Saturday, 25 October 2014

Trouble With Recall

Naturally focused as we are on TR and our fight for survival, it's easy to miss other stuff going on, such as this from Frances Crook in her latest blog at the Howard League. It seems Chris Grayling and the MoJ have another cunning plan up their sleeve, this time involving those recalled to prison:-
Our concerns about new Ministry of Justice measures to handle prisoners on their recall into custody
Thousands of people released from prison on fixed term licences are returned to prison each year at the request of their probation officers. The system allows for standard and emergency recalls straight back to prison with no consideration by a court. The reason for this is to ensure that the public can be protected. Nobody can object to that. But, nor, is it right or cost effective that people should be detained a moment longer than necessary or released at the end of their sentence without any supervision because nobody is able to make the judgement call that they are safe to be released again.

For the past forty years, a huge proportion of these cases have been reviewed by the Parole Board and many are re-released safely on licence. It is not unusual for a person to have been recalled following an arrest for a further offence which turns out to lead nowhere or on the strength of an unfounded allegation.
It was therefore a surprise to discover that three working days before it was due to be debated in the House of Lords, the government laid amendments to Part 1 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill introducing a whole new scheme for fixed term recalls to prison. They provide for the use of ‘recall adjudicators’ in determinate recall cases – any case where a prisoner serving a fixed term sentence is recalled to custody and falls to be considered for re-release on licence.
As Lord Faulks admitted in the House on 20 October 2014, there remains ‘unknown detail about the precise operation, impact and cost of the new model’. Nothing is known about this scheme other than that recall adjudicators will have ‘significant criminal justice experience’. There is nothing in the proposed amendments to say whether recall adjudicators would be impartial or independent, trained professionals or lay people; whether hearings would be ‘on the papers’ or oral, what powers recall adjudicators would have to require evidence and information or whether legal aid would be available for prisoners subject to it.
Yet it is quite clear that if passed, the amendments will enable the Secretary of State to hive off a section of work currently completed by the Parole Board and will provide the Secretary of State a wide discretion to set up a new scheme without further debate or discussion in parliament. The provisions are widely drafted and raise a number of concerns.
There is no provision for the process to be judicial and no provision for legal aid. Without safeguards, there is a real risk that these changes could see a vast increase in the prison population.
The work itself is not disappearing and on the government’s own analysis may well increase considerably as it rolls out its Transforming Rehabilitation programme and as a result of further aspects the Bill that will lower the test for recall to release from the risk of harm to the public to non-compliance with licence conditions. While the proposal provides the option for the parole board not to have to complete this work, there is nothing in this proposal that will result in a reduction in recalls. If the parole board does undertake the work, there is no point in introducing the scheme on the basis that it would lessen the burden on the parole board. If the parole board does not undertake this work, there will be the increased cost of recruiting and training new adjudicators and devising a new scheme.
Most frightening of all is the sheer disregard for the Parliamentary process demonstrated by the decision to present a scheme to peers for endorsement without any detail as to what it will involve or the consequences just three working days before report stage. At best, recall adjudicators will require all the financial and administrative costs of a new scheme. At worst they could result in the need for thousands more prison places in a system bursting at the seams.


  1. Sounds like more of the same ' back of a fag packet' thinking that seems to characterise our beloved SoS/MOJ/ NOMS...just yesterday saw a request for an Annex F ( what that you ask...I know not as there is no template in nDelius for such a beast)....which is a series of questions to determine whether someone might progress from Cat C to Cat D under the new ' rules' . This includes a question along the lines of " is there a compelling reason why x should move to a Cat D? ". WTF? Compelling reason? I can't think that that is a useful tool to risk assessment nor easy to provide a defensible decision to advocate a move on that basis. Crying out for a legal challenge, dare I say a judicial review ( now where have I heard that before )

  2. Could this be connected?

    1. Job Reference:
      Generic - CJ
      £17.40 ph LTD.
      Role Type:
      Contract/Full Time

      Criminal Justice Skills are a market leading provider of staffing services to the criminal justice arena

      We have noticed that there is a current shortage of niche skills sets within this arena and are now currently exploring the opportunity of recruiting those with transferable skills such as Prison service staff, ex or retired police officers, or those who have worked within social care to fill a number of temporary positions across the next 6 months with various clients nationally, working within an offender management capacity.

