Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Reaction

In anyone's book, yesterday will go down as remarkable in the history of probation. At times of great anxiety and stress, people turn to Facebook, twitter and this blog for news and mutual support. We broke another record yesterday with a staggering 13,048 hits and this will not go unnoticed by the MoJ and potential successful bidders for our work.

Just in case there is any doubt regarding the reaction of the workforce to being taken over by a ragbag of outfits who know nothing about what we do, here's the first batch of responses:-    

Oh shit! What a bollox did we get to 5 shit companies cleaning up?(!) Not one has any clue...a bloke down the pub told me the French catering company had done so badly that they extended the competition so they could get it right! It stinks to hi heaven. We have bin SOLD to the lowest bidders! GOOD LUCK COLLEAGUES. Lets see if there are any genitals left in the departing chiefs/aco to speak out. Sad sad day.


I can't believe Nacro come up trumps it's a rubbish organisation do nothing really to help offenders they don't even pick up the phone half the time. And to say they are the biggest reducing reoffending in South London sorry to say bull s**t they will fall flat on their face then others will have to clear up the mess or sub contract. But probation officers please don't give up your clients need YOU 100%.


This can be said of a lot of the organisations and charities they have chosen, they have been doing this type of work for years and haven't been effective. Having worked with some of the agencies who are given funding they are just as bad as the private companies for taking money and providing a shocking service.


I work in Northumbria where Sodexo have just been announced as the preferred bidder. Having seen the EPIC shambles they have made of running the local prison (HMP Northumberland), right down to being unable to answer the telephone, combined with the laying off of 200 staff within days of getting the contract, I fear for the future of Northumbria probation!

Once upon a time being a probation officer was my it's simply a job.

When (or if) they take over, they need to know that they are inheriting a workforce that is utterly demoralised and will do the bare minimum required to get through the day. No more working through dinner hours, running round after work to see clients, 'going the extra mile'. Zilch. Nada. From me, personally, you can all go to hell. Where you belong.

Surely there is a conflict of interests Sodexo running CRCs and prisons?


Sodexo will sub contract all your work to NACRO. You will be lucky or unlucky to see anyone with a croissant in their hand. Get used to Nacro shit everybody and as for kiosks...coming to an office near you...utter wa*k. I am someone has said, let one of the shisters from ANY party darken my door and I will rip their rossette off and shove it where a poor quality cleaning company won't clean.


What happened to Carillion and Capita? I thought Mike Maiden was advising Carillion and wasn't it Roger Hill advising Capita? I can't see that they have been selected for anywhere.


As a result of non selection, Crapitas share price has dropped by 6% today.


Hmmmm... I know a mate who works in the prisons in a large area of England. The public prisons had Nacro doing their housing service but Nacro really struggled to meet the KPI of 100% housed on day of release. Shelter won the contract. Nacro staff were tupe'd over. Shelter hit the KPI as they use charitable donations to find the unlucky NFA's a B&B for the night of release. Shelter aren't really bothered what happens to them after that first day of release as it doesn't affect their KPI. 

Nacro pay atrociously low wages so the tupe'd staff were "ok-ish" with being moved over (Shelter's comparable salaries are about £6,000 less than our current salaries for similar roles). However, it quickly became clear that Shelter is a scary corporate dictatorship of an organisation and this caused serious unhappiness amongst the housing workers in prisons who constantly live in fear of which direction the organisation are going to take next. The sweetener of the added couple of grand in the pay packet wore off very quickly. My mate says the Shelter front line are genuinely lovely people but the hierarchy are more corporate than McDonalds.


Working Links who can't look after offenders properly on the work programme and who were done for fraud in 2012 are going to run Wales CRC.


Seetec (KSS) have a dreadful reputation as a work programme provider. It's all looking pretty grim.


Nacro have been trying to grab Probation 'work' for years 25+. Quite a few colleagues jumped ship in that direction at previous times of change... never seen anything effective or consistent come from Nacro...seem to be good at bids and PR though.


My experience of the Third sector is that they don't cope well with high caseloads. The workload that Probation have to deal with will be quite a shock to them. Yet their multinational allies will expect the caseloads to get higher yet. NACRO run a young persons project in my area and it's a shambles. Not sure if the likes of NACRO and Shelter have anything at risk in these contracts. If they do, we can expect these organisations to be bankrupted quite quickly.


I can't sleep. How dare charities be actively working with large multinationals to destroy such an honourable profession for PROFIT? They are now complicit in the Terms and Conditions of thousands of workers being destroyed and the idea that they will support offenders by delivering ANYTHING meaningful is just ridiculous. 

As someone posted earlier, if the measurable target is accommodation for an offender upon release, then one nights B&B will be found and that's it, job done. These charities are sitting there watching their little empires grow but I warn them, they will be scrutinised and held accountable. You can't pretend to be the face of honour and altruism and in reality mired in 'filthy lucre'. 



