Monday, 12 January 2015

NPS News

Whilst we continue to tread water and await what wonderfully innovative plans the new owners of the CRC's have in store for us, here's a page filler in the form of a breezy staff bulletin from Roz Hamilton, Deputy Director of NPS North West. I'm conscious it contains a raft of yet more acronyms and I'll do my best to add them to the glossary as soon as possible.

My guess is that much the same sort of upbeat stuff will be contained in similar bulletins for the other regions, but hopefully we can rely on readers to send in anything of particular note. For those really keen on such matters, I notice that the MoJ have published the NPS Service Level Agreements on their website and that for the North West can be found here.

I'd just remind people that, given this 'lull before the storm' scenario, now would be a really good time to get any burning issues off your chest and think seriously about submitting a guest blog. If I run out of copy that's probation-related, I just might start wandering off onto other hobby horses of mine such as conspiracies, the state of our democracy, Greece and debt, the failure of capitalism etc, etc. You've been warned.  


Hello everyone,

A Happy New Year to each and every NW NPS colleague. I hope you will all agree with me that we can look forward to building a new organisation and lay the foundations in 2015 to becoming a world class public protection agency.

You have started the year well.

Our performance in relation to the completion of RSR/CAS is excellent. Despite significant disruption in court work both our performance and feedback from our key stakeholders – Judges and Magistrates, remain extremely positive. In 2015 we see:
  • The introduction of a new CAS form which will help us ensure that the quality of information passed to offender managers is of a high standard and ensure the delivery of quality interventions with offenders 
  • The introduction of the Offender Rehabilitation Act (ORA) with new sentencing options such as the new Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) 
  • An increase in the number of cases dealt with on the day in Magistrates courts 
  • New approaches to enforcement including the enforcement of electronic monitoring 
All these initiatives in court will require new robust plans both nationally and locally with new structures and training for colleague. I am confident that with the high quality of our court staff that we will succeed.

In offender management we see on a daily basis excellence in the supervision of offenders. Our OM’s strive to work with dangerousness, protection of victims and the management of risk with dedication and inspired by the desire to do a high quality job. The work is supported ably by administrators of all grades who alongside our divisional support hub provide a strong and valuable infrastructure which ensures we can demonstrate our effectiveness.

In 2015 we will see:
  • The supervision of U12 month prisoners, some who will be high risk 
  • New interventions provided by the CRC’s to reduce reoffending which we will purchase as part of our supervision of High Risk offenders 
  • Improved confidence and knowledge and experience in the management of risk 
  • New approaches in our work with foreign nationals, sex offenders, the delivery of Sex Offender Treatment Programmes (SOTP), disordered offenders and Integrated Offender Management (IOM)
  • New structures for the delivery of admin support 
  • The introduction of the social care act which places a duty on local authorities to provide services for vulnerable elderly offenders. 
Again, new initiatives will be introduced in a planned way with training opportunities. I am extremely committed to staff engagement at all grades including discussion about any new initiatives and for all to have the opportunity to contribute to improve practice right across the organisation.

The importance of our work with victims will also see changes as we negotiate with CRC’s as to how we will deliver the services for low/medium risk cases. We have an absolutely outstanding group of victim practitioners and administrators who I am sure will embrace this opportunity and continue to provide invaluable public protection services.

We are very fortunate to have inherited a thriving Approved Premises estate which is responsive both to the risks and needs of the most serious offenders in our community. I want to acknowledge the commitment and care shown by our AP staff day in and day out often with vulnerable and damaged individuals which is inspirational.

2015 will bring:
  • An increase in the number of enabling environments in APs across the division to improve the quality of our public protection work 
  • The introduction of specific services in APs for personality disorder women offenders 
  • Closer working relationships with our voluntary AP, Adelaide House, in Merseyside 
  • Greater consistency of provision across the division 
We are building our strong foundations and I am confident that the commitment and flexibility of our colleagues in APs will ensure that we introduce these new approaches successfully.

