Saturday, 1 November 2014

Wheels Coming Off

It will be interesting to see how long it is before Chris Grayling announces he has full confidence in Paul McDowell, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, now that we all know that his 'close relationship' with Sodexo is through marriage. Alan Travis of the Guardian last night outlined the whole astonishing situation:-   
Probation inspector at centre of row over wife’s job at outsourcing firm
The future of the chief of the probation watchdog has been put into question as a fresh conflict of interest row hit Whitehall. Paul McDowell, the chief inspector of probation, is at the centre of a row following the disclosure that his wife is the deputy managing director of a private justice company that this week won the largest number of contracts to run probation services in England and Wales.
The disclosure came shortly after Fiona Woolf stepped down as the head of an inquiry into historical child sex abuse after a conflict of interest row. McDowell was appointed by the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, to the crucial watchdog role last November. He is also a former chief executive of the crime reduction charity Nacro, which, in partnership with his wife Janine’s outsourcing company, Sodexo Justice Services, won six of the 21 regional probation contracts to supervise more than 200,000 offenders each year.
The Sodexo-Nacro partnership was named as preferred bidder to supervise tens of thousands of low- to medium-risk offenders in six parts of England, including in South Yorkshire, Essex, Northumbria, Cumbria and Lancashire, Norfolk and Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire as part of a £450m-a-year privatisation of 70% of the work of the probation service.
On Friday McDowell said he would not resign, saying that he had declared the conflict of interest when he applied for the £135,000-a-year job and that it could be “managed appropriately” by delegating inspections of the work of his wife’s company and his former charity. “My wife and I do not discuss issues which it is inappropriate for us to discuss. We are very aware of what is appropriate and what is not,” he interrupted his holiday to tell the Guardian. “We have acted with absolute integrity and professionalism … I will not be got at by anybody.”
But Sir Alan Beith, the chairman of the justice select committee, and the shadow justice secretary, Sadiq Khan, said the disclosure raised serious questions about McDowell’s independence. Beith is particularly concerned that his committee was not told of Janine McDowell’s leading role in Sodexo when they endorsed her husband as Grayling’s preferred candidate at a special pre-appointment hearing for the job last autumn. He said: “If the secretary of state was notified at the time of Mr McDowell’s appointment of the close family member, the justice committee should have been told. That interest has now become more significant now that Sodexo, as a preferred bidder, is likely to be directly involved in the provision of probation services with Nacro in six community rehabilitation company areas.”
Beith said that McDowell’s background had meant he was well suited to be a fully independent chief inspector. “The secretary of state and the committee will now need to consider the implications of the interest issue having become much more significant.” The conflict of interest was not disclosed in either the evidence submitted in a letter by Grayling to the committee, nor in a lengthy CV or in oral evidence. McDowell told the Guardian he could not remember the issue being raised in the hearing and he didn’t think it had been. The committee confirmed on Friday that it had not been disclosed.
Khan said that so far McDowell had been “all but silent” on reports of chaos in the probation service caused by the government’s privatisation programme. “With this information coming to light, some will question whether this silence is because of his links with a company and a charity that has hoovered up big chunks of the privatised probation system.”
On Thursday the justice minister, Simon Hughes, highlighted McDowell’s key role in monitoring Grayling’s shakeup. Hughes denied claims of daily chaos, telling the BBC Today programme: “The independent inspector of probation has alerted us to no concerns that the system isn’t moving across.”
When he appointed McDowell, Grayling said: “We are making radical changes to the rehabilitation of offenders, and we expect HMI Probation to play a vital role in maintaining high standards and shining a light across the new system, helping us to get the best from our crucial reforms.”
Khan said that during a critical period for the probation service it was crucial the chief inspector did his job without fear or favour and independent of government, political parties or big corporate interests.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The chief inspector of probation did not have any involvement in the procurement of probation services. The terms of his appointment include a commercial confidentiality clause. This includes members of his family.” Justice ministry sources said McDowell had always been upfront about the professional role of his wife. They also pointed to the legislation on potential or actual conflicts of interest involving chief inspectors which allows them to delegate all their duties, including signing off the report and leading on their media coverage.
Both the MoJ and McDowell believe the issue could be “worked out over the next week or so”. An MoJ spokesperson said: “Preferred bidders have only just been announced and as with any contract the department will, of course, ensure that any potential conflicts are fully evaluated and appropriate arrangements put in place as necessary.” 
McDowell said his role as a watchdog or in producing thematic reports would not be compromised by his withdrawal from inspecting the work done by Sodexo-Nacro. He said he would still be inspecting the work of the remaining 15 community rehabilitation companies, 150 youth offending teams and the rump national probation service. He insisted that inability to comment on the national probation situation or produce thematic reports would not be compromised as they did not involve assessing the work of an individual supplier. 
He said while he was chief executive of Nacro before he became chief inspector in January he had withdrawn from all discussions about a possible partnership with Sodexo and the negotiations had all been conducted by his chairman.The McDowells met while both were in the prison service. Paul was at one point governor of the public-sector Brixton prison, while Janine, was the director of the Sodexo-run Bronzefield women’s prison in west London.
Even if he doesn't know it yet, Mr McDowell will shortly be learning the harsh lessons of political reality as Grayling seeks to look after his own interests. But the chickens keep coming home to roost at the beleagured MoJ as the judiciary continue to turn on the Lord Chancellor. On Friday a very senior judge in the family division threw down the gauntlet and clearly intends to defy the ministry, as reported here in the Guardian:-  
Government ‘washing its hands’ of legal aid problem for vulnerable parents
A senior judge has accused the government of washing its hands of the problem it has created by failing to provide legal aid for vulnerable parents in child custody cases. In what amounts to a confrontation between the judiciary and the executive over who controls spending in the courts, Sir James Munby, president of the family division, has handed down a judgment saying “some state agency” should pay the costs of legal representation in a case. 
