Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Omnishambles Update 83

I have nothing prepared for today, so it's probably worth taking stock of where I think we are in terms of the TR omnishambles and the very slow train crash that's been in progress for quite some time now. 

First there was the extremely admirable and competent debate on the whole matter yesterday in Westminster Hall and initiated by Kate Green MP. All extremely worthy, but utterly pointless because it's all done and dusted legislatively, politically and administratively and only elicited the usual bollocks from the hapless minister Andrew Selous:- 
All the existing expertise of our fantastic public sector probation staff is still there in the system. Most people are working at the same desk, doing the same job as before. That is highly valuable. I should point out that the report of Her Majesty’s inspectorate of probation goes up to September last year, and there have been significant improvements since then on a lot of the issues that Members have quite properly raised. To give just one example, the rate for completion of the risk of serious recidivism report within two days is now at 80%, which is a significant increase. We have every confidence that that figure will carry on increasing, and I hope that that reassures Members.
We were accused of bringing in the reforms on the basis of ideology, not evidence, but given that we have all agreed that reoffending rates are too high—it is a serious problem, as every Member who has spoken has said—I gently say to the Opposition that it would be wrong not to take the best expertise within our brilliant public probation service, the fantastic expertise in the voluntary and community sectors, of which no mention has been made by Opposition Members this afternoon, and the expertise that exists in some private companies. We want to have the best of all three working to tackle these issues.
Then we had sight of Sodexo's cunning new recipe for probation and the slightly worrying news that, having bought the outfit, they're only now on a mission to try and understand what's involved:-
Alongside meeting with your Chief Executives, Senior Management Teams and key stakeholders, we are currently assembling our full Mobilisation, Transition and Transformation team so that we can adequately understand the requirements of each CRC, meet with you at an appropriate time and feedback key messages to you at the same time.

The first priority is to get to know you and understand your issues. That has started with your Chief Executive and Senior Management Teams and will continue with events at which you can meet us and ask questions. We are putting small local teams together to support the work of transition over the next 12 months. But it is crucial to understand that the CRC continues to be led by your Chief Executive and management team.
There are some significant pieces of work in the short term associated with the change of ownership on 1 February. These include a good deal of “due diligence” inquiry, where we need to understand the CRC in detail, its people, its finance, its IT, estates and its operations. The creation of a larger network of partners to deliver some aspects of services – the “supply chain” – is also an early priority.
It's interesting that they mention that the Chief is still running things, unlike in at least one other area:-
Cumbria and Lancashire Chief has gone from 1st Feb. Who else is intending to go? Kevin Robinson - VR nice one. While the rest are left shovelling shit.
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.
And all that MoJ guff about the advantages of co-location between CRC's and NPS was, as usual, just hot air. The taxpayer is going to be left with a shed load of crap empty property to dispose of:-
We plan to relocate from present property and use newly acquired property from August to November 2015. This will be one of the key changes on which we will involve CEOs and their senior teams closely from now. We want to create an estate that is fit for purpose and in the right places.   
Meanwhile Pat Waterman reports on what's going on in London:-
Last week was my first week back at work and, as promised in my last e-mail before Christmas, I met with Rebecca Grattan, Chief Operating Officer of MTCnovo. Patricia Johnson (Branch Vice Chair) and I were treated to our own private Road Show. I subsequently attended the first staff road show in the library of Southwark Cathedral. I urge all CRC members to attend and see what you make of their presentation!

It seems to me that, after taking ownership on 1st February, MTCnovo is going to have its hands full sorting out TTG (Through the Gate) services and for the immediate future there is unlikely to be any significant changes. But they do have plans for the future that will have implications for everybody working in the CRC. I have been concerned to impress on them from the outset the necessity to consult and work with NAPO and Branch Officers will be attending as many of these scheduled Road Shows as we can.
Being based in BPR has many advantages; not the least of which is being able to witness the current intense activity that is going on to convert every available space into extra office areas for corporate staff. I hear that there will be separate zones for London CRC, London NPS, South Eastern NPS and of course MTCnovo. There also appear to be various secondments and appointments being made to NOMS.
Considering the staffing situations in both the NPS and the CRC I cannot help but wonder who will be left to implement the strategies, operational plans and policies that are being worked on and devised by these people.
Purple Futures have been producing some fancy-looking infographics, but sadly the sneaky photos kindly supplied don't do them justice and we could do with some kind person supplying a copy of their cunning plan as soon as possible please. 

