Wednesday, 31 December 2014

End of Year Ramblings

The last day of the year has finally arrived and I really must find something to say, not least because I notice the comment thread on the last post has sprung into life. It's been a good break, but the novelty is definitely wearing a bit thin and I'm definitely missing the banter.

Lets start with the news that the former CEO of London, Heather Munro, follows a previous illustrious incumbent, one Paul Wilson, in being elevated to the Order of the British Empire. Idly googling around, I see she's also become a trustee of the Centre for Justice Innovation, a very strange Anglo-American outfit that seems to operate well below the radar:-
With a commitment to sharing learning between the US and UK, the Centre combines research and international evidence gathering with expert support to front-line practitioners to help build a more innovative and dynamic criminal justice system.
She joins the likes of this anonymous chap, someone I've never heard of, but I get the very uneasy feeling it's his like that are pulling the strings behind the scene:-   
Gordon Wasserman is an internationally recognised expert in policing and criminal justice.
From May 2010 to March 2012, Lord Wasserman was Advisor on Policing and Criminal Justice to Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May. In January 2011, he was appointed to the House of Lords as Lord Wasserman. He is a member of the Conservative Party in the Lords where he takes a special interest in policing and criminal justice matters.

From 1983 to 1995, Lord Wasserman was Assistant Under Secretary of State for Police Science and Technology in the Home Office. In 1996 he moved to the USA as special adviser to the Police Commissioner of the NYPD. From 1998 to 2002, he was chief of staff of the Philadelphia Police Department. He subsequently set up his own consultancy practice and, in that capacity, provided strategic advice to a number of other US police departments, the US Federal Government as well as to US and UK companies serving the public safety market. Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Lord Wasserman came to England initially as a Rhodes Scholar.
I notice they are holding a conference in February 'Better Courts 2015' in conjunction with the New Economics Foundation and given the current destruction of the Probation Service, this sort of guff gets me pretty angry:-
People in trouble – whether it’s addiction, debt or homelessness – often find that their problems lead them to court. But, all too often, courts don’t have the tools to address those underlying issues. However, emerging evidence from around the world suggests that innovative new approaches can help courts to find more effective ways of handling the most difficult cases. By connecting to social services, holding people to account more effectively and ensuring that justice is seen to be done, courts can find long term solutions to complex problems.
Of course 2015 is election year and I'm going to really enjoy seeing that weasel Nick Clegg getting his come-uppance and for no better reason than his two-timing abandonment of Probation. For those with long memories, it could potentially be as enjoyable as seeing Michael Portillo getting booted out of Enfield. 

Just to allay any concerns, I fully intend to keep the blog running in order to catalogue the on-going TR omnishambles and closely examine the innovative new ideas that emerge from Probation's naive and blissfully ignorant new owners. It should prove interesting to say the least. I'd also like it to continue to be a lively platform for informed debate and hopefully mutual support in what will inevitably be another difficult and traumatic period for everyone that cares about Probation.  

2014 has been a hell of a roller-coaster year for this blog. It took four years to get the first million hits, but the second million is likely to only be a few months away. Quite amazing when I reflect on the sheer power of words, bashed out on a laptop connected to the internet. No wonder politicians are getting jittery with so many people now publishing and communicating directly with each other and bypassing mainstream media which so often is seen to be falling down on the job.

So, here's to another lively, informative, thought-provoking and fun year! Please keep the info coming in and please feel free to make contact with ideas or text for guest blogs - they always get a good reception and it gives me a bit of a break. 

Warm thanks go out to all my readers and contributors, as it's you that makes this blog what it is and makes it all so worthwhile. I'm always blown away by the erudition and wit that appears on a daily basis, even in such difficult times, and it continually reminds me why Probation is such a special family. I will be raising a glass to you all tonight. 

Happy New Year!    