Munby’s judgment, delivered in stark terms, is one of the most direct challenges over legal aid funding thrown down by a judge. It is the second time that Munby has threatened to order the courts service to pay for legal representation that parliament has explicitly withdrawn. In August, he warned the Ministry of Justice in the parental access case of Q v Q that costs would have to be borne by Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) if a father’s right to a fair trial were to be upheld.
The language in the latest judgment, known simply as “In the Matter of D (A Child)”, goes even further. It relates to the removal of a child by Swindon borough council from his parents, both of whom have learning difficulties.
Munby explained: “What I have to grapple with is the profoundly disturbing fact that the parents do not qualify for legal aid but lack the financial resources to pay for legal representation in circumstances where, to speak plainly, it is unthinkable that they should have to face the local authority’s application without proper representation.”
Munby explained: “What I have to grapple with is the profoundly disturbing fact that the parents do not qualify for legal aid but lack the financial resources to pay for legal representation in circumstances where, to speak plainly, it is unthinkable that they should have to face the local authority’s application without proper representation.”
What could be worse for a parent, Munby asked, than having their child permanently taken away from them? The parents of child D are unable, because of their own problems, to represent themselves in court. Munby continued: “In these circumstances it is unthinkable that the parents should have to face the local authority’s application without proper representation. To require them to do so would be unconscionable; it would be unjust; it would involve a breach of their rights under Articles 6 and 8 of the [European convention on human rights]; it would be a denial of justice. The child is also entitled to a fair trial.”
Munby then went on: “Thus far the state has simply washed its hands of the problem, leaving the solution to the problem which the state itself has created – for the state has brought the proceedings but declined all responsibility for ensuring that the parents are able to participate effectively in the proceedings it has brought – to the goodwill, the charity, of the legal profession.
Actually this is as good a time as any to mention a few other chickens coming home at the MoJ and that got over-looked as we concentrated on TR. There's Graylings plans for a massive prison for child offenders and the mounting opposition discussed here on 
Critics frozen out of MoJ as Grayling pushes ahead with child warehouse plan
If you want to get Chris Grayling's attention, you need to appear in the Daily Telegraph. That's what he reads with his breakfast cereal. Apparently it's the only newspaper he cares about. Campaign groups took note of that as they tried to halt the creation of massive child prisons ahead of today's debate in the House of Lords. Their letter to the newspaper won the attention of Grayling's colleagues, Andrew Selous and Simon Hughes, who wrote to them to invite them in for a meeting.
But they didn’t invite all of them. The Howard League, of course, was rejected, along with a few others. The Howard League is persona non grata at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Grayling thinks they’re some sort of left-wing pressure group, rather than a critical voice from civil society. He imagines himself in a manner which is not dissimilar to a Chinese bureaucrat, conspired against by imaginary enemies.
We don’t know which other signatories were rejected, because the MoJ won't say. It could be Liberty, or the Prison Reform Trust, or Action for Children, or the Royal College of Psychiatrists, or any of the other groups who are intensely uncomfortable with the proposals.
"Thank you for your email," the MoJ reply said. "A selection of organisations working in the youth justice field were invited by Andrew Selous and Simon Hughes to discuss the secure college. In particular, ministers are keen to hear from those whose views have not perhaps been a matter of public record or as well-known, and/or who might not have had a chance to discuss matters with ministers previously. Therefore, we are keeping the cast list for the meeting to those who have received an invitation." All the classic MoJ traits are here: secrecy, an aversion to criticism, pushing on regardless of the evidence.
One might ask why the MoJ invited critics to discuss it at all, but when it comes to the child prison proposal critics are all you're likely to find. The plans go against everything we know about what works: small, family-style residences with a focus on rehabilitation.
Instead, we are building warehouses, dubbed 'secure colleges', to house 320 people, far away from home, at a cost of £85 million. Use of force will be a central part of the regime, even though the court of appeal found it to be unlawful in 2008. Chris Grayling's draconian approach to penal policy means violence is making a come-back. Restraint will be allowed "to maintain good order and discipline where a young person poses a risk to maintaining a safe and stable environment" – a definition so broad as to be applicable for the most minor of indiscretions.
Then there's this from the Law Society Gazette about possible claims:-
Compensation warning on parole delays
The Parole Board could face more compensation claims as it grapples with a growing backlog of cases requiring oral hearings, public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned. The board has estimated that the number of oral hearings each year could increase from 4,500 to more than 14,000 after the Supreme Court ruled last year that prisoners are entitled to an oral hearing more frequently than before.
In its report on the Ministry of Justice for 2013/14, the NAO notes that the board received additional funding to meet this challenge and was undergoing significant change as it developed a new operating model. The backlog of cases due to receive an oral hearing increased from 1,245 in September 2013 to 2,087 in March 2014.
‘The growing backlog of cases at the Parole Board will lead to further delays in releasing prisoners, making the Parole Board liable to more compensation claims and increasing the costs incurred by the prison system by extending the time prisoners are held,’ the NAO said. ‘It may also increase the number of prisoners held in crowded prisons.’
The 2013-14 National Offender Management Service annual report and accounts noted that 22.9% of prisoners were held in crowded prisons, where the occupancy exceeded the Certified Normal Accommodation in that unit. The average annual direct cost per prisoner was £26,000 in 2012/13.
Finally, a reminder that the MoJ is not very good at spending our money wisely, as reported here:-
MoJ launches “lessons learned exercise” after writing off £45m on abandoned court projects
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has promised to launch a “formal lessons learned exercise” after writing off £45.8m on abandoned building projects for new courts. The figure was contained in a National Audit Office (NAO) report ahead of a hearing this week of the justice select committee into the MoJ’s operations.
Sir Alan Beith, chairman of the committee, asked MoJ officials about the money which the department “seemed to have lost” at a hearing yesterday morning. Craig Watkins, director of finance and planning at the MoJ, said the projects were initiated “many years ago” prior to the creation of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) and the MoJ.
“They were initiated at a time when the financial context was very different and also the operational needs of the courts’ service at that point was different from what we now think it will be going forward,” Mr Watkins said.
Stop Press 

