Saturday, 20 September 2014

What's in Prospect?

I'm told that Chivalry Road is a hive of activity at the moment and news that the London Solicitors have won their case against Chris Grayling over legal aid might well give some Napo members hope that the activity might involve intense effort on a similar legal challenge. 

Far from it I'm told because, as I've repeatedly stated on this blog, there has never been any serious plan, let alone desire, of pursuing a Judicial Review on any aspect of TR. Now there will always be those that choose not to believe this, preferring instead to swallow the line that it's all being done in secret so as not to prejudice the case. Indeed this theme has already surfaced on this blog:-

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

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

My contempt for those in positions of authority within the union for allowing this myth to perpetuate knows no bounds. I'm going to say this just one more time - there will be no JR of TR - there never was any intention of mounting a legal challenge because the General Secretary has always been against it, for reasons that are not entirely clear, and the only hope of mounting a challenge to this view was lost when Tom Rendon was hounded from office.

I've heard it said many times before that one of the reasons for not mounting a legal challenge - which incidentally the MoJ privately find astonishing - is the desire to hang on to the money in case of a winding up of the union. It could just be incompetence of course, but it's all academic now because any legal challenge is almost certainly out of time. 

So, if there's not a lot of activity going on fighting TR or preparing a legal challenge, what is keeping everyone so busy, preventing meaningful communication with the membership and the General Secretary from writing his blog? I'm told he's busy courting a merger with another union, having been earlier rebuffed by his old union the PCS. I'm led to believe the union in question is Prospect:-
Prospect has over 3,600 members working in a broad range of organisations that are essential to maintaining law and order throughout the UK.
Their input is key across all parts of the judicial system, from departmental policy and criminal investigation through to court proceedings and the penal and probationary systems.

Their expertise spans a variety of specialist roles from forensic scientists to justices' clerks, serious fraud investigators to prison service chaplains and psychological assistants.
The union has members throughout the Ministry of Justice – one of the country's biggest departments – as well as in smaller private companies such as LGC, formerly the Laboratory of the Government Chemist before privatisation and now a provider of investigative, diagnostic and measurement services.
Another key membership area for Prospect within the justice sector is the Metropolitan Police Service where the union represents around 1,000 specialist police staff including fingerprint officers, blood spatter scientists, ballistics specialists, explosive experts, e-forensics specialists (including data retrieval from computers and mobile phones), crime scene examiners and collision investigators, photographers, technicians, health & safety officers, estates managers and surveyors, and custody nurse practitioners.
Now don't get me wrong, trying to arrange a merger with another union might be a very sensible thing to be doing if it looks like the imposition of TR and consequent loss of membership begins to question the viability of the union. But this raises a number of questions in my mind, the first being if this is all being undertaken with the authority and approval of the union's governing Executive? 

The second question is a bit more serious and concerns how this will eventually be 'sold' to the membership? Will it be a case of 'it's the best we can do in the circumstances' which begins to sound rather ominously like the explanation that was offered to the membership over those 'agreed' TR terms. Was that recent rather pointless letter sent out by the General Secretary saying how well things are going designed to prepare the ground, a bit like trying to stop a run on a bank in parlous trouble?

I'm sure that at least some members will be asking themselves if the situation we now find ourselves in is not so much as a result of TR, but rather more as a result of some breathtakingly inept decision-making at the very heart of the union? There's just time to register this weekend for the AGM in Scarborough at the early bird rate of £45.

No doubt there will be others who will say this is all an anti-union plot by a blog with a hidden agenda. All I can do is repeat that I'm only interested in fighting TR and speaking as I find and as I hear. As always it's up to readers to look at the evidence and make up their own mind. 

45 comments:

  1. Sadly I think ?nAPOs head is buried so deep in the sand they can probably see the Sydney Opera House. Meantime, Grayling is so far up himself he'll be waking up to eyeball last night's Michelin Star snack; whilst the CRC management teams haven't any vision at all. I suspect the only people with any clear view are the global bidders who know the game inside out, who are plauing with MoJ and who will (yet again) raid the public purse and make huge profits for doing as little as possible at the least cost.

    NAPO - why not make a bid for Alex Salmond as new GS? He's on the transfer market...