    1. Lets see what support does actually come from the Labour party.

    2. Questions were raised about ministerial comments related to the sell-off of privatisation today, following Simon Hughes' appearance on the Today programme.

      The justice minister said that:

      a pilot had been carried out
      there had been no criticisms from the independent inspector
      serious cases would still fall to the national service

      But critics of the scheme cast doubt on all of those statements, as the war of words over the sell-off turned into a full blown legal battle.

      Lawyers are currently preparing to issue papers after the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) decided to pursue a judicial review over the plans.

    3. Problem with some interviews on the Today programme is that the presenters are poorly briefed and politicians can free-wheel unchallenged. A letter from the Inspectorate, February 2013 (link below) sets out numerous concerns, to claim that it supports TR, is not stretching the truth, but deliberately weaving lies. Ironically on the day we hear some evidence-based truth about the ineffectiveness of drugs and punishment, we get the usual political lying elsewhere. Just once extract from the letter makes it clear that in the view of the Inspectorate the split was inherently wrong in principle and dangerous in practice.

      'The interface between the dynamic management of risk of harm and the PbR model, with its focus on reducing reoffending, in our view creates an inherent tension. We do not believe that this tension can be successfully managed within the framework proposed. Any lack of contractual or operational clarity between the public and private sector providers will, in our view, lead to systemic failure and an increased risk to the public. The need for clarity about roles and responsibilities is a key issue in the management of risk, as was demonstrated by our investigation into the cases of Hanson and White in 2006.'

    4. Thanks for reminding us Netnipper.


    5. Yes thanks - I have extracted those remarks from the last Probation Inspector which presumably Simon Hughes was not alerted to before that interview and also provided link to the BBC interview and a write up about it : -

  2. I'm one if the lucky POs that will be vey briefly working for Sodexo before being made redundant. I will no longer do more than my hours or go the extra mile. The extra mile I'm doing is the detour I take to work as every day fills me with dread!

  3. Off topic, and we all believe Grayling when he says there's no crisis in the prison system- don't we?

    1. Violent attacks on city prison officers have almost TREBLED in four years, leaving families fearing for their lives.

      And the wife of a worker at HMP Woodhill claims prisoners know the jail is understaffed and are exploiting the situation.

      She told the Citizen: “My husband would normally be assaulted about once every two years - now it’s every two months.

      “He’ll come home with broken ribs and a broken hand. I could go on.

      “The prisoners know Woodhill is under staffed and they are playing on it.”

      As reported last week, figures published by The Howard League for Penal Reform revealed the number of frontline officers working at HMP Woodhill has been cut by 36 per cent since 2010.

      It leaves the jail with just 290 officers to control its 810 prisoners, in comparison to 452 four years previously.

      That’s just three prison officers to every one prisoner.

      Last year there was a 179 per cent increase on the number of assaults on prison officers as it reached 67 attacks in comparison to 24 in 2010.

      Though the prison is doing its best, there have been repercussions for the employees, said the officer’s wife. “Think of how it feels for the staff and their families not knowing if they will come home after each shift now.

      “People ask me why does my husband stay? It’s because he can’t let the other staff down and we have a mortgage to pay.

      “So stop going on about the poor prisoners, they’re only in because they broke the law. And many did awful things - it is a Cat A prison after all.”

      A prison service spokesperson said: “All prison staff do an excellent job and their safety and security is of paramount importance.

      “We do not tolerate violence of any kind in prison and all assaults – especially those on our staff – are treated extremely seriously and we will always press for the most serious charges to be laid.

      “We are comprehensively reviewing how we manage violence in prisons and proactively working with the police and CPS to introduce a new approach to the investigation of crime.”

      The spokesman added: “The Howard League’s figures are not comparing like for like.

      “They have compared the headcount of all officer grades in September 2010 with the full-time equivalent of only prison officer grade in June 2014.”

  4. WTF was Grayling thinking??

    I hope NAPO are all over this.

    I would like to say I'm shocked...but I'm terribly afraid that it comes a little surprise.

    Sodexo..sponsored by BNP

    1. £100m military contract lined up for company mired in racism allegations.

      One of Britain's largest military outsourcing contracts is on the verge of being awarded to a company facing damaging claims about racism in its defence division – sparked after an employee was hit by her director who said it was "punch a black week".

      Sodexo, a multinational company that operates privatised prisons, NHS pathology services and school kitchens, is the frontrunner to win a contract to run six military bases in the Mediterranean. The deal is worth up to £100m over three years and the winner will be announced next month.

      The company's highly lucrative defence division is facing claims that its personnel department, which is meant to police employees' behaviour, has been systematically "ethnically cleansed" of non-white staff.

