Tuesday, 18 November 2014

MoJ and Dodgy Figures

Some reader reaction to the MoJ performance figures released yesterday, ahead of the Judicial Review process that gets underway this afternoon:-   

If the MoJ won't acknowledge the prisons crisis, they were never going to acknowledge the crisis caused by TR. No surprises here.

Doesn't he realise that releasing information 'proving' that staff are doing well despite TR just kicks the can down the road, and can be used as evidence of the chaos that ensues when all that CRC 'innovation' destroys any notion of a good service?

Hey, MoJ spinners, if you can release this data then surely you can give us the results of Testgates 1-4?

You are absolutely right, they could. However, it needs refining first and some details added as well as evidence losing. Do you honestly think we'd get it any other way? My clients have got nothing on MP's when it comes to underhand, mendacious, self-centred sociopathic behaviour. This Tory bunch are rotten to the core and yet every election manage to convince people they are not. Now what does that behaviour say about them?

Do you think they have took into consideration the massive increase in SFOs since June and they are mostly CRC clients? Told this by an ACE. Of course couldn't admit it is to do with the split but surely more than a coincidence!

Mmm hasn't the criteria changed a few times over recent years?

Yup. I think it was September 2014 strangely enough. The same time the figures were collated. I'm very surprised the MoJ have not made this clear!

Sect 18 GBH, despite being a 3 strikes, life sentence totting up offence, was removed from the SFO criteria. That's why numbers dipped.

Just a few observations - clear to see some NPS staff have voted with their feet and it's very reassuring to hear they will all be replaced with new recruits in the near future (gawd 'elp us)

Performance: nearly all of these things are linked to Key Performance Indicators and so I'm not surprised that programme completions; recall timeliness; terminations and employment at termination are all on target because I know my ACO would lynch us if we missed. But what is being missed at the expense of hitting these targets - they're that stats I'd be interested to see.

Also worth observing that all of those stats (with the exception of programme completions) are very poor indicators of how good or bad the work is. I could see a client precisely zero times, but as long as I got the recall in within 24 hours and then completed the bloody OASys at the right point in a two month period, that's two ticks for me.

Mr Selous doesn't know the half of it in reality. The majority of adjourned PSRs in my area are written by CRC POs on a sessional basis because there are not enough NPS POs. This is unsustainable. Adjournments for PSRs are five weeks, illegal at best. PSRs being typed the day before the hearing so no time for quality control, checking proposals etc. Subject of report doesn't turn up for interview or writer is sick on day of interview so case adjourned again for another five weeks. Ten weeks between plea and sentence. Hardly great for defendant or victim or standing of probation with the judiciary. This situation is the direct consequence of TR, nothing else.

What the MoJ data shows is a reduction in the number of front line staff, both PO and PSO grades. Nightmare for those left.

I get the impression that the status quo is being used to argue that the TR impact to date is negligible to vaguely positive, hence the JR is unnecessary. As many have already identified, the data produced is either irrelevant or inaccurate, i.e. it has been manipulated. Hopefully Mr Justice Ouseley will know the difference.

Had a quick glance at these figures and they are really of little relevance. It's noticeable that the tone of the language makes much of small upward trends and then glosses over opposite trends. The SFO figures prove nothing. In fact only year on year trends have any validity and even these need to be treated with caution given the variability of human nature blah blah blah. 

I have seen NOMS machinations up close and this smacks of the approach they adopt in similar situations especially JR's. Honest brokers simply outlining the facts in an objective manner. Although this belies the fact that a number of high level meetings will have identified this as a strategic defence for the JR and rushed to release a paper that is largely meaningless. Although it's purpose is really to sow a seed of doubt in the courts mind come the hearing. All rather tawdry, but then that was the overall impression I gained of NOMS. My advice would be to pursue a FOI request to find out what correspondence took place, and what meetings were held prior to the launch.

I think it's very significant that Selous has published the statement and Grayling doesn't get a mention! I know Selous has responsibility for probation, but I am left wondering where Graylings gone scurrying to? He's far too quiet, and I'm sure if all was as rosy as the statement suggests, Grayling would be out shouting from the rooftops. I'm curious.

