Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cycle of Change

Another blog post that the MoJ and potential bidders might find helpful:- 

A good while ago I either read or heard that MoJ suits were bemused that probation staff were taking so long to move to the "acceptance" stage in the change process. And those same suits will interpret low turn outs to lobbies, disgruntlement with Unions, and things going "a bit quiet" as the start of a belated acceptance phase. 

Of course, in our own bubble of communicating activists, it is possible that it is us that is stuck in a state of denial, and probation staff are indeed starting to "accept" and will soon be "moving on" and looking for "opportunity" in the new regime.

If that is the case then we "deniers" are a minority bunch of rigid-thinking saddoes who are just making life difficult and more painful for ourselves everyone else, and hampering the sterling and skillful efforts of our realistic, ethical progressive and supportive leadership to forge the best possible path through challenging times for the staff and the service. No I cant keep this up.

The good old 'cycle of change' You can lead a horse to water.....

In considering the cycle of change and the goal of acceptance, there are some key variables such as legitimacy and justice. If the actual changes you are being required to adapt to are seen as illegitimate and unjust, then it's these elements that are being denied, not change per se. I think of the Hillsborough families and those who fight miscarriages of justice.

There is nothing pathological about not 'moving on' when it entails the abandonment of what one values. In fact, moving on and accepting injustice is not going to lead to healthy acceptance, because injustice gnaws away in the psyche. The healthy response is to fight those forces that are denying you the option to move on; campaign against them and expose their failings and pathologies. It would be better if there were more signs of active opposition to TR, but a determined minority can be a constant thorn in the side and a sower of doubts in the wacky and weird world of TR. 

There is a PR effort to make TR acceptable. The flurry of in-house magazines and pollyannaish tweeting is propaganda. There will always be those who go in for collaboration horizontale to promote, not a coherent, legitimate, evidence- based cycle of change, but, on the contrary, a cycle of misinformation and bullying indoctrination.

So, where are we guys?


  1. Just published by the law society- not strictly on topic- but seems sort of relevent.


  2. I will tell you where I am - in a state of total f***ing fury and renewed determination that this WILL NOT SUCCEED. As for denial, how about we trade "minimisation" and "justification" right back at these B******s !

  3. Does anyone know at what point you can apply to get your job evaluated? I am NPS and mine has changed beyond recognition.

    1. we are still working to our job descriptions - all that's happened for now is the 'split'. Obviously management can ask you to do tasks commensurate with your grade but they should be not so different from current. I have heard that PSOs in NPS with so little to do that they are doing all Victim work with the high-risk and also filling in referral forms. Totally different from carrying a caseload - anything too different should be run past local NAPO reps.

  4. I've been angry for the last 20 years I'm livid now. Jim I think this is an excellent argument to put to the many deniers, its both moral and just. Let's see how management wriggle out of this; I'm old enough to walk away but my anger and sense of justice will keep me here till I drop.

    As I said on the last thread the Scottish awakening will spread, the mask of neoliberalism, a vile ideology, is slipping. The elite in Westminster is full of corrupt fools who are marching as we type to save The Union. Little do they know that there is more than 300 hundred years of history at stake,modern democracy may actually become democratic. The legitimacy of the whole political class is being questioned. I pray to god that the the democratic deficit and the clear injustice of today's society spreads and that people across the land awake. Probation is but one element of society that has been crushed by the vile sophistry of the political and managerialist class, that's why the peasants are revolting, at last.


  5. Probation Officer9 September 2014 at 19:21

    I'm somewhere between blaming and fatigue, and increasingly moving backwards towards denial. This is becoming a pattern I'm observing in many staff of late.

    Another model that could be applied, but to the NPS or CRC teams generally is the teamwork model - forming, storming, norming, performing. TR is so flawed and the fall-out so vast that we'll never pass the first stage even if we wanted to!

    It's a pity there's no probation officers of worth attached to the MoJ (they only second/promote 'yes men') to sit down with C Grayling and work him through the cycle of change (Prochaska and DiClemente), and help him out of his denial and pre-contemplation that TR could ever work.

