Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Treading Water

This feels a very strange time for us in probation as deafening silence seems to have descended everywhere. The MoJ are saying nothing. The preferred bidders are saying nothing. Chris Grayling seems to be keeping a very low profile. The CRC's are saying nothing; ditto Napo. 

In order to try and find something to say during this interregnum, and whilst we tread water, I've been looking back at stuff I never got around to publishing. Lets cast our mind back to the day the preferred bidders were announced. Here's one CEO who seems particularly bemused by what happened and decided to share it with staff in the house magazine:-  

Peferred Bidder announcement

The announcement that Sodexo Justice Services in partnership with Nacro are the preferred bidder for BeNCH made last Wednesday an important day for us.

Ordinarily I would have arranged simultaneous meetings throughout BeNCH to have announced such a significant piece of news. However this was not possible owing to the
surreal sequence of events leading up to the announcement which I would like to relay to you.

I received news of the impending announcement about 5.15pm on the 28th - the evening before the announcement was due to be made – through a teleconference with other CRC CEOs. Ironically I nearly missed the conference call as the email inviting me to participate was sent to “Niel” rather than Neil! Even more ironic was that not long before I received the call telling me I was missing the vital teleconference, I received a call from another NOMS official checking that I was available on my mobile but that “I shouldn’t read anything into this as it was just a matter of routine”. I was instructed to keep the announcement confidential, until parliament had been informed.

The Ministry of Justice were understandably very concerned about the need to keep what is, after all, commercially sensitive information secure. As a result they decided the best way of maintaining confidentiality was to courier the envelopes containing the announcement (plus supporting documents) to each CRC’s Head Office.

Fair enough, you may say – using couriers is a well tried and tested way of delivering precious goods. However, the MoJ also felt that the envelopes should not be delivered direct to the CRC CEO’s, but rather they should be delivered to members of the NOMS
Contract Management Teams. Despite knowing that the Ministerial Statements would be made at 11am, MoJ felt it best to arrange for the couriers to arrive early in the morning. I was alerted to the fact that they may arrive as early as 7am.

As required, I duly arrived in Stevenage at 7am to let in the NOMS contract manager, Matthew Kelly, who arrived soon after. The package arrived after 8am and was presented
to Matthew. I was not allowed to receive or open the envelope until 10.45am – some 15 minutes before the Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) was to be published in the Commons Library. At just after 11am I duly received confirmation that the WMS had been made, and received email versions of the paperwork that had just been handed to, that had been closely guarded by the contract manager for the past 3 hours.

As soon as it had been confirmed that the WMS had been made I sent the news to staff that Sodexo Criminal Justice Services in partnership with NACRO are our preferred bidder by email and on our intranet InsideBeNCH.

As you may know Sodexo have their roots in the world of hotels and catering, although they now have a large presence in European prisons, with over 100 prisons across the continent - including 5 prisons in Scotland and England.

Significantly this includes HMP Peterborough which is within the BeNCH area. You may be aware that this prison has also been delivering a Payment by Results project and the
learning from this will be of considerable benefit. We are looking forward to finding out the details of their bid and how their plans for service delivery in the future. Sodexo have
won six contract package areas in total – including three in the East of England.

I would urge you all to visit the Sodexo website (uk.sodexo.com) as this gives an outline of the company’s history, values and mission.

Many operational staff will already be familiar with Nacro (the National Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) who are a large national charity with considerable
experience of working in the ETE, substance misuse and resettlement fields.

CEO Neil Moloney

Letter to staff from heads of Sodexo and Nacro

Dear CRC Staff

The Ministry of Justice has announced the preferred bidder as Sodexo Limited, trading as Sodexo Justice Services (SJS), in partnership with Nacro. We are absolutely delighted to have been awarded this contract and we look forward to working with you to reduce reoffending and make our communities safer places to live.

Sodexo globally has a two-fold mission: to improve the quality of lives for all those we serve and: to contribute to the economic, social and environmental development of the cities, regions and countries where we operate. By joining Sodexo you are joining the 18th largest employer worldwide, with over 428,000 employees, operating in 80 countries in over 33,000 sites. Here in the UK&Ireland we have over 34,000 employees, with over 2,300 working within the Sodexo Justice Services segment across our 5 prisons.

SJS have a strong reputation for delivering ethical, innovative and rehabilitative justice services, and our mission is to change lives for the better. We have over 2,300 staff working within SJS across 5 prisons in the UK SJS are in partnership with Nacro, the UK’s largest crime reduction charity. Nacro has been delivering resettlement services to offenders since 1966, both inside prisons and in the community and has a long history of working in partnership with organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors and delivers contracts with private companies, mental health foundation trusts and a large number of charities, research organisations and universities. Having worked together in the past we are delighted to partner with Nacro and have the opportunity to build on these foundations in developing a pioneering partnership with the CRC and to play a significant role in transforming rehabilitation services and delivering the right outcomes for people and communities.