Grayling is a slippery character alright and with his PR background knows how to massage the media. He's come up with a brand new wheeze to grab public attention ahead of the General Election by just making an announcement regarding police cautions, as reported here by the BBC. I fail to see how it will be 'less bureaucratic'.
Police cautions 'to be scrapped' in England and Wales
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said victims should not feel that criminals are "walking away scot-free". Under the new system, offenders would make good damage they have done or pay compensation for less serious crimes. Those who commit more serious offences would face court if they fail to comply with conditions set out by police.
The system is to be trialled for a year in the Staffordshire, West Yorkshire and Leicestershire police force areas. If successful it will be introduced across England and Wales. The government says the new scheme - which will also give victims a say in how the offender is dealt with - will be both tougher and more simple.
Mr Grayling said: "It isn't right that criminals who commit lower-level crime can be dealt with by little more than a warning. "It's time we put an end to this country's cautions culture. I think every crime should have a consequence, and this change will deliver that. "Under the new system we are introducing, offenders will face prosecution if they fail to comply with the conditions set by the police, so that no one is allowed to get away with the soft option." 
The overhaul of out-of-court disposals would see conditional cautions, simple cautions, penalty notices for disorder, cannabis and khat warnings and community resolutions replaced by the new two-tier framework. First-time offenders committing minor crimes would face a new statutory community resolution as part of the scheme.
This could see them offering a verbal or written apology to their victim, paying compensation or fixing damage. More serious crimes would be dealt with by a suspended prosecution which would have one or more conditions attached, for example paying a fine, or attending a rehabilitation course. Suspended prosecutions would be traced on a criminal record but community resolutions would not, the Ministry of Justice said.
Mr Grayling added: "Our police officers do a brilliant job in keeping our streets safe. But victims should not feel like offenders are walking away scot-free. "I'm not prepared to allow the current situation to continue and that is why I am making these changes. "This new approach will empower victims and give them a say in how criminals are dealt with, as well as making it easier for officers to deal with more minor offences."
Chief Constable Lynne Owens, national policing lead on out-of-court disposals, said the reforms should reduce bureaucracy and help increase public understanding. She said: "The pilots seek to test a new approach which gives officers and staff the discretion to deal with cases appropriately. "It will engage the victim in the process and require offenders to take responsibility for their actions." Police officers will use their judgement to assess each offence, as they do with the current system.
Richard Monkhouse, chairman of the Magistrates' Association, said: "We have pressed hard for a simplification of cautions, so this pilot is welcome especially in empowering victims. "However, we need to see more detail on the measurement of the pilot's effectiveness because our members tell us there are existing challenges with local scrutiny panels in evaluating the current regime for out-of-court disposals. "It's also important that this doesn't lead to an over-escalation and criminalisation of behaviour currently dealt with by informal community resolutions."
"Community Resolutions are a good approach but this move intended to create illusion of fall in reconviction rate." Comment via twitter by Sally Lewis.


