Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Sociopath in Charge?

I saw the following comment on twitter the other day and it certainly makes you think:-
Extremely, extremely worrying... It is the deepest irony that a sociopath has ended up in charge of our prisons.

With only days before privateers fully take over the majority of the probation service and the Offender Rehabilitation Act comes into force, chaos continues to reign in every part of Chris Graylings empire. I note Napo have recently written to Dame Ursula Brennan at the MoJ in the following terms:- 
Last Friday, we had a meeting of the Probation Consultative Forum (NOMS/NPS and the unions). This is a regular meeting chaired by Colin Allars at which we raised the issue of the implementation of the two new significant sentencing elements, namely a new Community Order requirement known as the Rehabilitation Activity Requirement which replaces the existing Supervision Requirement. It is very different and in essence is aimed at freeing up the way the new (outsourced) CRC's provide supervision. 
The other new sentencing element is that which effectively introduces post-custody supervision for those sentenced to less than 12 months in custody. Both of these provisions are scheduled to come into force on the 1st February. As at last week a Commencement Order has yet to be laid and we were told that you in your role as Permanent Under-Secretary will decide, in effect, whether the Department are ready to go with this regime sometime between now and 1st February. 
It appears to us that these provisions are not ready to run but that the MOJ are under pressure to meet this deadline because the Department have always insisted that the plan was on track; indeed the Departments own evidence to the High Court to this effect said this in support of the rebuttal of Napo’s JR application.  Given the above we are obliged to make the following observations:
• Despite being told by Colin Allars at the PCF that training for magistrates and judges was 'under way' we are deeply sceptical of this being so. One of our members at the meeting on Friday pm, who is also a magistrate, certainly had not received any training.
• We were assured that the IT (case management systems etc.) were ready to record these new ‘orders of the court’. Again we cannot prove that this is not so, but again we are deeply sceptical. 
• These new ‘orders of the court’ also require some actual paperwork (forms) to be available in courts. Has this been implemented?  
• It is evident from preliminary discussions with some of the new CRC owners that they do not have a clue about how these new provisions will operate. 
• What we are certain about is that Probation staff (both NPS & CRCs) are not ready to operate these new provisions, nor are the (NPS) ready to propose them in reports to the Court; this latter point is very important since this could all happen in courts around the country on February 2nd – offences having been committed the day before – the first day when the new provisions would be applicable to offences committed.  
• At last Friday's PCF we were told the training guidance was still ‘being finalised’. We are aware that training is planned but there is no way that all staff around the country will be trained before February 2nd. What we believe will happen, from the 2nd onwards, and increasingly as that week progresses, is that perplexed sentencers and court clerks (presupposing they have had any training in the RAR) will look to Probation for advice over these provisions and Probation staff may well be unable to offer assistance. As you might have expected, we registered our concern that implementation on February 1st of these provisions would be highly risky and likely to cause chaos. This was duly noted but we now wait to see what will happen next. we raised this issue in general terms at yesterday's meeting of the TRCF but were assured that everything was in hand.
The HMI report on Sodexo-run HMP Northumberland proved as damning as expected and Frances Crook of the Howard League had this to say:-
Northumberland prison: A ‘national resource’ that is failing miserably 
“Northumberland prison is supposed to be a ‘national resource’ to help turn around the lives of indeterminate-sentenced prisoners and those serving time for sex offences. But this report shows it is failing miserably. This is a prison where prisoners get drugs and alcohol easily but find support and preparation for release harder to come by. The number of assaults is high and rising, and inspectors found some prisoners had sought sanctuary in the segregation unit because they felt unsafe. We have become used to reading critical reports on overcrowded public-sector prisons which have seen deep cuts to staff and resources. Northumberland is neither publicly run nor overcrowded. What is Sodexo’s excuse? It is extremely worrying that Sodexo runs the prison with so many problems and has also been handed the contract to run community sentences from next month. This is another example of the shambles created by the privatisation of prisons.”
Chronic staff shortages in the Prison Service, largely brought about by Chris Grayling, suddenly leads to the closure of well-performing HMP Blantyre House and the Prison Governors Association are furious:-
The Prison Governors' Association (PGA) is surprised to learn this morning that NOMS are to temporarily close HMP Blantyre House in Kent. The PGA has not been consulted on this decision and it leaves us with some major concerns as to the under-usage of the capacity within the open estate. We are led to believe that this decision has been borne out of the inability to recruit enough prison officers into some of the prisons in the South of England, and in particular the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, which has been widely reported by most media outlets.NOMS have previously stated there would be no further prison closures in this Parliament and therefore the PGA will seek assurances that this is just a temporary measure and there are no further planned temporary or permanent prison closures.
Meanwhile the Justice Secretary continues to desperately try and shift any responsibility for creating dangerous chaos within the prison estate. He recently gave a speech blaming the increase in violence and suicides on drugs of all kinds, as outlined here in the Guardian:-
Legal highs and prescription drugs face ban in English and Welsh prisons
The justice secretary will be able to ban any legal drug inside prisons, including prescription drugs and “legal highs”, under a crackdown to start this week. Chris Grayling linked the rising use of “legal highs” behind bars to more cases of assault and self-harm in jails in England and Wales. In a speech at the Centre for Social Justice thinktank on Monday, he said: “We will take a zero-tolerance approach to stamping out their use.”
The move came as Home Office minister Lynne Featherstone asked MPs on Monday to back the banning of two new psychoactive substances used as legal highs. They are the drug 4,4’-DMAR, known as Serotoni – which has been linked to 37 deaths in the UK, mostly in Northern Ireland – and MT-45, a synthetic opioid not currently available in Britain but linked to deaths in Europe and the US. 
The Ministry of Justice is to send guidance to prison governors on Tuesday, requiring them to extend their mandatory drug testing to uncontrolled substances. Those who fail the drug tests can face a range of penalties, including prosecution, up to 42 days added on to their sentence, segregation in their cells for up to 21 days, strictly no contact with visitors – known as “closed visits” – and forfeiting their weekly prison earnings for up to 12 weeks.
I'll end this roundup of bits and pieces with two worrying stories that should concern us all, first a press release by NCIA making it plain that as charities take over yet more public services, they are being effectively muzzled:-      
Charities told to keep quiet or lose government contracts
New research reveals that charities and other voluntary groups are often absent from campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty. A report released today shows that voluntary groups, especially those under contract to government, face threats to remain silent about their experiences and many are fearful to speak out in case they lose their funding or face other sanctions.

