Monday, 22 September 2014

MoJ Answers 3

More nonsense from the MoJ.

16. Timing of Under 12-Months supervision implementation  

The mantra has always been supervising offenders under 12 months when you have discussed TR. Why then are there no signs of this happening any time soon, and why couldn't the gold standard performing probation trusts do this job for you?

Is it true that the management of offenders with under 12 months custody has been postponed?

When does the plan to supervise all prisoners i.e. (under 12 months sentenced) kick in?

This change to the sentencing framework is a core element of our reforms. The extension of statutory licence conditions and rehabilitation supervision to offenders sentenced to less than 12 months imprisonment is subject to the commencement of the relevant provisions in the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. This will happen at the point of service mobilisation. As in every part of Government, we are faced with the challenge of trying to do better for less. We want to do this in a way that is sustainable for the future and we are committed to reinvesting savings to support supervision for short sentence offenders. 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.

17. Case allocation / complexity/bureaucracy

The allocation of cases has now become a highly contentious issue, having organically developed from what was a relatively simple process to a highly bureaucratic process for both organisations. This now requires significant management resource from both the NPS and CRC simply to manage the process. The transfer protocols within the Delius system add to this issue enormously and allocation of cases that once took 20-30 minutes now takes many hours of management resource on both sides of the business. To add to this CRC staff, administrators and receptionists have experienced difficulty accessing vital offender information because of NPS/CRC access limitations. How do NOMS/Ministers respond to this and what do they propose to better streamline processes and minimise growing staff frustration and greatly increased bureaucracy on both sides of the business?

Currently in our area there are an inadequate number of POs to undertake the required number of statutory reports. Therefore POs that were previously undertaking this work as part of their duties are now unable, as part of the CRC, to do these during working hours but can do them as 'sessional reports' earning extra payment- whilst NPS staff struggle on a daily basis for no extra pay. How will this be addressed?

We are already experiencing a lot of extra bureaucratic processes between NPS & CRC causing delays and concern about risk management and court processes! We have made a lot of these leaner and less costly as one organisation - how do you propose that TR will save money/improve provision?

How can you account for the amount of bureaucracy, doubling of work, additional work, and overall clear chaos which you have created as a result of splitting up the probation service and creating a workforce which has gone from being proud of the work they do to one where a large percentage are now looking to give up long terms careers?

You mentioned earlier that you wanted to reduce bureaucracy, I am a PO in a courts team and our administration work has doubled with the introduction of RSRs and case allocation system. What about all the work we have done on streamlining processes?

I know case allocation is a critical activity and it is important that some additional work takes place at the time of sentence to ensure that an offender is correctly allocated. In order to achieve this, the new operational processes were developed in close collaboration between the MoJ, NOMS and Probation Service staff. There is more work to do to minimise unnecessary bureaucracy at the front end of the process and we are continuing to test the new system to understand where we might make further improvements. The Transforming Rehabilitation Programme team organised two national workshops in July - one of these looking explicitly at case allocation processes. These events were well attended by operational staff and we are determined to continue to improve effectiveness and to reduce bureaucracy wherever possible during this transitional period.

Guidance was sent to Trusts prior to 1 June to explain how to set up access for authorised receptionists and administrative staff so they can view the NPS and CRC information they need to do their jobs.

18. Jobs

Dear Mr Grayling, I completed my training as a Probation Officer in 2009 to be told that there was no jobs at the end of the training. I was an Offender Supervisor 9 years previous to this and dropped £4,000 in my wage. However I wrote to all MP's and lobbied for this to change but this fell on the Conservative deaf ears. However Lord David Ramsbotham and Labour Home Secretary at that time agreed to meet with me and other trainees and NAPO members at Westminster and also the House of Commons. After lengthy discussions on the worries of reducing staff protecting the public they did listen and decided to make sure we did have our jobs at the end of the training. Here we are again the unsung heroes having to convince you that we do a damn good job and nobody can work with offenders and protect the public like we do why? Because we do it not for profit of money saving we do it as to protect the public from harm and job satisfaction changing offender lives for the better re-integrating them back in the community safely.