    Even better, I'm sure we have a few CMHT colleagues that would gladly section him for his madness - yes wishful thinking!!

  6. Link to PAC transcript


  7. As predicted, there are some tasty morsels within the text:

    Peter Neden: I am sorry; my understanding is that we have not been operating under a ban.

    Q31 Chair: What? No ban?

    Joshua Reddaway: There has not been a ban on either Serco or G4S being awarded new contracts or contract extensions.

    Chair: I thought the public understanding was that there was a ban. Did you think there was?

    Q32 Austin Mitchell: Contracts must have been negotiated in the period when you were in purdah for having cheated. Contracts must still have been negotiated for the new business that you took on as soon as you had been humble, got on your knees and paid up.

    Peter Neden: Sorry, I didn’t catch the question.

    Austin Mitchell: You must have been in the process of negotiating new contracts for new services in the period when you were in purdah after being naughty. Those contracts must have been negotiated in that period because they went so quickly after you paid up. They must have been concluded pretty well before.

    Peter Neden: We were continuing to submit bids. That is correct.

    Chair: You had been submitting bids. Chris Grayling made a statement to the House. What did he actually say?

    Nick Smith: It was more ambiguous than that, and now it’s all starting to come out. It wasn’t really a ban.

    Q33 Chair: What did it say? Can you find it?

    Joshua Reddaway: The situation, as we understand it, is that a control was put in place across Government that all contracts that were to be extended or awarded to either Serco or G4S had to go through the Cabinet Office and the Minister for the Cabinet Office. There was no formal ban.

    Q37 Chair: I am quite shocked. I do not doubt that you are telling me the truth. I am finding it rather difficult to find the statement that Mr Grayling made to the House, but he did leave me with the impression that there was going to be a pause until such time as there was—I am quite shocked by that. I shall ask this question to the Ministries, but it seems to me that you have been found to have fraudulently claimed and that you are under SFO inquiry on two contracts. It is pretty extraordinary that they carried on negotiating with you on other areas, isn’t it? Doesn’t that strike you as being a bit odd?

    Peter Neden: These are long-term bidding processes, and we continued to bid on some contracts.

    Q38 Chair: It doesn’t matter how long term they are. You have been found to be fraudulently claiming, you have an SFO inquiry and somebody is carrying on doing business with you when this is all hanging over you. It strikes me as being utterly extraordinary.

  8. Grayling in July 2013

    "“With regard to wider government contracting, my Rt Hon Friend the Minister for the Cabinet Office is today announcing a review of all contracts held by both G4S and Serco across government. In addition, this review will determine how Government will better manage similar contracts in the future."

  9. http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/11460238._Risk_of_a_riot__at_Lewes_Prison/#comments

  10. The Telegraph in Nov 2013

    "The scandal, now the subject of a Serious Fraud Office inquiry, has seen Serco and G4S banned from all central Government work until the completion of the various inquiries."

  11. The Guardian March 2014

    "The Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling has released a Written Ministerial Statement announcing that security firm G4S has agreed to reimburse the Ministry £108.9m plus VAT for overpayments as part of the contract to provide electronic tagging to offenders. However, the ban on it being awarded public contracts has still not been lifted, as the Cabinet Office is reported as still being in discussion with G4S regarding its corporate renewal programme."

  12. Reuters Apr 2014

    "Reuters) - Security group G4S will again be considered for government contracts after ministers said on Wednesday they were satisfied with the firm's efforts to overhaul itself following a series of damaging failures.

    After a similar overhaul, Serco was given the green light to win new government work in January."