The findings show a climate of fear and threats to free speech. They follow on the tails of a Charity Commission investigation into Oxfam after the charity warned of the “relentless rise of food poverty” in the UK. The Commission's investigation was instigated after a complaint against Oxfam by Tory MP, Conor Burns. It adds to fears raised by the ex-Bishop of Oxford, Richard Harries, who said this week that charities and campaign groups have been "frightened" into curtailing their public work by the new Lobbying Act.
The report, Voluntary Services and Campaigning in Austerity UK: Saying Less and Doing More, is written by Dr Mike Aiken, a specialist in the voluntary sector and is published by the National Coalition for Independent Action (NCIA), a network of people working in the voluntary sector. The NCIA report states that “voluntary services are confronted by implicit, or explicit, pressures to ‘say less and do more’; they face gagging clauses in contracts which threaten to stop them advocating and campaigning; the provisions in the so-called Lobbying Act, passed in January 2014, create an atmosphere in which it is difficult to speak out”. The research highlights the attempts to muzzle charities and shows who is refusing to stay silent:
  • A voluntary organisation engaged in welfare services faced “subtle and menacing” bullying on more than one occasion from significant political figures to “do” and not “say”’
  • Voluntary groups under contract can be obliged to keep information or observations secret even when insights from their day-to-day work might help improve the service or conditions for local communities and individuals facing poverty and destitution.
  • Charities which undertake significant government contracting work devote few funds to campaigning. In the case of Shelter this appeared to be less than 10% of its income.
  • Despite attempts to silence voluntary groups, some still speak out (eg Trussell Trust), refuse to take government money (eg. World Development Movement) and join with campaigners to right wrongs (eg. Keep Volunteering Voluntary, a campaign against workfare). One such charity speaks plainly: “it is a democratic country...we are saying what we see…we have evidence…it’s is about being courageous and speaking out…. so you can put things right” 
The report suggests that the situation for charities is getting worse just at the point when it needs to get better - in order to give a voice to those most affected by austerity. It notes that the injunction to silence the knowledgeable voluntary organisation from talking about its experiences would be quite at home in any totalitarian regime that seeks to crush independent or divergent voices. The report concludes that funding can, and does, act as a brake on the ability to campaign and asks: if the campaigning role is stifled who will provide the evidence to those in positions of power to effect changes; and who will support disadvantaged communities to have their own voice? It predicts that if this trend continues voluntary organisations look set to be ‘saying less’ in austerity UK.
Finally, I had no idea the benefit sanctions saga is becoming quite serious, as discussed here on the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies website:-
Benefit sanctions: Britain's secret penal system

