Monday, 6 October 2014

Judicial Review - Yes or No?

It's always risky to mention Harry Fletcher on here, but I think it's worth highlighting what he has to say in his latest blog post:-
Last Few Weeks
Contracts for the new providers of Probation will be signed off by mid December. On the ground 4 months since TR began the reports are grim indeed. IT systems are still poor, communication is weak, information is not available for reports to the Courts and staff morale is rock bottom.
The only way of halting the mess apart from a Coalition change of policy is either a Judicial Review or the Permanent Secretary exercising her Business Readiness Test, both of which are unlikely.
It is too late to challenge the concept of Privatisation that should have happened within 3 months of the decision. It may be possible to question the contractual process but again there is no challenge yet.
Different lawyers of course may well give different opinions. Some at the Justice Ministry are surprised at the lack of opposition.
As far as officials are concerned, they were criticised by the Public Accounts Committee earlier this year and may be called once more to give evidence but they are unlikely to order a halt to the process and much more prone to advise Ministers on how to minimise the chaos on the ground.
Last year Union members were told at their Annual General Meeting that an upbeat campaign would be waged in Parliament and the Press and that legal avenues would be explored.
The year has flown. Parliament has been low key on the issue over the last few months and some Parliamentarians to their shame do not know what is going on.
The next Union AGM is soon, the members have 10 weeks left to save the service. A daunting task. For the future the tag will be the main intervention for the Private Sector and the Public National Probation Service will be told to reduce its costs and size.
For service users like domestic violence abusers and their victims that future looks very bleak.
He also tweeted this on 3rd October:-
Contracts signed December.Only JR or Perm Sec using her intervention power can stop it. Both unlikely. Chaos rules for years. 
Is he right? We've had the suggestion from Joanna Hughes and offer of another 'second opinion' regarding possible grounds for a Judicial Review, and a very full response and refusal from the Napo top table. Opinion appears starkly divided and ranges from the optimistic:-
 I believe JR is close, final evidence being collected, have faith.
to the fatalistic:- 
NAPO aren't gonna announce a JR. They will have list of excuses as to why they aren't.
Fortunately members will have a chance to debate the issues, if they so desire, at the AGM being held in Scarborough from Thursday this week. So, in the interests of trying to get a debate rolling, lets imagine what some Emergency Motions might look like:-
"In light of the dire situation we find ourselves in, Napo Executive is instructed to urgently avail itself of a second legal opinion regarding a possible legal challenge to TR at a cost of £5,000 and as outlined recently by Joanna Hughes."

"In the light of the dire situation we find ourselves in, Napo Executive is instructed to identify, allocate and ring-fence a sum of £500,000 to be used as a fighting-fund in order to finance a possible urgent legal challenge to TR."

"In the light of the dire situation we find ourselves in, Napo Executive is instructed to pursue as a matter of urgency and as a top priority any and all possible legal challenges to TR, independently of any other union and to report progress to the membership on a weekly basis. There is to be an absolute presumption for legal action in the full knowledge that success can never be guaranteed."
"10 weeks left to save the Service". It really is up to the Napo membership to decide! 


  1. In light of the dire situation we find ourselves, and the chaos fragmentation of the service is causing at this present time, NAPO has no option but to withdraw its support and involvement with the pribation institute.
    Involvement by NAPO with the PI can be reconsidered at a later stage when the service is once again performing safely and coherently.

    It wont stop TR perhaps, but it sends a very clear message to Whitehall, bidders and is sure to attract the medias eye.

  2. NAPO must
    1.instruct lawyers to start JR process
    2. withdraw from Probation Institute ( fully agreeing with above comment)

  3. NAPO "must"... "has no option"... " is instructed"...

    Sadly I fear NAPO "ain't bovvered"... "ain't listening"... "won't"

    What on earth possessed our paid officials, causing them to shrink & roll over may never be revealed, but it must be powerful stuff.

    I can't make it to agm. But that may be a blessing in disguise.

