Sunday, 14 September 2014

TR Week Fifteen

Manchester is no longer functioning at any level. Middle managers look like rabbits in the head lights. Staff morale lower than zero. However the heart warming CEO blog is a great source of comfort and reassurance at this time.

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Think the feeling of tumbleweed recently might be down to the lack of staff over the Summer. Our county is huge (just under 2,000 square miles). Four of us in the CRC covering the entire area over the Bank Holiday week. The SPO did office duty for us and we took turns to cover the front office because we only had one admin. Unintended consequence of the split, everyone having pre-booked leave at the same time.

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1: This blog is well read by CEO's and middle managers in Manchester and it can only be a matter of time before censorship is applied.
2: Most middle managers are trying to make things work despite their misgivings - not one. middle manager in Manchester that I have met supports TR - therefore how can they implement the changes with any authority?
3: There is not one CEO (that I am aware of) who has openly come out against the changes. Apologies to you honourable lady or gent if this is the case - please keep trying..after all you have a 3 year protected pay deal (I think) whilst the rest of us are cannon fodder.
4: How many staff are actively involved in the setting up of their mutual CRC in Manchester?
5: Manchester is relying on agency staff to lurch from crisis to crisis which is not of their making.
6: Manchester's Connect forum however refers to this crisis as 'teething problems'.
7: The Justice Minister fears making any changes as he fears looking weak and politically inept.
8: The Justice minister is weak and inept.
9: Those who failed to object to the changes now eagerly grab the chance to write FDRs for £150 a time and in doing so try and prop up a system that is toppling slowly over
10: So as you can see we are well and truly shafted.
11: However, the dates for signing the contracts keep getting pushed further back.
12: I heard that a reunification strategy was being discussed between the opposition parties last week in case things didn't go according to plan with the sell off.
13: So with all things considered and despite what we are being told via the electronic blogs (Northumbria Crack takes the prize for best title) there is still much to fight for....

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Personally I cannot wait for the contracts to be signed. Things will soon go FUBAR for all those involved it will put paid to any future similar schemes. Plus I want to see Sodexo try to make a silk purse out of the sows ear that our trust has descended into!!!

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Northumbria Crack is a real magazine made of paper. It's a complete work of fiction, nothing in it is reflective of what is really happening. We think they have named it after the drug they were smoking when they wrote it.

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There is a generation of Probation staff out there that earn their living unpicking the flawed thinking of deviant others. They DO NOT fall for spin. I advise management to stop trying to bullshit us. It belittles them and it belittles us.

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Manchester - sickening joke! In other areas there are options for CRC PO's to complete PSR's for overtime. Not Manchester - on no! CRC PO's HAVE to do them under the threat of disciplinary action. CRC PO's have been "instructed" to attend RSR and CAS training next week. So, my only supposition is that there is no clear end in sight for Manchester. So, we're doing 2 PSR's per week, holding up to 20 NPS cases on top of a 70 person CRC caseload. Hilarious! 

I am particularly enjoying the fact that a number of offenders have been transferred around officers so much that they are being terminated with just one contact (induction) and no requirements completed throughout a WHOLE order. Manchester was an unfunny messy joke pre-split. Now, it has officially collapsed. Mind you, if you are to read the chiefs blogs from CRC and NPS they might tell you about the fancy lunches they have been to this week, or tell you we're getting through the teething problems very well! I love our managers, they are so motivating and in-touch.


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Merseyside CRC were asked if we wanted a regular bulletin and my office decided it would be a waste of time as it'd be full of propaganda and we wouldn't have time to read it.


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Derby's, Notts and Leics CRC have just issued a questionnaire of how the staff feel, including how management are doing and TR. Hmm not sure what they are letting themselves in for because probably come back as everything is fine.

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Teesside NPS could not give a flying. For them it's just another JFDI day.

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JFDI: Just F*cking do it. A favourite saying of our ex chief and now embraced by most SPO's when you raise a concern.

