Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Question of Trust

The lawyers are clear. Following their recent successful legal challenge, they wouldn't trust Grayling further than they can throw him, as this blog explains:- 
Ministry of Untruth. Who would trust the MOJ now?
It was a wonderful moment when finally the truth about the behaviour of the Lord Chancellor and his so called Ministry of ‘Justice’ was revealed in the historic judicial review judgement delivered by Mr Justice Burnett on Friday. There, exposed to the whole world was a scandalous history of double dealing and concealment. The truth exposed and long suspected, was that this Ministry will do almost anything to drive through doctrinaire and narrow policies based upon questionable and bogus statistics and in doing so suppress and distort expert evidence that does not support their bizarre proposals that so threaten access to Justice.
The description in the Judgement of our Ministry of Justice consultation as ‘unfair’ and ‘illegal’ was an extraordinary event bearing in mind the remit of that Ministry namely ‘Justice’. What a shameful moment in our country’s history. What will the world think? This causes huge reputational damage to the UK whose legal system was once the preeminent exemplar of fairness but now the very Ministry presiding over our legal system is severely damaged and compromised.
What went wrong? As we know the Lord Chancellor and his officials refused to allow the profession advance sight of the expert reports (Otterburn and KMPG) failing to allow us all the chance to make representations upon their content. In one of the many correct ‘calls’ he made, Bill Waddington our courageous CLSA Chairman, with pin point precision, asked for advance disclosure of the reports and was rebuffed by Mr Grayling personally by letter. The MOJ then proceeded to be over-selective in taking parts from the Otterburn report and then directing the KMPG team to adopt absurd assumptions, not referred to therein (Duty firms will surrender 50% of their own client base to non duty firms) entirely of their own departmental device and invention. It was thus far from being truly independent research as promised in the consultation.
But it is far more serious than this. Without bringing this action and without the consequential discovery of documentation procedure we would never have known about the PA Consulting report ruthlessly suppressed by the MoJ. The MoJ commissioned independent expert evidence from PA Consulting on the effect of cutting legal aid fees and then suppressed that evidence when it produced findings which were the opposite of what they wanted to hear as it would have given ammunition to critics of Mr Grayling’s proposals. The PA report overwhelmingly demonstrated that the profession could not survive the proposed cuts to legal aid.
Despite the Lord Chancellor personally having given a commitment to the practitioner groups to follow the recommendation of Otterburn, he then reneged upon this without notice and without giving reasons. The mealy-mouthed response that the Lord Chancellor meant this commitment to ‘include KMPG’ (whom no one at that meeting had heard off at that stage) and not just rely upon Otterburn was not credible (so found the Judge).
Thus did the Lord Chancellor and the MOJ manipulate or suppress the statistics and reports so determined were they to make the ‘expert report evidence’ support of their pre-determined decision already made in favour of the demonstrably unworkable 2 tie system. I am unable to reveal private conversations at meetings that I attended with others opposite the MOJ but suffice it to say the behaviour we encountered was entirely consistent with the conduct revealed by the proceedings with an onslaught consisting of a mixture of entreaties, bluffs and threats. The CLSA, with their fine allies in the LCCSA, stood firm and resisted it all. I am proud of what we achieved and above all happy that the profession after years of ‘taking it’ felt we hit back on their behalf.
This on the politics.co.uk website by Nicola Hill, president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association – one of the two claimants who won the judicial review:-
Comment: Chris Grayling has been taught he's not above the law
Friday, 2 pm – momentous news. Not north of the border but in court one of the Royal Courts of Justice. A senior judge rules that the lord chancellor and justice secretary has acted illegally. The highest law officer in England and Wales brought to book by judicial review. What an irony. This is the very process Chris Grayling wants to restrict, to prevent ordinary people having the right to hold the state to account. 
So what happened in the high court on Friday? The judge ruled that some of the biggest changes in the history of publicly funded legal aid had to be stopped in their tracks. Grayling wanted to reduce the number of solicitors who are able to represent you, me, your teenage son or daughter at a police station or magistrates' court. But the high court decided the methods the minister tried to use to bring in these cuts were "so unfair as to be illegal". It all centred on a consultation – one of those where they don't properly consult anyone who actually matters. But in this case it's even worse that. The Ministry of Justice suppressed two key reports which were instrumental in pushing through the changes.
The ruling means that it is back to the drawing board. They are now going to have to consult all over again about these highly controversial proposed solicitor contracts - arrangements which would have driven down standards and meant there were far fewer solicitors available in police stations and magistrates' courts. They'd have given rise to appalling legal advice deserts. The brakes have been put on a politically motivated vandalism of our justice system, damage inflicted by the first non-lawyer to ever hold this post.

