Thursday, 11 September 2014

Latest From Napo 39

First this from Napo Greater London Branch:- 
We are pleased to have been invited to participate in this consultation exercise and chose to do so believing that it would be in the best interests of those members who are now working for the CRC and who will, in due course, possibly be working for another provider.To facilitate the consultation exercise the following questions were posed:
  • What does the CRC need to deliver to reduce reoffending?
  • What skills are needed to achieve this?
  • How should the CRC organise the skills it already has?
  • How could the CRC apply its existing skills most effectively?
  • How should we work with partners and stakeholders? 
Given that we are fundamentally opposed to the “splitting” of the service into two separate organisations, with one of them (the CRC) destined to be sold off to a private provider, it was difficult to answer these questions.
However here are our responses: 
CRC needs skilled probation-qualified staff and “good” management and supervision processes to reduce re-offending.
CRC needs to continue to demonstrate that front line CRC staff are able to use their risk assessment skills along with their reflective practice to contain and manage risk in the community. This includes a capacity to make professional assessments and use professional judgement.
CRC should continue to demonstrate how work with partnership agencies adds value to the work and assists in rehabilitation and resettlement, Access to community resources are a vital resource for practitioners to refer people to but, the initial skill of undertaking a risk assessment, compiling an accurate sentence plan and undertaking offending behaviour work are critical. By offending behaviour work and skills we mean challenging where appropriate, being able to build a trusting and honest relationship, motivational interviewing, pro-social modelling, CBT, solution focused therapy, building service users’ human capital.
CRC should continue to ensure that practitioners remain doing work which focuses on the quality of the interventions and that performance measures do not just measure process.
CRC staff should continue to show how current interventions work to reduce risk, rehabilitate offenders and even make amends via CS and RJ.   
CRC staff should continue to maintain a probation value set so that they can intervene to maximise engagement and compliance. They should continue to show that their interventions are constructive and measurable. They should continue to articulate and communicate to others the decisions that they make and demonstrate that they are defensible. When they have to recall or carry out risk escalation they need to be able to make balanced and evidenced based assessment. 
CRC staff should have access to high quality continuous ongoing professional development as they exercise power and make professional decisions.  
CRC staff should continue to have access to training to keep abreast with interventions and they should have the capacity to develop new interventions.  
CRC needs to have evaluation and research processes to evidence effective intervention. 
CRC should continue to work with partnerships to promote community resources and to promote reintegration and rehabilitation. 
CRC should continue to work with all Statutory Sector and Voluntary Sector organisations within the Criminal Justice to promote a joined up risk assessment so that we can most effectively reduce risk of reoffending protect the public and where possible make amends to those harmed. 
We believe that the CRC should seek to uphold the original ethos of the Probation Service in so far as it respects and values the personal relationships that need to be developed during the course of supervision to effect significant behavioural changes. To achieve this the CRC needs to be adequately staffed and resourced. We also believe that it is important to develop local partnerships and involvement with local communities. 
However, because of the cloud of commercial confidentiality that surrounds bidding and procurement processes, we have no way of knowing if such considerations will be taken into account when contracts are awarded. Any private contractor will need to satisfy its shareholders and we fear that commercial considerations will take precedence. 
We are also concerned that private contractors will want to introduce increasingly mechanistic and technological methods of surveillance and supervision to reduce costs. Such methods, particularly used in isolation, would be the antithesis of the values to which we believe the CRC should be subscribing. 
Pat Waterman Branch Chair On behalf of the Branch Executive of Greater London Branch NAPO
There's an old saying, 'get your retaliation in first'. I think it neatly applies to the three page letter all Napo members have recently been receiving from General Secretary Ian Lawrence. Somewhat cunningly, the text is not available on the Napo website, which makes life quite a bit more difficult in an age of 'cut and paste'. I could prove my credentials as someone having absolutely no social life and transcribe it all, but instead I'll just restrict myself to the bits where I think the General Secretary appears a tad defensive prior to the AGM next month.
What's Napo doing about TR?
Just as I predicted when I addressed last year's AGM in Llanadudno, the struggle against the privatisation of the Probation Service has been an unprecedented challenge for Napo. Despite this, we have maintained a major campaign against TR which has included two sets of industrial action, a political strategy that will have included two major lobbies of Parliament and the submission of vital evidence to the Public Accounts and Justice Committees. 
One of the most frustrating aspects for all of us at Chivalry Road is that all too often it's clear that not all of our members access the various communication strands that are available to them. For example Napo recently picked up two prestigious awards from the Trades Union Congress which suggests that the standard and content of our written publications stand comparison with those of our sister unions who have much more in the way of resources than we could ever dream of.
The work that your officers and staff put into mediums such as: Napo news, the Napo website, Branch circulars and our weekly Campaign Bulletins are designed to tell you what we are doing and when; so may I take this opportunity again to please urge you all to read the material that we issue which is easily accessible from the Napo website.
Napo and the media
Despite the seemingly endless daily stories of conflict and suffering from across the globe, Napo has managed to secure substantial publicity over the summer.
This is in addition to the fact that our coverage on TV and Radio over these last 12 months again stands comparison with any other union and this comes on top of the hundreds of probation stories (and many that have been relevant to FCS members) that have appeared in the regional media during this time. My appreciation goes out to Napo activists and our members who have helped to generate interest in the fact that TR constitutes a serious risk to public safety.
Napo negotiating for you
Despite the pressures of the the TR campaign, your elected officers and workplace representatives continue to work extremely hard on your behalf and their efforts have helped us to secure the staff transfer agreement and the resurrection of the National Negotiating Council.
Of course we acknowledge the devastating impact of the imposed staff split between the NPS and 21 CRCs but we did all we could (save for long term industrial action which your representatives have made clear is just not an option) to delay the division and negotiate the best protections that we could for our members under difficult circumstances.
Being accountable
I have worked for a number of trade unions and in terms of accountability to our members, Napo stands head and shoulders above the others. We are, and always will be a member led union, where you have the option of direct involvement in the decision making process through your local branch (or section in the case of our FCS members). 
This means that at any time you can attend a members meeting and hear directly from your employed officials and/or your elected officers about what we are doing in terms of campaigning, negotiating and managing the union and how we spend your subscriptions. 
We have an Annual Conference (AGM) that is without doubt the most interesting and diverse event of its kind within the trade union movement, where it is open to any Napo member to attend and help determine the policies and strategies that you want us to follow up in negotiations with our political and professional contacts.
My commitment and track record of accountability to members means that I will always try to attend a members meeting, provided that you try and give me enough notice! I have no problem explaining my part in our wider efforts on behalf of those who employ me.
I would like to get out to as many branches and workplaces as reasonably possible over the next year so please ask your Branch reps to contact Annoesjka Valent if you would like me to visit.         
Our campaign against the shambolic and unsafe TR agenda continues with as much vigour and determination as before. Just how hard Napo has worked has been acknowledged by many prominent people and below I have attached a message to Napo members from TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady.
Yours sincerely,


