Saturday, 9 August 2014

Omnishambles Update 61

The chaos rumbles on and it's no surprise that things are getting to breaking point now because the sun is shining, the kids are on holiday and so are a hell of a lot of probation staff. It was a stroke of genius by Noms/MoJ to introduce the TR omnishambles during the summer, just when there are so many colleagues wanting to take leave and of course had booked it many months in advance of the 'split'. This from the North East:-
Staff shortages closing Probation offices "no surprise" to Union.

A Probation office in Northumberland had to close its doors this week due to understaffing. Napo, the Probation Union, has learnt that on two occasions this week the National Probation Service Office in Blyth was forced to shut due to understaffing.
"Such incidents come as no surprise to us" said Mike Quinn, spokesperson for Northumbria branch of Napo. "The split of the well performing Northumbria Probation Trust by the government is best described as shambolic. At worst it's dangerous . We warned the Government that their ideological drive to Privatise probation would result in chaos."

The MP of Neighbouring Berwick Constituency is Sir Alan Beith, Chairperson of the Justice Select Committee. "Sir Alan was in a perfect position as Chair of the Justice Select Committee to help stop this disaster, but he did too little too late, and we're starting to see the consequences in a neighbouring constituency to his own" said Mike Quinn.

"Our members in the National Probation Service are struggling every day with chronic over work as a result of a shambolic split of a well performing service into two. This week we saw the National Probation Service office in Blyth have to shut due to understaffing. This is just unacceptable. Napo members are trying to continue to provide a first class service to the public, working with the highest risk offenders - their reward? Huge case loads, an over burdening of court reports and offices closed so offenders can't be seen."
Bids have been submitted for the Privatisation of the remaining part of the former Probation Trust, with the 'preferred bidder' expected to be announced in early Autumn.

Mike said "The glimmer of hope that we have is that Privatisation won't happen and we have an opportunity to try and work in a more sensible way between the NPS and CRC. Whilst Sir Alan quite rightly raises concerns about Sodexo's running of the prison in his constituency, let's not forget that his Party has allowed the potential of the very same company being in charge of rehabilitation in the community. We would ask Sir Alan to urgently make representations to the Minister in charge, Chris Grayling, that the whole process be halted, and that he work within his party to ensure they have a sensible criminal justice policy which does not allow profit to be made from crime and victims of crime"
Reduction in reoffending rates amongst those supervised by the former Probation Trust were the most successful in the Northumberland area, with the most recent figures showing a 16% reduction in re-offending.