I am a lawyer and can see how momentous this judgement is. Momentous for people who have the right to a proper defence and momentous for the lawyers who want to do the job properly. It goes to the heart of what makes our justice system fair. Grayling has also been taught a very basic but important legal lesson. He may be a senior Cabinet minister in charge of our courts, prisons and probation services but he is not above the law.
It got very personal, which isn't what you expect in the dryness of a judicial review. Grayling's tactics were labelled that of "bully and bluff", "divide and rule". It was, according to our side, a "caricature of fairness". We don't like to get personal but - driven by ideology and underpinned by ignorance - these are very much Mr Grayling's reforms.
The justice secretary has a habit of burying his head in the sand, ignoring the real price of his cost-saving reforms in the criminal justice system, and effectively repeating: 'Crisis? What crisis?' We've seen a summer of discontent in the criminal justice system: with the deeply troubling rise in prison suicides, a meltdown in probation and a family court service at breaking point. We think of this terrible track record but the justice secretary would rather not. Perhaps no longer. The lord chancellor has been thrown the rule book by a judicial process which he is attempting to shut down. Through sheer determination, guts and legal know-how, we criminal defence lawyers took on the might of the Ministry of Justice and won. No wonder Grayling wishes to restrict access to justice where the state has to account for its decisions. What the high court ruling has allowed is room for an outbreak of sanity.
Let's stop using austerity as a cover for ideological changes. We want to improve the justice system as much as Grayling. We're ready to sit down and talk. But after this humbling judgement, is he?
Of course we've always known what a bully and thug Grayling is, and it was confirmed on day one of the legal action, as reported here in the Guardian:-
The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, relied on "bluff and bully" tactics to drive through legal aid cuts that will close hundreds of law firms, the high court has heard. At the opening of a judicial review challenge brought by criminal solicitors, Grayling was accused of coordinating a "caricature of fairness" in a Ministry of Justice (MoJ) review.
The changes being introduced provide for cuts of 17.5% in criminal court fees and reduce the number of duty solicitor contracts for attending police stations and courts in England and Wales from 1,600 to 525. The case has been brought by the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association and the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association, which say the consultation was unlawful. As lord chancellor, Grayling is named as the defendant in the hearing.
Appearing for the solicitors, Jason Coppel QC said the changes "put the criminal justice system at risk". "It's not based on any research," he said. "The very likely consequence is that hundreds of small firms will go out of business. "In large areas of the country [people] will not have access to a solicitor and the quality of the service will suffer."
The challenge is focused on the adequacy of the MoJ's consultation process, crucial details of which, it is alleged, were withheld from the legal profession at the time. "Now that we have seen the research from [the accountancy firm] KPMG on which decisions are based," Coppel said, "it highlights the injustice of not disclosing that research. Some of this was deeply unfair and nothing less than an insult to those in criminal legal aid firms who stand to lose their livelihoods."
The lord chancellor himself, Coppel added, "got personally involved in this process and … caused much of the unfairness in these decisions … The claimants have a right to expect procedural fairness. What they got was a caricature of fairness: empty assurances, bluff and bully, divide and rule, fronted by a senior member of the government." Evidence contrary to the MoJ's aims was suppressed, the court was told.
Given this success, not unnaturally many Napo members will be wondering exactly when their legal challenge will be launched? News is beginning to filter out from yesterday's NEC meeting when the subject was discussed. I'm told the lawyers were present and basically saying all the usual guff about it might not be a strong case and might cost a lot of money. So, apart from them continuing to wrack up a large bill, we're absolutely no further forward. Maybe it's time to get another lawyer? Or review the instructions? 

The trouble about all this is that the lawyers might just be reflecting the clients instructions. If the client is hesitant, is concerned more about the cost than the risks of winning or losing and in a business where nothing is ever 100% certain, isn't the legal advice going to reflect that view? In the end it's going to boil down to trust and at the forthcoming AGM members will have to make a judgement call. As with our work, we look at the evidence and the track record, listen carefully to the explanation and make a decision as to whether it all adds up or not? 

Whatever, I do know this. The General Secretary had better have a damned good explanation as to why a union and profession, facing almost complete destruction as we know it, some 12 months on has still not mounted any legal challenge whatsoever, to the astonishment of the MoJ and most observers of this sad, sad TR omnishambes. 

