Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Omnishambles Update 79

Lets kick this off with news from the Daily Mail as to how the MoJ is doing on the court interpreter contract:-  
Court translator costs double in a year: Taxpayers' bill now more than £15million after service was outsourced in move branded as 'shambolic' by MPs
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.

MPs on the Commons’ Justice Select Committee were told that a ‘catastrophic’ shortage of interpreters had forced courts to rely on Google Translate, a comparatively crude and time-consuming online translation service. There are around 11,000 foreign nationals in UK prisons, around 13 per cent of the total prison population, with many needing interpreters at numerous court hearings and appeals.

Courts across England used to rely on local interpreters but in January 2012 the former Ministry of Justice controversially handed a monopoly on translating to a private firm, Applied Language Solutions, in an attempt to cut costs. The company was then bought by Capita TI amid a wave of criticism from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI), which previously provided courts with language experts.

In the first 18 months of the contract there were 10,000 complaints about the interpreting services it provided. MPs were told the company had failed to send interpreters to a fifth of trials, sent people speaking the wrong language, or translators who are simply incompetent.

In July last year Lady Butler-Sloss, a retired judge, told the House of Lords there was a massive ‘disruption and delay to criminal trials as a result of serious inaccuracies of court interpreting’. Five months earlier, the Justice Committee said the privatisation had been ‘shambolic’ and led to cases collapsing and people unnecessarily being remanded in custody.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice confirmed it paid out £15.5million for ‘interpreting and translation services’ to the courts last year compared to £7.9million in 2012. But he said the FOI response had only identified payments to Capita TI. Because of blunders after the start of the contract, local interpreters were hired on an ad-hoc basis to fill in shortfalls and paid for their services.
The MoJ said the total payments to all interpreters in 2012 exceeded the bill for 2013, although the department said it could not provide documented figures to prove this. It stated, however, that the new system had seen ‘dramatic improvements’ and that ‘record numbers of booking are now begin made and fulfilled’. A MoJ source said: ‘During the first year of the contract a lot of things weren’t running brilliantly but since then the whole system has been sorted out.’
Despite cockups, privatisation carries on unabated as the MoJ announces new contracts for prison support services:-
Preferred bidders of prison services competition announced
The Ministry of Justice has today (18 November 2014) revealed the preferred bidders for the management of a range of works, maintenance and facilities management services across public sector prisons.
Amey and Carillion have been named as the desired providers following a competition process to provide: 
  • maintenance
  • works and building projects
  • management of prison stores
  • waste disposal and collection
  • energy and environmental management
  • cleaning
  • escorting of contractors and their vehicles
to public sector prisons across England and Wales.
Each company was selected as a preferred bidder for 2 separate geographical areas following a competition process that is set to save taxpayers around £115 million over a 5 year period.
The preferred bidders are: 
  • Lot 1 – Amey – North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside
  • Lot 2 – Amey - East Midlands, West Midlands, Wales
  • Lot 3 – Carillion - East of England, London
  • Lot 4 – Carillion - South West, South Central, Kent and Sussex
The competition was announced in June 2013 and formally launched in January 2014, as part of the government’s programme of work to drive down costs and improve outcomes across the prison estate without compromising public safety. The new providers are expected to start delivering services on 1 June 2015 following a period of mobilisation.
Whilst on the subject of contracts, it's worth reminding charities currently bidding for probation work that as much as the MoJ may giveth, they also take away. Victim Support have just discovered this harsh truth, having lost the court witness contract to the CAB, as reported here:-
£24 million grant to support witnesses at court
Citizens Advice has secured £24 million of Ministry of Justice (MoJ) funding to provide the court-based Witness Service, which offers practical and emotional support to ensure people give their best possible evidence during criminal trials.  
The money will be used to improve face to face support at more than 300 courts across England and Wales. This includes greeting witnesses, explaining court procedures, giving updates on the progress of the case, and providing emotional and practical support connected to giving evidence.
