Monday, 25 August 2014

The Minister Explains

20th June 2014
Dear Sarah
Early day Motion 111
There are two bidders left in Cornwall for the sorry remains of Probation, (your governments line is that there should be three bidders for this to be a legal and competitive process) and rumours abound that the discredited US based company “Sentinel” is to be allowed into the ring. When I met Mr Grayling and yourself earlier this month he justified this whole TR fiasco with the claim that this would bring about the supervision of short term offenders. Not to happen “any time soon” it transpires.
What follows is a pro forma letter which has been sent to members of NAPO with a view to having these sent on to local MPs. I am most grateful for your continuing concern and your positive response to my many communications with you. Please PLEASE support this EDM. I have broken ranks to highlight the chaos that is unfolding... it was the right thing to do, but it was a major decision for me to put my loyalty to my leadership lower than my loyalty to my profession, my sense of justice, and my duty to the public. Now is the time for you to make the same ethical calculations. 
Yours sincerely,
Su McConnel

Dear Su,
I enclose the further response I have now received from Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Justice, in reply to my recent letter on your behalf.
I hope the information contained in the Secretary of State’s response is helpful to you in further outlining the current Government stance on the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. As ever do let me know if I can provide further assistance to you and your colleagues in this time of change.
I remain grateful for your input.
Yours sincerely
Mrs Sarah Newton MP

Dear Sarah
Thank you for your letter of 17 July, forwarding on correspondence from your constituent Mrs Su McConnel, concerning our Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. I am replying as the Secretary of State for Justice.
Let me begin by reassuring you and Mrs McConnel that we understand the importance of rolling out these reforms in a measured, orderly way while ensuring that public safety is maintained. We are therefore taking a staged approach to implementation which will enable us to make sure the system works. This is why we have first restructured the existing Probation Service. This means that providers, at the end of the competition, can take on viable going concerns. As you are aware, transition to the new probation structures took place on 1 June and the National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are now live. Thorough, externally assured business and systems readiness testing was constructed to review key activities that had to be completed prior to transition on 1 June. We remain satisfied that the business was ready to make that transition and we will conduct further testing as we head towards contract signature. The period from 1 June up to contract signature, when the CRCs and NPS are both in public ownership, provides the opportunity for the new operational processes to be further embedded and to ensure the system is stable prior to contract signature.
Your constituent wrote about EDM111, which raised concerns about the ICT supporting the reformed system. The Programme Team has carried out robust testing of the ICT changes, both centrally and across a number of Probation Trusts. Results of the tests informed the final preparation work for the ICT changes to ensure that there was minimal impact on business operations as a consequence of these changes. The tests are also informing how the new processes will operate once implemented. We will use the time while the entire system remains in public ownership to embed and stabilise these changes.
Furthermore, the data reconciliation work carried out after the migration confirmed that cases had been successfully moved across and that none had been lost. Under the new structures, staff have new roles which require them to have access to different information. It is possible that some staff believe that records have disappeared simply because they no longer have access to them. In some cases the Role Based Access Controls permissions meant that some probation staff had difficulty accessing some files but we have been working to deal with this issue. This is being resolved locally using guidance provided from the programme which can be resolved by local ICT managers.
In addition to the issues raised in the EDM, Mrs McConnel also expressed concerns about the range of bidders in the competition, and the Government's commitment to introduce support for short sentenced offenders. I would like to reassure Mrs McConnel that we have a robust and diverse market. The list of bidders who passed the first stage of the competition to win the regional rehabilitation contracts included a mix of private and voluntary sector partnerships with more than 50 organisations represented. Bids were received at the end of June and we have a healthy competition in all areas. The process to award the CRC contracts is ongoing and the details of which bidders remain in the competition are commercially sensitive information, which it would not be right to make public at this stage.
Additionally, I can confirm that we firmly believe that support for short-sentenced offenders is critical to reducing reoffending. We introduced the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 to make changes to the sentencing and release framework for offenders and, in particular, to extend release on licence to offenders released from custodial sentences of less than 12 months, and to create an additional supervision period after licence for offenders released from sentences of less than two years. We plan to commence the relevant provisions of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 at the point when ownership of the new CRCs transfers to successful bidders.
I enclose a copy of this letter for you to share with Mrs McConnel, should you wish to do so.
With best wishes
Chris Grayling


  1. More rubbish from Mr Grayling, what a fool.

  2. I'd say that he is a tool.

  3. He's a tooled - up fool

  4. 'under the new structures, staff have new roles'. Really Chris? I thought the party line was that roles hadn't changed. Have you slipped up there?

  5. " I would like to reassure Mrs McConnel that we have a robust and diverse market. " But you can't

  6. How on earth can a realistic assessment of how the split is going - so far - be made, when NONE of the work involved in supervising 'less than 12 months custody' offenders' licences has even started? This is going to add a massive amount of work, and is one major flaw - along with the low morale, and growing chance of disengagement of so many essential staff. It feels dangerously precarious to me.

  7. Role Based Access Controls (RBAC) can be resolved by local ICT managers. Really?. Take it from me, it isn't that simple. Especially as ICT themselves log in to nDelius and find that their own RBAC settings change on an almost daily basis for no apparent reason. What the letter is, is an optimist's deluded aspirations, not a description of events as they are unfolding. By the way, if you give the letter to 2 colleagues to print, you will find that the NPS colleague will wait up to 20 minutes longer for their copy than the CRC colleague - another bit of ICT that doesn't work but it's ok, because the predicted delay was considered 'an acceptable business risk' by the implementation team. Go and make yourself a cup of tea, your honour, this PSR may take some time..

  8. "Furthermore, the data reconciliation work carried out after the migration confirmed that cases had been successfully moved across and that none had been lost." The cases may have been migrated across, but do you care to comment on the number of cases currently 'unallocated' due to the poor IT system?

  9. The IT is truly awful mainly because they want it to do too much. Keep It Simple Stupid used to be the key. Make it be as complicated as you possibly can seems to be the future.

  10. 'It is possible that some staff believe that records have disappeared simply because they no longer have access to them'. Yes Chris, because we're that stupid.

  11. I can, at present access both systems and can confirm that data has been lost. The other garbage about testing the processes pre share sale...huh...we are saying that the systems do not work , for example the risk escalation model, RSR etc..yet I hear no word that anything is to be changed, dare I say improved ..this period is just for all of us to get used to the new piss-poor systems. Insulting .