Changes to the role of seconded staff in prisons in 2015 will mean a restructuring of probation services, firstly in the open and women’s establishments and then resettlement prisons. The ORA means working alongside CRC colleagues for under 12 month provision. We will need to plan for changes ensuring our seconded staff are fully informed and involved in the process. The new approaches provide real opportunities for our NPS seconded prison colleagues to demonstrate their expertise in risk assessment and management.

2015 also brings an unprecedented number of Probation learners to the NW including the development of at least 2 student units in Southwood and Salford. Any organisation willing to share with learners and to learn from learners will reap the benefits in terms of quality and confidence in practice. I know the exciting and positive opportunities this will bring NPS NW will be embraced by all grades of staff and very much look forward to working with the Probation staff of the future.

In the past 6 months we have been joined by business partners many from different disciplines who bring a positive mixture of freshness and experience with them to support us in managing the NPS going forward.

So, we have much to look forward to and much to be proud of!! As the inevitable distractions, disruption and concerns of our change agenda frustrate us over the next 12 months lets remember and prepared to be reminded of the excellent work we do. Lets look forward and be positive. I know we are a problem solving organisation and you will join me in achieving that world class NPS.

With very best wishes,



  1. Happy New Year everyone. We've had an idea to improve the means of moving stuff around. The existing system is okay but, after consultation with others and the Lord Chief Moving Stuff Around Person, we're removing all of the round wheels with central axles from all carts. Now, there are several advantages to this - especially as we're going to open a new place to get stuff from this year. We'll be buying in the replacement wheels once they've been designed, so for the next few months we'll be carrying stuff in our pockets or on our backs. There will be 21 designs to choose from, offering a far better range than just that one round version. I'm assured the most advanced designs will emerge, maybe with new cart designs as well - something we've always struggled with. In the coming months you'll see new faces as those from visiting tribes will be inspecting the carts, checking out the places where we get stuff, measuring the amount of stuff around and perhaps taking some of us away with them. However, I'm sure you share my enthusiasm for the arrival of the new wheels - I'm looking forward to Playing my part in introducing a world class system of wheels and carts.

    Please join me in extendIng a warm welcome to the Cart Redesign Crews.

    Do not despair. I'm filling my pockets too.

    Area Moving Stuff Around Person.

    1. I know a guy down the pub, he's even got a fag packet, and directions to the nearer scrapyard, loads of wheels and old carts at knock down prices!

  2. Laughing and weeping

  3. WATCH-Probation Debate - House of Commons - Tues 13th 2.30pm - live or later: -

  4. Cumbria and Lancashire Chief has gone from 1st Feb. Who else is intending to go??

    1. Kevin Robinson speaking in Oct 2014:

      "The whole agenda of breaking up the Probation Service is a decision which was not mine to make and not one I would have made.

      As George Bernard Shaw said: “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”"

    2. Good riddance.

    3. World class public protection agency! Ain't that the Police? Are there no hopes and aspirations to improve the lot of those we work with-the main motivating factor for many of us to remain in this job? If this is Roz's attempt to inspire, I fear for our futures! I would have preferred a smack in the mouth, or maybe that was her intention. Go away and please someone deliver us from this shite!

    4. Wonder how it works? Deferred VR as redundant CEO of Lancs Trust? If so, then a win-win scenario for some, as was always suspected. Kerrrchinggg!

    5. Kevin Robinson - VR nice one. While the rest are left shovelling shit.

    6. KR taking the poison pill ( appropriately sweeter with VER) before he gets the shove from the french caterers....sadly there will be more such "early departures" as the feet slide under the table more and more.

  5. All OMs in our CRC required to attend mandatory group work training at v. short notice. A lot of angry bunnies anxious about the direction of travel.

    1. Are we allowed to know which CRC? Cheers.

    2. Merseyside have been summonsed on Thursday morning to meet PF. I don't think it is exactly training though.

    3. Group work intervention coming to everyone. Someone will be making a killing at this. Wonder who the consultants are and how much they are being paid?

    4. Groupwork... evaluated some a few, quite a few ,years ago with the guidance and assistance of a Psychologist..assessments pre and postgroup showed minimal, if any, indications of change, especially the General Offending ones. A lot of the sessions from those and other groupwork of that time can still be found in current workbooks and similar...

