Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Getting Involved

It's been suggested that I mention the Napo Lobby of Parliament being organised for 3rd September:-
Critical Lobby of Parliament – 3rd September
2pm – 3.30pm Houses of Parliament
Committee Rooms 11 & 14
This is a crucial time in the Parliamentary calendar for Napo and the timing of the lobby means that we can get a strong message to parliamentarians before they head off for their party conferences. In order to make a noise about the chaos in Probation however, we need as many members as possible to attend. We have had confirmation from a number of your MP’s so well done in getting in touch and asking them to attend. You will have an opportunity to meet your MP either during or after the event so please get in touch if you haven’t already. 
The lobby is focusing on voices from the frontline and a number of members have offered to speak at the lobby to tell their experiences of working in probation chaos. We are hopeful that members will offer contributions from the floor as well so there will be plenty of opportunity for you to have your say. Please let your Branch know if you are attending as we need to give an estimated figure to security in advance. Branches will be meeting at the Monument opposite Parliament at 12.30 with a view to joining the queue at 1pm.

I'm aware that as I write the People's March for the NHS is taking place having set off from Jarrow on the 16th August and arriving at Parliament on 6th September
The People's March is a perfect opportunity to build support for the NHS and to join up with amazing NHS campaigners across the country. Following the basic route of the 1936 Jarrow Crusade, the People's March for the NHS will head to Parliament. On route we aim to make the public aware of what the coalition government has been doing to our NHS and what has been happening to our hospitals and health services.
It's really hard to passively watch the rapid dismantling, privatisation and destruction of the NHS. First we had the Health & Social Care Act, then Section 75 and more recently Clause 119 of the Care Bill. The Government have legislated to open the NHS to the open market. We believe every penny saved in the NHS should go back into improving and developing our NHS. We dont want to see private companies operating in the NHS under the heading of 'efficiency' when we know they are accountable to their share holders, who are only interested in maximum profit before patient health care. Join us for a mile or two, or join us for ten or the full 300 miles, come to our rallies, just be part of the fightback.
As of yesterday it's reached Darlington and will cross into North Yorkshire later today arriving at Northallerton. There's a handy map here to follow progress or turn out and give support. 

I'm also aware that Thursday 11th September has been selected as a day of action around the country against benefit sanctions and workfare.

Finally, don't forget to cast your vote in the Napo elections for various posts - time is running out fast and well done if you managed to grab free tickets for the great new film about the miners strike 'Pride'. It looks brilliant and not to be missed especially if you enjoyed 'Brassed Off' and the 'Full Monty'. 

A still from the 2014 film Pride
UK gay and lesbian activists work to help miners during their lengthy strike of the National Union of Mineworkers in the summer of 1984.

Postscript: This review of the film by Owen Jones in the Guardian on Monday:-
I am not embarrassed to admit that I wept at this beautiful film, but I only realised why afterwards. The film manages to convey what solidarity is to an audience who have been taught to abhor it. Thatcherism was always about breaking down common bonds in favour of selfishness; of reducing us to individuals; of believing that we improve our own lot solely through our own efforts rather than by linking together with others. That solidarity was not entirely expunged from the national psyche was despite Thatcherism’s best efforts. This weekend, hundreds began marching from Jarrow to London in support of our NHS. In 2012, British electricians staged strikes and occupations against an attempt by multinational Balfour Beatty to slash their terms and conditions – and they won. By occupying tax-dodging businesses, UKUncut forced a national debate about tax avoidance. Solidarity still lives and breathes.
Breaking news concerning 'getting involved' :-

EPS Dads’ activist sets up camp on Chris Grayling's roof
Fathers 4 Justice campaigner unfurls banner on justice secretary Chris Grayling's roof
A Fathers 4 Justice campaigner set up camp and unfurled a banner on top of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s home last night. The protester, believed to be Martin Matthews of Great Bookham, climbed on to the roof in Ashtead with supplies at 9pm. He appears to be mooning in one of the blurry photographs of the stunt. Police are understood to be at the house this morning.
In a statement New Fathers 4 Justice said: “He has put up a banner which reads 'Mum and Dads United'. “He has set up camp on top of the roof and has enough supplies to last several days. This is another protest to highlight the injustice parents face in the present family court system.”
Mr Matthews climbed onto the roof of the Epsom and Ewell MP’s constituency office in Barnett Wood Lane, Ashtead, on Fathers’ Day in 2013 and in October, 2012.