News reaches me that some charities that used to be happy working with probation are refusing to work with the new owners. Here's the British Heart Foundation making it clear they're not happy:-
Changes have been announced about the way that the Probation Service (often referred to as Community Payback) will be operating from 2015. The main change is that their definition of "low risk" will be incompatible with our policies. As a result, we will not be taking any placements from these services with effect from 1 February 2015. Those placements that are already with us will be allowed to complete their placement, but no new placements will be accepted. More details of these changes will follow in the January bulletin.  
Finally, this from yesterday seems to say it all:- 
Many problems anticipated over months on this blog are coming to pass. Clearly there will be redundancies, offenders will be differentially supported/managed (parking and selection of who to work with to achieve targets/income) and utter confusion with systems not fully developed. Omnishambles doesn't come close!

43 comments:

  1. Sedoxos model of operation is based on 'desistance theory'.
    If you want a crash course on what that actually means (involves), heres a good place to look.

    http://www.iriss.org.uk/resources/how-and-why-people-stop-offending-discovering-desistance

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  2. Its not worth betting on how many of these companies will put "desistance" in the sales patter to staff. It will be all ofthem. Very much the vogue word used by idiots who pretend to know what they are doing.

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  3. Desistance was the new 'buzzword' going back 3 or 4 years ago. Prior to that, Bruce Forsyth used 'Desist!' as a catchphrase 50 years ago on Sunday night at The London Palladium.

    I'm speculating that a Brucie fan had the idea that telling offenders that offending is wrong, has a lot more cache' if you rebrand it as 'Desistance Theory'. Apparently, you should always greet the client 'Nice to see you, to see you......'

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    1. 'If the price is right'!

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  4. Some examples of how history is re-written from yesterday's debate secured by Kate Green:

    Jenny Chapman - "The Secretary of State rushed the changes. Many of us will never forgive him for that. The speed at which they were rushed through was appalling. He did not even manage to test the policy to check that it worked. I was amazed to hear the Minister of State, Ministry of Justice, the right hon. Member for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (Simon Hughes), say on the “Today” programme that the proposals and changes had been thoroughly tested and piloted. Nothing of the sort happened. There were pilots, which the Labour party backed—we supported piloting the idea, because we were not ideologically opposed to it and thought that there could be some learning—but the Secretary of State cancelled them...

    Selous - "The shadow Minister asked why we had not piloted the reforms. I say to her that the problem across the UK is so significant that we were determined to address it across the country. Conducting a number of small pilots would not have given us the opportunity to do that."

    Chapman - "We have heard what a shambles the transfer has been, with probation officers in some cases—Ministers have denied this, but I know for a fact that it happened—having their names picked out of a hat to decide whether they would be working for the National Probation Service or a CRC..."

    Selous - "Random allocation of staff happened in a very small number of circumstances when other objective methods of allocation were not available, and was used specifically to choose between staff who were otherwise similarly qualified to be assigned to the relevant organisation."

    Jeremy Corbyn - "At the Justice Committee before December, we were informed of potential conflicts of interest with the new chief inspector of probation. The Secretary of State promised us an answer by today. Today [13 Jan 2015] is not yet finished; there are still nearly nine hours to go, in which an answer can be given. Perhaps the Minister will tell us what action has been taken on that issue, which is of great concern to the public."

    Selous - "... the position of the chief inspector of probation. First, as the CRCs are within the public sector, there is currently no conflict of interest. Secondly, I refer back to what the Secretary of State said in the Chamber not so long ago: the issue is under discussion and must be addressed. I cannot say more at this moment, but I reiterate the assurance given by the Secretary of State."

    Its just another day.

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  5. Another great blog piece bringing together the strands of the omnishambles that don't quite weave together to form a wearable garment. - the perennial struggle of traditional probation folk is like juggling with ill matched balls on an unsteady service as the weather changes constantly. Dropping a ball every now and then is inevitable but once one ball has been dropped the smooth juggling action is disjointed and one is constantly veering between trying to pick up dropped balls or introduce new ones whilst keeping those in the air still going!

