Friday, 19 September 2014

MoJ Answers 2

Part two of that bullshit from the MoJ.

7. Quality Assurance

Re Probation privatisation. Why would a private company ever prioritise public safety over profit? It is their sole reason for being.

How is it right that companies should profit from rehabilitating offenders?

Private companies do not have a social purpose, their legal priority isn't to put people first it is to make a profit for shareholders. How can the Government guarantee that the level of service currently given to service users doesn't fall, as there will be concerns that corners that will be cut to ensure profit is made and there will be an underinvestment in the provision of services offered.


As a hypothetical question, what happens if a CRC does not meet the targets? Under which criteria will the money not be paid? Will there be an equivalent of OFSTED?

Payment by results is about incentivising reductions in reoffending – that’s something that is in everyone’s interests.

We have a diverse market of bidders seeking to own and run CRCs, including mutuals run by probation staff and voluntary sector organisations, as well as private sector companies. To be successful in the competition, they will have to demonstrate that they have both robust procedures in place to identify, evaluate and manage the risks posed to the public by offenders and also sufficiently skilled and trained staff to undertake this role.

CRC contracts will set out detailed requirements in relation to offender management, including management of the risks posed by an offender, which CRCs must adhere to. Contracts have been designed to ensure that the MoJ contract managers can take robust action to deal with any risks to public safety, including the ability to step in, require action from CRCs and ultimately terminate contracts.

Furthermore there will continue to be an independent Inspectorate of Probation with the same statutory remit as now. The Inspectorate will be expected to inspect the system as a whole, covering both the public sector probation service and the contracted providers.


8. Quality Assurance

If re-offending is going to be payment by results in the CRC what do you envisage being more important to the company that wins the bid? Someone finishing their order well and to the best of their abilities? Or someone finishing their order, regardless of rehabilitation, to secure the payment?

In terms of interventions for offenders will the bidders be commissioned to focus on 'what works' and rehabilitation contributing towards changing people’s cognitive behaviours rather than reducing re-offending in the short term using more punishment led justice e.g. electronic monitoring which is often short lived in terms of reducing re-offending?


My top priority is to reduce reoffending. Our contracts are therefore designed so that to be paid in full CRCs have to focus on ensuring both that offenders complete the requirements of their orders and that they are successfully rehabilitated. CRCs will be contractually required to ensure that the full sentence of the court is delivered. We will measure CRC performance in this respect and can deduct from their overall payment if performance falls below our expectations. Separately, a proportion of the overall payment to CRCs is at risk under Payment by Results, and they will not receive full payment unless they improve reoffending rates for offenders in their cohort.

9. Domestic Violence

Can Ministers explain why Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (NSOG, iSOPT etc) are part of the NPS and Building Better Relationships (BBR) part of the CRC when BBR has much higher risk men on them? By arguing that the NPS will still supervise high risk cases, are we not saying that the NPS is more suited to managing high risk and putting NSOG in NPS following this logic? Thus, having BBR in the CRC means there is an implicit argument that BBR is less important in terms of Risk?

Any offenders who pose a high risk of serious harm to the public will be managed by the NPS.

CRCs will, in general, deliver accredited programmes in the new system, and the Government will continue to set standards for the delivery of accredited programmes. Offenders who have a requirement to attend BBR will be assessed as posing either a medium or a high risk of seriously harmful reoffending and therefore offenders supervised by both the CRC and the NPS will attend the programme. As you know, the programme is designed to be effective with offenders who pose varying levels of risk of serious harm. The exception we have made is Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTPs). As all offenders eligible for SOTPs will be supervised by the NPS, it makes sense that the provision of these programmes stays within the NPS.


10. Reasoning

Do ministers consider their ideological untested 'reforms' to be so important that rushing them through at great risk to the public, risk which probation staff are seeing on a daily basis, is justified?

Our reforms are based on the need to reduce reoffending and not on ideology. As in every part of Government, we are faced with the challenge of trying to do better for less. We could either have imposed further cuts on the structures we had inherited, risking increases in reoffending and leaving short sentence offenders without support after release or, as we are doing, reform the system so that it provides more effective rehabilitation and better value for the taxpayer. We are doing this in a way that is sustainable for the future and are committed to re-investing savings to support supervision for short sentence offenders. We are on track to award and mobilise contracts for offender rehabilitation services across England and Wales by 2015.

11.Timescales

Comments have recently been made by Prison's Minister to indicate that the 'top up supervision' for prisoners sentenced to under 24 months is unlikely to go ahead any time soon. Please could you clarify whether this will go ahead as planned when the Offender Rehabilitation Bill becomes an Act and if not, please could you explain the rationale for this u-turn?

We plan to bring into force the provisions in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 that extends post-release supervision to short-sentenced prisoners when the contracts take effect. At the same time we also plan to bring into force the new rehabilitation activity requirement and other changes the Act makes to community orders and suspended sentence orders.

