Saturday, 15 November 2014

Omnishambles Update 77

Yet another roundup I'm afraid, mostly about prison, but firstly some contributor thoughts on what's just around the corner:-

A word of warning. The new providers have submitted proposals to run an area. The contracts which they have "won" are as a result of these submissions, therefore there will be no negotiation from the CRC about how they intend to run their areas with the new management. What will happen is that the new providers will TELL the CRC how they have been contractually bound to run the business!

So any CRC chiefs who believe they are in a position to cosy up to the big cheeses with spiffing ideas on how to run the new entity will be sadly disappointed. When the new boys take the keys they will be contracted to deliver what is in their contract, to the letter and sadly that means any pretence of "innovation" will be lost.

As we all know, the contracts have been negotiated on a "race to the bottom" basis, with clear evidence that cost has been number one consideration and quality a distant dream. As much as we all despise the Capita way of working, comments on here suggest they were not willing to stoop too low on pricing or risk. The emergence of EOS presumes again, they were the only company left to undertake the contract at a low enough price!

The shock to CRC colleagues will be that there will be new systems, processes and working arrangements to endure on top of the shambles that is in place at the moment. Changing from route A to route B would be difficult enough when all is clear - but with the current car crash I am afraid it will be even more stress on top of that already endured.

There has been reference to the cost of TR and £15m is quoted for consultants, plus legal costs of £4m plus all the rest of the programme delivery costs - it is clear that Grayling will need to squeeze the contractors hardest just to recoup these costs.

Finally someone gets it! CRCs are in for a rude awakening if they think they get any say at all in how things will be run. The contracts will all say quite categorically that they have to deliver to the bid they have put in. Therefore they will have to deliver that and not be bothered by any of the other nonsense (as they will see it) being thrown at them by CRC staff, who may well have ideas as to how to do it better.

Having worked for a company that took on an outsourcing contract relating to the work programme, I'm afraid you don't know half of whats coming your way. Remember, to receive payment, you just can't submit an invoice stating your achievements. Filing becomes a nightmare. Every action, appointment, every use of other agencies etc, not only has to be recorded on the companies files, but duplicated to demonstrate evidence of the outcomes you are claiming.


The processes of presenting this information will be ascribed from above, and is highly unlikely to suit any current model being used within the primes. There's not a hope in hell that the ascribed model will align itself with all agencies involved in the delivery process. 

So what occurs is that files are passed back and forth until such a time as they are deemed to be compliant, and invoices are not paid either until all is deemed compliant. This can mean 'and its what happened to the company that employed me', that payments are withheld for periods of several months, and many of the small subcontractors 'like the company employing me' can no longer afford to operate because all reserves have been used in running costs. But the filing!!! OMG!!!! What a nightmare!


The experience of the Work Programme gives us quite a good idea of what's coming, especially as we know the same outfits are going to be involved in probation contracts. At least one reader has been watching exchanges on Facebook:- 

Interesting comments made on Facebook by Work Programme advisers whose company is sub contracted from Working Links and they are Prime Bidders for 3 areas. The work will become target driven with no thought for the offenders.

Can someone tell me what has happened in our Cardiff office? Can't seem to get a true, honest answer from anyone who cares. All seemed good when I left. It's just all gone downhill! Nothing like it used to be.

I think it's mostly because of poorly implemented changes coupled with higher targets, more pressure and not a word of praise for anyone.

Is it all down to Xxxx? Couldn't believe the target you hit last month and no pat on the back!!

I don't think it's specific to one thing but a combination of lots of factors n things that have happened in last few months. I think it's a shame when u consider how good it used to be.
Targets are sometimes unrealistic! The changes to ESA and JSA advisers, was it agreed by the team? 3 and 8 targets?

Yeah those changes were actually put forward originally by the team, the targets though were not. For me part of it was realising the gulf in difference between Cardiff and the other offices when it comes to caseload sizes and targets. Its like anything u get what u put in. Targets, caseloads it doesn't matter if your happy and valued.

For example I exceeded target last month (and we all know that's rare) and I had no praise at all and stayed on the same bloody letter grading!! I'm fed up now.

Wish I was there last month. Praise where praise was due! Some of you did really well.... some of you could have tried harder.... especially you Xxxx! Caerphilly beat you lol!