The Probation Service has continued to do well DESPITE TR, rather than DUE to it. It's a testament to us rather than Grayling. However, hope and goodwill is running out and fast. I fear that the figures over the next 12 months are only going to be in decline across the board.

Russell Webster has this to say:- 
To be honest, the conclusions that can be drawn from this management information are limited:

Sickness rates are rising but overall staffing has increased too – although there are concerns about the rate at which staff are leaving the NPS.
The timeliness of court reports and order completion rates are relatively unchanged.
There has however been a drop in performance in submitting parole reports on time.
There have been major problems assessing new offenders and deciding which side of the new two-tier probation service should supervise them, although it appears that performance is improving rapidly.
This information cannot provide much insight about the quality of service being delivered under the new system. The best measure of this is, of course, reoffending rates but they will not be available until Autumn 2016.
Since this information has only been published for the purpose of the Judicial Review, we will need to wait and see what the judge and respective legal teams make of it.
Ian Lawrence says this on his latest blog:-
I am sure that it is just a coincidence that it has been published the day before legal proceedings commence, but it provides a commentary and tables of figures for a number of key operations undertaken by the NPS and CRC’s since the division of the service. You will draw your own conclusions about the picture that the report portrays, and as you would expect we are going through this forensically to see what there might be for us in terms of the JR, but my quick read through shows the following: 
A claim that SFO’s are down, in comparison to this time last year.
Long term sickness on the increase by an average of 2:0% (AWDL now 11.9% from 9.9%
Staff split just about 50/50 between NPS and CRC’s 
200 Leavers from NPS in the period of the report and 30 Joiners
Use of Oral and Fast PSR’s on the increase
PAROM1 reports within the agreed time limits show a fall in completion
Offenders in employment at termination of Orders or Licence continue upward trend as per last two years
Offenders in accommodation at termination of Orders or Licence shows 4% drop in NPS
Unpaid work orders show a decrease attributable to less use by sentencers
Fall in OBP completions 
Only 57% completion of RSR assessments taking account of data in October (50% at end of September)
82% achievement of case allocation - NPS to CRC’s by end of 2nd working day/ 65% by next working day/ 15% on same working day 
NOMS also say that ‘this management information release is one-off and ad-hoc, and is not representative of how future probation performance information will be published. Regular publications of probation data will be made, but not necessarily limited to, or covering all areas covered in this release.’ They add: ‘These data are presented at national level to examine performance across the probation system, with distinctions made between the NPS and CRCs where appropriate. Comparisons to historic information have also been made where appropriate. That’s all straightforward then.
Lets round off with this sent in yesterday:- 

You want dodgy? You want controversial? You know the tune. Posted in the context of & knowledge that many African born & based musicians & influential others have been excluded from the white euro-centric BandAid Project:

"It's Chris-mas time, and there's no need to be afraid

At Chris-mas time, we let in light and banish shade

And in our world of bidders we can make a load of cash

Spin the truth until it suits

At Bidding time

But say a prayer, pray for the other ones

At Bidding time, it's hard but while you're having fun

There's a world outside your window, and it's a world of lies and spin

Where competitors can beat you, if you're left out then you're not in

And the Grayling bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of gold

Well tonight we're cashing in, what about you?

No peace and joy this Christmas in The CRC

The only hope they'll have is not yet being sacked

Where they're doing what they're told

But all the CRC's will fold

No-one thought that JR's time was here

Here's to you

Raise a glass to everyone

And here's to us

And all the years to come

Let them know it's JR time after all

Heal the world, let them know it's JR time etc etc etc"

74 comments:

  1. I am a NAPO rep and have been following these blogs and others for years. I am highly critical of TR and will oppose it until Sodexo 'let me go' but I have to ask - are Probation staff the worst poets in history or is it the same person every time? ;)

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    1. Agreed, its poor to appalling but have you seen the BandAid lyrics? Its my first attempt at penning a Xmas Number One. Driven to it after reading the MoJ reports. I'm looking forward to the payola, then I can retire without the need for EVR !!

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    2. I rather liked it!

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    3. I thought it was brill. With regards VR, I heard that only senior mangers will be getting the enhanced payments, so you may need to carry on with your song writing skills.