12. Reasoning/costs

It seems the main argument for the privatisation of over half of the existing probation services is to supervise offenders who are sentenced to under 12 months custody, this is a separate bill. The probation service as was could have incorporated this practice if the government had allowed, therefore there should be no attachment of this particular issue to the privatisation of our staff.

Is it true that the Minister is planning to require public prisons to reduce their costs to the level of the private providers? If so, how does he expect all this 'pre-release rehabilitation' work to be achieved? When costs are sheared to the minimum, prisons will only have the resources to carry out their basic security tasks. If the 'big idea' was to assist prisoners who are currently leaving prison 'with £46 in their pockets', how does this conceivably sit with the plan to cut public prison expenditure by a third?

Why couldn't the probation service have been given the resources to supervise the under 12 months first before rolling out TR? The old saying if it isn't broke don’t fix it springs to mind? If Probation was given the amount of money spent on TR then we could have provided the government with the service it thinks it will get from private companies only with public protection as the key focus, not profit making.

Regarding the under 12 months group how do you see this group being supervised? Will any extra resources be given to engage this difficult group?

Was consideration given to introducing private service providers to the under 12 months service users, rather than trying to integrate it into the new CRC? Especially where no new financial resources are being made available to support this group of service users.

There was quality and excellence already!! Top performing Trusts ripped apart. It wasn't broken so why try and fix it! Probation Trusts were willing to work with the under 12 month offenders, but this was refused. This was the whole basis of TR in the first instance and now this isn't even being rolled out until the end of the year (if that is to be believed!)


There is much good work in the probation service. But re-offending rates remain too high, and our reforms are about bringing the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors to bear to address that problem, and to extend supervision to short sentence prisoners after release – of whom 57.8% reoffend within 12 months. The last government looked at whether we could provide supervision for the under 12 month group using the current system, but decided it could not be done within existing budgets. Every part of the Criminal Justice System is under pressure to deliver better services, at less cost. We could either have imposed further cuts on the structures we had inherited, risking increases in reoffending and leaving short sentence offenders without support after release or, as we are doing, reform the system so that it provides more effective rehabilitation and better value for the taxpayer. We can only do that if we bring in the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors to work with offenders in order to reduce their reoffending rates.

13. Reasoning 

Your plans and decisions are based upon flawed, and quite frankly irrelevant, statistics about 'reoffending'. Firstly, the Probation Service is proven and effective in the work that we do, so why obliterate it purely to make money, and secondly, do you actually understand the roles, responsibilities and work of a Probation Officer?

The purpose of the TR reforms is to extend rehabilitative support to more offenders and drive down reoffending. For adult offenders sentenced to prison for periods of less than 12 months (most of whom are not currently subject to statutory supervision from probation on release), 57.8% reoffend within 12 months. These reforms are certainly not an exercise in making money, rather they are about enabling us to deliver more support to more offenders within the budget we have, at a time of considerable pressure on public finances. I recognise the excellent work that probation staff do, and want to build on that and create even better opportunities for it in the new system. I have spoken to many probation staff over the past couple of years and heard a wide range of views on the reforms. I recognise how important it is that the new system is designed by those who understand the work of practitioners, which is why we have experienced probation staff seconded to work on the Transforming Rehabilitation programme, and we have ensured that the new operating processes were tested extensively with Probation Trusts.

14. Reasoning

If Probation are rated as excellent or as in the case of Northumbria "Outstanding" then why are we not being allowed to undertake the supervision of those with sentences of less than 12 months. Why give it to a French catering company who have no track record of working within criminal justice and their record to date, having seen the issues at HMP Northumberland, are poor to say the least.

How does the cost of TR compare to the cost of leaving rehabilitation in the hands of Probation and making small changes to improve results? The cost of setting this up with separate stationery, computers, payroll etc must be extreme.


We, like every other part of the system, are faced with the challenge of trying to do better for less. We could either have imposed further cuts on the structures we had inherited, risking increases in reoffending and leaving short sentence offenders without support after release or, as we are doing, reform the system so that it provides more effective rehabilitation at a better value to the taxpayer. We can only do that if we bring in the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors to work with offenders in order to reduce their reoffending rates. We currently have a healthy competition in all contract areas and all the bidders have experience in working with offenders or across the Criminal Justice System.

15. Piloting

Why hasn't there been a successful pilot of the privatisation of Probation before it is rolled out nationally?

We are currently piloting a number of different approaches to Payment by Results across Government and have gained valuable learning from these pilots. This gives us confidence that we can design and commission robust contracts that drive the right behaviours and generate value for money.

However, there are key elements of these reforms, such as extending the licence and supervision to offenders released from short custodial sentences and the introduction of resettlement prisons, for which it is not possible to gain evidence from pilots on a local basis. It would not be desirable to introduce a change to the sentencing framework of such a magnitude in one part of the country but not another. Similarly, changes to the prison structure to re-designate some as resettlement prisons need to be carried out at a national level or they could not be carried out at all.