42 comments:

  1. Number 10 in Guerilla Policy's Most read Blog of the Year was from Jim: -

    http://www.guerillapolicy.org/justice/2014/01/13/graylings-political-epitaph/

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  2. People in trouble – whether it’s addiction, debt or homelessness – often find that their problems lead them to court. But, all too often, courts don’t have the tools to address those underlying issues. However, emerging evidence from around the world suggests that innovative new approaches can help courts to find more effective ways of handling the most difficult cases. By connecting to social services, holding people to account more effectively and ensuring that justice is seen to be done, courts can find long term solutions to complex problems.

    Angry Jim....Incandescent....

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  3. oh good, someone from the conference must be about to invent probation work....

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    1. I always try to look on the Brightside but i'm dreading work this year - we've all one day training on the Offender Rehabilitation Act in January and 1st Feb the new owners take over, i'm dreading seeing what their masterplan is especially as they have admitted that prior to signing up they were not totally aware of staffing etc. Actually the more I think of it the more nervous I get.

      .

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  4. Jan 25th is the day of the next general election in Greece, Syriza the party of the left will ,in all probability, win the election.Syriza promise to: give all sacked public sector workers their jobs back, nationalise transport and the utilities,start a massive programme of infra-structure building, bring back the minimum wage. Oh and they are to nationalise the banks.

    This has scared the bastards to death, the stock market fell and will fall again as they implement their policies. If they can make a go of it, Spain and Italy may well make a move too. This is a great start to 2015.

    papa

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    1. This is pure delusion, I am afraid. Syriza will not be able to afford their rash promises. Greece need to pay down their debts in order to get their finances back on track. How are they intending to pay for their 'massive programme of infra structure building' -who will lend them the money?

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    2. The delusion is all yours, the delusion that there is "no alternative" to the markets. They TAKE the money: from the rich, the tax dodgers the multinationals. Along with podemos in spain, the radical independence movement in scotland, and others, we CAN create a new and better europe. Or you can just bow down to your neoliberal masters.

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    3. You can't buck the market. State planning leads to financial ruin. A mixed economy, socially responsible entrepreneurs and philanthropists are needed, but wealth has to be created.

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    4. 12.24- "this has been a political broadcast on behalf of the neoliberal parties".

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  5. Fuck it I'm moving to Greece. NAPO as a union has failed, corrupted CEO's have sold out, Gov selling everything out to private firms - bastards all of them. Here's wishing them a fucked up new year.

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  6. Just have to take this opportunity to thank Jim Brown for his excellent work in the past 12 months, keeping us all informed, allowing debate and bring us a central point to vent our continued anger at the MOJ and their flawed TR policy. I wish you and your family a Happy New Year, I am sure 2015 will bring another rollercoaster of emotions for us all. God bless you, your family and ALL my probation friends/colleagues where ever you sit - #probationbettertogether #probationreunification - lets fight on.

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    1. some are becoming deluded by thinking there is fight still to had. #napoworking4moj

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  7. Just what she was promised for services rendered. Hopefully those convinced that St Heather opposed TR will finally realise that you do not get an OBE if you have in any way upset the government of the day. She is no doubt held in high esteem in the corridors of power for helping to make Graylings dreams come true whilst convincing her defenders and loyal followers that she was doing the opposite. Thanks JB for letting us know what she has been up to. I for one would rather that a person of principle and integrity such as David Scott had got one

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    1. Brace yourself for the backlash from all the HM defenders who may take a break from their celebrations to tell us all that up is the new down and HM was a beacon of light in the darkness of TR and other verbal inexactitudes of gargantuan proportions.

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    2. Would it be naughty to suggest that Heather munroe got an OBE and the trappings that came with it to keep quiet about MOJ cuts and the TR disaster unfolding.