It did annoy me that a whole office beat me by one lol

Your doing crap this month, so you would be on a PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) next month? lol

Lol they can pip me all they want now 

Same as the guys. I've just lost all motivation... Once you've lost it this much. There's no getting it back. Time to move on. I'm sick of dreaming about work and not wanting to go to work. I used to love coming into work. Mainly because of you guys though.

The Howard League continue to be a thorn in Chris Grayling's side and their latest analysis of the prison population figures show an alarming degree of over-crowding, especially in local nicks like Armley, Leeds which is a staggering 180% of CNA (Certified Normal Accommodation):- 

Embedded image permalink

I notice Frances Crook has taken the MoJ to task in her latest blog:- 
Don’t blame the messengers: Prisons are in meltdown.
The Ministry of Justice has published several press statements explicitly criticising the Howard League and I want to put the record straight. Comments from ministers have disputed our claim that prisons are understaffed and overcrowded and that conditions have deteriorated.
First of all, the facts. How on earth would we know how many prison officers were working in each prison and the exact reduction in numbers unless the Ministry told us? We have only used official figures. So the statistics are robust and it is the case that ministers have overseen a 41 per cent cut in the number of front line prison staff.
Secondly, ministers criticise us for highlighting concerns raised by HM Chief Inspector of Prisons and Independent Monitoring Boards about the sad state of prisons. The Inspector is appointed by the Queen to be her eyes and ears and the IMBs are appointed by the Justice Secretary to report directly to him on what is happening in prisons. Brixton IMB published its report on 11 November and the headline said that progress was hampered by “Government policies”. The following day the report from the Inspectorate on Elmley prison said that – and I am going to draw out concerns at length because it illustrates the seriousness of the state of prisons: 
The full blog can be seen here, but concludes:-
The report on Elmley prison follows reports in the last three months that show similar problems in Doncaster (run by Serco), Glen Parva (where teenagers have taken their own lives), Wandsworth, Cookham Wood (holds children), Altcourse (run by G4S), Gartree, Wymott, Swaleside, Chelmsford, Isis, Hindley (young adults), Preston, Ranby, Birmingham (G4S), Winchester and Wormwood Scrubs.
This is a public service in meltdown. I have to say to ministers that the Howard League is only repeating the findings of official inspectors and monitors. Don’t blame the messengers, look at the problem, it is of your creation and it is your responsibility.
The very day the Elmley inspection report was published another man died in the prison, taking the toll to seven deaths this year. People are taking their own lives and others are dying by natural causes because there simply are not the staff to help them with a heart attack or life-threatening emergency. The responsibility lies with the decision makers. 
I also notice the FT is not afraid to remind us about all that recent rhetoric concerning getting prisoners off their beds and putting in a day's hard graft:- 
Fewer staff frustrate Clarke’s work ethic
Helen Warrell, Public Policy Correspondent
Staff shortages across prisons in England and Wales this year have been blamed for an increase in unrest, assaults and self-harm among inmates, but they have also made it harder to get prisoners into work and training. Ken Clarke, the former justice secretary, was one of the chief champions of work in jail, and said in 2011 that he wanted a business offering jobs in every prison. 
Mr Clarke’s intention was to engage industry in helping drive up the number of full-time prison jobs from 9,000 to 20,000 by the end of the decade. However, under the current secretary of state Chris Grayling, initial progress towards getting prisoners working a full day appear to have stalled. Figures released in Parliament last month show that the percentage of inmates working in industrial activity increased only slightly from 13 per cent in 2010/11 to 14 per cent in 2013/14. Even the most successful prisons have only managed to bring a third of their populations into such training. 
Nick Hardwick, chief inspector of prisons, blames staff cuts caused by lower government spending for the work agenda losing “focus”. “Because of the staff vacancies, the opportunities to get prisoners out of their cells and into activity and be supervised while they’re doing that has been very badly affected in some places,” he told the Financial Times. “The National Offender Management Service would argue that when they recruit the staff and get staffing levels up to where they should be, that will enable more work to take place. Well, we shall see. Certainly, at the moment it’s very difficult.”
Frances Crook, chief executive of the Howard League of Penal Reform, is far more critical, arguing that the working prison agenda has “fallen apart” since Mr Clarke left his post, and that the availability of purposeful activity in prisons has deteriorated. “Cuts in the staff and the new Spartan regime has meant prisoners are idle again,” Ms Crook said. “The problem is that the devil makes work for idle hands and if you are just lying on a bunk then crime festers, mental health festers and prisoners are suffering as a result.” 
The Ministry of Justice has repeatedly resisted suggestions that staff shortages are to blame for higher levels of unrest in jails, but prisons minister Andrew Selous has admitted that the “transient nature” of inmate populations has made work provision more challenging in some institutions. “The physical capacity of prisons . . . is an additional limiting factor,” Mr Selous told Parliament. “Many prisons were built without large workshops”.
Safety concerns continue and there are growing calls for probation staff to stop visiting prisons before a serious incident arises:-