I want us to take this opportunity to implement these important reforms across the system, so that we can extend supervision to short sentence prisoners and start to reduce reoffending rates without delay
 

13 comments:

  1. Grayling has had a successful judicial review against him today regarding leagal aid reforms.
    I think the reasons for its success are even more interesting.

    https://uk.news.yahoo.com/solicitors-win-legal-aid-challenge-134435032.html

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    1. Solicitors have won a High Court challenge over Government reform of the legal aid system.
      The London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association and the Criminal Law Solicitors' Association told Mr Justice Burnett that decisions made by Chris Grayling - the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor - would cause ''serious harm'' to the criminal legal aid system and the criminal justice system.
      They said the consultation process adopted by Mr Grayling was unfair.
      The judicial review claim, which was upheld in London today, concerned a decision taken in February relating to 525 Duty Provider Work contracts which involve contracts for advisory services in police stations and associated work.
      Adam Chapman, head of public law at Kingsley Napley, who led the challenge, said later: " We are delighted with today's result. This is a significant judgment given the impact that the proposed reforms would have on solicitors firms - and, even more importantly, on access to justice.
      "The judge found that the Ministry of Justice did not decide their reforms on the basis of the best possible information available. They chose not to consult on critical issues with those best placed to help them, criminal legal aid solicitors and the LCCSA and CLSA.
      "In essence that is the reason why the judicial review challenge succeeded and why the Lord Chancellor must now conduct a proper consultation before his criminal legal aid 'reform' programme can proceed.
      "In doing so he will have a legal duty 'conscientiously' to take into account the responses received. The LCCSA and CLSA will take an active part in that consultation and will be alert, with our help, to ensure that it is conducted fairly and lawfully."
      Quashing the decision on the number of DPW contracts available, the judge said that the solicitors' case was that, in the context of a long-running consultation exercise - the outcome of which would transform the criminal legal aid landscape - it was incumbent on the Lord Chancellor to consult on the assumptions underlying the financial modelling undertaken.
      They suggested that the reality was that many firms of solicitors would go out of business and deprive individuals of their current livelihoods.
      Mr Justice Burnett concluded: "Something clearly did go wrong. The failure was so unfair as to result in illegality."
      Lawyers for the Lord Chancellor had argued that the claimants and their individual members had every opportunity to place before the Ministry of Justice any material and comments they wished and, in the result, there was no procedural unfairness.
      A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: "This judicial review was not wholly successful - the claimants failed in their challenge to the fee cut. However, the judgment has raised some technical issues about the consultation process, which we are carefully considering.
      "We will continue to implement reform of the criminal legal aid system. We must ensure legal aid is sustainable for those who need it, for those who provide legal services as part of it and for the taxpayer, who ultimately pays for it. Even after reform we would still have a very generous system at around £1.5 billion a year."

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  2. I think that those of us in a union ought to be petitioning union leaders for a judicial review or similar. If grayling has acted unlawfully re legal aid, that could increase the likelihood of him action unlawfully re TR!

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    1. I'm not convinced the union will.

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    2. This was mooted yonks ago in the Trust I worked for. The chair was hopeful that the union(s) would do it as the Trust was legally hogtied, ie it couldn't use public money for legal redress. The unions obviously reasoned that half-day strikes were a much more powerful signal than actually doing something. I've got EVR, so it's too late for me now, even if they did get off of their useless backsides.

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  3. I have to agree.

    "The judge found that the Ministry of Justice did not decide their reforms on the basis of the best possible information available. They chose not to consult on critical issues with those best placed to help them, criminal legal aid solicitors and the LCCSA and CLSA.

    Didn't Grayling reject any information or advice given to him, and pushed through his own personal agenda, even failing to consult on very serious issues contained within his own risk register?

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    1. London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association president Nicola Hill said: "This is a great day for justice."It shows that no-one, not even… Mr Grayling is above the rule of law."She said the reforms were being "sold in the name of austerity" and were being "railroaded through by a justice secretary determined to push through an ideology".She added: "The cuts have been nothing short of an assault on justice - compromising fair representation for people accused of a crime in police stations and courts."

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  4. exactly .. Word for word the same thing can be said.. I've tweeted my union

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  5. The solicitors have taken over a year to get to this point, highlights that it is not an overnight process.

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  6. They also tweeted a few weeks ago apologising for the little info that they had disclosed during the process, stating that they could not publicise much without predjudicing the case.

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  7. I would have more respect for whoever constructed these "responses" if they simply posted a big picture of a V-sign after every question. At least that would be honest.

    Cutting and pasting "We could either have imposed further cuts on the structures we had inherited, risking increases in reoffending and leaving short sentence offenders without support after release or, as we are doing, reform the system so that it provides more effective rehabilitation at a better value to the taxpayer." must have been extremely boring - I know it was tedious reading it over and over again.

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  8. The probation service is now a third class provider of public services. It has been brought to its knees by Grayling. Things will never be the same. We need more than just a change of Government. We need a manifesto pledge that the changes made by the previous Labour Government and pushed through laden with gravy will be reversed by an incoming Labour Government. Previously both of them have been two cheeks of the same arse.

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