Friday, 5 September 2014

Bidding Latest

Despite what the MoJ spin doctors might tell us, we know the whole Probation Service continues to descend into chaos. They have a vested interest in desperately trying to pretend things are going along smoothly because they are in the middle of trying to flog off 70% of the Service to anyone that can be persuaded to take it on, and the evidence would suggest quite a bit of arm-twisting has been going on behind the scenes. This is what one insider says the situation looks like on the day the final bids have to be in:-
1. Contract start date is still unclear
2. For 21 Contract Package Areas there are 80 plus bidders
3. All bidders will have at least two CPA's and the maximum number is five
4. The companies are not allowed due diligence
5. Initial bids were submitted on 23rd Aug
6. All were rejected
7. All must be resubmitted by Friday 5th September
8. The MOJ will make a decision on preferred providers by mid-November 2014 latest
9. Start date is February/March 2015
10. A number of primes will not be employing the staff, but will use their strategic partners to employ staff instead
11. A number of the primes will go for 'segmentation' of services ie only target those offenders who are politically sensitive or where there is a significant chance of change, the rest including under 12 month clients will get a basic service
What this says to me is that the MoJ has been busy through the summer making sure that the 'big boys' have been encouraged to make extra bids for CPA's they were not initially interested in. We know from previous discussion of the subject that their bids were felt to be hopeless at the beginning of the process, and there's been some 'nods and winks' to make sure they do better second time around.

By way of contrast, I'm led to believe that the 'mutuals' and others who might be deemed the 'good guys' did well at the beginning and would particularly have good reason to feel aggrieved at the extra stage inserted into the bidding process at the specific behest of ministers. I'm absolutely positive there's plenty of scope for disappointed bidders to start crying 'foul' as soon as the winners are announced and no doubt there will be some with very deep pockets and good lawyers on speed dial.

The Liberal Democrats should be hanging their heads in shame for ever having supported this pile of Tory TR shite and in particular need to take notice of point 11 above. According to my information, the infamous under 12 month group 'leaving prison with just £46 in their pocket' won't be getting much attention at all. There's simply too many of them; no money to be made from them; the prognosis is too poor and bidders don't know what to do with them anyway. The latest edition of Private Eye would seem to confirm that under TR, the only money to be made out of this lot is to tag them all:-  
   
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The slow train crash that is the TR omnishambles rumbles on....   

Postscript

A crackingly-powerful piece in today's Independent by Mark Leftly:-
Probation bidders may make a profit, but they’ll never be popular
It’s time for Andy Parker, Debbie White, Mel Ewell, Adrian Ringrose and Richard Howson to do the right thing and withdraw from the race to, in effect, privatise 70 per cent of the probation service. The chief executives of Capita, Sodexo UK, Amey, Interserve and Carillion, respectively, will inherit utter messes if they are successful in bids to run any of the 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) that have been established under Chris Grayling, the obstinate Justice Secretary.

The deals are worth at least £5bn over 10 years, but the risk to these companies’ balance sheets is tremendous. Staff morale is at an all-time low, case files are either missing due to chaotic IT systems or gathering dust in cupboards because of workforce shortages, offenders aren’t being properly supervised, and there is a growing risk to public safety.
The crisis is too great to subdue quickly or, indeed, profitably, in most of the CRCs. These outsourcing groups will be criticised and almost certainly financially penalised if a shambles not of their own making worsens. 
 ---000---
The Independent titles have covered this story in depth this summer. We have reported that a preventable murder might have occurred because of the reforms, and published the self-written eulogy of a probation worker, Sarah Kane, who committed suicide.
Friends of the latter say that the reforms might have “contributed” to her death, though she was clearly extremely troubled aside from any work-related stress. But what is damning is that eulogy, her final message to those she left behind, in which she accused Mr Grayling of having “murdered the probation service”.
Here is another quite awful example. Angela Suggett, a 64-year-old probation officer in West Yorkshire, was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live in May. She asked for ill-health retirement on 2 June, just as the split occurred, and could have reasonably expected a lump sum to be agreed within two to three weeks.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman says that “all applications are dealt with promptly and sensitively”. But Mrs Suggett still hasn’t received her money as the whole system has been thrown into confusion. She accuses the MoJ of “frittering away” her life, and is furious that “absolutely no sympathy whatsoever” has been shown towards her when she needs the money for life-extending treatment.
Mr Grayling’s aides are furious with us, perhaps sensing bias or sensationalism. A source close to Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat justice minister who might be expected to oppose the reforms, is insistent that these are teething problems and that change in any organisation is met with resistance and complaints.
There are no apologies here for pursuing this issue, because the weight of evidence is overwhelming. But no matter what we report, Mr Grayling is not for turning.
That’s why it is up to those five chief executives to refuse to get involved in probation, if not for social then for commercial reasons. If those companies, which are among the biggest bidders, withdraw, Mr Grayling’s great folly will be sunk.