  6. E-mail to Sodexo/Nacro CRC staff 6th January 2015:
    Timeliness Of Recalls. Sending the paperwork to the PPCS is usually undertaken by an administrator. As part of this task please check the timeliness as above. If it is beyond the 24 hours please discuss with a manager to consider amending this.


    I for one won't be going to prison for them. Remember this?

    1. Serco employees are alleged to have falsified documents to make it look like prisoners had been delivered to court on time.
      The company is already under investigation by the Ministry of Justice for overcharging the taxpayer for electronic tagging, along with rival firm G4S.
      Serco was warned last summer that its prison van contract could be terminated unless it reduced the number of defendants being delivered to court late. It is understood the alleged fraud began at around the same time.
      Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, said: “It’s become very clear there has been a culture within parts of Serco that has been totally unacceptable, and actions which need to be investigated by the police.
      “We have not seen evidence of systemic malpractice up to board level, but we have been clear with the company - unless it undertakes a rapid process of major change, and becomes completely open with Government about the work it is doing for us, then it will not win public contracts in future.

      “The taxpayer must know that their money is being properly used.”
      A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) spokesman said: “The MoJ and the directors of Serco have today asked the police to investigate alleged fraudulent behaviour by members of Serco’s staff in their management of their prisoner escorting and custodial services contract.
      “An apparent disparity between Serco’s records of contract performance, and the actual situation on the ground, has been subject to investigation by MoJ for some months.”
      He added that evidence of “potentially fraudulent behaviour” emerged as part of a detailed audit and the City of London Police have been asked to investigate.
      It is understood that Serco staff were recording inmates had been delivered “ready for court” at the time the prison van entered the court building, when they should have been using the time they had been processed - a difference of up to an hour.
      Serco’s performance is measured partly on how many prisoners are delivered in enough time for court sessions or meetings with lawyers to begin promptly, to avoid delay in the legal system.
      The contract is now being supervised by administrators. Serco have agreed to repay all past profits made on the contract and to forgo any future profits, a spokesman said.
      Serco won the current prison van contract for London and East Anglia in 2011 which is worth £40.7 million a year over seven years.
      In July it emerged that Serco and G4S had overcharged the taxpayer by tens of millions of pounds for electronic tagging, including for supposedly providing tags for offenders who had died. G4S is facing a police inquiry but Serco agreed to co-operate with a full audit.

      Chris Hyman, Serco Group chief executive, said: "I am deeply saddened and appalled at the misreporting of data by a small number of employees on the contract.

      "We will not tolerate any wrongdoing and that is why we have referred this matter to the police. It is also why I have immediately initiated a programme of change and corporate renewal."

    2. For 'programme of change and corporate renewal' read, we've shredded all the evidence that this was a corporate instruction, so the front line staff will take the heat and the conviction"-don't worry, we will be sure to get them to court on time!

  7. Having read the upbeat message from Roz I have noticed a common theme that runs through a number of these NPS updates. 1) They are generally written like an MBA essay, to the extent that they resort to gibberish in order to appear insightful. 2) The authors appear to have only a fleeting grasp of English grammar. For example " The importance of our work with victims will also see changes........" I presume the author meant to say " Blah blah blah blah" A) because this makes more sense than the original sentence; and, B) sums up the vacuous drivel more succinctly.
    Still, at least we can look forward to more of this toss moving forward (sic).

    1. Thanks Anon 17:01...your comments reassured and dissipated the rage...

  8. Just of general interest.

    1. Former Conservative Cabinet member – and ex-prisoner – Jonathan Aitken is to officially open Gloucestershire Police's new custody suite tomorrow.

      Based on the Waterwells Business Park in Quedgeley, the building has been named Compass House and will replace ageing cells in Cheltenham and Gloucester which are long overdue for replacement.

      Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said: “Jonathan Aitken is an author, broadcaster, columnist, lecturer and campaigner for prison reform.

      "Many, though, will remember him as a former Cabinet Minister, Member of Parliament and ex-prisoner - and it is in that latter capacity I have invited him to open Compass House.

      "It is a matter of record that his political career ended when he told a lie on oath in a libel action and after pleading guilty to charges of perjury he served a seven-month prison sentence in 1999.