  13. Andy Slaughter MP, from Hansard in March 2014

    "When the claims emerged against Serco last year, it agreed to co-operate fully with a forensic audit and said that it did not believe that anything dishonest had taken place. Notwithstanding that, the Government quite properly referred the tagging contract to the Serious Fraud Office and a criminal investigation was launched. It is also right that Serco and G4S have been prevented from signing any new contracts for the time being. I wonder, however, whether the Minister agrees with these comments:

    “Whether it’s IT contracts, infrastructure construction or military munitions, we can all think of far too many examples of missed deadlines and overrun budgets. The firms responsible must take the brunt of the blame the first time it happens—but if they keep winning more contracts even after such failures, then it’s those running the commissioning process who are at fault. The remarkable thing about the ban on G4S applying for contracts isn’t that they were banned across government—it’s that anyone should need telling that it is unwise to hire a company which has so grievously let you down before. That suggests we need a better standard of service from those tendering contracts out on our behalf. Sad to say, some of them seem far too comfortable with a simple life in which contracts are almost always handed to the same firms—sometimes to the extent that the relationship resembles a form of corporate welfare.”

    Those are the comments of the executive editor of ConservativeHome, whom I would not think is necessarily critical of the contracting-out process, but that shows where we have got to. Perhaps the comments of the shadow Justice Secretary are more familiar. He said that it showed the true scale of the wrongdoing:

    “It is a fraction of the amount of money the company gets in various multi-million pound contracts with the public sector. This, in addition to its poor performance on a number of other contracts, has led to huge damage to the public’s confidence in our criminal justice system. However, it is not for G4S to feel it can just wipe the slate clean. The Serious Fraud Office is still investigating, and G4S should be treated in just the same way as any member of the public would, with no special cosy deals between the Tory-led government and big business.” "

  14. But according to some, there NEVER was a ban.

    Perhaps Mrs Hodge could order a re-run of yesterday's hearing, this time armed with enough Hansard and other sources to sink a PFI aircraft carrier?

    Liars, cheats and total scumbags.

  15. Whats also important to take note of is this latest scandal, reported in some press, but in general its been keept very low key.


    Its important to take note of, because how many companies operating under different company banners, but owned by G4S/Serco, were given government contracts during the ugly sisters ban? The government would still be aware who the mother company was.
    Naughty, naughty, naughty!!!

  16. I am a mess. I was angry verging on bargaining with a view to opting out, and then I read these posts. Back to flippin angry it is. Raging

  17. Sorry but they are all bastards and do not give a f"""k. Its all about how much they can make, we do not count bottom line. It does not matter what these companies do they will still be awarded contracts as they all stand to make money. No amount of breaches and fraud is going to stop this lot, any wrong doing will be masked with more lies.

    1. Its a matter of perspective:

      Q18 Chair: Thank you for that. Now can I ask you, what has changed in the way that you run your businesses since we have had this corporate renewal? Who would like to start on that—shall we go to you first, Mr Neden?

      Peter Neden: Certainly. First, we did some investigations to understand what had gone wrong, and then we worked with our client to determine the extent of our overcharging. We wanted to put right, in a very practical way, the errors of the past.

      Q19 Chair: What had gone wrong?

      Peter Neden: What had gone wrong is that we had made judgments on a complex contract that were inappropriate.

      Q20 Chair: What does that mean? That is gobbledegook to me.

      Peter Neden: The contract was open to interpretation. We made judgments on the way in which to interpret that and those judgments were inappropriate. We made the wrong judgments and that led to us over-billing.

      Q21 Chair: It’s still a bit gobbledegook to me. What do you mean? Either you tagged somebody and you got paid for it or you didn’t tag them and you shouldn’t have got paid for it.

      Peter Neden: Indeed. The contract was worded in such a way that that was open to interpretation and we have made some mistakes there. Also, our oversight—

      Q22 Nick Smith: You just got it wrong, didn’t you?

      Peter Neden: I said that we made the wrong judgment and we got it wrong, for which we are sorry. We have sought to identify the amount of our overcharging and pay that money back.

  18. I liked this:

    "Sir Amyas Morse: I am sorry, Chair. Before we go too far, Mr Soames, if you do not mind, I think you should consider whether there is any other information about contracts that you want to give the Committee and follow up in writing, if I may just suggest that, please.

    Rupert Soames: About extensions that we were—

    Sir Amyas Morse: Or awards that you have had. Please, rather than trying to deal with that verbally, I think you should give it some further consideration. I am sorry.