  1. If I was a top dog in Capita I would be thinking about appealing the bidding process. As how can it really be that the decision to give Sodexo so many areas is impartial. Wife of inspector of probation is x big wig in Sodexo and as such he is very unlikely to squeal if there are problems with his wife's company. Come in Capita kick up a storm you'll and other "losing bidders" have been had.

    1. All companies, A4E, Sentinel, do a legal challenge :D

  2. I heard directly from Innovo reps that once the 'winners' have been announced there is no course for redress. However, i'm wondering that with regard to due diligence it can work both ways ie, Sodexo now have time to trawl through data before they agree to sign on the dotted line - i'm wondering if the SOS can withdraw his offer on the grounds of information that's come to light since his announcement?

  3. Fiona Bruce only went to dinner parties with Brittan, but McDowell shares a bed with Janine. So we are to accept they only play Sudoku in bed, but never Sodexo. Didn't they even share a bottle of champagne to celebrate Sodexo's victories?

    He must have known there was a potential conflict of interest and not to disclose to the parliamentary committee was a serious misjudgement at best and a deceit at worst

    A conflict of interest does not need to be a reality, it's the public perception and public confidence that matters.

    1. Apologies: Woolf, not Bruce

    2. A Freudian slip easily made Netnipper lol

    3. Thank you for clarifying! My crush on Fiona Bruce was nearly shattered :-)

    4. I thought Mrs Woolf and Lady Britain were also on the same Magistrates bench together.

  4. Well perhaps the current HMI has the backing of the SoS we can see that , there may be the opposite in play too , remember Mike Maiden - he upset Grayling following his position been undermind by NOMS and eventually jumped ship to Carrillion backed CRR. Perhaps their lack of progress was not now to do with their ability such as it is but the vindictiveness of Grayling to put the knife in for previous upset? I am convinced there are many such stories of Shakespearean angst and intriń£ue within the whole debacle.

  5. What's the latest on Purple Sprouting Futures? Who'sgoing to be CEO ? I think Harry Fletcher was alluding that there was some dodgy connection.

    1. oh there is - its the talk of our canteen - i'll let it be revealed by those who can explain it more eloquently than I ever could.

    2. Or someone could just drop me a discrete email.....

    3. I will double check my facts and email u first thing Monday.

    4. You have a canteen Anon 9.30?Luxury.......

    5. Another historical gem. Is this the droid you were looking for?

      "Inter-serve's criminal justice team is headed by Yvonne Thomas, just one of the small army of senior civil servants formerly at NOMS/MoJ HQ who have feathered their own nest by jumping ship and in order to make sure their bids stand a good chance of being successful.

      "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.""

    6. Yvonne tells us in her own "SustainAbilities" blog:

      "We undertook a robust and lengthy due diligence exercise to assess our partners’ delivery capacity and decided on a volume of work for each partner that is realistic and commercially sustainable for both parties.

      Interserve would manage the financial risks of the TR contracts, allowing our partners to benefit from the stable cash flow a company of our size and scale can provide. We have created and published a ‘Charity Charter’ which sets out what we can offer our VCSE partners and, in turn, what we expect from them.

      Interserve prides itself on being a company which operates in a sustainable way.

      Our approach to TR aligns with the aims of our business-wide sustainability plan – SustainAbilities – which sets out ambitious targets for the business to achieve by 2020, two of which are to deliver public services in the public interest and to build more skills and opportunities.

      These commitments are fundamental to reducing reoffending. We would aim to deliver these objectives for significantly less than the current costs and the nature of the Payment by Results element of the contract means that we would only be fully paid when results are delivered, namely that reoffending is in fact reduced.

      These are old problems. It’s time for new solutions – this is what we commit to deliver."

