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.""10 weeks left to save the Service". It really is up to the Napo membership to decide!
"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."