Ministerial Web Chat with Probation Staff on Monday 23 June: Responses to Questions not Answered on the day1. Case Transfer
Is the Secretary of State aware of any fundamental risks of continuity in the transfer process concerning offenders who have had a change of officer from CRC to NPS or vice versa? Does he believe that what he has created in spite of his vision of transforming rehabilitation is in actual fact an additional layer of bureaucracy? Should he not be concerned that this artificial barrier between two organisations prevent the fluid management of the risk of serious harm presented by such offenders?
What was the logic of splitting Offender Management? This appears to have created increased levels of bureaucracy and cost.
Why if you are reducing bureaucracy have you added three processes to the PSR writing and several new referral forms between CRC and NPS? It seems to me that bureaucracy is on the increase.
The CRC contracts, and the new operational processes, have been designed to ensure staff in the new organisations do indeed work very closely together to manage offenders safely in the community. I assume that in the first question you are referring to the risk escalation process. We sought to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy in the design of the escalation process, which underwent testing with Probation Trusts. There are many excellent examples of staff working closely across organisational boundaries to manage the risk posed by offenders, including through MAPPA.
Your methods are untested, unsupported and unsafe. What are you intent on rushing the changes through?
What and where is the evidence to suggest that this 'system' will work?
Can I go back to PBR - What evidence is there to suggest PBR works and where can I find this?
Come on! Mr Grayling - this is a mess and its hurting dedicated staff and impeding their ability to work with a highly difficult group of society which needs continuity of provision and support - TR is not going to achieve this! Imposing additional supervision on S/T custodial instead of just giving a CO to begin with merely increases punitive sentencing, custody population and undermines community links! Save cost by less S/T prison and invest in more better resourced community sentences - still 10th of the cost of prison!
Reoffending rates are too high, particularly amongst short sentenced offenders who are not formally managed by probation. In the current financial climate, there is no way we could have extended supervision on licence to those offenders without substantial changes to the way in which probation services are delivered. Given the high cost to victims, and to the wider economy, of this reoffending, it is important that we act quickly. However, I will not take risks with public safety. We are taking a staged approach to implementation which will enable us to ensure the system works. This is why we have first restructured the probation service, allowing the new operating processes to bed down in the public sector. At the end of the competition, new providers will take on CRCs which are already fully functioning, and in which staff will be carrying out the same functions on the day before contract signature and the day after. We have and will continue to learn valuable lessons from piloting and local testing. In particular, the pilot programme at HMP Peterborough continues to provide useful learning. Our pilot at HMP Doncaster has also explored how Payment by Results incentives can drive better reoffending outcomes for offenders leaving custody.
Is payment by results still one of the driving factors in the new CRC? If yes what would the payment model be?
How will private companies make money out of CRCs for their shareholders?
[In relation to PbR] How can the CRC/NPS be held responsible for an offence 24 months after someone's Licence/Community order ended?
Do you recognise that there has been a history of payment by results leading to companies working to hit the results in a superficial manner, including fraud? For instance, if required for those unemployed to find a job that lasts for nine weeks, thousands were found a job for nine weeks and a day only - thus triggering payment.
Payment by Results is very much part of our plans. The payment mechanism that we are introducing will reward providers who are ultimately successful in helping offenders turn away from crime. However, we also recognise that many offenders require significant and sustained rehabilitation support. Our payment mechanism therefore also incentivises providers to work with repeat offenders to try to reduce the frequency of their offending, recognising that this is a step on the path towards complete desistance.
Why is it considered good business to remunerate one sector (CRC) yet not the other (NPS), dependent on results. Surely the aim of both is to reduce reoffending.
What's your biggest fear about the probation changes?
Will you be taking responsibility for the damage you have done to probation and the prisons once you have moved on from the department?
Do you really think this is going to work? Why did you not ask staff that do this job everyday and know what they are doing? I have been in my job for over 6 years and thoroughly enjoyed it now I don’t know where I stand.
Why change something that was working fine and didn’t need to be changed? Now it’s all falling apart.
6. Deskilling CRCs
How do you feel about the fact that many qualified Probation Officers assigned to CRCs are actively seeking to leave/retrain in other careers due to the blatant de skilling involved in TR Agenda changes? What impact do you think this may have on public safety?
To what extent would you agree that PO grades allocated to CRC have essentially been demoted as no longer hold high risk work, write PSR, parole reports, etc & now do role of a PSO?
Why are the Government advertising for trainee PO's where lots of fully trained & experienced POs are now in CRC unable to use their skills.
What is your opinion on the loss of skills, knowledge and expertise from the support functions? NOMS/CRC's could be about to lose the future leaders and innovators who could have made Probation Trusts more efficient if the "old guard" had been removed earlier.
I have had three lifers taken off me and my PSR/Parole report writing responsibilities removed by being transferred to CRC - you have effectively halved the staff doing these roles and de-professionalised me as a Probation Officer (DipSW) and 15 years time served... this is a total debacle!
Is there really a role for a qualified probation officer in the CRC? Since the changes, I am doing the role of a PSO, I can only see this ending one way. i.e. we will be paid less or "let go". Given there was no fair selection process, is this not a breach of employment law?
In my office staff are highly stressed and have been for over a year because of the TR agenda. People are leaving constantly and are not being replaced, as the staff just aren't out there. How can the new structure work without qualified, experienced staff to undertake the work?
Does the freedom and discretion granted to CRC by the TOM extend to not employing probation officer grades?
When does the Minister envisage both organisations being fully staffed on a permanent basis?
CRCs and NPS divisions are currently developing their workforce plans, building on the staff structures inherited from Probation Trusts. Once these are completed, they will be reviewed centrally and will inform the current round of recruitment for trainee probation officers. In the meantime, CRCs and NPS Deputy Directors are continuing to monitor and manage staffing in their areas and all vacancies are being managed as part of business as usual processes.