Sunday, 19 October 2014

TR Week Twenty

I've never had so many offenders who I have seen so little of. Caseload currently 76 with 15 inside. PSOs now only induct people on a fortnightly rota and it's all group inductions. All officers see their new cases for appointment one immediately after the induction which is used in general as a full FDR interview because the FDR from court is so bare with not much to inform an ISP.

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In the midlands area they are warning about posting anything that will put probation/sell off in a bad light.

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What? Like the Target Operating Model?

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Target Operating Model!!!! Oh yeh......has anyone told the bidders that TOM failed some time ago and now we're just making it up as we go along. Certainly our IT departments are. They're working with an entire crock of shite. Unstable and dangerous, that's where we are at. 

One thing I do like about the current situation is that it has set us back to twenty years or so ago, when everyone just did their own thing. Working it out as we go along. I'm sure there was some theoretical underpinning back then, whereas now it's just a means of muddling through.

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Walking around my office today, I have heard seven, yes SEVEN separate colleagues in unrelated conversations say (exact words) 'this doesn't work'. It includes a director, an SPO, an offender manager, TVP facilitator, MAPPA Manager, Restorative Justice Officer and Partnership agency worker. The issues relate primarily to having to make decisions based on limited, inadequate or unsubstantiated information. I have heard the term 'dangerous' used three times, each relating not to the offender but to the SYSTEM. It is palpable. Probation has been rendered ineffective by the MoJ and by t he Justice Secretary and practitioners far and wide, at all grades are fully aware of it.

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Yesterday allocated a female case who if I hadn't received information from the Mental Health worker at Court could have put other Service Users at risk. I was unable to access the report or any information on her from Delius to assist me in my group induction today! I am so tired of having to chase information that previously was at my fingertips!

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Public Protection by accident! That'll work!

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Inspectors were in our office today. I made a point of telling him that we are in meltdown and total chaos. He said I know. No proper breach process. Offenders turning up without any paperwork or information. Most of us in crc with numerous oasys outstanding. An offender on a SOPO not allocated been seen twice by CRC staff. It is not only lack of proper processes and increased bureaucracy but a lack of goodwill that the probation service was so dependant on.

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Spoke to an NPS PO yesterday. Just had her first supervision since June. I also know of another TVP facilitator who has still not had supervision since 1/6/14. Never see their manager. Apparently, they have been offered a date in November. And that is the HIGHEST RISK WORK WE DO!!

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One of my colleagues facing an SFO. She is feeling really bad because she had not completed an initial Oasys. Working on 120+ per cent. This could have been one of my cases or any of my colleagues. Not able to manage offenders effectively with the relentless chaos in CRC.

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Please, please (a)reassure your colleague the responsibility for the offence lies with the client (b)the relevance of an Oasys having been completed or not to SFO commission is very limited - the point of Oasys is evidencing an analysis of issues and risk and hence a plan but (c)what is arguably more important is, what did she and, if there was one, PSR author identify as key issues to work on in supervision especially if linked to reoffending and what did she and client actually work on thru supervision? ie accounting for what one was able or not to do (which is linked to resources) Also, see if can get local Napo rep to accompany; we have no right to this but some areas have agreement that members can be accompanied in meetings for support.

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Re the SFO, I would be interested to know what risk the offender was assessed as presenting - my experience is that most SFOs come from medium ROSH cases - and therefore CRC under the TR split.

Look at recent information from this blog, how CRCs are managing cases by telephone reporting and mass reporting centres and many cases transferred without handovers..... NONE OF WHICH IS WHAT PRACTITIONERS WANT. The capacity for significant increase in SFOs is just growing and growing....

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My tasks are SLOWER and LESS efficient as a result of the contracts of the NEW policies and systems. Everything was so much more logical and efficient before Grayling threw his tantrum and stamped all over probation. I am hanging on to the fact that I enjoy my role but despise and detest those who are being paid out of hard working tax payers money to do nothing but arse lick and dribble bullshit wherever they go.

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Here's an example from today - Paperwork from the prison was sent to one of the offices in another area, asking that an address be identified for someone they wanted to release on HDC. They sent it to NPS (this area), who sent it to another office (CRC) - I guess because this prisoner's last known address - which he was unable to return to - had been in our area.