Jeremy, you state above you want to support and protect officers but their numbers have been reduced.

I want to reassure you that I see the skills and experience of probation professionals as immensely valuable in contributing to the rehabilitation of offenders. However, with more than half a million crimes committed each year by those who have broken the law before, we have to change our approach to rehabilitation. The status quo is not an option. What I want is to draw on the best services that can be offered by practitioners across the public, private and voluntary sectors, so that we can deliver better support to more offenders, and in turn reduce reoffending.

In relation to staffing levels, 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.

19. Cutting bureaucracy

Mr Grayling. In your New Year Address to Probation Staff you referred to cutting much of the bureaucracy and central control in relation to Probation work to allow Probation Officers to carry out the work we are trained to do rather than spending a considerable amount of our time completing administration tasks. When will you fulfil this pledge?

PBR - more bureaucracy surely?

How are you working to reduce bureaucracy?

Can you explain how you are working to reduce bureaucracy, when we have seen a significant increase in paperwork, of which all involve duplicating information several times and therefore take significant time to complete?

The new system, which was tested and developed in close consultation with Probation Trusts, has been designed to minimise unnecessary bureaucracy to ensure staff working in CRCs and in the NPS can spend more of their time managing and rehabilitating offenders. There will be an opportunity for us to learn more and refine processes during this period that CRCs are managed in the public sector before contract signature later this year.

20. Allocation of cases

Has the split been managed correctly? I expressed a preference for National Probation Service but was forced into the Community Rehabilitation Company as I scored 130 on the Greater Manchester list with staff 1 to 128 going to NPS and 129 and below going to CRC. I have now had to complete reallocation forms on practically all my cases, keeping only those who would be NPS if they weren't due to terminate before November and a few new allocations. Post 1st June 2014 I find I continue to hold NPS cases and have to complete NPS tasks including Report writing as there are insufficient staff in NPS and excess number of Probation Officers in CRC for the operational need. Why did I not get my preference of NPS? It seems wrong that I have to transfer my entire caseload and that I have to complete NPS tasks as a CRC employee.

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?

My officer current caseload numbers are in 50's, one officer has a caseload of 58. This is in addition to all the new work they have taken on since the NPS/CRC split. I average an allocation of 8 new cases each week; for a small team this is high. What in your view is a maximum number of high risk cases for a FTE Probation Officer to sagely manage?

If a case reverts to NPS because its risk level increases. It stays permanently with the NPS from that point. How will you deal with the implications for increasing NPS workload that this will result in?

The probation workforce has been allocated to the new organisations based upon their respective resource requirements. This was calculated on the basis of existing staffing needs for the different operational functions, taking account of the offender groups that each organisation would be responsible for. Whilst I recognise that some staff will be disappointed with the outcome, I believe that this provided an objective basis for undertaking the assignment. Where there are concerns about transferring a particular offender, staff have been able to postpone transfer until they are absolutely confident it is safe to do so. In these cases, the offender will remain with an appropriate probation officer, to ensure continuity and public protection. In addition, we will continue to monitor the balance of work across NPS and the CRCs, and adjust resources where that proves necessary. Staff from both NPS and CRCs will be able to apply for any new posts that are created.

21. CRC bidders

How many bidders remain for the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies?

How many bidders do you now have?

So what a about Sue Trust & Chalk who I believe have also pulled out?

There remains a strong competition in all regions for the contracts to run the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies with over 80 bids having been received and an average of four bidders for each area. Over half of the bidders include a voluntary, mutual or social enterprise organisation and mutuals continue to feature strongly, with eight potential staff mutuals competing for a share of the contracts.