      Ordinarily, specific criminal justice qualifications were required to undertake these roles. The market may now be ready to accept ‘unqualified’ or ‘less experienced’ candidates looking for their break in this sector as long as you can satisfy the skills sets mentioned above. This is not open to entry level or graduates.

      A DBS check will be required for these positions

      If you have thought about a career within criminal justice, have worked in a role alongside criminal justice partner agencies or simply have the transferable skills to do a job in this arena please send your CV and a covering note to.....

    2. To me this sounds like probation officer roles as it says 'in offender management'.

    3. Another titanic cock up on the horizon. The MoJ under Grayling are a professional joke. They are meddling with things they don't fully understand and their consequential thinking is immature to say the least. Who put these clowns in charge?

    4. Non-compliance with licence conditions has always been a basis for recall, not just risk of harm. But the major concern is removing the independent parole board from such deliberations and replacing them with prison employees who won't be similarly independent but just another department of prison bureaucracy.

    5. Put simply, they want release decisions to be made for purposes of population management rather than risk management. V. risky approach in terms of public protection.


    1. More than 17,000 prisoners released into the community after serving short jail terms went on to commit new crimes last year, official figures have shown.

      A new breakdown from the Ministry of Justice disclosed that more than 2,000 adult offenders committed a violent crime within 12 months of being freed.

      A further 10,200 ex-prisoners who had previously served a short sentence went on to commit theft and 125 were convicted of a sex crime within 12 months, the data showed.

      Out of 29,951 offenders freed from serving jail terms of up to a year, 17,211 - or nearly six out of 10 – committed a new crime within 12 months.

      The total also included 467 offenders who committed robbery, 1,700 who were convicted of a public order offence and 3,000 found guilty of drugs offences.

      A further 848 released prisoners were convicted of possessing a weapon within a year of being freed. It is the first time the Ministry of Justice has published the figures, meaning it is impossible to compare with previous years. Until now, prisoners freed after serving short-term prison sentences have been released into the community with no probation supervision.

      But ministers have introduced reforms which will require offenders to take part in supervision programmes when they get out of jail even if they served a sentence of 12 months or less. The new figures showed London had the largest number of released prisoners who committed a new crime within a year, with 3,047, followed by the North West (2,649) and the West Midlands (1,908).

      Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said: “Thousands of offences are being committed every year by those who’ve been through the system before.

      “It’s this group, those who’ve served short sentences, that are mostly like to re-offend – and yet incredibly they’re also the group who get released from prison with £46 in their pocket and pretty much nothing else at all.

      “That makes no sense. It’s no wonder so many of them are just returning to a life of crime, ending up rattling around the system all over again.

      “That’s why we’re making changes so that those who serve less than 12 months will be supervised and supported for a year after they leave prison – giving us a far better chance of stopping them re-offending.”

      He added: “Crime is down under this Government. Now we need to push on with our reforms to tackle the persistent and pernicious reoffending, to make sure we keep our communities safe.”
      Sadiq Khan, the shadow justice secretary, criticised the Government's plans for "payment by results" probation schemes involving charities and private companies.

      “David Cameron’s Government have chosen to pursue a reckless and half-baked probation privatisation that has thrown the service into chaos, with dedicated and experienced staff choosing to walk away, leaving morale at rock bottom," said Mr Khan.

      “Under Chris Grayling’s plans supervision of dangerous and violent offenders will be handed over to private companies with no track record of working in this area, all done without any evidence or testing to see if this will work.

