Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Crunch Time

Napo's NEC meets later today and before they decide to possibly let the General Secretary off the hook and rubber stamp the suggestion not to proceed with a legal challenge, they might like to ponder the following recent Facebook conversations:-
There are plenty of people offering Napo HQ free legal advice. There are entire legal firms willing to go to bat for us but it's a chunk of work and it takes bravery to engage in a legal fight. Napo has the tacit support of Labour's Shadow Justice Team. Much has been made of two resolutions passed at the TUC Conference to support us. What we need is to follow through with confidence and resolve and stop all the excuses and procrastinating. 
Napo members tell me that the time of thinking about action has passed and we need to act and if nothing happens quickly then we need to be asking why hasn't something been done and not be fobbed off. Share sale may well be happening in October and if the contracts are worded the way Grayling wants them to be then even another government will not be able to reverse privatisation easily. Better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all. 
If all fails and the union is bankrupt do you really think the labour movement will turn their backs on Napo? Our campaign is a drop in the ocean resource wise as far as some of the bigger unions are concerned and the worst fate we might face is an amalgamation that may actually make us stronger. Frankly all resources should be targeted at the legal challenge right now and everything else should be considered an unwelcome distraction from the main task. 
Just a little way down the road lurk further budget cuts, increased workloads, redundancies, deprofessionalisation, lower wages and worse. The most experienced and ironically the most ambitious are at greatest risk of job loss. If you are cheap and will do anything you are asked to do without question you might be in luck. If like me you can't stomach the destruction of your profession, then things look grim and grimmer.
With regards to the emergency motion, if we mandated Chivalry Road last year to pursue JR then can't we hold them to account this year with an emergency motion, when it becomes clear at conference that this has not been progressed?
If it meets the criteria and is accepted, but look carefully at the wording of the original motion. They may well have pursued it and were told by lawyers that the particular matter was not strong enough to pursue further. The problem is probably that Labours legislation was so sloppily written that even if it was intended as a kind of failsafe (for the Secretary of State to take any action necessary) in the event of Trusts failing, it has allowed Grayling the authority to proceed. 
Unfortunately legislation reflected the overconfidence of the administration who probably thought it was a handy option for them to have, not ever considering it could be used in another way by a Justice Secretary intent on pursuing their own ideological agenda. A JR on the basis the Justice Secretary was acting illegally may not proceed, so it has probably now got to be on another basis. The MoJ is acting cautiously and being less than transparent in order to protect itself against legal challenge. It was expecting more challenges earlier, but that opportunity is now passed. 
Plenty of motions are passed at AGM including one popular one last year that I personally thought was a bit unrealistic, to overthrow the government. Not all motions that might have been more useful and realistic were heard as we ran out of time. I was literally waiting to go on when they called time.
I thought the new JR was being pursued on the basis that there is wording in the outsourcing legislation which mentions social impact which TR clearly ticks a huge box for. I agree sometimes some of the motions can be a little grandiose but that's democracy I suppose, each motion has as much right as any other to be heard.
Yes this is an extremely slim chance under the Social Value Act legislation that I and others brought to Napo HQs attention approximately 6 months ago after exploring it with our own legal and academic contacts after reading the following article 12 months ago.
Another contributor added this:- 
An Emergency Motion can be sent in by any 2 Napo members or a branch. It has to be submitted in writing to either Ian Lawrence or Chair of Steering Committee (staff at Chivalry Rd could confirm who that is) and has to meet following criteria: it must relate to urgent matters which (1) have arisen since closing date for motions (2) which cannot be dealt with in any other way (3) which are of such gravity as to justify rearrangement of business. Steering Committee then check if motion meets that criteria and if they think it does it goes on AGM agenda. If they don't think it meets the criteria the proposer of motion has 2 minutes to challenge the ruling and then members of AGM vote whether to accept Steering Committee ruling or not. In order to deal with point 1 (that its an issue that's arisen since closing date for ordinary motions) linking emergency motion to recent success of legal profession might work.
Finally, this from yesterday's blog:-
I think members might already feel stranded and bereft and not appreciate they could influence how Napo operates. It may well feel increasingly irrelevant in the face of surviving pressures at work. For those who still want to battle on, given the existing structure, members need to exert their muscle either via AGM (though the range of motions not inspiring this year) or via their NEC rep. 
If a local Branch submits a motion to NEC (I've forgotten the 3 categories but at least one leads to debate at NEC) and argues it well, more support from other areas could be garnered than might be imagined. Some pre-NEC liaison between areas helps build support too. Nothing ventured nothing gained, but need well chosen motion and good proposer/seconder. 
If we really are in conversations with Prospect etc this might be too late of course. I'm no constitution buff but I think more than 1 branch could debate the same motion to submit to NEC then you'd get a stronger indication of support from the off. Depending on news from this weeks NEC, posters here could join forces to compose a motion that they all took to their branches to get agreed to take to Nov NEC? Obviously this pre-supposes there would be a consensus as to motion!