Our approach is to recognise and to continue to put your skills in building effective relationships with some very challenging service users at its core. It also relies on strong local networks with other organisations and providers who can contribute to the goal of reducing reoffending. We have exciting ideas to share with you about how to make the most of the opportunities presented by new legislation on short term prisoners and the creation of the Rehabilitation Activity Requirement. 

Tony Leech,
Managing Director, Sodexo Justice Services

Jacob Tas, 
Chief Executive Officer, Nacro

Thanks go to the person sending me the following Interserve press release from 2012 which I don't recall seeing before and mentions a few more names:-

by Interserve Press Office | Feb 06, 2012

Appointment further reinforces Interserve’s long-standing relationship with the Ministry of Justice, National Offender Management Service and Her Majesty’s Prison Service.

Interserve, the FTSE 250 support services company, has underlined its serious intent to help the Ministry of Justice transform the delivery of justice. Building on its 25-year history of delivering innovation through financing, building and maintaining many of the UK's prisons, Interserve has invested in a highly experienced operational team to develop and deliver its offerings in frontline justice services, led by Yvonne Thomas.

Yvonne joins Interserve from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), where she sat on the Board as an Operations Director. Before that, Yvonne was Director of Offender Management.

Yvonne will lead a formidable team which allies operational and strategic prisons expertise from both the public and private sectors. Adding operational expertise to its existing knowledge and experience, Interserve now has a complete end-to-end capability to develop innovative solutions in the delivery of custodial and community services.

Interserve’s justice team has got off to a promising start, having been shortlisted to provide services to all three prisons in which the company expressed interest. The prisons, Durham, Onley and Wolds, are among nine prisons the MoJ has put out for tender.

With MoJ competition plans spanning the entire Justice arena, including payment by results (PbR) pilots and electronic monitoring (tagging), the horizons for Interserve’s justice team are broad indeed.

For Yvonne Thomas it is an exciting time:

“We believe we can make a significant contribution to the justice sector. The public- and private-sector backgrounds of our team, combined with their strong operational track records, mean we see great scope for applying private-sector investment, flexibility and innovation to improve service provision.

“The payment-by-results principle is particularly compelling. Interserve has experience operating this type of model with the Department for Work and Pensions’ Work Programme. We’re determined that if our prison bids prove successful, the positive outcomes achieved for prisoners leaving an Interserve establishment will be able to be accurately measured. Not only will this show how effective we and our delivery partners are, it will also underline the value for money we will provide for the taxpayer - and ultimately how, in partnership, we can help reduce reoffending.”

Interserve’s ambitious yet broad aspirations in the justice sector are matched by its highly experienced operational team covering both custodial and community services. Together, the team possess the skills to devise and deliver the kind of imaginative new approaches to reduce reoffending currently sought by the Ministry of Justice.

Commenting on the new team Adrian Ringrose, Chief Executive of Interserve, said:

“Outsourcing frontline services is a must, given the state of the public finances. Interserve can play a significant role in delivering frontline services for the Ministry of Justice having gained substantial experience in other sectors, among them custodial construction and design. Our experience is both highly relevant and transferable.

“We have attracted a first-class team to Interserve with a range of talents and skills. Led by Yvonne Thomas, our team has the drive, passion and vision to help reduce reoffending and improve prisoner re-integration into the community.”

Key members of the dedicated justice team include:

Rob Kellett, Operations Director, joins from the National Offender Management Service where he has spent over 30 years in the management of large and complex prisons. He was also previously Head of Contracted Prisons.

Steve Taylor, Director of Custody, has over 20 years’ experience in public and private custodial services, most recently at Forest Bank Prison. He has a particular interest in the development of stakeholder relationships to deliver reductions in reoffending.

Simon Taylor, Commercial Director, joins from private-sector firm Sodexo, where he developed the management systems for PFI and prison contracts. He also negotiated the innovative PbR Social Impact Bond at Peterborough Prison.

Interserve has also retained Trevor Williams, the former Director of Operations, Director of High Security and Head of Contracted Prisons for HMPS and subsequently NOMS, while Christine Lawrie, the former Chief Executive of the Probation Association, and Ben Emm, who was Chief Officer of Bedfordshire and Head of the National Probation Improvement Agency for probation, are responsible for community and strategy advice.