    Rupert Soames: Can I also make a point, Madam Chairman? We may well have done horribly wrong, but to say that a company should be banned on the presumption of guilt because of a referral to the Serious Fraud Office and that it, broadly speaking, should have its livelihood taken away from it before we even know whether anyone will do anything is quite broad—

    Q79 Chair: Actually, I am a bit worried about this conversation. I gather that the Comptroller and Auditor General is telling me that there have been negotiations for other contracts—

    Sir Amyas Morse: I just think, Mr Soames, that you need to be quite sure that what you have said is full and complete.

    Chair: Tell us where it isn’t.

    Sir Amyas Morse: I suggest that after the hearing you go and have a look at your testimony and, if you need to correct it, you do so in writing at the earliest opportunity.

    Rupert Soames: In other words, I’ve made a mistake. I apologise—

    Sir Amyas Morse: I think you might have done, but I could be wrong. I just think that you should have a jolly good look at it—

    Chair: I just want to come back on something. No one is saying never, but you were both found to have overcharged. It is not as if someone came in and said that there may have been overcharging; you were found to have overcharged. These matters get referred to the SFO and the Metropolitan police and, in those circumstances, if you are not too big to fail it is just a bit of common sense to say, “Hang on, we won’t give these guys new contracts until such time as they have either been given the all-clear or action has been taken.” That is just plain common sense and it does concern me. That is not your problem—obviously, if they offer you business, you would be mad not to respond to that—but, from the Government’s point of view of protecting the interest of the taxpayer, if you were not too big to fail, that is what they should have done.

    Q80 Austin Mitchell: I want to ask a general question of both of you, because here we have a new species of capitalism. We might call it leech capitalism, because it leeches off the state—Mr Soames might like to call it socialist capitalism or public service capitalism—but it demands new regulation and new auditing procedures because the odds in the negotiations and contracts favour big organisations like you rather than the Departments that you are dealing with."

    1. 'Out of Comptrol' - Its cringeworthy; you can almost hear the buttons on Sir Amyas Morse's jacket scraping across the floor as he genuflects through the whole exchange, whilst showing Soames the escape route.

  19. PAC - the committee that never stops giving...

    " Q136 Nick Smith: It is just that Dame Ursula talked about the contract being long and having grown since it was first established. I am trying to work out where the connivance took place historically—was it in 2012, 2011, 2010? Can you give us some sort of picture?

    Ann Beasley: There was over-billing throughout the entire length of the contract, which began in 2005, I think. In each year there was some over-billing.

    Q137 Nick Smith: So it is £180 million since 2005, which is 10 years, so that is roughly £20 million a year.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: It didn’t fall like that, because the nature of the over-billing was partly to do with the way in which the type of people who were being tagged changed over time.

    Q138 Nick Smith: I understand that it’s complicated and that there were some new contracts along the way, but I am trying to understand a little more about it. At the moment, it seems like a big chunk of money—nearly 180 million quid. I am trying to understand when and for which contract this malpractice occurred.

    Ann Beasley: There was over-billing throughout the life of the contract.

    Q139 Nick Smith: Was any particular contract a problem? Was there a particular difficulty in a particular year? Or was it just that £20 million a year was leaking out of the system on this contract?

    Ann Beasley: As Ursula said, it wasn’t as smooth as that, but from the beginning of the contract there was over-billing in each of the years. Some changes were made to the contract in about 2009 that were designed to save money—they related to tagging people who were on bail—and that changed the nature of the over-billing. Nevertheless, there was over-billing in each of the years.

    Q140 Nick Smith: Did the over-billing reduce after 2009 or did it go up?

    Ann Beasley: It increased.

    Q141 Nick Smith: So we had a new system that was intended to bring costs down, but over-billing actually went up.

    Ann Beasley: Yes.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: And costs did come down. That is the irony: the cost of the contract came down, but underneath that, over-billing went up.

    Nick Smith: The cost came down but over-billing went up.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: We reached a settlement with the two companies by analysing the types of areas where over-billing occurred over that period. We reached a settlement on the sums of money concerned.