  1. Thank you for mentioning Napo's lobby of Parliament on 03/09/14. I think a lobby of parliament is a good idea but Napo members might be forgiven for wondering what the focus of the lobby is and what are they lobbying their MP's to do. Napo's literature is unclear. They are inviting members to complain to their MP's about the chaos and problems they are experiencing but what are they to do with this information? Are they asking for the CRC probation service to remain in the public sector? Are they asking the two probation services to be reunited? Are they asking for the two probation services to be reunited and to return to being Trusts?

    It seems to me that they need to ask members what they want to happen and then ask them to lobby their MP's to do that. At the moment I am not clear what to ask my MP to do. Does anyone know?

    I think Napo have committed the cardinal PR sin of asking their members to complain without making clear their aim. Let's go to parliament for a whinge? They run the risk of wasting MP's time and the time of hard pressed members and actually convincing those that support us that we don't know what we want. This smacks of going through the motions of a campaign without being clear about what the campaign is now about and as such is doomed to weak support from the outset.

    Napo needs a big strong kickass message and some catchier rallying slogans that get members to sit up and say to themselves 'I'll talk to my MP and make sure they meet me at the rally because it is really important that they do XYZ'

    Now all that remains is for Napo HQ to do their bit.........

    1. Very fairly and succinctly put. It's to be hoped the newly elected Chair and Vice Chairs read this blog and take heed.

  2. Jim,

    Quick reprise in relation to forthcoming Lobby of Parliament- Napo AGM 2013 - The following motion carried :

    It was proposed by Mike Guilfoyle and seconded by Christopher
    Hignett, that:-
    “This AGM, whilst acknowledging the urgency of the need
    to continue the campaign to retain and save a public Probation
    Service, also recognises that the political drive to dismantle the
    Probation Service in a wantonly ideological way imposes an
    obligation on the union to consider all available political options
    to preserve a unified service. Sadiq Khan MP, Shadow Secretary
    of State for Justice, has been invited to address AGM and his
    commitment to retaining a public owned Probation Service (whilst
    not unqualified) was reiterated recently when he addressed the
    Howard League and the PSO Conference. He noted that:
    “In my vision for probation, there is no place for a madcap
    splitting of responsibility for offenders based on their level of risk.
    Day to day case management of all offenders will be done by
    probation trust staff. With trusts able to contract in support for
    skills, training, alcohol and drug dependencies as they see fit. The
    best performing probation trusts will get more freedoms over their
    budgets, and how they procure services, rewarded for their
    achievements. I believe this vision for probation – a publicly run
    probation service – can instil a laser-like focus on reducing reoffending.
    It would be free of the distractions of the rush to
    privatise. Instead, it will be focused on improved outcomes –
    reduced crime from re-offending.”

    We therefore call on the Shadow Secretary of State for Justice to
    once again reaffirm his commitment to a free-standing
    unified public Probation Service at AGM and in anticipation of
    Labour coming back into Government in 2015 to continue to
    mitigate, by all available political and parliamentary avenues, the
    egregious damage currently being inflicted on Probation staff due
    to this Government's wilful efforts to dismantle Probation.



  3. Any chance of summarising all that into a kick-ass catchy slogan?

    1. I expect this can be improved, but these are the elements I want to see reflected in a statement.

      "Save Probation - make it locally unified & governed & run by publicly employed & professionally qualified staff."

      - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

      I would also like to add something about the judiciary being paramount in overseeing probation, with the client supervising staff ALL being 'officers of the court - in other words owing their first loyalty to carry out court orders, to achieve the best for each individual supervisee, rather than satisfy some wider government aim.

      In other words do not try to fix the criminal justice statistics, but just try to enable those with convictions to live legally now & put right - where possible past failings whilst being ever watchful for the safety of the public and individual potential victims.

  4. All the mainstream political parties have embraced the outsourcing and privatisation of probation to a greater or lesser degree. There are a few models foating around. Sadiq Khan's team appear to be in broad agreement that the establishment of two probation services is risky and there is some interest in the service being reunited and then split up into larger probation areas than the Trusts making probation areas coterminous with policing areas. There is no clear vision however and whilst Labours biggest financial supporters - the trade unions - would like to see an end to the privateers rout of the public sector including re-privatisation by stealth of the health service the Labour party is increasingly looking for new financial backers such as multinational corporations and the people who invest in them. So whilst Labour politicians may say what they think their audience want to hear at the same time they are courting the very companies poised to take over the running of the probation service for profit and they will expect Labour to assist in every way they can but understand they have to keep the unions on board too. I expect there are lots of meetings going on behind closed doors, assurances being made, monies promised, noses tapped, and hands firmly shaken.

