Friday, 15 August 2014

Manchester - What Crisis?

Judging by these two blog posts on behalf of the Chief in Manchester, you'd never guess there was any problem at all! I guess that's designed to maintain commercial confidence, prevent the public getting worried and so as not to frighten the horses.
31st July 2014
Hello everyone,
As I mentioned in the last blog, the CGM CRC Operational Performance Framework was published this week for the first time. It highlights a broad range of performance across clusters and interventions and will be considered with you in team meetings. I am well aware of the context of our work over the past two months and how difficult some performance measures may be to achieve this year. Nevertheless, a number of the performance outcomes are excellent and I want to thank you for your commitment to ensuring successful completions, accommodation and employment on termination have remained strong. At this point in the year, we are building up our programme volumes and I have no doubt that these will achieve the required targets as the year progresses. I have asked Joe Tumelty to focus on Interventions when he writes the blog in two weeks.
Linked to performance and good quality service delivery, I wanted to seek your views regarding setting up a CGM CRC Practice Development Forum for all staff and managers involved in operational practice. This idea is in its infancy but could provide a venue for staff to introduce particular topics (Xxx Xxxxx on her work on the Learning Disability or Difficulty (LDD) project, perhaps) or for speakers to introduce evaluation reports (Xxxxx Xxxxxx and Xxxxxx Xxxxxxa on their recent paper on family work in the CJS : Reflections of practitioners doing ‘family work’ in the Criminal Justice System for example). I would envisage a topic-based input, followed by an opportunity to share ideas and good practice. Let me know what you think via the blog or your line manager.
As of midnight tonight (July 31), Senior Attendance Centres will formally transfer to Community Rehabilitation Companies. In our case, there are two members of staff working at attendance centres in Manchester and a number of sessional staff who we welcome into our company. Senior Attendance Centres provide a unique service offering the courts an option that not only punishes offenders by loss of their leisure time but also provides a positive learning environment. It is a valuable addition to our Interventions portfolio and will be reviewed in due course as currently only offenders in certain locations in CGM CRC have access to this provision.
Once again, IT issues have been prominent this week following the n-Delius ‘upgrade’ last weekend. Xxxxx Xxxxxx has provided a brief update which you will find here: IT Systems Update - 31 July 2014
Both CGM CRC and the NPS are currently preparing for the transfer of terminated paper offender case files to a NOMS warehouse in Branston. Will staff please ensure that any paper offender records that have exceeded the recommended retention periods are destroyed as soon as possible and recorded on a destruction log. Similarly, can staff ensure that electronic offender documents on the Less Paper Hosting system that have exceeded the proposed destruction date are reviewed and deleted if no longer required.
Our Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company is now two months old and I believe that we have made good progress in developing our vision, mission and the principles that we will work within. We have completed our business plan and undertaken some training needs analysis which is being developed into a robust training plan. Governance arrangements are in place and we have held two directors meetings and been involved in two Relationship Management meetings to report on our progress against the CRC interim contract. As noted above, we have also published our first performance data. While I am well aware that the transfer of cases was difficult in some parts of Manchester in particular, and that staff vacancies have placed pressure on remaining staff, I have been impressed by your determination to find solutions locally so that our work with offenders continues to be effective. I know that you are all working hard to embed the new processes and our work at the interface with the NPS must remain central to our work. I continue to raise IT issues nationally; they are largely beyond our control and really do represent the biggest risk to the work we do.
It is important that we continue to develop our corporate brand and identity over the forthcoming months – we need to be viewed by our partners and communities as an organisation that delivers world class offender rehabilitation across Cheshire and Greater Manchester. In order to support our developing identity please ensure that you change your e-mail sign-off to the agreed, single CGM CRC sign-off if you have not already done so. Contact the Marketing, PR & Communications team by typing ‘MCG Marketing’ into the Lotus Notes ‘to’ bar and pressing the return key ( for the email template and uploading guidance. Please also wear your CGM CRC ID badges at all times when in work.
We are in the process of arranging a management conference in early October and this will be followed by staff briefings throughout CGM CRC. I anticipate that we will be aware of the preferred bidder of our company by then so this will be a good opportunity to share the next steps in our development, which I hope will include the plans of the preferred bidder for operational design and corporate services.
In the meantime, thank you all for your continued hard work, it is very much recognised and appreciated.
John Brimley will write the blog next week and Joe Tumelty the following week while I am on leave.
Best wishes