52 comments:

  1. Excellent summary above. Although I am no longer a NAPO member I would willingly commit money to a fund for JR. Let's face it- at this rate NAPO will cease to exist soon as disillusioned members leave and I suspect the NPS staff will soon be able to join the PCS under a much more visible union leadership! Let's do it! This misery cannot continue. I hate going into work each day.

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    1. You can join PCS for the discounted sum of £6 .66 per month it's discounted because they don't have national negotiating rights. Yet?? The numbers are growing!!

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  2. JR is changing - https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/324926/fact-sheet-judicial-review.pdf

    inthe neantime, here's something from 'TSL'

    Protective Costs Orders (PCO) are an interesting anomaly in the usually fantastically mundane world of litigation costs. Such an order will provide protection against the potentially massive costs that a claimant will face if they bring a judicial review (JR) claim and lose. They raise the issue of how fair it is to have private costs rules in litigation of public importance and could become an increasingly significant feature under the government’s proposals to limit JR claims. This article explains the basics of how they work.

    Obtaining a PCO provides protection to a claimant by ensuring that even if they lose the claim, they may not be liable to pay the defendants costs, or will only be liable for a predetermined amount. At the same time, the claimant can still be entitled to recover all of their costs from the defendant if successful. The general rule as to costs is found in CPR 44.3 (2):

    If the court decides to make an order as to costs –

    (a) The general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the unsuccessful party; but

    (b) The court may make a different order.
    The risk of losing and failing to persuade the court to make a different order is too large for many small non-governmental organizations (NGO) to take, resulting in claims relating to points of strong public interest being abandoned purely because of the unequal financial footing of the parties. A PCO provides a vital assurance that this will not happen.

    The leading authority PCOs is the Court of Appeal decision in R (Corner House Research) v Secretary of State for Trade and Industry [2005] EWCA Civ 192. Corner House is an anti-corruption NGO who were initially refused a PCO for a JR they were bringing against the Export Credits Guarantee Department. The Court of Appeal reversed that decision and captured the essence of the PCO issue at paragraph [145], where they said that if they had not granted the PCO:

    …issues of public importance that arose in the case would have been stifled at the outset, and the courts would have been powerless to grant this small company the relief that it sought.

    Criteria

    The judgment gives a detailed analysis of the issue of costs in public law litigation and sets out the following guidance on the granting of PCOs at paragraph [74]:
    A protective costs order may be made at any stage of the proceedings on such conditions as the court thinks fit, provided that the court is satisfied that:

    The issues raised are of general public importance;
    The public interest requires that those issues should be resolved;
    The applicant has no private interest in the outcome of the case;
    Having regard to the financial resources of the applicant and the respondent(s) and to the amount of costs that are likely to be involved it is fair and just to make the order;
    If the order is not made the applicant will probably discontinue the proceedings and will be acting reasonably in doing so.
    If those acting for the applicant are doing so pro bono this will be likely to enhance the merits of the application for a PCO.
    It is for the court, in its discretion, to decide whether it is fair and just to make the order in light of the considerations set out above.

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    1. Contd

      Forms of the order

      As the criteria demonstrate, the court has a wide discretion as to the granting of a PCO. There are also a variety of forms that the order itself can take. The most generous would be where a claimant is not liable for any defendant costs, but would be allowed to recover all theirs (including a success fee) if they won. There could also be no order as to costs regardless of outcome, meaning each side will bear their own costs.

      The court in Corner House indicated (at [146]) that an order with some form of capped costs condition would be the more normal kind. This can take many forms, a mutual cap for each side, for example both sides being limited to say £100,000. Or it may be that the claimant’s costs are capped, limiting the defendant’s liability, but at the same time removing the claimant’s risk. There could also be an order that the claimant would only be liable for a fixed proportion of the defendant’s costs.