    1. The position of multi nationals as the ultimate government - is the one issue that is not being properly explored in all the disputes about independence and border controls.

      This was made clear in an excellent broadcast by Helena Kennedy this week when she interview French Judge Eva Joly about her investigation into corruption involving VERY senior French & European politicians and the Elf Oil company.

      She made some interesting comparisons with the English situation - it is a 30 minute programme, I have already listened to it twice - and I might give it another hearing yet.

      Incidentally why are these stock photos used to illustrate UK Justice used with gavels - surely that is only in USA television shows.

      Did you see a gavel the last time you were in a British Court?

  5. Want to piss Grayling off real bad? Try this!!!!

    1. Cheers for that breaking news!

    2. I do not think an - any enemy of Chris Grayling's is a friend of ours is a good policy.

      Father's4Justice do have some genuine grievances but I suspect many involved with F4J would see anyone remotely connected with Napo as no friend of theirs.

      Maybe F4J have changed in recent years, in the meantime I found this Scottish write up, interesting - I also member what they did to the Napo message-board - the archive of which Napo seem to have taken 'off line'

    3. I'm just informing people of what's going on Andrew - not endorsing the behaviour ok?

    4. Grayling is a bully who has considerable powers that he misuses constantly for personal and ideological advancement.
      He is (or would be given the chance) an extreme right wing dictator.
      In my opinion, he has damaged so many peoples lives without a jot of remorse or concern that he deserves everything he gets- and what he gets is by far not enough.

    5. The other method used to close down criticism from charities is incorporate them into the public service delivery system. Big, important groups with name-recognition have been hollowed out of their principles in the desperate bid for government contracts. They are terrified of commenting on government policies which are demonstrably counter to the goals they strive for.
      This goes for some charities working within prisons, who are as aggressive in fielding questions about what goes on there as the Ministry of Justice. And it goes on in the realm of immigration too, where charities' role picking up the breadcrumbs left over from contracts to the likes of Serco and G4S have made them terrified of biting the hand that feeds them.
      Charity criticism is being shut down in the courts and in public service delivery contracts. And when that doesn't work it is shut down by a campaign of bullying and intimidation from ministers.
      Grayling's paranoid delusions are not just personal failings. They are reflections of government policy.
      The repercussions are plain to see. A prison crisis has developed which no-one is trying to address. Yesterday, the chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors Association said the secretary of state and lord chancellor was "in a state of unparalleled denial". He added: "His programme has no grounding in reality. He has shown blatant disregard for the views of experts and practitioners on almost every issue. Make no mistake, this crisis is not one of prisons but of the entire English justice system."
      At some point the secretary of state's refusal to listen to evidence and personal attacks on his critics must be considered more than personal failings. They are political negligence.

    6. I absolutely accept that and did not in anyway consider Jim B is endorsing F4J, however others who are more recent into probation, may not be aware of the difficulties court welfare officers (some of whom were simultaneously part time or former probation officers) personally faced as a consequence of the actions of SOME of those involved with F4J - which I am certain Jim does & presume that at some stage in his career he undertook family court welfare work - as did I - it was probably the most contentious and personally challenging part of my career, apart from dealing with management!

      I enjoyed it and found it very worthwhile, being able to be part of the legal process trying to make the best of bad situations for children, who are never the cause of the bad situation.

      I probably have enough material for a book from just 3 or 4 of the few dozen cases I dealt with, the latest one being as long ago as about 1991/2.

  6. With many TR bidders dropping out, I find this article very interesting in respect of how the MoJ can give contracts without competition.

    1. The Ministry of Justice has awarded a contract worth between £31.5 million and £76.5 million for electronic monitoring hardware to Worcestershire-based firm Steatite.

      The MoJ said it awarded the contract without a call for competition due to “extreme urgency brought about by events” that it did not foresee. This refers to the overcharging scandal that Serco and G4S were embroiled in, which resulted in the two security firms paying the government compensation and losing the contract to Capita.

