E-mail sent to all members this afternoon from Napo HQ:-
Judicial Review – Napo proudly enter the fray
Last night Napo’s lawyers formally filed the necessary documentation in the High Court to seek Judicial Review (JR) of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s plans to award CRC contracts to the preferred bidders under his Transforming Rehabilitation plans on or after the 1st December 2014.
As you can imagine, there has been a massive amount of preparatory work undertaken since the instruction to proceed to JR was taken last week. Our request to
members to add to the evidence about risk and safety that we started to compile during (and immediately following) the Napo AGM, has been met with a quite staggering response. We have received hundreds of examples that have been carefully analysed, and these have helped to ensure that our ‘Grounds of Submission’ and other evidence is of the highest quality.
We do now need to ask that any further incidents or information that members may want to bring to our attention should from now on only be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please keep them coming though, as we may well need this further information as the case develops
Napo will stand by our members
The Officers and I want to thank everyone for their contributions and especially those individual Napo members who have been prepared to sign witness statements that will be used in the JR proceedings. The General Secretary has been assured in a recent conversation with Michael Spurr (NOMS Chief Executive), that it is legitimate for any Napo member to speak directly with their union on issues that concern them. We have therefore advised the members involved that they have the full support of Napo, and indeed our whole membership, in the event that there is any attempt by anyone to subject them to victimisation.
What are we asking the Court to decide?
Whilst there is no question that Napo and its members are totally opposed to the intended privatisation of the probation service, our submission for Judicial Review does not challenge the right of the Secretary of State (SofS) to do this. The reason being that however unpalatable this undoubtedly is to our members, previous judgements have held that the Courts will not interfere with policy or ideological decisions.
Essentially, Napo’s Grounds of Submission are based on three key aspects. Firstly, to seek an injunction preventing the intended share sale of the CRCs until the SofS has shown, through the evidence he had undertaken to obtain, that the new structure is operating safely. To date the SoS has flatly refused to reveal or publish the results of the assurance tests (Testgates 1-4) that he is claiming give him and his officials the confidence to proceed (to share sale) despite limited evidence from his lawyers suggesting that Testgate 4 does not show that the systems are operating safely. Secondly we are asking for an order to allow Napo an opportunity to make informed representations on that evidence. Thirdly, we are asking the Court to decide whether sufficient regard has been had by the Secretary of State to his obligation to establish and maintain a suitable system to protect staff, service users and the public from avoidable serious harm.
Here, with your help, we have amassed what we believe is compelling empirical evidence to support our case that the current operational environment that has been created within the NPS and CRCs as a result of the staff split, is and remains unsafe.
Again, we are asking the court to award interim relief by way of not allowing the intended share sale of CRC’s until the Judiciary is satisfied that the SofS has taken the necessary steps under these headings to ensure that he has met these obligations.
What happens next?
An application has been made to the court for an early hearing and the Secretary of State’s lawyers have agreed that this is essential and agreed to a truncated timetable for steps to be taken to achieve this. More information will be given once the position becomes clearer.
Unity in these testing days
More news will be issued to members at the earliest opportunity. A detailed report on progress or the consequences of any decision by the Court (if one is reached by then) will obviously be reported to members and the Napo National Executive Committee who meet on the 26th November.
As many members have told us, we are entering into what may prove to be Napo’s defining days. Whatever the outcome of this struggle, which we enter with reasonable but measured confidence, our members can be proud that their union has been prepared to take our beliefs, our principles and our resolve all the way to its conclusion.
Ian Lawrence General Secretary and the Officer Group