I am currently working in a local prison. In the past 24 hrs I have personally witnessed two incidents in which prisoners have been involved in physical confrontations. While these incidents were dealt with by prison staff, I really feel that my prison is just spiralling out of control. I felt scared for the second time in my 31 years of being a Probation Officer. I love my job but I really think it is time to leave as no-one obviously gives a shit about my mental or physical health.

If you are 31 years in one would assume that you have 'been round the block' and seen some things that you wish you could unsee! For you to be frightened and indeed stressed is not a positive sign :( Stay safe and I hope things turn out all right.

Health & Safety is everyone's responsibility and so I would not await permission from NAPO to not enter a prison establishment particularly if I didn't feel safe. I can't understand why individuals who know it's not safe are still going in and will only cease doing so if NAPO issue a direction. Take the initiative - speak to your line manager and put things in writing spelling out your concerns.

Those seconded are in all probability NAPO or Unison. Given the silence from the latter, I'm not sure we can count on their support at any stage in the future (the best predictor of future behaviour...). I'm actually all in favour of NAPO issuing some form of instruction advising staff about going into Prisons. 

I can just imagine our local Judges face (and he's not one who minces his words) when I tell him that I am unable to complete a report of Mr XYZ as the local prison is just too dangerous to go into. Knowing him as I do, I would not be at all surprised if he summoned CG into Court and asked him to explain just what the merry hell was going on! As much as I now applaud NAPO for what they are doing, I feel that we need to capitalise on this emerging viewpoint and start playing as dirty as CG.

I know of one Judge who would just, quite simply, hit the roof. I think the Prison Governor would be called into Court to explain himself and give a reason why probation staff were not allowed into his/her prison. I really cannot think of any downsides to such a stance by NAPO.

Of course ever since the advent of 'Care in the Community', we've all known that prison has become the default place of asylum for the mentally ill, and here's the Guardian on the subject:-
UK’s mentally ill people more likely to be found in jail than hospital
This month has seen a gruesome case which again holds up a mirror to the state of Britain. The events that led to Matthew Williams, found eating the face and eyeball of a 22-year-old woman he had lured into his room at Caerphilly’s Sirhowy Arms hotel, can be used to give a diagnosis of one of society’s most visceral ills: that prisons, not hospitals, are the place to find the mentally disturbed.