8th August 2014
Hello everyone,

As Chris Noah is on holiday, I am blogging this week, and want to focus on staff training, innovation in practice, performance, and some examples of excellent work with our service-users.
We have made a lot of progress in bringing together the Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC, and I have seen some fantastic examples of practice and innovation taking place. I am very grateful to all staff who have been persevering through very difficult circumstances, and I am fully aware of how difficult it is at the moment, particularly in relation to IT. I can assure you that we are giving clear messages to the centre that things need to improve, and our local IT team are doing what they can to resolve issues that are within their control. However, despite all the challenges we are facing, I wanted to concentrate on some successes today.
There have been some very good developments recently in terms of training. 21 CGM CRC admin practitioners have recently gained their Level 3 Business and Administration Diploma, together with nine colleagues who have been awarded their Level 3 Assessor qualification. The learners had to demonstrate their professional capability across a range of nationally-set benchmarks such as producing documents in a business environment, organising and reporting data and responding to change. Much of the work was done in their own time, so it is a worthy achievement that the majority of staff completed the qualification in just six months. The project was managed by Laurus Development and HR. Congratulations to everyone involved.
The PSO skills audit has been completed, and this has shown what a wide range of skills and experience we have in our PSO group. Xxxxx Xxxxx will be using the results of the audit, to devise a package of training with Laurus Development, and ensure that all PSOs have as wide a range of skills and experience possible as we go forward. I was also encouraged to see how many PSOs had experience of working in a prison setting. Working with prisoners prior to release on our Through the Gate Project will be an important piece of work when the new legislation comes into force, making all prisoners subject to licence/supervision on release, so this experience will be invaluable.
In terms of innovation, I visited the Salford Together Women Project (TWP) this morning, and learnt more about the problem-solving court which is running in Manchester / Salford Magistrates’ court, with a focus on female offenders. This is an excellent piece of innovative practice, and involves the NPS/CRC, the TWP, and other key agencies meeting with the woman to agree a package of interventions which will be offered to the court as part of a community order. The agreement is then included in the pre-sentence report, in order to encourage sentencers to make a community order rather than send the woman to custody. I have seen evidence that this approach is reducing the number of women being sent to custody from Manchester / Salford court, so it is effective. It is vital that as a CRC we invest in this kind of innovation, and hopefully the problem solving court approach (which also takes place in Stockport and Bury/Rochdale) will spread to other court areas.
We have had our first performance report published, which has shown some very good results, albeit with some areas of improvement needed. We all believed that the effects of the recent changes would impact on performance, but I was pleased to see that we still achieved some excellent results in getting offenders into work, and good accommodation, completed the vast majority of our OASys terminations on time (which of course capture these results), and also gained an average successful completion rate of 80% across the CRC. These are major achievements, and once again you are all to be congratulated for contributing to this. Our performance framework targets are heavily weighted towards achieving good outcomes for our service-users, and so when we see good performance results, we should remember that this is evidence of how we are positively affecting the lives of our service-users and reducing the risk to our communities.
I have recently asked for examples of good pieces of work with offenders in the CRC, and here are a few of them. One offender in Bolton, Mark, recently completed the first Achieving Peaceful Solutions (APS) Course. His officer, Xxx Xxxxxx, said he gained a lot from this new Specified Activity Requirement (SAR), and Mark described it as a very open and honest course allowing freedom of speech, where the attendees were not judged but were allowed to voice their own opinions. He said the encouragement of Xxxl, and the course tutors, had motivated him to complete the course and that "Calmness is the key, Positive self talk and time out are also good". Xxx explained that since completing the course, there is evidence that Mark’s violent behaviour has stopped, and he can now concentrate on re-building his life.
Xxx Xxxxx, SPO at our Intensive Community Order (ICO) team in Manchester, told me of an excellent interview she had observed carried out by Xxxx Xxxxx, Probation officer, with one of his clients Damon. Xxxx showed all the characteristics you would want to see in a good offender manager – empathic but not collusive - allowing Damon to have a voice in the session by using the SAQ to discuss the areas he felt were problematic – good use of active listening and motivational interviewing skills. I also heard about Xxxxxx Xxxxxx, who achieves an 85% success rate with ICO offenders, who are known to be complex cases – this is a remarkable achievement. Xxx said this of Xxxxxx; "Xxxxxx’s approach is very gentle but direct and encouraging, the language she uses is positive and clear and she is skilled at building a clients motivation to engage in new activities."
I also heard about an offender on Community Punishment who was placed in a local Charity shop in Warrington by his officer Xxxxxx Xxxxx. He had been out of paid work for many years but completed his Unpaid work at the Charity shop and impressed the staff with his hard working manner. When he had completed his Unpaid work he was offered a paid position in the shop and has since found a second job as a cleaner. He has won an award for volunteer of the year and during the awards ceremony he gave a speech about his experiences in the Charity shop and how much he had got out of his placement.
Another offender, Miss X, crashed her car while under the influence of alcohol. She received a 16 month suspended sentence order with Supervision, and has been managed by Xxxx Xxxxxx at the Warrington office. Miss X was referred to a psychiatrist and diagnosed as suffering from depression and anorexia following the death of her mother. Supervision centred around her alcohol use and she was referred to the alcohol and drugs team, and she began to understand her alcohol misuse. This work helped soon Miss X to grow in confidence and she started to fully engage with the supervision process. A referral to the Achieve project within Probation was made and she began to work on her self esteem and confidence within a work environment. This resulted in her gaining a volunteer work placement for 4 weeks which she excelled at, so much so that she was offered a permanent job with a local firm as a receptionist.
There are many more examples, but they all have one thing in common. Good assessment, and offender managers who are willing to listen to the service-user, involve them in their supervision, empathic whilst not colluding with their behaviour, and giving them the confidence to find a place back in their communities. So, when we achieve our performance targets, it is because of the work you do to achieve outcomes for our service-users. It also reminds us all why we do this job.
Our latest achievements and successes in carrying out our work to provide world class offender rehabilitation are also featured in the staff magazine Evolve which has been published today. You can find it on Compass.
As part of the Transforming Rehabilitation process on 1st August the three Senior Attendance Centres (SACs) in Greater Manchester were transferred from direct management by NOMS to CRC management. This means that the two Officers in Charge, Xxxx Xxxxxx who manages the centres in South Manchester and Bolton; and Xxx Xxxxxx who manages the Women’s SAC are now employed by CGM CRC. A big welcome to them both, although Xxxxx has of course been a CGM CRC and GMPT employee at Bolton for many years. As many of you will know the SACs provide a specific sentencing option for young adults involving attendance at the centres on Saturdays. The transfer of SACs to CGM CRC means there will be the opportunity to improve co-ordination and integration of the SACs work with the CRC's overall operation and hopefully to maximise the effectiveness of the contribution they can make to both community based punishment and rehabilitation.
Finally, GMPT will be publishing its ‘Legacy Document’ over the next two weeks, to add to the document produced by Cheshire Trust a few months ago. Although we are all looking forward to progressing the work of the CRC, it does no harm to look back on the things we achieved as Trusts previously. There is a lot to be proud of, and if you were to sum it up it is a legacy of innovation, demanding work, and success with a service-user group who have complex needs, and are often on the margins of their communities. As we move forward into the new sometimes uncertain world ahead, its worth remembering that we take with us the same value base, and the same drive for excellence we had when we worked for the Trust. Although our world has changed, offenders’ worlds have stayed the same, and the need is still there to protect our communities and deliver a good service – and that is what we are still doing as the case studies above show.
Next week Joe Tumelty, Head of Interventions, will write the blog. Joe will concentrate on the excellent work being undertaken by our Programmes and Community Payback teams, and the new Accredited programmes and SARs which we are bringing on line across the CRC.
Best Wishes


