Thursday, 13 November 2014

The 70% Inspector 2

The position of Paul McDowell as HM Chief Inspector of Probation is looking quite untenable and it's hard to see how there can be any confidence in his objectivity or independence. According to this in the Guardian, Chris Grayling is beginning to look quite ridciulous in trying to defend the situation:-  
Chris Grayling makes pledge over probation conflict of interest fears
The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has said overzealous enforcement of conflict of interest rules could risk driving “extremely able” couples from public life.
In his first public comment on the potential conflict of interest facing the chief inspector of probation, whose wife’s company has won the largest single number of probation contracts, the justice secretary admitted to MPs that the issue needed to be addressed. However, he tried to dismiss concerns by defending the role of married couples in public life and saying the conflict of interest facing Paul McDowell, the chief inspector of probation, and his wife, Janine, deputy managing director of Sodexo Justice Services, could be compared to the possible roles of Yvette Cooper and Ed Balls in a future Labour government.
“Clearly, the issue is under discussion and it will need to be addressed,” said Grayling, promising to update MPs in due course. He went on: “We should also remember that people in public life are sometimes married to other people in public life. “We should be extremely careful before we start to damn them because of that situation or we may risk losing some extremely able people from our public life.”
Grayling, who employs his wife, Sue, as his executive secretary paid for out of his parliamentary allowance, added: “Simply put, I hope that the Ministry of Justice, were it to fall under the leadership of a Labour government, would not be disadvantaged by the fact that the putative home secretary [Cooper] is married to the putative chancellor of the Exchequer [Balls]. We have to consider these things very carefully and deal with them in a mature and sensible way, and we will seek to do that.”

McDowell and the justice ministry have told the Guardian they will examine whether it is possible for the conflict of interest to be managed in an appropriate way by the chief inspector withdrawing from inspecting the work of his wife’s company.
The shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, challenged Grayling this week over McDowell’s role and the chief inspector’s “silence” over the “huge turmoil and massive problems” in the probation service.
Grayling confirmed that despite an open invitation to raise any concerns about public safety arising out of the probation reforms directly with him, McDowell had not done so. But he said a detailed report on the Transforming Rehabilitation programme will be published shortly. “[McDowell] has highlighted a number of areas we are addressing. The report will set out in detail some issues, many of which preceded the current reforms and go back many years, on how to improve performance on probation.”
Khan said Grayling’s attempts to dismiss concerns about the chief inspector’s private company links by drawing a parallel with two married MPs was “frankly ludicrous”. “This must not deflect from very serious questions about what the justice secretary knew at the time of the appointment of Mr McDowell, what he did or didn’t tell the justice select committee ahead of their pre-appointment scrutiny hearing, and how it will be possible for the chief inspector to fulfil his role given his links to Sodexo and Nacro. “What we need at this time of turmoil is a strong, fearless and independent chief inspector of probation.”
Just as the victims of historic child abuse felt they could have no confidence in Fiona Woolf being appointed chair of the enquiry due to her established connections, it's hard to see how probation or Parliament can have confidence in the current HMI. He has clearly misled Alan Beith by not divulging details of his wife's employment and, but there might be other reasons why he can't perform even 70% of his job, as highlighted by these recent contributions:-

From talking to colleagues in CRC it is clear there will be no honour among thieves and certainly no sharing of good practice! The issue of business confidentiality will be central to how they work. This raises another question about the role of HMIP & its Chief Inspector.

I believe the main issue is not around the 30% of CRCs run by his wife (which could easily be inspected without the involvement of the CI) but the other 70%! HMIP will have access to business sensitive information about these companies who, in the new TR world, will be in competition with Mrs McDowell's company! 

Now if I was one of those CRCs not managed by Sodexo I wouldn't be happy to let HMIP & its CI have knowledge of my business sensitive information. In my view it is this area of conflict that the select committee should focus on, rather than let McDowell & Grayling come up with some 'ethical wall' between the CI & his wife's business interests.

Had not heard that and as you say can't see providers would be happy. There will also be business interests that are not intellectual property, such as progress against reoffending rates or general structuring of the business which they would not want competitors to know about but HMIP may well come across in the course of inspection! 

We could end up with CRCs refusing to provide or allow access to certain aspects of their business, or may challenge inspection findings (if they weren't happy with them) on the grounds of the conflict of interest! I had initially thought McDowell would survive, but the more I think about it the less likely that seems! I'm sure he won't lose either way as if Grayling gets shot of him he will get a £300k payoff. Money, money money!!!

