It might also be attached to Chris Grayling, whose arrogance, ignorance and contempt were plainly on show yesterday when he went before the Justice Affairs Committee. I thought this rather neatly summed things up:-
Chris Grayling, what a star! Winging it before the Justice Committee, submitting papers just hours before via email, telling them even he hasn't read the paperwork so they shouldn't complain about it to him, being argumentative, belligerent & supremely arrogant - even blaming the Committee for their poor choice of printer ink. Doncha just love him?Pat Waterman had this to say:-
TO NAPO MEMBERS:
The Wonderful World of Mr Grayling
When Mr Grayling first announced his plans, I promised members that wherever he was going to be I would try to be there too. So this morning David Raho and I went to a meeting of the Justice Select Committee where Mr Grayling, Mr Selous and Mr Spurr would be answering questions.
When we arrived Justice Minister Mr Selous was attempting to defend the MoJ’s failed policies in respect of the Prison Service. He was being assisted by NOMS CEO Michael Spurr The Justice Committee made it clear that the MoJ’s responses were far from satisfactory in that they had failed to predict the current crisis. I lost track of how many excuses were made but apparently the current crisis in our prisons is everybody else’s fault.
The committee had apparently asked Mr Grayling to attend three weeks earlier but something else had come up that was more important than answering questions about TR.
When Mr Grayling finally appeared he was immediately rebuked by the Committee Chair, Sir Alan Beith, for only supplying the paperwork that they had requested (which included Testgate Five) the previous evening. John McDonnell MP asked how they were supposed to have a meaningful discussion when they had not had a chance to read the papers.
It was noted that Mr Grayling may have had the papers in his possession since 27th November. He maintained that he had only just received the papers himself. Mr Spurr looked surprised as he no doubt had supplied them in good time.
Mr Grayling went on to say (despite a barrage of complaints from Justice Committee members that they had only just received the paperwork) that he would make the decision tomorrow whether or not to proceed to share sale.
If Mr Grayling is to be believed then he too had only just received vital paperwork that would presumably need several days to digest. Given the serious consequences of making a mistake maybe he ought to take advice before making the decision whether or not to proceed to share sale.
But Mr Grayling does not seem to need time to consider evidence before he makes a decision.
The Liberal Democrat MP Sir Alan Beith was not amused and declared that Mr Grayling’s behaviour, in respect of keeping the committee informed, was ‘not satisfactory’.
Mr Grayling stated that with regard to his TR plans ‘good progress had been made’. He praised probation staff for working hard to make his plans a reality
Mr Grayling was also anxious to tell the committee that there is no increased risk to the public as a result of TR because since 1st June there has been a decrease in the number of persons the probation service supervises.
You will, I am sure, be pleased to know that in the Justice Secretary’s view you have all had less work and there has been a decrease in the number of SFO’s. He also stated that in his view the real risk to the public was the 50,000 prisoners released who he claims have gone on to commit 11,000 violent crimes.
These figures were not challenged but we know to take most of what Mr Grayling says with an increasingly large pinch of salt. Mr Grayling also stated that there are 500 extra fully qualified PO’s. At this point MP’s had to be reminded to take it in turns to challenge the Justice Secretary.
Mr Spurr sprang to his assistance and explained to him, in front of the committee, that they were in the process of training new staff and that they had recruited a number of temporary staff in a desperate attempt to plug the gaps caused by experienced staff leaving at an unprecedented rate.
Mr Grayling clearly does not know the difference between probation service staff and frontline practitioners. ‘They’re all qualified to do risk assessments aren’t they?’ he said. Mr Spurr again did his best to try to rescue Mr Grayling from his own lack of knowledge.
Mr Grayling also claimed that regular meetings and consultations had taken place with the trade unions and that there had only been one single incidence of public safety being compromised..
The matter of “conflict of interest” was raised with regard to the Chief Inspector of Probation and his wife’s appointment as a Senior Manager in Sodexo. Mr Grayling said he had followed Cabinet Office guidelines and maintained he had only known about the potential conflict of interest two weeks ago. Justice Committee members appeared incredulous as they were told that Mr Grayling did not have involvement in the bidder selection process.
As I have said before, having been a Probation Officer for over thirty years, I know when someone is “making it up as they go along” and so it was with Mr Grayling this morning. In response to a question about the rising suicide rate in prisons he said he was “touching wood and keeping his fingers crossed” that there would not be any more.
Does this inspire confidence?
For those of you who would like to hear the meeting in full here is the YouTube link:
This from the Guardian website:-
Justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has told MPs he will press ahead with a decision on Wednesday to privatise the probation service, despite renewed public safety concerns and before the outcome of a high court challenge next week.Arrogance, contempt, ignorance - all epithets that fit easily where Chris Grayling is concerned. There he was on Monday night, sat on the green leather front bench, contemptuously ignoring opposition speakers during the debate on restricting Judicial Review. Later the same night, he sends documents to the Judicial Affairs Committee, knowing full well there will be no time to read them before his appearance the following morning. To add insult to injury, he admits he hasn't bothered to read the stuff either.