There are about 16,000 mental health beds in the NHS, while the Centre for Mental Health estimates that about 21,000 people behind bars – a quarter of the total prison population – have bipolar disorder, depression or personality disorders.
Prisons also disproportionately house those who have the most serious mental illnesses. About a quarter of women and 15% of men in prison reported psychotic episodes. The rate among the general public is about 4%.
None of this surprises Jeremy Coid, professor of forensic psychiatry at Queen Mary University of London. He points out that less than 25% of prisoners who screen positive for psychosis subsequently received an appointment with a mental health professional after release. In a paper last year he said that failing to effectively screen prisoners’ mental health inevitably led to tragedy.
He told the Guardian: “Our work, which looked at 1,000 cases, showed released prisoners with schizophrenia are three times more likely to be violent than other prisoners, but only if they receive no treatment or follow-up support from mental health services.”
It did not have to be like this. In the dying days of the last Labour administration, ministers produced the Bradley report – a blueprint for reform of the criminal justice system and healthcare to ensure that prisoners did not languish behind bars without help. Ministers had been spurred into action by a series of hard-hitting warnings from charities such as the Prison Reform Trust, which pointed out that a third of prisons frequently saw prisoners who were too ill to be in jail.
However, the Bradley report was shelved by this government, which instead has brought about huge upheavals in the prison service and the NHS. In the past three years the public prison service has seen its budget cut by £263m and is struggling to cope with the loss of more than 12,500 (28%) of its staff since 2010 at a time of an ever-rising prison population. Probation services that will oversee the “medium and low risk” released prisoners are to be privatised.
At the same time the health service has undergone radical change. Budgets have been outstripped by patient demand, especially in mental health. In the summer the Royal College of Psychiatrists warned that NHS mental health services were “running dangerously close to collapse”. Analysis by the Health Service Journal found that there were now 3,640 fewer nurses and 213 fewer doctors working in mental health compared with two years ago.
Juliet Lyons of the Prison Reform Trust wants an independent inquiry into the issue of prisoner mental health, saying that the proposed “serious further offence review” into the Williams case does not go far enough.
“Will a review be sufficiently comprehensive to examine prison, probation, health and family services and the communication, or lack of it, between them?” she asks. “And will it be sufficiently independent to avoid making excuses for a system that is disintegrating under undue pressure and instead ensure that lessons are learnt from this horrific tragedy?”
The government has said it remains committed to the Bradley report – and in January announced schemes to put mental health nurses in courts and police stations as a first step. Ministers’ inertia might be explained by a simple cost calculation. Comparing private industry data with the costs of prison places, keeping a person behind bars for a year costs about £40,000 – a third of the price of a private mental health bed.

But far from treating people with mental health problems, prisons usually make those problems worse. Indeed, judging from re-offending rates, they are bad at rehabilitating prisoners without them. The Williams case should be a wake-up call because it shows that the things that were supposed to get better have not.
Finally, it's worth remembering that unsafe prisons can have very serious consequences not just for staff and seconded probation officers, but also prisoners as reported here by the BBC:-
A prisoner has died after a suspected attack by another inmate at a Merseyside jail.
Police were called to HMP Altcourse in Fazakerley, Liverpool, at 11:00 GMT following reports of an assault. An inmate was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival at Aintree University Hospital. Two prisoners aged 41 and 33 have been held on suspicion of murder.
Last month a prison inspection said gang rivalries and drugs had caused rising levels of violence. 
Officers from Merseyside Police's Matrix serious organised crime team, which investigates gun and gang-related crime, are investigating the murder. The HM Inspectorate of Prisons report pointed to a problem with "gang issues and the availability of drugs, particularly new psychoactive substances such as Spice and Black Mamba", at the prison.  

47 comments:

  1. Unsafe, ineffective & inhumane. These are evidently the three KPIs of Chrisis Grayling's Criminal Justice policies. And I don't doubt his chosen teams of bidders will happily join him in feasting on others' misery, distress and anguish so long as they can fill their pockets and pay off their shareholders. The CEOs and the Directors will furnish themselves with lavish bonuses & (if the don't already have them) collect gongs and titles in the so-called "Honours" lists.

    Grayling will be elevated to "another place" and as Lord Eejit of Fuckwittery will no doubt continue to claim exorbitant expenses from the public purse (£300 per day + travel + accommodation + any directorships he's acquired from his preferred friends along the way).

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    1. Very funny "Lord Eejit of Fuckwittery". I think you have missed a few zero's of his expenses.

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  2. I've been watching the comments about safety in prisons with some interest, mainly because I do a lot of PSR's (well, FDR's) for those who get remanded. If I'm being honest with myself, there are times that during professional visits I have felt uneasy, both due to the behaviour of inmates who are waiting for their visits and the fact that more often than not there is only one female prison officer on duty during this time. Now we all know that prisoners behaviour can be unpredictable, especially if you are challenging them or unpicking their behaviour; many already have a story 'concocted' which they fell will mitigate or explain their behaviour and they can and do get aggressive when you 'disassemble' this in front of them. Reflecting on the past few weeks when I have been feeling this way, I'm fairly convinced that if one were to 'kick off', then I would likely suffer some quite serious injury before help came. What would be my position with regards to me declining to go into Prisons, quite simply because a) I really do not feel safe; b) I don't fancy getting assaulted.

