ian Lawrence, head of probation union Napo, said: “We have repeatedly warned Justice ­Secretary Chris ­Grayling that splitting the service will turn simple processes into time-consuming exercises.

    “There are significant staff shortages in parts of the country, an IT system that is not fit for purpose and a lack of basic infrastructure in place for these reforms to be anywhere near safe.”

    But Justice Minister Andrew Selous said: “It would be irresponsible for the Labour Party to jump to conclusions when there is no evidence our ­rehabilitation reforms have undermined public protection.”

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/woman-murdered-ex-after-cuts-3919622

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    1. All goes to show that ConDems do not give a fuck about victims of domestic abuse. Especially as most domestic abuse perpetrators will be supposed by a PBr company.

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    2. I suspect that Mr Jim Brown could find numerous submissions to his blog over the last 12 months or so where exactly this type of scenario was predicted, e.g. DV perpetrator goes on to kill partner/ex-partner &/or children while case notes are unavailable, incomplete or case is not even known about, aggravated by lack of information sharing between agencies due to split.

      Any chance some examples from the oast could be presented to the Indie & here? It might be accompanied with a commentary along the lines of:

      Mr Christopher Stephen Grayling - we told you so. Unlike your own offerings our warnings and anger and rage were not scaremongering or self-centred, self-serving twaddle. They were the considered fears of experienced professionals.

      Jezza Wright has jumped ship to avoid responsibility and your old chum Andrew Zealous seems to be your new human shield. I would guess this is the first of many tragedies your TR bollox will be responsible for. You cannot lay the blame at the doors of those who spent the last year or so pleading with you not to expedite such a dangerous, untested and irresponsible project.

      TR is now coming home to roost. Sadly, as predicted, victims will mount up until you or the Prime Minister come to your senses and end this insanity.

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  10. Which area did this tragedy happen?

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  11. But Justice Minister Andrew Selous said: “It would be irresponsible for the Labour Party to jump to conclusions when there is no evidence our ­rehabilitation reforms have undermined public protection

    The same needs to be Put to Mr Selous ; It would be irresponsible of the Tory Party to defend the claims until they have conducted a full and independent inquiry to determine what extent the TR process may have undermined the protection of the victim?

    Does Mr Cameron have a view on the situation ?

    It is unacceptable to imagine if it have been prevented but for TR. Whatever the situation currently, nothing can be ruled out Mr Selous until the facts are established.
    Dino

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    1. It's things like this and the Prison riot that NAPO need to be banging the drum about (and that's not a dig at you Dino) and telling the press that Grayling et al are telling lies.

      As usual they are about as on the ball as a dead seal!!

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    2. Well said Dino. They were quick to respond to Khan's point and discount TR. Suspect strongly they is more to it; I think the victim's should be requesting an open investigation and enquiry and the finding made public.

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    3. And what on earth would mr selous know anyway. He's only been in the job five minutes
      Jilln

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    4. The response of Selous reported in the Independent was risible. There is not enough information in the press reports, and in any case, such a tragedy deserves full review. However, I have been minded today of the meeting I had with Mr Grayling and my local MP in June, when I voiced my concerns about the risks inherent in the TR programme and specifically wtih reference to DV cases. I told him that there was a cupboard full of unallocated DV cases in a local office and that this was dangerous. His response was that this was a local leadership issue, and that we should expect "teething problems" in the project. Outrageous. We have spoken out about the risks, particularly in DV cases, till we are hoarse, and it has felt like banging my head agaisnt a brick wall. The PCCs have voiced the same concerns. The TUC womens conference was unanimous in expressing concern. Selous trotting out the same old same old is just palin offensive

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  12. For the first time since I joined probation I am terrified of work and really desperate to get out. I am NPS and the chaos is beyond description because every system and process we had has changed and we are provided with massive amounts of written instructions but no time to read any of them in full. We are now working with some of us knowing bits of process and trying, without any direction from management other than "do your best, we are all in the same boat", to just get through each day. Therefore, in our "national" NPS nearly every office let alone every area is doing something different so there is no consistency. For a "national" organisation it is simply bizarre.
    Now this week we are facing further IT upheaval as the "work arounds" are removed and the err, broken system, is supposedly fixed. I can't wait for the 10 emails with varying instructions to tell me how to do tasks that used to be so straight forward and of course not being able to understand any of them. I have been made to feel utterly incompetent because I am struggling so much with the IT systems. I am frankly, embarrassed at my inability to comprehend the instructions - I am unsure if I have developed a problem with my learning style as I am struggling so much.
    There is also the constant tension in the office, we all used to get on well but work is constantly disturbed by outbursts and verbal frustrations that there is no peace. It is such a febrile working environment but we know we have to let colleagues let off steam or they would go sick and then where would we be?