Mike said "Of course we are always striving to ensure even less crimes are committed, but our members have consistently shown evidence that what we do works. In contrast, the Government are seeking to gamble with public safety by introducing an untried and untested way of managing offenders in the community."
It's been mentioned already that a disproportionate number of female officers with children have been sifted into CRC's and it's at times like this that the cracks begin to appear. Then there's the no small matter of a mismatch in resources between NPS and CRC that's become particularly evident in Manchester:- 
I am CRC in city centre Manchester and have more PSR's allocated to me than those in NPS.
How can that be?
We have never stopped writing reports and have been directed until we receive further notice. Due to the cock up that Manchester made in the shafting they are very short staffed so CRC's are propping them up. I have also heard today that there are 10 NPS jobs for the city, applications from CRC staff which will I think be advertised next week. Having spoken with some of my CRC colleagues, no one in our office seems to want to apply. If this is the same around the city, what are they going to do, re-shaft us? Watch out people there maybe a shaft X2 coming our way.
Things are so bad, I see overtime is on offer:-
Overtime - Over the next six to eight weeks we will be asking for overtime working to cover some very specific circumstances. Your ACO may offer overtime working e.g. at the weekend and over the summer annual leave period, which will help us to cover legacy Trust leave requests, legacy case transfer activity and a number of vacancies we are recruiting to. It is not expected that the overtime requirement will be extended beyond the end of September. If you are asked and agree to work overtime you can claim payments for overtime work using Phoenix self-service and choosing 'PS HR overtime and variable pay'. There is plenty of advice on the process for managers and staff on My Services. 
As well as temporary moves:-
Temporary move opportunities - Next week your ACOs will be asking NPS NW POs and PSOs to express an interest in voluntary and temporary moves around the division as a means of managing workloads. Should you be interested in a temporary placement (known as 'Detached Duty' in NOMS) then please discuss the opportunity with your line manager before completing the expression of interest form that will be issued shortly. More details on support available for temporary transfers will be included in the form. 
The recent spin by Chris Grayling and poodle Simon Hughes on results from the Peterborough and Doncaster PbR pilots has drawn this analysis from Richard Johnson on the Buying Quality Performance website:-
When the new outsourced probation service is rolled out next year (the tenders for these contracts are currently being evaluated by the Ministry), prisoners sentenced to less than twelve months will start to receive probation support nationally. However, is this really a replication of the Peterborough and Doncaster pilots? Is this really what the transformation of probation services into Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) is all about? (See 'Graylings secret revolution') If it were to achieve the same impact on reoffending, what will that mean for service viability with contracts being awarded to those organisations willing to put most of their cash at risk with ‘payment by results’? 
Very significantly, both pilots spend more per offender than existing probation services and considerably more than any of the new probation contracts will. These new contracts will not fund the same frequency and intensity of post-release support. They will fund none of the pre-release and through-the-gate service which is so fundamental to the pilots.
As Grayling notes, “our system is inadequately equipped” to break the cycle of re-offending. But the newly outsourced probation services, with short-term prisoners added in, is required to represent an enormous cost-saving. These new contacts are about stripping out cost – aiming for a reduction of around 30% of current probation spend.
He concludes by noting:-
It is hoped that the new probation services, if freed from bureaucratic dictat, can utilise their resources more effectively. Moving a large chunk of the old probation service into CRCs will allow contractors to achieve necessary cost savings, i.e. staffing cuts. It is hoped that need will drive them to form new local partnerships that will join up currently disconnected services. Perhaps the big private outsourcers really can innovate in service design. But, as one Ministry insider noted, this is not about procuring Peterborough on a national scale. Far from it. To suggest otherwise is either dangerously misguided or purposefully misleading.
Perish the thought! Frances Crook at the Howard League is scathing:-
It is appalling, but not surprising, that Chris Grayling and the Ministry of Justice are attempting to suggest these very underwhelming results support the destruction of the probation service. Firstly, neither of the projects hit the targets the Ministry of Justice itself set, and secondly, the probation reforms bear little resemblance to these pilot projects. Transforming Rehabilitation is very different and a lot worse.
Supervision and support for those released from Peterborough prison after short sentences was funded by substantial additional money through social impact bonds – which is extra investment from the lottery and charitable trusts that could have gone to good causes. The government’s plans are to take money from probation to give it to private companies or consortia to manage people coming out of prison or on community sentences.
Under Transforming Rehabilitation services will need to be provided to at least 50,000 people emerging from short prison sentences but no more money will be available. In the Peterborough project intensive and specialised services were provided by experienced charitable organisations, who still failed to make any significant impact on reoffending, because they were given the impossible task of undoing the damage done by the prison.
Finally, a few words on media profile. Ian Lawrence has popped up on national radio several times this week including the Today Programme and Victoria Derbyshire on Radio 5 live. It's prompted the following comments:-
Wot, no torrent of comment? I drive to work listening to an incomprehensible, unsure and embarrassing Ian Lawrence on R4 talking about parole vs. victims. Or was it a dream? Or is my handheld device broken? I get home, and after radio gaga there's radio silence!
Oh crikey, I am listening to this on i-player. jeeeeeeeeepers. Cringe
Agree with anon 22.18. If you have no current practical experience its best to keep quiet if asked about practice issues and use an appropriate practitioner to speak. Ideally one of National Officers?
NAPO has a Professional Committee - perhaps the chair of that could comment on professional issues. We also have a press officer (who was a probation officer) - is she acting as IL PR instead?
The relatives described the judge as an honourable man. He was telling the truth. The victim view is one factor amongst many - not least current risk. The victim view is not a veto. IL's comments were naive, but on subjects of risk, Napo too often is populist.
Just listened. Its from roughly 10-45 to 11-00. Victoria Derbyshire seems to have a real interest in TR and seems to be sceptical to say the least about TR. Ian Lawrence made perhaps a too strong causal assertion re the recent death of a client. Hopefully she will follow this up as she indicated.
Victoria is doing a great job. Lord Ramsbotham is doing a great job. IL is ..... not a great communicator. Really worth a listen.
Thanks for the link - good job not many will hear it - effectively it was four people talking about different things with no one - - especially the interviewer - Victoria Derbyshire (who is normally good - in my opinion) - having a grasp of the overall situation.
Lord Ramsbotham did best - the social bond bloke was very cagey - understandably - he is employed to do a job nothing to do with TR - not one made the point about the future supervisees being sentenced to the programme - whereas - as I understand it, the Peterborough ones are completely voluntary.. Ian Lawrence did his best but does not understand it from the point of view of a practitioner - the bit about the death was counter-productive - I have not read categorically, that the death I have read about is directly related to TR, so as Napo might end up representing staff in an SFO, it is probably best not to say much about it yet, unless chapter and verse can be given, nailing a link with TR.
I just hope Napo's Communications committee can soon review the strategy being used and get some microphone ready practitioners lined up for interviews, and a stream of information explaining the detail to the media in general, because accurate understanding of what is happening is vital - for the media and public.