      "This is taking a monumental gamble with the safety of communities up and down the country”

    2. First time the MoJ has published such figures - and possibly the last time! Still, they feel it's important to make specious arguments for TR, which maybe suggests they fear a Devon Loch moment in the courts.

  4. Unfortunately not all companies bidding for the contracts have no track record of working in this area ie Sentinel in the USA. Just look at how they do it on the web. Unofficial word is they may be filling their boots.

  5. Sentinel are bidding for dlnr crc hmm not good but then this is all a bad idea

  6. Hmm and BGSW watch this space

  7. And Devon Cornwall and Dorset

  8. Maybe a timely reminder to re-post this link from the Independent dated 23/06/2014

    It is what you might call the American nightmare. A man steals a $2 can of beer, and gets caught. He’s then sentenced to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet for a year. This, it turns out, is no free lunch.

    The man ends up owing the company that makes the ankle bracelet – Sentinel Offender Services – more than a thousand dollars in fees and late payment penalties. He sells his blood plasma to make payments but cannot raise enough. Subsequently, a Georgia court jails the man, not for stealing a can of beer, but for failing to cough up the debt he owes Sentinel."

    And it offers potential companies the following warnings to the inherent risks to business wanting to work with the client group.

    "Right now, all is not going to plan. Let me refer you to a few lines from a promotional video for Crest Advisory, a firm which offers crisis communications services to any company that wants a piece of the probation pie: “Transforming Rehabilitation presents a unique set of risks to the reputations of those who want to deliver it. It’s politically controversial [and] it’s operationally challenging, a frontline public service involving vulnerable and sometimes chaotic people. In probation, when things go wrong, the results can be tragic.”

    And .."At times, the instinctive left-wing opposition to privatisation falls foul of common sense. This is not one of those times. The Government’s own project assessment system has given Transforming Rehabilitation a "red" warning – its worst. Even putting aside ethical objections to the introduction of a profit-motive into complex social work (and they take some putting aside) commercial ones remain. There’s money to be made here, sure. But, with lives on the line, can it possibly be enough?"

  9. The SoS disregard for parliamentary systems is arguably demonstrated by his comments listed in Hansards when asked the following...

    "Heidi Alexander (Opposition Whip (Commons); Lewisham East, Labour)

    A4e recently pulled out of a £17 million contract to deliver education and training in London prisons. It has been suggested that one reason for that is staff shortages so severe that there are not enough officers to escort prisoners to classes. If prisoners who want to learn cannot even get to the classroom, what does that say about the Government’s so-called rehabilitation revolution?"

    Grayling's reply ....
    Chris Grayling (The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice ; Epsom and Ewell, Conservative) All I can tell the House is that the scenario painted by the hon. Lady is completely untrue".

    The Guardian's reporting of the A4E decision ...
    "Announcing that it would be terminating its contract, the company said delivering the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS) had become "extremely challenging" in the past two years because of "a number of constraints" which had "a heavy impact on learner attendance, completion and achievements".
    And ...
    "Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: "It's difficult to know precisely why A4e finds itself running this contract at a loss but it is clear that prisoners are spending more and more time locked down in overcrowded cells in understaffed prisons. Wasting time rather than doing time is a far cry from the rehabilitation revolution. Withdrawal of prison education calls into question both this government's capacity to award contracts for delivery of essential services and its commitment to rehabilitation. Our prisons are being reduced to warehouses – nothing more."

    Surely Grayling is worthy of an in-depth investigation by journalists - his track record is abysmal.


    1. Can a complaint not be made? For someone in his position not to know the reason, then deliberately lie, is reprehensible!! God, I hate that man more than Nick Clegg!!!