Paul McDowell is a gift to anti TR. Until you can establish if or if not a conflict of interest exists, then you can't establish the competence of assessment on TR that the HMPI has provided. He may have not highlighted serious concerns because he was aware that his wife stood to make considerable profit from his silence. Until such a time as an enquiry determines those facts, TR needs to be put on hold.


  1. What a complete Tool Grayling is. No conflict of interest my arse.

  2. Jim,

    As you know I contacted HMIP to ask if PM would be putting his recent future of probation talk on -line ( 22/10) I received a curt response! - at the same Conference AB - Former HMCIP/G4S employee noted :

    it’s not easy for people working in the Probation world to be optimistic
    when you’re trying to get your day to day Probation job done at a time of constant
    upheaval and rebranding, capped by the most recklessly gung-ho reorganisation
    that Probation has ever faced. The Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) programme is
    indeed fraught with potential risks, plunged into boldly when the current Justice
    Secretary decided to forgo the pilot projects planned by his predecessor, so in this
    context it’s not exactly easy to feel optimistic!

    Whilst his appointment was secured after the dismal showing of the former Wiltshire bet is that the JSC will look to review his position once PM much vaunted TR report( December?) is published?



    1. That report Mike is currently sat at the bottom of NOMs in tray and will not be published until well after the contract signing and perhaps after share sale.
      I suspect that it is entirely critical of the who sham that is TR hence its slow progress through the system.
      The inspector surely must have given the nod to his missus about what he thinks of the system and could that lead to a more advantageous pricing approach???? But that won't happen will it!

    2. Good point. If the report was critical of TR, to the point of being a potential deal breaker, Mrs would have warned Sodexo to pull out, wouldn't she? So why wait to publish? Or is it being re-written? It's like Le Carre!!!!.

  3. What Grayling carefully forgets to note in his making an anslogy with Balls/Cooper is that (a)that is an open "transparent" relationship to significant parties ie the electorate/party colleagues/other MPs etcetc (b) future decisions about budget could not be stitched up so Balls for example favouritised Cooper's dept as decisions re budget alloc and cuts can as I understand it be argued out in Cabinet meetings. The McDowell situation was not disclosed to all interested parties and
    as pointed out above there is potential for commercially sensitive info to leach over.

    1. He also forgets that Balls & Cooper are widely seen by those with reasonable memories as thieving expense fiddlers.

  4. What corrupt bastards they are. I am disgusted at Paul M's Behaviour as the inspector. If he wants to retain any credibility then he needs to resign immediately. Otherwise the first thing with a change of Gov is to sack the fool.


    Chris Grayling doesnt have a clue.

  6. Paul McDowell has brought the Probation Inspectorate into disrepute. Should he ever have the privilege of inspecting my work, I will tell him were he can shove it.

    "Chris Grayling, has said overzealous enforcement of conflict of interest rules could risk driving “extremely able” couples from public life."

    The man clearly has no idea what he is talking about.

    1. What he really means is, "over-zealous enforcement of any rules could risk us not being able to do exactly whatever the hell we want"


    Theres a poll at the end of this article on how often Grsyling gets it wrong.

  8. Off topic, but another prisoner found dead at Elmley prison.

  9. This snippet (off topic), gives a clue to why Capita didn't win a TR contract.

    A failure to win controversial government work accounted for much of the decline, including the loss of a deal to run probation services for the Ministry of Justice. Rivals Interserve, Sodexo and GEO Group picked up the £500m-a-year contracts after Capita refused to accept a clause that prices could change should the Ministry of Justice amend policies.A second contract to run work capability assessments for the disabled went to the US work programme provider Maximus after Capita withdrew as a result of “unattainable” targets and the risk of reputational damage.

    1. I can concur with this information , Capita have been unwilling to play ball on prices and so got the heave ho - this would reflect the general belief that the competition is entirely based upon the cost of the contract and not the quality which will undoubtedly lead to tears before bedtime!


    Guidance Note from National Professional Committee on using the Case Allocation System Screening Tool (CAS)

    When in doubt, tick ‘no’.

    1. When in doubt tick 'no'.... we had a discussion about this as very few cases seemed to be allocated to CRC, even ones that were obviously CRC cases and ones such as IOM cases that appear in court for new minor offence only to be then allocated in to NPS when we were expecting them back in CRC.

      Ticking 'No' is being done because staff are busy in NPS. Perversely however this will generate more work for NPS. If one ticks 'no' the system is formatted so it will then err on the side of caution if there is missing data and therefore the case will automatically go to NPS. We have been tracking this in our area and CRC are completing own RSR/CAS and proving this very point especially with IOM cases when it has been puzzling as to one one new offence as resulted in a sudden transfer to NPS.
      This is concerning, in our area at least as it is generating unmanageable workloads in NPS and low cases in CRC which will impact on jobs.

