Monday, 13 October 2014

Scarborough Reflections

I'm conscious that I really ought to say a bit more about the AGM before I forget.

As usual, 'conference' is a really strange mix of, lets be honest here, some real tedium, very dull but worthy talk, mixed with bursts of quality debate, sparky and witty intervention and stuff that realy raises the spirit. The usual wait for quoracy each day is irksome, but I think I'm right in saying it was much quicker this year than in some previously. 

As has already been touched upon and not surprisingly, this year there was a palpable undercurrent of unease and dissent and the 'closed' session only aggravated this and fuelled greater cynicism. Without going into any great detail, it was a sober, largely technical examination of the issues surrounding any possible legal challenge to TR and a very wide-ranging Q and A conducted by solicitor Edward Cooper.

Following this, I think a number of things are now very clear to me. Firstly, there are grounds for a challenge, but more specific evidence is urgently required from members. A number of people were interviewed on the day and evidence obtained. I understand others are due to be interviewed this week and an urgent call will go out later today for yet more. I'm sure the Napo communication will make clear what is required.

Secondly, time is desperately short. Action has to be taken in the next couple of weeks if there is to be any chance of delaying, or halting the proposed share sale.

Thirdly, due to member pressure and widespread unease, coupled with changes to the composition of the Napo 'top table', there has been a seismic shift in resolve regarding a legal challenge and as evidenced in the statement made by the General Secretary on Saturday morning. 

He made it absolutely clear that any legal challenge was definitely not contingent upon the support of any other union, although support was being actively encouraged, particularly from Unison. But he confirmed Napo would proceed alone if necessary. He also confirmed that further alternative legal advice would be urgently obtained if, for any reason, the current 'direction of travel' was not felt strong enough. Money is not an issue we were told. 

I'm led to believe Ian deviated from the prepared and agreed text, but hopefully this was nothing substantial or particularly germane, but it would be interesting to know nevertheless.

In passing, I think I'd also like to mention his short speech saying goodbye to interim-Chair Chris Pearson. I think it's highly significant that, when speaking of an extremely short period in office, the General Secretary still saw fit to refer to having had 'differences' between the pair. For me it sort of puts into a whole new perspective the interim-Chair's several references to there being a few things 'not quite right' at Chivalry Road, and that he would 'make the new co-Chairs aware' of certain issues.       

I suspect I'm not alone in having a wry smile at some of the 'motherhood and apple pie' motions that find no objectors and pass comfortably 'nem con', but every now and then conference throws up some really excellent speeches and though-provoking debates. My personal favourite was the motion regarding probation returning to social work values.

The proposer spoke eloquently and with obvious passion and should they be reading this, I would dearly like to publish it on the blog. The motion passed unanimously and I couldn't help but notice the vigour with which former CEO Sally Lewis showed her delight. 

Actually there were some other very good speeches that I feel deserve a wider audience than afforded them at Scarborough, and those by self-confessed compulsive letter-writer Mike Guilfoyle spring to mind. He has kindly forwarded these to me for publication and I extend a similar invitation to any other conference contributor.

I'll sign this off with a further mention of Sally Lewis who made some extremely forthright and negative statements regarding TR that for me I found quite annoying. It may well be naive or unfair of me, but symptomatic of the growing anger that this omnishambles is generating, but why oh why didn't we hear her say all this when it would have had some effect? 

Just one Chief willing to stand up publicly and unequivocally at the start of it all would have been newsworthy and just might have galvanised some others of her supine colleagues. This whole bloody shambles was, after all, made possible by Chiefs and Trust Boards. 

Postscript

I think it's worth mentioning that I detect a return of some mojo! Readership this weekend has been amazing with well over 4,000 hits both on Saturday and Sunday and some of the revelations coming in about the TR omnishambles around the country are both staggering and shocking. These are not teething troubles - the system is clearly smashed. Please keep the horrors coming in as I intend to publish a 'horror special' ahead of the usual Sunday roundup. 

43 comments:

  1. So the UK purse was raided to fund the chunnel & eurostar. Now this fuckwit giveaway government want to sell it off, along with the student loans portfolio, air traffic control, and anything else they can find a buyer for.

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  2. The chunnel cost £4.85billion, 80% over budget.
    This govt want £300m for their stake in eurostar.

    Thanks to Jim & others for their Scarborough fare.

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  3. Thanks Jim-amazing how you keep going with this blog! For those of us who couldnt attend AGM your posts have really helped keep us up to speed and buoy morale. To be fair re your comments on Sally I thought Avon & Somerset via Joe Kuipers especially but also Sally were vocal from early days about TR?

