Friday, 12 September 2014

Omnishambles Update 70

Many thanks to the reader for sending me the following exchanges copied from 'Compass' the in-house magazine for Cheshire and Greater Manchester CRC:-   

CGM in the media
This was a very recent article in the Warrington Guardian. What are your thoughts on the article? It has high-lighted some concerns around peoples opinions on PSO's and the amount of agency staff in all LDU's. Are senior management happy with the number of agency staff we currently have in all LDU's?
The article published last week:

THE community in Warrington is being put at risk as criminals are being managed by unqualified staff, according to a Probation Service union boss. Kevin McIntyre, Cheshire secretary for probation staff union Napo, claims government changes to the service have resulted in some offenders being badly supervised, including those who could be likely to re-offend. He said the problems have stemmed from splitting the Probation Service into two sections.

The National Probation Service deals with high risk cases, but lower risk cases, like domestic violence, are handled by the Community Rehabilitation Company. “The CRC’s main task is to supervise low to medium risk cases, the majority of these being domestic violence cases which experience shows regularly re-offend,” said Mr McIntyre. “Many such cases are being supervised by inexperienced, unqualified staff. “Staff morale in the Probation Service is at an all time low since the reorganisation. “Despite statements to the contrary by the Ministry of Justice, the system is in chaos and staff are struggling to cope with the practicalities of making the new arrangements work while at the same time dealing with a time consuming and cumbersome case allocation process, disproportionately high workloads and inadequate IT systems. “All these factors are putting staff under extreme stress as well as jeopardising service delivery and putting the public at risk of harm.”

Napo also criticised the amount of agency staff in use at the CRC. Reports that can decide how a criminal is managed after leaving prison are being completed by staff with ‘little knowledge’ of cases, it said. Napo also claimed more public money is being spent than on the old probation service.

Justice Minister Andrew Selous said: "Each year more than half a million crimes are committed by those who have broken the law before and 50,000 of the most prolific offenders are released totally unsupervised and free to go back to their criminal ways. "Our reforms will finally address this unacceptable issue. "All offenders under supervision, including those convicted of domestic violence, continue to be managed by trained and experienced probation staff."

Warrington North MP Helen Jones said she will meet with Napo to discuss concerns in Warrington.  
Chris Noah 2nd September 2014 13:17

Thank you for your question. I am aware of the article and was disappointed by the comments made in it. I would like to give you a full response to the points you made and will do so on the follow up forum which will be put up on Compass later today.

Chris Noah 
2nd September 2014 15:23

As promised, here’s the fuller answer for you with regard to the question you asked in the Live Webchat.

I am aware of the Warrington Guardian article and was very disappointed by the comments made about colleagues who are doing an excellent job and working hard to manage cases effectively. Approximately 25-30% of our workload involves domestic abuse and we have included consideration of this in our training plan and service design.

All our PSOs have received domestic abuse training and will have additional briefing and support when supervising such cases. Whilst some of our staff are inexperienced, we are providing the necessary training and support, and, actually, the majority of our staff are well trained, skilled and experienced. I would like to introduce more stability into the workforce and we are looking at the number of temporary staff we have. I am keen that we do not increase the risk to permanent staff though (as per Louise’s question about redundancy), so this is a careful balance.

As you know from the blog, I am well aware of the IT issues, unfortunately many are out of our control and I do appreciate the pressure that slow ‘clunky’ IT places on staff.

In relation to the Warrington Guardian article, we will be inviting them to hear about our work and promoting some of the many ‘good news’ stories of effective work with offenders at the Warrington Office. We will also be seeking to meet with Helen Jones MP to discuss the work of CGM CRC and some of the real issues (such as IT) to be addressed.

We have already engaged with the Warrington Guardian recently in that they ran with a story we gave them about the success of the Support4Change project and its award from the Howard League for Penal Reform. This is just one example of the good news stories we shall continue to feed through to Cheshire media, including, of course, the Warrington Guardian, to highlight the great work of our staff.

2nd September 2014 12:52

CGM CRC in a year
The Moderator

The following question has been submitted by email for the live webchat - Where do you see the company this time next year?