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We had to do a weird 'push button' questionnaire at the launch of our CRC. We were asked hugely loaded questions like 'how important is it to you to feel valued as an employee?' This has been translated into 90+% of staff agreeing with the cultural aspirations of the new company. Statistics lie.

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Re: survey mentioned above. It asks if we think that management is 'strong and visible'. Given the question posed a few weeks ago asking what happened to our leaders as TR was bulldozed through, I can only surmise that they have had a collective irony bypass or perhaps they are being tongue in cheek?

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I'm getting a feeling that this whole shebang i.e TR is going down the pan. Wonder if we had Ladbrokes on it what would be the odds that contracts are not in place before the next Election?

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Too many robots will make it trundle on, reality is 98% of staff don't care who they work for. Could be arms dealers for all they care or understand ... Get out whilst you can before even the automones recognise its bad. I did and can do the work we all aspire too.

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I think that does 64 per cent of staff a disservice(insert meaningless percentage here). In our area NPS staff are not far from breaking point and the CRC staff are starting to get worried as a lot of them are quiet. (I know the workload varies between areas and sometimes offices as to which part are overworked i.e CRC or NPS).

I think that a lot of people are just trying to get through this and hoping the following day/week/year will get better. I also think that when or hopefully if the CRC's transfer to the big players, we are going to see a massive cull. They will want to pay SPO's, PO wages, PO's, PSO wages and on and on. It is potentially going to be horrible for all involved.


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How on earth can CRC be quiet? - it doesn't make sense as the majority of cases through our courts are low/medium. Everyone in our CRC office has a case load of 60/70 and that's a lot to keep track of. NPS are quiet as most of theirs are sitting in prison doing long stretches - oh and they're over-staffed.

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NPS employing 100's of agency temps to assist with 'breach'. Is this the breaching of under 12 month sentencers who will (we presume) be tagged?? Nice work if you can get it, eh? I am still quietly enraged at this wide scale dishonesty and the resulting chaos and confusion. Probation is hanging by a thread.

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Northumbria CRC has been overtaken by the work load measurement activity. They have gone about it in the most convoluted way possible and it’s taking hours and hours of staff time. It’s really highlighting how much time we spend doing ridiculously mindless bureaucratic tasks that make no difference to anything. Not sure anything will actually change as a result.

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My clients are also increasingly feeling the impact of welfare changes. I find the men the most distressing to deal with. North East men are a proud bunch and it’s soul destroying to see them in tears because they are in such despair with benefits sanctions, rent arrears, lack of crisis loans, bedroom tax, being found fit to work etc, etc. There’s a real sense of desperation creeping in and I hate this bastard, cruel government more each day.


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Admin just found three cases sentenced at the beginning of the year & have never been allocated an officer. Whoops

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Seeing how my local CRC are asking staff to 'fudge' OASys scores is making me so glad I'm not a part of the CRC

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Just been offered an agency job in Manchester. Pay negotiable, will fund travel & hotel + £250 bonus. Where is all the money coming from?!?

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Practice is being changed to suit the TR agenda and the court reports are the beginning of this. I have tried the risk escalation process, it is a bloody nightmare to use and took me half a day and two calls to IT, then the NPS officer had a nightmare too. Previously I would have just talked to my manager updated the risk and continued to manage the case myself reacting to the change in risk. It really makes me so sad to lose a case I've worked with for ages and where I was the one to recognise the changes, only for someone in NPS to take it over not knowing anything about it. Plus, don't get me started about the DV reports coming out from courts, really they are just not good enough.

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First I would like to say in my area we have also seen a decline in the quality of reports prepared for court. This is because court PSO's are writing majority of them. These have been staff who have been in court for years who have never even held case loads let alone written reports. I'm sorry but their inexperience shines through and the amount of poor assessments and inappropriate proposals is embarrassing quite frankly. The problem with the split is you don't necessarily have the right person for the job.

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Our FDR template does not even have a section for Relationships. Some court officers will type it in manually but others not. I have now begun complaining each time I get a sub-standard report from court and I believe that these complaints are being carried forward.

