Monday, 11 August 2014

Manchester in Meltdown 3

Regarding Bolton being the new Manchester in meltdown. As far as I know, it's the whole of what was the Greater Manchester Probation Trust area that is in meltdown. Every district but particularly Bolton and Tameside (east Manchester way) are dire. There must be hundreds of temps. Both NPS and CRC have massive staff problems. It's been well known amongst practice staff that GMPT were relying too heavily on temps not just since TR but in the years before. I'd herd once that there had been around a 25% cut in practice staff from 2008-2011ish. I'm sure there must be firm figures on this somewhere?

Since the split things are even worse specifically in the NPS where case loads are in my opinion dangerously unmanageable. For example a colleague of mine works a 3 day week and has approx 40 high risk cases. Absolutely ridiculous. Staff are now being informed of things they don't have to do i.e regarding reporting frequency and no prison visits to try and paper over the gaping cracks in the service. 


Regarding senior management, from what I can tell there is some sympathy with staff and awareness amongst the better managers, but little if no idea of what to do. No wonder really when at a recent staff conference the head of the NPS north west area has the gaul to try and tell staff they are over reacting when legitimate concerns regarding case loads and amount of work being expected were raised by staff. 

In my opinion she basically implied staff were overreacting that things aren't that bad because according to her caseloads might be high but you don't have to do much with people when they are in prison or in approved premises. She presented as dismissive and showed no understanding of the actual expectation of work with high risk cases.

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The head is only interested in her own career, don't expect anything from her. She has never cared about her staff and is only loyal to Graying and what she can get out of this. I heard how dismissive she was to a staff member at the conference when a statement was made about being overwhelmed and she brushed him aside. She makes being in the CRC look attractive.

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I know of a couple of officers in Manchester who are now saying that they want to transfer to CRC because they cannot cope. If granted the transfer this will cause additional pressure on the NPS. Things "going smoothly", not so in rainy Manchester. STOP THE LIES!!!!!!

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There are more temp staff and those on fixed term contracts in our office than permanent, and most of them are close to walking out. If they did we would have to close our office.

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NPS in Manchester have now got contingency plan, tele contact with high risk clients fortnightly, there is a long list of other things too many to list, to help them cope. Merging us back is the only thing that would help, no other contingency plan is going to work. They may realise this in another week or too when the contingency plan goes to pot and they have to think of something else, just do the obvious and right thing and admit that this is not working, any cracks that are papered over will only reappear.

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They have issued a long list of things you currently don't have to do with high risk cases including seeing them weekly. The proviso is it's only those who are 'stable' which is a glaring contradiction in my opinion as if we are saying they are high risk we are saying the risk is imminent? 

This list does not help in terms of case management as whilst we are being told it's ok to follow and if there is an SFO the instruction will be taken into account. What's the betting though that in the event of any SFO you'll be dragged through the coals for suggesting they were stable enough to see fortnightly. 

None of this manages risk and none of this eases concerns amongst staff who on the whole want to do a good job not a 'bodge job' with their clients. The stress of not being able to work to the standard you'd like to keep your own professional values and integrity is all too often dismissed by management particularly those we know who were never good with the client faced work or never interested in this part if the job (and from my experience that is the majority of managers I've encountered).

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Might I suggest the union branches in Greater Manchester considers a vote of no confidence in who ever this NPS leader is? It should mention specific reasons such as the ones posted here. It WILL afford you some protection at an ET if you have raised issues and not been listened to so had to take such action, if you mention the specific concerns re telephone reporting or moving to fortnightly reporting for High Riskers this will afford some protection when SFOs happen. Sad you need to consider this but please do. Also, if the branch votes on this, there is safety in a collective decision and that should really ring alarm bells that such action is being taken.

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Hmmm - Manchester's contingency planning might have use for that old tried and tested practice from across The Pond, whereby our US Parole Officer colleagues would manage the scarier bad people not by home visits but by the Drive By And Wave method.

26 comments:

  1. Telephone high rush cases once a fortnight. Are you having a giraffe. In National Standards it is supposed to be face to face contact weekly.

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  2. NPS POs want to move to CRC. Absolutely nuts, it would be out of the fire pan into the fire!

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  3. The contribution about a 'Staff Council' on the previous blog is a worrying development and no doubt designed to undermined the standing of local branches. It would mean two representative voices and is only about going over the head of local branches, a divide and rule tactic. I hope no one chooses to become a 'useful idiot' for local management. But sitting at top tables is always seductive for some folk.

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    1. Reposted from Bidding Special

      This posted today on our Bulletin Board:

      CRC Staff Council

      "you are invited to attend the first meeting of a working group to look at how CRC staff will establish a Staff Council. This will include looking at the role of the council and how its membership will be selected.

      We want to ensure a wide representation of staff so all views are considered. So, please, do get involved as this is an opportunity to shape your future.