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    1. Tom Rendon "hounded" from office? Proof? I find this very hard to believe!

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    2. He ran away before he got hounded out by the membership. Still a PI director tho'

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  2. A call for 'no confidence' in IL required! It has been evident from the start that he has little understanding of the issues in Probation.

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  3. When I visited my MP on Lobby day (who is a Conservative MP) he proudly told me he too was a member of a Union ie Prospect, that's as much as I know of this Union.

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  4. If I may head off on a slight tangent?

    This article coukd make an excellent guest blog if permissions were obtained- http://www.theguardian.com/society/2002/apr/05/publicvoices4

    It describes a very familiar landscape. An extract from Dr Douglas Cameron's article:

    "I see managerialism as a virus which has as its main attribute the destruction of altruism and of individual clinical and scholarly activity. I think that is a bad thing, for it suppresses individual oddities like me.

    Managerialism does not allow outliers, but it is from those outliers, those mavericks, those oddballs that innovation is spawned. And I know that if the managerial systems we now live under in universities and the NHS existed 25 years ago, we would not have been able to do what we did.

    We would not have been able to tear up the old beliefs and models of care, particularly for drinkers, and try something new. We would still be insisting on treating so-called alcoholics in residential facilities.

    And now we are being told that what we do is not good enough. We are told there is cash for change, not for sustaining what we have already created. What changes, a return to a belief in the diseases of alcoholism and drug addiction with some kind of genetic or biochemical basis?

    I have lived my life in a highly politicised domain of healthcare, where prejudices rather than evidence drive our actions. And it is getting worse. There is a preoccupation with so-called evidence based practice. Very often the evidence is collected from compliant subjects thousands of miles removed from the populations we attempt to care for.

    What about practice-based evidence?

    I worry profoundly for the future of drug and alcohol services locally and nationally. To quote Professor Gerry Stimson, we now live in a world of policy-driven evidence. That will become even more true with the increasingly centralised power exerted by bodies like NICE and, in the drink and drugs field, the National Treatment Agency."

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    1. This is so true and absolutely applicable to what has been, and is now worsening, in the world of Probation and prisons. Processes and process mapping ,designed by those who clearly have no knowledge or interest , abound and must be followed. Assessment / guidance tools, ' treatment ' programmes are presented as absolutes. People are following an ill-informed /disinterested lead from a position of ignorance. Knowledge, experience, practice based evidence is rejected and actively ' shut down '. Ineffective and potentially harmful practice results.

      If anyone wishes to buy the Emperors new clothes, they may wish to wait. Very soon they will be able to purchase not just a new suit, but a whole wardrobe , and will probably get offered a very good price

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  5. Hi Jim Im the poster yesterday regards the two comments re TR above. If what you are saying is true, that is truly awful and members have been led down the garden path.
    My understanding of the constitution of the Union is that the General Secretary is not a dictator and is accountable yo the national exec and not forgetting the members. I am taking you are getting or have got a lot of your info from Tom Rendon, I'm sorry but a person who in my eyes is discredited and found to have too many personal agendas. Another source I'm sure is saint Harry, again not an objective source. If any individuals on the various committees are briefing you with this information , I have to ask why they are briefing you and not raising it or even whistleblowing within NAPO. In my eyes they would be just as culpable as the Gen Sec if what you say is true.I think what you are saying is so serious and if true, scandalous that it is not enough to just be able to sit back and publish this without something further being done. I am not for one minute suggesting that you compromise your anonymity Jim, but perhaphs whoever is giving you the info has the balls to come out and say it. They have a duty to do so.

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    1. It's not rocket science - either NAPO give some credible detail of legal proceeings - eg stage of process, counsel instructed etc, which would in no way compromise their position - or nothing to this effect is happening. Money SHOULD have been used to commence JR. I am not in NAPO - I left in disgust at poor union representation when needed after more than a decade of subs. What a waste of money. And by the looks of it still not being used as it should at this crucial time. Shocking.

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    2. That's incredibly frustrating and part of the downside of this blog. People who are not in the Union making demands as to what should happen!