  1. Although you will only be paid at flat rate for overtime if you are NPS band 4 and above ie usual hourly rate. Only band 3 and below get time and a half.

    1. It's all going to be OK in London NPS because we need to focus in on performance , which is we get together and focus on the wonderful processes, the state of the art IT we use, the relentless, sorry manageable, caseloads how are practitioners supposed to fix this mess ?

  2. It is RICHARD not CHRIS Johnson of Buying quality pracice.

    Thanks for the link, he is the only person I have read about the overall commercial process from a business perspective who has made much sense. The Justice Select Committee saw sense to have him as witness long ago, Grayling would be wise to get him 'inside the tent'.

    Meanwhile Cameron and Clegg need to very quickly get informed about TR before the consequences unravel and they are blamed (along with all the other dopes who support in parliament) and there is a real panic when the consequences are FELT and it is realised the CJS jigsaw has missing pieces and cannot be made to join up by workers over extending themselves yet again!

    I wonder if Napo realises what a great job Mike Quinn is doing in the north east, I hope he is in the communications team, I would think he can do a good job being interviewed and as support to others who do not have good access to local media.

    1. "It is RICHARD not CHRIS Johnson of Buying quality practice."

      Sorted thanks Andrew.

  3. Annette Hennessey, CEO Merseyside has called a meeting for CRC staff on Tuesday to listen to any concerns etc we may have. It will be interesting to hear what she has to say - I cant see why she'd call a meeting without good reason and we're all intrigued.

    1. Please keep us informed, they may have had directions to do this and other areas may do the same. It would be interesting.

    2. I heard that some auditors were visiting Teesside and Durham. Not sure if it's a local thing though.

  4. Leicester are hiring agency staff to cover the cracks

  5. Split an organisation in two halves and then appoint more staff in each. How can this be saving money?

    1. A FOI about how much MORE money this has cost would be interesting!!!

  6. It isnt saving mony. But shortly it will be paying that public expenditure on contracts with private companies, and thus diverting that money to shareholders.

  7. An agency staff at my office in Manchester tells me that agencies are overwhelmed with requests from all over the country and some are paying what is requested, PSO's getting nearly £20.00 per hour, they can't seem to meet the demand. I thought this exercise was done to save money.