      Under the contract, Steatite - a subsidiary of Solid State - will supply the MoJ with anklets, fixed position units, handheld monitoring devices, equipment management devices and all the associated firmware and software needed for monitoring offenders’ attendance, curfew, location or exclusion from specified areas.

      The government’s electronic monitoring service currently monitors about 25,000 people at any one time using only radio technology. In the financial year 2010/11, around 116,000 people were monitored in total.

      In 2012, the MoJ posted a contract notice for ‘next generation’ electronic monitoring services - that is, GPS-enabled tags - and Steatite will be required to cooperate with Capita, which was selected as the preferred bidder for the £400 million electronic tagging contract, to build a fully integrated system.

      Capita is providing monitoring centres, field force support and wider services as a systems integrator.

      The MoJ had planned to appoint a supplier for electronic monitoring hardware, which was Lot 3, under the 2012 procurement process. However, It said it stopped the Lot 3 part of the contract notice because it had an “extremely urgent need” to award the contract, and negotiated directly with Steatite, which had been a reserve bidder for Lot 3, to work out a deal.

      The “urgent reasons” the MoJ provided included a shortage of electronic tags which could have left it unable to comply with court orders and a need for GPS and other location-data providing electronic tags. It also said that any further delays in awarding the contract would have delayed key government schemes relating to electronic tagging.

      “The authority therefore commenced negotiations with the company identified in section V.3 above [i.e. Steatite], which was a reserve bidder in the competitive negotiated procedure, in order to award a contract,” the MoJ said in a contract award notice.

      “Only a company which participated in the previous competition, and was therefore already familiar with the authority’s technical, commercial and legal requirements, would have been able to meet the authority’s urgent timescales.”

      Steatite will supply its products and services in England and Wales, to MoJ organisations such as Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS), National Offender Management Service (NOMS0, Home Office and UK Visas and Immigration.

      The contract duration is for a minimum of three years. Steatite said it expects to begin supplying products to the MoJ by the end of 2014.

      “Quantities to be delivered are then expected to progressively increase over the contract term,” the supplier said.

      Gary Marsh, chief executive of Steatite’s parent company Solid State, said: “This is a landmark contract for the group and our largest to date. It marks the culmination of three years’ development work by Steatite and suitably illustrates the scale and complexity of the contracts that we are increasingly tendering for.”

    2. Omnishambles. Outrageous crisis management by a man who claims there is no crisis.

  7. I agree with all of Jim's post at 11:32 which begins: -

    "The other method used to close down criticism from charities is incorporate them into the public service delivery system."

    I hope he will put those opinions above the line soon.

    Additionally; Grayling's policies are a product of the entire Cameron and Clegg Government who should be held equally responsible - especially the Lib Dem members who seem to have gone back on what I thought they believed in general about criminal justice - with allowing the split - NOT privatisation, being the absolute worst for the public in terms of safety, good governance and economic implementation of government policy.

    Splitting probation at the local 'coalface' is almost beyond belief, in my opinion - and what is almost as bad, is the fact that it is not even being done well, but has been done in such away that rather than massage the spirits of the practitioners at a time of great change (which is academically known as stressful) it has torn at their very souls and given professional and personal ethical turmoils and additionally left them with huge practical operational problems that require, for many, super human stamina and patience.

    I was staggered at the lack of understanding by parliament as a whole - including many on the Labour benches, but the way so few who must have known did not speak loudly or early enough is simply shameful.

    A newly elected Labour MP, who was on the committee of the ORB wrote privately to me, that she was amazed (I am not sure if she said 'amazed' but that was the sentiment) that logic did not prevail in the discussions.

    Clearly the ORA2014 as enacted has significant parts that are nonsense and I doubt are capable of implementation in any sort of effective way, let alone ethical or judicially effective with regard to our Common Law system of Government that places courts as the arbiters of the detail of criminal sentencing.

    The Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters in parliament - both houses - could still halt the debacle, before much worse happens, including, hopefully any more deaths be connected with the policy.