Few people know that the number of financial penalties (‘sanctions’) imposed on benefit claimants by the Department of Work and Pensions now exceeds the number of fines imposed by the courts. In Great Britain in 2013, there were 1,046,398 sanctions on Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, 32,128 on Employment and Support Allowance claimants, and approximately 44,000 on lone parent recipients of Income Support. By contrast, Magistrates’ and Sheriff courts imposed a total of only 849,000 fines.
Sanctioned benefit claimants are treated much worse than those fined in the courts. The scale of penalties is more severe (£286.80 - £11,185.20 compared to £200 - £10,000). Most sanctions are applied to poor people and involve total loss of benefit income. Although there is a system of discretionary ‘hardship payments’, claimants are often reduced to hunger and destitution by the ban on application for the first two weeks and by lack of information about the payments and the complexity of the application process. The hardship payment system itself is designed to clean people out of resources; all savings or other sources of assistance must be used up before help is given.
Decisions on guilt are made in secret by officials who have no independent responsibility to act lawfully; since the Social Security Act 1998 they have been mere agents of the Secretary of State. These officials are currently subject to constant management pressure to maximise penalties, and as in any secret system there is a lot of error, misconduct, dishonesty and abuse. The claimant is not present when the decision on guilt is made and is not legally represented. While offenders processed in the court system cannot be punished before a hearing, and if fined are given time to pay, the claimant’s punishment is applied immediately. Unlike a magistrate or sheriff, the official deciding the case does not vary the penalty in the light of its likely impact on them or their family. If the claimant gets a hearing (and even before the new system of ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ only 3 per cent of sanctioned claimants were doing so), then it is months later, when the damage has been done. ‘Mandatory reconsideration’, introduced in October 2013, denies access to an independent Tribunal until the claimant has been rung up at home twice and forced to discuss their case with a DWP official in the absence of any adviser – a system which is open to abuse and has caused a collapse in cases going to Tribunal.
‘Sanctions’ are almost entirely a development of the last 25 years. The British political class has come to believe that benefit claimants must be punished to make them look for work in ways the state thinks are a good idea. Yet the evidence to justify this does not exist. A handful of academic papers, mostly from overseas regimes with milder sanctions, suggest that sanctions may produce small positive effects on employment. But other research shows that their main effect is to drive people off benefits but not into work, and that where they do raise employment, they push people into low quality, unsustainable jobs. This research, and a torrent of evidence from Britain’s voluntary sector, also shows a wide range of adverse effects. Sanctions undermine physical and mental health, cause hardship for family and friends, damage relationships, create homelessness and drive people to Food Banks and payday lenders, and to crime. They also often make it harder to look for work. Taking these negatives into account, they cannot be justified.
Benefit sanctions are an amateurish, secret penal system which is more severe than the mainstream judicial system, but lacks its safeguards. It is time for everyone concerned for the rights of the citizen to demand their abolition.


  1. I'm not quite sure why the conservatives don't simply dissolve parliament and set up Cameron as a dictator. It would make life so much simpler for the politicos to do away with the pesky pretence of democracy so they could get on with the business of establishing a totalitarian regime without interference. They could get on with mass starvation of the lower classes unimpeded though quite what they will do when they have exterminated them for servants and slave labour I'm not sure.