    I particularly liked the link to the article about desistance containing this: -

    " Desistance is about more than criminal justice. Desistance requires engagement with families, communities, civil society and the state itself. All of these parties *must* be involved if rehabilitation in all of its forms (judicial, social, psychological and moral) is to be possible. " (My asterisks*)

    And there is the nub, as folk in probation learned by the 1970s, when the day training centre pilot experiments began - breaking a pattern of offending is a complex business and will not happen by processing all persistent offenders through similar 'training' (for want of a better word). At least one of those DTC's worked like a community centre - I believe (Sheffield) whereas in other places probation workers became actively involved in wider community centres (Dovecot, Liverpool) - so the workers need a range of skills and to work collaboratively, always gaining the understanding and cooperation of the courts who need to trust us as individuals in exactly the same way as our clients trust us as individuals. (Almost impossible) - previously we tried to achieve more than was possible with far too limited resources, but we did it because the project was worth while and we were doing it directly for and sometimes with the communities in which we were located. Now the head offices have been located further than ever before from those communities and are firstly trying to answer contract requirements set by Government Ministers in Whitehall, with some of the companies having overseas shareholders who need to make a profit to continue their investment and never mind the local judiciary, who are effectively sidelined with the RARs, cautioning and on the spot fines.

    I am truly glad to be out of it and wish that we had not strived to achieve so much earlier, so that our lack of ultimate success is perceived as failure.

    The most relevant part of yesterday is the spoken words of Minister Andrew Selous, in parliament - where he seemed to be unaware of the reality of what is being destabilised. Then on the radio programme about violence in prisons where he just kept parroting what was "unacceptable". I am terrified about how this will end.

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    1. Its clear, any CRC staff member dropping the ball more than once in the near future will be out on their ear, one way to bring in cheaper staff

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    2. Thats the message coming across loud and clear

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  6. So let's take stock! New IT systems, their physical installment, the usual teething problems, additional training for all staff, and a change of premises for all Catering Company's, CRC's - it's beginning to look a lot like mayhem!

    No reassurance from MoJ - Mr Selous knows nowt and wait for it, the maintenance people at Interserve have yet to publicly produce their recipe for disaster....maybe they will be too busy moving the Sodexo CRC's to come up with a plan of their own. If it was not so serious, I'd laugh so hard, I'd probably wee mysel!

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    1. Let's not assume this only applies to sodexo run crc's

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  7. I think it's appauling, and of some concern that Sedoxo ( CRC- Catering Rehabilitation Company), are, before even taking ownership, focusing on which offenders are going to be the best group to provide their necessary targets.
    Those that don't suit will be farmed out, parked or rcalled, and I can see much arguement occuring trying to push the ones they don't want (or unprofitable), towards NPS supervision.

    'Getafix'

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    1. Don't assume this is just sodexo run crc's either. They all going to be doing similiat things.

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  8. I have extracted what seem the more significant of Andrew Selous' remarks in Parliament yesterday and republished them via the Twitter and Storify websites: -

    http://tinyurl.com/nzqkw78

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  9. A new political party to save us all!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tADgYkAfXro

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  10. I believe - and I may be wrong - that Sodexo are going to use a tool put together by Dr Sam King of Leicester University to assess their readiness for change and then sort the 'offenders' accordingly.

    Trouble is, if their readiness to change changes or their risk / need changes will they have to move from one tier / strand / set to another replicating the most dangerous part of the split so far? Genius!

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  11. also don't forget they may need to be moved to High ROSH and NPS !
    What a stream lined system NOT!

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    1. We're being told HROSH can stay with CRC for a bit, see if they go down again. I actually agree that it's the safest way to manage risk but it's not how this TR thing has been sold is it?

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  12. There are all sorts of scenarios but I don't think anyone has any idea what is going to happen when these new operators come on line properly, when the RARs replace existing arrangements, when CRCs relocate away from NPS and when the TTG hordes descend!! Despite my decades of experience, the massive change in variable means that I have no idea whatsoever and nor does anyone else and there's the rub. It will be interesting to see the providers' reactions if things get ugly. Will they front it out or runa mile?

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  13. My own observation relates to comments that things 'were' rushed through. There is still no were, it is still an 'are' being rushed through. Weekly CRC updates? Doesn't that tell us that the developments are being rushed. Monthly would be quick but weekly? Breakneck and reckless.

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  14. tbh i'm happy about relocating as our office is at one end of the borough with some clients having over a 2hr round trip on public transport. Therefore it would be helpful if:property is as central to the borough as possible so people aren't penalised for where they live. It would also be helpful if new accommodation has good transport links.

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  15. due diligence meeting with PF tomorrow - been advised it's mainly brainstorming and not a moan and groan session. will report back tomorrow. I'm just a bit concerned the brainstorming bit should already have taken place before they bought the outfit?