    They need to demand an urgent debate in the first days of parliament and pass a motion to suspend the further implementation of the TR policy before proper parliamentary examination AND pilot schemes. Meanwhile, NPS & CRC senior managers should be directed to co-operate along with staff to work across their organisational boundaries, to deliver the best and safest system possible - prioritising what is most critical in terms of public safety and order. Plus there needs to be a focus on prisons, some sort of emergency release system and maybe emergency additional accommodation - both have happened before - and a focus on upping the parole hearing rate, to try to deal ASAP with all those on IPP (or whatever the 'plastic lifers' are called) who are already over tariff or approaching it in the next 6 months.

    AND Grayling and Hughes should be replaced and Selous should be paid as a Government Minister.

    AND the Government should appeal to the Probation Institute to jointly undertake, with the MOJ a publicly funded PR campaign to support a public debate explaining when, why and how non custodial adjudications and parole releases are used and are beneficial to the public at large.


    2. Todays blog has been most informative.
      I've learned that the state silence any group that speaks out about their policies. Private companies can be given Whitehall contracts regardless of competion laws. And the sorry state of the CJS is really all the unions fault!
      We bring democracy to the world?

    3. TORY Justice Minister Chris Grayling was sweating in the dock last night after campaigners condemned his “disingenuous” claim that unions were to blame for Britain’s prisons crisis.
      Probation officers’ union Napo and penal reform campaigners turned the screws on Mr Grayling after he stuck his head in the sand claiming there was “no crisis” despite soaring violence and desperate staff shortages.
      “We’ve got challenges from an increased (prison) population that was not expected in the last 12 months,” Mr Grayling whinged.
      “We are meeting those challenges, we are recruiting more staff — but I’m absolutely clear there is not a crisis in our prisons,” he insisted.
      Mr Grayling shamelessly tried to blame Con-Dem cutbacks on prison unions, saying they had preferred cuts to a sell-off.
      “The approach we are now putting in place in our prisons is what was recommended by the unions and by staff,” he whimpered.
      But Howard League for Penal Reform campaigns director Andrew Neilson shot back: “It is disingenuous for the political leadership at the Ministry of Justice to try to blame the unions for decisions about resourcing that were made at a higher level again.
      “Our understanding is that the unions were faced with an ultimatum that there would be cuts, and it was then a case of whether the cuts would be delivered through privatisation or by the public sector.”
      Napo national officer Tania Bassett slammed Mr Grayling for his handling of a “dangerous system on its knees.”
      She said: “It’s not just the prisons that are in crisis but the entire justice system.
      Mr Grayling’s “untried and untested reforms and cuts have limited access to legal aid, left the probation service in chaos and led to prisons being unable to cope with the basics, let alone any kind of rehabilitation.
      “He is in extreme denial if he thinks all is well within the justice system.”
      And Mr Neilson rubbished Mr Grayling’s claims that there was less violence than five years ago.
      “Violence in prisons is on the rise. The number of suicides has soared by 69 per cent in a year,” he said.
      Mr Grayling has been on remand after bigwigs blamed gang violence at a south London jail on staff shortages.
      Prison inspectors said there were a whopping 254 fights and assaults at the Isis young offenders institution in 2013.
      “Chris Grayling is still burying his head in the sand about the crisis in our prisons,” warned shadow justice minister Sadiq Khan.
      “The government needs to listen to these warnings from the chief inspector about the deteriorating situation in our prisons and act now to prevent putting public safety at risk.
      “We simply can’t afford to go on like this. Five more years of the Tories would mean five more years of failure in our prisons.”

    4. May be a better name would be Chris 'Comical Ali' Grayling.

      Crisis, what crisis :)

  8. Off topic but where theres muck theres money.

  9. Stone walls might make a prison but they can also define the limits for a successful business.

    For Donna Turner-Kot, managing director of n-ergy, a company set up in 2007 to work with offenders and ex-offenders within the nation’s prisons, this is certainly the case.

    From its Bridgend headquarters n-ergy has expanded across Wales, South West England and recently into Scotland, offering its expertise to HM Prison Service.

    Explaining the company’s strategy Ms Turner-Kot said: “We set up with the intention of helping to reduce the number re-offenders across the UK by starting our work with Cardiff Prison. This lead to us expanding our activity across the Welsh prison network, then into a prison in the south-west of England where they had got to know what we were doing in Wales.

    “It was our first step out of Wales and now we have expanded across England and are now working with one prison in Scotland, which gives us a total of 36 prisons UK-wide.”

    N-ergy undertakes work on vocational delivery to offenders in custody. The aim is to enhance their CVs for placing them in employment upon their release.