It will ensure better support for young, vulnerable and intimidated witnesses - including home visits before a trial and at remote video link locations - and consistency of support across the courts while providing value for the taxpayer. It will also inform witnesses of local victims’ services to make sure they are supported throughout the court process and into the future.
This is the first time government funding for the court-based Witness Service has been open to competition. This reflects the government’s commitment in its response to the ‘Getting it Right for Victims and Witnesses’ consultation that the service would be nationally and competitively commissioned.
Citizens Advice will take over the service from Victim Support, which provided help for almost 200,000 witnesses in 2013/14, on 1 April 2015.
While he was in Australia, David Cameron made a big thing about pushing more work in the direction of the tagging companies, as reported here in the Guardian:-
Tories plan sobriety bracelet punishment for alcohol-related crimes
People who are convicted of criminal damage or common assault committed under the influence of alcohol could be forced to wear a “sobriety bracelet” for four months, as an alternative to going to prison. David Cameron has announced that the Conservatives will give judges the power to use alcohol abstinence orders if the party is returned to government next year.
Instead of going to prison, offenders will then be forced to wear an electronic tag, which tests sweat for alcohol, for up to 120 days. The tag is fitted around the ankle and automatically samples the wearer’s perspiration every 30 minutes. Information is transmitted to a base station, where the data is downloaded and checked by officials. Offenders who fail to keep off alcohol could be hit with a fine or, ultimately, a custodial sentence.
US courts already use the bracelets. The actor Lindsay Lohan was famously ordered to wear one after missing a probation hearing following a conviction for drink-driving. The abstinence orders are already being trialled in London, Cheshire and Northamptonshire after being proposed by Cameron in 2012, but the Tories will pledge in their election manifesto to use them across England and Wales. The first one was handed out at Sutton magistrates court in August to an offender convicted of using abusive language and provoking unlawful violence. 
Speaking at the G20 summit in Australia, the prime minister said: “Alcohol-related crime causes misery for millions of people every year and costs our country billions of pounds. While overall crime has fallen under this government, we need to do more.”
Conservative sources said the Home Office envisaged up to 5,000 offenders a year would be ordered to wear the tags, at a cost to the taxpayer of £15m. They say that abstinence orders in America have reduced reoffending in some states by up to 14%. American courts have ordered the devices to be fitted to thousands of defendants released on bail and awaiting trial for alcohol-related offences, as well as people on probation and underage drinkers.
Judges in the UK would have the discretion to hand down orders for offences such as threatening behaviour, assault, criminal damage and drink-driving. Most offenders will be made to wear the bracelets for 60 to 90 days, with a maximum punishment of 120 days. 
The police, led by the Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, have been pushing for the use of sobriety bracelets, saying it would help cut crime in the capital. The police commissioner said 80%-90% of night-time arrests by the Met were associated with excessive alcohol. “It is important for us to use technology and to use these preventative measures around two areas – one around alcohol and certainly around drugs because the two most aggravating factors around crime tend to be those areas,” Hogan-Howe said in December 2011.
According to a recent blog by Ian Lawrence, Napo's Professional Committee have been looking into the whole subject of Electronic Monitoring:-
Electronic Monitoring - Value for Money?
Our old friend Professor Mike Nellis copied Napo in to his recent correspondence to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) about EM and our Professional Committee has asked me to endorse the case that he makes for the PAC to seriously scrutinise the contract.
We have said that in our view, Professor Nellis’ description of the development of these contracts and his analysis of how they came to be signed is less than transparent (does that ring a bell?) and the statement in this year’s Major Projects Authority (MPA) report that the project would “support the development of a co-operative and constructive partnership approach to delivery through the engagement of key stakeholders across the criminal justice sector both in the project and following implementation of the contract(s).” has not been sustained in reality.