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    4. "Your kind words are overwhelming (weep, weep, sob, etc)"

      Just practising for the MTV Awards... Or maybe best film score Oscar when they make "On Probation - not just a blogbuster, but a Hollywood Blockbuster." With David Jason as Jim, Kate Winslet as Joanne (or Johanna, Joanna, Jo-anne, etc), Harvey Keitel as Harry Fletcher, an angry Scouser as Andrew, Harvey the Rabbit as Chris Grayling & a cameo appearance by someone else as Ian Lawrence.

      It will no doubt all be done in the best possible taste!!!

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    5. Hmmm... I always picture Jim as George Clooney myself

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    6. Hello Mrs Brown!

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    7. What about Robson Green.....

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    8. Wrong colour?

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    9. Green is the new Brown

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  2. Of course NOMs are saying the publishing of these figures are a one off, any future measurements for the profit making companies will not have to worry about these, they'll have a the goal posts widened for them.

    One quick change will be the removal of the current OASys- they won't have staff spending hours on it, plus the RoSH completed by NPS will assess the risk issues.Job done as far as they will be concerned.

    On a slightly different point, I see Working Links are advertising for organisations to work for them - the other day they had a list of the type of services they wanted the organisations to provide (although I can't find it on the site now) and it included case management.

    No matter what warm words we may get from them, when they take us over, most band 3 and 4 OMs are too expensive for them. I can see a business model where the may directly employ a few OMs, with the rest subcontracted in (paying the subcontracted company about 30% less than we are paid now).

    http://www.workinglinks.co.uk/partnership_opportunities/current_opportunities.aspx

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    1. I thought the whole point of the bidding process was that issues about who would be supplying what would have been sorted out and the MoJ would have at least checked it through. Are Working Links now making it up as they go along - worse than usual, I mean?

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    2. My understanding is they put in a business model outlining the service they will provide for the price they are willing to tender. This means now they are a preferred bidder, they will start to look for other organsations to tender for the work at the price Working Links want to pay them. But as we have seen from other services (drug/alcohol services in my area), once the contract has gone out to tender a few times, the service offered to clients tends to get worse as the contract price dictates this in order for the profit to be made. The easiest place to make profit is the number of staff, the wage bill, computer systems and estates.

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    3. Yep staff and wages will be cut.

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    4. I have a feeling that many contracts will not be filled, certainly not at the price they will be offered at. Either the companies lose money or we'll get a substandard service. I know which one they will go for. And when things start to go bad, the MoJ will have little option but to throw money at it, as they always do. This is not about saving money, it never was, it's all about making rich people richer and sod the poor; my PDA always used to say; in the cooking pot of life, it's always those at the bottom that get burnt!


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    5. C'mon folks, that's where big business will explot the charities, to "work with the poor" and of course, make their contracts £profitable....

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  3. Ref Mr Lawrence's blog - "I'm sure its just a coincidence..."

    No it isn't, Ian. The MoJ specifically stated the data was being released because of the JR.

    Merry Xmas Mr Lawrence.

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    1. Yes it did make me smile that....

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    2. Isn't Ian allowed a little irony?

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    3. Perhaps he should eat more liver & onions?

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  4. It appears from this PI that Section 18 was removed as a SFO on.....wait for it.....1st May 2014
    (http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCgQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.justice.gov.uk%2Fdownloads%2Foffenders%2Fprobation-instructions%2Fpi-15-2014-review-procedure-for-serious-further-offences.doc&ei=zhBrVIHRBY_XaqeFgsAI&usg=AFQjCNFnmk_tRRVAxkGdEevruXLb4JI2uA&sig2=Fd3jz8Q4lQoHlSwm1RIqnw)

    If you remove a part of something, then there is less to count!! I think one of the questions that NAPO need to ask if just how many Section 18's have been missed from this list. It may not be especially pertinent but it might just show to the Judge that the MoJ can, and will, put out spurious figures to justify themselves. If they will stoop that low....well, I'll leave you to judge the rest.

    What we need to be doing to making sure we don't paper over any cracks AND make sure we avail ourselves of the counselling service that they have thoughtfully provided :)

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    1. I think the counselling service they talk about is a phone service, it's always been available as far as I am aware.