Chris Noah 
2nd September 2014 12:53

I would expect to see us working hard to achieve our mission, vision and values and achieving strong results. Our vision to deliver world class offender rehabilitation across Cheshire and Greater Manchester should be at the heart of everything we do. I would expect our performance which is already good, even in the current climate of change, to strengthen, particularly with the work we are doing to align programmes and operations across Cheshire and Greater Manchester to create a more efficient, effective and streamlined model for working with offenders. Our service redesign plans, too, are designed also to strengthen and improve our performance across the LDUs.

End State Realisation
Chris 
2nd September 2014 13:07

In your last blog you made reference to the above and that the CRC and the NPS will be operating independently as of the 1st of November. I question whether such is an aspirational rather than a realistic target, especially given the problems that still remain with ICT and that as yet the NPS have not filled operational vacancies. Indeed in your blog you made reference to the CRC undertaking breach work (an NPS responsibility) as an interim measure. This further example just seems to affirm further that the `bailing' out of the NPS will continue, due to the whole TR programme being ill conceived and hastily implemented. Your views please?

Chris Noah 
2nd September 2014 13:12 

Thanks for your question.

I agree that it will be a significant task for the NPS to put in the place the arrangements they need to be a self reliant organisation. We will continue to support our colleagues within the NPS during this transition to ensure that the whole system works as well as it can and that public protection is maintained. We are setting up a project to manage end of state realisation and I will keep everyone up-to date via the blog.


There have been some fascinating exchanges over on the Probation Graduate Diploma Facebook pages as young enthusiastic applicants discuss the delays in finding out if they've got a place or not:-
Thank you all for your patience. As an update, the results of the campaign to recruit PQF learners will be sent out this week and all applicants will receive an individual e-mail giving them their result. 300 places will be offered to start on October 20th 2014 and in addition to this, some additional places will be offered for a January 2015 start. Applicants who receive an offer will be asked to complete security vetting applications immediately to ensure that they can start on time.
I know I'm old and grumpy, but there's something really sad about the naivety of this bunch of prospective new recruits. They clearly have no idea as to the scale and scope of the omnishambles to which they aspire. There's been some attempt to enlighten them:-

Prior to TR I would have wished you all the best, welcomed you with open arms and mentored you. Post TR, you are walking into the worst profession in the public sector with the lowest levels of morale ever and resentment among CRC toward you new trainees who are effectively leapfrogging experienced, highly professional and well regarded Probation Officers who have been totally shafted by this Government. There is no job security, there is no job satisfaction, there is very little opportunity to make a difference and there is no joy or pride in this profession. Go in if you want but do it with your eyes wide open and be prepared for enormous amounts of stress and a highly stressed workforce with no time or energy to help you.

********
I think that the NPS need to review their recruitment process quite frankly. I have worked for probation for many years, I have been allocated to NPS and didn't hit the criteria to get through to the Interviews. I actually did the job of a PSO. The whole point of the split in the first place was for the government to save money. Quite obviously it would save even more money to invest in the staff that you have already got who have got the experience of working for probation and what it entails. Taking on University graduates is all fine and well, everybody deserves the chance to get into the world of work but to take on over the already experienced staff that have worked immensely hard for the service over the years, is quite frankly ridiculous and does not 'make best use of public money'!!! Very disappointed..."

********
It is sad to hear people initially happy at having passed the process but then dismayed at the lack of subsequent information. Unfortunately, working for Probation this is something they will need to get used to - look at the poor woman who'd over 20yrs service and been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is still waiting since 2nd June for her ill-health retirement money. 

Many of the applicants appear to be young and just happy to get on the career ladder but do they really realise just what a tall task they have in front of them? In 12 months time they will be solely responsible for a caseload comprising of high-risk offenders? Just one thing to bear in mind. There is no guarantee of a probation officer post at the end of this training, posts available will be subject to how many staff have left and so if there are 5 posts but 9 people have passed the training then 4 people will be disappointed. 

In addition I know in my area you also, having passed or not, have to go through an interview process - you don't just pass the course and then get a job!! If this where to happen it could be possible that you would be offered a PSO role the starting salary of which is approx £21k, considerably lower than a PO starting salary.

Finally, the geographical area of some of the areas is vast - somebody tweeted this week that there area is 2000 Sqm. If you don't drive I would strongly advise you start taking lessons as in my area home visits are strongly encouraged and public transport is dire.