With regards to being split into the CRC, I am a PSO and am struggling with mental health cases that would previously have gone to a PO - I feel as though I'm in over my head and can't do the job anymore - good luck to those PSOs who feel able to take DV/CP/MH cases on but I'm not and have no wish to do so - in effect I'm being put out of a job. Finally, I've had no training on any of the above either and it's a case of ask a colleague if and when you come upon a query.

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The split does not have the right people for the right job. I have noticed in Manchester in our office 3 newly qualified officers are in NPS, they should be on protected caseloads, they are refusing to take lifers, sex offenders, holding a small case load, had only written about 10 PSR's and perhaps 1 Parole report during their training. Then you have highly experienced officers that have 25 years plus service that have been shafted into CRC. IT'S ALL WRONG and giving the NPS a right headache which higher managers are refusing to see. And no one from CRC are rushing to apply for the NPS posts and rightly so for the way we have been treated. They have had to re-advertise. THE TRAIN CRASH HAS ALREADY HAPPENED IN MANCHESTER, WE ARE JUST PICKING UP THE SCRAPS.

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Since I have been shafted into the CRC, I have never worked so hard due to having a 90% caseload of DV cases. It is impossible to do all the work with each case that I am supposed to do due to the shear volume of cases. Prior to the split we probably had about 10 DV cases each. Also should child protection cases not be managed by NPS? When I trained 30 years ago our first and most priority was child protection. Running around like a headless chicken is going to cause a lot of mistakes and last minute fire fighting and maybe cost to human lives. THE RISK TO THE PUBLIC IS MORE APPARENT NOW THEN IT HAS EVER BEEN.

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Omg that takes the biscuit. We are now using Facebook to find documents to do our job.........priceless

47 comments:

  1. I'm one of the unhappy Manchester CRC POs. What is the union doing about the fact that some people can get paid for going PSRs but I have to or risk getting disciplined .

    Supposedly from November CRC and NPS will have to operate as separate entities and it could not come soon enough. As I am fed up of having the piss taken out of.

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    1. Good Question, what are the unions doing, some doing them under threat, some doing them for extra cash - up to £150; are we not all currently working for the MoJ?

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  2. Separate entities? That will be a laugh. It won't happen.

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    1. I agree. Won't happen until everything is signed off.

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  3. I think there will be a lot of London based probation officers wondering what all the fuss is. We've been told for years that things are over, with all the said propaganda top down communications to our email inboxes, while many officers were working with well over 70+ cases long before TR hit and that's with 2 PSR's per week too. Then add in home checks for ROTL and HDC, parole reports, prison visits for phase 2 and 3, DRR reviews, and other stuff not accounted for in the workload mismanagement tool. Then factor in our many community payback staff that were shafted over to Serco (which Napo failed to stop), at least they've returned but with the prospect of being sold on again.

    Caseload levels have remained since the TR sifting, with both NPS and CRC staff working well over capacity, leading to increasing sickness levels. I see SPO's pulling their hair out over what to do with the huge volume of cases and reports they struggle to allocate, and the impact on staff is immense. Temperatures run high amongst staff and increasingly and the division are rising between NPS and CRC staff, there is much anxiety over the tasks that cannot be completed without sitting at the desk from morning to night without a break, NPS staff forced to write reports which in many cases involves a prison as impossible to book video links, disgruntled CRC staff regularly argue with their managers over new silly procedures, Temp staff move on quickly to wherever the lower caseload is while half of temp PSR writers write awful reports. A lot of programmes and PSR's are being completed on a sessional basis, which many of us don't want but with the PSR's at least we get paid for the work we in the NPS are made to do anyway when everyone else has gone home.

    This is how it's been in London for the past few years, and now the rest of the country has caught up.

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    1. To PO 10.38 "caught up"? Sounds more like "sunk" to a disasterous low! Find it hard to believe colleagues in London found such working conditions as you describe existing before TR acceptable.

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  4. " Seeing how my local CRC are asking staff to 'fudge' OASys scores is making me so glad I'm not a part of the CRC "

    How can a person behave in such away and consider themselves to be a professional?

