Thursday, 7 August 2014

Omnishambles Update 60

First off, an email from the IT helpdesk offering some words of comfort to all those that lost work last week:-
A timeout setting inadvertently introduced during the last OASys technical upgrade occasionally produced a 'session superseded' message, and in some instances this resulted in work being lost. This timeout was experienced when a user had not saved or opened a fresh screen in the last hour. HP have now extended this timeout period and we are told the issue has been resolved. The only time this message should appear is if a user logs into OASys with an OASys session already open (for example checking OASys in an interview room with a current session open in the office). Whilst there is confidence the issue has been resolved, if users still feel they are experiencing the superseded behaviour inappropriately, please escalate it via normal channels so that further investigations can be undertaken. As with any IT system, can we reiterate the importance of saving work on a regular basis in case of technical failure.

The recent technical release also introduced unexpected performance issues. This has already been improved with patch releases but performance levels remain below those previously experienced. This issue is being pursued relentlessly. A new release is currently under test which indicates improved performance; this should be deployed in the next fortnight. However we are also fast tracking the adoption of modern browsers to improve performance beyond previous levels. Four Establishments commence a pilot this week with a view to rapid adoption across the prison estate. A small successful pilot running in a large Nottingham office is being extended this week whilst we monitor any impacts or resource requirements on the Probation network. If this proves positive we will also be rapidly ramping this up across the Probation estate.

Thank you for your patience whilst we resolve these issues; we will keep you aware of progress.
Meanwhile there's a cunning plan to increase the membership of the Probation Institute announced by Durham Tees Valley CRC:-
We all like a freebie! So now that I have your attention...........

DTV CRC Leadership Team have agreed to support the initial membership fees for any CRC member of staff who wishes to become a 'founding' member of the Probation Institute.

Membership is open to all staff, irrespective of role. So this includes you!!

We are currently liaising with the Probation Institute on how best to process applications and further details on how to apply for 'free', will be circulated shortly.

The Probation Institute is an independent professional body for probation workers. The institute is being developed by a partnership of the Probation Chiefs Association (PCA), the Probation Association (PA), Napo and UNISON. To find out more about the Institute and sneak-a-peek at the Membership Application Form, log onto their website at:
Many regards
Hi All

Further to my email below, the Probation Institute have now confirmed payment details for those of you who wish to apply for free membership (funded by DTV CRC).

To apply for membership, you will be required to complete the on-line application form which can be accessed via the Probation Institute's website at (NB: this form does not display properly on our net-worked computers and therefore you may find it easier to complete at home)

To avoid being charged for membership, you will need to enter a discount code which is unique to DTV CRC during the 'Membership Checkout' process.

To obtain your discount code, please reply to this email which will take you to the 'DTV Training' in-box. We will then send you a discount code and verify with the Probation Institute that you are an employee of DTV CRC.

Free membership is only available until the 31st October 2014. Funding is for the initial 12 month membership period. Individuals will be responsible for any renewal fees thereafter.

Please contact me if you have any queries

Many regards
 A reminder there's not much time left for those AGM motions:-
To: Branch Chairs, Vice Chairs, Secretaries and Convenors Family Court SEC National Committee Chairs 
Dear Colleague,
Motions for Annual General Meeting 2014
Notice in writing of any motions from a National Committee, Branch, the PSO Forum or two individual full or professional associate members of Napo must be received by the General Secretary at head office by 12 noon on THURSDAY 14th August. Please note that constitutional amendments may be submitted only by the NEC this year. Motions should be sent to Napo head office on the attached form for motions BR 74/2014. Please give your motion a short descriptive title and complete the details for members to be contacted regarding any queries that arise.
Forms can be emailed to or faxed to 020 7095 0963 putting ‘Motion for AGM 2014’ as the subject of the email/fax.
While receipt of motions will be acknowledged, we would remind those submitting motions for AGM of their responsibility to ensure that these have been received at head office by the given deadline.
Yours sincerely
IAN LAWRENCE General Secretary
Finally, readers might recall that a couple of weeks ago we did a special blog post 'Manchester in Meltdown' followed by another on the situation there. I brought both of these posts to the attention of the Manchester Evening News, possibly along with other people, and I'm pleased to say that, keen as mustard, they're finally on to the case. Is there anyone from that neck of the woods that would care to get in touch with me, anonymously or otherwise, so that the MEN can be encouraged to take an interest? Or is everything ok up there now lol?   