      Sodexo's senior management including Michel Landel, the Paris-based group chief executive, and the company's UK chief executive, Debbie White, have been informed of the charges, which accuse senior managers including Rachel James, the defence division's personnel director, of racism and sexism.

      Under public contracts regulations, a public body may exclude a bidder or reject a bid where it is found the organisation has "committed grave misconduct in the course of their business".

      At the defence department's Colchester offices, one black employee complained she was told that certain rooms and corridors in the personnel department were out of bounds because they were for "whites only". This she says was dismissed by executives as "banter".

      In other instances, it was claimed that black staff felt they were being tarred as "lazy". The company is also accused, by at least one employee, of "creating and inciting a hostile climate of distrust against difference".

      In one instance, a white male executive allegedly had to remonstrate with a junior colleague who, upon the arrival of a black employee, said: "There is another black one, they are taking over."

      Staff say matters came to a head in October 2012 when an African-Caribbean female manager was punched by a top executive of the defence division, who was a white man. When she asked why he had done this, he responded: "It's punch a black week."

      In December 2012, the company accepted the events took place, but said it was "unable to conclude that this behaviour was due to ... skin colour". The black female manager left the company with a six-figure payout in early 2013. Her white male boss, who made the remarks, also left.

      The next year saw an exodus of female non-white staff from the company. Six months after the punching incident, the Asian head of human resources for Cyprus was dismissed without warning for alleged incompetence. However, she threatened to take the company to court for unlawful dismissal and Sodexo settled out of court.

      Another two non-white female employees of the human resources department are currently taking the company to court over claims of racism and sexism.

      In the first case, a black female personnel adviser claims she was ostracised by members of her team. During an investigation into homophobic bullying in June last year, it is alleged, a colleague bemoaned to her the fact he could not use the "n-word" any more for fear of offending people. She also claims she was labelled a "part-timer" because of her childcare arrangements.

      The adviser went off sick in September last year and was replaced by a white woman who left the company six months later. The black female adviser has launched two claims against the company for racist and sexist bullying.

    2. The last remaining non-white face in the personnel department, a senior African-Caribbean manager, complained she had endured a year of "determined and relentless bullying". She says she was asked to leave the office after she told her boss that she was pregnant in January this year. She claims that she had attempted to raise concerns over racist remarks but had been frozen out.

      The Guardian understands she still employed by the company but has not worked in the office for almost a year. She is currently taking action for racial and sexual discrimination against the company.

      In 2005, Sodexo was forced to pay $80m (£47.2m) to settle a lawsuit brought by thousands of black employees in America, who charged that they were routinely barred from promotions and segregated within the company. With a global workforce operating in 80 countries, Sodexo has stressed its ethical principles of "business integrity" and "respect for people and equal opportunity".

      A Sodexo spokesperson said: "Sodexo takes allegations of this nature extremely seriously, as these behaviours are absolutely contrary to our organisational values. We have policies and procedures in place to ensure any allegation is dealt with robustly.

      "Sodexo Defence is a division operating over a number of locations with more than 10,000 employees. There was an incident at a single Sodexo Defence site involving two employees. This was investigated thoroughly under Sodexo's disciplinary policy at the time and a senior manager left the company in 2012 as a result. We are aware of recent allegations that have been made and it would be inappropriate for us to comment while our investigations are ongoing.

      "As a services company, our 35,000 people are our most important asset and having an engaged workforce is critical to our success. Last year, we received the Investors in People award in recognition of our positive employee engagement, and we received the Personal, Fair and Diverse award from the Employers Network for Equality and Inclusion."

      A Ministry of Defence spokesperson said: "No decision has been taken on this contract so it would be wrong to speculate. We take seriously the conduct of all our contractors and will consider their diversity policies where relevant to the subject matter of the contract."

    3. 2 things those investors in people awards can be achieved by anyone and have been, secondly, the probation service was no better, proportionately there are more black staff in CRC, is this not racist.

  5. having read this article I almost can not believe it, how can Sodexo be expected to uphold probation values - or even the law - this is vile racism

  6. I think its interesting that so many CRC's have been lumped together, particularly in terms of Wales. Welsh Government will not be happy to learn that we are soon to be the Wales and South West CRC. Working links are our worst case scenario after they cocked up the ETE contract in 2012. The fact we have been chucked in with large chunk of England means a cull of managers! These managers should have thought about this before they sold out on their morals by scrambling for promotion within the CRC's.

  7. Well I for one am now stepping up my efforts to find a new job! There is no bloody way I'm working for crappy working links!! There's no way I'm ever going to tell people I'm a PSO working for Working Links, they can stick it! I used to love my job, I hate going in now and it's only going to get worse. Fingers crossed that JR will wipe that smuck grin off Grayling's face!!

  8. Purple Futures on Merseyside??
    Only two colours here - red & blue

    Infact the blue army's slogan 'you're in my heart you're in my soul' is kind of a mantra to those dedicated to Probation work.