  2. reading this makes me feel physically sick. I heard part of a programme about the Benefit system on local radio last week, with listeners calls. I was driving and unable to listen to the whole programme but what I did hear, appalled me. One whistle blower, who left in disgust, gave several examples of the evil sanctions for exceptionally minor reasons, like a single mother being forced to work nights and weekends, which would have meant leaving a small child alone at home. Refusal meant complete loss of benefits. Although an advisor said that this was illegal if you had children under 13, I would still not wish to leave a 13 year old home alone.

    The whistle-blower said that his manager would instruct the staff to aggravate the claimants so that they would storm out and stop claiming. This would then be recorded as another success story, removing another statistic from the unemployed register.

    This is all so sickening to the point of it being like a bad bizarre dream. I thought I was aware of the rottenness at the core of the Benefit system et al, but particularly at this current time, I cannot help making comparisons with the way Jewish communities were treated in their homes,to the point of starvation in their homes, prior to the horrors of concentration camps.

    1. You have to wonder at the mentality of those imposing this regime of sanctions against benefit claimants. Given that we are remembering the horrors of Auschwitz this week, this story reminds me so much of the Nazis in the way they behaved towards those they considered the "undesirables" in German society. Makes you wonder if the DWP is considering setting up concentration camps for benefit claimants at some point in the not to distant future. Or making them all live in ghettos like the Germans made the Jews do in Poland.

    2. I've posted before about my 2 nieces. Both living at home. Both now working. They both were sanctioned whilst claiming, for non attendance of appointments that they had no notice of. Both appealed and won back missed payments. It seems to be too much of a coincidence to me. They were both handled by the same office. I'd love to know if they counted as non-claimants for the purpose of meeting a target and when they were put back in the stats as claimants, the previous stats were amended. My money says no. It looks like a fiddle to me.

    3. Anon 11.15, you have overplayed your hand by comparing HM Government to Nazi Germany. I doubt if concentration camps for benefit claimants are being planned! I am not happy about the sanction system either, not least due to the number of mistakes being made, but I think your imagination has got the better of you. I would imagine the remaining survivors of Auschwitz may have something to say to you.

    4. You too will go on ze list 19.31. Vot is your name?.

      Don't tell him Pike!

  3. I think there are an important point to be made here. The implementation of policy is the responsibility of ordinary citizens not politicians and the excuse of 'obeying orders' is no excuse. With Probation, I am already seeing managers on both sides of the NPS/CRC divide implementing policy with appalling insensitivity but, of greater concern, by the use of bullying and aggression. Managers need to remember the difference between managing and leading, taking people with you. Hacking people of is not remotely motivational and, ultimately, counterproductive.

    1. having experienced these tactics, I suggest these 'managers' read their organisations anti bullying policy!

    2. the probation service pre TR was moving more and more towards bullying and aggression - its nothing new - put up, shut up and do what you are told - meeting targets have been the only importance for a number of years - client needs as been secondary to meeting targets since the 2003 Rehabilitation Act which was imposed by Government. For far too long sitting behind a PC to meet the every increasing demands has destroyed Probation long ago through bureaucratic, time consuming processes, poor IT and ticky boxes.


    1. And maybe its time to sanction Grayling??

    2. In 2009, Chris Grayling promised to sell his London flat and repay any profit to the taxpayer.

      He wrote in the Epsom Guardian, his local paper:

      "As a result of recent changes to the rules and the row over parliamentary expenses, I took a voluntary decision to give up claiming the allowance immediately, to sell the flat and to repay profit made from its sale to the taxpayer."

      There is no record of this repayment. Numerous requests for information from Grayling's office have been met with a blank refusal to provide any further evidence that it was made.

      It's possible the payment was made. The records we have are incomplete, having been destroyed under Commons rules. But his office's refusal to provide any evidence of it suggests the old arrogance of MPs is reasserting itself as memories of the expenses scandal fade.

      There was good reason for Grayling to make the promise. He claimed for a London flat, even though his "imposing" constituency home with its "sweeping" drive was just 17 miles from the House of Commons, in the heart of the Surrey commuter belt. For that matter, he also owned two terraced houses in Wimbledon, which he was renting out.

