Tuesday, 12 August 2014

TR - Two Views

Regular readers will be aware that this blog has been moving on at a relentless pace since it entered campaign mode. The downside is that there's barely time to notice, let alone highlight excellent contributions. Well, here are two from way back in June and I certainly think they are worthy of republishing at long last. I warmly thank both contributors and repeat my offer to publish guest blog posts on pretty much any topic felt remotely connected to probation.

Risk escalation process - has any other CRC staff member had to do a risk escalation on one of their cases? what a job - med risk DV case was discovered breaching his restraining order against his victim, also breaching his residency requirement, and also found to have developed an intimate relationship with another female, but good case management by probation pulled all the bits of the deceit together. 

That was the easy bit, now the mad TR bit, having spoken with police, housing, children services and come to the decision that this mans behaviour was of concern, given that he stabbed his last victim, a discussion was had very quickly with team manager. After a professional discussion, when information and decision process was tested, it was agreed that this case met risk escalation criteria, discussion took 20 mins. Then started to complete OASys review and RE form. This took 4 hours, then needed to scan all into system all the supporting evidence and new info(lots of duplication as all info in delius and OASys).

Then OASys sent to CRC TM manager to counter sign, then rang NPS to inform of Re DECISION, told they were too busy and short staffed so would need to ring back tomorrow, after 12 noon. It was stated this needed to be dealt with ASAP, but no one available to speak to so still needed to wait for duty PO tomorrow. After a night worrying, called NPS again and was told again speak to duty officer after 12 noon. At 12.02 CRC staff called and spoke to the duty PO who is 6 years her professional junior. Told that she would speak with her TM about accepting case and her TM would speak to my TM. 

What an absolute farce, a decision to up risk would normally take a quick clear and concise professional discussion with TM, new risk management plan would be devised, case manager would contact appropriate agencies mappa etc and have the best knowledge of the case to manage this risky period. But no the case was transferred to NPS, to an officer who didn't know the case, doesn't know the victim, doesn't know the area, and who only recently started to supervise HR cases due to being previously working in court, started in field team Sept last year, when I've been in field team for over 12 years supervising every possible type of cases from murders, rapists, child sex offenders, DV, mental health etc etc. 

The end result by the way was that case was arrested and charged with breach of restraining order and possession of knife. The case at time of writing has still not been subject of any professional hand over between CRC and NPS staff as no one from NPS has contacted CRC.

Margaret Hodge needs to know about this bureaucracy that is slow, time consuming, resource intensive, duplicative, ineffective and a system so stupid that it beggars belief that supposedly intelligent people even considered that this was a good idea.



Sadly, I cannot mourn the passing of the Trust I worked for as we experienced an oppressive executive (noted by many in previous posts), but I can see others who worked for decent Trusts (ASPT comes to mind) may be sad.

What I am devastated about is the passing of Public Sector Probation, the two are very different. I believe all of Probation should be now transferring into the National Probation Service as a cohesive platform from which improvements should be made. We can not truly mourn the passing of the Golden Days of Probation, for they are long gone and yes, things need to change.

In my view it was the advent of NOMS with the gradual exclusion of the probation voice at the big table by prison managers, that brought about our demise. However, a rise in macho management too eager to align itself to this culture, as over promoted managers sought to prove themselves capable of making others jump to the ever increasing heights demanded, also had its part to play. 

Ideology too had its part, lack of it on the part of Probation executives (for theirs was the only voice that would have been listened to had they been united in opposition to this debacle and they, with the exception of Joe Kuipers, failed to raise a whisper) and blindly driven politically motivated ideology on the part of Grayling the Destroyer.

Staff too, we have not listened to the warnings about what was coming and not acted in a cohesive manner. It is by no means perfect but had the entire work force unionised this would have signalled cohesive opposition. But we were fractured before the split in reality. Once Unison failed to follow the NAPO lead and take strike action our bluff was called, because it was signalled so well in advance.

