Thursday, 9 October 2014

MoJ Answers 7

As Napo members set off for sunny Scarborough, here's the final instalment of MoJ bullshit to mull over:- 

51 Bidders' probity
What should I do as a probation worker if a successful bidder who I may end up working for has been involved in fraudulent activity? For example G4S, A4E, SERCO.

G4S and Serco decided to withdraw from the competition to select lead providers of rehabilitation services. CRC bids will be rigorously assessed against robust quality, legal, commercial and financial criteria.  The MoJ also undertook extensive due diligence of bidders on a range of matters, including integrity and legal compliance issues. As a consequence we have a robust and diverse market.

52 Pay/conditions
What is likely to happen to the pay and conditions for POs working in the CRC once the new providers take over? As they will be profit making organisations surely it follows that they will want to secure the services of POs for the least amount of money possible. Is there any protection of PO's current T&Cs?

Will POs current pay and conditions be protected once we are taken over by the new companies?

As you will be aware, a National Agreement has been put in place to protect Terms and Conditions for staff. I believe the National Agreement offers a very good deal for existing staff and demonstrates our commitment to fairness by going much further than we are legally required. Staff will transfer to the new probation structures with their existing terms and conditions in place. The additional protections set out within the Agreement include a guarantee of employment in the new probation structures on 1 June 2014, no compulsory redundancies for a period of 7 months following contract signature, and an enhanced voluntary redundancy period of up to 67.5 weeks.

I remain committed to protecting the pensions of existing and former probation staff and as part of the National Agreement, the Ministry of Justice has guaranteed that all staff that transfer on 1 June 2014 will remain members of the Local Government Pension Scheme. This will apply to both the CRCs and to the NPS. 

53 Staff safety
Elmley - why did NOMS deny staff withdrew to a place of safety over staff assaults?

While discussing the issue of the increase of violence in prisons, could it be that the governments stats for this are actually incorrect as it is a KPI for governors, who I have heard a rumour may be deliberately discouraging staff from reporting to the police. Adjacent to this subject is there also any truth in the rumour prison governors received bonuses for meeting their KPI’s? Which would be extremely concerning if staff safety was being put at risk due to a form of payment by results.

I take violence towards staff very seriously.  Although the level of violence in prisons overall is not increasing, there is an issue with serious assaults against prison staff and we need to make sure that staff are given the greatest support and protection we can offer.  As a result Ministers have been keen to press the CPS to prosecute in all cases where the evidence is there so that there is a real consequence to prisoners when they assault staff. Work has begun with ACPO and the CPS to draw up a national protocol to govern how assaults against staff in prison are dealt with by the three parties.

In relation to the incident at HMP Elmley, MoJ responded to a press statement which suggested that staff at Elmley had withdrawn their labour from the prison for a day. This was not the case. Staff commenced duty at 9.30, following a meeting between the union and the Governor, and ran the prison as usual.

Governors are not awarded a bonus for meeting assault KPIs. KPIs in respect of serious assaults and violence are also not affected by whether or not assaults are reported to the police. All Governors are aware of the need to report serious assaults on staff or prisoners, and a zero tolerance approach is taken towards offenders. 

54 Approved premises staff
Is it true that Approved Premises Offender Supervisers will be replaced by Probation Officers?

I recognise that Approved Premises are an important public protection measure. It is important that, as has always been the case, staff working in Approved Premises are trained in how to assess and manage risk, and that they liaise closely with offender managers and multi-agency public protection arrangements partners where offenders’ behaviour gives cause for concern. The NPS will be responsible for ensuring that staff deployed in Approved Premises have the proper training and skills to do this vital job.

55 Information sharing
Because computer systems have been split between CRC's and NPS access to information about offenders is far more limited and inaccessible now. How can this be dealt with?

We have introduced controls within the main systems, based on individuals’ roles, to ensure that the right people have access to the right information at the right time. This will control which data authorised users can access, in a similar way to how Trust users did previously. There is no reason why information on offenders cannot be shared between organisations where appropriate, as is already common between many different agencies in offender management.

56 PCCs co-terminosity
PCCs are not co-terminus with CRC/NPS areas so have difficulty in committing to specific CRC/NPS wide RJ/Victim strategies!

I agree that effective joint working locally is crucial if we are to tackle persistent reoffending, and we have aligned the contract package areas with other agencies’ areas of responsibility in order to support this, while maintaining the scale and efficiencies we need. Many of the CPAs map one-to-one on to PCCs’ area of responsibility, and we have taken care to ensure that no contract package area cuts across either PCC or local authority boundaries.

We are engaging closely with PCCs and local authorities to ensure effective joint working continues at local level as the reforms are implemented.