We have reminded the PAC of the previous contracts for EM, which have attracted so much attention from the Serious Fraud Office, amongst others. These were valued at somewhere in the region of £100-120million p.a. Mike says that this has been equivalent to more than 10% of the overall budget for Probation year on year, and is money that might have been better targeted towards funding the supervision of under-12 month prisoners on release.
As Professor Nellis has pointed out, we do not really know the value of the new contracts or their proposed scope. We have said that we would hope that these EM contracts will be cheaper than their predecessors, not least because those previous contracts were hugely overpriced. The statistics compiled by the learned Professor inform us that according to the Policy Exchange Unit report, the average ‘per day’ cost of a tag in the US was £1.25 compared to £13.14 in England and Wales at the time the report was prepared. On the other hand, the more sophisticated technology (GPS) is likely to be more expensive to operate and if numbers are greatly increased, (Ed: especially if ‘Through the Gate’ fails to deliver?) then so will the contract prices. Figures for ‘whole-life’ contract costs as given in the MPA report 2013/14 are anything from £529.2m to £912m. If these contracts are for six years, then the annual cost might be between £88m and £152m.
Napo’s Professional Committee believes that the unimaginative and indiscriminate use of EM curfews has been nothing short of scandalous. Indeed a very expensive one at that; and with little or no evidence to suggest that ‘stand-alone’ curfews (around 70% of those imposed) do anything at all to reduce re-offending rates.
Read Napo’s submission here. 
Unfortunately for Mr Cameron, the assertion that crime has fallen under his government comes just as it's revealed the police have been very naughty and simply not recorded an awful lot of offences in order to meet targets. Interestingly, the report is from HM Chief Inspector of Police Tom Winsor, no doubt doing Theresa May's bidding in kicking the police, again in the Guardian:- 
Police fail to record 800,000 crimes a year, including one in four sex offences
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary says it is an indefensible failure by the police to properly record the equivalent of 19% of the total official police recorded crime rate, and including a third of all violent crime. The investigation into the integrity of police recorded crime figures says that the 26% under-recording of rapes and other sexual offences is a matter of “especially serious concern”, with inspectors finding 37 individual cases of rape that were not recorded as crimes.
The HMIC report, published on Tuesday, says that even when crimes are correctly recorded by the police, too many are removed or cancelled as recorded crimes for no good reason, including more than 200 rapes and 250 cases of violence against the person. It says that these decisions, called “no-criming”, to incorrectly dismiss rape victims have meant that offenders who should have been pursued by the police have not been brought to justice. The inspectors add that in 22% of these no-crime cases the rape victim was never told that a decision had been taken to drop their case.
Tom Winsor, the chief inspector of constabulary, said: “These are wholly unacceptable failings. Some forces have exemplary records in this respect, and others are very bad. It is particularly important that in cases as serious as rape, these shortcomings are put right as a matter of the greatest urgency. In some forces, action is already being taken.”
The report says that the police must record an incident as a crime when a victim reports circumstances that amount to an offence as defined by the law and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.
The rules say that a crime should still be recorded even if the victim declines to provide their personal details, or does not want to take the matter further, or even if the allegation cannot be proved. They add, however, that a crime does not need to be recorded if a victim does not confirm that a crime has taken place. For instance if someone other than the victim reports an apparent street robbery, but the police can’t find the victim, then a crime is not recorded but a record is still made of the incident.
The report rejects claims that the practice of under-recording is due to “fiddled figures” or dishonest manipulation, saying that although the staff survey and interviews with whistleblowers produced many such allegations, no one came forward with firm evidence. The inspectors say that a number of police forces accepted that “undue performance pressures had adversely affected crime recording in the past, and the culture of chasing targets as ends in themselves had distorted crime-recording decisions”.
It's worth mentioning another matter touched on in the recent blog by Ian Lawrence, and that is another wheeze by Chris Grayling to raise money from our clients:-
Criminal Courts Charges