    1. As I have mentioned in a previous post, the costings of TR will be far far in excess of which the bid will cover. Don't forget that it's more than likely that CPA's will be sold to the LOWEST bidder, this bid having to be less than what a Trust is able to deliver at present. Ultimately, and with some great pains, the private companies will discover that it is impossible to deliver what is needed, nor indeed will they make any form of profit. What is most likely to occur is that they will suffer some significant financial and reputational damage, more so when there is (and there will be as not one of us has a firm grasp of what is going on with our cases) a SFO. In 18 months time the whole thing will have unravelled and will be swept under the carpet.

      I think a very real comparison can be made with (couldn't give) ATOS who worked with many of our client group and discovered the complexities of such people; they don't walk in straight lines as per companies flowcharts!! ATOS lost money and ended up handing the contract back, their name forever synonymous with the shambles that arose following their involvement.

      Oh, and lets not forget about Colin Allars who appears to have dodged the bullet in terms of where we should be directing our ire!! He knows, more that Grayling, how Probation is and should be ran; IMO he has no excuse at all. Grayling's failure can be put down to the fact that he's a fucking greedy idiot.

  8. Never, ever let Grayling off the hook for the annihilation of probation,by all means add to the list but he is the prime mover with Spurr, Brennan and Allars deserving of significant blame too. Also every Chief Officer, Trust Board members and SMT in every single trust who "obeyed orders", with one exception Joe Kuipers. They really are to blame for the increased risk to the public, stress to staff and every single penny of the increased cost to the public purse oh and last but not least, every lost chance of rehabilitation for our service users and every single victim that results. They really need to own this.

  9. The Prime movers are David Cameron and Nick Clegg and EVERY member of the parliamentary parties of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in BOTH the House of Commons AND House of Lords who did not vote to stop the rushed implementation of the plans on the several times they had the opportunity so to do up to the beginning of this year.

    Grayling is mainly personally responsible, along with Lord McNally, Jeremy Wight and now Andrew Selous and Simon Hughes (and perhaps Mike Penning and other MOJ Ministers) for the manner and timing of the implementation.

    Too many others too name have colluded and too few of us have spoken out and gained the attention of the Media and public. The responsibility for the omnishambles extends far beyond Grayling!

  10. The problem is it seems no-one really cares. As far as I can see the public are largely indifferent to us and see us as just part of the larger picture about the future of the public services. No one has been able to pin Grayling down regarding his lies. The message that supervising the under 12 months prisoners would be an opportunity and this would justify the decimation we have experienced has been the only strategy he has needed. No one has unpicked this nonsense in a way that gets through to those that count. we are seen in the same way that mental health services are viewed in the NHS. Even within NOMS we are largely ignored. We are a cinderella service and we have not been defended by our leaders. They just did as they were told and took their severance deals. Grayling will get away with this because whatever happens they will say when you make an omelette you have to crack a few eggs.

    1. Yeah but when you buy a Ferrari you don't worry about what kind of oil is in it......until it all dries up!!!!!!

    2. And apart from the under 12 months ruse, the other nonsense was signing a framework agreement and supporting a probation institute - both of these gave support to the MoJ.

    3. If only Napo was able to go on the radio and say, We will not sign any agreement that results in the splitting of the probation service - that would be putting a principle before pragmatism and may have resonated with the public and probation workforce. This is a red line we will not cross, but instead this principle was subordinated to other negotiations.


    Appears Mr Grayling do not even want offenders to leave custody with the £46 in their pocket, rather a deficit. I wonder how long it will be before the discharge money is taken from them to pay for the fine...not long I bet.

    1. Criminals jailed by magistrates' courts in England and Wales will no longer be excused from victim surcharge payments by serving extra prison time.

      Courts can currently give extra days in jail instead of making offenders pay the money, which goes to help victims.

      But from 1 September this will no longer be allowed - a change the government says will raise "up to £1.5 million more per year" for victims.

      The charity Victim Support said the surcharges must be "robustly enforced".

      The victim surcharge is payable by people sentenced for criminal offences, and the money raised funds a variety of services for victims of crime. It was introduced in 2007 and the government says it has raised £51m since 2010.