*******
I would say that as existing staff we do not have a gripe with 'outsiders'. The issue is that we have many experienced, colleagues who as they don't have degree are now excluded from applying for PO training and many other of our PO colleagues who were sifted into CRC and can no longer do a lot of the job that they trained for. It's not so much these new applicants we resent, it's the MoJ for doing all this.

I try to keep up, but I was completely unaware of this:-

Coming Soon: The privatised sick note service that will email you back to work
In two months time the traditional doctor’s note excusing you from work will start to cease being valid if you are still sick after four weeks. Just before Parliament went into the summer recess welfare reform minister, Lord Freud, announced that a US multinational company,Maximus, which also operates in Canada and Saudi Arabia will take over running the new Health and Work Service for England and Wales.
My report in this week’s Tribune reveals that up to one million people will be affected by the change which appears to be aimed to save the government money. Maximus runs call centres, occupational health programmes, child support and job seekers programmes abroad and in the United Kingdom. The programme is to be rolled out from November to next May aims to save up to £165 million a year by getting people back to work faster as part of Lord Freud’s welfare reforms.
The Scottish government has declined to contract out the work to the private firm and will keep the assessment programme as part of the public service. More worryingly it appears that the private company which will make the decision will not see anyone – and create a Return to Work programme via a call centre telephone interview and a decision by email. The package is supposed to be agreed between the sick person and the private company and sent to both the individual and their employer. Failure to co-operate with the service will mean the individual will lose their sick pay.
Lord Freud is quoted in a DWP press release emphasising how the scheme will improve economic productivity and get people back to work faster. He says:”Providing support where it’s needed most will help to reduce the length of time employees take off sick which, in turn, will cut sick pay costs, improve economic output and reduce the chances of people falling out of work and having to claim benefits.“
After the cruel and nasty system that forced disabled people to find work or lose benefits run by the French company, ATOS, I have a suspicion that this new system could push the sick back to work before they are ready. While ATOS did this by personal interviews and tests, Maximus look like putting the sick back to work without examining them to see they are fit and well. No doubt the government will see it as another way to tackle the workshy. But even employers’ advisers are sceptical about this. This new development needs watching.

30 comments:

  1. Further confirmation of Grayling's 'poison pill' contract clauses first mentioned yesterday:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/11/poison-pill-probation-contracts-moj-serco-g4s

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    1. Taxpayers will face a £300m-£400m penalty if controversial probation privatisation contracts are cancelled after next May's general election under an "unprecedented" clause that guarantees bidders their expected profits over the 10-year life of the contract.

      Labour is already committed to unpicking the justice ministry contracts to outsource probation services but will not now be able to do so without incurring the multimillion pound bill because of "poison pill" clauses written in by Chris Grayling's department.

      The Ministry of Justice say they are only following Treasury guidance by including the clause, which raises the prospect that similar clauses are being included in other politically controversial contracts across Whitehall that are to be signed before next May's general election.

      Margaret Hodge, the chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, who has secured a confirmation from Ministry of Justice officials about the clauses, said that the clause is written into the contracts to run 21 new "community rehabilitation companies". She said was appalled by the discovery.

      She has asked the Whitehall spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, to challenge any politically contentious contracts that are signed in the dying months before the general election: "It is not value for money. It is unacceptable and must be challenged before the event."

      The disclosure comes as the two outsourcing firms at the centre of serious fraud inquiries,, G4S and Serco, confirmed they had been granted new government work during a period when the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, had told MPs that contracts would not be awarded. The confirmation has led to claims that Grayling misled parliament.

      The contracts will see 70% of the work of the public probation service handed over to private and voluntary sector providers as part of Grayling's "transforming rehabilitation programme".

      The announcement of the "preferred bidders" among the 80 companies and organisations bidding to run the 21 community rehabilitation companies had been expected this week but has been delayed until December. Transfer from the public sector is now expected in the new year.

      Vincent Godfrey, the MoJ's director of procurement, has confirmed to Hodge that the probation contracts include a clause under which companies are paid recompense for costs and profit if it is terminated through no fault of theirs. He said there was a "staged profit repayment clause", which would cover the loss of profits for the entire life of the contract if it was terminated at its very outset.