    7. I think we're on the right track - thanks!

    8. The Times offered this morsel before the paywall clanged shut:

      "When Ken Clarke next locks up the Ministry of Justice at night, he might want to check just how many senior civil servants he has left on the premises. The Justice Secretary’s privatisation and contract plans for the prison and probation services have prompted a flow of executives to the burgeoning private sector “offender management” industry.
      The latest to quit is Yvonne Thomas, operations director of the National Offender Management Service. Ms Thomas is off to run the justice division of Interserve, best known for being a caretaker of buildings..."

    9. Interserve buildings maintenance seem to be coining it. 3 separate people in 3 vehicles sent to the same place on the same day, one to replace a light bulb . Each paid as highly qualified electrical or other engineers, none doing work that required their level of skill and each paid for hours of work when the problem was resolved in approx 30 minutes.


      " Big shot: Yvonne Thomas of Interserve

      Robert Lea Last updated at 12:01AM, February 7 2012

      Age 53
      Position Managing director, Interserve’s Justice division
      When Ken Clarke next locks up the Ministry of Justice at night, he might want to check just how many senior civil servants he has left on the premises. The Justice Secretary’s privatisation and contract plans for the prison and probation services have prompted a flow of executives to the burgeoning private sector “offender management” industry.
      The latest to quit is Yvonne Thomas, operations director of the National Offender Management Service. Ms Thomas is off to run the justice division of Interserve, best known for being a caretaker of buildings from schools to Buckingham Palace. There she will team up with an impressive group of fellow defectors, including the former heads of Noms’ large prisons and high-security prisons, respectively, as well as the former chief executive of the Probation Association. Interserve has been shortlisted to run three prisons up for privatisation. It expects more, as well as the contracting out of probation and rehabilitation schemes.
      Ms Thomas makes the point that Whitehall cost-slashing is making public sector offender management unsustainable, but she argues that private sector justice services are not necessarily about looking after prisoners on the cheap. “You have to ask yourself: ‘Why do you want to do this, are you qualified to do this and can you do a better job?’ ”
      Ms Thomas spent four years at Noms after a decade at BT, a spell preceded by a decade in software sales. She took an English degree from UWIST, the old Welsh University, and retains a house in the Principality. And despite being English, she supports the Welsh rugby team.

  6. Regardless of Paul McDowell's reported innocent intent, this clearly reads 'massive cover up'!
    Maybe we could ask Sodexo to run a new private prison for us AKA The Houses of Parliment... This place clearly houses some of the worst offenders of our time who think they are above the law

  7. This from the On Probation archives ref Interserve...

    “When the initiative was launched by the then employment minister Chris Grayling, he name checked a ‘voluntary sector organisation’ called Rehab Jobfit whose involvement was a ‘massive boost for the big society’. But Rehab Jobfit is in fact a joint venture between an Irish Charity called Rehab and Interserve, a distinctly non-voluntary sector PFI specialist, chaired by the conservative peer Lord Blackwell.
    Interserve has three ‘prime’ Work Programme contracts in Wales and the South West – but its public sector work is, alas, nothing to boast about. In 2009 the Office of Fair Trading fined it £11.6m for rigging the price of public sector building contracts after it and other builders carved up supposedly competitive bids on big public contracts such as hospitals. The fines followed an investigation into ‘cover pricing’, whereby companies put in artificially high bids to ensure another firm in the scam wins the deal.
    Interserve likes Work Programme contracts so much that last year it bought some more, taking over Business Employment Services and Training Ltd (BEST), which runs the Work Programme in West Yorkshire. Rehab Jobfit and BEST, now renamed Interserve Working Futures, receive at least £22m a year between them from Work Programme contracts.”

    1. Wow - I keep forgetting I've got an archive of stuff - thanks!

    2. Omnishambles 10

    3. If the public have no appetite/interest for what Probation does maybe an investigative journalist could really look into the awarding of the contracts of public services and kick up a s**t storm, the public would surely be interested in how certain elites are raking in even more of tax payers money while the rest of us struggle by in this time of austerity and when the crap services they all provide affect us directly, be it in CJS, benefits, hospitals. And just what are the Public Accounts Committee doing about it all? Aren't they supposed to get the tax payer best value for money? The corruptness of it all is beyond infuriating!!!