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  5. "

    Press release
    A bold new vision for the treatment of victims

    From:
    Ministry of Justice and The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP
    History:
    Published 14 September 2014
    Part of:
    Helping and supporting victims of crime and Law and the justice system

    Victims’ rights will be enshrined in law as part of a major set of reforms announced by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling today. "

    (MEANWHILE PROBATION IS BEING WRECKED _ THAT WILL NOT HELP VICTIMS)

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/a-bold-new-vision-for-the-treatment-of-victims

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  6. Could I call upon the Manchester Mandarins to resign on mass-you know you want to really?

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  7. Cheshire CRC are sent regular threatening emails from the newly promoted Assistant Chief, about making sure the targets are hit. I quote "Failure to achieve performance targets in the private sector will place us all at risk as poor performance will not be tolerated". "I expect a significant increase in our performance from this moment forward please and any further failures will be investigated by line managers and appropriate action taken where necessary".

    It is an awful place to work at the moment. Morale is at an all time low. Threatening somebody does not really make them want to work any harder! Just makes them hate you even more and they will never go the extra mile for you.

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    1. It is a dumb approach. Poor management, frankly. Indicative of a fundamentally bankrupt ideology. You can shout at it as much as you like, it still takes four minutes to boil an egg. JDI is not management, it is cowardice. JFDI is not cowardice, it is bullying and harassment. Scared little men and women with no answers, no leadership skills and no backbone.

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    2. There is no 'Cheshire CRC' of course, so do you mean 'Cheshire & Greater Manchester CRC'? If so, Can i ask when these 'threatening emails' were sent out as i haven't seen them - in particular i haven't seen the one allegedly quoted from here...

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    3. Yes, apologies my pedantic friend. I was referring to the cheshire and manchester CRC but in particular the Cheshire side. I have evidence of many emails but the one quoted was sent on 27/08/14 at 11:25am. If you have not seen them, you may not be in that email loop and based in a different part of the county.

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  8. We have had a very direct e-mail from on high to say current sickness rates are not to be tolerated because we need to be a fit and lean service if people are going to want to buy us...

    ... is this how we stop people wanting to buy is? Okay then book me in for two weeks of sick leave please!

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    1. I'll fuck up a sick note for a couple of months then

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    2. Once upon a time in Trusts it was a similar mantra but inverted: then it was, we must be lean, we must perform, we must hit targets - as this is the only way of making sure we are not sold off and to protect your jobs. Now it's similar urgings but with a view to being marketable. Probation managers don't really care whether you are marching left-right or right-left. They just require you to be in step with their thinking - not really their thinking, more whatever the MoJ instructs them to think. They are mercenaries who will do anything, but they do enjoy kissing up and kicking down. Anything that screws up targets, that sabotages and impedes, are the kind of workarounds that probation needs. It does not need good performance. After all, look where that got us!

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    3. It was that sheep like following that had some attempt to rename probation officers - offender managers - which is a meaningless oxymoron that gives folk a misunderstanding of the nature of the job of probation officer which is to enhance effective self management not imply that supervisees are ever being managed - in the sense that they can reasonably be relied to do what they are instructed .

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    4. I think you are right Andrew. The language matters. It can reshape the culture and give rise to new expectations as to what can be realised. It's a standard technique often used in politics to reframe reality. Think of the miners and 'the enemy within'. Or think of how the Nazis used language to define enemies. Orwell knew better than many how language distorts. The 'reality' of the offender manager created an us and them divide. creating a pretense that people are machines that can be operated upon, repaired, made functional. The probation officer as the technocrat rather than a fellow human being motivated by a basic altruism, whatever its source codes, to help individuals make creative use of their lives and make the best of their circumstances which often started out in disadvantage. By all indices probation clients are disadvantaged. What probation tries to communicate is that crime is not a lasting solution. There has to be a better way. But probation has moved away from helping towards classifying and controlling. The whole risk edifice is built on sand. There are no experts when it comes to predicting what an individual will do. Yet something terrible happens and then there is a forensic examination of case notes of the 'offender manager' who must have missed something. The system protects itself though the blame game. There are systemic problems: the extent of the institutional abuse of children appalls and yet many of those children 'graduated' into crime. But in new reactionary culture of distorted thinking and individual pathology, there is little sympathy for those who were once victims. I used to see probation work as part of the solution, then it became part of the problem with its enforcement mentality. Not so long ago probation was stuffing the prisons with technical breaches of orders and licences. A good probation takes risks rather than being obsessed with the pretentious management of risks.