    Thanks

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    1. Just man up and tell them you're not going in! There's not a manager in the world who would direct you as if it all went shit shaped they would be the ones in the firing line.
      Mind, that may not replace your broken teeth/jaw/nose/slash marks but it would make for a higher compensation claim. Remember Vicarious Liability!!!

      You could get at least two REALLY good holidays out of the compensation you'd get.

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    2. Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 places statutory duty of care on employers to provide safe working environment, and safe access and egress. Employees also have a duty of care to take reasonable steps to ensure their own safety. It seems this govt doesn't think fulfilment of these duties (amongst others) applies to them. I would suggest that declining to place yourself at a heightened risk of harm as a result of declining or absent health & safety measures in a particular environment could be considered a discharge of your own duty of care to self as required.

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    3. Whilst I probably would have phrased this differently I agree totally with the sentiment. It only takes a Rosa Parks before we have a snowball effect, placing Chris Grayling un an untenable position. I would be tempted myself but working on the UW van means that I never go into prisons. Do we have any seconded staff reading this who would be happy to describe the current conditions in prison as I feel this would be useful.

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    4. I'm0955, I meant this comment to 0931 but somebody posted before I'd finished typing.

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  3. Below is taken from HMI Probation Website!
    Guidance on whistleblowing from inspected organisations

    What is whistleblowing?

    Whistleblowing occurs when an individual raises a concern about actions or illegality that affects others within an organisation or within an independent structure associated with it.

    This can include such things:

    Theft, fraud, corruption & bribery
    Neglect of duties
    Breach of confidentiality/ privacy
    Sexual or physical abuse
    Other unethical conduct
    Unauthorised use of public funds
    Evidence of criminal or unlawful activity.
    All concerns raised with HMI Probation will be taken seriously and considered appropriately. We will, where possible, acknowledge the receipt of the concern, provide an indication of who will deal with the matter, and how it will be dealt with.

    Confidentiality

    Whilst we will deal with each concern on a case by case basis, generally, and if appropriate, we will share the information received with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or their equivalent in the organisation concerned, or the person who has overall responsibility for the work. We will provide a summary of the issues raised and inform them of our actions. Where it is not appropriate to share the information with the CEO of the organisation, for example if the concern raised is related to the CEO themselves or their senior management team, we will share the information with an appropriate person.

    We will do all we can to protect the identity of the individual raising the concern unless they are clear with us that this is not necessary. If we cannot deal with the matter without disclosing the identity, we will discuss with the person concerned how we can proceed.

    Outcomes

    When appropriate, the person raising the concern will be informed of the outcomes of our actions, so that they can be satisfied that their concerns have been suitably addressed.

    Where the concern is looked at as part of an inspection we are undertaking, we may mention, in our published report, that a concern was raised. We will not identify any individual.

    Reporting

    We will publish, in our annual report, how many concerns have been reported to HMI Probation by whistleblowers and the action we have taken. We will take care to protect the anonymity of the whistleblower.

    "Take care to protect the anonymity of the whistle blower" Really?

    If you worked for Sodexo (or indeed any other CRC) would you whistle blow to Mr McDowell?

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    1. Have you seen their pre-emptive (May 2014) Conflict of Interest statement, also on h,ip website?

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  4. Mae West 'always keep a diary and one day the diary will keep you' and she was right.

    document everything that you see concerning whether or not it directly involves you as it gives the bigger picture.

    I recently did this against a bully of an SPO - and I came out looking better as I could prove contrasts of how she treated people differently. Also keep a note of who else was in the room at the time so if the worst comes to the worst you can ask them to be a witness

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    1. re 9 49- oh yes! I had spurious allegations made against me several years ago, leading to a formal disciplinary investigation which went on for months and causing me huge stress (during a time when I was a resettlement officer with a case load of 90!). Luckily, I am a hoarder, which included emails, memos and 'useful' notes, and when I was put in a position where I had to fight for my good reputation, I was able to produce evidence that the other person had been lying through their back teeth.. And evidence that some senior management had not processed the investigation in the way they said they had.

      The result was - the complainant was warned that if they did not drop their complaint, disciplinary action would be taken against them, and the person was actually restricted by conditions. My wonderful hard-working NAPO rep was delighted, saying he had never known that happen in 12 years of union work as a rep.

