Sunday, 3 August 2014

IT Special

I am a PO in my mid 50s and have always managed to keep up with IT - I use a mac at home So how come I am left feeling so distressed because I cannot manage the IT changes and systems? I need training not a PI to just read and then be expected to do it. I am having a discussion with my solicitor to see if this is age discrimination because I feel humiliated as if I can not keep up..

I am a 48 year old PO and a self confessed geek. I had my first computer a Sinclair ZX81 when I was 15. I got an O Level in Computer Studies in 1982. I am an accredited Trainer with the British Computer Society. I can programme in BASIC. I can take a PC apart and put it back together. I can't make head nor tail of Delius, I simply cannot fathom what it is wanting me to do, and it's so cumbersome, clunky and unergonomic. I also feel humiliated and bewildered. It's like being in a massive Escher painting; running up and down endless stairs that go nowhere and you don't know why.

I don't have any of your skills so can you imagine how hard it is for me. Most days I try not to use it and try and remember everything in my head or write it down in case I am asked anything.

The system is broken. I have this image in my mind of two YTS trainees in the MoJ, trying to stick it back together before anyone notices. Probation IT has always been a weak link but OASYS R and N Delius are beyond poor. They are retrograde. Scrapping something to replace it with something worse is crass. Bit like TR, really.

Before delius came along back in the good old days we did part c's etc. and we never had any of the problems we have now. We had index cards for every offender all filed alphabetically and updated any time anyone re-offended and you could just put your hand to information you needed. Now in the new world it takes 3 clericals NPS and CRC's one SPO, helpdesk, Probation officer and 37 clicks just to enter a case onto the system at a daily cost of about 7 staff. Add to that the confusion of TR and you have a recipe for disaster and a very very stressed out workforce that's going around in circles only to get back to the start. Well done Grayling, and "its going well, teething problems" I don't think so, more like a monumental crash.


You all make me feel so much better, it makes no sense to me either. I kept a log a few months back about what I did in my working day and was surprised how much of my day was spent trying to get Delius to work.

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. 

I am seeing less and less of clients - I am chained to my computer. Oasys after Oasys, home visits 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 can't physically or mentally sustain this. I am seriously worried about my health, I am definitely more anxious than I was 6 months ago.

No time to work out the shit IT system. Delius doesn’t work, can’t access OASys. Can’t get hold of my manager despite sending 100 emails all which have gone unacknowledged. 

Since Oasys-r came in my team of seconded POs in open prison have not been able to request control of Oasys. Apparently it is because a remand box is ticked, and the only people who can remove the tick is the hp help desk. My colleague phoned last week about a particular case and was told no, you can't have control, he is a determinate, the Oasys belongs to the community.

Are the computer systems slow everywhere else too? I'm thinking of asking my admin to dust off her typewriter to get this report finished!
In addition, Delius is not fully functioning in my area either - the main problem i'm experiencing is that it cannot find people even when extra identification information is inputted.

NDelius is dangerous in this respect. I searched for a case I KNEW was on crams but ND came up with zero. I even got a colleague (a ND trainer) to do a cross-check. Still zero. Must be my memory playing tricks I thought. Then, a colleague working in the courts, finds him with a slightly different alias. On the ND record, his original name is there as having been precisely that which we couldn't find and was migrated from crams. It's there, yet you can't find him if you type it in!. It's scary.

From Noms most recent statistical data report 2014:

"It is hoped that with the introduction and phased rollout of a national management information system (nDelius) for all Probation trusts and, since 1 June 2014, the National Probation Service (NPS), more accurate and complete data can be produced on PSR breach reports in future. This will be kept under review."
Two things strike me:

1. "It is hoped..." - goodness only knows how much has been spent on a shit IT system and they "hope" it works;

2. After all of the hype around nDelius being a shiny new case record system it is now admitted that it is, in fact, a "management information system"

And what is a "PSR breach report"?

They "hope it works"? It doesn't fukin work! National NAPO should be moving to action on this now. Boycott the pile of crap! Refuse to use it en masse! 

Relevant to all NPS Staff
Things to action or be aware of in relation to the upcoming migration this weekend:-
Please change your NPS password - as per the emails you will have received regarding this. Please follow the user guides in ******User_Guides\Migration Weekend. Make a note of your shortcuts/default printer/favourites as these will be lost during migration and you will have to recreate/reset them. Following the migration if you need to email the Service Desk you will need to use the following email address - ************
Service Desk


  1. Can we remind ourselves what Antonia Romeo told us about TR back in April:

    "“The point of this programme is to bring into scope 50,000 offenders,” explains Romeo. “This is an affordable way of extending provision to the under-12-month group, where we think we’re likely to have the most impact in terms of reducing reoffending.”

    The relationship between the CRCs and NPS will clearly be crucial here, as will the exchange of data between them. CRCs will, says Romeo, have to make their IT systems compatible with the NPS’s network, enabling them to share information about offenders. However, contractors “will need some support during the first part of the contract; we’re not expecting them to suddenly come in with a whole raft of new IT on day one,” she says. “There will be a period of being supported and using our systems; then a period of them choosing what systems they want to run.” The CRCs and NPS will also be expected to share offices, facilitating joint working and the retention of a strong local branch network. “They will be separate organisations, but there won’t be separate approaches,” Romeo claims."

