It doesn't take long for an ambitious politician to spot an opportunity created by the TR omnishambles. Here's the Deputy Mayor for London using the London Evening Standard to make a bid for expanding his bosses empire:-
A hard core of serial criminals released back onto London’s streets are committing thousands of offences, including stabbings and other violent attacks, the Evening Standard has learned. New official statistics, compiled from an analysis in eight London boroughs, show 418 criminals freed into the community have carried out about 20,000 offences between them — an average of around 48 each.
The most prolific criminals have an even worse record: eight register more than 150 offences apiece. Another 21 have been responsible for at least 100 each. Nearly half of the 418 had committed at least one serious offence such as robbery, wounding or other violent crime. The figures, obtained from Deputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh, will fuel debate about the failure of rehabilitation policies, and the impact on law-abiding Londoners and the public purse.
They follow separate Ministry of Justice statistics, obtained by the Standard in March, which showed that 554 criminals, each with at least 50 previous convictions, had reoffended after being freed during one 12-month period. Their crimes included burglary, sex assault, racially or religiously aggravated attacks, wounding and knife crime. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling admitted that offenders and victims were being let down by a “crazy system” which gave ex-prisoners little or no chance to turn their lives around.
City Hall’s new figures suggest the problem remains severe. Mr Greenhalgh called for a radical overhaul in which control of London’s entire criminal justice system would be switched from Whitehall to the Mayor. He said the reform, which would mirror New York’s system, would allow him to speed up prosecutions, ensure probation staff maintained a proper “grip” on offenders once they were free, and hold the justice system accountable.
“These shocking figures show how a small group of prolific offenders are victimising scores of Londoners repeatedly, at huge cost to the capital’s criminal justice system,” he said. “Crime is falling but we can’t afford to go with a system that fails to grip the offender. “The Mayor is best placed to hold London’s criminal justice agencies to account. Where he has been able to challenge the system and there is a clear line of accountability, we have seen performance improvement. Where he has not, London lags the rest of the country.”
Mr Greenhalgh conceded any transfer of power to City Hall might take time. In the meantime, private company MTCNovo will take over the running of London’s probation services next month. He added “We need London’s new probation providers to up their game by working much more closely with the police and councils.”
The new City Hall data covered the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Harrow, Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent, Hounslow, Ealing, and Hillingdon. Across London, some 1,800 prolific offenders are registered on a system known as “Integrated Offender Management” which aims to ensure probation staff and police take faster action if they breach the terms of conditions imposed after their release.Pat Waterman was quick to respond:-
Probation reforms are too riskyDeputy Mayor for Policing Stephen Greenhalgh appears to be too late with respect to his bid to bring the criminal justice system in London under mayoral control. From February 1, US company MTCnovo will be running probation services as it sees fit in line with a contract drawn up by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. The latter seems to expect those he has contracted just to get on with matters and would not welcome a centralised command and control structure of the kind Greenhalgh suggests.
Probation in London has been “getting a grip” on offenders, as Greenhalgh calls for, for some time and independent inspections confirm its efforts are no less effective than those elsewhere. Probation in New York, the inspiration for Greenhalgh’s system, makes extensive use of biometric reporting kiosks that do not even require those on probation to see a human being. Probation officers carry extremely high caseloads and are armed.
The new untested, unpiloted, hurriedly introduced Transforming Rehabilitation system that is the Justice Secretary's brainchild may or may not prove as effective as the Probation Trusts it is replacing. It certainly appears to be experiencing some difficulties entirely of Grayling's own making.
As the reality of what has occurred starts to dawn on people such as Greenhalgh — that if you outsource parts of the criminal justice system you have less not more control — then it might finally be realised that justice should never be for sale. Pigs have, however, been known to fly over Battersea power station.
Pat Waterman, Chair, Napo Greater London BranchWith an eye to gaining a safe Parliamentary seat in the coming general election, we all know the Mayor's aspirations knows no bounds. Here he is from November in the Guardian making a play for further chunks of Chris Grayling's empire:-
Boris Johnson to seek control of CPS and court system in London
Boris Johnson wants to secure control of the courts and the prosecution service, a move which would put London’s mayor in charge of the criminal justice system in the capital, the Guardian has learned. The plan would see control wrested from Whitehall and the devolution of the most important pillars of the justice system.
Labour politicians are studying the plan, and Manchester may try to join London as “outriders” for the devolution of criminal justice to a regional level. The government has already been lobbied about the radical plans, which supporters claim would limit the loss of officers from frontline policing when more deep cuts are made after the 2015 general election.
London’s Conservative mayor is already responsible for the Metropolitan police. He sets its budget and strategic priorities and is able to dismiss its chief. The plans would see a New York-style system, where its mayor holds to account those responsible for investigation and arrest, through to charging, prosecution and sentencing.
Some in Whitehall will see it as a grab for power from Johnson, who is seen to be in competition with the home secretary, Theresa May, for the Tory leadership if a vacancy were to open up. But Stephen Greenhalgh, Johnson’s deputy mayor for policing, believes devolution would deliver a better service and allow a greater focus on the holy grail of the justice system: reducing repeat offending. He said: “The criminal justice system should be held to account as the Met is in London, otherwise these are unaccountable agencies not answering to the people of London.” The different parts of the justice system “play pass the parcel” when it comes to problem solving, he said.
Greenhalgh said savings would come from getting the police, courts and prosecutors answerable to the same goals and by “co-locating them in the same buildings, working off the same IT systems, with the same priorities.” He said the justice system was stuck in the past: “It is a 19th-century construct with 19th-century technology which needs to move into the 21st century.”Given the catastrophic mess probation finds itself in, and with the Yanks pitching up in London, perhaps there could be worse outcomes than becoming part of the Mayor's balliwick?