  8. From London Evening Standard earlier this year, looking at outsourcing etc. & some familiar names feature...

    "Companies that were awarded contracts to build and maintain state schools for 25 years have been doubling their money by “flipping”, or selling on, the Private Finance Initiative (PFIs) projects just four years after finishing them.
    The chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, Margaret Hodge, described the huge profits as “a total scandal” and said it meant “we have all been ripped off”.
    The Evening Standard’s sister paper The Independent’s findings shine a new light on how private companies have made fortunes in pure profit from the rising value of the schools and hospitals they have built – value which critics say could have been retained by the taxpayer.
    Four contractors alone made profits of more than £300m. Of the companies studied – Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Interserve and Kier – Balfour Beatty is by far the biggest beneficiary of the rising value of its Private Finance Initiative and Public Private Partnership deals. It alone has made profits of £188.9m.
    Only this week, it flipped the University Hospital of North Durham and seven schools in Knowsley, near Liverpool, generating a gain of £51m. In the case of the schools, it doubled its money from the £19m investment made when the 27-year contracts were awarded in 2007 and 2011.
    The Durham hospital, which was one of the first hospitals to be built under PFI-style private financing, was dogged with controversy about bed shortages and poor design when it opened.
    Carillion has made £12.2m, Kier £20.7m and Interserve £90m, according to stock market filings and company documents.
    Ms Hodge said: “It is a scandal, a total scandal that the public sector has privatised these projects so badly. We have all been ripped off.”

  9. I think that the timing of Paul McDowells appointment should also be questioned.
    Last November just as bidders were being lined up? Come on!!!!!
    Conflict of intrest? Or conspirasy?

    1. Conflict of interest and conspiracy are bed-partners, surely.

    2. Check out the We own it website

    3. Conflict of interest and conspiracy are indeed bed partners just like the inspector of probation and his wife from Sodexo

  10. Corruption to the Nth degree, the whole thing stinks

    1. It is as you say corruption, but that's how the government work. You can throw what you want at them, but they come out smelling of roses and trillion pounds richer, they just cast aside people like us, we are no completion for them. They don't care about poor services, they can afford to buy everything, medical care etc. its the poor, vulnerable, and sick in society that suffer, not their problem.

  11. I do believe that CS Grayling is the constituency MP for The Lord Blackwell, a resident of Epsom. Clearly Mr Grayling is taking excellent care of his constituents' best interests.

  12. Spitting feathers! Jobs for the boys/girls. Nepotism alive and well.

  13. Is it just me or is there also something inherently wrong with Interserve having the building contracts in areas where Sodexo are the preferred bidders? I can't understand how it can possibly be right that one company gives the keys to all its buildings to a competitor and allows them access when no one is there!

  14. More serious crimes would be dealt with by a suspended prosecution which would have one or more conditions attached, for example paying a fine, or attending a rehabilitation course. Suspended prosecutions would be traced on a criminal record but community resolutions would not, the Ministry of Justice said.

    Seems to have re-invented the original Probation Order

  15. As someone working in one of the pilot policing areas re: the new world of cautions...for "low level offences" I fear CG has no shame, understanding or common sense. He's like one of those annoying wind up toys, same matra and lacking direction.

    'The pilots seek to test a new approach which gives officers and staff the discretion to deal with cases appropriately. "It will engage the victim in the process and require offenders to take responsibility for their actions." Police officers will use their judgement to assess each offence, as they do with the current system.'

    We routinely recieve a copy of the previous 24 hour arrest sheet - it's great, as you get a sense of what's happening across the board..who gets arrested, for what and what the Police do about it..police/court bail, simple caution or no further action. I frequently get annoyed at the sheer number of domestic incidents and assualts by beating that receive a simple caution, so maybe there wll be a change there...however, to what?

    Making apologies and writing letters to your victim,okay if you break a shop window, less appropriate if you have assaulted your partner. Maybe they will attract the suspended prosecution, and they will be made to do the shopping and laundry for 28 days, in lieu of compensation? Who decides, the Police have never been very good at exercising their discretion....and what of the shop window..who will provide the equipment, get the perpetrator to the shop and oversee fixing the window, and that they don't fill their boots with items displayed in said window? Who will be running the rehabilitation courses and what will they lok like?

    More back of a fag packet, manipulationation of victims and the electorate; as I said no shame!

  16. It's corrupt and it is the end of democracy, we have been shafted by the elite and all we can do is talk about it, there is no recourse.

    Our management and the management of all public sector bodies are part of the problem they are either stupid or part of the grand corruption. The elite have manipulated management and staff over the last 20 years, we can see it now but we can do nowt about it.

    There is a chasm opening up in society, who will fill it is the question, authoritarian fascists or some more progressive alternative, your guess is as good as mine.

  17. Paul McDowell, is not only an ex prison governor, but he also worked for a time at the MoJ under the minister responsible for prisons and probation.

  18. So the Inspector for Probation is ANOTHER prison manager. It's no wonder we are in a bad space.


    2. As Chief Executive of Nacro, the largest crime reduction charity in the UK, Paul McDowell brings the experience gained during his career in the criminal justice system, including three years as governor of HMP Brixton, to the organisation’s efforts to reduce reoffending.

