Friday, 2 January 2015

12 Reasons to Carry On

Having a break allows time to think. Given that there's to be no legal challenge to TR and the contracts have been signed, is there any point in carrying on with a blog when it looks like the game is up? I think so and for the following reasons:-
  • It's impossible to quantify what effect the blog is having, but it must be greater than zero.
  • In addition to practitioners, we know it's read widely by Noms, Napo, Chiefs, privateers, politicians, media and academics.
  • On average, it receives 5,000 hits a day.
  • There's nothing similar.
  • Given that we know TR is a complete omnishambles with no evidential base and no prospect of ever working, there's a responsibility to carry on highlighting this.
  • There must be a means of countering bullshit and misinformation, from whence ever it comes. 
  • Evidence shows the blog is a source of support and comfort to practitioners.
  • It serves as a focal point for information exchange.
  • And a platform for debate and discussion.  
  • It will remain an audit trail and historical reference source.
  • It's a place where contributors can publish varying viewpoints.
  • It's simply too much fun to give up and I feel a responsibility to continue something I started.
As the new Probation Service owners come to realise the reality of what they've got themselves into, we have a golden opportunity to relentlessly shine a light on the unfolding next stages of this epic omnishambles. They've got to be held to account every step of the way, along with the politicians and MoJ officials that have so cynically created this mess. 

Not just that, but the General Election campaign also gets into full swing and I'm more convinced than ever that being online and blogging is the only place to be. Sadly, mainstream media, especially in the form of the BBC, continue to prove themselves increasingly unable or unwilling to report what's actually going on, rather than endlessly regurgitating press releases and planted stories spoon fed to them on behalf of ideological or narrow political and economic interests.

By way of example, I'm convinced that it's only because of the internet that 2015 will finally see the lid lifted on one of the biggest and appalling scandals to have ever involved the Establishment in this country. The historic, extensive and highly-organised systematic sexual abuse of children by prominent members of all branches of the State can't be contained any longer and it's the freedom to exchange information on platforms incapable of censorship or control that's made this possible at last.

Of course there are elements of the Wild West about it, but on balance I've found a huge amount of responsibility and informed comment around on the Web and that tends to stand out from the efforts of trolls or others with grossly mischievous intent. It's possible I'm being naive here, but as with most things in life, a cautious, sceptical approach normally pays dividends; caveat emptor, as they say. I think the case for carrying on is overwhelming. What do you think?         


  1. Yes jim. Your blog is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us caught up in this mess. A.chance to exchange views and off load. Also good to know that others feel the same. Keep on going please.

  2. Hi all. I want to say thank you to you all for your comments and discussions. I'm due to start working in a crc shortly and reading all the problems with TR and the risks/frustrations has helped prepare me (I'm hoping!)

  3. Until 2010 I thought an 'arab spring' was an essential gymnastic manoeuvre for the BAGA award scheme. T'internet changed that. So yes, lets mobilise thought & deed to reveal some home truths about the systemic abuse of power in the UK - and the worldwide web of nepotism, cronyism & immorality that has been woven in a desperate attempt to prevent discovery. This is for the victims. Idealistic & naiive? Yes. BUT its the honourable thing to do.

  4. Happy New Year
    Keep on telling the truth
    In the end the truth always wins

    1. If you keep telling the truth then you'll never ever make the New Years Honours List!!

    2. Stuff that honours list. In the peoples list Jim's up there with the E15 ladies, Russell Brand , Jimmy Reid, Che Guevara and the rest.

  5. The blog is no doubt a lot of work Jim and I would suggest reducing your personal commitment to posting on a daily basis to a couple of times a week - in the interests of your own well-being.

  6. No way - you old coot, everyday...please...and all those regular posters, please ensure we document the mayhem and chaos....

    The last week has been nothing short of a splitting headache, as I have been trying to produce SDR's via Oasys for my local Crown Court - serious cases, that an FDR just cannot do justice to. However, due to the f**king (new years resolution, cut down on the fucking cussing) IT non-negotiable shite support systems, I have been unable to get the Oasys, as previous assessments remain open or it's somewhere, who the fuck knows where? So, a great start to 2015 - if my local Crown Court want to know why they are getting strange looking self styled SDR's (on A4 word) then they can always ask me. Thankfully, I get a lot of feedback from Judges and Barristers, mostly good about my work, so they just might ask the question. I will be measured in my response, NOT!