Grayling admitted that a conflict of interest row surrounding the sell-off has become more acute after the wife of the chief inspector of probation was promoted last week to run the company that is to take over the largest number of probation contracts.
Grayling told the Commons justice select committee he accepted there was a conflict of interest involving Paul McDowell, the chief inspector of probation, and his wife, Janine, who was promoted 10 days ago to managing director of Sodexo Justice Services, which has preferred bidder status for six of the 21 probation contracts.
The conflict of interest places a question mark over Paul McDowell’s future as chief inspector, and Grayling is to address the issue before the sell-off takes place.
Grayling also said the chief inspector of prisons, Nick Hardwick, who has proved a robust critic of prison conditions, would not automatically have his term extended next July but instead would have to re-apply for the post.
Under the £450m-a-year probation sell-off, the supervision of more than 200,000 low- and medium-risk offenders will be taken over by the private and voluntary sectors in 21 community rehabilitation companies. It is the most radical justice privatisation undertaken by the coalition government.
Grayling told the committee that his probation reforms were “firmly on track” and he would formally take the key decision on Wednesday to name the date for the sell-off early next year.
Regular readers will be aware that this particularly slippery customer got away with misleading Parliament back in July when claiming that names were not picked out of a hat for the purposes of 'sifting' probation staff into either CRC's or NPS. The Summer Recess seems to have saved his bacon on this and all I can say is that Parliamentarians seem to have very short memories. It's not the first time he's been accused of misleading Parliament either.
It's interesting to see that the national media have at last picked up on the 'mackerel and dumplings' prison story we discussed last week and Eric Allison of the Guardian senses Grayling's interfering, incompetent hand in it all:-
Grayling’s response to an ‘unhappy prison’ has spectacularly backfired
A three-week trial at Blackfriars crown court has ended and 11 prisoners have been acquitted of mutiny and criminal damage. The charges followed an incident at HMP High Down, a category B prison in Surrey, in October 2013, when the men barricaded themselves in a cell and demanded to see the governor. After hours of negotiations, a riot team stormed the trashed cell and ended the protest.
On the mutiny charge, the jury undoubtedly returned the right verdict. It is a serious crime. These men were indicted with “engaging in conduct intended to further a common cause of overthrowing lawful authority” at the jail. Excuse me; the men barricaded themselves into one small cell, crammed like sardines. How would they overthrow the regime from there?
On the criminal damage charge, it seems a surprising verdict to acquit them – the jury was clearly in sympathy with the defendants. What is more shocking is that there was no word in the national press of this trial and the verdict. I was alerted to it by blogger Alex Cavendish who blogs at prisonuk blogspot and the comprehensive coverage in the local paper.
"Barricading up” is a common form of protest in jails. Cells are small and prisoners can easily use beds and other furniture to block access. In prison, I barricaded up twice. Both times, I was, correctly charged with disobeying a lawful order to remove the obstacles. On both occasions, I was dealt with by the prison governor and incurred sanctions. That route was open to the High Down governor, or he could have asked a district judge to come in and adjudicate. The judge could have given the men an extra 28 days inside.
But this matter was taken out of the governor’s hands. The decision to charge the men with mutiny was taken by the Crown Prosecution Service, but it it is hard to imagine that justice secretary Chris Grayling was not involved. Perhaps he thought jurors would have been appalled by prisoners defying authority and convict them. If so, he has scored a spectacular own goal.
The prisoners were complaining that the quality of their lives had reduced dramatically after High Down was chosen to pilot a policy “New ways of working” aimed to make prisons more “meaningful”. In effect, it was a cost-cutting exercise. Staff were cut and prisoners spent longer in their cells during the day. Prisoners’ association time was cut. Prisoners use the telephone during association and they would not have taken kindly to having this vital link to the outside world restricted. The punitive policy smacks of Grayling.
The governor of High Down, Ian Bickers, told the court the changes were “not of our making. They were forced on us. We were trying to implement the new policy, which was done wrong by headquarters,” he said.
Post-trial, former prisons minister and local MP, Crispin Blunt, said in view of the governor’s evidence the acquittal was unsurprising and he questioned why the prosecution was brought? The smart money says it was orchestrated by Grayling, this incompetent minister, who refuses to take advice from people with experience of the penal system. High Down is probably best known for running The Clink restaurant for staff and visitors which provides training for prisoners who may want to work in the catering industry after release. But earlier this year, a report by the Independent Monitoring Board at the prison said 2013 had been a “dreadful year” for the jail and the changes had produced “an unhappy prison”. Grayling didn’t listen, he never does.Later today we are promised a Commons statement by this incompetent, arrogant and ignorant minister as to whether probation privatisation is deemed safe to proceed with, despite all the lies, misinformation and making stuff up as he goes along, like the 500 'extra' probation officers and caseloads having reduced by 20%.