More great work in progress by our eagle eyed practitioners. Under The Criminal Justice and Courts Bill 2014, currently still progressing through parliament is a whole raft of changes (28 in all) to various areas of criminal justice. One of the most invidious of these is the creation of a Criminal Courts Charge – meaning that people if convicted, will pay for their use of the criminal courts-i.e. for the cost of running and administering the courts.
This controversial proposal from the MoJ (aren’t they all?) is completely separate from and in addition to existing financial impositions such as: fines, compensation to victims, victim surcharge and prosecution costs, the latter often currently referred to as court costs- these will all continue to be ordered as decided by sentencers. Our current understanding is that the Criminal Courts Charge will be imposed in all cases where there is a conviction and regardless of whether a defendant receives a custodial sentence or not, it will always be paid last i.e. when all other financial impositions have been paid. A list of draft charge levels has been compiled as follows:
  • in the Magistrates Court the lowest charge will be £150 for a summary offence hearing guilty plea and the highest charge will be £1,000 for an either way trial
  • in the Crown Court the lowest charge will be £900 for an indictable only guilty plea charge and an either way or indictable only trial will be charged at £1,200.
In addition there will be interest accruing/charged at the rate of inflation if the Criminal Courts Charge remains unpaid.
The rationale (if you could even call it that) behind these charges is that it is considered to be time that the burden of cost of running the courts was taken away from the taxpayer. It is conceded briefly that even some taxpayers may themselves be defendants! The means test completed at the beginning of court proceedings will determine at what rate the charge is to be paid. Apparently there will be an incentive to keep out of further trouble as if there is no fresh conviction within two years of its imposition then there is the facility for it to be remitted.
It is mooted that the charge might in the long term reduce reoffending by providing a disincentive in itself. The initial work by Napo suggests that this idea is ludicrous in the extreme in that it suggests that not only might the reduction in income caused by the charge be something that an individual might weigh up prior to committing an offence, but also the fact that two years offence free allowing possible remittance of the charge would be a carrot to prevent and reduce reoffending. It is conceded however that increased debt could lead to other destabilising consequences such as family breakdown!!
Worse still the so called analysis and evidence for the introduction of this charge acknowledges that the enforcement of current criminal courts financial impositions is already struggling so it is envisaged that an external provider (guess who?) will be looked for “to deliver compliance and enforcement activity” No matter that the transition to and maintenance of such a service including enforcing the new Criminal Courts Charge will be in the region of “£20million per year” (in addition to costs of enforcement of existing financial impositions).
It seems that the emerging legislation will allow for people to be imprisoned for non-payment - “It is estimated that the potential increase in prison occupancy resulting from this sanction could lead to a cost of around £5million per annum in steady state (although the actual costs are dependent on capacity)”. So more people in prison and absolutely zero prospects of rehabilitation in such cases.
In a few years we could see clients also having to pay for private probation, as is the case already in the USA, together with charges for 'bed and breakfast' should they find themselves in default and in prison. The only trouble is, I seem to think it's not possible 'to get blood out of a stone'. But maybe the Tories are working on that one.