  4. Proposers of Emergency Motions need to satisfy Conference that it is a real emergency - that the issue has arisen since the date for motions to be submitted was closed, and that there is no other way of dealing with the matter - (I think - I have not checked) - for anyone planning a motion - I like all those suggested including the one about the Probation Institute, I suggest they check the constitution, before finalising the wording -

    I think this constitution (linked from Napo website) was amended in March - but not in relation to Emergency Motions: -

  5. Everyone has been compromised by TR, everyone including and especially Grayling. He is an arse of the first order.

  6. To anon 18:07 Napo at AGM is the members.Those who would speak against an EM as outlined above in debate can only be members which potentially includes National Officers (other than whomever is Chairing the meeting at that time)but not National Officials.I can't attend AGM this year either but will have a go at adding thoughts to above EM ideas later this evening. As the options above stand I doubt theyd pass all 3 steering cttee tests for an EM (matter has arisen since closing date for motions;is of sufficient gravity to rearrange business and can't be dealt with any other way) Personally I dont think it helps to muddy the waters and combine references to PI with JR . I dont believe the media is interested in PI at all.

  7. A broom stick is what is needed at NAPO, to sweep away the incompetent herd at the top.

  8. I doubt any emergency motion will 'pass all 3 steering committee tests' as the Union Leadership seem steadfast in their determination to avoid the JR option. Are they worried it might succeed? I'm leaving if they fail to even try this, and I'd encourage other members to make clear that they will do the same: NO JR, NO NAPO

    Simon Garden

    1. Similar conversation in my office today. I can state that four others will also leave NAPO if there is no JR. Does not sound a lot but there is only nine NAPO members in the office!!!

      Nearly 50% who are resolute....I would imagine the others will follow soon after. A failure to go down the JR route will surely be the death knell for NAPO!

    2. To Simon above it is steering committee who decide if an EM meets criteria.Then if they decide it doesnt the EM proposer can challenge and has 2 min to speak.

  9. Just spotted this.

    1. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is a “bully boy” out to ensure the “systematic destruction” of North East probation services, it is claimed today.

      Unions and a former probation officer believe Tory-led changes are a “gamble with public safety” and claim the minister “doesn’t recognise or care” about the region’s “demoralised” probation workers.

      It comes as the Government pushes through changes that spell job losses at the Northumbria and Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust and see 70% of work handed to private contractors, like G4S.

      Retired probation officer Margaret Locklan, from Jarrow, South Tyneside, said: “I am watching the systematic destruction of one of the most successful and highly-respected public organisations, recognised as very good, excellent or, in the case of Northumbria Probation Trust where I worked, outstanding.”

      The 68-year-old added: “Staff are demoralised, and the majority are looking for other jobs as they are being forced out of a job that they took great pride in.

      “Some companies have made a shambles of previous responsibilities: losing offenders en route from court to prison, not managing the tagging system properly, sometimes not tagging people for weeks, and going to the wrong address, with the wrong name.

      “It is appearing that voluntary organisations and charities, who have experience of working with offenders, cannot afford to bid against these multinational companies, who have little experience, yet are making inroads into prison management, resulting in staff cutbacks and increased violence.

      “HMP Northumberland is now run by Sodexo, and in spite of Government denials, has become a dangerous place to be.”

      Sodexo insisted the jail is safe after this newspaper reported how probation staff “fear for their safety” there last month.

      Today’s plea for the Government to rethink reforms comes after the Conservative minister thanked the probation service for its support at the Conservative Party Conference.

      Mike Quinn, vice chairman of NAPO’s Northumbria branch, said: “NAPO members have expressed to me their outrage at the suggestion that we have some how colluded with him in ‘helping’ his ill-conceived plans for probation privatisation become reality. From our point of view he can keep his thanks.

      “The fact is that he has rushed through changes in a bully-boy way to try and make his half-baked dreams a reality before he risks losing power at the next election.