      Hodge said that this was unprecedented and contrasted them with traditional "no fault" clauses, which see 12-18 months of compensation for loss profits. She said it could amount to £300m-£400m in the case of the probation contracts.

      A justice ministry spokesman said that they did not recognise the figure.

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    2. The disclosure led the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, to write to Grayling reminding him of Labour's opposition to probation privatisation: "What's more, I do not believe, in the dying months of this government, contracts should be signed for a decade that will bind in two future parliaments. If you insist on proceeding, there should be a sensible option for a change of government to walk away from the contracts without lumbering taxpayers with a penalty running into hundreds of millions of pounds."

      The separate accusation that Grayling misled MPs over the ban on G4S and Serco winning new government contracts followed emails to the public accounts committee from both companies detailing their negotiations with the Ministry of Justice. These showed that they signed new contracts and extended existing ones between July 2013 and January 2014.

      Grayling told the House of Commons last year that the government would not award or negotiate with G4S or Serco until they had been given a clean bill of health by auditors.

      It first emerged in July 2013 that both firms were involved in overbilling for the tagging of prisoners. Since then the Serious Fraud Office and City of London police have launched inquiries into five separate government contracts with the two firms worth more than £200m. The government's auditors cleared both firms to work on government contracts in January this year as the police inquiries continued.

      At a committee meeting on Wednesday to discuss outsourcing contracts, Hodge told MPs that she had received a letter from Serco showing that between July 2013 and January 2014, it had extended its existing contract of work in HMP Thameside and been given seven new MoD contracts.

      G4S was given more business in an MoJ prison contract extension in August 2013, Hodge said, and three days after the suspension was lifted, a G4S contract to work with HMRC was announced. "It does appear that Chris Grayling has misled the house," she said.

      Hodge told the committee: "There was one [Serco contract] in Justice which gave them more money and more business. It was the expansion of an existing contract for HMP Thameside. But it was growing their business at a time when ... they shouldn't have done so.

      "You then look at the MoD, there were seven contracts awarded to Serco during that period when Chris Grayling had clearly told the house that we would not be awarding them any new contracts.

      "At G4S, there was an increase in business to work HMP Parc phase II operations. Three days after the suspension was lifted, there was a major contract for HMRC facilities management.

      "Now either people were doing things they shouldn't have been doing in the civil service or members of parliament were misled by what Chris Grayling said to the house."

      In October, Grayling was asked by Labour's Nick Smith to explain the MoJ's position. "We will not be awarding the companies any new contracts unless or until those audits are completed to our satisfaction," Grayling replied.

      Civil servants appearing before the committee reassured Hodge that parliament had not been misled and said they would provide the committee with a chronology of events that would explain Grayling's statement.

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    3. I live in hope that one day the photograph for that article will show Grayling on the other side of the bars...

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  2. "The National Probation Service deals with high risk cases, but lower risk cases, like domestic violence, are handled by the Community Rehabilitation Company." The classification of the great majority of DV cases as "lower risk, ie medium or low risk" is in itself highly contentious - I would argue inaccurate - even before we get to the predictable corporate response to the article.

    DV cases: that's all cases where domestic abuse is the index offence, or a concern identified in initial or subsequent assessment, should be managed on a high risk of harm basis. This is not a criticism of PSOs or any CRC staff, this is a catastrophic fault line that runs through TR design and execution and it is highly dangerous.

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    1. I absolutely agree Sue 100%. I am permanently astounded by the number of DV cases assessed as only posing a medium risk of harm - only yesterday I queried one such case where the perpetrator had bitten his victim. The cynic in me wonders if there has been some kind of direction to PSR authors ref risk screening. After all, this is a perfect case management tool, isn't it? Just keep assessing as medium/low risk and shovelling all the work down to the CRC. NPS crisis? Not in my office..........
      Deb

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    2. Serious harm: harm psychological or physical from which recovery is difficult or impossible. That would be virtually EVERY case of Domestic Abuse
      Given what we know about reporting levels against convictions, then I would suggest every DV case is at least high risk,
      and almost without fail demand multi agency aproach

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    3. All forms of abuse always cover the spectrum. It can lead to dogmas if things become too deterministic. Every case is different and so are the risks. And each individual should be assessed with an eye to the research but not in a fixated way.

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  3. Is it true that bidders announcement has been delayed until december?