  1. Re-alcohol bracelets, I hope they are going to have good assessors for some it Is dangerous to just stop drinking..

  2. I see in the USA up to 80% of the costs of alcohol bracelets are borne by the wearer. And effectiveness is linked to participation in alcohol treatment/support programmes.

  3. Don't know what all the fuss is about JR. The hearing will be completed in plenty if time for contracts to be signed on original date!

    1. Piss off Chris. Haven't you got better things to do in Petty France?

    2. load of cobblers - grayling will be sent away with his tail inbetween his legs AGAIN.

    3. It is not a load of cobblers. General Election purdah does not start until 31 March. Three months is plenty of time to comply with any order the court might make - assuming that it does make one. It may even be possible still to have contracts signed on 18 December and make any changes the court wants in parallel. Don't imagine that the application for JR is a magic bullet.

    4. The Courts and by extension the Law hates Grayling. I think they are going to set a example of what happens when you think you are, repeatedly, above it. Over the past few months he's been in Court more than some of my offenders...and they are all PPO's!

    5. I would like to think JR is a magic bullet, but like 13:00 I don't think it is!

    6. Two people wrong in the space of an hour. It's like being in a MMM.

    7. "Anonymous19 November 2014 13:05

      The Courts and by extension the Law hates Grayling."

      The courts dont hate Grayling. The courts just uphold the law. They wont uphold NAPO's case simply because they dont like Grayling. They will only uphold the case if he is found to be wrong in law. The courts don't have to agree with the policy, they will just consider whether the policy has been implemented unlawfully. The grounds for deciding that it is unlawful are pretty narrow. They would have to decide that Grayling is acting ultra vires (which he obviously isn't), that he is acting irrationally (for which the test is pretty high - an irrational act is one "so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it") or that there is a procedural impropriety. It's by no means clear that the case has got a good chance of succeeding

    8. "Anonymous19 November 2014 13:57

      Two people wrong in the space of an hour. It's like being in a MMM."

      Whether you like it or not, it is pretty unlikely that the court will strike down the whole of Grayling's policy. That would be a massive encroachment of the judiciary into the field of public policy. Grayling is perfectly entitled to pursue TR as a policy and the courts would not, and arguably cannot, interfere with that. All the court can do is conclude that the policy has been implemented in a way which is unlawful. The most, therefore, they can do is to order Grayling to do some elements of it again. He has at least 3 months to comply with any such order, which is probably long enough to ensure that contracts are still signed before the dissolution of Parliament.

    9. A 10 year poison pill contract
      Lack of ANY evidence to validate his claims
      Going on a gut feeling (Chris, not matter how big your gut is, this is badddddd)

      I'm not sure what else is needed to demonstrate something "so outrageous in its defiance of logic or of accepted moral standards that no sensible person who had applied his mind to the question could have arrived at it". The Clapham Omnibus principle springs to mind.

      He's toast, I know it, he knows it and those stooges at Petty France who think they can post on her anonymously know it. Rather than direct them to post on here, trying to undermine a legitimate grievance, he's best off telling them to go collecting money in the street as compensation for the companies who are going to sue the backside off him.


    11. You forgot to add the INEVITABLE cock-up by the private companies who get these contracts.

      No need to thank me :)

    12. Anonymous at 1500

      That gets nowhere near the test of irrationality. You may not like the lack of evidence, but evidence is not necessary to justify Government policy. Never has been, never will be. It certainly doesn't render the policy irrational, in the legal sense.

      It may go against what the majority of commenters on here would like to hear, but that makes it no less valid a comment. There is a valid alternative view of the situation. You can shout it down all you like, but if you do you are being just as narrow minded as you think Grayling is...

    13. Oh and the "poison pill" contracts are standard terms for Government contracts. Every major Government contract has steep early termination penalties, especially contracts that last for more than one parliamentary term. They have to, else no one would do business with the Government for more than 4 years, or until the next general election whichever came sooner. You might not like the contract terms, but they are far from unprecedented and not remotely irrational in legal terms. Sorry.

    14. You're conflating evidence not been necessary and lack of evidence. The latter is of greater importance given the nature of the argument and potential impact. In many respects, it comes down to being able to defend your actions. Gut feeling will not
      cut it.
      I would also question if poison pill contracts are a ubiquitous as you claim, given that Contract Law exists with the sole intention of remedying any loss. Indeed The Guardian called the pending Probation contract 'unprecedented'. Now I'm not the most erudite Probation Officer in the country but I know what unprecedented means and frankly I'm not convinced by your claims.
      I do take umbrage at being called narrow minded simply by not agreeing with your argument. But that could be down to me being narrow minded...