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    5. Excellent piece by anon17:27 (in my view, at least). Since the politicisation of probation post-cja'91 we have been subjected to an ever increasing risk averse management, greatly encouraged by Boateng's battle cry of "we are an enforcement agency. It is what we are. It is what we do." (Or something similar). The skill and delicacy of nuanced thinking has been crushed as increasing numbers of 'yes' people have risen quickly & populated management positions; people who are frightened by such thinking because its beyond them, so the trend is to stamp on what you're frightened of - spiders, beetles, ideas, compassion, creativity, taking risks.

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    6. Paul Boateng is the strangest of men - remember him as a fire brand left wing London Councillor campaigning as a solicitor for his clients.

      I recall once seeing him in the gate house at Brixton prison having a ferocious row, about something - as I regret have I done once or twice! (I went there often at one time - it was our Remand gaol)

      When he got the prison ministers job - I was reasonably reassured but then I heard him ticking us of at Napo conference - he just was not about Rehabilitation at all but I imagine used prison and related issues for electoral purposes.

      He was or is a Methodist lay preacher - very clever - he climbed rapidly and then disappeared into Africa as a High Commissioner- all very strange. He seemed to change totally from when he was a GLC Thatcher fighter to when he was in Government.

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    7. They were tough on crime, but not on its causes. But it was all the rhetoric of triangulation - the third way. New Labour learnt so many tricks from the socially conservative and the probably psychopathic Clinton. We just need people to think critically. I don't care which way Scotland votes, but at least they are all talking politics!

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  9. E-mail received from HR this week said 'Until share sale, we are still technically civil servants'. Thoughts on this assertion?

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    1. I wonder if magistrates, judges and solicitors will help us out by insisting that the CRC PO who is managing the case comes to court and makes a sentencing proposal - since legally they still can.

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    2. We have never been civil servants, technically or otherwise. Or have I missed something.

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    3. according to Shared Services all civil servants received an induction - shall we all ask where our is??? Can't bloody make us all civil servants when it suits them then fail to deliver what thye should......

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    4. We were more closely linked to local government officers traditionally but, no, we were never civil servants so that comment gets a raspberry.

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    5. Inaccurate statement above. CRC staff are not civil servants

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  10. Legal reps would do better by insisting that reports for court were completed by the supervising officer of their clients - most reports are now done by people who do not know the individual and often don't even speak to the supervising officer.....just court team staff given a couple of hours in total so how much information are they going to get in that time???

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    1. Well that's the new model and when share sale comes and goes this will be more frequent. If legal reps have a problem with it they should complain to his RT honourable fuckwit Chris Grayling

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  11. exactly my point !

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  12. Clegg has commented about #TR being an improvement and Probation officers being civil servants!

    "09:25 Terry asks about the National Probation Service - NC spoke highly of the service at its centenary in 2007 - Terry is alarmed about its privatisation. Why when it is doing so well why are all these changes being brought in?

    NC: Of course I pay tribute to Probation Officers who do a very good at making sure people coming out of prison turn their lives around. In many respects they embody the best of the civil service.

    It doesn't mean that everything is working the best it can. There are other organisations who have great ideas on how we can stop people reoffending. The plans mean the Probation Service still looks after the high risk offenders but with the low risk offenders there are other organisations who have great ideas.

    I don't think a system is always perfect and it can be improved. "

    http://www.lbc.co.uk/call-clegg-watch-in-full---7th-november-80925/liveblog/48

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  13. Anonymous14 September 2014 17:27 - well said. loved it.