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  5. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2634484/Court-translator-costs-double-year-Taxpayers-bill-15million-service-outsourced-branded-shambolic-MPs.html

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  6. At first I thought - who the hell reads the daily mail...but then I looked at this and thought it worthy of posting in full:

    'The cost to the taxpayer of hiring court interpreters has almost doubled to £15.5million in just one year, according to official figures.
    The bill for translators brought in to assist non-English speakers appearing at magistrates or Crown courts for criminal cases soared from £7.9million in 2012.
    The figures, uncovered in Freedom of Information responses from the Ministry of Justice, appear to show the rise occurred since services were outsourced to under-fire firm Capita Translation and Interpreting.
    They were revealed after the handling of court foreign language services to just one company was branded ‘shambolic’ by MPs amid concerns the change had caused trials to collapse or be delayed.
    Farcical episodes that have emerged since privatisation include the case of a man who was charged with perverting the course of justice was instead accused of being a ‘pervert’.
    In a burglary case at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London, a retrial was ordered when it emerged that the Romanian interpreter had muddled the words ‘beaten’ and ‘bitten’.
    And in Winchester, a murder trial was brought to a halt when the court interpreter confessed he was an unqualified stand-in for his wife, who was busy.
    Standards were allegedly so lax that a director of another translation company was able to sign up his cat Masha as a translator – who was then offered jobs.

    I especially liked the reference to the Cat.


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    1. I know its the mailbut it must be bad when they cant spin it into a positive.

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    2. I hope NAPO highlight this too. I know Ian will be reading this Blog whilst waiting for Court.

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  7. Re SFOs I really hope NAPO are all over the fact that NOMS has tried to fiddle the figures by excluding Section 18 Woundings IT IS DELIBERATELY MISLEADING and NOT HONEST.

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  8. The MoJ statistics have their flaws, but overall don't they seriously challenge the narrative of probation as being in meltdown, of staff leaving in droves, of high sickness levels, of performance being on the floor? It is fair to raise arguments about quality and shifting criteria, but court reports have been receiving the 'expediting' treatment for years and SFO criteria has been revised many times. The MoJ figures do not lend any credence to 'service in crisis' assertions, perhaps because probation staff have been adept at workarounds, taking on sessional work and keeping up goodwill.

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    1. In a word no.

      Not all that can be measured counts, and not all that counts can be measured. If you had hundreds of staff saying something is not working, would it be prudent and defensible to ignore this? What needs to be put into perspective is the fact that TR has only being going for a few months and it's fair to say that all is not going to plan. Factor in that the CRC's will be ran by mainly inexperience people (those at the most senior level probably have little experience) as well as the empirical evidence that those who get these form of contracts inevitable end up making a pigs ears of things and you can see why the concern exists.

      Now, when people start dying due to these mistakes, it's those who said and did nothing that some may also level blame at. Probation IS in meltdown. I know, I'm there, trying my best to do my job with 101 new PI's every month. Yes targets are being hit but the point is very clearly being missed!!

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    2. If the targets are being hit, other arguments don't tend to have traction, however valid they may be. And the cynical truism that only what is measured counts, does frame the debate and dismisses other objections as subjective and speculative. It is not surprising that the MoJ has underpinned its 'business as usual' during the transition claims with these statistics. I have read many times about staff leaving in droves because of poor morale but these statements were untrue. All sorts of bad things may happen in the future...

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    3. With regards to your first point, yes they do. It is quite easy to get someone 'through' their Order, thereby hitting the target. Joe Bloggs attends, quick hello, next apt and away they go. However, no work would have been do with them to address their offence(s), no referrals relating to risk, no help or support given. Mr Bloggs has completed his Order and that's all that counts.
      But it's not really, is it.
      Mr Bloggs is still out offending as no referral was made to a drugs agency, he's still assaulting his partner/children as you did not let Social Services know. I could give a number of examples but I'll leave it at that. In summary, target hit, point missed.