  1. Funny how it's only IT systems that are allowed "unexpected performance issues"... don't see the same courtesy extended to human staff!

    I loved the comment "performance levels remain below those previously experienced" - at least they're not trying to claim that the systems were previously anything other than shite, but now they've sunk to the level of complete shite!

  2. It may yet sink further into the area of complete and utter shite.

  3. A number of colleagues in my team lost hours of work last week, and when they spoke to the Service Help Desk, they were supremely fobbed off with comments such as 'did you save as' . Well, yes, we've all cottoned onto the fact that you cannot use shortcuts to save in this nightmare of a system and that we need to 'save as' every 2 minutes, and so their comments were truly pitiful...I felt for staff, some who had been working on SDR's for hours. It's not good enough to send out such platitudes and when will all these folk sending us such messages recall that we are not all IT Geeks and the language used is unhelpful, they may as well be communicating by hieroglyphics as far as I am concerned...but I can smell a rat, when the blame is pushed back on those using the bloody system, which is not fit for purpose.

  4. Our IT helpdesk had the temerity earlier this week to question a colleague as to whether she locked her computer every time she left her desk when halfway through reports etc. Said report had vanished in the process of being uploaded to delius. So is the preferred explanation now, that we must be deliberately sabotaging our colleague's work by messing on their work station every time they nip to the loo?

  5. "The transition to the new structures is
    being managed with care and all staff
    are being supported to ensure the
    transition to new working arrangements
    are completed as smoothly as possible. " Spurr in intro to NOMS Update "Changing Lives Togetgher " Well he bloody changed my life.

    1. Does this guy make it up as he's going along, I'd like to invite him to my office without the frills to show him just how we are not supported, clients are left feeling bewildered by change of the system and having new officers, IT system's failing terribly , no one knows what they are doing. You are right anon 9:17 he has changed our life's for the WORST, now Spurr tell the public and your colleagues that you lying arsehole.

    2. He's not the tallest guy I've ever met. Maybe he has trouble seeing the full picture?

  6. The following was presented to Michael Spurr when he visited Bristol sites today:

    "Mr Spurr,

    The Branch see you have visited the Bristol Offices today and have no doubt you will have had sight of some good practice in the teams you have visited. This is to be expected, the legacy of the Probation Trust is that there are a great many professionally skilled and dedicated staff still in post determined to not allow TR to be of detriment to our service users and the public.

    We are less confident that you will have spoken to the many staff who are at or near to breaking point, or who have already succumbed to work-related stress and ill-health. We wonder whether you will have met with the Probation Officers who feel they have effectively been made redundant or the Probation Service Officers who feel insufficiently skilled to manage the risk of the new domestic violence cases they hold.
    We don’t suppose you will have noted the staff split has caused a massive drain of skill, knowledge and experience in important areas of interventions such as Sex Offender and Domestic Violence treatment programmes.

    We’re quite certain you haven’t met with the service users who don’t know their new supervising officer’s name and resent having to tell their story again to yet another professional when they already had a working relationship with the previous one. And have you had the chance to explain to some why, in future, they will have to travel to another city to complete a programme when previously there was one nearer home?

    Has it been made plain to you today, Mr Spurr, that we do not have the IT systems in place for us to do our work? and that not having access to offender risk assessments and contact records has the potential to put both staff and the public at risk. Even when available those systems often frustrate and infuriate rather than facilitate.