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  14. http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk/2014/09/tuc-making-public-services-strong/

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    1. Last week the Trades Union Congress met in Liverpool and considered the future of public services. It will inevitably have reaffirmed the trade union preference for public services to be owned, funded and managed within an accountable public sector. This is a principled position to adopt and one, which seems increasingly to resonate with the public.

      I do, however, hope that the TUC and the trade unions will also consider some related progressive policy positions.

      First and foremost, after many years of neo-liberal policies, there is an urgent need for the case for public services, tax based public funding and public accountability to be made much more loudly than hitherto. The consequences of the cuts programmes need to be explained and exposed too.

      This is an opportunity for trade unions to demonstrate their wider political and civil society role and the contribution which public services make to economic, social and environmental well-being and to a civilised society. This case has to be made between now and May 2015 with increasing clarity and passion.

      Trade unions could consider widening their policy stance on public services in a number of ways.

      - See more at: http://opinion.publicfinance.co.uk/2014/09/tuc-making-public-services-strong/#sthash.0a0qjERM.dpuf

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  15. Just an observation it appears that most Probation Officers work beyond their contractual hours, isn't there a maximum hours set by Europe somewhere, we are suppose to work to. Is the service acting illegal, turning a blind eye to the hours we work. Someone should take them to task. What are the unions doing about this. All that bullying and threatening us with losing our jobs if we don't hit targets which are impossible to do in 37 and half hours per week must be illegal.

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    1. It's quite simple -doesn't need the Union - just be disciplined in yourself and only work your contracted hours. Also take your full lunch break. And please don't tell me you can't 'cos you can and if every employee did the whole working edifice which is propped up with all your free labour and goodwill would come crashing down.
      Deb

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  16. Anon 16:14 - "Sunk" is more accurate. I tell you no lies, there's been high workloads for a long time. Workloads fell in London after the Dano/Sonnex case review but crept back up since, so many have not noticed a worsening in conditions since TR because they were already bad.

    Anon 20:54 - I think the guidance is something along the lines of that we shouldn't be working more than 10% over capacity for more than a week. For any probation employee that is, their manager must review and reduce the caseload within this timeframe. If not the manager and trust were liable to grievances, and out on a limb if they tried to discipline staff working over-capacity for any mistakes or tasks not met. Trusts would get around this by no staff supervision, not recording in supervision notes where staff had were overworked, or not using the workload management tool or equivalent method show employees over capacity. Another one of there tactics is to never agree a maximum workload. Napo can say more about this.

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  17. A few issues back, Private Eye (PE) said that Grayling was under scrutiny by the Parliamentary standards watchdog for a dodgy claim. Despite owning and renting out several London properties, he felt entitled to claim for work done on his main residence and whacked in a large claim. When the claims dept told him it exceeded the annual limit, he split the claim over 2 financial years - despite the work all being done before the deadline. PE said there was a good chance he could be the first Justice Minister to do time if he was one of those to fall foul of the arcane process where some of the thefts from the taxpayer get punished but others (McNulty, Smith, Laws, et al) don't. There's been nothing in PE since but hope springs eternal. I wish NAPO and Unison could crowbar his lack of morals and overblown sense of entitlement, into any press coverage they get.

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  18. Napo??? What have they done about workload measurement, sweet FA by the looks of it. We have been put out to pasture, three months down the line and no further forward of measuring the work I have in the NPS than on June the 1st. It is not as if they did not know this was happening. I have no argument when targets do not get met with my manager and won't have until this is sorted out either. West Yorks stress and sickness level is a an all time high and getting worse by the week as those left behind get shafted with extra cases to cover. No sessional work being offered in Bradford that's for sure. At this rate there wlll be no-one left when they do come in.

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  19. Grayling is also claiming for 5 damaged roof tiles and a screw hole in his facia board, from the FFJ roof top protest.
    I think the old saying should be changed around to " where there's money there's muck".