      With regards to your last point. Yes, all sorts of bad things may happened in the future, but changes can be made to the now which may prevent this. I could get knocked down riding my bike tonight, however, if I put a hi-vis vest on before I leave home, the this risk is reduced.

      We never know how effective our 'now' work is until the future. What we do know is the future is different without our 'now' work.

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    4. You are highlighting the differences between good and bad practice. But 'good practice' took a bashing in the probation service with national standards, high caseloads and benchmark and costings which meant that many clients were allocated 10 minutes a week. The 'reporting centre was a probation paradigm and mindset and whilst you may be conscientious, others were less so. The 'now' work was often not done. We know this from SFO inquiries that concluded with talk of cumulative failures and staff not doing what they should have done. I don't believe for one minute that the TR model will make things better - and may even lead to worse outcomes. I agree targets can miss the point but they have been missing it for many years, not just since June. Performance was embraced by probation without a toss for staff care and good performance often meant nothing more than hitting targets with manipulated data. That was the probation world and no one talked of meltdown and few talked about missing the point. So the MoJ figures indicating that performance has not dipped means nothing to me, as probation performance was always more about figures than people. But I get misled when contributors make wild claims about staff leaving in droves, high sickness levels and rock bottom morale. This is not supported by the data. There may be hundreds of discontents in probation but the rest carry on as normal and only experience meltdown on a hot day with their ice creams.

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    5. That is a little naive. I walk the floor a lot in my role and the people who are struggling are not lightweights or wingers, they are highly competent, experienced officers. This is breaking people, good people who deserve better from their Minister.

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    6. The data MoJ supply is general for England&Wales-typically I imagine people posting here refer to their own situation where the % of staff absence through sickness or retiring etc may be considerable. MoJ data does not detail what grades of staff are off sick or how many agency staff are in work.There us no ref to workload and minimal attempt to recognise additional tasks brought about by TR. Further I am mystified by national staffing levels quoted. MoJ say there were 16100 employed in April and that they dont have figures for May.I seem to recall Trusts were not permitted to employ any extra staff pre the split. How was it then feasible to jump to June figures of 16630? Are they moving goalposts of which staff they count (eg secondees to YOTs and prison?) Where did the monies for 530 staff come from?

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    7. The suspicious part of me thinks somebody, possibly MoJ, is on a fishing exercise here! Apologies if I'm wrong, I have been once before.

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    8. Re the reference to staff care above: I think most staff would be hard pressed to find a better organisation for staff care prior to June. Look at staff retention rates before TR which were exceptionally high.

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    9. 20:19: you must be joking. They were ruthless.

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    10. Be careful what u say on here! I have a feeling that someone is fishing. In the words of Bob Cryer; anything you say will be taken down and may be used as evidence!!

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    11. @Probationofficer on Twitter appears to have one of our competitors following him. I think some prudence before posting is in Order over the next few weeks as dirty tricks are not unknown!!!

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    12. I'm interested in the sickness data. I'm sure we had an e-mail out the other week to say we are nearer to something like 27 days rather than the 9,10,11 days quoted by MOJ.

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    13. Anon 22.15 18/11 see my post at 19.00 MoJ stats , average for country. Local variations could be considerable.

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  9. Running out of excuses?

    http://www.itv.com/news/central/update/2014-11-18/prison-service-admits-improvement-progress-is-too-slow/

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  10. http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-hereford-worcester-30083813

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  11. Six suicides and one murder since the last inspection.
    How many more deaths must there be before Grayling is removed from office as the most callous and dangerous minister this country has ever seen!

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    1. I think Grayling wants them all dead! And then he'll have the neck to complain that the prison budget has went UP due to having to investigate their deaths.

      His arrogance knows no bounds.

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  12. breaking news! -Ian has tweeted JR hearing set for 2.5 days on 10 Dec - mail-out tomorrow.

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    1. Best news ever

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    2. Here, here, wicked news.

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  13. Great news, that JR is going ahead. What happens now? If we win the JR does that mean we will not be sold off.

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    1. I don't but it sounds like a good plan. If anyone knows please enlighten us.

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    2. im desperate to know too - I think im right in saying that if our case is proved then Grayling has run out of time to commence a new 'test' and so we will remain 2 separate entities but will not be sold off. I genuinely don't think Labour would privatise us but who knows?