Anyway, the prisoner is not current to any office, being sentenced to only 11 mths custody - as you know, we don't YET work with the under 12mths.  We told the prison that if they wanted to identify an address, then they should do it.  As the prisoner has no address - why were they considering release on HDC?  He should simply be released at the usual half way point and told to report as homeless on release, to Access to Housing teams - it's not like he's going to be supervised on licence.


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Another example of the confusion is that prison staff rang our office one Wednesday requesting licence conditions and reporting instructions for someone they were releasing on the Friday of that same week. This man had been sentenced only the week before, after being RIC for around 9 mths, and he'd been sentenced without reports. Obviously there wasn't any OASys and so no assessment of risk was available.  He'd last been in the system 2 yrs previously.  He didn't report on release. Contact was made with the prison, who confirmed he'd been released. On checking the release address he'd given, it wasn't in our catchment area. The prison had obviously gone off the address on the system from 2 yrs previously!  

A warning letter was sent to the correct address with reporting instructions for the correct office.  However, when the service user rang following receipt of the letter, he said he now had a different address - which, when checked, was in the area covered by the Exclusion Zone requested as part of his licence!  He was promptly advised to move back to the previous address!

Prisons are instructed to complete an initial assessment (Start Custody) and sentence plan for all prisoners sentenced to 12 months or more who will be allocated to a CRC.  In this particular instance, HMP didn't bother to do this at all - perhaps they didn't have a clue where to begin as the prisoner had been sentenced without reports, perhaps due to the prisoner's release being so soon after sentence (due to time spent on remand), or maybe its a resource issue?  Nevertheless, it remains that this mandatory action had not been completed by the prison and so it's now left to probation to do what is effectively a full PSR interview, assessment of risk and sentence plan - which will be recorded as a "Start Licence"  assessment on OASys - which of course knocks the chronology of the event out of sync on that system. 

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Another thing I heard today was that hard pressed (NPS) court staff are not completing the RSR tool correctly.  When it is done incorrectly, the system will err on the side of caution and allocate the case to NPS.  This is happening now in our area - IOM staff have already highlighted this.  Also, of course, it means that NPS could at some future point, effectively starve CRCs of work.

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I am really, really aggrieved that PSOs and trainee Probation Officers in NPS are able to do the job I am fully qualified to do, but no longer allowed to do. I hear that NPS trainees will be given placements in CRCs as they can't get the breadth of experience they require within NPS - well, I hope they don't ask me for any help, advice or support - I'll simply refer them to their own managers. 

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What are they looking for? We have it all just let us know what. Perhaps case studies on the offenders CRCs are working with so the public are aware of the man with extreme violence in his past who is hearing voices telling him to hurt people or the sex offender with no acknowledgement of his own risk, or the prolific offender with a long history of knife crime, or the arsonist with mental health issues. The public might want to know that these are the 'low and medium' risk cases private companies will be making money out of.

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Across BeNCH CRC average sickness levels have increased from 17 days in August to 23 days in September. Apparently this is 'of concern' to the CEO and Directors.

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This makes for gloomy and depressing reading. This is the fight of your lives, for your life. Courts being unable to impose conditions such as unpaid work or drug treatment? So are we moving to generic sentences - every sentence fits...? That process of appropriate individualised recommendations defines the Probation Service's expertise in assessment of every individual. So what will happen to the excellent programmes if this is to be another nail in the coffin?

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Sentences will soon be 'Joe/Jane Bloggs must attend for x amount of sessions'. We've already been told that if we 'discover' early on that they do not need as many sessions (read support)then to take them straight back to Court for early revocation......although I'm not sure that the grounds of 'good progress' after 5 sessions is going to cut much mustard with the Courts!!!

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TR in crisis already BUT there is more to come! Please remember the consequence of the Osborne decision (Osborn (Appellant) v The Parole Board (Respondent) and recent comments that the Parole Board are not releasing enough prisoners (ref this Blog two days ago).

Sir David Calvert-Smith ( Chair) "In July, the board had 780 cases against the usual 400-500. In due course, if the delays get any longer or a delay in a particular case gets longer we will have to pay damages," he says. "Even though it's not our fault, we owe them a hearing and we haven't given them one." 

The consequence of this is additional work for Probation (and Prison) staff at a time when we have no capacity at all. So undoubtedly our workloads are set to increase again. This will have a massive impact on probation, more pre release assessments, referrals and reports and of course cases to supervise in the community given the presumption is for release.