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  4. I agree with Jim Brown that things seemed to take a turn for the better at the AGM and I also would like to thank steering committee for all their help. The Chairs and Vice-Chairs were very impressive and I got the impression that there was a split in the officers and officials' group about the wisdom of going for JR, but the shift seems to be going in a positive direction and the members made a difference at the conference in making their views known. I would like to emphasize that the work behind the scenes was achieved by Su McConnel and Helen Coley as well as myself and I do think that Napo have been working hard to get to this position with JR and, while needing a bit of pushing in the right direction, I am more hopeful of Napo's efforts than I have ever been since the fight back started.

    When members receive their email later today, I would just like to plead with people to come forward if they think they can help as this is really our last chance and we need to act quickly. I have sought assurances from Napo's Assistant General Secretary that all of Napo's protection will be afforded to those who come forward and you may be able to offer the final piece in the jigsaw. If anyone feels unsure and wants to talk to someone, please email me on joanna840@googlemail.com or call me on 07854 668050 and we can talk through the options. Also, please contact me if you feel you can help with radio or TV. As far as I know, only one person has actually talked to Radio Five live and the journalist needs more, please.

    I would like to finish by saying to Napo that we know what was agreed in the General Secretary's speech on Saturday morning and the membership are relying on the assurances Jim has outlined about not stopping, should JR prove difficult for any reason on the outlined basis. But hopefully enough people will come forward, and whether we like it or not, it is up to us and our evidence which could stop this corporate takeover of our service. Thank you for all the offers of contributions on Twitter. I'm not sure of the mechanics of setting up a 'fighting' fund, so ideas or expertise would be very welcome. The momentum behind Napo and JR can only increase as we dare to hope.

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    1. Regarding fighting fund-for advice on collection of monies should we not liaise with Napo treasurer and finance officer?

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    2. Yes and I understand there have been conversations with Napo HQ - watch this space.

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    3. Thanks Jim!

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  5. I've logged on this morning (only chance I will have today) to check my e-mail but nothing yet. Come on please Napo! Let's do this!

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  6. Still waiting for that email mr Lawrence as promised on Saturday !

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    1. Patience everyone! - experience says mailouts tend to be the latter part of the afternoon and it will need some careful crafting.

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    2. Just as an aside whilst waiting for the e-mail, maybe folk could consider Graylings thoughts and reactions if he was ever asked to consider something like this.
      Patience is the order of the day!

      http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/children-jailed-mums-allowed-sleepovers-4427493

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  7. This will be unpopular but is a repeat of sentiments I have previously expressed.

    I still feel shame and regret at not fighting on when I accepted the advice from Napo and personally colluded with the change of the status of probation - put succinctly from the order being an alternative to a sentence to an actual sentence in accordance with the CJA 1991. Similarly I accepted the separation of probation training from social work, again on the advice of Napo in about 1998, though ever since, I have whenever possible, encouraged folk wanting to become Probation Officers to get the SW qualification - which (I think) still to this day also allows qualifiers to work as fully functional unconfirmed probation officers.

    The TR split would not have happened if practitioners had not signed their agreement to be transferred into a CRC or NPS or had in other ways refused to cooperate. I acknowledge that may have seemed a risky strategy, but ultimately, the MOJ still needs folks with experience and appropriate skills to do the probation practitioners jobs more than the practitioners need the MOJ to provide them with work - at least in the short term.

    There are some who simply left, but so far not enough to stop TR dead and similarly too few have spoken out publicly or they would have been heard.

    It is reassuring to know that it is not too late and at last we read Napo policy is being driven by people determined to stop TR at all costs. I hope they are deluged with evidence.

    Thanks to all who have stayed true and carried the campaign forward. I feel slightly more optimism today than at any time since 31st May.

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    1. Its a stupid ill informed opinion. That's what it is. Stop implying that all those that have not left are defacto colluding with the process.

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  8. Those who did not sign would have had contract terminated. All unions advised we should sign.The ecomony and job situation that existed years ago Andrew is not the same as it is now;blaming us for TR especially those who have taken part in strike action,lobbying and media interviews is extremely exasperating.

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    1. Anon 12:03 I am not blaming anyone - that is counter-productive - I do realise there was great pressure to maintain business as usual. Hence I referred to my own failings long ago, that I am sure contributed to the coming of the omnishambles because we were too malleable, particularly for a Labour Government who deceived us and then sent a minister to a Napo conference to harangue us. I think it helps to understand the consequences of our history. It is surely a fact if folk refused all extra work, stuck to their contracted hours and perhaps even refused to have their job contracts transferred to a new employer, then TR would have been stopped by now?

      I believe Napo policy was wrong and not enough individual members challenged it, hence the leadership was unhelpful - but NOW it seems that if everyone who has any evidence reports it to Napo and campaigns vigorously, especially with MPs and the main steam media the sell off can firstly be postponed beyond the General Election and then the split reversed.

      It is essential that everyone with any evidence about the damage TR is doing needs to be actively campaigning as well as sticking to their existing job contract and refusing all extra work.