      The latest change, brought in under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, means magistrates jailing someone for an offence cannot give them an additional prison sentence as a "default" for not paying the surcharge.

      'Groundbreaking' help
      "It is only right that offenders should pay both for their crimes and to help repair the damage they have done," said victims' minister Mike Penning.

      "The money being raised through the surcharge is already being put to use in some groundbreaking ways to help people move on with their lives as much as possible."

      People jailed by magistrates' courts will have to pay £80 if their sentence is less than six months, and people jailed for up to 12 months will pay £100.

      It is expected it will apply to 43,000 cases per year, the Ministry of Justice said.

      Adam Pemberton, assistant chief executive of Victim Support, said the surcharge "forces offenders to put something back into society".

      "An extension to the scheme will mean a lot more offenders are making that contribution," he said.

      'Real difference'
      "But this only works if, along with court fines and compensation orders... payments are robustly enforced."

      Victims' Commissioner Baroness Newlove said offenders "should pay for the pain they inflict on victims".

      She added: "I am pleased the government has recognised this by extending the surcharge to give more victims the support they deserve.

      "But around £12m has still not been collected - this is not good enough. I want to see more of this money recovered - so it can make a real difference to those who have suffered from crime and improve the services they receive."

    2. Does anyone know of a single victim that has directly benefited from the surcharge?. I don't mean more money being put into a generic pot and someone going to see them and saying ' Ooh, in't it awful?, I mean a victim actually being compensated from the victim surcharge. Thought not.

  12. More dumb populist policy making that fails to recognise the realities of the offender population. Unenforceable posturing from a Government that knows no other way.

  13. They're clever blighters, some of our clients! Right from under the noses of government - all in the spirit of that 'Great Escape' guile and cunning.

    Thieves have siphoned millions of pounds of fuel from a pipeline which runs under Deputy PM Nick Clegg's official country residence in Kent.

    Esso's South East pipeline runs from Fawley Refinery, in Hampshire, to Purfleet Fuel Terminal, in Essex.

    The company said it discovered a section at Chevening, near Sevenoaks, had been tampered with.

    The Sun reported 30,000 litres of fuel a day were stolen over seven months, with a value of £8.3m at the pumps.

    Kent Police said thieves had used "highly specialist techniques" to siphon the fuel.

    Chevening House Estate is shared by the Deputy Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond.

    An Esso spokesman said: "We recently strengthened our pipeline security and monitoring procedures, and on Wednesday detected criminal damage at Chevening on the South East pipeline.

    "The section of pipeline was temporarily shut down to make repairs, which have now been completed.

    "We strongly condemn the highly dangerous criminal action by those involved and are working closely with the police in their criminal investigations."

    A Kent Police spokesman added: "Initial indications are that this was a well-organised crime, employing highly specialist techniques to siphon fuel from pipelines which operate at very high pressure."

    1. Esso never noticed 30,000 litres missing a day! How on earth did they process it, store it, transport it and sell it FFS with no one noticing?! It's astonishing.

    2. The blighters don't need to drill for oil when you can get petrol and diesel! This from April.

      An underground pipeline has been shut down because thieves are suspected of tapping into it and stealing a "large quantity" of diesel.

      The line, which transports fuel from Esso's Fawley oil refinery in Hampshire to its terminal in Birmingham, was closed for checks.

      The shutdown came after diesel was discovered in an industrial storage unit in West Wellow, also in Hampshire, on Thursday evening.

      The exact amount of fuel found has not been confirmed, but police said it was a "large quantity" that was believed to have been illegally obtained.

      Two men aged 32 and 34 from the Salisbury area have been detained by Hampshire police on suspicion of conspiracy to steal fuel.

      Petrol thieves have drilled into an underground pipeline and caused a leak of thousands of litres of fuel next to a popular fishing river, sparking a major environmental alert.

      About 150,000 litres of fuel have contaminated soil close to the River Kennet, just upstream from top public school Marlborough College in Wiltshire.

      Police are investigating the attack on the Esso refinery pipeline, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.