  2. And there was this from now departed Jezza Wright in February (Hansard, written answers):

    "The Rehabilitation Programme team actively monitors risks and develops and implements mitigating activities. Our rigorous planning approach means we are applying appropriate effort and resource to setting up both the National Probation Service (NPS) and the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) as required. The Transforming Rehabilitation programme remains on track to deliver these essential reforms.

    The primary national ICT applications, Oasys and National Delius, which were introduced across all Trusts in 2013, already enable a consistent national approach to the use and recording of offender risk assessment and case management across England and Wales. Community Rehabilitation companies (CRC) will continue to use existing local ICT applications pending those applications development or rationalisation by the new providers.

    We have developed and designed the new system over several months, through consultation and engagement and will continue to work closely with Trusts to test key aspects of the new system in the run up to implementation. We are taking a phased approach to implementation and have plans in place to roll out further business readiness tests at key stages of implementation so that we can ensure we are managing the transition to the new system in a safe and measured way which maintains public protection.

    Trusts are being wound down on 31 May, following staged stand up of CRCs and the NPS. This means that transition to the new arrangements will happen in a sensible way which ensures public safety at every stage."

    We have to keep reminding them, the public and ourselves of their lies and deceptions - "its all about the 50,000 under 12 months, the IT system is fine, its all under control, rigorous planning, blah, blah, blah."

  3. From oct 2011

    MoJ goes to market for Noms IT - more change in 2015?

    "Tender supports National Offender Management Service's gradual transition to using Future ICT Sourcing model

    The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) is looking for a provider of ICT services for the National Offender Management Service (Noms), as part of a transition towards using its Future ICT Sourcing (Fits) model.

    It has published a tender for a three year deal worth up to £300m to provide services for hardware, software and networks. It is aiming to award the contract next year to provide an interim solution until a transition to Fits by 2015, although there is a provision for two possible extensions of a year each.

    The existing ICT infrastructure of Noms covers its headquarters and 131 prisons and includes desktops, networks, telephony and application services.

    Fits involves the implementation of a service tower model for delivering infrastructure, applications, services and communications across the whole of the MoJ, replacing a range of programmes. The relevant contracts will be tendered separately."

  4. From the NAO website, 2009:

    "“The initiative to introduce a single offender management database has been expensive and ultimately unsuccessful. These problems could have been avoided if the National Offender Management Service had established realistic budget, timescales and governance for the project at the start and followed basic project management principles in its implementation. In delivering the new reduced programme, NOMS need to focus on better financial controls and more effective management oversight.”

    Tim Burr, head of the National Audit Office, 12 March 2009

    An initiative, begun in 2004, by the National Offender Management Service to build a single offender management IT system for the prison and probation services has not delivered value for money. A National Audit Office investigation found the project had been hampered by poor management leading to a three-year delay, a doubling in project costs and reductions in scope and benefits.

    More recently, the National Offender Management Service has made progress in getting the project back on track; but the core aim of the original project of a single shared database of offenders will not be met. The Service has however reduced the number of databases used from 220 to three.

    The project to provide an IT system to support a new way of working with offenders was to be introduced by January 2008, and had an approved lifetime cost of £234 million to 2020. By July 2007, £155 million had been spent on the project, it was two years behind schedule, and estimated lifetime project costs had risen to £690 million. The Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice called a halt to the project while options to get the budget under control were sought.

    Many of the causes of the delays and cost overruns could have been avoided with better management. There was inadequate management oversight and the technical complexity of the project was significantly underestimated. Budget monitoring was absent and change control weak. In addition, the main supplier contracts were designed in such a way that sufficient pressure could not be brought to bear on suppliers to deliver to time and cost.

    In January 2008, the National Offender Management Service began work on a rescoped programme with an estimated lifetime cost of £513 million and a delivery date of March 2011. They opted for the lowest cost approach, which would deliver the Service’s revised needs, although this option did not have the best benefit to cost ratio.

    The full financial impact of the delays is uncertain, but it is likely to be at least £41 million; £15 million of which has been spent on aspects of the project which have now been cut from the design. £226 million has been spent on the project so far and roll-out of the system to prisons is expected to commence in April 2009."

  5. And a shitload of jargon from early 2013:

    "The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has awarded a £235m contract to HP Enterprise Services for the provision, hosting and maintenance of ICT services.

    The move could be the last major MoJ procurement overseen by its chief information officer (CIO) Andy Nelson who is being tipped to leave the MoJ and take up a similar role at the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

    The DWP insisted today that a competition is still running for the CIO role with a spokesperson saying no decision had yet been made.

    Government ICT vendor sources were this morning suggesting Nelson was being lined up for the DWP CIO role vacated by the untimely passing before Christmas of Philip Langsdale.