      Issues

      While undoubtedly a crucial mechanism for providing equality to arms, the Corner House guidance still potentially leaves a claimant on the back foot. Paragraph [76] sets out what are effectively two sub-considerations relating specifically to the costs a claimant with a PCO could expect to recover if it is successful. These would apply to cases where a cost-capping order is used:

      ii) The purpose of the PCO will be to limit or extinguish the liability of the applicant if it loses, and as a balancing factor the liability of the defendant for the applicant’s costs if the defendant loses will thus be restricted to a reasonably modest amount. The applicant should expect the capping order to restrict it to solicitors’ fees and a fee for a single advocate of junior counsel status that are no more than modest.
      iii) The overriding purpose of exercising this jurisdiction is to enable the applicant to present its case to the court with a reasonably competent advocate without being exposed to such serious financial risks that would deter it from advancing a case of general public importance at all …. The beneficiary of a PCO must not expect the capping order that will accompany the PCO to permit anything other than modest representation, and must arrange its legal representation (when its lawyers are not willing to act pro bono) accordingly. [76]
      Why should the claimant be limited to ‘modest representation’ by a single advocate of junior status? Cases of high public interest are generally complex and require one or more very senior counsel. Paragraph [76] indicates that if claimant’s want the right counsel for the job they are expected to persuade them to take on the case pro bono.

      Obtaining pro bono representation is not unheard of. The current JR challenge by the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) to the imposition of the Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) by the Legal Services Board has Dinah Rose QC and Tom De La Mare QC acting pro bono. However, this is an exceptional case with a large degree of publicity which the Bar itself has unquantifiable interest in. The solicitors and counsel who specialise in JR claims could not be expected to routinely act on a pro bono basis as this work is the majority of their practice.

      Current application and the future

      PCOs are a useful tool for claimants and defendants alike. They also highlight a publicly important area of law that allows broad judicial discretion. Claimants are very much in the hands of a judge deciding if it is ‘fair and just’ to grant them a PCO, with no guarantees that they will be protected.

      The QASA JR mentioned above is a good, high profile, example of a PCO in action. This one imposes a mutual costs cap of £150,000 on both parties and the case is a classic example of the need for PCOs and the costs risk claimants can face. Herbert Smith Freehills were acting for the defendant, the LSB, but were dropped after it submitted a costs estimate of £400,000 for a hearing that is only likely to last two to three days.

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    2. "Tsl" = The Student Lawyer

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    3. Also worth a read -

      http://www.adminlaw.org.uk/docs/Costs%2520Paper%2520-%2520ALBA%2520Talk%2520Feb%25202011.pdf

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    4. WHY is that worth a read Anon at 08:27?

      I have tried to open it in two browsers and been unsuccessful.

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    5. Can't explain why it won't work, and it won't work for me either. So try typing "judicial review pco" into google (other search engines are also available) and its there on page one of the results. Its a paper discussing protected costs orders. Sorry to have irritated you with an inadvertently bad link.

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  3. Children’s Commissioner’s research shows vastly underestimated impact of Legal Aid changes on children
    24 SEP 2014
    The first in-depth rights based examination of the impact of Legal Aid changes on children since 2013 shows that in 70% of private family cases one or both parties did not have legal representation. Under the ‘exceptional funding’ regime, which the Government created to ensure Legal Aid was still given to people whose human rights were at risk, only 57 grants were provided in its first year, rather than the 3,700 the Ministry of Justice had expected, due to the complexity of and strict criteria applied to the system. The findings are published today by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in a Child Rights Impact Assessment of changes to civil and prison law Legal Aid since April 2013.

    The Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s report, 'Legal aid changes since April 2013: Child Rights Impact Assessment' follows in-depth research on the effects of changes to Legal Aid. The work was done in light of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s recommendation that governments should assess the impact of all proposed legislation on children. Along with lawyers, charities and others working with families, the Commissioner remains concerned about the serious potential effects of changes to Legal Aid on a wide range of children’s rights. The research included interviews with children and young people affected by the changes, desk based research and legal analysis.

    Key findings on the reforms include:
    Although ‘exceptional funding’ was meant to be available in cases where failure to fund could infringe the applicant’s rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 or under EU law, in practice this requires complex preparatory work, impractical for a child without a solicitor.

    Only 57 cases were granted exceptional funding compared to the 3,700 the Ministry of Justice expected.

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  4. I will be really gutted if JR is not done. Surely the success of the legal peeps should give us home. I'd rather we use up all funds in one last ditch attempt to fight this. If they don't proceed with this I guess it's time for those of us who are wiling and know about EMs to discuss and raise one. I fear napo may lose members if we don't proceed with JR. It will be an interesting AGM that's for sure

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  5. I am absolutely OUT if NAPO does not pursue JR. The parallels between the proven case of the legal aid lawyers and that of the destruction of probation, the service users and it's staff is blindingly obvious. I suspect there is great support amongst senior members of the judiciary too, look at the words used about Grayling. This is the time to act !
    Can it be really true that protecting potential redundancy payments of NAPO staff is the driver to the reluctance to go for JR?