In addition to this, charities experienced in tackling a range of issues affecting offenders, small and large businesses and experienced multinationals have partnered together to bid for the work that will help turn offenders’ lives around. All Tier 1 bidders have experience working in the Criminal Justice System. As well as the lead provider bids, almost 1000 organisations have registered to play a part in the wider supply chain, including more than 700 listed as VCSE (voluntary, community or social enterprise) organisations. The Transforming Rehabilitation programme remains on track to sign contracts with successful bidders by the end of 2014.


  1. I really don't get the problem with reoffending rates, keeps a nice steady stream of custom flowing through the doors...

    Those are the Offenders that you make careers out of.

    1. A stupid, ill informed comment based on a complete misapprehension of what it is Probation does.

    2. Anon at 07:23 is clearly determined to wind us all up rather than put together a cogent argument for anything - best ignored I think.

  2. I can't decide if its Blair, Straw, Selous or Grayling who are submitting this new strain of irritating posts.

  3. No just another pathetic, bitter individual with a gripe.....

  4. Just for interest.

    1. Through-out his 41 years working as a probation officer in Newham, Nick Paul admits he’s seen a thing or two. But it was his “burning desire to make a positive contribution” that captured his heart and drew him to the job, along with wise words from a senior probation officer, John Pannell.

      “He told me I’d need to grow my hair, get educated and learn to speak properly if I wanted to do it.

      “So I grew my hair, went to Bristol University in 1971 as a trainee Probation Officer and, well, I ignored the last part.

      “The other thing he said was I needed to gain credibility if I wanted to help people and it’s what I’d tell anyone today. You’ve got to have credibility and perseverance. Credibility with the courts, colleges and clients, so they were wise words of his.”

      Nick’s first office in 1973 consisted of three old houses knocked together on Grove Crescent Road in Stratford before he was moved to Barking Road in Plaistow in 1985.

      He said: “It was fun working as a probation officer in the 70s and 80s in Newham. Social services had the same area and everything was on a much smaller scale so we knew everyone in our field, both in Custom House and Canning Town.

      “We used to work closely with the Mayflower youth club, which used to be a significant centre in Canning Town. We’d take young offenders to camps in Snowdonia and arrange sailing through the boat projects we ran but that doesn’t seem to happen as much anymore. It’s more about home visits now.”

      Nick has seen first hand how valuable a probation officer’s work can be, one woman he worked with has been clean from drugs for 14 years now and a disheartened man who hadn’t worked for 30 years recently got a job.

      Employed by North East London Probation and After Care Service, the job involved supervising people with probation orders.

      When he first started there were six probation officers and one senior probation officer working there. Now, he says, there are at least 40.

      “It was a real struggle for us,” he said.

      “The responsibilities have definitely changed now. We used to write reports for criminal cases for sentencing purposes, giving the magistrates or judges background information about the person they were sentencing, but I always preferred working with offenders. The essence of it all is about helping people make good decisions.

      “The key problems are still around today though, housing, family breakdown. However, when I first started there weren’t many drug addicts, it was more to do with drink.”

      Having worked in the job since 1973 there were sad faces all round when he called it a day on August 31 this year.

      Nick was awarded an MBE in 2004, recognising his willingness to go the extra mile and dedication to the job.

      He described the “huge grin” across his face as he met the Queen, adding: “She said to me, ‘you must have seen some interesting things’, and I smiled and said ‘you’re right about that’.”

  5. Jim,

    Just a brief coda on Nick Paul MBE - he has also been an outstanding Edridge Fund rep over many years & I will always recall how he helped a former PO colleague after her harsh dismissal & his unwavering commitment to the ethos of care towards colleagues & clients .....



  6. I know that people are pretty angry, and understandably so, however the contributor that people are getting cross with does make some insightful if uncomfortable observations. Some colleagues have, quite vociferously, indicated on this blog that they are leaving work incomplete in order to work to rule. As a service user, which I guess he or she is, that may appear to indicate that service users needs don't matter and we are in this for the money. When people do step out of line on this blog there is usually a backlash of criticism which includes name calling an inability to listen and an assumption about contributors experience and or grade.