      Also she has landed a plum job with justice innovation. Guess its who you know than what you actually stand for

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    3. Posted on behalf of a third party:-

      Hello Jim, Hooray! and welcome back. I am delighted you are once again at the controls in Blog HQ. I would like to say to Papa that I too hope Syriza in Greece can show the world the way forward. Can you just imagine the shock waves and how the international ruling class will respond to such a momentous victory? The vast majority of our labour politicians are absolutely bankrupt in terms of their policies and support/protection of the working class. Blue Labour sums them up a treat.

      Thank you to Annon 13:24 - I echo your comments and would also like to say that I too will fight on in 2015, in any way I can, directly and indirectly. For starters, there are a lot of spanners about!

      Blwyddyn Newydd Dda from Wales

      The Blog Addict

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    4. I met a former CEO from one of the Probation Trusts recently and they commented that the Chiefs who did stand up were definitely counted in October 2013 by the MoJ and were therefore highly unlikely to receive any establishment recognition for their work to bring crime down in their areas and meet targets etc.

      http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/28/chris-grayling-delay-probation-service-privatisation


      In stark contrast to the few that did oppose TR Heather Munro was called upon repeatedly to publicly state concerns about TR - by Napo and others. Her supporters said that she had some concerns. However, words said in private are one thing but actions speak louder and her supporters even suggested that she was acting strategically playing for time when she did exactly what the MoJ asked her to do whilst refusing point blank to put up even the feeblest public resistance. Had there actually been more public resistance and backbone shown by the CEO of the largest probation trust, a protest resignation, or even a statement of concern in the form of a letter to the press, then this may well have made some prospective bidders think twice and for the MoJ to delay plans. She knew what was coming and worse and decided to do nothing. Instead her supporters and former team were rewarded and encouraged to take advantage of the new opportunities and she even had the gall to attack those who were campaigning against TR implying that their criticisms of her apparent collusion with the MoJ were completely unfounded. The MoJ of course has since commented that they are grateful to and could not have done what they have done without help and support of the former trust staff - people such as Heather Munro OBE. Judging by the numbers of former trust staff now seconded to NOMS helping to make bad plans work I would tend to agree with them. History is sometimes rewrittten by the victors but I think most people on this blog know who the fighters for probation have been and Heather Munro was not one of them.

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    5. I would say keep an eye out for former CEO's and upper management that spring up in "Charities", "Non Profits" and act as consultants and snake oil sales persons touting there wares.

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    6. Some other responses to those awards here: -

      http://tinyurl.com/nk24w4h

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    7. https://twitter.com/JoMeadCX/status/550246451671203840

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    8. Thank god pat waterman won the london branch election. She had munro sussed long ago, and yet pat's opponents made great play of how she was so disrespectful of munro. Ad far as I can see, she wasnt disrespectful enough of that oaf

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    9. Munro even banned Pat Waterman from her Roadshows as she kept asking her and her minions difficult questions. Pat had no time for Munro's carefully constructed public persona and clearly saw straight through her. She kept asking her what she was going to do and her answer to Pat was to say she was concerned but she chose to accept whatever the NOMS/MoJ wanted her to do without too many questions asked. Wasn't disgraced ex Napo Chair Tom Rendon aka Harris an apologist for and supporter of Munro?

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    10. Dunno if rendon was a supporter of h.munro, but he certainly wasnt very critical. Who is "harris" by the way? Does he have an alias now?!

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  8. From the most recent Adam Curtis blog regarding the politics of distraction & confusion:

    "Politicians used to have the confidence to tell us stories that made sense of the chaos of world events.

    But now there are no big stories and politicians react randomly to every new crisis - leaving us bewildered and disorientated.

    And journalism - that used to tell a grand, unfurling narrative - now also just relays disjointed and often wildly contradictory fragments of information.

    Events come and go like waves of a fever. We - and the journalists - live in a state of continual delirium, constantly waiting for the next news event to loom out of the fog - and then disappear again, unexplained.

    And the formats - in news and documentaries - have become so rigid and repetitive that the audiences never really look at them.

    In the face of this people retreat from journalism and politics. They turn away into their own worlds, and the stories they and their friends tell each other.