  1. Can't sell it whilst subject to legal challange, so even an unsuccessful JR would extend share sale.
    I read yesterday that the prefered bidder for Shepton Mallet prison is considering withdrawing because the process is taking to long and becoming to complicated.
    I also think that the way the split was done, and Grayling misleading parliament about the process raises many issues that could be brought back to parliament.
    Grayling wouldn't have denied the split was done like a lottery if he wasn't concerned about something.

  2. From Hansard, 18 Dec 2012:

    "Mr Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con): One of the particular pleasures that I had as Minister with responsibility for probation was to attend the awarding by the British Quality Foundation of the gold medal to the probation service. I know that the Minister and his colleagues are preparing exciting proposals with great opportunities for the development of probation as a profession, but further measures will be needed to support that, which I hope he will consider alongside the proposals that he will announce in due course.

    18 Dec 2012 : Column 689

    Jeremy Wright: I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who knows of what he speaks. The important point is that we need to recognise the achievements and the contribution of probation officers, alongside making sure that we introduce new and good ideas into the process of rehabilitating offenders. I will consider carefully what he has said and we will look at what we can do along the lines that he suggests.

    Mr Elfyn Llwyd (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC): Will the Minister confirm that it is his Department’s intention to brief the press this afternoon at 4 o’clock on possible privatisation of the probation service, a day in advance of advising the House?

    Jeremy Wright: The right hon. Gentleman will have to wait and see exactly what we propose and exactly when we propose it, but what he has just described is not going to happen."

    1. Ooops, MoJ press release dated 18 Dec 2012:

      "The next step in the Rehabilitation Revolution will see Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today talking with business leaders, voluntary and community sector providers and the public sector Probation Service to discuss his plans.

      He will set out the important role he expects them to take, and how we will work together, in a radical package of reforms to be set out in a consultation in January.

      The reforms will include:

      greater use of competition to drive value and ensure taxpayers’ money is invested in services that work;
      a far greater role for the private and voluntary sector to draw out the best of all sectors, bringing innovation to rehabilitation;
      an essential role for the public sector so they bring their expertise and knowledge to managing our most serious and dangerous offenders and;
      an intention to legislate so short custodial sentences given by the courts will in future include a period of rehabilitation on release, addressing the gap in the criminal justice system where those serving under 12 months are released with no supervision or support.

      Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said:

      ‘Reoffending rates are too high with almost half of all prison-leavers reconvicted within a year.

      ‘We need to reform the system and change the way we rehabilitate offenders. And we must give the right people the right tools to do it.

      ‘Today’s discussions are an important step towards delivering wholesale reforms so we can help break the depressing cycle of crime that too many offenders are trapped in.

      ‘Our plans in the New Year will ensure all of those sentenced to prison or probation are properly punished and incentivised to turn away from crime.’"

    2. And in July 2011 thr Justice Committee reported:

      The committee believes that the Government's proposals for payment by results and wider competition in the provision of rehabilitative services are limited because they separate the commissioning of prison places from the commissioning of every other form of sentence provision.

      They also criticised the very large and incoherent areas used for the tendering of community payback contracts, which they say should not be a model for future commissioning.

      Rt. Hon Sir Alan Beith MP explained

      "It makes much more sense to develop a single integrated commissioning model which would, for example, focus on how many prison places, how many community sentence programmes and how many drug treatment places are required in a given area, and enable courts to give the sentence most likely to cut crime in the future. We do not want the Government to set in stone commissioning arrangements that prevent such an approach."