    I recall many of us resisted the temptation to say, hell scud it into them (doesn't sound right without a Glasgow accent), but we were also aware that as the omnishambles hits the buffers, our clients will be the people who get hurt, but as 1st February 2015 fast approaches, I know it will fail and it is a disaster, and so we must all do what we can to reduce the harm caused, oh, isn't that what we do? and look out for each other. Here's to the fight ahead and 2015!

  7. Yes - well done thus far.

    I wonder if the light is getting deep enough into the corners.

    Amongst the politicians.

    The academics and their institutes who seem to inform the policy makers.

    The so called think tanks like Policy Exchange - where one major irritant to me who posed as an expert on CJS but had no practical experience has now moved into the Prime Minister's team at 10 Downing Street, has gone quiet.- what is he up to? Remember it was Blair's blue sky thinker Mr Eithne Wallis who seems to have got us on the road to the OMA 2007 which is the legislation that Simon Hughes or whoever in the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives was really behind the centrepiece of the current danger - the split in probation at a local level.

    Then there are the wider governance issues that got us from a muddled localised control with the Justices of the Peace at the heart(s) (lots of them), to one where the local contributions are add ons appointed by the Secretary of State.

    Then there is the Unions - it still galls that despite many being Napo members with a right to attend EVERY national meeting and to receive reports at local branches, it was a shock several years ago, for some not actively involved with the centre to learn that the centre was rotten. As there is STILL not a policy about no active engagement with the Probation Institute, which I sense the majority desire, I wonder if even now the membership are in proper control of the policy, its implementation and public representation.

    Then there are the other Unions - Unison and GMB, with their contacts into Government - the TUC and the Labour party, what is happening there?

    Then there are those other parties, some from Wales, (especially) and possibly Northern Ireland and Scotland may yet have a critical influence on unscrambling TR after the Election. What about UKIP, they have two parliamentary seats and will probably get more so have influence as do the Greens.

    What have I missed?

    We need to be clear - policy is set by the Government, implemented by the Government who are ONLY directly answerable to Parliament, collectively and by questions to individual members of The House of Lords and House of Commons and their committees.

    I have missed out the media.

    Yes - there is much for the blog to do and to receive information about - thanks for the terrific achievements thus far - stay fit and healthy - please!

  8. Keep on bloggin' Jim.... it takes commitment and work and I thank you for this. I suspect there may be an increase in indirect postings as we see action taken against those who speak out. I foresee NPS taking a hard-line disciplinary route and CPAs arguing business sensitivity, you know, "your job depends on our business continuing to be strong and viable and sometimes we have to take decisions because they are absolutely necessary".
    Either way, this is the time for the much vaunted "new ways of working" to emerge and this blog will be a great venue for sharing such information.
    In particular, I look forward to how those prisoners released from short term sentences "with £46 in their pockets" will be "supported". This is time for delivery of Grayling's TR in action, I suspect we are all waiting anxiously to see what enfolds given this is the main reason for the dismantling of probation.
    If I were an enterprising journalist, I would see this as a great opportunity to follow up.

    "They promised me support but all they did was put me in a B and B

    stick me

  9. oops apologies for nonsense at bottom of above post - predictive text I'm afraid....

    1. As a life long herion addict, TR has a yet to be defined significant impact on my life.
      I think if hugely unfair, and probably challangeable, that my next 14 day vacation for feeding my habit from Tescos supply of gold blend coffee, will attract the same period of supervision as someone who receives a 2 year sentence for a violent or sexual offence.
      Having said that (and Grayling may regret his lack of thought on this one), my next short period of imprisonment will see me 'ENTITLED' to 12 months of continued support and assistance, and sas a result any breach or reconviction I may incur in that period (and there surely will be), will expose any failures in the support and assistance extended to me to the courts.
      For many in my situation, the degree and level of assistance and support given (or lack of), may well form a basis of defence to arguee against a further custodial sentence.
      After all, the SoS for justice has said that I'm in need, and 'ENTITLED' to 12 months 'support and assistance'.
      That I think may become a very very expensive statement Mr. Grayling!
      But thankyou for the oppertunities you are extending to me.


    2. Getafix,

      You raise some extremely interesting points and from a perspective we don't often hear from on this blog. Could you be tempted to say a bit more about your experiences of the CJS and possibly in particular past probation supervision, drug treatment etc? Ideally, what would you want as a 'lifelong heroin user'? A return to heroin prescribing? Residential treatment? Choices and options? A guest blog would be great.....