    2. To Anon 16.20 in my area over 95% of cases are going to CRC, having discussed this with colleagues in other areas they assure me that this is true for them too.

    3. About the same in my area although some are HIGHLY questionable to the extent that, once some digging is done (which should have been done at PSR stage but wasn't), they were re-allocated from PSO to PO.

      Make me wonder just WTF is going on behind the scenes at assessment stage. Or indeed if ANYTHING is going on judging by the cases coming over!

    4. Critical few. Trivial many.

    5. Anon 16.20 .are we all completing the same documents ? by far the larger number of cases are directed to the CRC.

  11. Andrew S Hatton13 November 2014 14:32 - "When in doubt, tick ‘no’." - this is precisely the approach we should be taking.

  12. Has probation not been through enough, to be then appointed with the likes of Paul McDowell who defends his position by saying that he will not inspect the area were his 'dear wife' Janine would deliver the service. What planet is this guy on.

  13. It must surely be the case that Paul McDowell in the capacity of HMPI, would at least have played an advisory role to the MoJ on which bidders were most suited to take on probation contracts? What I find amazing is that the unsuccessful bidders are not making more of a fuss over this.
    As for not inspecting his wifes company, well that doesn't wash, because whoever does do the inspection has to report back to McDowell as he's the head honcho, and as such his signature is needed on everything. Ultimately the buck will always stop with him!
    Personally I don't think the complaint goes far enough to just raise a conflict of interest. I think the question needs to be asked if Paul McDowell actively played a role in assisting Sedoxo and Working Links in achieving TR contracts?
    Until that question is answered, then I feel it would only be right to suspend the signing of contracts for Sedoxo and Working Links, until the outcome of any inquiry is published.

    1. Whatever else may be true, McDowell had no role in selecting the successful contractors. That was all done by the MoJ procurement teams

    2. Of course it was but who informed the Sodexo bid? An insider?

    3. Anonymous13 November 2014 21:06 - "McDowell had no role in selecting the successful contractors.That was all done by the MoJ procurement teams".

      Really, is that what you think. It that how it works. Everyone else in probation knows it's been a fix.

    4. No, it's not what I think, it's what I know. I have worked in procurement and I know who takes decisions and who doesn't and HMIP did not have any role in selecting the successful contractors. My view is based on first hand knowledge rather than conspiracy theories

    5. Anonymous13 November 2014 21:30- "Of course it was but who informed the Sodexo bid? An insider?'

      That is the point - not whether McDowell was involved in selecting the bidders (the suggestion that he had some sort of advisory role - which he did not), but whether anything he knew or learned as HMIP could have found its way into Sodexo's bid through his wife and given them an unfair advantage. That is what the conflict of interest is about.

    6. And don't forget his role is now to say whether or not it is safe to move forward so that Nacro (the 'charity' he was chief executive of until last year) and Sodexo (his wife's company) can sign the contracts and take over the running of probation.

    7. Anonymous13 November 2014 23:05

      No, he has no such role. HMIP has had no role in the procurement process and will not have one in the remaining stages of it

  14. Can you imagine a deputy director for Sodexo who is involved in the preparation of a bid NOT discussing the contents of that bid with her ex-NACRO/Probation Inspector husband? Sodexo have been compromised. McDowell has been compromised. Grayling has been compromised. The MoJ has been compromised. Mrs McDowell has been compromised. Nothing but rot at the core of this. Conscious corruption? Bad. Unconscious corruption borne of incompetence? Worse.

    1. Can you imagine a deputy director of Sodexo not sharing her performance related financial incentive ( MONEY) with her husband...

  15. I noticed this beautiful piece written a while ago. I hope the person doesn't mind me using this as I thought it was appropriate given the topic under discussion:

    Anonymous 1 November 2014 16:57 -
    “Sit com pilot: "Paul's life in the fast lane"

    Sc1 : Int.Breakfast.Day.
    The Independent inspector of Probation is just about to tuck in to a full English prepared by the Deputy Director of Sodexo who is busy with a ministerial red box..

    Her: And don t forget darling, share prices are tumbling now that we're 18 months into TR with all those SFO's and what not and Chris wants you to bad mouth the NPS again...if you get a minute

    Him: TR dear, what's that?

    Her: Darling don’t try and think, you know it gives you indigestion, just issue the report that I wrote for you, I left it on the bedside table...

    Him: Yes dear

    Her: And don’t forget Chris is coming to tea tonight-he doesn’t want to hear how well the NPS is doing...that's not news, he doesn’t want to issue another D notice you remember all the trouble he had last time (mouths) all that expenses business...though god knows he needs more than one home...