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    1. completely identify with everything you say

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  13. If there are vacancies in the NPS have shafted CRC Po' s been the victims of constructive dismissal?

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    1. If this is the case why are NAPO not approaching CRC staff and asking if they wish to submit a claim for CD?

      Just a thought.

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    2. I have spent lots of time ( starting prior to the split) looking at CD and the first point is you have to leave your job as soon as possible after the incident(s).Constructive dismissal is when you’re forced to leave your job against your will because of your employer’s conduct.
      The reasons you leave your job must be serious, for example, they:
      don’t pay you or suddenly demote you for no reason
      force you to accept unreasonable changes to how you work - eg tell you to work night shifts when your contract is only for day work
      let other employees harass or bully you
      this is taken from the governments website
      it is however really difficult to prove according to my research....

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    3. Yes-speaking as a Napo rep I'd say proving constructive dismissal here would not be possible but you can ask yr local reps for advice from Chivalry Rd.

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    4. I beg to differ.I have discussed this with a very prominent employment lawyer who could quote a couple of cases in law when people did not quit job before CD was considered. It can be argued on grounds of mitigating financial ruin as result of being forced out of job. It was argued in these cases that employers could not simply hold gun to head and force major change. The lawyer I spoke to has won cases using these principles and told me union sol could easily run test case. I have discussed this with high rankers in napo who said it has been explored but they won't pursue it. I am getting so pissed off about it cos I think they're missing a big trick with this. To be honest I'm not even convinced it has been explored properly. Po's in CRC have had their officer of court status removed effectively making qualification null and void as they can now longer perform tasks which just separate po from pso. Why would private company pay po to do pso work cos let's face it the boundaries will blur further so pso will take on dv work , child protection, which in some areas already took place before TR, Po in CRC have reduced status and restricted career based on where sitting on one day. To say this is legal etc must be pure bollocking.

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    5. I am happy to give it ago myself if I could just get someone to represent me. Have contacted 6 firms over the last few months and they all seem keen then silence and I don't hear back. I'm willing to pay so I'm not looking for no win no fee. If Napo aren't taking this forward can they at least recommend an employment lawyer who can help me do it without them?

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    6. It sounds a bit ominous that 6 firms have not pursued the case though? No harm in contacting Napo HQ (try Ranjit Singh or Dean Rogers).

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    7. It strikes me that someone, somewhere has got to run a test case. Any more views on this?

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  14. Read today's article in Independent. The MoJ have denied that probation staff have been gagged. If that's the case how come I have been warned to be careful of what I put on Facebook. A year ago Grayling said that probation staff that oppose TR on social networking should be disciplined

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  15. I would like to see him try that one, there needs to be very good grounds to discipline someone and you know what, napo are really good at dealing with this stuff..yes honestly..I know because I faced a disciplinary investigation recently and supported by a v good rep, I was totally cleared.

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  16. Jim - I work for serco cp. How would I go about giving you information to write a blog on or writing a guest blog for you? I think what I can tell you added to the current TR omnishambles could be really useful.

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    1. There's an email address on the profile page - am always interested in the offer of guest blogs or just info!

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  17. Does anyone know if Probation staff can join the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)? I note that they often take industrial action in pursuit of their members' interests

    Simon Garden

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    1. I always understood you could join whom you wanted but PCS won't have negotiating rights for pay and t&c unless there was a massive shift of members from Napo and/or Unison. Dean and Ian both worked for PCS I believe.

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  18. On the issue of Employers disciplining staff for using media to highlight injustice, take a moment to see what has happened to a Fire Brigade Union member in Hertfordshire and if you agree he has been treated harshly, please sign and share,

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/save-cheshunts-ashley-brown?bucket&source=facebook-share-button&time=1405886163

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