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  4. Justice secretary Chris Grayling employs his wife Susan as an office manager on £35,000 - £40,000

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  5. Come the revolution, Grayling, Wright, Cameron, Brennan, Gove, Osboune and a new one, Noah - the individual singularly unable to answer a direct question,,,up against the wall, bop, bop, bop...(Wolfie Smith circa 1970).

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    1. IDS, Hague, Pickles bop,bop,bop.

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  6. For our colleagues in Northumberland:

    "Nicholas Brown MP
    5. What assessment he has made of the effectiveness of governance and security at HMP Northumberland.[905237]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Andrew Selous):
    The National Offender Management Service regularly carries out assessments of all aspects of security and delivery at HMP Northumberland and will continue to monitor the prison’s progress closely.

    Mr Brown:
    May I caution the Minister against reading out what the civil service put in front of him as if that were a satisfactory answer to the question? The situation at the prison has been described by work force representatives as a “powder keg”. The issue is the dramatic reduction in staffing and the increase in the number of prisoners. I urge the Minister to look at the situation and satisfy himself that the prison is safe, because all the advice that the region’s MPs are receiving is that it is not.

    Andrew Selous:
    I think I can give the right hon. Gentleman some good news. Like all prisons, HMP Northumberland is subject to performance targets and it is currently at level 3, the second highest level. Twelve new recruits have just joined the prison, 13 more are due to start next Monday and 22 reserve staff can be called up to make up any shortfall, so I do not recognise the description given by the right hon. Gentleman.

    Sir Alan Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed) (LD):
    Does the Minister recognise that adequate staff numbers are essential not only to safety but to rehabilitation, and that I expressed concerns to his predecessor that the public sector bid and the Sodexo bid, which was successful, both involved a significant reduction in staff numbers?

    Andrew Selous:
    I absolutely recognise what the Chair of the Justice Committee says. As I have just said, we are increasing staff numbers at the prison: 13 more recruits are due to start next week, 12 have already joined and there are 22 reserve staff available. The prison will also have a further inspection next week, so we are keeping these matters closely under review. As I have said, more staff are joining."

    So that's okay then. Ta-dah!

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    1. Strange that they failed to mention they had to sack at least 2 of their new recruits after they had been employed on site for two weeks due to their serious offending history. Well done sodexo, shining examples of the private sector....not

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  7. Omnishambles fast being overtaken/subsumed by omniscandals

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  8. Off topic:

    http://www.theguardian.com/law/2014/sep/12/opposition-mps-question-chris-grayling-sarah-bill-social-action-responsibility-heroism

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    1. With its dashing title, chummy nickname and dedication to "happiness for the wider public", the social action, responsibility and heroism bill should be a surefire winner for its sponsor, the justice secretary, Chris Grayling.

      Opposition MPs, however, question whether there is any need at all for legislation aimed at "encouraging people to play an active part in society".

      The bill's unusual brevity has prompted parliamentary surprise. It runs to barely one and a half pages and is encompassed in not much more than 300 words. In tribute to its acronym, MPs are calling it the Sarah bill.

      Its stated purpose is to guarantee greater protection for employers or volunteers who might otherwise be deterred from performing worthwhile deeds or organising local community events through fear of negligence claims. Others portray it as an assault on a culture of excessive health and safety regulations.

      During the committee stage of the bill this week, Labour's shadow courts minister, Andrew Slaughter, inquired: "Is the bill about saying to the general public 'don't feel worried about being a Scout master or trying to give first aid to someone by the roadside' or is it about saying to the senior judiciary 'you are getting this all wrong. You are supporting this compensation culture and you need to buck up'?

      A letter from Grayling to parliament's joint committee on human rights (JCHR) has now been released which critics claim proves their point: that the bill will have no noticeable legislative effect whatsoever.

      The committee chair had asked the justice secretary whether the legislation was intended to change the substantive law on negligence – or if it was intended merely to counter public misconceptions about legal liabilities.

      In response, Grayling wrote: "The bill will not change this overarching legal framework, but it will direct the courts to consider particular factors when considering whether the defendant took reasonable care."

      Slaughter told the Guardian: "This is a frankly pathetic bill that simply reveals how painfully little David Cameron has to offer in the final year of this parliament.