    15. Anonymous 19 November 2014 17:16

      I'm not sure how it is possible to conflate a lack of evidence with evidence not being necessary. If evidence is not necessary it means, ipso facto, that it doens't matter if it doesn't exist. There was no evidence, for example, that introducing the NHS would work. There had been no pilots. The BMA were steadfastly opposed. It was introduced because politicians believed that it would be better and argued from an ideological standpoint that it was the right policy. Grayling can defend his arguments and has done so consistently. You may not agree with his arguments. I may not agree with his arguments, but they exist and they are based on more than gut feeling.

      The point on contracts is that Government contracts generally have stiff early termination clauses, whether the Guardian believes it to be the case or not. Contract law only helps to remedy loss from early termination if the contract allows for such loss to be remedied. Whether you are convinced or not, the fact remains that the proposed TR contracts are certainly not unprecedented.

      I wasn't particularly calling you narrow minded - it was a response to the suggestion that anyone offering a contrary view, in the interests of ensuring that there is a balanced view of what might happen, is in some way an MoJ stooge

    16. I actually receive Anon 18:37 and before as quite helpful as it would seem to be highlighting some of the argument likely to be put against the case against TR , hopefully already considered and the counter argument ready to be put. It seems highly doubtful that the split in the systems and process will fold, but would anticipate some 'pulling back' on the proposals, possibly to what was actually envisaged in the first place but which will now seem more palatable and for some even feel like a win. It would be wonderful to be wrong but......

    17. Anon 21:05 I don't think you understand... whilst there is a split in the service, the public are at risk of harm and it won't 'feel like a win' so long as the split remains. For me it's not about being against Grayling or MOJ, it's about the job we do and making sure risk is managed as well as risk can be managed. If this means putting all of probation in private sector so be it but whilst the split in service remains so does the risk to the public. That's why you Grayling et al will not win us over, because it's about integrity and we can't be bought or manipulated into thinking otherwise. We won't play his game.

  4. I was just reminiscing about when supervision, was just that - tailored made for the individual and their consent to the making of such an order was crucial. When, Attendance Centers were for 'football hooligans' to stop them attending home games - that's why they 1.45 - 4.45 every other Saturday and Electronic Monitoring was to ensure night time burglars were tucked up in their own beds, and not entering those of others.

    Now it's not about the clients, victims or the general public, but for profit; to generate income for the few, at the expense of the many. That 'means test' re Criminal Court Charge - I hope it works better than the one devised in 1991, when it was decided that the amount of the fine, should reflect the clients ability to repay - that worked, or did it? I don't recall any departure from the Magistrate's Sentencing Guidelines, and they made no allowance for the income of the client before them.

    I am getting so despondent, and just wish a crater would open up and swallow CG and his Government, just how much pain do they want to inflict on people? At least i am on leave this week, and I will now go and do something, to take my mind of this - like fitting Skirting Boards, that'll be a first, but here goes.

    1. I've read recently too, that IDS is trying get a restriction placed on the prescription of methadone for addicts, and instead use more 'holistic' methods of treatment. Is is of course an attempt to 'save' the user a lifetime of unemployment he boasts.
      No doubt Graylings friends in companies such as Sedoxo or working links or interserve would be given the contracts to provide such 'holistic' therepy.
      I hate this government, its just a 'rich leach' on the rest of society.

    2. Could it be that CRC's are the re invention of the Probation Services..the Rehabilitation Order, the old Probation Order

    3. Absolutely not - they are very different - check the legislation - I predict there will be lots of problems if the dreadful RARs are EVER introduced without serious amendment - they will at least be VERY unpopular with Sentencers with integrity who take sentencing seriously

  5. heart-warming to see that the part-privatised Royal Mail shares are down nearly 10%. Bidders take note and I hope you get what's coming to you!

  6. Money as debt is the key to controlling offenders and Probation Staff; the radical over sixties have paid their mortgages and are debt free. The Revolution will be funded by Bitcoin.