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  6. Surely if the Lord Chancelor and Justice Minister has been found not only to be acting illegaly, but suppressing information delibretly to achieve that illegal outcome, then surely all the other reforms that he's introduced should be questioned and be brought back to parliament for further scrutiny and debate?
    With the wealth of legal experts that surround the Lord Chancelor, there can be no excuse acting illegaly- unless he intended to act that way.
    There must be someway of getting TR brought back before parliament (isn't the risk register an undisclosed document?).
    The LibDems are less likely to side with the conservatives then before, but even if it dosen't win the day, it buys time at no cost.

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  7. Members should insist on a motion at AGM, we need to make a legal challenge to save our jobs, service and credibility. Lets face it the G.S can get another job so doesn't have the same agenda. A vote of no confidence is needed if he doesn't act in our best interests NOW

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  8. Why did Miliband 'forget' criminal justice?

    http://www.napo2.org.uk/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=832&p=3462#p3462

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    1. Didn't forget, though, to give the Labour Party conference security contact to G4S.

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    2. Didnt he forget there's a budget deficit too. He can "forget" about getting elected...

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  9. The above comments are absolutely right and, even if JR costs £250,000, why haven't Napo got the money? Ian Lawrence goes on about not wanting to waste members' money but this is about saving the service and the union. I'm afraid that I agree with Anon at 09.53 and I'm OUT as well if we don't have a JR. Out of Napo and giving up campaigning.

    Before I give up (!), Five Live Radio want to do a programme about TR and want contributors about the utter chaos and risk to the public. They will be completely anonymised but the programme can't go ahead without people coming forward. No names will be mentioned and your words can be read out. Please let me know if you're willing to talk and email me at joanna840@googlemail.com

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    1. Hi Joanna. I will definitely contribute some information. I'll email you.
      Is there anyone else? It needs a wide selection of views across probation for 5 live to produce a programme.

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    2. If there is no money what about a kick starter pot or crowd funder?
      I am sure many will contribute not just probation ?

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  10. I think NAPO would do well to remember that no probation service means no probation union.
    Although there will be the NPS (30%), it wont be long after share sale before CRCs become a non union entity, because they simply wont recruit staff that belongs to a union. Thats whats happened in the private prison sector, and although it may not be legal, they get round it by simply saying they selected the best staff for the job on the basis of application.
    So to my little mind, to save NAPO you first have to save the service!

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  11. Just spied this from Grayling about probation reforms.

    http://m.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/news/11492596.Chris_Grayling_insists_probation_reforms_will_not_put_public_in_any_danger/

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    1. Chris Grayling has slammed critics of his probation reforms and promised there will be no casualties as a result of the changes.

      Speaking ahead of an anti-privatisation rally against his proposals, to be held in Epsom town centre on Saturday, Mr Grayling said his plans will not put the public in danger and the probation union should stop its "pointless opposition" to them.

      Members of Napo, the National Association of Probation Officers, from the Kent, Surrey and Sussex (KSS), and London branches, will be attending the protest, which will include a march through the town centre carrying a huge effigy of the Justice Secretary, followed by a rally.

      The campaigners are against Mr Grayling’s plans to award private sector and voluntary bidders contracts to deal with the low- and medium-risk offenders, which are to be decided on by the Lord Chancellor by the end of the year.

      While the new public sector National Probation Service will manage high-risk offenders and will be responsible for initial risk assessments of all offenders, 21 new regional Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) will deal with the low- and medium-risk offenders and will only earn their full fee if they reduce reoffending – ‘payment by results’.

      The Ministry of Justice has said that the changes are necessary to pay for support for an extra 50,000 offenders a year who are currently given no statutory help from the Probation Service on release from prison.

      It has said that 57.5 per cent of offenders released from prison after serving sentences of less than 12 months reoffend within a year.

      Speaking exclusively to the Epsom Guardian ahead of the rally, Mr Grayling said his changes aim to transform rehabilitation, reduce reoffending rates and allow the service the "freedom to innovate" - something he said cannot be found in the public sector for a variety of reasons.

      "Crime is falling which is good. The number of first-time offenders is falling which is good," Mr Grayling said.

      "The problem we have is that of people going round and round the system.

      "Reoffending rates have barely changed for a decade.

      "Approximately 62 per cent of offenders sentenced to less than 12 months in High Down leave the prison and reoffend quite quickly.

      "We want to set up a new model for rehabilitation and reoffending which makes the best use of the public, private and voluntary sectors.