      “In a manner I think we should applaud and respect, he has turned that experience to good use.

      “Amongst other things, he is now an enthusiastic campaigner for restorative justice, a director of Prison Fellowship International and a patron, president or trustee of several Criminal Justice charities including NACRO, Caring for Ex-Offenders and Blue Sky.

      “With his intimate knowledge and understanding of the Criminal Justice System I hope his presence will also send an important message to offenders and anyone thinking of offending”.

      The project was first proposed around ten years ago but was threatened by rising costs and indecision.

      After Mr Surl was elected and capped the cost at £12,429,821, it begin to take shape.

      Mr Surl added: “I wanted to be satisfied it was the long term answer to our custody problem at the best price we could get.

      “It will meet the needs of the constabulary and the wider justice system whilst the contemporary design will fit in well with the environment and the other buildings in the area.”

  9. Ah "going forward".How I miss that meaningless duo of words.Thankfully Local Authorities seem to be "going forward"free zones.
    Anon ex SPO No 2

  10. “Amongst other things, he is now an enthusiastic campaigner for restorative justice, a director of Prison Fellowship International and a patron, president or trustee of several Criminal Justice charities including NACRO, Caring for Ex-Offenders and Blue Sky.

    Including NACRO-maybe he'll be Sedoxos chief advisor on TR?

  11. Just googled 'blue sky' as I've never heard of them before, and clicked on their transforming rehabilitation link.
    What shite!!

    1. Congratulations to ‘MTCnovo‘ after being announced as the preferred bidder to run two Community Rehabilitation Companies: London and the Thames Valley. We are very much looking forward to helping this new venture to fulfill its “Employment Promise”. Amey, part of the ‘novo’ consortium, have been working with Blue Sky since 2005 and we have employed nearly 300 ex-offenders on their contracts around London and the South East so far.

  12. “I never saw a man who looked with such a wistful eye upon that little tent of blue which prisoners call the sky”

    The Ballad of Reading Gaol,
    Oscar Wilde

    They quoting wilde, must be good.

  13. Jim, I think one of your elves has flagged this before regarding the NPS SLA
    The ones on the Gov.UK were posted in May 14 and are still there , but those highly paid , highly competent staff at MoJ(!) have not noticed the several errors that occur in the SLA published !
    Take my area for example;

    They have not counted the number of Trusts correctly , mixed up the prisons _ mistaking the Doncaster cluster because it was due to be sold off some time ago and then not recording accurately the councils in the area ( two Northumbria councils) .
    This is a sloppy piece of Government publication that has remained unaccounted for over six months and then they expect to hold the CRC to account!!

    1. Thanks for that - there's just no end to this bloody ominshambles.....!

  14. "Lets look forward and be positive. I know we are a problem solving organisation and you will join me in achieving that world class NPS."

    What a load of rubbish.

    1. "Look to the future now, its only just begun"

  15. We HAD a world class Probation Service, we now have fifty shades of grey sky thinking!
    My favourite NPSism is "the direction of travel" meaning err we don't know how to achieve this but are pretending we do....

    1. If it's all 'Blue sky' and 'purple futures', then whats to worry about?

    2. just 'follow your nose' and you wont go far wrong.

    3. Signs, nose, instinct, gut feeling, probation instructions, Practice directions, yellow brick road - I Will Follow.

      Nous sommes tous moutons.
      Je suis Shaun.
      (Excuse moi, Charlie)

    4. Which neatly brings us to the three pillars of Monde du Mouton,

      Charcuterie - carve it up
      Rotisserie - cook it up
      Patisserie - parcel it up



  17. I always liked "forward planning". As if there was any other sort.

    Je suis Raif Badawi.

  18. Just found this little snippet (more relative to yesterdays blog), but interesting.

    1. MORE than £200,000 will be spent stopping ex-offenders becoming homeless on their release from prison.

      The Government’s Single Homeless Fund has given Oxfordshire councils £227,362 to improve housing opportunities for single people newly released from jail. The money will be spent on two Probation Service workers who will establish direct links to housing providers, councils, support services and Thames Valley Police.