    I think this is wrong, sad, and bad for democracy - because it means the politicians become more and more unaccountable."

    He presented a fascinating narrative in Charlie Brooker's 2014 Wipe (now on iplayer) which, for example, asked why there's been no fuss about the funnelling of the £billions of quantitative easing directly into the pockets of the richest 5%, whilst 95% of us are subjected to austerity measures, wage freezes, cost of living cuts.

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  9. Hi, I packed up and finished on VR an hour ago. I'd be interested in doing a guest blog in the new year, Jim. Is there a email address somewhere on the blog for submissions?. Tony

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  10. at the righthandside of this page go up to where it says 'jim brown about me' and click on his name, it takes you to the email details.

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    1. Nice one. Thanks. Tony

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  11. Happy New Year Jim, it's going to be emotional I'm sure. Thanks for everything but especially the gin. J x

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  12. Sodexo start work in Cumbria and Lancs on Monday morning.........the theory of profit and loss prevails........they profit, the public lose

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    1. What are they doing?

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    2. Asset stripping then handing it back once they've picked the carcass clean.

      Plus la change'.....

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  13. Posted on behalf of a third party:-

    To Captain Scott, 18:15

    Oh Hell! The reality, enormity and immediacy of Sodexo starting in Cwmbria and Lancs on Monday stopped me in my tracks. Whatever they are doing fills me with dread and anxiety.

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  14. welcome back Jim, your blog is addictive and means so much to so many people on a national scale, bringing Probation staff (and ex-staff) together like nothing else has ever done, and I was surprised I didn't see your name in the Queen's honours list !!!!!!

    And as I'm lazy, I'm using this comment to wish both you AND Joanna a Happy New Year!! I feel as tho' I have 2 new friends. Cheers and good on yer both!

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  15. Wishing you Jim & others on the blog happy new year

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  16. Happy new year to jim and everyone here on the blog . Tho I feel quite low about what is to come for probation

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  17. Happy New Year!
    My resolution is to undertake my duties, it is what I get paid for... but to resist TR with every fibre of my being. TR is not over it is only the beginning because we have yet to experience the implementation of NPS and its forthcoming cuts and of course now the contracts are signed, to see just what will happen in each of the CPAs.
    So my friends, let's be grateful to Jim and his blog and let us continue to see what starts to unfold. I have often referred to this blog as a place of testament and IMO this has a real value to practitioners. I watch with interest from within to see if what was predicted here, comes to pass.
    Passive resistance or disguised compliance? Perhaps both.
    Courage my friends!

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    1. Mine is t undertake them FOR the hours I get paid. No longer the extra mile for me. Every time I get allocate a case an email will go to my manager querying caseloads and what they don't want me to do. I'll also BCC my personal email address for back-up evidence. Passive resistance my arse, it's all out warfare!!!

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    2. We have been reduced to serfs, commodities to hit targets and get money for our masters and on the backs of the poor.

      papa

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    3. I second this. 2015 will be the year of turning people round simply to maximise profit. The jails will fill up with all short term sentences as we are unable to convince the Court that a period of supervision will be better than a short custodial as they know they get this regardless and at that point more private companies will come in to make money.

      The snowball has started rolling.

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  18. 31years in. Top of my scale, another year without a pay rise in fact taking everything else into account a pay cut for the fifth year in a row. I can assure all of the idiots currently running the NPS that you won't be getting anything other than basic involvement from me until I can find a way out of this crap..

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    1. Taking inflation into account, you've had a pay cut for the past five years. If only there was some job out there where you could give yourself a 10% pay rise. Hmmmm' And for doing a job you have no skills to do!!!!

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  19. i feel your pain but you are still in a favourable position to those at the lower end of the scales, i feel like telling them to shove their £190 per annum increment BEFORE tax etc as it is a bloody insult.

    I too will be doing the bear minimum to scrape by.

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