57 Morale
Do you know or even care how low morale is at the moment with all of these current changes and failings?  I really don't think you know the half of it! Everything has descended into chaos.  How can TR be on track?  This "ethos" is delusional!

Any chance of any real questions being answered that address staff morale and what a mess this whole transition has been?

We recognise that this has been a time of great change, however Trusts, as the employers of probation staff until 1st June, and now CRCs and NPS managers have been working hard to ensure their workforce is effectively engaged and provided with as much information as necessary. Through the existing contract management process we have not seen a fall in standards and will continue to monitor this throughout the duration of the reforms.

58 NPS Vacancies
When will the vacant NPS jobs be re-advertised?

Posts within the NPS operational support hubs that were not filled at stage 1 will be re-advertised shortly.

59 Communication with court staff
How are courts staff going to be kept up to date with new interventions so when they recommend a RAR to the court they do so with knowledge and integrity?

It is vital that relationships with local courts and other key criminal justice organisations are robust. The CRCs and the NPS locally will work together to ensure courts are kept up to date with developments.

60 Shared Services
You will know that the NPS/Shared Services provision is not functioning to an adequate level to support operational delivery.  This is no reflection of the staff in Shared Services who are as helpful as they can be but they too have none of the answers and have not been insufficiently prepared for dealing with Probation providers who have requirements that are very distinct from the prison and court services etc. There has been woefully insufficient attention to necessary detail because it would appear that all available resources were targeted at a contractual level - be it the potential bidders or the CRC.

I am sorry to hear you have had this experience with Shared Services.  I want to assure you that Shared Services had been preparing for some time for the addition of around 10,000 new staff from the NPS in order to ensure that key HR services would be available for the transition.  Whilst Shared Services will take on board feedback about how services are delivered, it has a good record in combining the needs of distinct organisations (e.g. Prisons and Courts staff) and we expect this to continue with the introduction of NPS colleagues to the system.

61 Personal challenge
How much knowledge do you have of the Probation Service? Have you ever spent time at a busy Probation Office and truly seen the day to day work that is involved in managing all levels of risk? Do you know what a risk management plan is and what it entails?  Do you fully understand the massive changes staff have had to undergo to put your ill conceived ideas into practice?

I and members of my Ministerial Team have undertaken numerous visits to Trusts over the last two years and have heard at first hand about the skills and experience staff bring to their roles, and the challenges they face.  I also receive regular advice from senior, experienced probation and prison practitioners embedded within the TR Programme and NOMS. Our programme of reform is being implemented by a highly skilled team, who understand the challenges that working on the front line of offender management pose.  I do understand that this has been a challenging time for staff, but these are important reforms that I believe will bring together the best of the public, private and voluntary sector to reduce reoffending.

62 Personal challenge
Why can you only spare 45 minutes for this web chat on a matter that affects the whole of the UK?

These reforms are a top priority for the Department and I want to take as many opportunities as possible to explain the rationale for change, listen to your views, and answer your challenging questions. The recent web chat was only one of a number of ways in which engagement on these reforms by Ministers and senior MoJ officials takes place. This includes, among other activities, visits to Trusts and weekly updates and discussions. 


  1. hmm thats some bullshit there.

  2. Lets hope theres some better answers to come from the AGM.

  3. when are these people going to tell ( or perhaps recognise...) the truth ?

  4. My oh my, the torture never stops... Un-fuckin-believable!! "... I receive regular advice from senior, experienced probation & prison practitioners embedded within the TR Programme and NOMS." I suspect that (1) they aren't practitioners anymore for a very good reason (they never wanted to do the job, they just wanted to be managers) and (2) they're embedded somewhere else, my dear old thing, you're just too numb to notice.

  5. I'm sitting at home flicking through to check out napo14 and was thinking - so what have we done. We've spent a bunch of money on hotel and expenses for what? Jack shit.

    1. The AGM directs the union's business for the year. It determines the direction of travel for the next twelve months. The event mirrors those held by every trade union in the country and is core business, not a jolly.

  6. We're fucked aren't we

    Simon Garden

  7. Taken as read Anon 21:51 that the AGM isnt a jolly, but according to the programme, official business was scheduled to begin at 4.15pm today and I've been checking Twitter and not a whisper, just a lot of back slapping. And please dont comment on why I havent gone myself, I have gone every year for a number of years just couldnt make it this time. We are at a momentus point in the life of the Union and probation and the (very limited) comment so far has been same old same old - I am very disappointed and extremely worried. (unless there is another hashtag address everyone is using that I've not discovered ...............)


    " NapoUKGLB ‏@napoukglb Oct 7

    The hashtag for Napo AGM and Conference this year will be #napo14 "

  9. What about those who don't have a mobile telephone? Or a shiny device pad thing? I've a steam-driven desktop that puffs and huffs and churns out smoke, but gets me onto the netweb - and to this blogsite. I'm not interested in 140 characters of hushpuppy/handbag/hashtag; I'd appreciate something on this blog if possible from a variety of posters. If I were there, that's what I'd be wanting to do, i.e. get the message out there.