      “He doesn’t recognise, or indeed care, that these plans have had a hugely detrimental effect on staff, with morale the lowest I’ve ever seen it and levels of stress through the roof. “More worrying, though, is he doesn’t appear to acknowledge our warnings that his plans will increase the risk posed to the public.”

      Newcastle Labour peer Jeremy Beecham backed comments by Margaret and NAPO, and said: “I’m extremely concerned that the Government is apparently intent on concluding 10-year contracts for probation services. Still more evidence of their obsession with privatising public services.”

      Probation staff have staged strikes and picket lines outside courts across the region this year over changes to the service.

  10. Guess what folks, latest news. Manchester and Cheshire CRC will be paying less for probation officer agency staff compared to NPS. From October majority agency staff will seize in CRC. From November the new payment rate will start. Welcome to the new world of fucked up probation.

    1. They'll be more than welcome in Manchester NPS...we're drowning, not waving.

      Looks like Manchester CRC is NOT the place to be this year!

    2. From the cgmcrc webśite:

      "The Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company currently has no vacancies."

      I'm confused now...

    3. Dont be confused! Agency staff are the 'disposable' workforce holding the fort until sale.
      When the bidders make staffing cuts agency staff have no contracts, so they'll go and the work they do will get shared around everyone else.

  11. Absolutly no JR no NAPO.

  12. As it gets closer to the election there is going to be an increase in bat shit banana crazy stuff going on with CRC and NPS.

  13. Anonymous 19:51 - this is just the beginning. Agency staff are the easy target and they will set the benchmark for others to follow suite. This is were it starts to get dirty.


    This is basically probation at the moment

  15. What about"We note the recent 2 cases where first the legal profession and then the Asbestos Support Group won success via use of Judicial Review in challenging Grayling's legal reforms. We recognise each case is different but are amazed that,to date, Napo,on members' behalf, has not succeeded in proceeding to make a challenge to Grayling's disasterous split of Probation via Judicial Review. Time is running out for our profession and our ability to work to our best for the benefit of the wider community with the announcement of successful bidders anticipated this December.In the light of this dire situation..." followed by preferred option. My personal preference is to use Jim's third option above. Whatever is used speakers who can talk to the motion are crucial to bring it alive for members. Wish I could be there.

  16. Further to my post above 20.31 if option 3 were used it might also be an idea to add on to the end, " Further, the Executive will co-ordinate efforts ,starting as soon as possible, to raise a fighting fund to assist with legal costs ".References to Joanna's efforts, discussions with legal advisers etc could be made in proposer's speech? Am not suggesting my contribution above is a finished article but I hope it helps.

  17. Possible Motion? "Having become aware of the recent last minute changes to the bidding procedures, the last minute shifts in collaborations by bidders, the constantly shifting timescales for the bidding process to suit a political timescale as opposed to the principle of value for money and fairness, NAPO Executive is urged by membership to urgently pursue an exploration of avenues towards Judicial Review with immediate effect. The pursuit of privatisation of the Probation Service at any cost, the changes to the timescales and rules and the introduction of an alternative negotiating forum ( i.e. The Staff Council) leave the agreements and negotiations of 2013 invalid and the terms and conditions of members employed within the CRCs at considerable risk. The pursuit of JR is now essential to save members' jobs, terms and conditions."

  18. 20 years service .... Always been in NAPO. But will certainly leave if JR is not pursued.

  19. 14 years service always in NAPO and I too will certainly leave if JR is not pursued

    1. I suspect the cynical might say that people leaving the union might be a result not entirely unwelcome in some quarters at Chivalry Road. Staying and making one's voice heard might be viewed entirely differently of course.......

  20. Can those of us who are going to agm and may have already discussed elsewhere about EM maybe meet up . How we'd arrange this is the prob as on here we are all anon

  21. I suspect Joanna Hughes might be the person willing to put people in touch with each other.

  22. I have emailed Joanna and you this evening jim lol