      After joining the Prison Service in his late 20s with few qualifications, studying at the University of Central England (now Birmingham City University) gave Paul the chance to add a professional and theoretical underpinning to the practical knowledge and experience he already possessed.

      "After I’d been in the Service for about seven years, I was working as a junior prison governor at HMP Gartree when a good friend and former colleague, Professor David Wilson, who had just joined the University and set up the course, suggested I might be interested."

      "From HMP Gartree, I was promoted to Feltham Young Offender Institution in West London, and from there I was seconded to the office of the Prison and Probation Minister as assistant private secretary, where I was responsible for all Prison Service matters within the Minister’s office. I returned to Feltham as Deputy Governor and was then promoted to prison governor, firstly at HMP Coldingley and then HMP Brixton, before the opportunity with Nacro came up.

      "The charity provides a wide range of services, from the provision of housing and education support to ex-offenders, to campaigning and facilitating debate at a national level to influence government policy."

      In 2013, Paul was appointed to a further high-profile role as HM Chief Inspector of Probation, which he took up early in 2014, that sees him head up the body responsible for monitoring the effectiveness of all probation services, including work with adults, children and young people who have offended.

      "Studying the Diploma in Criminal Justice at UCE and then later a Master’s in Criminology and Prison Studies at the University of Cambridge gave me an academic grounding and theoretical knowledge to build on the practical experience I had built up working in the Prison Service. The course was stimulating, interesting and very different from my day to day work environment. For me, it wasn’t about learning for the sake of it – it was an attempt to build my theoretical understanding of the criminal justice world I was working within, and find a way to apply that learning practically in my prison work."

  19. BBC Radio 5 live - 5 live Investigates, 02/11/2014 Due to Feature #Probation 11am Sun 2nd Nov listen live or later!

  20. Prisoners Education ‏@PrisonersEd

    Fancy coming to our 25th annual lecture with Michael Spurr? This year hosted by @HighSheriffGL DM us for reservation!

    17 Nov 2014

    PET 25th Anniversary Lecture

    Michael Spurr CB, Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service will be giving PET’s 25th anniversary lecture: 'Using time, not just doing time: A constructive and humane regime for long sentenced prisoners' which will examine the challenges faced by long-sentenced prisoners who wish to continue their learning and use their time inside effectively.

    The venue

    The lecture will be held at:

    Clifford Chance LLP,

    10 Upper Bank Street,

    Canary Wharf,

    E14 5JJ

    6.00pm for 6.30pm · Wine reception to follow
    Booking required · Donations welcome

  21. 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 whatnot and Chris wants you to bad mouth the NPS again...if you get a minute
    Him: TR dear, what's that?
    Her: Darling dont try and think, you know it gives you indegestion, just issue the report that I wrote for you, I left it on the bedside table...
    Him: Yes dear
    Her: And dont forget Chris is coming to tea tonight-he doesnt want to hear how well the NPS is doing...that's not news, he doesnt 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??

  22. How many unannounced probation inspections are Sedoxo likely to have over the period of their contract I wonder?
    I wonder too what the Probation Institutes posittion is on all this?

  23. I think we should ask the Competitions and Markets Authority to investigate. I don't have access to Word at the mo so can't fill this I myself. Does anyone else think it's worth a try?

  24. The probation institute is a political fiction. But at least it is a symbol of unity for the MoJ, the private companies and the unions. And a nice little earner for the academics.

  25. We have got to widen this fight the competition and markets authority are in the pockets of the liars. Next week Dr Bob Gill and peter Bach are releasing a film about the undermining and privatisation of the NHS by the politicians and bankers, the same people that are killing us off. The film is called " Sell Off" and it will be free on youtube and other formats. The film is simply to raise awareness in an attempt to build resistance from below. If it gets any traction we along with other public sector bodies should do likewise. In my view we are in a fight to the end(public sector) we need to recognise it for what it is. The three main political parties are all in it together, they aint going to help. The Doctors understand this.


    1. Totally agree with this. The entire fabric and ethos of public services is being destroyed, not in the name of effectiveness and efficiencies but for a select few to line their pockets. There are some services which should never be privatised. And you're right Papa, all the parties subscribe to the same ideology, there is no sense of morality with any of them. They do not represent the people, we do not live in a true democracy when there is nothing to choose between any of them and they are all as corrupt as one another. They keep us trapped by the force fed consumerism, the belief that we all have to have bigger and better things and weighed down with massive mortgages, we all meekly go along with it. And this is why nothing will ultimately change, the power is not with us, it's with them and they know it. However wrong TR is, it will not change; even if the JR delays it, it will come eventually.


    1. Re 00.19 anon - Is CG going thro' his 'bucket list' , ticking off his the- public- will -support- me intentions before he is terminated (or exterminated)?