    2. Blimey, Nick Clegg must REALLY hate him then...

  10. Joe kiupers tweeted about investigative jounalist . If u dm on twitter then he will give their details

  11. It is refreshing to note some of the comments which reflect a concern about the effect of enforcement practice on offenders and the impact on the prison population. In the early 90's the lead manager for the introduction of bail information schemes, a lawyer from America who worked for the Vera Institute, once stated that he would do anything he could to keep his clients away from probation officers when he worked as a public defender. This was because they were obsessed with risk and enforcement and saw his clients almost exclusively as criminals with risks rather than as individuals 'in the round'. This more humane view was what for him characterised probation officers in England and Wales. Hence the probation service had the skills and orientation to divert defendants at risk of custodial remand away from prison and into more stable and hopeful community settings which in turn would lessen the likelihood they would receive custodial sentences. When the NPS was created in 2001 with the crucial jettisoning of 'advise assist and befriend', and a more punitive law enforcement culture (all in the name of effective risk management) the probation service increasingly became, in the words of one commentator (and I paraphrase) the willing foot soldiers in the war against the outsiders in society. The steady rise in the prison population throughout the 'noughties' and beyond was fuelled in large part by the numbers of offenders whose orders and licenses were breached/recalled by probation officers. Very little was heard from NAPO (as far as a I can gather) or any other relevant professional commentators about this trend. It is this inability or unwillingness to successfully resist punitive developments in probation practice which means that the proposals to extend supervision to those released from sentences less than 12 months could have some unforeseen and unfortunate consequences for the prison population.

    1. I could not agree more. I remember reading Nils Christie who saw the probation service as a humanitarian influence in the CJS. This ethos was encapsulated in advise, assist and befriend. And then the rot set in and probation became, institutionally, part of punishment. It was left to individuals working in probation to resist this mentality. But they are dwindling. Probation needs to be rid of TR but it also need to rediscover its true ethos.

    2. "It was left to individuals working in probation to resist this mentality. But they are dwindling. Probation needs to be rid of TR but it also need to rediscover its true ethos."

      Well said. A warm welcome awaits anyone who shares such views on this blog.

    3. I fuuly agree also.
      For me, the introduction of release at the half way point of sentence for all prisoners had a profound effect on the probation service, and I speak as an ex offender who has had significant interaction with the service since the mid 1970s.
      Prior to release for all on half way, the probation service engaged with those sentenced to probation orders or those that were lucky enough to be granted parole before they reached their release date at the 2/3rds mark.
      Having reached the 2/3rds mark prisoners were released without any supervision.
      Of course, those released early on parole were the ones with few or little disiplinary problems and towed the line. Arguably a more compliant and easier to manage cohort.
      However, making all prisoners subject to supervision on the half way mark, ment that responsible fell to the probation service to manage in the community not only parolees, but also those that would for what ever reason never in a month of sundays ever be granted parole.
      To some extent as a consequence of this the idea of assist befriend and avise had to go, and I think the service is much poorer for it, but the service absorbed a population that required management instead of support.
      I think the impact this would have on the service was profound and changed the whole ethos of the service.
      Now those serving 12 months or less are also about to become subject to supervision, and one can only ponder what unforeseen consequences that will bring to the CJS.

    4. " When the NPS was created in 2001 with the crucial jettisoning of 'advise assist and befriend',"

      No advise assist and befriend was jettisoned by Conservatives in 1991.

      See question from Bottomley that got this answer

      " Mr. Hanson: The statutory requirement to “advise, assist and befriend” was deleted from the relevant legislation when the Probation Order became the Community Rehabilitation Order under the 1991 Criminal Justice Act."

      I agree with sentiments of most of that post though - thanks.

  12. This is off topic I know... But has anyone heard this..... That napo has given MoJ 21 days to respond with answers and agreed to not sign any contracts thereafter

    1. "a very short further period of time is being given for the Secretary of State to respond to our substantive points."

      I don't call that 21 days.