    1. amutualbidder 15:01

      I think you make some valid observations. I am a service user, and I've read and contributed to this blog regulary over the past two years.
      However, TR is undoubtably going to have some impact on my life (to an extent it already has). I have a degree, and I like to think that I have a considerable and wide ranging understanding of the CJS, and I've watched it change and develop to what it is now over a period of 30 years plus.
      For me, the introduction of NOMS is what killed the probation service some 15? 16? Years ago now, and I note that the angry contributor advocates a return to a pre NOMS probation service. I am in full agreement with them on that point. The foundation principles that the service was built on have changed so much in the last two decades, that it's almost unrecognisabe now.
      I view many of the things that Grayling blabs about that needs to be introduced, are just the things that used to be there, but politics erased them.
      However, trying to bring these back through private enterprise is certainly not the way forward, as profit is always going to be the primary focus, and anyway a penny can be pinched, it will be, leaving service provision as basic and cost effective as possible to meet contract critera, and to swell the bank accounts of shareholders.
      So in that respect, if probation staff are operating under work to rule in an attempt to prevent privatisation, it's because they care about the service, and how the service should be extended to and provided to its users.
      So I agree with the angry contributor in one respect, the probation service should be returned to its original function, and not pushed forward into another new world of political ideology.
      Where I cant agree with the angry commontator is that the probation service assists the perpatration of criminal behaviour.
      You commit crime, or you don't commit crime, and from reading the angry contributors comments, they seem to be intellegent enough and articulate enough, to be past the arguement that it was someone elses fault.

    2. Yes I know the offences you commit are your fault, what happens then though? I really don't think the Probation service is worth all that much, if you cannot assist people properly then do not assist them at all... you may well be hindering their progress.

    3. So you think that Probation can assist, support and help to change offenders? Then why do you not think it is capable of the opposite? No stats to back it up?

    4. Yes you raise a good point and the dilemma posed by the fact that any work not done may well impact negatively on clients has been ruthlessly exploited by Chris Grayling and the MoJ right from the beginning.

      It's that age-old conundrum well known to doctors and nurses - any strike or work-to-rule impacts on patients. Grayling knew full well that any strike by probation staff would not be well supported precisely because of a strong professional ethic.

      However, such is the anger amongst probation staff that many are now deciding to withdraw their goodwill - and we all know that goodwill is an essential element of the work - but the Minister doesn't know and doesn't care. The profession is being destroyed and the anger is going to intensify, so bidders be warned.

      The recent negative comments by a disgruntled client are designed to disrupt, inflame and derail the blog. There are no specific allegations beyond saying probation is part of the problem, we harm people and cause serious further offending. I can see no merit in such broad and unspecific allegations and have requested the person puts their point of view in a guest blog.

      If you read back over recent days, the responses have actually been quite polite and understanding and suggest the person explains themself. I agree the responses today have been more ill-tempered, but they are responding to something specifically designed to wind people up and have succeeded. If it carries on I will have to re-introduce comment moderation again.

      Because of the nature of what we are facing, I agree that some exchanges have been extremely robust but generally speaking within the realm of acceptability given virtually everyone is posting anonymously and we have no idea as to true identity or motive of anyone.

      To be honest it's remarkable that it's been as well-behaved as it has. Lets all try and keep it that way. Thanks for raising the matter.

    5. You shall get my blog Jim, it may be a few months away yet and thankyou for the offer. It's better than any inconsequential, in-house sweep under the carpet complaint procedure.

    6. Re my post at 15:54.

      I understand your point, but its my view that its politics thats brought the probation service to where it operates from today.
      Stupid computorised assessments that have no great value in reality, and hours and hours of input that takes the PO away from delivering the front line services that the service users require.
      So I would advance the arguement (and respectively so), that the frustrations you feel regarding the probation service, would be more productive if focused at the clueless polititions that have removed autonomy from the probation service, and thus restricting the probation officer from delivering the service the individual service user requires.
      It's Whitehall that made the 'one shoe fits all' model.