    This involves offering two key services – the delivery of vocational training and providing a recruitment service to offenders with the prospect of getting them a job on release.

    To achieve this the company delivers 21 different vocational courses across the prison network. These are based on the labour market needs of the area where the offender is imprisoned.

    “So we look for employers within a 10, 30 and 50 mile radius of that prison and work with employers to secure vacancies,” Ms Turner-Kot explained.

    “In this respect it acts like any other recruitment agency, but what makes us different is our unique pool of candidates we can draw from which no other agency has access to. Having worked with them over a varying period of time we can ensure employers that they come with an education and vocational training.”

    In delivering this service, n-ergy’s staff work with all categories of offenders with the exception of those in Category A prisons.

    Ms Turner-Kot said: “Prisons are graded from A to D, with Category D being open prisons. We work with our prisoners wherever they are and work either in the prison confines or in some cases outside it.”

    She added: “These are individuals who are close to the end of their sentences. Some will be those working on horticultural vocational programmes while others will be working to attain food and hospitality qualifications within the prison kitchens, and others are working towards manufacturing qualifications in the prison’s workshop.”

    To deliver this service n-ergy has a permanent staff of 64, of which 50 are involved within the prison network. They are trained as prison officers, draw their own keys, work in designated areas, and then leave at the end of the day.

    Of the business model Ms Turner-Kot said: “We have a manager based in each region who manages a cluster of prisons. They meet with their team on a monthly basis and get regular visits from senior management.”

    This particular practice has proved successful in relation to results achieved, measurement of which are written into the contract awarded.

    Emphasising their importance Ms Turner-Kot said: “We are paid on a results basis. No results, no money. Our results for delivering vocational qualifications is 95% and our success with the individuals that we place into employment is currently 25%.

    “The national average for vocational delivery is around 87% so we are above the national average, as we are with the Welfare to Work programme. The Ministry of Justice started to pilot programmes within the offender reform sector to work with organisations and pay them on a results basis.

    “Not all contracts are paid on a results basis, some you do get a small amount when you engage with a learner, but the bulk of your income comes when you place them into a job.”


    2. The news that A4e is terminating its contract to deliver education at 12 London prisons because it cannot make a profit (Report, 13 August) will hit those teaching in the sector hard. In our report Prison Educators: Professionalism Against the Odds, written with the University and College Union, we discovered that the small group of teachers in prisons are older than the average for further education, better qualified but less well paid, with fewer holidays. They are positive about the benefits of education in prison, highly motivated and enthusiastic.

      But the view given by those teachers is that prison education is no longer a viable career and is losing its potential to play a positive part in the rehabilitative process. Teachers’ most frequent complaint is about the pressures of constant retendering. As one put it: “Changing employer every three years is not beneficial to a department. It can take up to two years to get properly acquainted and set up smoothly with a new employer. Changing so often is unsettling for staff and does not allow continuity of systems for learners.” Quite possibly this respondent will soon have another employer to notch up.

      Education in prisons remains one of the few ways available to change a prisoner’s life trajectory. Yet the process of outsourcing, with its cycle of retendering, budget cuts and ever-greater exhortations to “efficiency”, has led to a regime where prisoners spend ever-greater amounts of time in their cells doing nothing that will help move them on.

      Short-contract outsourcing of education for the prison sector has failed to deliver a service that prisoners, prison educators and the public have a right to expect. Prison education is dying a death by a thousand cuts. The prison population is just under 85,000; we send a greater proportion of our population to prison than any other country in Europe and they spend longer incarcerated than in other European countries. Rehabilitation must be the overriding aim of the service, not simply the narrow focus on job skills.
      Prof Jane Hurry, Prof Greg Brooks, Margaret Simonot, Anita Wilson, Brian Creese
      Centre for education in the criminal justice system, Institute of Education

  10. this on the polotics website today

  11. There are many campaigners and activists clear on this site and over at Napo that the central message is to keep Probation PUBLIC. Lets not confuse or dilute the central thrust of what needs to be put to parliamentarians.

    Probation is not for sale to the immoral gain of profit from crime no matter how it is drawn. I had seen a parody picture of Fagin as a modern day share holder shadowy in the bidders echelons. Lots of them !

    Secondary and as important has to be reunification and if that is not enough the issue of protecting the Probation service as a specialised public Professional service. This will still need proper resourcing and the plans to save 200 million pounds reunification will no doubt be a lot cheaper and is not worth the loss and risk to public safety. There is no price on life !