      When the Telegraph started publishing the explosive details of MP's expenses claims on a daily basis in May 2009, Grayling was one of the first they targeted. The newspaper reported that he'd bought the Pimlico flat in 2001, almost as soon as he was elected an MP, for £127,000. The next year he set up a rather unusual arrangement with the parliamentary fees office, with a £625 a month claim for mortgages on two different properties – the main constituency home and the London flat. After four years, he ended that arrangement.

      In the meantime, he started doing up the flat. Just after the May 2005 general election he claimed £4,250 for redecorating and £1,561 for a new bathroom. The next month he claimed £1,341 for new kitchen units. The month after that he put in a claim for another £1,527 for plumbing and £1,950 for further work.

    3. Contd

      The refurbishment would have been way over the amount set by the rules, even in the liberal golden era before the expenses scandal. But Grayling's claims were made over two years. In the financial year 2005/06, he claimed close to the maximum amount. Then in the next financial year, he continued to hand in receipts for the refurbishment work.

      In June 2006, he submitted an invoice for £3,534 for service and maintenance of the flat. This included £1,148 service charge and then a further £1,956. A handwritten note informed the fees office: "Please note this has only just been issued, date notwithstanding."

      The next month he handed in a £2,250 claim for further "remedial and refurbishment works". The Telegraph said he wrote on the claim form: "Decorator has been very ill & didn't invoice me until now." This statement is not found on the documents published by parliament, but this may be because large portions of it are redacted.

      The Telegraph found that in 2004/05 he claimed £12,738, in 2005/06 he claimed £20,616, in 2006/07 he claimed £19,618 and in 2007/08 he claimed £15,332.

      Presumably all that refurbishment boosted the value of the flat. The Telegraph found a studio flat in the same block at the time on sale for £235,000. A local estate agent told the Mirror at the time that some properties in the block were selling for as much as £330,000.

      Throughout this period, journalists failed to find much evidence of Grayling actually staying at the flat. One neighbour told the Mirror he'd never seen Grayling when shown a picture of him. Another said: "I don't know him at all. There is a light on occasionally, but he is not here very often." And a woman from a flat beneath the MP's said: "I have no idea who this man is." Journalists found his post box packed with unopened mail.

      None of this looked good. After all, Grayling was shadow home secretary and the Conservative party's 'attack dog' against Labour. Days before the Telegraph published his expenses he was telling Labour's Jacqui Smith she had "questions to answer" after claiming towards her family home in Worcestershire.

      So Grayling made a series of promises to his local paper. The flat was to be sold and the profit paid back. Furnishings bought in recent years would be bought back from the Fees Office. And he went further, saying:

      "Since the House of Commons authorities made available past receipts to MPs in April, I have been through all the documentation carefully to identify any mistakes I might have made and rectify them.

      "I have discovered a small number – as well as a couple of occasions when I think the Fees Office gave me the wrong advice – and so I have repaid the money involved.

      "Over the summer, every expense claim by every MP will be audited and naturally if the auditors believe that any of my other claims are not correct I will refund the money."

      But there's no record of a payment substantial enough to relate to the flat sale.

      There are gaps in the records and it is possible Grayling's payment was made in one of these. We can't be sure, because Grayling's office refuses to provide any details. After numerous efforts to contact them, they have only made one statement:

      "Mr Grayling kept this promise to his constituents."

      The files detailing all payments made by MPs to the Fees Office between April 1st 2009 and December 18th 2009 show Grayling made two separate payments under 'service charge' - one for £756.06 and another for £957.33. He made another payment of £4,142.75 for 'food and furniture' claimed between 2004 and 2008. And there is a final payment of £368.88, for which there are no details supplied and where the year of the original claim is not specified.

    4. Conclusion

      What are these payments? It's possible the 'food and furniture' payment covers the furnishings made to the flat. Perhaps the service charge payments are mistakes he spotted going over his receipts. They surely can't refer to the profit from the flat sale, unless he got a very bad deal. Given the estimates of the time, he should have made somewhere between £100,000 and £200,000.

      There is another document of payments to the Fees Office between December 19th 2009 and April 12th 2010. Grayling's name does not feature in it.