      Thanks for commenting,


    3. Thankyou for your invite Jim. I may take you up on it too, as I do have an awful lot to say on the subjects and opinions expressed on this blog.
      I only have a phone to communicate on, so it may be that a guest blog would have to be submitted by email and in sections (I've no idea how many characters an email can carry?) and you would have to join the sections together? Don't know?

      I do think however (and just food for thought), that the 12month and under group are going to cost the privately run CRCs an awful lot more then they have anticipated.
      I think they've looked only at the existing model, where supervision is on the whole based on the monitering of offenders and intervention on offending behaviour.
      However, the incorperation of the 12 month group has been sold on the basis of support and assistance for things such as accommodation, drug intrvention ect ect, (£46 is just not enough any longer), an thus creating an expectation (if not an entitlement), from both the offender and society as a whole, that the needs of that offender will be meet, and my personal opinion is that, that will cost a substantial amount more then the private companies have calculated for.
      Thanks for the invite, and we'll see what happens.


    4. I do not know where you are - Getafix - but assuming it is in the UK - I think all local authority libraries offer internet use via a PC and I think it is generally free, though may need to be pre-booked.

      I have just checked with my council library - it is free apart from printing charges.

      You need to be a member of their library which is free to join.

      I look forward to the guest blog.

    5. At a recent group induction for new clients I was asked by an client who had been round the block a bit why we now did group inductions rather than individual ones and TR was explained to him

      I may, somewhat inadvertently, advised him and everyone there that once the ORA is implemented then EVERYONE who gets released from Prison following a custodial sentence from that date will be met at the Prison gates and took to their new house (or whatever they need). This had been promised by Chris Grayling and if they found that this was not the case then to speak to their Solicitor about it.


      I anticipate Solicitors up and down the country are rubbing their hands at this poorly conceived piece of legislation. It will be interesting to see the Courts view of the matter when it continually gets brought up in mitigation!

  10. VIA TWITTER: -

    " Cathy Newman ‏@cathynewman 7m7 minutes ago

    Full hour of #c4news tonight, so do tweet me suggestions of what you'd like to see in it... "

    My response : -

    " Andrew S Hatton @Andrew_S_Hatton · 1m 1 minute ago

    ,@cathynewman A review of preparations for introduction of #Grayling's 'Old Lag Mentoring' on 1st Feb to justify the wrecking of #Probation "

    What is yours?

  11. Keep up the good work Jim, the case for carrying on IS overwhelming, even if only to counter the passive acceptance of a 'we are where we are' mindset currently demonstrated by so many of our erstwhile leaders. And also so we continue to wind up the MOJ and CG, natch. I for one, appreciate 200% your commitment to the blog, and all the time and effort you clearly put in.
    Have toyed with doing a guest blog to help out, but think I'll just be boring. I DO have a tendency to 'bang on' a lot, as my long suffering (office sharing) colleagues will attest!! But in case I do, could you suggest a word limit?

    1. Deb,

      No word limit - just let it flow! Look forward to it.



  12. Please keep on blogging Jim, you've been a total star and for many, the main source of information to counter the disingenuous misformation culture that is the MoJ.
    You also come up in conversation very often; sometimes from the unlikeliest
    of people.

  13. I like to think of this blog as MOJ counter-spin!
    Keep on keeping on Jim and thank you!

  14. Your blog is invaluable Jim, and I can think of a 'lucky' 13th reason for its continuation. (unlucky for CG)

    I wrote to CG a few weeks ago (on here as a guest blog) genuinely appealing to the 'other' side of the man in a reasonable, rational and politely challenging email. Amazingly - ha - ha- he chose to ignore it, proving he does not have a better side.

    But it makes me feel very comfortably satisfied, to know that thousands of media, politicians, his own staff, etc, who read this blog now know exactly what thousands of honest Probation staff are proving- that this man is an idiotic plonker,- and will be sniggering and gossiping behind his back, while fawning to his face. Oh the joy of knowing that he has to live with the humiliation and knowledge those sniggers and jokes about him are spreading around the land, via this blog, waiting for the exciting climax of a volcanic eruption of TR and all the other half baked ideas.

    What a spectacular downfall of a despot, killed not by the sword, but by the laughter. THAT DAY WILL COME.

  15. I hope the released prisoners don't expect accom and a job on release. Councils in England have no duty to house released prisoners and this stops in Wales from April. They will need a bond and at least a months rent in advance. If they are dangerous and with NPS this may be different. I guess all unemployed released prisoners will be referred to the Work Programme. At the moment its all those with over 12 mth sentences. Win win for Working Links who are running some CRCs and Work Programme in the same areas. At the moment there are Partner agencies working in Probation offices with both NPS and CRCs who are experts in Housing and ETE but their contracts stop at end of March.