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    3. I was in the union and paid in a considerable sum if money. Sorry you feel frustrated but I am part of the service and entitled to my opinion. I am not part of the downside of this blog and JB has quoted many of my contributions in support of our opposition to TR.

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    4. I don't care whether the source of this information is Rendon, Fletcher or Mystic Meg. Who remembers Deep Throat's real name anyway! A member-led union is about as meaningful as 'free and fair' elections in a banana republic, if members don't have information as opposed to mere rhetoric. Information is power. If it's false it can easily be slapped down, but if true then it's up for debate immediately. In the jargon it's called engaging with the membership. As for eligibility to comment on this blog, I don't care if a posting is the product of a ouija board, as surely we have the capacity to separate the wheat from the chaff.

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  6. Slightly off topic, I'm no Accountant however a comparison between Annual Reports from Howard League of Friends and NAPO 2012-13 says it all both in financial terms and vision. I'll leave finance comparisons to the experts however to pursue their vision they have remained in the media throughout and their aim is 'staying radical, being ambitious and becoming more influential', NAPO could learn a lot from this Charity and if I recall they did mount a Judicial Review on Grayling!

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  7. I wish all well who are off to Epsom this morning to campaign amongst the Secretary of State's constituents.

    https://www.facebook.com/napoukglb/posts/1533332340212510

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  8. @deanrogers25: "exploring actively. Can only risk huge sum of members' £ if winnable but if winnable will consider.

    This is the answer I got on twitter in response to me asking about JR or legal
    ChallAnge

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  9. Well the legal aid win suggests a TR JR would be winnable. To arms, to arms......

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    1. That's why they're not going for it. Ian Lawrence doesn't want to stop TR - as is apparent from the fact that no opportunity to stop it has been left unsquandered. I wonder who he really works for....

      Simon Garden

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  10. That's what I've said. Also they could poll members to to ascertain what they think about their money being used for this purpose .. I can't see many objectors

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  11. I wish all going to Epsom well also.
    However, it's also party conference season where the nations media will be present in droves, all looking for response to what the politions blurt out from the conference stage.
    Surely, oppertunity is available here for a wealth of 'cost free' publicity and a platform to provide oppertunity to counter the TR spin machine.
    Will the oppertunity be taken?

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  12. We haven't got a hope in hell without a judicial review. I feel so let down and have no idea who I can trust. This government should not be able to get away with this.

    NOMS is advertiing the following vacancies

    Job Description
    Transforming Rehabilitation is one of the Justice Secretary’s top policy priorities. The Rehabilitation Programme is a highly ambitious scheme that has set up a new National Probation Service (NPS) who will retain responsibility for offenders who pose a high risk of serious harm to the public and who have committed more serious offences.

    In addition, the programme has created 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to provide rehabilitation opportunities to all other offenders. Contracts will be awarded to successful bidders to manage and operate each of the CRCs, delivering a wide range of services designed to support offenders and reduce reoffending.

    We have undergone a major restructure and are now recruiting for a highly skilled and dedicated team to manage these innovative, high-value contracts that will bring together the skills of the public, private and voluntary sectors.

    The Contract Management team will:
    •Oversee and ensure the delivery of services by the CRCs
    •Manage a wide range of stakeholders and ensure a seamless link with all parts of the justice system.
    •Introduce the use of innovative payment mechanisms to incentivise a focus on reducing reoffending.
    •Generate efficiency savings that can be used to extend rehabilitation to support more offenders.
    •Commission and work closely with the new National Probation Service, which will retain responsibility for the management of high-risk offenders.

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  13. Off topic, but a must read.

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/sep/20/latvian-criminals-supervised-by-email-in-uk-arnis-zalkalns-alice-gross

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    1. Between 30 and 40 convicted Latvians living in the UK are being supervised by probation officers in their native country via email, according to a criminal justice expert.

      The revelation comes after forensic searches were conducted at the home of a Latvian builder named as the prime suspect in the search for Alice Gross, the missing London schoolgirl.

      Scotland Yard said it was looking for Arnis Zalkalns, 41, after he was identified on CCTV near the towpath in west London where Alice went missing. Latvian police confirmed Zalkalns served a custodial sentence after he was convicted of bludgeoning his wife, Rudite, to death in his home country in 1998.