    The government whoever, is in control has to recognise that crime is a social responsibility. Tackling properly all the needs of the causes of crime. It is the minimum requirement to provide the best services for the rehabilitation process. Our services were already achieving great results as a mature, experienced and learning organisation.

    This government can easily be accused of having a myopic approach to longer term vision at societies detriment for a few pieces of silver. Is Fagin on the dinner party guest list by the way?


    1. Talking in riddles again
      And what is a "pso manager" anyway: that's a politically correct term for someone without a qualification being paid band 5 is it?

    2. How about you decode your own riddles for us, 21:11?

  12. Its good to see NAPO raising concerns about staff safety in the press..

    1. Probation officers are fearful of paying visits to a North East prison where cutting officers by more than a third has led to a “violent culture”, it has been claimed.

      Mike Quinn, vice chairman of the Northumbria branch of NAPO, spoke out about HMP Northumberland after a prison officer was hospitalised by an inmate on August 9.

      He described the Category C jail as “like a tinderbox” and claims cash is being exchanged for prisoner assaults.

      It has been revealed how staff numbers at HMP Northumberland fell from 441 to 270 from 2010 to 2013 - a drop of 39%.

      Mr Quinn said: “We are becoming increasingly alarmed at reports about conditions at HMP Northumberland.

      “Members report to me that the atmosphere within the prison is tense and are concerned that if an incident were to take place that there would simply not be the staff to deal with it.”

      It comes as Eoin McLennan Murray, president of the Prison Governors Association, revealed Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s austerity drive is making it impossible to run a jail safely. He said this week: “We haven’t been able to recruit the numbers we need.”

      Private firm Sodexo took over the running of the jail in December 2013, after HMP Acklington and HMP Castington merged two years before.

      Mr Quinn added: “Worryingly, we’ve learnt that money may be changing hands between prisoners in order for assaults to be undertaken between prisoners. This will result in not only danger to prisoners, but also the staff employed at the prison.

      “Prisoners are reporting to our members that they’re submitting applications to see healthcare professionals, to access education opportunities or to attend rehabilitative programmes, only to not hear back.”

      The union boss accused Chris Grayling of “destroying any hopes of rehabilitation” with cuts.

      He said: “Just a fortnight ago we saw a prison officer hospitalised having been attacked by a prisoner. But our concerns extend further than this, if the prison is truly to release people back into the community having learnt something from their time in prison, then Sodexo need to invest the right resources.

      “For us, that’s the overriding concern. Businesses taking over organisations such as prisons, and soon the probation service, have a primary aim of making money for their shareholders.”

      A Sodexo Justice Services spokesperson said: “Staffing levels for prison visits have remained unchanged since Sodexo took over the contract and the number of prisoners attending daily appointments has improved.

      “We monitor incidents in the prison very closely, and there is no evidence of any change in levels of violent behaviour.

      “We review staffing levels at all our prisons on a regular basis and will continue to monitor them at HMP Northumberland.”

      The spokesman added: “We can confirm an employee at HMP Northumberland was injured during an incident with a prisoner on Saturday August 9.”

      Sir Alan Beith, Lib Dem MP for Berwick, said: “I have raised with ministers on several occasions my concerns that the staffing levels at HMP Northumberland may not be adequate to maintain a safe prison and achieve effective resettlement, and I will continue to raise these concerns.”

      Labour peer Jeremy Beecham added: “Staffing at the jail was cut by a third.

      “Chris Grayling is in denial about the extent of this problem and this is reflected clearly at HMP Northumberland.

      “Staffing is becoming a widespread problem. Not only in private prisons, all have taken a big hit and it is all part and parcel of an approach which ignores the reality.

      “You can’t cope with the situation without adequate, trained staff.”

    2. The Sodexo spokesperson must have fallen out of the same Spinning Ringing tree that Grayling, Selous, Spurr, Allarse, etc fell from. If anyone knows where that tree is, please cut the bugger down and rip the stump out.

      (I know - it was the Singing Ringing tree. And it was probably in Eastern Bloc Europe as-it-used-to-be: Hungary? Czechoslovakia?)

  13. It's the front page headline on the Newcastle Journal this morning

    1. Great stuff Mike Quinn and colleagues again