      The other person left shortly after that.

      So - keep diaries, keep written evidence, take photos of potential evidence if necessary.

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    2. Exactly! Document everything - if it's not written down it didn't happen. That old mantra. Never more needed. I've witnessed blatant targetting and bullying of staff lately and my response is always the same: keep a diary! You are being called to meetings and in those meetings there are minutes of previous meetings that you've never even seen. I have to say though, the organisation I work for in the North are not in a defensible position at the moment. I know a number of cases that could clearly win a constructive dismissal claim if they so wished. Managers are so overstretched people haven't had supervision in a year and the stress questionnaires given to them by staff are being filed in the bin. Not good. Doesn't give you a leg to stand on when dismissing people!

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  5. MoJ using HMIP as defence in JR (from hmip website):

    Background
    Up until 31 May 2014, offenders in the community were managed by Probation Trusts. Under the new probation arrangements, active from 1 June 2014, offenders in the community are managed by the National Probation Service (NPS) and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs).
    This ad-hoc management information release presents the suite of management information used by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) and the Ministry of Justice to monitor performance in probation during the transition period since the new probation arrangements became active on 1st June 2014.
    What is being published, and why?
    The management information is being released to support the Judicial Review of the changes to Probation under the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme.
    As such, this management information release is a one-off ad-hoc release, 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.
    The management information in this release covers a number of areas, namely: 1 – Background & Executive Summary
    2 – Public Protection
    3 – Staffing
    4 – Performance
    5 – Risk of Serious Recidivism (RSR) assessment and Case Allocation
    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.
    This ad hoc management information release will be published on Monday 17 November 2014.

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    1. "The management information is being released to support the Judicial Review of the changes to Probation under the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme."

      Does this mean that JR is really happening then?

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  6. http://www.examiner.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/justice-secretary-chris-grayling-visits-8113104

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    1. Usual utter £46-in-their-pocket drivel, with an added frissant through the use of "enlightened" - presumably another sniping dig at probation.

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    2. And while Mr Grayling would not be drawn further on the case, he said: “Generally speaking I am not a fan of automatic early release and we have set down rules that limit that for more serious offenders, child rape and terrorism, for example.

      “I would like, going forward and where resources permit, to do what I can to limit early release but I haven’t got enough prison places to do that right now.

      “At the moment we have a system of early release where you spend half in prison and the remainder on probation.

      Mr Grayling’s visit came as it was revealed his department was spending £15m on private probation consultants.

      He explained: “This is actually about how we support offenders whose sentence is less that 12 months.

      “As it stands they are released with £46 and nothing else, no support or guidance, nobody looking at where they are going and, in most cases, it is easy for them to reoffend.

      “This is about making sure the person that prepares them for release is the person looking out for their interests once they are released so they don’t reoffend.

      “Of course, we want the justice system to be tough so victims feel justice has been done, but we also need an enlightened approach to support offenders when they leave prison.”

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    3. The caption to the first photograph on that article [an open-mouthed Failing shaking hands with a group of young people] reads: "Justice Secretary Chris Graying and Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney meet law students at Greenhead College, Huddersfield".

      I like to imagine him saying, "so is everyone in this room more qualified than I am to be Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice?"

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  7. Off topic but has anyone else noticed the pigs ear NOMS are making with the new PQF learners? Four weeks in and some still with no contracts, some having to apply for salary advances as they're not being paid, some applying for advances and nothing turns up, some already thinking of packing it in.. Welcome to Buffalo Bill's Wild West Probation Cowboy Show. Yee-haw!

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  8. Jim,

    Notice that highly respected former London CPO John Harding ( Guardian letters)has nailed his colours to the who will rid me of this conflicted HCIP!

    Paul McDowell’s position as the chief inspector of probation is unsustainable (Grayling pledge over probation conflict of interest fears). His inspectorate is charged with assessing the performance of Sodexo in its new role of supervising thousands of offenders. He may send in inspectors other than himself to assess the performance of his wife’s company, but the final report on Sodexo is the chief inspector’s, just as when Nick Hardwick reports on a prison inspection. He cannot escape the charge of personal interest, whatever the outcome of a Sodexo inspection.