      Once established the Staff Council will play a complimentary role to that played by the Trade Unions, it will be set up as an independent body representing staff to voice, shape and influence future business thinking and decision making. Trade Unions will continue to be the representatives of staff in negotiating terms and conditions.

      Before booking onto the working group meeting please check with your line manager. To book a place use the Seminar Booking system. Due to the constraints on the size of room numbers will be limited to 20 participants, places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. However, the details of all those who express an interest in attending will be kept for involvement in future workshops".

      Do they really think they'll get 20 volunteers - I can see staff being co-erced into attending.

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    2. I'll not be going and none of my colleagues have show any inclination. They have been told that the first to break ranks will be brewing their own tea from that point on!!!

      Nothing brings together a team like a good old brew :)

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  4. can you explain why it is jumping out of the frying pan? If you make a statement you should back it up.

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    1. I'm not Anon @ 17:03.

      Because it's just as shit there! I say this from experience. That said, I would not swap it for NPS in my office/area so that probably says a lot too.

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    2. I think both halves have significant problems because the flaw in the operating model is not the CRC or the NPS, it is the SPLITTING OF THE TWO. The problem is the unnecessary interface created in attempting to extricate a sellable chunk from the bits that are the responsibility of the state

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    3. Whoever thought that adding a extra layer(s) of bureaucracy would make things easier needs shooting.

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  5. I heard today that there are 18 vacancies for NPS staff. I have met a lot of people today and things are beyond shambolic in Manchester, this must be the only place in the Country that has more agency staff than permanent. People and systems have been broken down, no one knows what they are doing its a disgrace to see what Grayling and the managers have done to our service. Rightly people are thinking why should we help out when we have been treated appallingly and it feels that no one is rushing to take these posts, and I don't blame them. CRC Officers are still holding all their NPS cases, and management are not even encouraging to transfer them. Its THE BIGGEST COCK UP EVER. Furthermore the agency staff who are on XXX amount of pounds per hour and extortionate dinner allowances are not even suitably qualified/experienced to manage high risk cases. At this rate Manchester will be using up most of their next 5 years budget just to get them through these next few months.They will have to take some radical action to sort this terrible mess.

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    1. Will any overspend be covered by NOMS or will the CRC have to pick up the tab?

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  6. My prison is just as bad, computers down or to too slow to be of any use 50% of each day. Parole Hearings and Parole reports at least doubled; prisoners seeing no one and getting tetchier as the weeks roll on. And because there is little contact with their Home Probation Officers they look to probation staff in the prison to fill the void. Loads of prison officers off sick and the current mantra from NOMS is "Every Contact Matters"; they're having a bloody laugh. If there is one thing we don't do now is see any clients. What an effin mess.

    papa

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  7. In my area, although not sure if it impacts on all NE area, newly qualified PO's are being put on 3 month contracts and will, in due course be offered some work, we think. It might however, involve a relocation to another area of the (NPS NE). You really couldn't make it up...what a complete mess.

    Just watched Channel 4 news and despite the MoJ (Prisons) getting a bit of a savaging, no representative from MoJ available to pass comment - just another inane, selection of meaningless words and lies put together to appease the public.

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    1. I notice that the new prison expert Denis Macshane (plugging his book) talked a lot of sense and was clear the Prison Service is dysfunctional and in crisis - the very same management team that now runs the Probation Service......

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    2. Our criminal justice system considers the most severe punishment a criminal can receive is that of imprisonment. Some criminals are dangerous, others are mentally ill, some have serious addiction problems, and others have just made a serious mistake.

      However, what links them all together is that they are in jail, a punishment which should take away their liberty and some of their comforts. But just how hard is it in jail?

      Our whistleblower has told us that while there have always been drugs and violence in jails, it is now, in his experience, at unacceptable levels.

      All types of drugs, from cannabis, spice, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy - you name it, it's inside, it's available.
      Prison officer
      This view seems to be backed up by confidential internal reports, compiled by the National Offender Management Service, that Channel 4 News has seen.

      In the last 10 days the following drugs and illicit items have been recovered:

      At HMP Guys Marsh a package was recovered from a sterile area inside the prison which contained four mobile phones, nine SIM cards and 11 packages containing the drug spice.
      At HMP Altcourse two separate incidents resulted in the recovery from inside the prison of: 11 mobiles phones, 15 SIM cards, a large quantity of cannabis, eight needles, two syringes and 2.6g of skunk.
      A prison officer, who we have called Andy (not his real name), who agreed to talk on condition of anonymity, told us: "The staff are bringing contraband in. Every jail has a problem with it, would be foolish for anyone to say it wasn't a problem. Staff bring illicit items in."

      He also told me: "All types of drugs, from cannabis, spice, heroin, cocaine , ecstasy - you name it, it's inside, it's available. Just depends on how much you want to pay for it. I've been told by prisoners that drugs are easier to get hold of in jail than on the street."