  1. BlimeyJim, blogging competition,how worried must you be. What's the betting that anonymised commenting will not be allowed on these managerial sites which will only serve those wishing to climb the greasy pole as far away from their clients as possible. However,knowing how influential this site can be in asking our managers not to forsake probation values altogether can I take this opportunity to ask "John" and "Chris" to allow anonymity you might just learn something of value to build your empires on

  2. Like Grayling, Cameron and the rest of this out of touch government they are so far detached from reality and real people.

  3. Lions led by donkeys.

  4. Reading the above blogs it seems like there's been a miraculous laying-on of hands for clients in Manchester. Maybe "John" & "Chris" could do similar for their staff?

  5. It's just so patronising and annoying- all those buzz words- empty, lifeless words from empty, life sucking rodents! Apologies, in advance to rodents!

  6. Hello Everyone! It is a great pity that these missives issued by the SMT in Manchester do not come with free antiemetics, though I suppose they would rather subsidise the probation institute! The language is excruciating: 'company', 'portfolio of interventions' and everything so 'robust'. This is less SMT and more LOG – league of gentlemen, because it's surreal - they write of a parallel universe where but for an IT glitch here and there (it's not too risqué to criticise software), there is a utopian optimism. They have really got their ears to the ground and the case studies would have had the champagne corks popping in the MoJ. This probation blog paints a more worrying, if not dystopian, picture of the facts on the ground, but nothing dampens the evangelism of the LOGS in Manchester. Their pollyananish rewriting of reality leads me to think their talents are not being truly exploited peddling TR dogma. They would be better employed by Fox News in view of their commitment to being 'fair and balanced'. As George Orwell noted: 'Political designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.'

  7. It would be very helpful if anyone from Cheshire & Greater Manchester was able to blog that a) they work within the area and b)how they felt when they got these missives, as they seem to be completely at odds with everything else we are hearing from Manchester, which I find confusing and somewhat sinister. We could probably all give examples of well managed successful cases, although I would hazard a guess they would be ones who commenced their Order/licence well before June 1st, so not a realistic indicator of what is happening at present. And if it is really all smoke and mirrors for the benefit of the MOJ and potential bidders, how are 'John' and 'Chris' able to look anyone in the eye in the workplace?

    Makes interesting reading in regards to TR

  9. I work in Manchester. We have to deal with this kind of shit all the time. If managers are good at amything it's bullshiting as per example above.

  10. I would like to know who is funding Laurus. I thought they had disbanded and yet here they pop up again. This an example of how the people on top looking after their own. corruption and fixed deals already taking place even before share sale.

  11. I'm in a CRC and we get the same rubbish every month in our 'chief's blog'. You can tell when a colleague is reading it by the expletives in the office! Quite frankly I'm sick of being told how professional we are and how much we are doesn't wash! We have been shafted and we know it!! You can't ignore the elephant in the room TR, we will not be 'spun,' so those spin doctors now heading up NPS and CRC areas, give it a rest, no one believes you!