33 comments:

  1. Great blog Jim, this is where effort should be focussed now, there is a growing amount of evidence that the bidding process is being constantly changed to fit what Grayling desires as a panic response to the ideology being simply wrong. The business case does not stand up and I believe the 'due diligence' issue will prove to be a major future issue.
    The suggestion that staff will be employed at one remove ie not by the contract holders themselves should seriously worry every member of staff as, to me, this sounds to be strategic planning for removal of business risk. In effect, should there be serious incidents eg an SFO, it will not fall upon the main company and damage it's share price, also redundancies will be managed this way.
    I have posted previously about the need for the unions to hire good accountants - this is highly specialised work - because they could unpick this and provide the evidence we so desperately need.

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    1. Could not agree more, this is how to make the whole bloody TR edifice crumble, challenge with facts and figures not feelings and hunches....C'mon UNIONS get the accountants on this NOW

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  2. Hello can some explain point 4 please.

    The companies are not allowed due diligence

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    1. Wikipedia:-

      "Due diligence" is an investigation of a business or person prior to signing a contract, or an act with a certain standard of care.

      It can be a legal obligation, but the term will more commonly apply to voluntary investigations. A common example of due diligence in various industries is the process through which a potential acquirer evaluates a target company or its assets for an acquisition. The theory behind due diligence holds that performing this type of investigation contributes significantly to informed decision making by enhancing the amount and quality of information available to decision makers and by ensuring that this information is systematically used to deliberate in a reflexive manner on the decision at hand and all its costs, benefits, and risks.

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    2. in the context of the outsourcing of probation it is a legal obligation and likely where the writs will be issued in the future....the government has a duty to be honest or how can the business risks be assessed? Funny how risk keeps coming up risk to public, financial risks, reputational risk and on and on.....

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  3. I agree - super blog and well done to Private Eye - it seems to me the evidence of this business model being all wrong - is all around. I fear for my friends and colleagues in CRC's are it sounds like anything negotiated by NAPO previously, is not worth a lot, if they are able to bring in their own staff as and whe they like - although I may not have read that right, but I expect nothing from this Government (MoJ) and so I shouldn't feel disappointment anymore.

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  4. The issue of who employs staff is a crucial element to this saga.
    As has been noted a long time ago on this blog the state is effectively sacking staff by proxy - that is selling the going concern(!) yet funding the inevitable reduction in staff numbers.
    The Minister therefore keeps his hands clean "I have not sacked Probation staff" but maintain the mantra of smaller government , leading to less cost.
    There is also the "line of sight that" is frequently regarded as appropriate for ministers responsible for public protection - in the case of CRC this responsibility line is broken and again the Minister can abdicate responsibility for any problems with the private CRC.
    So when the companies miss out on the due dilligence ( and remember also they will have only a matter of weeks to "mobilise" themselves to take over) they will have a long time (7 years) to reflect on their folly
    "Act in haste - repent at leisure".

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  5. Great Blog topic Jim, I think you are hitting a rich seem with this approach -

    I note on #Twitter that the number of bidders is only 19 ! whereas those bidders are making 80+bids = 4 per area average.
    Sorry to be anal on this but the bidders have reduced by 30% since the 30 or so "best in class" were announced in October!

    The matter of who is employing staff happens in the Work Programme(and many other areas) - it is a sub contracting arrangement whereby the prime will operate a process of sub contracting their work to other parties - including mutuals such as RISE in London.
    The prime will control the budget etc but is highly unlikely ever to have staff who see offenders - that job will remain with the sub contacted entities - though our anger is directed at the primes , it is the "subbies" who will be doing the donkey work.

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  6. There is a character in the Harry Potter books who didn't make the films called Professor Cuthbert Binns. He fell asleep teaching one day and died in his sleep. When he woke up, he was a ghost but, failing to realise that he had died, carried on teaching. Bit like this procurement process. It does look pitiful. In short, they are trading an established professional service for a hotch potch of amateurs and charlatans who are happy to pretend to rehabilitate - bit like the Prison Service, really. Targeting those most likely to respond is called cherry picking, the EXACT OPPOSITE of what is required to manage risk. If these pretenders get through, the service will be compromised into the efficient production of a useless product.

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  7. do we know who it is that are scrutinising the bids - are they independent of the government? I feel as though that this is a 'stable door / horse' situation ie MPs have agreed to scrap Probation but were not privy to how each bidder would manage risk - you would think it should have been the other way around. MPs should re-vote once they see who's won the bid and exactly how they are going to deliver services in order to keep the public safe.

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  8. NPS ACOs, in the main, I believe.

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  9. In other news - a person saying she is Tailgunner Parkinson's daughter has taken to Twitter - sounds as though his death was sad.

    https://twitter.com/aprivilegedfew

    I presume folks have picked up report in Independent and allegation by client of Essex Officer due to lack of IT between CRC & NPS?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/mark-leftly-probation-bidders-may-make-a-profit-but-theyll-never-be-popular-9713354.html

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    1. Very sad to hear of the death of Tailgunner - his daughter got in touch with me privately following this blog post in 2010:-

      http://probationmatters.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/probation-by-stealth.html

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    2. Thanks Andrew - I'd not seen that yet. Incendiary stuff.