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The crisis for STAFF now must not be lost in all this discussion. I do not know a single member of staff who is not adversely impacted ranging from dissatisfaction through anguish to full blown stress (which has serious health implications). In my(many years)of probation work I have never seen such fractured working conditions. If staff deluged by processes (and trying to even figure them out, yes it is that chaotic) and have no time to even consider the needs of our service users, all really is lost. Points are valid about who is to blame over time, but the crisis now needs to be dealt with in its immediacy.

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As an SPO, I am now being asked to provide explanations for performance 'failures' in the past 5 months in relation to 'missed' OASys terminations. The first of these was a 'miss' in mid-June at a time when, you may recall, the split was in full flow, case records and assessments were disappearing into the ether, staff were anxious and angry, colleagues who had sat next to you for years had disappeared to 'the other side' and the whole service was in chaos.

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Can we start to get information out here about the specifics of what each area is actually doing eg reporting centres, what types of buildings are being used? I know of a church hall without panic alarms (yet obligatory in former public sector probation offices). Staff travelling long distances to serve several offices, lone working of necessity when there are not enough staff of your own "brand" available to ensure your safety...it goes on and on......

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In response to the suggestion that TR had no satisfactory framework and requirement on CRCs for good training and continuous professional development, Grayling responded that "there was NAPO and the PI".

37 comments:

  1. off topic, sorry but doing the ironing and just watched BBC news channel Edwina Currie defending Andrew Selous regarding comments he made at Tory fringe meeting about disabled people. "It got out in this way because two members of the National Association of Probation Officers sat in the front row " Bloody well done, if that was the source!
    However her tone was very derogatory so at least we know how the Tories truly view us ( and disabled members or our society who errr are voters!!!)

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    1. The Independent quotes Tania Bassett and Dave Adams.

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    2. Andrew Selous told a fringe meeting that “disabled people work harder because they’re grateful to have a job”

      The emergence of a second minister's comments risked adding fuel to the row. Mr Selous made the comments at a Centre for Social Justice fringe meeting, where he was speaking on the Government's reforms to the criminal justice system. Tania Bassett and Dave Adams, two senior members of the Napo probation union, which opposes the reforms, were sitting in the front row.

      Mr Adams said: "I was shocked. It was one of those moments where you think 'did he really just say that?'."

      And Ms Bassett said: "There was a lot of muttering, like 'I can't believe he just said this'. He was talking about employment for offenders, suggesting that, like disabled people, they'll work hard."

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/disabled-are-grateful-so-work-harder-says-tory-minister-9804276.html

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    3. However her tone was very derogatory so at least we know how the Tories truly view us"".........l think we may have known for a while!!!!!

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  2. A (very) rough guide to low and medium risk of harm for non probation blog followers: Low = no indicators of risk of serious harm (ie the potential to seriously harm or kill) a child, a member of the public, a member of staff, or a known individual. Medium = there ARE indicators of the potential for serious harm if something CHANGES. Are CRCs, broken away from court teams and other colleagues, being able to access only part of the probation dstabase, carrying high caseloads, people being shunted off into groups (where they can simply share and collude with pro criminal associstes if they so choose), and monitored by telephone - with the best will in the world - going to spot those changes that might indicate increasing risk? PLEASE SAVE PROBATION from this ill-conceived dangerous experiment which is nothing to do with reducing re-offending and everything to do with the artificial creation of profit and the professional jealousy of a certain type of privileged, petulant career politicians who do not understand those who wish to contribute to a fair and just society by working not for profit but with good will, a belief in the value of their aims, with inegrity and without dumb, meaningless, time consuming bureaucratic diktact which prevents them from getting on with the job of protecting the public. This 'cancer' is spreading throughout probation, the courts and crown prosecution service. We are walking into a very dark scenario indeed. It was Tony Blair, I think, who walked alongside the Queen in public, giving the message that govt ministers were at least equal to the status of the Crown. This govt, however, are acting with impunity as if the Legal System and statute are minor irritations to brushed aside in their relentless pursuit of wealth and power at the cost of others and all that has been achieved to date.

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    1. Never thought I'd say this,but good on Tony Blair! The Queen should have been fucking five steps behind, given that no one elceted her!

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    2. Isn't that precisely the attitude of this administration and its unqualified justice sectetary, demonstrated by their comments regarding "unelected" judges when legal judgments go against what the govt wants. The comment wasn't made in the context of a debate about the queen. The courts act on behalf of the crown, not Chris Grayling.