      10 years ago I was supervising a very high risk paedophile who was made subject to a Sex Offender Order following release with a string of licence conditions, which enabled police to monitor his whereabouts within a tight exclusion zone- not very successfully as he would tell me where he would see them hanging around, identifiable by their standard 'plain-clothes' suits and coat and shifty look! I asked if it would be possible to tag him with a tracker device, and they said that would be phenomenally expensive, as opposed to paying 2 officers for 'hanging' around' until he would hop on a bus and be gone!

      How much then would it cost to fit trackers on hundreds of high risk offenders??? - or is this just more vote catching propaganda?

    2. The article says that eventually everyone on licence will be tagged!!
      Does that mean a 30 year tag for lifers and IPPs? 5 year tags for those sentenced to 10 years? Or just 6 months on tag for the 50,000 thats about to become subject to supervision from the 12 month and under cohort?
      Grayling has become an embarressment to the government, and he knows it. He's just spouting any old shite now.
      Such a plan as reported above in the Mail would surely exceed IDSs millions wasted on universal credit.
      With the governments continuous bleating about austerity and 1000nds of people being pushed to use food banks, where is Grayling getting the money from to fund such an expensive policy?
      The nation is obviously not as poor as we're led to believe, if we can afford to pay private companies for extensive periods of tagging as well as supervision of criminals!
      It makes me feel sick, really really sick.

    3. Dangerous criminals nearing the end of their sentences who are released from prison for the day are to be fitted with new satellite tracking devices to ease public fears over safety.
      Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is planning to introduce the new tags next month, The Mail on Sunday understands.
      The most serious offenders – including murderers, rapists and armed robbers – will be tagged first, but by the end of next year, Mr Grayling wants all of the 1,500 prisoners who are released on ‘temporary licence’ each day to be tagged.
      Basic tags have been used by the prison system for the past 15 years, mainly for minor offenders who have been offered early release or a non-custodial sentence.
      They are linked to a ‘base station’ in their homes, only allowing the prison service to check whether they have obeyed a dusk-to-dawn curfew order.
      The new models are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which means if offenders go on the run the police can find them immediately.
      The system, which has to be worn 24 hours a day – ‘bath, bed, everything’ according to a source – contains a battery that is recharged from the mains. The police are alerted if the tag runs out of charge.
      Mr Grayling is introducing the new devices after a spate of cases in which convicts have committed violent crimes after absconding from open prisons.
      Earlier this year Michael Wheatley – an armed robber known as the ‘Skull Cracker’ because he pistol-whipped his victims – committed an armed robbery at the same building society he had held up at gunpoint 13 years earlier after failing to return to Standford Hill open prison in Kent.
      It was the third time Wheatley, 55, who was sentenced to 13 life sentences at the Old Bailey in 2002, had absconded during his criminal career. He evaded capture for four days.

    4. "The new models are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, which means if offenders go on the run the police can find them immediately." How do they find them if they have let it go flat or have cut it off?

    5. Exactly - it's just a bit of PR bollocks for the press and public in a lead up to election time.

  27. I can't sleep anymore, but it's not because of my conscience.
    How can you sleep Grayling? And how can you sleep Cameron for allowing such an idiot to run amock and destroy millions of peoples lives?
    Shame on you both, you deserve nothing from life.

    1. A senior family court judge has condemned the injustice of the newly pared-back legal aid system after an illiterate mother of four, with poor sight and hearing, was forced to represent herself in a court hearing over the custody of her children.

      In an unusual step, Judge Louise Hallam warned that the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was not being given the opportunity of a fair trial and that she believed others around the country were also being let down.

      Hallam told the hearing: “If legal aid is being refused to people such as this, I am satisfied that injustices will occur … Mothers in her situation should have proper and full access to the court with the assistance of legal advice.”

      Parents involved in custody battles are no longer eligible for legal aid following cuts imposed by the justice secretary Chris Grayling in April last year. As a result, the number of parents in cases involving children without legal representation has since jumped by 48%.

      Ministry of Justice figures, obtained by the law firm Slater & Gordon under the Freedom of Information Act, show that for the first time a majority of such parents are not legally represented.

  28. "The 'New Local Government Network', which calls itself a think-tank, campaigns for more private sector involvement in the public sector. On the board of the NLGN is Professor Paul Corrigan, who also works in the Department of Health as a special adviser to Alan Milburn. The organisation lobbies ministers on behalf of more than 40 corporate sponsors, who between them contribute up to £500,000 a year. Sodexho is one of the NLGN sponsors who has also gained lucrative NHS contracts. Professor Corrigan is also married to Hilary Armstrong, Labour's Chief Whip.45 "