      The aim is to help improve existing services, so ex-offenders can explore housing options more quickly, aiming to stop them from becoming homeless.

      Cherwell district councillor Debbie Pickford said: “Often it is very difficult for offenders to integrate back into society as they face the challenges of finding suitable accommodation and a job to sustain it. For those without the backing of family and friends, this becomes even harder and can lead to them becoming homeless and potentially reoffending.

  19. well... reading that has cost me 5 mins of my life I will not get back. It must've taken not only a fag packet but a beer mat or two to. Talk about verbal diahorrea.


    1. During 2014, the government continued to move forward with the marketisation and privatisation of children’s social services, including child protection investigations and assessments.

      Following considerable public opposition in May to initial proposals, the government issued a revised regulation. It does not stop private sector companies from getting contracts to provide child protection and other children’s social services. What they will now have to do is set up a not-for-profit subsidiary to provide the services. Money can then be made for the parent company by charging its subsidiary for management, administration and estates services at a cost determined by the parent company. This is how the big companies such as G4S and Serco, which thrive on government contracts, will be able to generate their profit. Some have argued this will not happen. How strong are their arguments?

      First, it has been argued that no private companies would want to take on high-risk services such as child protection, with all the reputational damage that may be incurred. But this just does not add up. They have, for example, recently been awarded contracts for the supervision of offenders in the community. Serco and G4S are already expanding by opening residential children’s homes. And in at least one area of England Serco and G4S together have the contract for the forensic examination of children who may have been sexually abused.

      It is said that this is all about innovation, and indeed the government has set up an innovation fund to stimulate new models and approaches in children’s social care, with specific encouragement for local authorities “to provide its children’s services through a third party organisation” and “look to test the validity of an independent model (ie, one commissioned, but not directly provided, by the local authority)”.

      But local authorities have a considerable positive track record of innovation and change. It does not require outsourcing and private companies to be given contracts to generate innovation. Indeed, the lesson of outsourcing public services is that it often freezes out future innovation; only that which is stated within the contract will be carried out.

      Neither will an influx of management consultants with no expertise or experience in children’s services be helpful. A recent education department briefing invited tenders of “expert advisers who will provide improvement support and challenge to local authorities who have underperforming children’s social care services”. This states that advisers may have relevant experience in children’s social services and local government, but presumably the may means this is not a requirement.

      Last year saw considerable progress in opening up child protection and other children’s social services to the marketplace, with great promise that (unopposed) the pace will pick up in 2015. The government has been clear about its ambition to reduce public services and to create the opportunities for private companies to receive public funding. It is happening already for prisons, probation, police, the health service, benefits assessments and schools. It may have been thought that, as for the rest of the world, child protection was a step too far. Not for this government. But what is even more surprising is that it has moved ahead unopposed by Labour and largely under the public and professional radar.

  21. I'm not sure what time the programme is to be aired on radio 4, but it may make very interesting listening given the comments used in this article.

    1. 8pm tonight BBC Radio 4 Violence in Prisons, File on Four.

      2.30 to 4 pm today debate in House of Commons.probation outsourcing - links to live or later video via Napo members forum

  22. The Tories won't leave the strike issue alone. Boris had another pop this morning, but the BBC still seem reluctant to counter with the statistics of thus parliament, or of the PCC election stats. Paul Kenny spoke of the combined Tory & Lib Dem share of the U K vote being below the 40% threshold (38%), adding:

    "GMB general secretary Paul Kenny also got his calculator out to further hammer home the point. He said: “Only 16 out of 650 elected Members of Parliament secured the support of 40% of those entitled to vote in their parliamentary constituency area election in 2010.

    “Only 15 Tory MPs out of 303 secured that level of support. They had no hesitation in forming a government in 2010 without securing 40% support from the electorate.”

    1. The Tory-led PCC elections resulted in turnouts varying between 15% & 20% - and they hold the budget & policy-making brief for our local police forces. Blah Blah Blah...

    2. And most have created well paid jobs for their chums to shore up their PCC office.

    3. The BBC are wholly in bed with the tories and blue labour now. 3 cheeks of the same arse, as it were....