      That's all the data we have available. The two documents cited above only exist because someone made freedom of information requests and the responses are still online. The original documentation has been destroyed. As the Fees Office said:

      "In accordance with the House's records disposal policy, no records are held covering expenses repayments made by MPs before 2009 or between March 2010 and March 2011. The retention period for general financial data, of which members' expenses is a sub set, is three years after the relevant financial year finishes. For the period from April 2011, there is no record of any correspondence between the House and Mr Grayling relating to this matter."

      Grayling's statement to the Epsom Guardian is in the past tense, although that could relate to the decision to sell the flat rather than the sale itself. Perhaps the payment appeared in pre-April 2009 documents, or ones dating between April 2010 and April 2011. After all, it takes a while to sell a flat.

      We don't know, because Grayling refuses to release any information about the sale.

      Now that the expenses scandal has started to fade into memory, you can sense a tentative retreat from the transparency it produced. At the heart of the scandal was not greed, but trust. It is simply not enough to make a promise on expenses and refuse to demonstrate it has been fulfilled. The lord chancellor owes his constituents and taxpayers proof that he stuck to his pledge.

  5. A great article here by Frances Crook- If she was prime minister.


    1. So who's on their way out - Grayling or McDowell?

      "It's time the UK got over its morbid addiction with punishment and started working better with offenders," claimed HM Chief Inspector of Probation Paul McDowell this week in Birmingham.

      The probation chief was presented with an Honorary Doctorate degree from Birmingham City University on Monday 26 January, where he spoke of the major issues facing the running of today's prisons and rubbished new guidance issued this week by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling into tackling illegal drug crime inside prison.

      "The key challenge at the moment is addressing the staff to prisoner ratio," said Paul.

      "If it were up to me I'd have fewer people in prison and more people on community penalties. We should free up more time and resource inside prisons to really work with individuals to get them ready for their lives back in communities."

      Paul argues we need a 'reality check' on the current approach that prisons are taking to crack down on drug use. "Unless we start to deal with drugs in an entirely different way culturally and if we continue to criminalise individuals with drug addictions, we're never going to solve the problem.

      "Chris Grayling's zero tolerance approach is too narrow a view and all it will do is exacerbate the already existing problems.

      "It's about time we got over our rather morbid addiction to punishment and recognise what it is that we're trying to achieve. Are we in it because we want to punish people or are we in it because we want to protect victims?

      "If we want to protect victims, we've got to reduce crime. And if we want to reduce crime, we've got to do the right thing with offenders - putting aside personal views on their offences."

      Paul became HM Chief Inspector of Probation in February 2014 and has worked in the criminal justice sector for a quarter of a century.

      Prior to his current role, Paul spent five years as Chief Executive Officer at crime reduction charity Nacro and has also worked as a Prison Governor at HM Prison Coldingley and HM Prison Brixton, where he halved assault rates and had considerable success in challenging cultural attitudes related to issues of diversity."

    2. The problem that Paul McDowell has is that arguing for more community based sentences could be seen as an attempt to get more business for his wife at Sodexo.

      Who shoud go? I think both should!

    3. Obviously they are both compromised

  7. I am asking a question and offering a potential bit of an answer to a blog question on 27/5/14.

    Today I read in Nle Journal of 'a new role at prisoners' charity for former boss' - You may remember the name Russell Bruce, formerly Ch Exec of DurhamTeesValley Trust. The paper refers to his previous role but he has now taken up a 'new role at the helm of a charity which helps prisoners' families - NEPACS'. I did wonder if he had previously moved across to the CRC ,which included a Probation staff mutual, but found no record..

    So having googled his name I found a ref to this Blog , and the guest blog on 27/5/14- 'The Last Word' - a very emotional article, written by Joe Kuipers, highly respected outgoing chair of Avon and Somerset Trust.

    Scrolling down the comments, which included press reports on the collapsing staff at Darlington Probation Office, there was Russell spouting about how wonderful everything would eventually become in the new golden world of privatisation. (is it all coming back to you?) He came in for a lot of criticism and how much would he have gained from his 2 fiefdoms of DTV and Cumbria, to whom a lent an occasional leg up. It was suggested that he had something up his sleeve after he was released from the Trusts.

    So I am asking a question - what has he been doing since last June? - no mention in the Journal, and no mention on the NEPACS site, which lists his previous experiences. And my answer to the comment on last May's blog appears to be that he was negotiating his way onto NEPACS board of trustees.