      Lack of staff
      I have been told by the many officers that I have spoken with that security is a major issue - with cell searches almost non-existent and searching of staff and prisoners often no more than a simple pat-down. This is because of the serious lack of staff, high sickness levels, and low morale among staff.

      Over the last five months we have heard of major disturbances at HMP Northumberland, and most recently at HMP Ranby in Nottinghamshire, but the true picture of violence inside our jails is much more worrying.

      In the last 10 days Channel 4 News has seen the internal reports of disturbances at HMP Dartmoor, where three prisoners armed with broken broom handles climbed over the railings, and at HMP Parc, where seven prisoners barricaded themselves into an area - and where minor injuries were reported.

      Most shockingly, our investigation has revealed that a convicted murderer - who the judge described as committing a premeditated, brutal and savage attack on his wife - is driving prisoners from HMP North Sea Camp to and from appointments and work.

      Geoffrey Austin, 69, was convicted in November 1997 for the premeditated murder of his wife Sandra Austin, who he stabbed 17 times. He was sentenced to life with a minimum term of 14 years.

      Austin is in denial, refusing to accept that he killed her, and even though he has served his minimum sentence, he has not been considered suitable for release by the Parole Board.

      Yet, shockingly, he is considered safe enough to drive the Prison Service minibus - unsupervised - with just him and multiple prisoners on board, taking them to various locations and dropping and picking them up.

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    3. Part 2

      Black Mamba'
      One source within the Prison Service that we spoke to claims that the prisoners call the minibus the "Black Mamba" - the name given to a synthetic cannabinoids drug - because it is used to bring drugs back into the jail.

      And while HMP North Sea Camp is a category D "open prison", is it really acceptable for a brutal murderer - who is still serving his sentence and not yet deemed fit for release - to have sole control and responsibility for other prisoners?

      When I asked Andy who runs jails, he said: "I'd like to say the staff, the officers do - and they do to a certain extent. But more and more prisoners haven't got any respect any more.

      "I don't know if it's the gang culture that's outside the prison that they carry on inside the prison, but the respect has gone out of the window. They don't care any more.

      "They seem to think it's a bit of a joke - it's like prison is not scary for youngsters any more."

      'Untrue allegations'
      In response, Justice Minister Andrew Selous said:

      "We take allegations by any whistleblower seriously but many of the allegations that Channel 4 News are making are simply not true... the level of positive drug tests in prisons have fallen sharply when compared to a decade ago.

      "We do not tolerate violence of any kind in prison and any assault is treated extremely seriously. The level of violence in prisons is lower than it was a decade ago.

      "Of course there are sometimes problems - but anyone caught will be dealt with severely and may be referred to the police for prosecution."

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    4. The parts 1 & 2 above from C4 news website

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    5. There was a 'young lag' on radio 2 last week when they were discussing the report on Glen Parva YOI and the culture of bullying and offenders committing offences in there just to get solitary, in order to escape the hell on earth that it becomes for some. He hit the nail right on the head, ie, that the people who do the bullying and 'taxing' are just continuing the behaviour that is their lifestyle on the outside. The inspectors want to close the place but unless the culture changes, whatever building you put them in is immaterial. The remarks above echo the 'young lag's' simple observation. That the Justice Minister can brush both the prison worker and offender experience as 'simply not true' says all you need to know about the political class.

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  8. Positive drug tests down in a prison system where the prison staff potentially administering the tests have just been revealed to ne bringing drugs in. This Government is NOT in control of it's prisons.

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  9. I work at Bolton. The situation is worse than meltdown. It is hell on earth. Colleagues are off sick cause of pressure to make TR work. It’s a nightmare. Never seen anything like it before. In a space of four months our office has changed so much. And yet we have managers walking round in absolute denial. Staff morale is non-existent. No one is listening.

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  10. Perhaps one of the hidden "benefits " of having much bigger Probation areas in both the CRCs and NPS is that it enables us to have a much wider grasp of what is going on. Just a thought.

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  11. Prison and probation report to be published tomorrow and it gives Grayling a deserved kicking. A taster can be read here in the Independent.


    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/justice-secretary-chris-graylings-policy-responsible-for-prisoner-suicides-9662758.html

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    1. If the report is damming of the SoS, which even says that the prisons are seen as death traps, then what does this say about our corrupted managers in probation who have actively supported Grayling’s TR.

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    2. The report clearly states that government policy and Graylings meddling are directly responsible for causing deaths in prison.
      I think its a fair question then to question the culpability of those that help make those policies happen.

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  12. I think you would be hard pressed to find a manager who agrees with TR.

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  13. It's going from bad to worse in Bolton....soon there will only be agency staff working there....all other staff have either left or off with stress related sickness....but Chief 's Blog assures us all is going swimmingly so it must be....especially when eyeing up your inflated pension.

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