      Probation trusts
      The report also recommends that probation trusts are given greater freedoms -for example, over the buildings and IT systems they use - and calls on them to focus scarce resources on the frontline.

      Sir Alan Beith said:

      "Probation is an essential part of the criminal justice system and at its best the probation service delivers community sentences which are tough, challenging offenders to change their offending lifestyles

      The ability of probation professionals to undertake effective work directly with offenders has been hindered by a tick-box culture imposed by the National Offender Management Service which has focused predominantly on prisons and has micro-managed probation."

      Frontline staff
      MPs were concerned that frontline probation staff spend three-quarters of their time doing administrative tasks rather than meeting directly with offenders. The committee concluded that the creation of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), which effectively merged prison and probation services, has not led to an appreciable improvement in the ‘joined-up’ treatment of offenders; its handling of the community payback tendering exercise has not inspired confidence; and it has not proved itself proficient at running effective national contracts. The MPs are calling on the Government to commission an externally-led review of NOMS."

  3. looking at the comment yesterday claiming a mutual bidder was doing the rounds of offices to give presentations raises serious questions for those also in the running for the area. Should CLM Innovo win the bid I would be scrutinising the way they won against those that didn't. Don't forget this is the company who had to withdraw due to one of the partners dropping out due to financial concerns but who then suddenly were able to amend their bid and submit it after the closing date. You don't have to be a bloodhound to smell a potential rat.

  4. To anon 08.27 I understand the visits are connected to promoting interest in joining staff councils which would form part of the mutual structure-I'm in NPS not CRC so am relying on info from colleagues.Presumably whatever restrictions exist on contect between bidders and staff would allow for latitude here but trouble is who of us knows! We have no legal/business knowledge here though hopefullyBranch Chairs have been given guidance?

    1. Regarding staff councils, they will be a workaround the unions. In businesses with more than 50 employees there is a legal duty to consult, not automatic, but activated by either employer or employees. Of course, you don't need a staff council if there is already a union recognition agreement. I don't know whether to call them trojan horses of elephants in the room, but I see their purpose as negating trade unionism. They will recruit the school prefects of the workplace.

    2. The specific intention is to disarm the unions and "enfranchise" staff .... so they do fear the unions in big business 'cos they get in the way of reducing terms and conditions or put another way, "reducing fixed costs" ( staff salaries ). Sounds like the best argument there ever was to join one to me!!!

    3. Could someone enlighten me please, regarding the share split between these 'partnerships' please.
      Will each partner own 50% of total shares? Or are the larger company likely to own 51% or more?
      Is there anyway of finding out the figures?
      It seems quite obvious to me that if one partner has a higher share holding they'll dictate to (if not absorb) the smaller partner. Ethics is not a strong point of outsourcing.

  5. Innovo CLM, having lost their bidding partners Manchester College, formed a new bidding partnership with GEO.


    I'd advise anyone interested to have a look at this group on wikipedia- it's quite chilling and they're certainly a long way from Manchester College.

    1. The GEO Group UK Ltd and Innovo (CLM) CIC have today announced that they are to form a Joint Venture to bid for the Ministry of Justice's Transforming Rehabilitation competition in Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside.

      Phil Watkins, GEO UK's Managing Director said:

      "We are delighted to be announcing our relationship with Innovo today. Innovo is the third staff mutual organisation that GEO has partnered with in the MoJ's Transforming Rehabilitation, following Delta Rehabilitation (North Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire) and Mercia Community Action / Willowdene Farm (West Mercia and Warwickshire).

      We share joint values and a vision for transforming the lives of offenders, reducing re-offending and keeping the public safe. Together we have offered the Ministry of Justice an innovative and strong proposition."

      Innovo's Director, Geri Byrne-Thompson said:

      "The staff who make up Innovo have been managing offenders for many years, helping them to turn their lives around. We are excited by the opportunities this competition brings and are delighted to be working with GEO to build services which will serve the needs of offenders and the local communities of Cumbria, Lancashire and Merseyside"

  6. Off topic, but I wish NAPO would take some lessons from Franses Crook.


    1. A prison reform charity has accused the Government of misleading a council over plans for an £85 million secure college for young criminals in Leicestershire.