  13. I have not heard this but I am only a minion.

    Can you clarify 'and agreed to not sign any contracts thereafter' because it's ambiguous

  14. I am anon 21.02.. It's just what's been posted on FB

  15. Andrew Selous Blogs about Probation Workers and more

    1. "The work they do, however, is absolutely vital to keep the public safe and it gives me enormous pleasure to be able to pay tribute to their incredible work."

      Then how come the MOJ is treating us like shite?

  16. Zero hr jobs being advertised in Wales CRC

    Community Payback Supervisor (Zero-Hours Contract) (Dyfed Powys)
    Location: Newtown Hours: Zero Hours Contract Salary: Band 3 (£22,039 - £27,373 pro rata) Contract: Temporary – 31/03/2015 Deadline for applications – 3rd November 2014 – 12pm

    We currently have an opportunity for a Community Payback Supervisor, based in the Dyfed Powys Local Delivery Unit, to work as and when required. As a Supervisor you will deliver the organisation’s Community Payback provision by supervising offenders on work group placements in the community.

    You will be required to have a full clean driving licence and the ability to drive a van/minibus, knowledge of health & safety and risk assessment within the workplace, and be physically fit for outside work

    Evidence of an ability to; demonstrate problem-solving skills, reliability and good time-management; engage with and motivate people whilst remaining resilient, positive and self-motivated; develop and maintain effective working relationships; plan and organise own workload and work projects, is essential.

    If you would like to discuss the roles in more detail please contact Dave Fields on 01874 614150.


    1. Prisoners with mental health problems will be treated inside jails rather than in hospitals under plans being considered by the Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary.
      A consultation due to begin next month is expected to explore the possibility of building specialist units within existing prisons to house and treat inmates with a range of mental health issues.
      At the moment prisoners with acute mental problems can to be transferred to secure hospitals, with the most dangerous inmates moving to Broadmoor, Rampton or Ashworth.
      But many others receive little or no professional help for their problems and often end up reoffending once they are released.
      Mr Grayling has expressed his determination to see inmates with mental health problems receive the same care and treatment as they would if they were on the outside at an NHS facility.
      But the units could also provide judges with more options when sentencing those diagnosed with mental health problems.
      Under the current system someone who is confirmed to have been suffering from a mental illness at the time of a crime is treated as a patient rather than a prisoner and can be released from hospital as soon as they are well.
      The problem was highlighted recently when it emerged that Barry Williams, 70, who shot five people dead in 1978 following a neighbourhood dispute, had been released from Broadmoor after 16-years because the doctors said his mental health problems had been addressed.
      Last month a judge ordered that he be detained at a secure hospital indefinitely after it was discovered that he was planning to shoot a former neighbour he had accused of being too noisy.
      The families of his original victims said it was a scandal that he had been let out in the first place and said he should have been transferred to a mainstream prison once his mental illness had been stabilised.
      Mr Grayling’s plan to set up specialist units inside prisons would mean that inmates could easily transferred between a mainstream jail and a psychiatric unit depending on their state of mind.

      At a meeting last week between Home Office officials and mental health experts, it was agreed that a five month consultation would begin in the coming weeks, with sources suggesting the plan could eventually see units operating in as many as one in three mainstream prisons.
      But criminal justice experts have expressed some concern about the proposals, not least because they believe staffing the units could prove problematic.
      Explaining his thinking Mr Grayling said: I want to see prisoners getting support that is every bit as good as that which they would receive from the NHS in the community.
      “We will explore the best way to deliver this, which could include specialist centres for mental health within our criminal justice system.”
      Harry Fletcher, a former assistant general secretary at the probation union, Napo, and now director of the Digital-Trust, a charity that campaigns against online abuse, said he had reservations about the proposals.
      He said: “Plans to open mental health units in prisons will be very controversial. You can only treat someone compulsorily in a hospital so it will need a change in the law.
      “The units will also be difficult to manage because of the volatile nature of this group of prisoners. However it is of great concern that that some murderers deemed mentally ill can serve such very short sentences that this needs to be addressed in any consultation.”