  16. Just for fun.,-chisellers-and-cads#.VKddQLsRe2I

    1. Well worth reading in full, here's a taster:-

      But enough prevarication and prattle, let’s get to the main event. Without further ado here are the big winners in this year’s grandiloquent gathering of graspers, chisellers and cads.

      First up with have the Tony Blair Award for Outstanding Services to Nation Destabilisation.

      Blair himself having been ruled out as a fourtime winner, the field was wide open this year but eventually it came down to a three-horse race.

      Clegg, Cameron and Miliband all did their utmost to ensure Scottish independence by alternately threatening, cajoling, bribing and berating the electorate north of the border this summer with their risible Better Together campaign.

      Eleventh hour promises of devo-max may have swung the balance but there could only be one winner and Cameron gleefully twisting the knife within hours of the result has pretty much guaranteed that if there’s ever a re-run it will be a landslide and he’ll be buried underneath it.

      The Derek Jameson Memorial Medal for Services to the Media. A close run thing in this, its inaugural year.

      What with Operation Yewtree still in full swing it appears no ’70s celeb is safe, and then the Beeb becoming cheerleader in chief for Farage and his cronies.

      But there was one clear candidate for this honour. Step forward Andy Coulson.

      The former News of the Screws editor and No 10 spin doctor was banged up for 18 months earlier this year for his role in the phone hacking scandal.

      When commentators talk about the worst excesses of the media do they mean you Andy? They surely do.

      Then we come to the special categories created specifically to honour those individuals who routinely go above and beyond the call of duty.

      The Iago Award for Promoting Loyalty and Unity. Tory defectors Mark Reckless and Douglas Carswell may have thought they were quids in here, but for a lifetime of duplicitous double-dealing the award goes to Tony Blair, who yet again stabbed Miliband in the back this week in furtherance of his own larcenous legacy.

    2. You keep running the blog Jim, we'll keep posting. Btw- ifyou want some good "end of the year year award" nominations, check out Bella Caledonia's site- Worst CarCrash Interview, and Best Insurgency are particularly inspiring....

  17. I have a good friend who is a senior housing officer. She regularly attends MAPPA Level 3 meetings and has worked hard to promote a good level of training with her staff. They really had a great relationship with former probation. Former probation and this housing group ( the main one in this area) forged great professional relationships and there was a good understanding of balancing the need for stable accommodation to actually manage risk, It is one thing to recognise risk but a very different matter to successfully manage risk and reduce it by doing so.They were a major partner for former probation in this area.
    She told me that there is much disquiet about post TR dealings having experienced "demanding meetings" with several charities and the planned Through The Gate team. She said "no-one understands what probation is any more". It appears that the new way of working has many teething troubles...

    1. Does any area have a running TTG team and if so what is their brief? They asked for volunteers in my area but I think everyone politely declined.

    2. St Giles, according to their post since removed on Twitter will be working with 30% of CRCs, I understand they are running a TTG pilot in Cardiff, not that you'd know, and ran the Peterborough pilot. Since 28 Oct have been advertising for staff across the board in 'the hope they are awarded the contracts'

    3. I am a Probation Officer and have been for 7 years. I can tell you that St Giles has a terrible reputation amongst those in this line of work. Most of my colleagues fear more for probation being out sourced to the likes of Nacro and St Giles who have such a poor understanding and amateurish approach to this work than we do the big management companies like serco et al. Either would be disaster, St Giles and others, are presently like vultures over a not yet dead animal trying to pick off something for their own gain.They provide a poor service and use amateurish, poorly paid staff as opposed to highly trained and skilled professionals.


  18. TTG-transforming Tragedy Group

    1. I like this :)

      How about Total Tragedy Group.

      In my office ALL staff have indicated that they will not apply for anything which serves to promote TR and I would presume that this depth of negativity is replicated in other offices. Pandora's box has very much been opened but I fear that hope will not be found at the bottom, no matter how deep our masters rummage.

  19. I just wanted to say that I have benefited from your blog immensely. I am currently doing the Probation Qualifications Framework (PQF). I don't know if I will stay with NPS or go to CRC or leave probation work, however, your blog has given me an idea of what to expect. Thanks and keep it up!

    1. Thanks! Can we tempt you to write a guest blog about your experiences on the PQF? Anonymously of course....