      He served seven years in prison, prompting questions over why he was allowed into the UK and how much the authorities knew of his violent past.

      Harry Fletcher, a former assistant general secretary at the probation union, Napo, and now director of the Digital-Trust, a charity that campaigns against online abuse, said that Latvian offenders living in the UK were obliged only to email their probation officers once a fortnight.

      The revelation will further intensify the focus on the supervision of offenders from EU member states residing in the UK. British citizens who had been convicted of murder would be subject to stringent supervision orders for the rest of their lives and details of their offences would be lodged with the relevant authorities.

      They would have to be seen regularly by a probation officer and would have to report any changes in their lives. They would also have to seek permission to travel abroad. But Latvia does not insist on such oversight, Fletcher claimed.

      "The Latvian authorities don't have a postal address for them, just email addresses," Fletcher said.

      "These are offenders currently on licence, some for serious convictions. The Latvian authorities can't take their passports away because of their right to free movement. But this is a legal loophole that needs closing."

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  14. @deanrogers25: had considered but VERY expensive, time restricted as NEC are aware & key is if it's winnable. No 2 case same but clear parallels

    In answer to them polling members for JR

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    1. Answer part two
      @deanrogers25: Napo will be meeting lawyers next week re JR, looking at parallels, latest on TG4 feedback etc then report at NEC.

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    2. and then saying it's not possible or not winnable when really they don't want to win

      Simon Garden

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  15. I've said this on the blog before and would be interested if anyone knows about this, but I have heard from legal sources that it is possible to get a 'protective costs order' when the sides are unequal in JR, like against the government. This restricts the cost to £50,000 if you get legal aid and £75,000 if not. Why is Dean Rogers saying it is VERY expensive?

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  16. I don't know Joanne .. Did u see my tweets? I'm staying anon on here on advice from DP. I'm sure if members were polled they woujd be up for it

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  17. £135,000 is not too much to pay to try and prevent reputational damage for the union.
    But half that amount is considered an awful lot to pay to try and save an award winning, highly performing public service?
    Maybe someone upstairs may like to reflect on that.

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  18. I am sure that many branches would raise funds for a legal challenge, some branches hold surplus funds - ask the question, members would vote at a branch meeting, suggest answer would be YES!

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  19. Well I can't step on toes. It's something that chivalry rd or Nec woukd need to agree to

    Latest tweet in response to me asking how expensive is very

    VERY but hinges on risk. Lose & you'll usually endup paying other sides'costs. Not easy for small orgs to takeon govt.

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  20. I'm in the GMB, other colleagues are in UNISON. Napo must have federal links to at least those 2 unions. To say it is too dear to fund a court case when it goes to the very heart of the criminal justice system's functioning, is so lame I think that, as someone has hinted at above, Napo aren't particularly bothered about TR, they are just making the noises they believe their membership want to hear. Stop paying your subs - they have come up woefully short for a single profession union. They don't deserve your support. TR is the biggest challenge they will ever face and they've blown it.

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  21. Why are we struggling to understand this behaviour? We deal with it daily when cases and/or colleagues don't want to change their behaviour, even though they recognise that changed behaviours would be useful. Many are so used to losing or being downtrodden or being disappointed that they can't even contemplate taking the first steps towards something challenging, just in case they might have to face the possibility of winning. They take comfort in what they are used to, for fear of having to adapt. This is often an accusation levelled at staff resistant to change; its being levelled at numerous colleagues who have been outspoken about TR; and TSP (thinking skills programme) is a fat-free version of a cbt approach to helping individuals change. So we know all there is about such behaviour, inside & out.

    I read and found inspiration in Dr Cameron's 2002 article highlighted above. So lets do something together about using JR to knock TR into touch. Napo, unison, gmb, prospect, prs, first division, etc etc.

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  22. Grayling stirs the democracy pot as he heads towards becoming world leader

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11110441/English-votes-only-for-English-laws.html

    AND a comment article: -

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11111435/Justice-Secretary-Grayling-tells-Scots-MPs-Get-off-my-lawn.html

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    1. This is what I love about English politics, and its what many others around the world characterise as being 'English' - they can't bear anyone else having something better or something they don't have, so they go around pissing on everyone else's chips. And if there's the slightest chance someone might have one of their chips, they'll piss on their own chips just to spite others. Its the behaviour of spoilt, selfish greedy, dishonest brats.