      "The public, in managing risk. The private, to help streamline the system and create efficiency. And the voluntary sector, to bring in mentoring skills for offenders who have troubled backgrounds and come from broken homes.

      "The aim has been to reshape the system so we have CRCs run by a mixture of private and voluntary sector groups focusing on mentoring, who will only earn their full fee if they are successful in bringing down the rate of reoffending.

      "The National Probation Service will manage the most serious offenders to which it brings a high level of specialism.

      "The probation budget has been protected.

      "It’s not about saving money.

      "It’s about developing the best and most innovative approach to reducing reoffending.

      "It’s about quality not cost."

      Mr Grayling said that, as part of the changes, some areas of probation which have been "too expensive", such as the use of Community Payback, have been re-evaluated.

      He said he is also pioneering a ‘through the gate’ approach which will allow people working with offenders to lay the groundwork for rehabilitation behind the prison walls and continue that work in the community when they are released.

      "This is not just a reform of the probation service but also reform in the prison estate through the creation of a network of resettlement prisons which will play a specific role in preparing offenders for release in the last few months of their sentences in the areas they will be released," Mr Grayling added.

      "We can plan what’s going to happen with them and this hasn’t happened before."

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    2. Napo has argued that the public will be put in danger by the reforms as the ‘risk’ associated with an offender can change at any time and professionally-trained staff should be dealing with those deemed to be low- and medium-risk, as well as high-risk offenders, in a unified service.

      But Mr Grayling said: "This is not true. I wouldn’t take the Probation Union’s view on this.

      "I have asked the Probation Inspectorate if they discover anything in the reforms or how they are being implemented which would put the public at risk.

      "They have not come back to me and said this.

      "The Probation Union is simply anti-change.

      "It has just carried out a staff survey on the changes. Just 10 per cent bothered to respond.

      "I don’t think the union is representing the true views of its staff.

      "Many have been unhappy and uncertain but my experience around the country has been one of overwhelming desire to get on with the job.

      "I’m now talking to probation officers who are saying they are open to change."

      The new probation structure has been in place since June 1, with the CRCs remaining in the public sector until new private and voluntary sector groups take over next year.

      The MoJ has said that more than 80 bids for the CRCs are currently being evaluated from a mixture of organisations including charities experienced in tackling issues affecting offenders, small and large British businesses and multinationals all experienced in working in the criminal justice system or with offenders.

      Mr Grayling said his Liberal Democrat colleagues in the Government are behind the reforms, including Justice Minister Simon Hughes who he said is "completely supportive".

      "The irony is the Labour party passed legislation to reform the probation service which is allowing these reforms to happen," he added.

      Asked about Saturday’s rally, Mr Grayling said: "It’s a free country and they are entirely at liberty to come through the centre of Epsom.

      "It’s ideological opposition.

      "They want to stay entirely in the public sector, but the service needs the freedom to innovate and you won’t find this in the public sector for a variety of reasons."

      The march will begin outside the Epsom Playhouse, in Ashley Avenue, at 11am.

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    3. If we extract the argument from the article, we are left with the following - which perhaps we should contrast with past records in Hansard, MoJ press releases, etc.

      "Chris Grayling has slammed critics of his probation reforms and promised there will be no casualties as a result of the changes.

      Mr Grayling said his plans will not put the public in danger and the probation union should stop its "pointless opposition" to them.

      "The probation budget has been protected.

      "It’s not about saving money.

      "It’s about developing the best and most innovative approach to reducing reoffending.

      "It’s about quality not cost."

      "The Probation Union is simply anti-change.

      "It has just carried out a staff survey on the changes. Just 10 per cent bothered to respond.

      "I don’t think the union is representing the true views of its staff.

      "Many have been unhappy and uncertain but my experience around the country has been one of overwhelming desire to get on with the job.

      "I’m now talking to probation officers who are saying they are open to change."

      "It’s ideological opposition.

      "They want to stay entirely in the public sector, but the service needs the freedom to innovate and you won’t find this in the public sector for a variety of reasons."

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  12. Can this extract from the article highlighted above be true?

    "I have asked the Probation Inspectorate if they discover anything in the reforms or how they are being implemented which would put the public at risk.  "They have not come back to me and said this.

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    1. There is a letter from the Inspectorate, dated February 2013. This link should take you to it. It airs numerous misgivings and for Grayling to cite it as an endorsement of TR is a travesty of truth. In fact the letter is full of doubts.

      http://www.justice.gov.uk/downloads/about/hmiprob/transforming-rehabilitation-response.pdf

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  13. He cannot be trusted. The evidence is overwhelming. He lies, by omission and actively. His position is entirely defensible if you completely suspend belief.