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    3. Do not be deceived. It was Weasel Blair who perpetuated Thatcher's delusion that Government Ministers - especially Prime Ministers - are above the law, better than the monarchy and beyond reproach.

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    4. Any elected representative is better than the Monarchy even th is shower of shits. at least they are elected.

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    5. Missing the point.

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  3. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/oct/19/justice-secretary-chris-grayling-pledges-stiffer-sentences-for-internet-trolls?commentpage=1

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    1. Internet trolls will face up to two years in jail under tough new laws proposed by justice secretary Chris Grayling.

      The previous maximum term of six months will be quadrupled under the plan to tackle the “cowards” who post abusive comments online.

      Grayling said the plan was a signal of his determination to “take a stand against a baying cyber-mob”.

      The move comes just days after the threats directed at Chloe Madeley after she stepped in to defend her mother Judy Finnigan’s controversial comments about footballer and convicted rapist Ched Evans.

      The justice secretary told the Mail on Sunday: “These internet trolls are cowards who are poisoning our national life.

      “No-one would permit such venom in person, so there should be no place for it on social media. That is why we are determined to quadruple the current six-month sentence.”

      Madeley, a fitness instructor, was threatened with rape after intervening in the row over her mother’s comments about Evans.

      Finnigan had inflamed the debate about whether Evans should resume his footballing career by saying his crime was “non-violent” and did not cause “bodily harm” during a panel discussion on ITV’s Loose Women.

      Grayling said: “As the terrible case of Chloe Madeley showed last week, people are being abused online in the most crude and degrading fashion.

      “This is a law to combat cruelty - and marks our determination to take a stand against a baying cyber-mob.

      “We must send out a clear message: if you troll you risk being behind bars for two years.”

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    2. Have I fallen down a rabbit hole? So, CG says if you make abusive or cruel comments about others anonymously you can be jailed for up to two years. If, however, in the course of your ministerial work you describe people with disability as "not worth the minimum wage" or dismiss a long-standing gold standard profession as "immature", if you generally promote policies that are poisonous and venomous to many in society, you are entitled to a 9% pay rise.

      Spartacus

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    3. Just a question... Surely there are plenty of young footballers good enough to play high profile, highly paid premiership standard football who haven't raped anyone, or been convicted of any nasty offences, or who don't hold homophobic or racist views of the world?

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  4. Have a look at the Prison Facebook page "know the danger'.Lots and lots of unbeilivable anonomous postings, the threats,assaults and risks that they face are truly shocking. YET, they do not seek to be in the news much in regards to what staff are facing. I think in comparison, Probation may be broken byt the Prisons are truly smashed!

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  5. Will Grayling be including us in his view of a "cyber-mob" ?!

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  6. If he does then I'm definately in the firing line!!

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  7. guess we are all Spartacus then !
    Judicial Review will save us all

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  8. Heard a interview with a representative of CG this am, regarding the new laws to lock up trolls and social media offenders for 2 years...someone suggested they had better speed up the prison building programme, to which the rep replied, "we have capacity" - Oh really?

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  9. Today's blog refers to Post Sentence Assessment. PSA was a bit like OASys. Supposed to be sophisticated and flexible, and so the designers went into the market place and found that nobody wanted to buy it, because it was it was in fact, rubbish and complex. A type of PSA is indeed what new providers will have to use, and God help them and us. It was and is a total disaster in West Yorkshire.

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    1. Shurely shome mishtake - ed. The architects got an award at Buck House!

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    2. I concur with above. ....PSA is an omWYshambles and any notion of coherence has now fallen apart!

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  10. On another note about this disastor are the voices of victims of crime. I am a long serving PO with 17 years experience. My family were a victim of crime this weekend we rang the police and are still waiting to see if anyone arrives. Fortunatly a neighbour witnessed the crime and we have a name. So lets see what happens the person in question may be arrested depending on whether the CPS sees it as an offence worthy of the criminal justice system the person may go to court and then see an overworked Court office undertake an FDR. The report will be rushed together with a conclusion bordering on a fine possibly or some other sentence relating to their drug dependancy. Off they go to the CRC or NPS depending on their risk and bingo never seen much again due to the chaos of case management and this ridiculous TR agenda. Thanks Mr Grayling our bill for the damage is on the way to your office!!!! Give a thought in your TOM 3 or 4 or 5 version, of the victims perspective because as we know not much will happen if you are a victim of crime in this appaulling agenda.