    Q142 Nick Smith: How confident are you that the £170 million you got back is the right amount?

    Dame Ursula Brennan: We are confident. Because it is estimating, some of it goes back a long way, but we are confident that the amount we got back is a good number. We had it analysed by PwC, which did its analysis of the numbers. We also got legal advice from counsel about what it was possible to claim. However, we are also in a position such that if the SFO uncovers further issues that we did not discover and should have taken into account, we have a reserved position. In other words, if more went wrong than we were able to identify, that number could be reopened."

  20. There's shedloads of material; Peter Kay will be performing til he's 112 yrs old and beyond if he gets his hands on this:

    "Q165 Mr Bacon: I am not interested in the philosophy; I am interested in the hardcore reality of the fact that for every year of the contract that Ms Beasley was talking about, systematic over-billing was going on, and that when there was reform to try to improve the situation, the amount of over-billing actually went up. That has nothing to do with philosophy.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: And the cost went down. It is a complicated story.

    Q166 Mr Bacon: I am really not interested in the philosophical heebie-jeebies; I just want to get to the root of this and understand at a practical level how it is that they can do it but apparently it is less easy to do it in-house.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: At a practical level, you are talking about two distinct things. One is about the ability to recruit and retain people and what you pay in order to get that expertise. The second is the advantage you get when you outsource a service, which is not simply that you get the same service back for a cheaper rate. When you outsource a service, it is usually because you want something done differently in a different kind of way by people with a different set of—

    Q167 Chair: Richard’s point is that you could do it differently in-house.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: And there are certain services where we do do it differently in-house. If you take the Prison Service, we currently have a regime in which we have some outsourced prisons and some where we are driving down cost internally. But to come back to the point about what we pay for people, there are occasions when you are operating in the public sector in a period of pay restraint which completely makes sense across the public service as a whole, but which gives you difficulties in certain specific areas. One of the things that we have done in recent times is to create in the centre—in the Cabinet Office—a new capability to lead policy on contract management, and I think you are going to be hearing from Bill Crothers and his colleagues about all that later in the week. One of the things they are doing is looking at how we can recruit some of these people who are expensive to recruit and retain, because, otherwise, we have to pay—

    Q168 Mr Bacon: My point is these private sector people are obviously recruiting and retaining these more expensive people, yet they are still able to do the job better for less.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: That is because they—[Interruption.] Well, one could have an interesting debate about—

    Mr Bacon: Please finish the sentence; that is what I want you to do.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: That is because they structure their organisation in a completely different way, so that their pay regime includes paying higher rates of pay for extremely scarce resource and lower rates of pay for people doing more basic jobs. The pay structure, the pension structure and the organisational structure of private sector companies and the public service are quite different, so simply saying, you know—

    Mr Bacon: I don’t know. If I knew, I would not be asking the questions.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: I think it would be an interesting debate about why we outsource."

  21. Dame Ursula's opening gambit ("i don't know nuffink") is magnificent:

    Q111 Chair: I am going to start with a question to Mr Sedwill and Dame Ursula. Has either of you, in your civil service career, been personally in charge of managing and executing a contract—implementing a contract?

    Dame Ursula Brennan: I was responsible, when I was in the DWP, for some IT contracts, yes.

    Q112 Chair: Which ones?

    Dame Ursula Brennan: Oh, gosh, it’s going back a long way. I cannot even remember the name of it. It was to do with data in the DWP, or the DSS as it would have been at the time. It was not a successful contract. It did not go well. I subsequently had strategic responsibility for contract issues in the DWP.

    Q113 Chair: No, I understand strategic, but I am just asking about running a contract.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: I was not the contract manager; I had a manager who managed the contract. We did not have the term SRO in those days, but if we had done, I was the person in IT who would have been the SRO at that time.

    Chair: Probably in the days when we were making lots of money out of you and PwC on IT and DSS, but anyway—go on.

    Dame Ursula Brennan: No, it was even before that."