Interserve’s experience in delivering safe and secure facilities:

Interserve already has a long-standing relationship with the MoJ, NOMS and Her Majesty’s Prison Service as a custodial construction partner and has built and refurbished over 5,000 cells. It also reduced the cost per cell by 29 per cent through successive innovations, among them the introduction of colour-coding identification of routes and facilities now widely adopted throughout the prison estate. Interserve has experience in innovative prison cell design and has developed operational solutions to improve cost, safety and security.

Interserve also has extensive experience of successfully mobilising and delivering complex and challenging services across a wide range of sectors including:

  • The building and operating of the Littlemore Medium Secure Unit for the NHS Trust (sectioned and detained patients).
  • Service delivery at University College London Hospital (UCLH) providing security functions, CCTV response, control room operation, perimeter guarding, and part of the major incident response team that mobilised during the 7 July bombings.
  • Acting as a major provider in the Building Schools for the Future programme where, working with the customer, we designed the environment and logistics based on the core purpose of the school's local requirement.
  • Assistance to the Metropolitan Police during and following the 2011 summer riots in London through CCTV surveillance support.


  1. Having read the Sodexo bit I cannot help but feel that we've finally found a infinite amount of monkeys with an infinite amount of typewriters!!!!

  2. Has anyone got the letters for the other bidders who won, would you be willing to post them as a reminder of what rubbish they spouted while things were going wrong?

  3. Whilst it doesn't reveal detail-for obvious reasons-there is a brief JR update from Ian Lawrence posted on Napo website within his latest blog last night. I have no luck copying links but perhaps someone else has that happy knack!

  4. So, yet another testing week in front of us, as I write we await confirmation of a date and time for consideration of our application for disclosure as part of the ongoing Judicial Review proceedings. As you might expect, we have asked for vital data that we believe will allow the Court to make a better informed judgement about our claim that it is unsafe to proceed to Share Sale of the CRC's.

    There is a massive amount of work already underway in advance of the scheduled JR hearing on 10th December. This has obviously meant that a good number of the Officers and Officials have been engaged in analysing witness statements and compiling up to date information to assist our case, and I especially wanted to thank our activists who have been putting their shoulder to the wheel at short notice as we continue our collective push for justice.
    It is difficult to describe the pressure that we have been under and the sheer volume of work involved and that’s just by us, let alone the Lawyers! We will get breaking news and further details to you at the earliest possible opportunity over the course of the next few days. Your National Executive Committee also meets this week where they will receive a confidential update on progress.

    Ian Lawrence

  5. Leics lost a universally respected IT trainer last week. The new CRC simply tripled her tasks and chucked in a few more for good measure, having lost Derbyshire staff to NPS and pruned over 50% of the remainder from Leics and Notts. I think she saw what they expected her to do with the broom and that was the last straw. I've never seen so many leaving gifts and cards for one person. Apparently, at no stage, did anyone from the CRC consult her about what she could take on in addition to her already burgeoning workload. Luckily, she was in a position to walk away. OMs with mortgages and families, experiencing the same wholesale changes in their Jobs, face a horrendous prospect and not everyone can just tell them where to stick it.

    1. I am certain many more would be walking away right now if they were financially in a position to do so - me included.

    2. I certainly would. The current situation on so many levels is untenable and getting worse by the day. The systems actually prevent the work getting done and it would seem the impending updates are no improvement. Even those of us who are fortunate to enjoy reasonable health and decided to insist on staying to see if there would be any semblence of sense or ability to continue without the selling of souls, are now falling and collapsing under the stress and abject incompetence of those supposedly 'implementing change'. It is one huge disorganised nightmare and getting worse by the day. This is not from a perspective of not wanting to change, not having the ability to adapt quickly and easily or being unable to use and access the IT. It is from an informed, experienced and objective analysis. Enough is enough and this is more than enough.

  6. Prisons are key sites for recruiting to " terrorist" organisations and the Spookes know this. Benchmarking and Fair and Sustainable" has taken thousands of officers off the landings of our Prisons and we are in a situation, in many prison, where the prisoners are in control. All prisons are full of drugs and gangs organising the sale and collection of debt. This environment is perfect for the identification of the vulnerable and suggestible and the radicalization of the alienated. Clearly the best way to stop this is to have many more staff who have time to build relationships and change minds. TR is dangerous at so many levels, they just have not thought it through.


    1. It's not just TR though is it, OM's have been upholding crap for years, only now when the crap comes back onto them do they see anything wrong...