    Grayling needs to be squeaky-clean at the outset of these fundamental changes in managing offenders; letting McDowell remain in post looks like an early own goal of his own making.
    John Harding
    Winchester

    ps JH was once denied access to LP HQ for being ' too off message' following his departure by a certain Noms placeman J Powls who is now it seems embedded in the MoJ nomenklatura!

    Regards

    Mike

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  9. The CEO in Manchester's CRC is ploughing on with her service delivery model regardless. After months of change, yet more change is being pushed on to staff when she's hasn't even worked out what "Purple Futures" wants yet. Why on earth would you do that? Take note - your mututal bid didn't win! Stop pushing it through the process as you''ll likely get kyboshed by the money-saving grapplers in Interserve and Shelter. No regard for staff whatsoever.

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    1. DTV are also making changes to reflect the new TOM, despite no contracts being signed AND an apparent Ethical Wall. Me thinks that this wall has been compromised!

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    2. Sounds like the CEO Manchester is making a desperate attempt to cover up aspects of their own delivery model (had it been successful). Might also be an attempt to keep the workers busy with change to reduce any backlash.

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    3. God, what will it take to get rid of this woman???

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    4. It's not just the CEO that needs to get rid. There are too many keen & eager middle managers (freshly appointed) wanting to impress who are just as corrupt and useless. All in it for the money & profit.

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    5. Mangers duty of care to their staff in Manchester has been appalling, no wonder half the service is off sick and the other half is propped up by agency staff. Still they keep bleating on about things are going well, they maybe in some parallel universe but not in Manchester.

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    6. Not just Manchester. West Yorks as well. Useless CEO#s and managers in general. Still want the penny and the bun. Good thing is we are fighting back at their complete cowardly display and incompetence. They don't manage, they are in charge. That is the problem!!!

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  10. Its amazing when you look around at all these people in public office and discover their little relationships.
    Lord Blackwell, is of course Chairman of Interserve.

    During the period when Lord Blackwell served as a non-executive director of the OFT a company where, at the time, he was also chairman, Interserve plc, became subject to an investigation by the OFT. The investigation was described by the OFT as "one of the largest ever Competition Act investigations".[23] Interserve were found to have engaged in illegal anti-competitive bid rigging activities[24] and were fined a sum of £11,634,750.[25]

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  11. Can't help thinking about Sheb Wooley and the Purple People Eaters. Not wholly sure why.

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    1. one-eyed one-horned flying purple people eater - he wanted to eat purple people but became a rock star instead - anybody got a spare guitar to pass on to the Injustice Monster?

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    2. or did I mean HE was also purple as well as flying and wanted to eat people?? I WAS only a bairn at the time!

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  12. The end of our Senior Managers?
    I sense desperation amongst our leaders. This is borne of the dawning realisation that their grip on power is slipping and, totally unused to having their power challenged, they are pushing on relentlessly with their plans to play "Big Business Leader". Well be careful what you wish for because in the world of the multi nationals they are minnows are will be swallowed up without mercy. Neither can they fall back on the default position of being "The Keepers of the Probation Heritage" for each and every practitioner knows that it was the Senior Managers that sold us out and then failed to speak out.

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    1. Can't argue with that.

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  13. There are two senior managers who have acquitted themselves well during this period - the two who transferred from lpt to serco with CP and now run that contract. Two very genuine people and whilst I'm sure they are under lots of pressure they make sure people know it's about the service users and community not targets or money.

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  14. It’s important to realize that just because someone holds a position of leadership, doesn’t necessarily mean they should. Put another way, not all leaders are created equal. The problem many organizations are suffering from is a recognition problem – they can’t seem to recognize good leaders from bad ones. Anyone thinking of NOMS perhaps?

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    1. Having transferred from the private sector to retrain as a PSO I have never encountered more shallow self seeking clueless, self absorbed plantpot seniors as I have in the probation service.So called values of the service mean nothing to them largely. They are mainly sociopathic bullying shits who were once very poor probation officers who went into management because they were crap at their job and now it is payback time!!!

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    2. Feel better?

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  15. I agree. They employ like for like facsimiles of each other. Stepford style. Then they move to NOMs and fuck the service up even more. Needs to go back to the days when you would be promoted for merit, not an hours assessment by a faceless overpaid HR guru!