    So, Mr Spurr, We are glad you witnessed good practice and dedicated professionals at work and we hope credit is given where due to our colleagues who have so far stayed afloat. We do hope that your visit doesn’t result in a facile comment suggesting everything is ok, on track and functioning, it plainly isn’t.

    Sincerely, On behalf of the Branch Executive.

    Simon Clarke,
    Napo Western Branch Co-Chair"

    1. Well Put Simon and Western branch !

      On the Pi seems like they cannot give it away !


    2. Probation Institute - free membership I guess.

  7. mr grayling guff.

    1. Lies lies lies. How can Simon Hughes even consider putting his name to this, when his boss won't even let him visit the services that are supposedly going to deliver on his 'reforms'?

    2. Here are the words (part i):

      "Breaking the cycle of crime in our society is the driving ambition behind the coalition’s reforms to the criminal justice system. It is a goal that unites us personally and politically, even though we may disagree on other issues from human rights laws to the European Union.

      The challenge we face as a country is clear. Crime levels are falling. Fewer people are coming into our system as first-time offenders. Yet more and more crime is being committed by people going round and round the system. It’s this cycle that we are determined to break.

      Reoffenders overwhelmingly share the same characteristics. They come from troubled backgrounds. They may have had little in the way of parental guidance and dropped out of school at an early age. Often they have low levels of numeracy and literacy and nearly a quarter were in care.

      Our current system is inadequately equipped to help them sort their lives out when they arrive in our prisons. It’s striking how many prisoners enter custody without any idea about how they will actually sort themselves out when they are released.

      That problem is made much worse by what we believe to be the biggest failing in our system. If you go to prison for less than a year, you walk out at the end of your sentence with £46 in your pocket, and that’s all. No supervision. No support. Nothing. Most of these people reoffend.

      That’s why this coalition government has agreed a comprehensive package of reforms to tackle this unacceptable issue.

      Today we are publishing the first set of results from our ground-breaking pilot schemes at Peterborough and Doncaster prisons, where a new approach to rehabilitating offenders is being tested. At both pilots offenders are being given targeted support on release to aid their resettlement back into the community. If the providers are successful at reducing reoffending they will be paid for these results. Early findings from the pilots have shown the impact that greater support from custody to the community can have, and this gives us great encouragement.

      As a result of legislation we have already put in place, for the first time, every offender who leaves prison will get a year’s support and mentoring. Those on short sentences will no longer be released without the help they need to turn away from crime.

      We are also clear that we cannot meet our ambitions to reduce reoffending without serious reforms to probation. That’s why we are bringing public, private and voluntary sector skills together to reinforce work done by probation. This will make sure that we use all of the strengths available to tackle this enormous challenge."

    3. Part ii:

      "With these reforms, a refocused national probation service has been tasked with protecting the public from the most challenging and dangerous offenders. The work we do with lower- and medium-risk offenders is moving into a new generation of community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). Free from public sector finance rules, they will be able to do innovative new things in areas such as housing provision – such as long-term deals with landlords to provide accommodation for those leaving prison who might otherwise end up sofa surfing. These organisations will be required to draw up a plan for the offender’s rehabilitation within the first few days of them entering prison. The same organisation will then continue to support that individual throughout their time in prison, and this will continue as they are released into the community.

      These are major reforms so it is understandable that concerns exist. That’s why we are taking a measured approach, and ensuring that CRCs are first running in shadow form in the public sector. Probation staff are working hard to implement these changes on the ground and they deserve our thanks and support.

      Our reforms to rehabilitation can deal with one of the greatest failings of the system we inherited – where there are more and more victims as a result of the same people committing crime over and over again. High reoffending rates have dogged successive governments for decades. Our two parties, working together in the national interest, are finally tackling this historic failing head on."

      A joint comment by Grayling & Hughes.