    Make what you will... is he a wholesome ethical man who wants to be out of the rat race and providing genuine support to troubled families, or is there another agenda?

    And does anyone care?

    1. Northern Evho:

      "A FORMER probation chief has signed up to helping a prisoners’ charity.

      Russell Bruce, formerly chief executive of the Durham and Tees Valley Probation Service, has been made a trustee of Durham-based Nepacs, which supports prisoners and their families.

      Mr Bruce worked in probation from 1982 until his retirement in 2013 and was influential in creating the current service.

      Helen Attewell, Nepcas’ chief executive, said: “We are delighted to welcome Russell Bruce to our board of trustees.

      “Through our work with probation services we have worked with Russell in the past and are confident that his extensive skills and experience of working with offenders and their families will be an asset to Nepacs.”

      Mr Bruce said he was delighted to join Nepacs.

      “Recent evidence highlights families as being central and vital in helping to aid resettlement of prisoners back into the community on release and reduce reoffending.

      “I hope my experience will help in a small way and I look forward to working with colleagues to that end,” he added."

      Doncha just love the modesty of this man! We were well rid of the bullying nitwit - even if it cost a fortune to pay off his ego.

    2. This is so unfair. He would have nothing to do with TR as he thought it went against everything he believed in and had spent his life doing. He could have had any job he chose in nps or a crc but walked on principle. Glad to see he is back on the charity sector. We need more like him

    3. He grasped TR like you wouldn't believe! Arrogant beyond measure, he stated he would only do a job that was big enough for him - he wasn't interested in anything less!
      So I would suggest NEPACS beware, he will only be involved to empire build, or perhaps to get the gong he feels he deserved. Ask any PO/PSO in Cumbria or DTV, he was arrogant beyond belief. Look at the title of today's blog - very appropriate.

    4. The arrogance of the man. To 23:29 "he had not to do with TR as he thought it went against everything he believed in etc etc" I say this: He like so many other chiefs and board chairs did not have the courage to stand up and be counted when it mattered - if he really cared so much about the profession the was deemed to have loved some much - he would have fought it. He was mastering his payout from the start - planning and plotting. Staff told he went without any payment, just simply retired - I would encourage staff of the old DTV Probation Trust to make a FOI request - discover the real facts.

    5. Pam McPhee was a well respected Chief Officer at Durham Probation. She commanded respect because she gave respect to all staff across Durham Probation regardless of grade. She would listen to staff from the bottom up. Russell Bruce could never fill her shoes because he simply did not have the communication or man-management skills to do so.

  8. Beyond any shadow of a doubt he is one of the most unpleasant characters I have ever encountered professionally. Since he left as Chief Exec of both Cumbria and DTV it is interesting how many of his senior managers have sought to distance themselves from his ways of working. Area management meetings under his rule were dominated by the phrase JFDI, a disgraceful way to treat staff at any level. You really had to see him in action before you could believe how he behaved.
    This just cements every fear expressed on this blog over time about the operation of charities. I really pity all who have to deal with him.

  9. Court Work Practices - Greater London

    "Following the responses to the email that was sent out to (Napo - Greater London Branch) members last week asking about practices in court, please find attached the paper that has now been submitted to the Deputy Director of the London NPS."

  10. For a few seconds I was thinking "it'd be great if the Tories get back in in May, I'd love to see what Grayling blames next for the escalating prison crisis." Then I realised what I'd done.

    There's no way Cameron is bringing Grayling back, the man is more toast than breakfast.

  11. Does anyone really think that Mr Graylings cares one jot about anything or anyone other than himself and his own. It seems really clear that he has already sorted out where he is going next,back to sales and marketing,with a PR set up run by his mates. This time the stealing what was the UK CJ system and selling it to the world.

  12. Wiki states: "According to a 2013 Pew global opinion poll, 88% of Jordanians express a favourable view of Saudi Arabia, with 11% expressing an unfavourable view, the most favourable opinion of the KSA in the Middle East."

    Maybe the Saudis will have a quiet word with IS to get the Jordanian pilot released? Wonder if JSi are on commission? CG might need to raise a few bob to keep his promise to the electorate (paying back expenses etc)?