So for many of us we now enter the world of Probation the Business. Adding shareholder value being the aim and objective of the CRC future. Yes, we will be told this is our chance to shine and be innovative away from the diktats we were used to. We can make this work but for whose benefit? I have never, ever, heard the service user put at the centre of any of the briefings I have attended. Rather, how to engage staff in the change process to make this work. It is sad beyond measure. 

And what of the NPS? Flagged as the standard bearer of community safety but in reality the political sop there to take the flack from Grayling the Destroyer so Parliament could be fooled that so called high risk offenders would be safely managed....but they always were!

I am sad beyond words about the destruction of my beloved Public Sector Probation which has bled out slowly, cut by cut being delivered by NOMS. I mourn the loss of opportunity for positive change that failing to unite delivery of all Probation Services under the National Probation Service could have achieved. Here was the opportunity to be a professional cohesive workforce with unified standards working for the best interests of society not the profit of shareholders, and it is now all blown to the winds of market forces. 

We must look after ourselves and our service users for there is no-one else to do this now. Unite in compassion for others as we always have done. We do not cease to be who we are but we can become what we do not want to be.

Bewildered PO


  1. Well put BPO.Thank you

  2. I've also witnessed the risk escalation farce.It beggars belief in terms of time and resources. Who, with any sense what so ever, would think it's good risk management and public protection, to transfer a case, now believed to be at imminent risk of carrying out serious harm, to someone who has never met them and knows nothing aoout their behaviours. Again this was a transfer to a newly qualified officer.No disrespect but she wasnt keen either. Demoralising as a professional with over 20 years expeirence but it hey it wont be my SFO now. Sorry state of affairs.

  3. The reality is that all this chaos, destruction, and mayhem has never been about public protection, risk management, reducing reconviction rates, or even extending services to those forgotten people that have only £46 in their pockets.
    It's ideology pure and simple, shedding state services as commodities to private industry.
    Everyone has been misled and lied to, to achieve this objective. Slight of hand and dishonesty has become the trademark of this government and even when they're caught out they're not taken to task over it, such as this article from the huff post a forthnight ago shows.


    I really beleive re- election for this lot will lead us to'wards a State where we all wear jackboots and Conservative blue boiler suits.

  4. Shouldn't NAPO pursue the "Break Back" clause allowing any new government to stop the sell off if it can be proved that it puts the public at risk because it. Start banging that drum.

    1. NAPO are still looking for the drum. They have let us all down. I have already resigned, along with half a dozen of other colleagues from my office.

    2. well anon 20:48,my back is certainly broken, can't take much more....

  5. I have also experienced the farce of risk escalation it now takes all day to recall someone whose risk has escalated. That is if you can get a decision from the numerous managers it is passes through. Noms was jumping up and down for the part B befor it had even been transferred. The NPS officer then had to complete the part B on someone she did not have a clue about.

  6. Due to lack of time available to NPS Court staff our CRC was wrongly allocated a high risk case. This was noted by CRC, and NPS were advised and subsequently agreed their mistake. It still took over 2 weeks for the case to be taken back by NPS and this is without the escalation in risk process to contend with - this was a straight forward misallocation because the risk of harm had not been correctly noted in the first place. Mistakes are going to be made and the result is that members of the public will be seriously harmed as a result.

  7. IN 30 years of working I have never encountered anything like the risk escalation tool, really whoever designed this travesty of a process should be sacked. Mark my words, this will be implicated in SFOs very very soon. The PI can sort of be followed but then it all has to be uploaded onto deluis and I have never yet seen on that did not require assistance from IT Dept ( soon to disappear). If CRC don't complete and upload correctly NPS side can't be done and then if NPS side don't get it right CRC can't access it. It takes HOURS and is frustrating beyond belief. It is STUPID and NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE.