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    3. Mark Leftly - Independent

      It’s time for Andy Parker, Debbie White, Mel Ewell, Adrian Ringrose and Richard Howson to do the right thing and withdraw from the race to, in effect, privatise 70 per cent of the probation service. The chief executives of Capita, Sodexo UK, Amey, Interserve and Carillion, respectively, will inherit utter messes if they are successful in bids to run any of the 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) that have been established under Chris Grayling, the obstinate Justice Secretary.

      The deals are worth at least £5bn over 10 years, but the risk to these companies’ balance sheets is tremendous. Staff morale is at an all-time low, case files are either missing due to chaotic IT systems or gathering dust in cupboards because of workforce shortages, offenders aren’t being properly supervised, and there is a growing risk to public safety.

      The crisis is too great to subdue quickly or, indeed, profitably, in most of the CRCs. These outsourcing groups will be criticised and almost certainly financially penalised if a shambles not of their own making worsens.

      Delete
  10. Thanks Andrew. I'm relatively new to probation and didn't know about Tailgunner Parkinson. Have had a read up on him now and whist doing so saw this written by someone who trained with him. Interesting read
    http://www.wisearchive.co.uk/projects/social-care/60/

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    1. Wow - what a fabulous piece of writing is that - worth a second read and great exposure.

      I suspect many latter day probation and social work folk will find it strange and perhaps even irrelevant - no mention of national standards, targets etc - just engaging with clients and working to stimulate them to evaluate what is truly worthwhile and whether crime helps them achieve what makes life worth living.

      I found this about Tailgunner but have yet to read it: -

      http://www.suttonelms.org.uk/GP.HTML

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  11. When I started training in 1979 Tailgunner Parkinson was recommended to me by my Chief Probation Officer-there was a stack of back issues of New Society in the office and I read him avidly. What a legend. Ironic he was pilloried for suggesting that creative approached to rehabilitation should be explored in a way that might work, when of course we now have the same idea put forward but without the words "in a way that might work" being included in the brief...

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  12. why cant I ever open links on this blog ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you need to be a bit more specific than that....

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    2. OK I see what you mean. The blog does not support links. You have to copy the text and paste it into the address bar of your browser.

      Delete
    3. Links in the blog should open. 'Links' in the comments aren't really links at all, just addresses. Copy and paste them into your browser

      Delete
    4. For PC/laptop users: Highlight the link using your left hand mouse button. Then right click the highlight.Should then get a menu including an option Go To (the link). Works for me.

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  13. One very happy CRC CEO believes all is going well in Hampshire - do you have any different information?

    https://twitter.com/Mary_hiowcrc/status/507930105063411712

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  14. Jim
    regarding the case of Angela Suggett, I can confirm other cases exist where very ill staff have asked for their figures and are still waiting. Given cancer automatically comes under the Equality Act she should immediately pursue a case for disability discrimination - she will win. Union or solicitor will help but disability charities also have legal advisors...

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    Replies
    1. Maybe a no win no fee option, if all else fails.

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  15. LibDems have produced a policy paper on criminal justice - the bit about prisons and probation is unrealistic nonsense that is undeliverable and reinforces privatisation but wants to split rehabilitation and other prison functions in the gaols.

    Lets hope they do not hold balance of power after general election

    http://t.co/lXVlCLtMkI

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  16. If the U12 month go get tagged en masse, how long before they suddenly ALL say they are NFA on release? Not bloody long I tell you. If there is one things I have learned over the years is that our bunch are a lot more savvy than they let on.

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    1. Tracking offenders' movements via GPS is all very well (except when GPS doesn't work like in, oooh, big shopping centres with lots of shops selling lots of goods that might get stolen) except as well as the expensive software to run it, you also need humans to look at and interpret the results. Computers can't do this - the systems at the moment can barely cope with someone having a bath. And where's the incentive to comply when everyone gets tagged as a matter of course on release? At the moment at least you either get to stay out of prison on bail or as a curfew requirement, or get out earlier on HDC. If everyone gets it then it's all stick and no carrot.

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    2. It's all dumb. Poorly conceived, based on flawed logic and social stereotyping. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

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    3. Well that's not going to happen as all those being released are to be met at the gates by old lags and took to their new homes. FFS did you not think Grayling has this all taken care of or do you take him for some sort of thick fecker?

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  17. What's that about Angela Suggett please. She was a colleague and friend if it's the same one?

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    1. Sad news indeed from The Independent: -

      " Here is another quite awful example. Angela Suggett, a 64-year-old probation officer in West Yorkshire, was diagnosed with cancer and given six months to live in May. She asked for ill-health retirement on 2 June, just as the split occurred, and could have reasonably expected a lump sum to be agreed within two to three weeks.

      A Ministry of Justice spokesman says that “all applications are dealt with promptly and sensitively”. But Mrs Suggett still hasn’t received her money as the whole system has been thrown into confusion. She accuses the MoJ of “frittering away” her life, and is furious that “absolutely no sympathy whatsoever” has been shown towards her when she needs the money for life-extending treatment. "

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/mark-leftly-probation-bidders-may-make-a-profit-but-theyll-never-be-popular-9713354.html

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