    2. Bloody clocks - what time IS it?

      Grayling is a strange combination of obsession & arrogance. He mirrors the worst excesses of political behaviours displayed by Thatcher, Kinnock, Blair & Cameron, i.e. total commitment to politically motivated actions of which he knows little but won't row back from, complete faith in something for which there is no tangible evidence to prove his case, and very much prepared to sacrifice anyone just to achieve his own aims.

      Having already tinkered with unemployment - now in the hands of the equally deluded IDS - he's single-handedly screwed up what was a relatively good justice system, dismantled a world leading probation service and is now on some weird mission linked to mental health provision for prisoners.

    3. Another nice plump cherry on top of the private sector cake though?

    4. Another day another 'quick fix' 'top down' solution from Grayling that ignores the history of prisons and special hospitals and mental health law at least since the 1959 Mental Health Act and probably a lot longer before that because - I am almost certain the Special Hospitals system in England and Wales (Broadmoor, Rampton and {then} Moss Side) were already long established.

      (Googling I see Rampton opened in 1912)

      I wonder if such crazy manageralism comes from the fact that the Civil Service was decimated some time ago, when these issues, previously led by the Home Office with support from Department of Health, were moved to the new bit of the MOJ and perhaps there are not Civil Servants in place anymore who understand the overall complex structures involved.

      Anyway he is causing yet more turmoil, of that I have almost no doubt. It seems Cameron does not have a hold on him, nor anything much else judging by his poorly acted faux tantrum at the news there is a large extra payment due to the EU. It seems as if we are really being governed by windbags with no substance or understanding of the social and economic and military and constitutional structure of our Kingdom!

      I have no idea where it will end, possibly it is due to a fear about the paedophillia 'truth' at the top of British Society coming out that we are having a "headless chickens" phase of Government.

      Who will get a grip or will we slip into turmoil like some Southern and Eastern European countries have gone through in past decades?

  18. Unrelated to topic, but love it when Grayling has to backtrack. Maybe no love lost between Grayling and Hughes aswell?

    1. The Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling, has quietly shelved plans to nearly double the fee for filing a divorce petition. The much criticised proposal would have seen the cost rise from £410 to £750, which would have raised about £30m and helped reduce the Civil and Family Courts’ £150m annual deficit.

      The true cost of an uncontested petition is only £270 – meaning the Government already makes an estimated £16.8m profit out of divorce – but the Ministry of Justice argued in a consultation last year that couples “would be prepared to pay a higher fee to complete the dissolution of the marriage”.

      A Whitehall source said that the Liberal Democrat Justice minister, Simon Hughes, was furious about the proposal, which was pushed in a consultation launched shortly before he was promoted to Government late last year. He echoed complaints from the family law organisation Resolution, which argued in January that raising costs could force people to stay in broken marriages for longer, a circumstance that was “not in the best interests of children”. A government source denied there was a row between Mr Hughes and Mr Grayling, but added: “We don’t want to trap people in unhappy marriages. It’s a battle that Simon Hughes has won.”

      The proposal was part of wider plans to increase the cost of going to court in England and Wales in certain types of cases, such as recovery of debts. The Government also argued that “hardworking taxpayers” should not have to subsidise disputes between multimillionaires.

      Shailesh Vara, a Conservative Justice minister, said in the foreword to the consultation: “For many years, the civil and family courts have operated under the principle that those who use the courts should pay the full cost of the service they receive. But this hasn’t been fully achieved in practice, and hardworking taxpayers have had to pick up some of the bill.”

      However, the senior judiciary criticised the proposals, describing them as a “novel concept” that “represents a departure from the Government’s policy of not charging more than a service costs”.

    2. That is indicative of the crisis in Government and as importantly in the Civil Service.

      As soon as the 'hardworking taxpayer' phrase is used, one would have thought those with intelligence, would know, the general public will know for sure there is some spin and skulduggery being practised on them, so overused has become the cliche!