    Him: NPS dear, what's that?

    Her: Nothing for you to worry about

    Him: Righty ho. New handbag dear?

    Her: Chris asked me to look at his CV, well we are about to advertise for a new board member-after all he's done for us the least I can do is to make sure he has a six figure salary...(wistfully) god I love being rich...
    Theme song "If I were a rich man over closing credits"
    It couldnt happen...could it??”

  16. Heres a little nugget. The MoJ giving into strike action? Never.

  17. Well, at least the Tories will not be getting my vote next year. Or at the next election.. ad infinitum.

    I just hope Labour know that the TR process will not be the only poison pill they will be left with next year!!

  18. Stolen from NAPO Website:
    DTV area yesterday informed that all Prison cases to be re-tier to T1. This to be reviewed 3 months prior to release. Today informed under 12 month Supervision for Prisoners will commence Feb 15 but if I understand correctly will only be for those sentenced from February 15 so perhaps no instant impact - time will tell. Any other areas being asked to retier custody cases to T1? Any other areas been informed under 12 month supervision from Feb 15. CRC bidder contracts not yet signed, let alone ink dried - so so far - staff unable to be told of delivery plans. Apparently due to commence some briefings re RAR and training re new N-Delius (god help us). Will it ever STOP.
    How the fuck do we retier 3 months prior to release if they only get one week custody?
    How the fuck do we decide who gets the intervention needed whilst in custody (as some are unlikely to re-offend on release) given that they are all T1 and prisons will not allocate resources to them due to this.
    How the fuck do we manage with MORE Delius training?


    1. We now have 59 different Risk Registers in N Delius. How the hell are we supposed to keep that all up to date?

  19. All this frustration and head-scratching on our part is down to one thing. As we said from the start, the target operating model is written by people who are ignorant about the nuances of the role of Probation and it's relationship with courts and prisons. It will fail because it fails to take into consideration all of the variables at play.

  20. More Delius training is definitely coming up for all staff in December.

    1. New Delius is to be introduced on 15th December. Isn't that the date something else is planned to happen !

  21. Grayling in trouble over money spent on TR. Please read this.

    1. If 15 CRC heads have raised concerns, then why hasn't HMPI reported on it?

    2. #publicmoneywastedbynutcasegrayling - imagine what could have been done with just a fraction of the money wasted on probation privatisation ominshambles - public money not safe in tories hands trust me it will all come out when they are kicked out of office - hopefully civil servant whistle blowers will start blowing soon, some of this stuff will nail grayling and some CEOs - just wait

  22. This is exactly why staff have no faith in senior managers, why can't they simply be honest with staff instead of us reading about their concerns in the Indie? They really do add insult to injury by their duplicity. They DISGUST me.

  23. I saw a memo yesterday clarifying the process for starting the u12m cases and what CRCs will be required to provide in prisons. F**k me! They are going to be busy! How are they going to pay for that lot? I think CG is taking the piss out of them as well.


  25. When all of this is over will there be a blog post about Probation workers using NAPO to affect change in re-attaching itself to social work and real individualised support for Clients?

    You do not provide any worthwhile service so it is unsurprising that you can be so easily replaced with another equally ineffective service.

    1. Damn!! And I thought we were doing something useful. I will resign immediately. Thank you for destroying my delusion x

  26. Interesting comments made on Facebook by Work Programme advisers whose company is sub contracted from Working Links. WL are PB 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
    LikeLike · · Share

    It's just all gone downhill! Nothing like it used to be
    20 October at 19:39 · Like · 1

    I think it's mostly because of poorly implemented changes coupled with higher targets, more pressure and not a word of praise for anyone
    20 October at 19:42 · Like · 3

    Is it all down to Laura? Couldn't believe the target you hit last month and no pat on the back!!
    20 October at 19:51 · Like

    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.
    20 October at 20:38 · Like · 2

    Targets are sometimes unrealistic! The changes to ESA and JSA advisers, was it agreed by the team? 3 and 8 targets?
    20 October at 20:54 · Like

    Yeah those changes were actually put forward originally by the team, the targets though were not. For me part of it was realizing 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 doesnt matter if your happy and valued.
    20 October at 21:17 · Like · 1

    For example I exceeded target lasts 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
    20 October at 21:20 · Like · 3

    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 James! Caerphilly beat you lol!
    20 October at 21:35 · Like · 1

    it did annoyed me that a whole office beat me by one lol
    20 October at 21:36 · Like · 2

    Your doing crap this month, so you would be on a PIP next month lol
    20 October at 21:41 · Like

    lol they can pip me all they want now
    20 October at 21:42 · Like · 2

    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
    21 October at 09:45 · Like · 1