    1. And this process would have previously taken.. oh, about ten minutes? ! ! Nothing is better than a joined up probation service. This is why I cant believe senior management rolled over so easily. This is all so much nonsense I still can't believe it. However I think it's mainly about quashing the probation officer qualification. This govt are very good at that - destroying professions and livelihoods. They think we should all be scraping in the dirt looking for crumbs while they fiddle expenses and drink champagne with our money. Absolutely criminal.

  8. Off topic, but I find this a very interesting development, and another straw on Graylings camels back.
    Pulled out of a contract in 2008, and now for a second time?
    Just what happens to CRCs when a prime decides to terminate a contract early because it's not profitable (publuc safety after all is not their concern)?
    A4e, apart from the fraud allagations should be banned from bidding for TR contracts just because they've now walked away from rehabilitation contracts twice. (I see providing education and training for prisoners as being a 'rehabilitation contract'.


    1. The welfare-to-work provider A4e has prematurely pulled out of a £17m contract to deliver education and training to prisoners in 12 London prisons on the grounds that it was unable to run the contract at a profit.

      The decision was criticised by prison charities as likely to cause significant disruption for inmates.

      Announcing that it would be terminating its contract, the company said delivering the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) had become "extremely challenging" in the past two years because of "a number of constraints" which had "a heavy impact on learner attendance, completion and achievements".

      "We have concluded, in order to not continue to deliver the contract at a loss, to terminate our provision of [the contract] in London," it said. "This has been a very hard decision to make because A4e and its employees are passionate about the delivery of education services to offenders and believe education is critical to an offender's long-term rehabilitation."

      The company, which was due to continue providing training until July 2016, employs 400 teaching and support staff within London prisons. A4e runs another teaching contract in prisons in the east of England which it has decided not to terminate.

      A4e did not specify the constraints it cited in its statement but prison charities said access to education in a number of prisons had been impeded by staff shortages which had hampered prisoners' ability to get to lessons. The company is paid according to the amount of training it provides.

      Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "It's difficult to know precisely why A4e finds itself running this contract at a loss but it is clear that prisoners are spending more and more time locked down in overcrowded cells in understaffed prisons. Wasting time rather than doing time is a far cry from the rehabilitation revolution. Withdrawal of prison education calls into question both this government's capacity to award contracts for delivery of essential services and its commitment to rehabilitation. Our prisons are being reduced to warehouses – nothing more."

      Rod Clark, chief executive of the Prisoners Education Trust, said: "The delivery of education for prisoners across the country is being seriously affected by overcrowding and staff shortages which are leaving people locked up for longer, so they can't get to class and providers struggle to meet their targets. These pressures are having a negative impact on safety and rehabilitation. It may be that this latest decision by A4e to stop working in London's prisons is a result of these problems."

      The Skills Funding Agency said efforts had been made to find ways to allow A4e to continue delivering the contract but discussions had failed. The agency said it was working "to minimise disruption for learners in London prisons".

      The start of A4e's prison education contract was complicated by a delay of several months as the company underwent an extra level of auditing, amid fraud allegations in its welfare-to-work contracts.

      This is not the first time that A4e has prematurely terminated a prison education contract; the firm ended a similar contract providing education to eight prisons in Kent early in 2008, citing huge losses.

      The decision to terminate service provision then was criticised by teaching unions, as evidence that outsourcing education contracts to private providers was not a reliable way to guarantee a good quality service.

    2. I asked the question about who picks up after privateers withdraw, via a FOI request, but was effectively told it was none of my business.

  9. If the computers are not allowing us to work or slowing us down why don't we revert to paper until the IT is sorted? Quickly NAPO could design a fast paper risk tool we could send each afternoon via recorded delivery and phone the next day to ensure it arrived. The IT is killing people at the moment if NAPO backs this type of action we can speed up this crazy process and expose the NOMS bureaucracy for what it is. Most afternoon I sit at my frozen computer pulling my hair out.