    4. I cannot fathom why the Lib Dems are so committed to TR. They have been from the beginning, and its just weird. Against anything even remotely liberal, unless they are being as naive as this sounds..."It’s striking how many prisoners enter custody without any idea about how they will actually sort themselves out "

    5. This paragraph was clearly missed in the cut-and-paste:

      "There'll be fluffy rainbows to ride on, mom's apple pie, sky-bacon and free love. Everything will be beautiful. No-one will hurt, no-one will cry, Israel will leave Gaza, Blair will lead the Middle East into Paradise, Scotland will become part of England and Rich Tea biscuits won't fall into my mug of tea anymore."

  8. I was told today that Bolton in Greater manchester is the new Manchester-meltdown wise,,,anyone from this neck of the woods able to confirm or deny??

    1. Manchester aint out of the woods either so Im told....

  9. CRC PO's to be invited to apply for NPS vacancies next week in the North West-won't this create a serious gap in CRC's?

    1. And you think the NPS care about staff shortages in the CRC?

      NMFP would, quite rightly, be their reply.

      It's a bit like ASDA worrying that Tesco's don't have enough trolley's.

    2. Northwest Office, Manchester I presume should not have fucked up in the first place. Furthermore, what would Grayling have to say to some not so experienced officers from CRC going back into NPS, what a prick. First they humiliated us and when they realised that they got it all wrong they are asking us to apply for our jobs back, Well I didn't see anyone make an application when they were shafting us, why should we be put through that stress second time around, and again it will be those that were shafted into the CRC that will be effected. They should automatically reassign those that want to go back into NPS instead of playing games and making it look professional and fair. Those they recently gave contracts to didn't go through an interview process so why should we. I hope no one applies and let them swill in their own shit.

    3. NB. a move from CRC to NPS means you lose all your continuity of service if you are made redundant.

    4. Anyone who applies is clearly having cognitive problems and should seek help.

    5. Not until after share sale

    6. Blimey this is complicated if they advertise and not bar the CRC staff they will restore their PO status. (Which is great news) If as many POs can be reinstated as possible the continuity issue is something that does not appear to be a break in service . I would argue re - appointments need that assurance.

      More critically if the CRC becomes PO light \ critical and lets face it POs are needed desperately then the CRC is at greater risk of not delivering anything along the lines the TR talks up.

      Bidders could not have not set out their terms absent of the professional provision could they ?


    7. If move from CRC into NPS before the share sale your continuity of service continues ( see the Jan TR briefing within members briefing on Napo website).It should not jeopardise yr pension either but I'd recommend trying to get assurances viz the same in writing to minimise problems with Shared Services processing new appointments for those that move across. There will potentially be issues linked to relocation, extra travelling etc that would be worth some thought.And yes as Dino points out there'll be possibly significsnt extra pressures for CRC staff left. Again would pay for local Napo reps to be proactive in taking up concerns with CRC JNC

  10. Had a quick scan of the PbR from the two prisons. Appears that even with a WILLING group or participants and an extortionate amount of money, the 'success' is negligible. Factor in that the two groups DID NOT have any Police cautions added to their re-conviction rates (whereas the other figures (which were higher in terms of re-offending) did) and it does not take a genius to work out that the whole think was a epic fuck up.

    Jim, we're all fighting for nothing. In 12 months time, when we get the U12 months on our caseload (with no additional staff), the same people who have told me in no uncertain terms that we can all fuck off if they think they are doing 12 month Probation after a 'shit & a shave' sentence, this whole thing will VERY VERY quickly unravel!! I would put my mortgage on the fact that in 18 months time, when Grayling/ConDems have gone, things will quietly revert back to normal.

    As Francis Crook Tweeted, the only problems with Payment by Results are the results and the payment.
    Top drawer IMO :)

  11. Problem with PO's moving across to NPS leaves a problem for PSO's in CRC then expected to pick up work that would be expected to be managed by a PO only they don't get their salary, this is happening now.

    The establishment numbers were done by NOMS but who let them just get on with it in full knowledge they didn't have a clue about what they were doing and got most of the figures wrong hence job adverts soon after the split, yes you guessed it, the Trusts.