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    2. Just a note but we didn't 'sign' anything. We were transferred to new employer unless we signed to say we disagreed in which case we would have no job. Only semantics I know, but if I had been asked to sign to say I agree, I don't think I could have brought myself to do it.

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    3. Apologies - I got it the wrong way round - I am very pleased I did not need to choose.

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  9. Email now come out; being sent via Branch Chairs

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    1. could this be put on Blog, please, for benefit of supporters who are no longer members, for genuine reasons, (before I get told that it has nothing to do with me!) I don't want to compromise staff who might be cautious about circulating the email outside of 'the firm'. thank you in advance-I'm churning!

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  10. Can it be put on for those off sick please.

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    1. Anon 13:44 if you haven't got the email from napomailings it sounds as if they only have yr work address so I'd suggest you ring Napo HQ with yr membership number if poss and give them a home email address.

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  11. I have not got anything yet ��

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  12. I have heard that it's not being sent to members. It's meant to have gone to all chairs but no one is saying if they are allowed to send it on. Looks like we have been shafted once again.

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    1. It was confusing as there was both an email from Tania sent via Branch Chairs and then a more detailed email sent to members directly which explained the AGM background. The second will reach you via whatever email address you gave to Napo membership.

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  13. I have to say I wasn't sure I could trust what was said

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    1. The email has been sent to all members as far as I can see - but is marked 'strictly private and confidential and subject to legal privilege'.

      For this reason I will not be publishing the letter, but can I reassure Napo members and others that the content accords with undertakings given on Saturday and is good news.

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  14. Prepare for disappointment. It's only an email which will be a rehash of what was said at the AGM. It ain't the long hoped-for TR cure.

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    1. "It's only an email which will be a rehash of what was said at the AGM."

      Correct, but what was said at the AGM my friend was wrung out of Napo, believe me. There will be a Judicial Review.

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  15. if it says ' Urgent message to all NAPO members', then surely it should be SENT to ALL NAPO members?

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  16. You would think so .. I've not had anything

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  17. It has gone to all members (I have spoken to several who have received it). It is not a cure for TR, it is a call to war.

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    1. "It is not a cure for TR, it is a call to war."

      With respect, nobody has a magic wand to provide a 'cure for TR' - what we need is a legal challenge and some more evidence - but crucially there will be further legal opinion if this avenue for JR does not proceed for any reason.

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  18. The email is sent to all Napo members via Napomailings sent directly to all members. There is a reminder that the information is for members only and should not be circulated outside the Napo membership group

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  19. I have left NAPO as I couldn't put up with the leadership failings anymore. It would be useful to know if it's worth re engaging. All I can see from above is it might be JR, no absolutes even know. This doesn't inspire me with confidence, as there seems to be an officer group who has resisted JR for the last year. The comment above that this concession had to 'wrung out of them', says a lot. I don't find much comfort in any of this.

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  20. "The comment above that this concession had to 'wrung out of them', says a lot. I don't find much comfort in any of this."

    As the author of that comment, I have a great deal of sympathy with your view, but would just add this - things are changing at Napo and the membership are in control.

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  21. I have made contact with the press, things are beginning to change. All we need now is tell the truth and build this movement.

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  22. How did u manage that ? Well done

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  23. I contacted Joanna who gave me the address and phone numbers, simple.

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  24. A pleading reminder -Joanna Hughes has twice put her name, phone nbr and 'e'address on blog after a cry for help from me (the retired PO) asking for people who are willing to come forward to speak to a Ch 4 Correspondent (I have just had him on phone tonight again) and a Radio5live presenter, to speak on their programmes about this dangerous job with case evidence - all anon - in addition to NAPO's very urgent plea. Her 2nd comment is on today at 8 40am with contact details- mob 07854668050, email address - joanna840@googlemail.com. Worth a read.

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    1. To Joanna and anon 19.56 can the same info be given twice ie can you send info into Napo as per todays request and speak to media about same examples?

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  25. as I m retired, (anon 19.56) and not in touch with NAPO anymore (unlike Joanna who left her job because of TR but has retained her membership) I could not say for certain, but Joanna will know. Give her a ring, or an email. She WILL reply quickly, she has been very influential in this success. Certainly you could speak to radio and TV about the same cases, but I think they would want to know that to give them the option of using different examples - but then don't you see the same thing repeated in all the newspapers, even if they all want a scoop! Thanks for your interest. Every example counts. I wish I was able to offer evidence myself.

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  26. I appreciate the need for NAPO to ensure they keep their powder dry, but there are so many senior managers who will be NAPO members who are selling their soul that I've no doubt the info will find its way to NOMS.
    Still having said that - well done to everyone who convinced IL et al to proceed with this - long overdue, but essential that we try all options to stop this dangerous mess.

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