      "Access to justice is under threat and our prisons are in crisis but this is what the Conservatives waste our time on. The committee stage of the bill has shown how little support there is for these measures which Chris Grayling himself admits will not change the law in any way."

      But Shailesh Vara, the Conservative justice minister piloting the bill through the Commons, insists that clause three of the bill does introduce a genuine change: obliging courts to consider whether someone "took a generally responsible approach to safety".

      Vara said: "This is an important and much needed piece of legislation. Worries about liability can drive volunteers to take out insurance when they don't need to, force responsible employers to settle damages claims out of court rather run the risk of being found negligent, and stop passersby from helping people who are in difficulty.

      "This bill will provide valuable reassurance to people that courts will take full account of the circumstances if someone is sued after acting for the benefit of society."

      The debate has also stirred up accusations about the interests of the insurance industry. In the course of the committee stage debate, Slaughter stated that the industry had given the Conservative party £5m or £6m in donations.

      The government's statutory impact assessment of the bill records: "Insurers and other defendants may gain from slightly reduced aggregate compensation paid and this may feed through to lower insurance premiums."

      It also notes that one of the potential benefits to society would be encouraging "participation in volunteering and other socially valuable activities. This may lead to a greater sense of community spirit and happiness for the wider public".

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    2. And useful mitigation when CRCs have SFOs

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  9. http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/09/12/probation-service-sell-off-plan-leaves-staff-morale-at-all-time-low/

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    1. Stuart Arrowsmith led a group of 150 probation staff when he spoke at the House of Commons about problems he says the service is facing.

      Mr Arrowsmith, who regularly works at Welshpool Magistrates Court and is also branch co-chairman of Napo Cymru, the probation service union, said morale among the industry is at an all time low.

      He said a recent survey found that 53 per cent of probation staff are looking for a new job, 99 per cent do not support the government's plans, while 98 per cent have no confidence in Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.

      Despite Mr Arrowsmith's efforts, the Government is expected to maintain its present course of action, which saw the probation service split into two earlier this summer.

      Mr Arrowsmith, who lives in Welshpool, said: "We packed out committee room 14 at the Houses of Parliament and impressed upon MPs the folly of the Government's plans to sell off two thirds of the probation service to private companies.

      "The probation service was split into two organisations on June 1 which has resulted in chaos and disruption across the region.

      "The split has resulted in just four members of staff in the National Probation Service (NPS) for the whole of Powys. The NPS prepares all pre-sentence reports, covers the courts and supervises high-risk offenders, including most domestic violence offenders and also many with a record of violence and variety of risky previous convictions.

      "This split is increasing the risk to the public in that the vast majority of serious further offences come from that group."

      Mr Arrowsmith told the MPs that Napo Cymru has been working to highlight the risk to local communities.

      He said: "This Welsh delegation was not in Parliament to ask for better terms and conditions for members, more pay or pension protection, but to impress upon those who represent people in the area the risk to our local communities.

      "The lobby of Parliament was our latest attempt to stop the proposed sell-off later this year of a successful service to private companies.

      "Re-offending rates are too high for those who are on short-term prison sentences, however, it is this group that the probation service has no statutory obligation to supervise when they leave prison and the government are conflating these two issues.

      "Napo Cymru members would like to supervise this group but are prevented from doing so. There has been a year on year drop in re-offending among those who are supervised by probation and this is a success story so why sell it off?"

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  10. http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/local/teesvalley/stockton/11471563.Concerns_raised_at_prison_staffing_levels_following_trouble_at_Stockton_jail/

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    1. A UNION leader has blamed Government staff cuts for unrest at a North-East prison that led to one inmate being taken to hospital.

      About six prisoners were involved in the trouble at Holme House Prison near Stockton which happened at about 6pm on Thursday night but was contained within 45 minutes.

      Details about exactly what caused the trouble have not been released.

      However, Mike Quinn, vice-chairman of the National Association of Probation Officers Northumbria branch, whose members supervise prisoners in the prison, said staff cuts were worrying.

      It has been reported that there is now one prison officer for 30 inmates following “significant” staff reductions.

      Mr Quinn said: “Thursday evening’s disturbance at HMP Holme House reminds us that prisons across the North-East are under pressure, and it can't be a coincidence that this is at a time of cuts by the Government across the whole of the criminal justice system.