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  14. Joanne I will contribute and email you

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  15. More lies from an incompetent, dogmatic, probably psychopathic fool.

    The MoJ say the changes are necessary to pay for supervision of the u12 month sentences, then their own minister says "it's not about saving money."

    He is despicable.

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  16. Joanne, having just read what Grayling has said I too will email you, thank you for doing this for us all.

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  17. The MoJ's grip on reality is growing ever-more tenuous, as this article about their response to the Judicial Review shows:

    http://www.legalcheek.com/2014/09/the-ministry-of-justice-has-done-one-of-the-worst-tweets-ever-seen-on-twitter/

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  18. Joanna I have sent you my e-mail address, 'mI up for the radio programme.

    papa

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  19. The risk escalation process is a disgrace, as a PO it was suggested to me this week, that I override a CRC case when the CRC manager, an SPO in my old trust, had signed the case off at CRC side as moving to high risk. I did my bit on the "system" said the case was high risk.....then left it to my (NPS) manager to overrule me.....me thinks too many cases are now deemed to be going to NPS so shenanigans are afoot.You just watch very soon I predict the RSR score will go even higher so more cases go to CRC. The signs are the CRC managers are trying to send cases back upon allocation to NPS....let the battle begin.....'cos CRCs do not want the complex cases as they are too expensive....

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    1. There have already been some almighty rows about case allocations in my office between former colleagues. But at least they've been face to face and so relatively resolvable. Just wait until the expensive leases run out and the CRCs leave for cheaper premises - then all these debates will take place by phone or email, and stretch on for days, leaving clients, victims and staff in limbo.

      You hear this, Grayling? We're not anti-change, we're anti-people dying because of the shambles that's grown from your obstinance and arrogance.

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    2. Just wait until after share sale when private companies want to send any case thats problematic, difficult to manage or where money has to be spent on interventions back to NPS. Thats when the real arguements will begin.

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    3. Make no mistake the arguments have already started CRC are "auditing" case allocation - looks like the last vestige of trust is rapidly disappearing. NPS and CRC are being set against each other, one of the great strength of probation working was always the capacity to pull together, now blown to the wind by Chris Grayling.....but remember, he says there is no problem. The "good" staff are making the new system work but those nasty left wing union types are just making mischief. What happens when "the market" starts resisting too ?

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    4. auditors have been in our CRC office checking interface issues and timeliness from sentence to induction to 1st supervision appointment.

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  20. We owe it to victims, service users and ourselves and society to take this to judicial review. Surely the cost could be shared between napo and unison. If TR continues napo is finished. We may as well go down fighting. Mr Grayling is visiting Maidstone probation office tomorrow, ground staff are not invited only selected management.

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  21. What a load of b????ks. That is apalling . Selected management will tell that man what he wants to hear. It makes me so angry I want to cry !!! If he ever came to my office I'd gatecrash and tell him what I thougt !!'
    I will email Joanna. If I hear a rumour that the JR is not hPoening then I will. Be calling for an EM !! And after agm seriously think about resigning even tho I have been very active in campaigning

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  22. Isn't time that Grayling was asked to evidence some of the statistics he keeps throwing about.
    Prison absconds down 80% to a ten year low? Thats utter shite.

    http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/lee-middleton-escape-chris-grayling-7827620

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  23. Grayling is bound to be seething about this.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/24/simon-hughes-review-children-access-legal-aid

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    1. The family justice minister Simon Hughes has called for an urgent review of legal aid cuts in a move that publicly signals Liberal Democrat unease over the impact of coalition austerity policies.

      In a statement issued through his party’s press office, Hughes has asked his own department, the Ministry of Justice, to investigate whether vulnerable children are being deprived of access to justice.

      His comments, clearly aimed at differentiating Liberal Democrat priorities from those of their Conservative coalition partners, follows publication of a scathing report on Wednesday by the children’s commissioner for England, Maggie Atkinson.

      That report – Legal Aid Changes Since April 2013: Child Rights Impact Assessment – claimed that rights guaranteed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child are being breached because children are denied adequate legal representation and support.

      Hughes’ statement, headlined “children’s access to legal aid”, said: “I have asked the Ministry of Justice to review the findings in this report. We have had to make difficult decisions to protect legal aid for the long term but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the rights of children. If there are gaps in the new system I am determined they are addressed urgently.”