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    3. Two entities that would eventually merge into one I hope.

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    4. If this is the case what about all the cost the private company's have spent on the project. They wont be very happy to say the least.

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    5. To anon 19.28 I think if the Judge found in our favour Grayling and minions would have to amend systems/processes so as to miminise/eliminate(?)the safety risks evidenced by us...I don't know if that's same as a testgate or not and then could that be done before this purdah period starts? Surely not!

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    6. Anon 20:54 You have to feel for the preferred bidders so near and yet so far :)

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    7. General Election purdah does not start until 31 March. If the JR goes against the SofS, the most likely outcome will (as anon at 20:55 suggests) be a requirement for additional systems to be put in place. Government will still have three months to do this - assuming that they even have to delay contract signature to accommodate it.

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  14. There was something on the news today about crime not be recorded correctly by the police, maybe Moj want to blame the police for their inaccurate stats.

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  15. Inspection due next month in the North West, anywhere else? Usual bollocks REQUESTED by managers. Check your cases that could be in there. Cook the books with acceptable retro entries please as much as you can. Let's make it appear as if all is well eh? Not a fucking chance, they will see it as it is in our office.

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  16. We had an inspection a few weeks ago just crc. Most of us told him how It is, he said I know.

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    1. Good to hear that. Thanks!

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  17. we have a Safeguarding audit aswell (NorthWest) and we've been given the heads up about what cases etc

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  18. Yes ours was safeguarding. We had really short notice so didn't really do anything extra with the cases. I did go to review the oasys the day before then decided not to bother. Im not managing to do initial oasys so why would I do a review beecause we're being inspected.

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  19. One of the consequences of JR may be that the Judge orders a proper pilot?

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  20. Pilots doing our jobs now as well you say? How desperate!!!

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  21. SFOs take a while to happen and for people to be charged. Would like to see the data for July/August to October instead. Bet it shows a whole different picture.

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  22. Perhaps we should compile our own list of SFOs somewhere from now on as not sure we can trust MOJ figures.

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  23. Trust the MOJ, hehehhehehhhe! Good job we don't work for MI6 as all us anon's would be well and truly fooked!!

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  24. Why bother with the stress. If your workload is over 150 per cent tell your manager that this equates to over 17 hrs per week and that you will do 37 as contracted unless they pay you for extra hours or they guarantee toil. Do not work extra hours and when something is missed tell them what your workload is over and over and repeat until they retire to their office, hold their head in their hands and cry buckets! Do it tomorrow and watch the stress evaporate. Put a collective grievance in, tell them you will not stand it anymore. Tell them you will not accept it anymore. Tell them you will fight TR to the death, we are nearly there. Don't lose face, never give up. We will win this, I can guarantee this!!!Displace your EXTRA responsibility back on them and remember the mantra of Pass it up, Pass it up Pass it up!!!!! I am not in the union and on over 200 per cent and as chilled as a bottle of Chardonnay in the freezer! It's easy, it's not your fault, it's impossible to do it all. Don't let anybody tell you it!!!!

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  25. 00:20 - It would be helpful if you could provide a template of the grievance steps you took to tackle excessive workloads, the management response and the actual outcome.

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  26. Sneaky privatisation- who knew there were bidders at all?

    https://www.gov.uk/government/news/preferred-bidders-of-prison-services-competition-announced

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  27. oh, so that's why Amey and Carillion didn't feature in TR bids awarded....

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  28. The steps were simple and straight forward. All it took was one person sending a collective e-mail asking each person what he/she could not do. We did our own workload check from the old existing data log. We then all signed a collective letter which was effectively a vote of no confidence highlighting what we felt we could not do within our contracted hours and all said we will be working our hours and no more. Highlighted a number of actions such as paid overtime instead of toil etc.Threatened to withdraw flat rate report writing. Got the union to have a meeting with the chief. Chief responded and agreed to overtime being paid. Got extra staff in from quieter area's.Still not come up with the goods in telling us what we can no longer do so next step formal collective grievance which we all put our names to. Certain things put in place but the view is too little too late.

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  29. I will keep all posted about future actions.

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