    2. Welcome back. We missed you.

    3. Good point.Maybe if we spoke up before things could have been different.

  7. As the TR revolution beds in in my area the more frustrating each day becomes. There are constant instructions regarding the whereabouts of data and who has or does not have access rights. After thirty plus years as a PO with a similar profile to Jim's I am deeply saddened at the events that are befalling the probation service, both locally and nationally. I can't believe that TR was ever conceived in the first place.

  8. A valued manager of 8 in one location of the NPS told she has now to manage 30 over 7 locations. The inevitable resignation followed and she is leaving imminently. The MoJ are simply incompetent and arrogant beyond belief. The damage they have perpetrated on this service is, ironically, nothing short of criminal.

    1. Your Clients have been the recipients of MOJ shit for years, time to have a taste of the medicine you've been dishing out.

    2. You can blame us for ever or you can take some responsibility for yourself and move on...easier to just blame us though isn't it...

      Simon Garden

    3. You can blame MOJ/NOMS forever or you can take some responsibility for yourself and move on...easier to just blame MOJ/NOMS though isn't it...

      Styling myself on a character from a Hollywood Movie

    4. "Styling myself on a character from a Hollywood Movie" Wait... don't tell me... Dumb and Dumber, right?

  9. http://johnnyvoid.wordpress.com/

    1. Jobcentre busy-bodies could soon have the power to force people in treatment for drug or alcohol problems to take up full time ‘work related activity’ if they are unable to beat their addictions quickly enough.

      The DWP has published guidance on the support (stop laughing) that will be offered to people claiming Universal Credit who have a dependency on drugs or alcohol. Claimants will be given six months to undergo what the Jobcentre calls ‘structured treatment’ during which period they may not be required to look or prepare for work. After this has elapsed however it will be a very diferent story.

      The guidance warns that any further treatment will only be taken into account in a Claimant Comitment if Jobcentre advisors agree this if the best way for a claimant to achieve their ‘employment goals’. This truly chilling move means that the newly named ‘work coaches’ will be able to demand someone attends workfare raher than continue with treatment for their condition. Jobcentre staff have no adequate training to make these decisions but they will now have more power over patients than the medical professionals treating them. It is not hard to imagine some jumped up sanction happy Jobcenre twat deciding someone who has relapsed needs a short sharp shock of forced work which they will possibly fail to attend and end up being sanctioned for.

      Of course the Jobcentre cannot actually stop anyone attending treatment. But if a counselling or support sessions happens to clash with what they’ve decided you should do that day then you may face benefits being stopped for choosing getting better over ‘work related activity’.

      The good news is that Iain Duncan Smith’s plan to force people into treatment seems to have been quietly abandoned, at least officially. The document states that: “You will not be forced by your work coach into receiving treatment.”

      It does not say what will happen if you refuse treatment. It all sounds a bit like so-called voluntary unpaid work schemes. There is a danger that if someone doesn’t agree to go into treatment then they may end up being sent on workfare instead.

    2. More dumb policies from illinformed and unsophisticated charlatans with no real insight into the issues.

    3. And just have a look at the line up for the new task force to assist with mental health- reads more like an SS squadron!


    4. Sign in required! Anyone got the details please?

  10. The CEO of Interserve says outsourcing frontline services is a must given the state of public finances...Still using the austerity argument. Complete mendacity of course. It's about screwing the workers and all those so-called senior leaders who have jumped ship presumably embrace this lie.

  11. And it is a myth, we can print the money and give it to individuals to spend and boost the economy, or we can pump prime the economy by spending on big infrastructure items. We don't always need to bail out the banks or give tax breaks to the rich. There is no reason what so ever not to do this, that is other than the corruption at the top and the 1% club we are excluded from.


  12. 19th December is a key date for a lot of deadlines within CRCs. Is this just a rush to get things done before Christmas?

  13. Jim, this might be of interest. The Personal Tax Statement George Osborne Doesn't Want You to See. Richard Murphy. Huffpost Politics UK.

  14. Here's a real life true vignette for all you Bidders. Think hard about what you are entering into. This happened today in the CRC. (Slightly abridged).

    Vulnerable, heroin using woman with a 20 week concealed pregnancy is beaten black and blue by her partner. Social Worker I've worked with for years phones to ask if I can help get her into a refuge and needs info on the man and how soon he will be released into the community.

    Me: Really sorry, I can't access his records.
    SW: Is he still on licence?
    Me: I don't know, I can't access his records.
    SW: He's being charged with GBH, can't you recall him?
    Me: I have no idea, I can't access his records.
    SW: Did you know he's not long out of prison for severely assaulting a previous partner who was heavily pregnant?
    Me: No, I didn't. I'm sorry to sound like a parrot but I have no access to his records.
    SW: The refuge need a risk assessment on your client, I know you can't send me the OASys but can you summarise it for me?
    Me: Unfortunately she is due in Court for another matter and NPS have taken the OASys to do the PSR. I no longer have access to my own records and because I've got 40 odd other cases, I can't remember it all off the top of my head.
    SW: This is just ridiculous.
    Me: I know! And dangerous and fucking stupid.