      “We should take this moment to remember the important and challenging job prison and probation staff undertake within prisons to keep people safe in custody, and prepare them for release.

      "It's ironic that this is a job being made even more difficult by a so called Justice Secretary who bans books in prison and wants to sell off Probation in Durham and Teesside to companies like Sodexo, who made huge staff cuts at HMP Northumberland.”

      Mr Quinn was backed by Stockton North Labour MP Alex Cunningham, who said: “I am concerned that right across the prison estate there are fewer staff to maintain order and the system seems to be under considerable pressure.”

      A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said: “This was an isolated incident that was quickly resolved and had nothing to do with staffing levels.”

      He added that Holme House’s own prison staff contained the incident.

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  11. I am the named person in the article in the Warrington Guardian. It is correct iI made comment the DV cases are being supervised by inexperienced/unqualified staff and stand by the comments. If anyone thinks 2/3 days training on DV issues prepares staff for dealing with some of the most manipulative, aggressive clients we might as well not train POs. I did say this was in Cheshire & Greater Manchester not just Warrington as alluded to in the article which clearly the journalist was fitting it in to suit his readership area. He didn't mention anything about privatisation or profit making what I said to him. He did call me the Union boss which made me chuckle. Someone called me Hoffa the other day.
    Kevin McIntyre

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    1. Thanks for that Kevin! Keep up the good work and watch this space for more on DV in tomorrows guest blog.

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  12. Just to say I disagree with these types of reports claiming that offenders are badly managed.

    It is one thing to say that TR will lead to bad forms of offender management, or that CRC structures and resourcing problems mean some offenders have not been managed and this will worsen with under private companies. But it's a another thing to imply that existing probation staff are badly managing offenders, this is untrue. Napo should take better care of who speaks for Napo.

    Prior to TR our PSO and PO staff managed DV offenders and this is the same in CRC's post TR (at the moment). Let's refrain from saying that our staff cannot do their jobs, and stop claiming CRC staff are unqualified as there are many experienced PSO's and PO's in CRC's that are doing a good job.

    And for those here that think all DV offenders should be assessed as high risk of harm offenders, what happened to making assessments on individual cases and circumstances? To assess someone as a high risk of serious harm means there are indicators/evidence that serious risk of harm could happen at any time AND from which recovery is difficult or impossible. Some undoubtedly meet this criteria based on their circumstances and offending history, but some do not and are rightly assessed as non-high risk.

    The question I would of posed is why all sex offenders and celebrities have to supervised by the NPS, which suggests MoJ risk policy is more about PR than rehabilitation, reoffending and risk management!

    http://m.warringtonguardian.co.uk/news/11433403.Community_in_Warrington_being_put_at_risk___probation_says/?ref=la

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  13. How typical, how very typical, of probation staff that todays comments have been obsessing and wrestling with issues about the threats to the quality of service to the public, and not respond to the red rag item about sickness management and a thoroughly nasty and abusive outsourcing of care to unwell staff.

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    1. Yes I'm slightly surprised there's been no response to that item.

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    2. There's only so much anger I can carry - its exhausting & overwhelming & bad for my health. The rage I carry about Grayling & minions destroying probation (culturally, practically and ideologically) hurts. The extent of the mean, wicked and abusive acts associated with destroying probation is breathtaking. There are undoubtedly numerous other nasty pieces of legislation being snuck in here & there, paving the way for further vile acts of destruction and bullying. This government is comprehensively rotten to the core, populated by self-serving myopic bullies who can't see beyond their own bank balance. Even one of the traditional right wing tabloids led yesterday with a "snouts still in the trough" story about MPs continuing to raid the public purse.

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    3. Daily Mail 12 sept 2014

      "Snouts still in the trough: Five years after expenses scandal, MPs claim more than ever - and record number employ relatives
      Almost 170 MPs employ their wives and children, documents reveal; Relatives enjoy salaries as high as £50,000 for Parliamentary office jobs; Documents published by the Parliamentary expenses watchdog Ipsa; Total MPs' expenses bill hits £103m - more than it was during 2009 scandal"

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  14. Reading this blog makes me so angry. I' ts really not good for the blood pressure. My hatred for this Govmt is matched by my determination to contribute in whatever way I can towards their eviction next May!

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