  7. Interesting reading from Russel Webster (, appears the PbR pilots are not as successful as hoped. It also serves to highlight to bidders that, when something is a low [re-offending] as it has been for years, there is a greater possibility of it going up! Bang goes your bonus and nicely replaced with some reputational fallout!! Factor in the state of the economy and widespread benefits sanctions and you have pretty much an ideal situation in which crime will increase. I hope NAPO pull these figures apart and use them to undermine any claims by the MoJ that TR is anything but an ideological experiment!!

    I have a nice big smile on my face now.

    1. It doesn't mater whether it is an ideological experiment - it doesn't make it any less likely to happen. It isn't as if Governments aren't allowed to do things for ideological reasons...

  8. Has anyone seen Grayling?
    Wheres he gone?
    His silence this last 10 days has been deafning.

    1. That's a good point, the weasel is keeping his head down. He's been missing from action since the story broke about the corrupt inspector and his wife.

    2. I think he's setting Selous up for a fall.

  9. Only those of us at the receiving end of the interpreter problem can truly understand the waste which occurs when they don`t turn up or are late often owing to their having to appear at more than one court within a limited time frame which can easily be exceeded by the uncertaintities of court procedures.

    1. I'm not sure the taxpayer can afford many more of these 'savings'!!

    2. Savings like these?

  10. I remember a guy being adj for an FDR in the Mags. He was RIC and so the videolink was ordered and set up. The interpreter did not attend - they blamed court staff for not booking them. Take Two: videolink was set up and interpreter was present and cue interview. As you know we are timed on these things and doing everything through the interpreter was laborious an timeconsuming. Anyway got to the end of the interview where I started discussing community proposals when the defendant announced he wasn't interested in any community sanction and wanted to do his porridge - he went on to say he was fed up of telling everyone this. What a complete and utter waste of everyone's time.

  11. Email to all Napo members today:-

    Dear Member,

    Yesterday, Tuesday 18 November, saw the first Court hearing of Napo’s Judicial Review application. The Directions hearing at the High Court was attended by Ian Lawrence, General Secretary and Yvonne Pattison and Chris Winters (Co Chairs).

    The Hearing ran till shortly before 5pm and was followed by further discussions with our legal team from Matrix Chambers and Edward Cooper from Slater & Gordon.The Judge has listed the case for Wednesday 10th of December for a maximum of 2.5 days and also set a procedural time table.

    Our understanding from yesterday’s hearing is that although the Secretary of State may award contracts prior to the hearing, they will not be signed until after the outcome of the Judicial Review, and this has dictated the timetable set by the judge.

    As members will understand, the next few weeks will be extremely busy and the continuing work in preparation for the main hearing must be given priority. We are grateful for the support and input by members’ to date, and it’s possible that we will request further specific information. Discussions with our legal team are ongoing and members will appreciate that this is a particularly sensitive time and we are restricted in terms of the amount of information that can be made public. We undertake to update members further as and when we are able to.

    The continuing support of Napo’s members is greatly appreciated.

    Regards to all.

    Ian Lawrence General Secretary and the Napo Officer Group

    19 November 2014

    1. As a member of Unison, I asked them today how they would be supporting the JR, I understand that they have agreed to give financial support to the hearing, and gave me loads of other details of how they are fighting TR. Can post these tomorrow if anyone is interested,

    2. To anon 22.31 I think sharing those details is a great idea!

  12. Typical 'Yes Minister' speak. No fiddling, no manipulation...
    But, rather, targets distorted crime-recording decisions.

    “The report rejects claims that the practice of under-recording is due to “fiddled figures” or dishonest manipulation, saying that although the staff survey and interviews with whistleblowers produced many such allegations, no one came forward with firm evidence. The inspectors say that a number of police forces accepted that “undue performance pressures had adversely affected crime recording in the past, and the culture of chasing targets as ends in themselves had distorted crime-recording decisions”.