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    1. Absolutely! You don't bake a cake without knowing all the ingredients.

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  16. Rumours today that most CRC's will be expected to lose their temp agency staff soon

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    1. I hope not as this will only leave me and the cleaner in the office.


      And she's holding 20 of my cases!!

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    2. Very funny! Made me laugh out loud!

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    3. Me too......such innovative thinking!! CG must be SOOOOO proud of you!!
      Deb

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  17. Speaking of relocations, (well, someone was) word has reached me that the NPS staffing situation in one office, in what used to be the Thames Valley, is so bad that custody cases are being transferred out wholesale - not just to other local offices but to staff hundreds of miles away across the South West & South Central area!

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    1. Do NAPO know about this? Or indeed the local paper who would kill for such a story!!!!

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    2. That sounds bonkers! Can you imagine the disruption for the service users having been reallocated at the TR split and now being reallocated again away from their home probation area?

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    3. This is true some are coming to my office

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    4. no-one's taking my custody cases - they bump my caseload up. Imagine having solely community cases - it would be impossible.

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    5. I have solely custody cases - except when a PD1 needs doing, 10 days before release - and so does nearly everyone else in my CRC office. I can confirm it isn't possible.

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    6. I've got 66 cases on a 4 day week, which includes about 6 custodial. My Manager has taken away a couple of other custody cases 'to help me out'. A predominantly community caseload definitely isnt do-able in its present format, however this is a shadow of things to come, compared with when all the TTG clients join our caseloads.....
      Deb

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    7. I've only got 42 community cases but they're all dv and child protection spread across a massive rural county. I did just under 400 miles (not including commuting) to see them all last month.

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    8. Previously I worked in inner/outer city and semi rural areas & prison - there are always complications and sadly there is no easy way to balance one case load against another - it is possible to be overworked with ten cases or under-worked with a hundred depending on a myriad of issues - so case allocation is best done in concert with colleagues and overseen by a manager/SPO with a good knowledge of individual staff and cases and the area.

      It also helps when the manager is focused on the team and not on building own career with any number of activities to catch the eye and relieve the demands on the CEO and senior staff.

      It also helps to have a colleague pairing scheme and a hands on manager, ready to sit in, and back up and cover in emergencies. No situation was ideal in my 30 years as a basic grade probation offr - finishing in 2003 (a lot has changed - I do know)

      Out of many SPOs - I had two/three who I would say were ideal two or three others had their hearts in the right places and were well intentioned but ALWAYS the demands were significantly more than could be comfortably managed within the working day and so stress was almost inevitable - meaning some clients not getting the attention their situation needed.

      I suspect nowadays the demands are almost always totally unmanageable unless one works in a very measured way, only seriously engaging at any one time with a very few clients.

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  18. So if the best of the expertise was taken into the public sector what does that say about those of us who were dumped in the crc.

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    1. It says we should be thinking about a legal challenge in preparation for share sale on 1st Feb.

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  19. I think you will find 19.51 that the best went to the CRC

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    1. We're all good! However tongue in cheek you meant that, let's be careful and respect each other. None of us chose this mess.

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    2. Best at fiddling the books.

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  20. Off topic but ...

    http://m.tulanehullabaloo.com/views/article_b1ba89c8-9c50-11e4-85fe-232ee3e9a2bb.html?mode=jqm

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    1. Tulane’s food service provider, Sodexo, a multibillion-dollar corporation, has a long history of denying its employees essential worker benefits. Many colleges and universities across the country have pressured their administrations to end their contracts with the company through campus organizing involving both students and Sodexo employees. Tulane’s administration should follow these schools and terminate its contracts with Sodexo.

      The University of Washington terminated its contract with Sodexo in 2011, after workers and students staged three sit-ins resulting in 50 arrests. Since then, DePauw University, Clark University, American University, University of Pittsburgh, Oberlin College and Binghamton University have boycotted Sodexo on their campuses. While students and Sodexo workers at Tulane staged strikes and a walkout in 2010 and 2011, organizing has since ceased.

      At various locations worldwide, Sodexo has threatened to replace workers who attempt to unionize and forced employees to sit through anti-union meetings without being given the opportunity to also hear from union leaders. Other intimidation tactics have included requiring supervisors to have one-on-one conversations with employees regarding anti-union sentiments, questioning workers about union activity and telling workers their efforts to unionize are ineffective.

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