    1. I've read some are struggling with getting reception there. If I see anything interesting I can add it here. One tweet about Judicial Review and that was to say they've been asked not to tweet about anything they may or may not hear about it at conference. Will just have to wait it out on that info about that I'm afraid.

    2. As someone who is not there I have no answer to Anon 07.18's sour post.

      I have shared what I know, not what I cannot share - I have also posted something I saw on an obscure website about what has been said at conference on a later Blog post.

      Some folks seem to want others not only to give them a spoon but to pick it up and put it in their mouth, after being filled with food.

      I doubt such a person is likely to have a successful career in a probation service, where a capacity for using initiative, rather than grousing when some desired outcome is not presented!

    3. Hi Andrew, I'm not sure if you will see this now but what about my post (Anon 07:18) was sour? I was just trying to help out Anon 06:29 who is not on twitter and to explain why updates might not be so regular on this blog as normal (i.e. due to lack of reception at AGM) as well as explaining that info on JR might not be posted on here or on twitter (info I had read from twitter that they had been asked not to tweet about it). I then offered to post on here if I did see anything interesting so that anon 06:29 can keep up to date as they are not on twitter. Nothing sour there, just trying to be helpful!

  10. Apologies if I missed this before, but its a fascinating read:

  11. :to anon 06:29 similarly thrre will be others at AGM who wont have access to whizz-kid phones and agm venues in my experience are not necessarily great for wifi access. I cant make it to AGM either so share yr frustration but hopefully given "hints" coming out from tweets so far there'll be news re JR today .

  12. With respect, if you cannot be doing with mobiles and other devices, you cannot complain when you cannot have the things they offer ;)

    1. Rural 21st century uk - no broadband, cable fed telephony, so pointless having any of the shiny shit even if I wanted it. And my complaint was not about missing out on 140 characters, it was the lack of any other form of communication.

    2. To Anon 08.24 - I guess not knowing what is transpiring at an AGM to which every member is entitled to attend is a consequence of not attending one self..

      It is also a consequence of not arranging in advance with an individual one has ascertained is attending, to send back updates in a form that is acceptable.

      Probation folk cannot expect to be spoonfed!

    3. Absolutely right Andrew, but we do have the right to expect timely and regular updates from the Officers as to what is transpiring, especially around crucial issues.

    4. Of Course Deb at 13.20, Officers and the secretariat and staff are rightly expected to keep members informed in accordance with the policy set by member's via NEC/ Communications Committee/General Meetings/ The annual report can be a good way to question such policies and if they are not satisfactory to members, back home - ask those present to propose a motion or do it yourself via a motion to a branch meeting for the NEC.

      If members do not get what they think they should get - test out their expectations in conversations and perhaps via social media, then use the constitution to initiate change, that is how dynamic organisations work.

      I personally think much more could have been done via the members secure section of the website - but sadly did not think of it until in a Twitter exchange with Tania Bassett, to which she has (not surprisingly - conference is VERY busy for her) not responded. But I as an associate member have been saying stuff about the website for years, when I was a full member I said it direct to the Gen Sec at Fringe Meetings and from time to time I comment on their blogs, but I am on the sidelines now - it is up to full members to drive policy, not old boys like me!

  13. Fuck off with your "spoonfed" shit. I work hard, I pay my dues, I have done for many years. I get up at 5am, i get into the office before 9am, I get home by 8pm, I get to bed by 2am. We have no broadband. We have no line of sight for satellite. We have a (treasured) bakelite telephone plugged into the wall. I speak with people I choose to. I am privileged to be able to post here if the system allows. So stop your holier than thou shit. I can't quit for some years yet. If EVR was offered, I'd have gone. But...

    1. Yep, I recognise that lifestyle - up at 5 am, work hard, rural community, it is similar to mine. I thought I was trapped in probation, but when I burnt-out after 30 years and disposed of as collateral damage, I found there is a life beyond probation - though it took me a while to be in a fit state to discover it.

      I had also walked out 15 years before, when I was trapped and my transfer requests refused, but I went back for more, to a city probation service - the job was still worthwhile but the conditions awful plus I commuted about 4 or more hours most days.

      I was blinded by the routines of my life until I was no longer able to function and had to find an alternative lifestyle or die.

      I hope anon at 20.01 makes it until they can leave with dignity.

    2. Not necessarily trapped, just 'pinned down'. Not blnded, just blinkered at times of stress. Freestyle isn't acknowledged and is often abused, resented and refused. Some of our HR have refused to accept issues yet are baling out with EVR on similar arguments.