"British governments of all political colours have been too promiscuous about transferring activities to the private sector. Not every public service lends itself to going private. The powers invested in the state for sensitive services such as prisons can never be adequately captured in a contract, and should not be supplied by private contractors. The government must control its temptation to outsource on all fronts. The rush to outsource the probation service is a case in point."Then we learn from the GLB website this:-
"You can also see more than a little Napo GLB influence in this FT Editorial."
Then today the FT published a clearly well-informed article, highlights from which are:-
Bids for £800m privatisation of probation service due on Monday
Private companies are finalising bids for £800m a year in contracts to run UK probation services, one of the government’s most ambitious privatisations so far.
The move to create a market in probation services on this scale is untested and will be closely watched worldwide.
Although some US states and European countries have outsourced parts of their probation services – including Austria, for example, through Neustadt, a private not-for-profit organisation – this is the first time that core probation services have been privatised anywhere.
Paul Senior, professor of criminology at Sheffield Hallam University, said the move was “unprecedented”. “Everywhere else the state has always retained oversight of the core services, so this model is completely untested,” he said. The process will be watched in Australia and in eastern Europe, where many countries are introducing probation services based on the old model used for England and Wales.
The plans are going ahead despite fierce opposition from MPs and peers of all parties, who say they are being rushed through ahead of next year’s election. Both the Justice and the Public Accounts select committees have registered their concerns, while the National Audit Office has also warned of risks.
Napo, the probation workers union, which strongly opposes the outsourcing, says staff – now divided between the new community rehabilitation companies and the national probation service – are struggling to cope. Napo says that computer failures with a new IT system have wiped thousands of offenders’ files, many staff have left leading to increasing vacancies, and morale is low.And here is the background to that article as detailed on the GLB facebook page:-.
Financial Times reports that Bids for £800m privatisation of probation service due on Monday
Every article out there has a history. This particular article started life after a chance meeting outside the Serco AGM with Financial Times journalist Gill Plimmer who heard Napo GLB Chair Pat Waterman talking to SERCO CEO Rupert Soames about the Community Payback contract in London. Both parties realized the significance of this meeting and stayed in touch.
Pat leads from the front and knows that activism is not just about staying in an office sending emails and meetings with senior managers but involves getting out there and talking to members, building working relations with key people in the media, government, establishing links with other trade unions, and other relevant organisations.
As a result of briefing journalists like Gill about what the government is doing regarding probation they are able to write knowledgeably about the issues. All articles of this type are at pains to ask all parties involved to comment but rely on a variety of experts as information contained in them has the potential to wipe a lot of value off share prices of companies mentioned.
We are fortunate that this is something Pat (who was a former union press officer) and her team prioritise and work hard to achieve and as a result we now have a formidable network that is unprecedented in Napo in London's history and we are are fast becoming the 'go to' for the media on a variety of criminal justice and probation stories - causing Grayling a considerable headache.
Some results are immediate whilst others take a bit of planning and building over several months to come to fruition and where a story is a national one Napo HQ are always notified and involved. As a result you are now seeing a flurry of well researched articles in national newspapers and will continue to see these from now on.
More articles are in the pipeline.
In order to view the article you need to register on the FT website and you can view eight articles a month for free.
Well done GLB and Pat Waterman! Finally, here she is writing earlier today:-
MESSAGE TO NAPO MEMBERS FROM PAT WATERMAN CHAIR OF NAPO GREATER LONDON BRANCH
TO: NAPO MEMBERS
How “Interesting“ are you finding it?
In conversation recently with a former member of LPT’s Senior Management Team (who is now part of the Senior Management Team of the London CRC) I was told that he wanted to see what would happen now as he thought it might be interesting.
Interesting is not the first word that springs to my mind when I reflect on what has happened and what could happen.
Disturbing, dangerous, distressing, and disastrous are words that I would use. I do not just want to see what happens. I want to try to stop it happening. Napo is against Grayling’s Transforming Rehabilitation Plans at both local and national level. This will inevitably lead to differences of opinion between the trade union and those whose commitment is to making the new organisations work..
Having said that this trade union, again at both local and national level, is committed to protecting the interests of all its members as much as it can. This involves entering into constructive and meaningful dialogue with the management teams of, at the moment , both the NPS and the CRC. Since the demise of LPT there have no formal structures for doing so and my priority has been to initiate discussions to set these up.
Last week the Branch Vice Chairs and I met with Sara Robinson, and a NOMS Senior HR Business Partner, and Nick Smart and two members of his Senior Management Team. This meeting had no formal status or agenda but was extremely helpful in teasing out issues that will need to be addressed in the near future.
We were told that CRC support for employment relations cases will cease to be provided to the NPS from next week but that the CRC will continue to provide IT support for the NPS until September. Acknowledgement was made of the IT problems that have beset us all since the beginning of June and we were advised that twenty two temporary CA’s are being brought in for three months to help clear the back log caused by the inability of the IT systems to allow existing staff to log on new work.
A full report of this meeting, and a subsequent meeting scheduled in a fortnight’s time, will be given at the Branch AGM on Friday 18th July.
Today is the day when the MOJ will announce the final list of preferred bidders. We wait to see who the preferred bidders are for London.
There has been a lot of publicity in the press lately including in The Financial Times. The article in the FT started life after a chance meeting outside the SERCO AGM when a journalist from the FT heard me talking to the SERCO CEO Rupert Soames about the Community Payback contract in London.
I am very aware that there have been a lot of e-mails from both the branch and from our national office. I apologise but there is a lot happening and I believe that it is part of my responsibilities as chair to keep you all informed.
Napo Greater London Branch Chair