  1. We need Ian Lawrence to resign! He would if he had any sense of shame.

  2. We need Grayling to resign for lying to Parliament, for criminal damage to the Probation Service, for obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, the list goes on....

  3. I wonder how much the mail shot cost. Is this really a cost-effective communication?

  4. He needs prosecuting under Health & Safety laws - how 54 people have died on his watch so far this year is criminal. He is responsible for prisons, he is responsible for staffing etc. The buck stops at him.

  5. Oh dear, Ian. You've been hanging around too many CEOs, MoJ staff and/or Grayling. It reads like deluded poppycock.

    I don't want a shiny suit second-hand car salesman, or a Farage-esque purveyor of cherished motorised carriages; I want an honest-to-goodness union leader who has the members' interests at the core of his/her agenda.

    1. You've hit the nail on the head here I think. Well said.

  6. I always felt half day strikes did nothing except save the Treasury half a days pay. Did Reps really say long-term action was out of the question?. I find that staggering. This whole article reminds me of the Red Dwarf episode when Rimmer has his anger removed. It's so drippy and insipid. They say Arthur Scargill started with a small house and a big union but ended with a small union and a big house. Looks like we've got the same scenario developing here, except no one could argue that Scargill and the Miners went out with a whimper, like NAPO is.

  7. Am trusting/hoping that NAPO GLB' s contribution to the consultation exercise in their area was a lot more detailed/forensic than what is printed here and that this was just a summary. I feel as if we PO's are fighting to survive role intact in our respective CRC' s.

  8. 'we did all we could (save for long term industrial action which your representatives have made clear is just not an option)'

    With his empty posturing, his pathetic feeble sham of a campaign against TR - 'write to your mp' 'take a photo of yourself frowning' 'write to your mp again' - and his utter disregard and disdain for the views and feelings of our union's members Ian Lawrence is without a doubt one of the key architects of the miserable position we now find ourselves in. And now he wants to pretend that his failure to lead this union in taking meaningful action is our fault?! The bare faced LIE that it is we, rather then he that didn't have the stomach for real industrial action is disgusting. I'll be forever grateful for the invaluable support I've received from local NAPO reps over the years, but this is the end for me when it comes to the national union - fuck Ian Lawrence and fuck NAPO.