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    1. Not so long back one of my caseload recognised my vehicle and, in eloquent caseload style, wrote "probation cunt" on the bodywork using a chisel (or similar). My insurance wouldn't cover it (malicious damage). My employer - not interested. My MP - no reply. if only I were a member of parliament. Expenses would have done the trick...

      I suspect it would have cost me considerably more to remedy than millionaire Grayling's roof tiles etc.

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    2. write to your local newspaper - ask them to withold your name - it will make a great story and exposes your employer and MP, so maybe do not stress the insurance bit, do you have legal assistance cover, they may advise. I wonder if a home insurance policy may help.

      Hard luck, I had tyres punctured.

      See if your Union can help.

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  20. Plus we have had to put up with the stupid and pointless post sentence debacle. Please God help you all if this is adopted nationwide. The RSR tool is also hopeless. Most of the NPS cases we are getting are all below the age of 21 as it is unbalanced when the case is young and has any violent offences. One lad aged 19 came oy as 14 per cent and all he had dne was kick a few windows in because he had nicked a couple of phones from his school peers when he was 13, robberies. Then we get serial DV perps off to the CRC cos they are getting on a bit and there have been nice long gaps between them knocking a succession of poor unfortunate women around. It's a joke but woe betide questioning this with managers who blindly go along with it for fear of upsetting their senior.

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  21. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/chris-grayling-under-fire-over-claim-ministry-of-justice-hid-abuse-and-rape-in-jails-9732475.html

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    1. Chris Grayling's Ministry of Justice blocked an investigation into the hidden problem of rape and sexual abuse in British prisons, it has emerged.

      The Howard League for Penal Reform today publishes a report claiming that as many as 1,650 prisoners may have been sexually abused while serving sentences - but says the work of its independent commission into the issue has been hampered by a lack of co-operation from Mr Grayling’s department.

      Researchers were barred from interviewing serving prisoners about the experiences of coercive sex - meaning they had to rely on testimony from convicts who had completed their sentences.

      Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League, said: “Prisons are meant to be safe places where the law is enforced, not places where people are under threat of sexual violence and rape. It is therefore particularly disappointing that the Ministry of Justice refused to allow the Commission to interview prisoners directly.”

      Mr Grayling is facing growing questions about the deterioration of prison conditions under his watch.

      Prison governors have repeatedly warned that some jails becoming “death traps” as they struggle to accommodate an increasing population of more than 85,000 while implementing budget cuts of up to 24 per cent over the past three years. Recent figures showed that violence, suicide and self-harm among prisoners are on the rise.

      According to today’s report from the Howard League’s Commission on Sex in Prison, data from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) show that at least one per cent of prisoners report being sexually abused in prison. The Howard League calculates that between 850 to 1,650 prisoners could sexual assaulted while serving sentences, with evidence suggesting that some victims will be assaulted more than once.

      Gay and transgender prisoners are at highest risk of sexual assault, the briefing paper published today says, while most prison staff lack basic guidance on how to support prisoners who report sexual abuse.

      The data is supported by a study interviewing 208 former prisoners carried out 10 years ago which found one per cent of respondees saying they had been raped and 5.3 per cent reporting they were victims of coerced sex.

      The Howard League for Penal Reform has accused the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) of “downplaying” the prevalence of coercive sex in British prisons. It contrasted the UK government’s attitude with the situation in the US, where the problem of sexual violence behind bars is widely recognised, with federal legislation – the Prison Rape Elimination Act – passed in 2003.

      Lovisa Stannow of US-based prisoner charity Just Detention International, said: “As long as rape in prison is cloaked in silence, this kind of violence will continue unabated.”

      A spokesman for the MoJ told The Independent: “The proposal for this research from the Howard League was rejected following consultation by National Research Committee. There were mainly concerns about the value of the research and how it would be conducted.”

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  22. Please please can we collectively look at the RSR, CA and Risk Escalation tools? They are truly shocking....perhaps a guest blog? I am happy to email you Jim?

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    1. By all means - guest blogs urgently required in order to fill blank space! jimbrown51@virginmedia.com

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