      One of the criticisms made by the commissioner’s report was how few applications for legal aid are being granted on the grounds of exceptional needs because the criteria imposed is too strict and complex.

      Hughes, formerly deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, became a minister in December last year. His portfolio of responsibilities at the MoJ includes family justice as well as human rights.

      The minister has also written a formal memorandum to the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, saying: “I understand it was agreed that the department would review the situation if we were provided with evidence that demonstrated vulnerable individuals were being denied access to legal aid.”

      Given the potentially vulnerable position of children in the legal system, he added, the concerns raised in the report should be investigated. Hughes, reportedly frustrated at the department’s reluctance to admit there are problems with provision of legal aid, is understood to have released his statement without giving fellow ministers advance notice.

      Hughes’ move to highlight his concerns comes as the party conference season heats up. The Liberal Democrat gathering was delayed this year until after the Conservatives’ to avoid clashing with the Scottish referendum.

      The MoJ will be reviewing the effect of the legal aid reforms. Responding to the children’s commissioner’s report earlier this week, a departmental spokesperson said: “Our reforms have prioritised funding for cases involving the most vulnerable and have made sure that family cases involving children at risk can still get legal aid.

      “We are closely monitoring the impact of the changes and would be concerned if there was any evidence presented to us that vulnerable children were not getting the legal help they needed. Since 2011 we have significantly reduced the time that care cases involving children take, and have introduced major reforms to keep more family disputes out of court.”

      In a separate development, the Ministry of Justice announced on Wednesday that it will re-run part of its consultation process on cutting the number of criminal legal aid contracts made available to solicitors.

      The move follows a ruling in the high court last week that an earlier public consultation process, which excluded commissioned reports by the accountants KPMG and Otterburn, was “so unfair as to amount to illegality”. The MoJ’s aim is to reduce the number of contracts for duty solicitors at police stations and magistrates courts from 1,600 to 525.

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  24. I hope he is and has to go off work with stress

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  25. Probation Officer Seeking Judicial Review of TR24 September 2014 at 22:29

    I wholly agree with one of the above comment at follows;

    "Members should insist on a motion at AGM, we need to make a legal challenge to save our jobs, service and credibility. Lets face it the G.S can get another job so doesn't have the same agenda. A vote of no confidence is needed if he doesn't act in our best interests NOW"

    I would add, NO probation means NO probation union and a judicial review is the ONLY thing our money should be spent on right now. Maybe it's time for Jim Brown to show yourself at the AGM with a loudspeaker in hand and propose the emergency motion for Judicial review of TR and insist an immediate agreement from Napo and the general secretary Ian Lawrence. I would stand and second it.

    If the outcome of the Napo AGM is anything other than hearing that the JR process has already been commenced by Napo's solicitors then my membership ends on that day.

    I refuse to pay money to Napo if it refuses to use that money to defend me, my colleagues and probation in general.

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    1. Totally agree with the above. What are Napo

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    2. ABSOLUTELY SPOT ON! What on earth are NAPO waiting for ... A rainy day?! Well , guess what, it's pissing it down! WE ALL WANT A JUDICIAL REVIEW... GET WITH IT!! I and many others are similar to a previous comment in that we are so angry we could cry. It is absolutely absurd that JR has not been pursued. I will also be withdrawing membership if no JR

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  26. I agree too . I am going to AGM and will stand up too to support our need for JR

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  27. We were told at NEC that we were waiting for the results of testgate 4, but it seems unlikely that any results will be made public, so what is the point of waiting. I call upon every branch who is attending the AGM to submit an emergency motion requesting that we instruct counsel to move to JR based on the evidence we already have regarding risk to the public, the fact that the Minister proceeded to TR ignoring the overwhelming results of the public consultation. We need to save Probation not Napo

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  28. Well said . I'm on our branch exec .. How do we get this started and what happens if the others in exec don't agree

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    1. Its not up to exec. Any 2 members can submit a motion to their branch (re JR with plan that once agreed by Branch it be forwarded as an emergency motion to AGM) and it is up to branch members to vote and accept or not.Then at AGM (if steering accept it meets criteria for emergency motion)it joins other motions for debate. Or any 2 members from same or different branches can submit an emergency motion direct to AGM etc.Once at AGM proposer and seconder needed to speak to motion.If you go to Napo website and put AGM into search box you'll find constitution/standing orders etc and guidance on same.

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  29. So, 24 hours before yet again we "Cry 'Havoc!' and let slip the dogs of war."

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