  13. Just because it's interesting.

  14. Amey are useless. They (apparently) do the premises for Leics. They had to be reported to the H&S executive to provide hand towels in the kitchens and I have crumbs near my desk whose birthday it was last week...or it would have been if we didn't get Henry out ourselves every now and then to keep squalor at bay. Cheap, cheap, cheap - that is the only criteria for these contracts. Moj have seen the dire service, yet they re-hire. Depressing. They treat us like dirt, so why worry if we are surrounded by it.

  15. Over on twitter:
    Lots of NPS PO jobs in my area but I refuse to apply for them. Why should I when others have been 'sifted' into NPS? #TRchaos
    only 2 yr secondment in my area. Guessing same in yours?
    I'm not really sure. I was under the impression that they were permanent.
    North East aren't. Two years secondment. Friend in CRC has NPS training role too & sim situation. Back to CRC in 2 years

    CRCPO ‏@POCRC · 2h2 hours ago
    @janetbastard I'm not really sure. I was under the impression that they were permanent.

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    Janet Bastard ‏@janetbastard · 2h2 hours ago
    @POCRC North East aren't. Two years secondment. Friend in CRC has NPS training role too & sim situation. Back to CRC in 2 years


    Oh dear

  17. In my area CRC told can't apply for secondment NPS jobs because they can't spare Band 4s. Somehow I don't think working Links will see it that way. Still, the senior manager won't have to worry - no doubt EVR available to them, just sod everyone else - need to make sure targets are met pre Feb 2015. Bastard.

    1. I think may also be worry about what guarantees there are about what CRC job would be at end of secondment period with NPS

  18. Here we go folks....from the Mail
    Simon Hughes said there should be a legal presumption that no one goes to jail for less than 12 months, with criminals given community or suspended sentences instead.

    1. But what about the £46 in their pocket mantra?

    2. You can have the whole thing from Prison Reform Trust

  19. UK watchdog attacks civil legal aid cuts

    Caroline Binham, Legal CorrespondentCuts to the civil legal aid budget are not delivering better value for money for the taxpayer, the UK’s top spending watchdog has found.The National Audit Office’s review of cuts to civil legal aid, on track to deliver savings of £300m, concluded that the Ministry of Justice had not done enough to consider the wider implications of such speedy and drastic cost savings. The ministry “has been slower to think through how and why people access civil legal aid”, Amyas Morse, head of the audit office, said in a statement published with Thursday’s report.“Without this understanding, the ministry’s implementation of the reforms to civil legal aid cannot be said to have delivered better overall value for money for the taxpayer.”The audit office estimates that the cuts have resulted in more people going to court without legal representation, leading to lengthy and costly delays. There has been a 30 per cent rise in family court cases where neither side is represented by a lawyer, according to the NAO’s statistics.The watchdog estimates that the taxpayer will have to shoulder £3.4m in extra costs from such delays, according to the report. The ministry had forecast that the cuts would result in more family cases going to mediation and fewer to court. Instead, the number of cases going to mediation fell 56 per cent, or 17,246, in 2013-14 compared with the previous year.The MoJ said: “We had one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world at around £2bn per year. Given the financial crisis inherited by this government there was no choice but to find significant savings. This report confirms we are doing just that.“This was never going to be an easy process, but we have made the necessary reductions whilst ensuring legal aid remains available where people most need legal help.”The report’s findings are the latest blow to the ministry’s overhaul of legal aid, which has sparked two walkouts by barristers, the first in living memory, and a judicial review.Te High Court ruled in September that the justice ministry acted illegally over a consultation carried out before announcing parallel cuts to the criminal legal aid budget. Thursday’s report by the audit office scrutinised only the civil legal aid budget.Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Commons public accounts committee, accused the MoJ of being “out of touch with reality”. She said: “Achieving value for money is not just about cutting costs.”Sadiq Khan, Labour’s shadow justice secretary said: “This damning report by the National Audit Office completely exposes David Cameron’s reckless assault on access to justice for what it really is: bad value for money and leaving hundreds of thousands without proper legal advice.”