    Simon Garden

  9. Apologies if this has been previously highlighted (I don't recall seing it, but I haven't been here that long either). Extracts from a document (link below):

    "There is an evil character in the Spiderman Comics called "King Pin". He lives in Hell's Kitchen. In 1979, in order to keep tabs on Spiderman so that he always knew where the superhero was. King Pin fitted Spiderman with an electronic tag. In the same year a judge, rather splendidly named Judge Jack Love of Albuquerque, New Mexico reasoned, having seen this cartoon, why not develop a real thing like this? So instead of prisoners going into prison, they can be electronically tagged. He was the inventor of the electronic tag. But the idea came directly from a Spiderman comic.
    The modern inheritors to the King Pin tradition Serco and G4S, receive about £120 million per annum for the contract, or £1,500 for each person on a 120 day period of tagged detention. At present offenders can only be tagged for six months and for no more than 12 hours per day. Under the new scheme the length of the time on a tag would increase to 12 months and to 24 hours a day. This will also, therefore, sharply increase costs. Tagging is highly profitable, with only a third of those tagged being involved in a potential violation.
    A parliamentary answer on 14 May 2012 (Hansard 106513) showed that the total amount paid to the two companies, excluding payments made by the United Kingdoms Border Agency, for 2011/12 was £54.6 million to Serco and a further £62.3 million for G4S. The number of persons starting electronic tagging in any one year grew from 37,920 in 2002/3 to 115,870 in 2010/11 (parliamentary answer 14 May 2012 – Hansard 106511). The average number of days that each offender is electronically tagged for both schemes has averaged from between 65 and 68 for each of the last six years.
    Lord McNally, warned a Liberal Democrat conference fringe meeting of the danger of a "semi-monopoly" developing with the largest security companies, such as G4S and Serco, winning the majority of justice contracts."


    A document worth looking at. Interesting that after McNally's "warning" we now have one tagging company - Capita owned EMS.

    1. The document concludes:

      "If the tagging service in England and Wales was delivered in line with standard practice seen in the United States, the contracts would be considerably cheaper as the service charge element (covering costs of the private suppliers’ personnel) would be much smaller.The differential – or service premium – between the core service (hardware, software, network) price seen in the US (£1.22 per day) and the price paid per monitored day in England and Wales (£13.14) can be identified and in 2011–12 stood at almost £12 per day.
      This sum scales, across the 8.9 million days of monitoring in 2011–12, to £106 million. An alternative policy could have seen this service spend redirected to existing agencies so that the providers were only paid for the hardware, software and network access, with the supervision responsibility falling to offender management teams in the police and probation services. Such an approach would have seen up to £883million freed up in total to fund 2,000 probation officers or more than 1,200 police officers to work on offender management in each of the 13 years of the most recent electronic monitoring contracts."

    2. But how could this be when all civil servants now go on a "one day Masterclass" for contract supervision? Bloody corrupt fools in and out of the Westminster revolving door of corruption. The world is watching we are on to you.

  10. One of the things that I have never thought about before when looking at privatisation of services was the way the private sector is gifted all of the assets of the public sector company, which all of us taxpayers have paid here we are with probation being 'split' , with half of the caseload day on day arriving in the NPS here in London. But have the 'assets' been split? No. Staff figures are hard to come by, as lists of staff seem to be impossible to provide. Looking at the shiny frocks and suits at top I would say that rather more of senior management have been drafted over to the CRCs. But then look at the rest of the 'stuff'...the property contracts, the hardware ( crap as it is) the stationery, the photocopiers etc etc....all of that now seems to be in the control of the CRCs. We have no petty cash, poor box, bus tickets etc etc. So yes, all of these things need renewal, the staff need to be paid, but it is the infrastructure that costs so much money ...and then let's talk about training, devising processes...all of the core stuff is simply being given away , stripped out of the service so that an easy profit can be made. Shafted.

  11. If I was Ian Lawrence I would send out an emergency appeal to raise funds for JR. I would finance JR even if it ended up bankrupting the union because it will cease to exist once these changes have bedded in.

    1. 08:19 - you are absolutely right. Can we start an agrrement chain on this idea on your blog, Jim?

    2. A fighting fund has been suggested before - lets see if it gains any traction here. Of course with the AGM only a few weeks away, that would be the best time for a motion or at least raise the issue from the floor?

  12. economies of scale do not appear to apply to Serco/G4S ie you can run a double decker bus for the same overheads as a single one - each only needs one set of wheels; one engine etc therefore why does tagging not appear to work to this principle?