    The MoJ NOMS contract replaces the current outsourced ICT services under the Quantum PFI agreement and will last for three years with options to extend by two further periods of 12 months. It will deliver a whole range of end-to-end ICT services, including infrastructure provision (desktop PCs, laptops, networks, fixed telephony and application services) to prisons, headquarters sites and data centres as well as the service management and support elements necessary to maintain the infrastructure and applications.

    The contract is expected to provide an interim solution to ensure business continuity up until the end of December 2015 and transition to the MoJ's Future ICT Sourcing (FITS) target operating model (TOM).

    The FITS programme is intended to change the way ICT services are delivered from the current end-to-end contracts by line of business to the MoJ-wide "Service Tower" model, with separate contracts for service integration, end-user computing, networks, hosting, security, application maintenance and development.

    HP will deliver services to a geographically dispersed estate that comprises NOMS HQ offices, area offices and 131 prisons, 12 of which are privately operated.

    The choice of Nelson, if confirmed, would provide DWP with an immediate solution to the gap left by Langsdale's passing. It will, however, leave a vacancy at the MoJ. If he takes the DWP's CIO position, Nelson is thought likely to have to give up his government CIO role.

    Commenting on the MoJ NOMS contract, Richard Trevor, HP's Enterprise Services' Acting Regional Vice President for UK Public Sector, said, "HP is pleased to continue providing services to the Ministry of Justice and will share more details in due course."

    1. In how many ways on how many postings, can the people who know shout, SCREAM "This is not working" It is costing a fortune, it is putting the public at danger, there is absolutely no likelihood of short term prisoners being supervised. Fail Fail Fail and in reality Lies Lies Lies

  6. Word 2002, IE 6, Windows XP (which Microsoft have recently ceased providing support for). What could possibly go wrong?

  7. I'm finally getting around to reading the Target Operating Model (or TOM as it is affectionately known). I'm only on page 16 and already have the following concerns:

    1. On the one hand CRCs will be given the maximum possible freedom to do what they believe will support the rehabilitation of offenders (page 9) yet on the other hand NOMS will place some contractual requirements on CRCs with respect to how they deliver requirements or licence conditions which are primarily associated with punishing or controlling (page 11).

    Why give 'maximum possible freedom' but make it a contractual requirement to 'punish and control'?

    2. Why would private companies propose an HDC? A prisoner released earlier would cost more money.

    3. At the moment people serving 14 months would serve 7 months in prison and 7 months on licence. In the future people serving 14 months would serve 7 months in prison and 12 months on licence.

    Why so it this way? Surely a 6 month licence period for all would have made more sense.

    4. Not all offenders managed by CRC form cohort for payment by results (this is how I read it). So which ones do? (Page 14).


    Does this mean there will be no more probation supervision for NPS or CRC? What the f%ck?

    That is all for now. Maybe by the time I get to page 87 there will be more.

    1. Oh and according to TOM one of the requirements is 'programme' not 'accredited programme'. Is this a mistake or will programmes not have to be accredited?

    2. They will not have to be accredited

    3. If you know the state of said Accredited Programmes then you'll know that the Accredited part means nothing anyway.

  8. I work in IT for 'probation' and quite honestly can say that the IT systems have got worse not better. A good IT system should be intuitive and not require much training - how many of you have had training on how to use ebay, Facebook or your internet bank?

    As an IT literate person - for heavens sake I make a living out of helping others with IT as an IT trainer and in a support role, even I struggle with OASysR and especially nDelius - they are just not logical! I remember seeing nDelius in action in Manchester about five or six years ago just after CNOMIS collapsed and thinking it was great. The product the we have today though is nothing like it! Antiquated, difficult, and labourious.

    I remember going away from the train the trainer event utterly disappointed that I had to sell this crap product to staff as the next best thing. Yes Annette is ex-trust and is good with the business stuff, but seriously - would you actually think this was fit for purpose Annette and co if you actually had to use it day to day?

    So tomorrow I have to support the fallout of the migration weekend for NPS staff. ICT systems are there to support purposeful action - yes I have a post grad qualification in ICT, and the changes imposed on staff do not sit with this fundamental purpose in relation to what ICT is there to do. It is supposed to support not hinder!

  9. Oh I forgot to mention that the only way I once could find someone on nDelius was to Google them to find their DOB from a local newspaper then input that into nDelius which generated a match - perhaps a top tip for OMs who can't find their cases.

    Train crash waiting to happen

    1. Thanks, that was useful, having read what you have said it made me feel that I am not incompetent and it is the system that's fucking unworkable. It would be useful if we could get more truthful information from IT staff, at least you know what you are talking about and can highlight all the problems with the system. And thanks for the tip really professional having to use newspapers to find our clients, NOMs you really have got to take note this is beyond a joke.

  10. In our Contract Package Area this week:

    Them:Here's a memory stick for you to download a very badly written set of PowerPoint slides to stand alone laptops to deliver group inductions to new clients.
    Us: Great! Can we keep it?

    Them: No, the memory stick is very expensive and you have to share it with the neighbouring county because we can only afford four. Please upload it as quickly as you can and then post it to the next county.

    This is real.