  22. Soames got riled, but his class (i.e. ability to cope & wriggle free) shone through:

    "Soames: ... The second thing is that I think that there should be a new dispensation, a new way of thinking about how companies do business with the Government, which is that companies owe a duty of care to the taxpayer. I regard every pound that comes into Serco as partly my pound, because I’m a substantial taxpayer; it’s my money that is coming in to pay for this and I bloody well want to see that it’s properly looked after. We have duties of care to our colleagues in terms of health and safety and to our shareholders, and I don’t see why we should not regard ourselves as having a duty of care to the taxpayer, which means to say that you don’t make excessive profits and that you give good service. I frankly think that that is a more constructive approach than the “transparency and fairness” agenda, for the very simple reason that I think transparency and fairness only works if it’s two-way.

    Q68 Mr Bacon: Only works?

    Rupert Soames: If it is both ways. I certainly have my doubts as to whether the Government will be able to keep their side of the transparency and fairness agenda.

    Q69 Meg Hillier: We can put that to them.

    Rupert Soames: They are paid to look after the national interest, and the national interest may sometimes mean not being transparent and fair.

    Q70 Chair: They use our money. We are as hard on them as we are on you.

    Rupert Soames: The point being that transparency and fairness are great words. You need to get some definition behind them. Saying that we have a duty of care to taxpayers is something that I can go and sell inside my organisation. I can use that as a way to explain to people why they should not go and indulge in inappropriate acts, on the basis that they are all taxpayers."

    And that, allied to the happy accident of birthright, is why Soames was paid shitloads and headhunted for the job.

  23. bastards, bastards, bastards!!!................Bobbyjoe

  24. There are more smoking guns here than in the average NRA Thanksgiving Day turkey shoot. How can they be allowed to get away with it?

  25. 08/09/2014 Live Webchat after Channel 4's Cops and Robbers.
    Offender Management Webchat - Sgt Clive Steedman

    Comment From Scott
    My second question is regarding the management of offenders. Why are your officers playing the role of the NPS? Could you explain the difference between Police Offender Managers and Probation Offender Managers because I equally see that neither are actually providing any service in protecting the public nor making any success in rehabilitating offenders.

    Thank you for your comment Scott - the editorial rights of this programme were dictated by the producers, however, West Midlands Police firmly commit to a partnership approach to reducing risk from managed offenders. Some of those offenders have statutory requirement to work with probation (NPS) and some do not. West Midlands Police offender managers have to work with all offenders that present risk to our communities

    Comment From Brian
    I only got to watch the first 10 mins. Did probation officers appear at all? Could you do it without them?

    Hi Brian - Probation is a key partner in our Integrated Offender Management arrangements and is key to helping rehabilitation. Although this first episode doesn't capture this.

    Comment From Steve
    I thought that In your IOM scheme you work in equal partnership with the Probation Service! Why did no one mention their efforts alongside you!

    Steve - you are right it is a true partner approach, but the editorial rights remain with the production team and we have only just watched the programme this evening. During the programme there was footage with probation jointly managing Jason Stokes case.


    We have received a number of comments from partners (particularly probation colleagues) that the programme did not reflect the excellent joint work done to reduce re-offending. As a current offender manager, we would not be able to do our job without these partners, however this programme was commissioned to demonstrate the work of integrated offender management and so far, has focused on the work of Dudley offender managers.

    There will be another Cops and Robbers episode next week at the same time on Channel 4 - featuring other aspects of offender management and offenders.

  26. Pathological liar, and no-one believes him anymore.


  27. Here is all we need to know, thanks to whoever found this
    Dame Ursula Brennan "The pay structure, the pension structure and the organisational structure of private sector companies and the public service are quite different, so simply saying, you know—
    Mr Bacon: I don’t know. If I knew, I would not be asking the questions.
    Dame Ursula Brennan: I think it would be an interesting debate about why we outsource."

    1. NPS employing 100s of agency temps to assist with 'breach'. Is this the breaching of under 12 month sentencers who will (we presume) be tagged?? Nice work if you can get it, eh? I am still quietly enraged at this wide scale dishonesty and the resulting chaos and confusion. Probation is hanging by a thread.