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  16. So the MOJ/Government is to provide protection for prison officers against violence by prisoners by ensuring every perpetrator is prosecuted...with assaults on staff having increased by 12 % due largely to reduced staffing....the solution will be to introduce a PROTOCOL..that'll work then.....oh and any sentence handed down will be served at the end of the existing prison term to act as a deterrent.....that'll work then......oh and staff may be issued with body cameras to keep them safe rather than replacing the prison staff Grayling has already cut...so that'll work then....
    and guess what? Grayling is trotting out Selous to front this announcement, just in case .....

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    1. So, 14,000 bodicams @ £300 is in excess of £4M. Still, its only a fraction of the £35M paid out in redundancy to prison staff this year so in the hands of Selous & Grayling can only be seen as a saving in times of austerity. Well done, MoJ. Another triumph of stupidity over reality.

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    2. And don't forget the licence to use the software to analyse the data, and the 'teccies' to operate it, and the IT hardware and the maintenance contract - maybe another £20M??

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    3. Selous on the telly this morming - looked & sounded like he'd overindulged in fine dining last night. BBC treated him with kid gloves, poor lamb.

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    4. One of the first to endorse this "new" protocol (no-one thought that prisons, cps & police could talk to each other before) is none other than Grayling's previous patsy, now Attourney General, Jezza Wright. But those naughty commie bastards The Howard League have yet again stuck their oar in. Time for another round of McCarthyite clearances, perhaps?

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  17. Giving prisoner office staff will further create a gulf between them and prisoners. Prisoner officers albeit to a much lesser level than probation officers, still try to build positive working relationships with prisoners, as an ex con there is No way I would speak to a prisoner officer with a camera stuck in my face. Sod that I would just keep myself to myself even more.

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  18. So, no early release, extra time added consecutively, increased sentences under Serious Crimes Act... So come clean Chris, when are you going to use your ministerial superpowers to annexe the Isle of Wight & make it the UK's "new Alcatraz"?

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  19. re comments on Selous, above, I had a reply from my MP yesterday, attaching a letter he had received from Andrew Selous, after my MP challenged him on TR and staff morale. Selous's 2 pages of tripe and lies made me feel sick with rage! - (have you got your 'stay calm' app on?)

    "It is inaccurate to state that the transition has not been a success and that the NPS and CRC's are struggling with the new system".

    "Whilst some staff have concerns, it is also worth noting that many probation officers have been engaging positively with our reforms and see the positive opportunities these changes will bring for offenders and society as a whole".

    "It is our assessment that the preferred Bidders have the ability to run CRC's and contribute to building a probation system which combines the best of the public, private and voluntary sectors, and produces more effective and more efficient services for all- reforming offenders, delivering value for money for the taxpayer and protecting victims and communities."

    " The MoJ also worked closely with probation staff to support them through the transition and is continuing to provide support to staff in both NPS and CRC". HE SAID THAT TWICE IN THE LETTER, AT THE BEGINNING AND AT THE END.

    - LIKEWISE - he expressed his "gratitude to staff for their hard work to implement these reforms", twice again, in the first para and the last. I BET THAT MAKES YOU FEEL BETTER.

    and then -

    "with regard to your points about staff morale, we recognise that this is a very important issue, and we have sought to engage probation staff in the reforms at every stage.-

    -AND THE KILLER QUOTE - DELUSION AT ITS FINEST-

    "Probation staff are also routinely provided with professional supervision, combined with access to confidential counselling on request."
    ...............................................................................................

    Is this a parlour game -'which is the biggest lie?'

    But, for all of you suffering stress, you should all now request confidential counselling - which of course, will come at a price, and will take you out of the office...., and cause more chaos, but - you read it here first, the Under -Sec has given it his blessing, and it would be rude to refuse... Indeed, I suggest that NAPO advises you all to do so....

    There is a lot more, including a numbers game of the breakdown of the bidders, partners and contractors who are involved - how many and what organisations are involved ,all highly ethical and with experience of working with offenders, of course.

    I have sent a copy to Jim, suggesting he puts it on here as a blog, also to Tania (who is on leave until 18th) and to Ian Lawrence.

    I have also added my own comments to the email......

    and now, I am going to get ready to go and see Bryan Adams, with my son - for the umpteenth time. - '18 TILL I DIE' !

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