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  11. Off topic but have to post this.
    It will be a woderful world with no human rights act, and Grayling deciding what government decisions can be legally challanged.

    http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/judicial-review-plans-prompt-parliamentary-alarm/5044396.article

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    1. Across-party group of MPs and peers has reiterated its objection to a number of the government’s proposed reforms to curb the use of judicial review.

      In a report published today, the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights says the plans go too far in restricting access to court for people to hold the government to account for acting unlawfully.

      The committee expresses particular concern about the capping of costs, interveners’ costs and the power of the lord chancellor to redefine public interest proceedings.

      The reforms are set out in the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, which is set for its report stage in the House of Lords next week.

      Dr Hywel Francis MP (pictured), chair of the committee, said the changes will make it more difficult for people to hold the government to account.

      ‘This is about upholding the rule of law, and we hope the House of Lords will amend the bill in ways we have recommended,’ he said. ‘This ought to stop the government from making it more difficult for it to be challenged in court.’

      The committee recommends amendments to part four of the bill – most notably removing plans to give the lord chancellor power to redefine 'public interest' proceedings.

      Other recommendations included taking away the statutory duty on courts to order an intervener to pay costs incurred by other parties except in ‘exceptional circumstances’.

      Members also propose restoring judicial discretion on costs and allowing courts to make a costs-capping order at any stage – not just in cases in which permission has been granted.

      The report adds: ‘The government’s argument that the taxpayer should not be expected to fund costs protection in unmeritorious cases has an attractive plausibility.

      ‘However, the practical problem with restricting cost-capping orders to cases in which permission has been granted is that meritorious public interest cases will not be brought because applicants cannot take the risk of exposure to pre-permission costs.’

      Lord chancellor Chris Grayling, appearing before the House of Lords constitution committee on Wednesday, said reforms of judicial review were ‘necessary, proportionate and dealing with an area that’s not working very well’.

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    2. http://m.southwalesargus.co.uk/news/11545031.THE_NEWSDESK__Man_up__Prime_Minister__and_sack_Lord_Freud/

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  12. I have sat in a magistrates court and heard on several occasions District Judges complain to CPS that defendants have been 'undercharged' particularly in relation to assaults. This is something else the CRC have to contend with, people who should be in NPS but due to undercharging and/or basis of plea stuff going to CRC.

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  13. Bidders if u r reading this blog . Please get out while you can. I don't think you have any idea of the complexities you will be dealing with. Never mind a system that has been ruined by the split and not fit for purpose IT systems. If you are hoping to make a fast buck, think again

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  14. PSA in WY is I agree pants, POINTLESS, STUPID, ARSEHOLES invented it. The bloke who put it through fucked off ages ago and is probably sunning himself on his pay off.

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  15. I agree. I am so limited on what I can propose to the Courts with PSA in Wet Yorks. No supervision unless high risk, pointless putting down an activity (formerly known as Accredited programmes) cos they are so over whelmed since PSA kicked in they can't fit everyone in and they are knocking flk back cos they don't have the OGRE's score anyway. No anger management activity running for the foreseeable future. A year or more before sex offenders get put on the SOTP, that's if theydon't knock them back cos the shitty RM2000 says no. (HAPPENING MORE AND MORE THESE DAYS.) Can't propose a DRR for those over the RSR threshold as no NPS STAFF in DRR team. DOH!!! I find myself investigating, assessing for PSR's, working out why they did the offence like I am paid to do then vaguely apologising to the Court that I can't propose bugger all for 'em. It's a travesty and makes a mockery of my training.

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    1. Not using PSA down our way yet

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  16. The concern I have is more and more seem to be getting locked up because the Judges, Mags don't feel the proposals will protect the public. They would be right too in my view. A real concern and needs scrapping.

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  17. Maybe people could think a bit deeper and recognise that what may make sense as a concern to one, may actually be fuel to the intentions of another..


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    1. Riddles. Always helpful.

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  18. Why do staff from crc accepted into the nps following interview etc have to be vetted. No-one was vetted when probation was split and sifted to the nps. There again they didn't have to apply for nps jobs either.

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    1. It's the rule. No exceptions. Welcome to the civil service.

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    2. Its only a rule when it suits them, some agency staff and newly qualified officers are being given permanent contracts without these rules. I have heard that in Manchester all newly qualified staff will be given permanent contracts and have asked to withdraw their applications for jobs in the NPS, which rule are they applying here.

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