      The Howard League for Penal Reform has raised concerns about Ministry of Justice (MoJ) proposals to open the so-called “fortified school” - for 12 to 17 year-olds - next to the existing Glen Parva Young Offender Institution.

      The charity’s chief executive Frances Crook has written to planning officials at Blaby District Council who are currently considering an application for the project.

      She has urged the council to reject the 320-bed scheme and accused the Government of supplying “false and misleading” information to planners.

      She warned the council the charity would seek a launch a legal challenge to any decision to approve the project.

      The council granted permission in 2010 for a similar facility for young people aged 15 to 17 but Whitehall officials say they have modified that scheme to make it less like a prison and more like a school.

      However Mrs Crook said: “The Ministry of Justice claims its proposals will create a significantly different secure establishment to a prison for children yet there are only slight modifications to 2010 plans for a prison and a claim in the planning statement that “the scheme has since evolved towards an education centred custodial facility” offers no substantiating evidence.

      “One of the few modifications from the 2010 plans is to reduce the size of the proposed ‘learning and skills’ block.”

      Mrs Crook said the ministry’s business case for the new college rests on the 2010 plans but that there has been a reduction in the number of children in custody in the past four years from 2,136 to 1,122.

      She says there are just 71 detained children in the East Midlands and to fill the 320 beds children “from other regions will be incarcerated hundreds of miles from home.”

      She questions a claim made in the planning documents submitted to the council that similar centre elsewhere in the country have cut re-offending rates saying the Howard League is unaware of any such facilities.

      Mrs Crook added: “The intention to place a handful of girls and young children in a prison with hundreds of teenage boys creates serious, unprecedented, safeguarding risks.

      “Council members will be aware of the child abuse scandals that have become synonymous with Medomsley, Rotherham and Soham.

      “The reputational risk to Blaby will be global and the long term damage would be a blight on the area, including negatively impacting economic development and house prices.

      “We do not want to see this happen to Blaby and urge civil leaders to consider the potential consequences regarding this significant difference in the Ministry of Justice’s proposals.”

      Mrs Crook added: “The Howard League oppose the concept of secure colleges in their entirety.

      “There is no evidence to suggest they are anything other than large prisons, which pose risks to the welfare and well-being of hundreds of children incarcerated in them at any one time.”

      The Mercury put the charity’s concerns to the MoJ.

      It issued a statement from justice minister Andrew Selous in which he said: “The secure college will be a pioneering approach to tackling the stubbornly high re-offending rates in youth custody, moving away from the traditional environment of bars on windows and putting education and training at the forefront.

      “We expect to invest around £85 million into this project, which will help boost the local economy in Leicestershire, and provide valuable jobs and training for apprentices.”

      No date has been set for councillors to discuss the proposals.

      Should it be approved, the Government hopes the secure college could open in 2017.

  7. Staffs CRC website

    REQ0151 Probation Officers

    Posted: 12th August, 2014Closes:Vacancy Number:Salary:Location:Job Type:Staffordshire and West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company LtdVacancy REQ0151Job Title: PROBATION OFFICERSLocation: Various within Staffordshire & West MidlandsHours: Full and Part TimeSalary:  £29,038 – £36,084 pro rata per annum Staffordshire and West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company (SWM CRC) is looking for enthusiastic and committed qualified Probation Officers to join our forward thinking team of staff.In addition to a sound knowledge of the principles of effective practice, we are looking to appoint Probation Officers who are resourceful and innovative, who are able to respond flexibly to changing priorities, to work to tight deadlines and be committed to promoting our aims and values.Applicants must be able to demonstrate:Quality of eOASys completionExcellent risk assessment skillsAn understanding of multi-agency workingA commitment to race equality and diversity issuesA team player who is able to use their own initiative to work within and for a teamAbility to supervise PSO grade staffAn ability to demonstrate flexibility and creativity in their approach to workingPlease note that SWM CRC offers a relocation package.To apply, please complete the application form, quoting requisition number REQ0151.This post requires a Disclosure and Barring Service checkStaffordshire & West Midlands Community Rehabilitation Company is committed to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults

  8. It will be interesting to see whether the NEC do let Ian Lawrence off the hook regarding a legal challenge, but the question that I can't answer is why is he so reluctant? I have spoken to a legal expert in this field and, as I've said before, a 'protective costs order' could keep the costs down in this type of David and Goliath case. Yet, Dean Rogers continues to quote the cost as the problem. We know that the lawyers have just been successful with JR and we know that there was a JR under Judy McKnight over professional role boundaries, a much less serious issue than TR.

    Isn't it time that Napo published its financial forecasting from the officer groups in response to losing members over the TR period so that we can understand how it is prioritising its decision over costs? When Napo projected how much money it had to spend, did it miscalculate in-goings/outgoings and fail to anticipate how much losing members and mounting a campaign against TR would cost? Last year Napo exceeded its constitutional spending allowances and apart from £135,000 spent on Jonathan Ledger we still don't know what the legal cost actually was and what the lawyers received.

    At the moment, therefore, is Napo having to dip into its £2 million reserves (put aside for emergency campaigns) to fund staffing at Chivalry Road? If so, is TR not worth the emergency campaign money? As the first contributor of the day said, 'Can't sell it whilst subject to legal challange, so even an unsuccessful JR would extend share sale.' We need a JR and we are powerful members and we need to fight for this. What are Napo prioritising? We can all think of worthy forays into campaign territory, like lobbies in parliament which Ian Lawrence told me was 'very successful'. But how was it successful? Did it change anything? A legal challenge could delay TR and we are months away from an election. We need to delay this but we need to act now. My suggestion is that we concentrate all Napo's money into TR unless Ian Lawrence can prove that other matters are more important. Members should be asking Napo to abandon the standard AGM business in order to concentrate reserves, income and the current funding status to fight TR in order to ensure the survival of the Probation Service and Napo. If Napo's lawyers are reluctant to act, I know someone who will and we need some action before the award of the contracts. The NEC should be acting in our interests, but we will see what today's meeting brings. We cannot let Napo abandon its duty to its members because of financial miscalculation or Ian Lawrence’s reluctance.

    1. Splendidly put Joanna. Will these hacks commit to publishing for all to see any "legal advice" that says JR wont succeed? Then we can openly question it. And if not, why not? Something to hide?

  9. I suspect quickest way of getting info will be via NEC reps- we should be raising queries with them asap tomorrow.

  10. Or sooner? I would be surprised if there weren't any NEC reps reading this...

    1. Or Facebook!

      Many congratulations to Chas from all Napo Greater London Branch we are very pleased that you have been appointed National Vice Chair and look forward to some more passion and politics at the top table that we know you will bring.

  11. Well said Joanna! I think if we don't hear anything re today's NEC and JR then we should discuss somewhere about EM or something similar .
    I spoke to one of our NEC reps yesterday and he reckoned JR could cost £300 K . Also that even if we won would Moj do anything ? Woukd it stop share sale? He said that was 31st oct but I thought it wS delayed.
    Some one else has said napo are waiting for next testgate or whatever it is . So I'm just confused now and not sure what our next step is

  12. Frankel is a Racehorse. Except, his owners don't allow him to race any more as that would be too risky to their future earnings from 'off-track' activities. I think Napo members could be forgiven for believing that the horse they backed is not giving them a run for their money and that the preservation of future income from subs is dependent on them getting that run via JR. So come on Napo, pay the entrance fee and line up our runner. Either that, or admit you've closed the stable door and stop taking subs under false pretences.


  13. http://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2014/09/22/chris-grayling-has-been-taught-he-s-not-above-the-law

    Tippex out Legal Aid and replace with Transforming Rehabilitation and the application for the. Judicial Review is done!

    1. The cost of not going for JR would be a tad more than £300 - even if that is a correct estimate. It would also raise publicity and awareness for our predicament. The future looks very grim indeed and I feel this is the beginning of the end of qualified public probation work. Other public services will follow the same fate - probation is just the 'softest' target to commence with.

    2. 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