      The Scottish Referendum was an excellent example. World's eyes were on a significant event and as soon as the English brats thought they might 'lose' something, they started pissing everywhere like feral dogs marking. They told barefaced lies, just to stop the Independence vote. Now it will come home to roost very publicly in a global sense. Failure to consult parliament whilst making false promises will enrage those Scots who voted 'no' on that premise. The opportunity for pure Democracy, based on an 85+% turnout, has been sullied by the brats in Westminster. It was a close run thing and the result MAY have been the same... But the spoilt brats can't keep their bladders under control; they just have to go & take a piss.

      When I was a kid a very generous relative bought me a 'Computacar' for xmas - a very cutting edge toy in 1974 which you could programme yourself using 'computer cards' into which you cut shapes to control the vehicle. Another kid in our street was so jealous of this that he asked if he could come & play, then tore the cards up and stamped on the car. He persuaded his mum to buy him one the next day, and paraded his new toy to everyone: "its the latest thing, no-one else has one, they're REALLY special." I'd lay good money he's a fat brat somewhere.

      Everything the greedy pigs touch turns sour, whilst they make damn sure their own cream remains carefully stashed away in the cool, darkness of the larder.

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    2. what a great comment! I must admit, it has cheered me up no end in a way that only a foray "off topic" can these days.

      I really enjoyed the food analogies, particularly the "chips" one which is uncannily apposite:

      For example, I am sure we all believe that it is perfectly fine for pure democrats to piss on their own chips (sorry about the language mum) in the hope it will improve the flavour..... but if, bizarrely, it leaves them with an acrid taste demand free access to the chip shop down the road owned by less pure democrats.

      One teeny correction if I may...I wonder if the 85% turnout should be characterised as ALMOST pure democracy rather than PURE democracy. On your turnout scale the "pure" title rightfully belongs to recent elections in a small socialist country in South East Asia.( Incidentally I am not sure if all the politicians told lies in that election, or if it was just one side).

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    3. Excellent points well made, anon 10:58.

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    4. Anon 07.13 is that you Alex? Its me. I just wanted you to know I am not a fat cat and have been troubled by my actions these many years. I hope you will find it in your heart to forgive me. You are right, it was jealousy.It wasn't so much the computacar per se. It was when I showed you the pound my nan had given me for xmas and you told me it wasn't my pound it was our pound. Something just snapped.

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  23. Sounds to me as if an emergency motion to Napo AGM is in order linked to outcome of legal professions JR. I can"t propose as can't attend AGM this yr for family reasons but given the interest in JR here othrrs could,need proposer and seconder.Info re criteria for emergency motion on form AGM2/2014-can be found on Napo website I believe.

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  24. NAPO won't exist for long, after POs and PSOs from CRCs have been replaced by autobots.

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    1. You're right annon 22:50.
      All prison officers employed by private companies are selected on the basis of not being part of a union. I have no doubt that when CRCs are bought by private companies and the terms and conditions period expires, union membership within CRCs will be almost none existant.

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    2. Thanks for that info. Can anyone submit this emergency motion

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    3. Best of luck on the JR. Too many Autobots already in situ I'm afraid.

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    4. To anon 23:55 it can be sent in by any 2 Napo members or a branch. It has to be submitted in writing to either Ian Lawrence or Chair of Steering Committee (staff at Chivalry Rd could confirm who that is) and hss to meet following criteria: it must relate to urgent matters which (1)have arisen since closing date for motions (2)which cannot be dealt with in any other way (3)which are of such gravity as to justify rearrangement of business. Steering Cttee then check if motion meets that criteria and if they think it does it goes on AGM agenda.If they dont think it meets the criteria the propser of motion has 2 minutes to challenge the ruling and then members of AGM vote whethrr to accrpt Steering Cttee ruling or not. In order to deal with point 1 (that its an issue thats arisen since closing date fir ordinary motions) linking emergency motion to recent success of legal profession might work.

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  25. Thanks for that .. Much appreciated

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