    7. Prime example of minimisation.

      And it's the Probation Service personnel that have gone along with it for many years. They cannot do anything to stop it now. Those who genuinely care are in the minority. The majority will uphold any procedure to get paid.

    8. Those who genuinely care are having the life crushed out of them by politicians like Grayling, by the new managerialism and by the system. They may be young, vibrant & newly employed, or ancient & creaking with not long to go. What management signed us up to over the years is of their making. As frontline practitioners there is a bitter irony in the fact that we have limited capacity to implement change in our own organisation.

  7. The way any kind of out of step with the anonymous PO's and you get jumped on leads me to believe that they aren't real PO material.

    Leads me to believe Offenders would be better off with an automated system than a bunch of by the book nosey parkers.

    1. Yeah, those stupid 'by the book nosey parkers', interfering in the private business of robbers and rapists and wife beaters. Why can't they just leave people alone to exploit and abuse the vulnerable?

      Simon Garden

  8. And you are further away from changing it for the better than you have ever been.

  9. If you love Grayling, you'll love the tone of this.

    1. Friday, 2 pm – momentous news. Not north of the border but in court one of the Royal Courts of Justice. A senior judge rules that the lord chancellor and justice secretary has acted illegally. The highest law officer in England and Wales brought to book by judicial review.

      What an irony. This is the very process Chris Grayling wants to restrict, to prevent ordinary people having the right to hold the state to account.
      So what happened in the high court on Friday? The judge ruled that some of the biggest changes in the history of publicly funded legal aid had to be stopped in their tracks.

      Grayling wanted to reduce the number of solicitors who are able to represent you, me, your teenage son or daughter at a police station or magistrates' court. But the high court decided the methods the minister tried to use to bring in these cuts were "so unfair as to be illegal".

      It all centred on a consultation – one of those where they don't properly consult anyone who actually matters. But in this case it's even worse that. The Minstry of Justice suppressed two key reports which were instrumental in pushing through the changes.

      The ruling means that it is back to the drawing board. They are now going to have to consult all over again about these highly controversial proposed solicitor contracts - arrangements which would have driven down standards and meant there were far fewer solicitors available in police stations and magistrates' courts. They'd have given rise to appalling legal advice deserts.

      The brakes have been put on a politically motivated vandalism of our justice system, damage inflicted by the first non-lawyer to ever hold this post.

      I am a lawyer and can see how momentous this judgment is. Momentous for people who have the right to a proper defence and momentous for the lawyers who want to do the job properly. It goes to the heart of what makes our justice system fair.

      Grayling has also been taught a very basic but important legal lesson. He may be a senior Cabinet minister in charge of our courts, prisons and probation services but he is not above the law.

      It got very personal, which isn't what you expect in the dryness of a judicial review. Grayling's tactics were labelled that of "bully and bluff", "divide and rule". It was, according to our side, a "caricature of fairness".

      We don't like to get personal but - driven by ideology and underpinned by ignorance - these are very much Mr Grayling's reforms.

      The justice secretary has a habit of burying his head in the sand, ignoring the real price of his cost-saving reforms in the criminal justice system, and effectively repeating: 'Crisis? What crisis?' We've seen a summer of discontent in the criminal justice system: with the deeply troubling rise in prison suicides, a meltdown in probation and a family court service at breaking point. We think of this terrible track record but the justice secretary would rather not.

      Perhaps no longer. The lord chancellor has been thrown the rule book by a judicial process which he is attempting to shut down. Through sheer determination, guts and legal know-how, we criminal defence lawyers took on the might of the Ministry of Justice and won. No wonder Grayling wishes to restrict access to justice where the state has to account for its decisions.

      What the high court ruling has allowed is room for an outbreak of sanity. Let's stop using austerity as a cover for ideological changes. We want to improve the justice system as much as Grayling. We're ready to sit down and talk. But after this humbling judgment, is he?

      Nicola Hill is president of the London Criminal Courts Solicitors' Association – one of the two claimants who won the judicial review.