    1. Have you reported this to NAPO?

    2. Not yet. I didn't get home til nearly 8.00pm, having left my house at 8.15am. I didn't get time for lunch so I needed to eat and spend time with my family. I'll do it tomorrow.

    3. This is exactly the type(s) of examples we need to justify JR.

    4. That sounds scarily like conversations I've had with social workers. They call me as they have serious concerns about people I supervised whose supervision ended pre June this year and ask for risk details, order/licence details. My response? Sorry, I can no longer see records on the individual that I supervised and I can't remember. Please call NPS duty, that is if they have time to answer the phone as they're so overworked. Dangerous doesn't begin to describe it.

    5. I did ring NPS and their Duty Officer rang me back. Without a word of a lie, it was lovely young woman who worked in the CRC for 8 weeks before getting a place on the qualifying framework on the basis of her degree in Criminology. I mentored her briefly during her 8 weeks with us, she's now 6 weeks into her new role.

  15. I understand that we don't want to assist with Traditional and being in the Nps I am not in your position. However I continue to communicate with Crc colleagues and would have asked them to deal with the matter. I will not allow the split to take away the reason I joined probation to protect the public and enable others to make positive lifestyle changes. We must remain strong and care for each other.

    1. That is what makes you one of Mr. Grayling's favorites, with others like you TR is no shambles but a success.

      Well done.

    2. I think that is offensive. I am not in anyway assisting TR but I have to sleep at night. I think you are unfair to put me in the same sentence as that man for keeping my values. We are not selling sweets in a shop. If I could stop TR I would.

    3. You are assisting TR by turning up for work and doing your job. You can stop TR for yourself by resigning. You can enable others to make positive lifestyle changes in much more capable positions than anything Probation can offer to do.

    4. I think Anon 02:03's response is unhelpful, but I think you have missed the point - you may well be communicating with CRC colleagues and ask them to deal with the situation, but the simple point is, we can't, even though we might want to. We don't have access to the information anymore, and my own experience (similar situations to those described above, though not as serious) is that NPS colleagues aren't grasping the point that we can't see what they can see now. I will resist any suggestion that CRC staff are in anyway second-rate, but the systems are set up to give us second-rate information, and this is just plain dangerous. When other agencies start getting confused about who to ask about 'probation' cases, they will stop asking. This will be a factor in a serious case review within the next three months, I'm sure of it.

    5. I fully understand what is happening from having regular daily contact with Crc colleagues. We have refused to split our friendships and working relationships. I feel for us all. Be strong and care for each other

  16. Sorry auto correct changed TR to traditional

  17. Simon Hughes due on BBC Radio 4 about an item and not Mr Grayling. Item not about TR but where is Mr G?

    1. My guesses are: still cleaning off the graffiti on his constituency office; or setting up his post-election directorships with Sodexo and Interserve.

  18. TR is certainly taking its toll in our office. CRC and NPS all at each others throats. We used to be a really helpful friendly team. It feels as if the NPS has now moved on without us. They seem to find it hard to grasp why we are so agrieved they have forgotten how they felt before the sift when they were under threat of privatisation we are still in that position made worse by inadequate working practice.

  19. Just wanted to post the strap line of the company taking over London Probation CRC : BIONIC : stands for ....wait for it....believe it or not I care. That is the largest chunk of the privatised probation and they feel like they need to sound like a pre- teen action hero. FFS.

  20. I have read on here a few times about the new NPS officers being 'young' and 'women'. Why is this important? I really shouldn't have to write this but being young and female does not mean you cannot do your job. I know we don't mean this but it is what is implied when we talk about an officer's age and gender. Perhaps we need to consider this and our own prejudices.

    1. It's a very good point, however there is now a significant gender and age imbalance within the Probation Service that is not healthy, especially when a majority of clients are young men. For what ever reason there has been a complete inability to recruit men of any age into the Service in recent years and the same is true of psychology within the prison system.

  21. In my experience younger male clients respond better to younger PO's of either gender. I agree with anon @ 8.03 and in my opinion the blog and many of the replies have always (not just post TR) had the underlying view that young females do not do the job as well as older males. I agree the service probably would benefit from being more diverse in terms of gender and background of staff. However this does not equal the view that young female staff can't or don't do a good job just as all older/ experienced (male) staff are not all perfect either.