Wednesday, 25 February 2015


Just by way of demonstrating how far the language of probation is changing on a daily basis, I thought it might be worth publishing a few snippets from the latest NPS staff newsletter. I don't know about you, but I'm finding it hard to believe the authors were ever probation officers. The disconnect is vast and the first paragraph makes me want to weep:- 

"We have recently launched an exciting project which I am convinced is going to make a huge difference for probation staff in their work with offenders."

NPS News Issue 29 19 February 2015

Deputy Director’s message

We have recently launched an exciting project which I am convinced is going to make a huge difference for probation staff in their work with offenders.

EQuiP is the new process management system for the NPS and we will be mapping all
operational processes. This will mean that staff will have up to date and accurate processes on their desk top, complete with the appropriate forms and guidance attached.

Our jobs involve lots of procedures and paperwork and we want to reduce the time it takes to search for these forms or looking back in past editions of NPS News for the relevant information. Offender managers are there to do just that: manage offenders and EQuiP will give everyone more time to be able to do that.

As a National Probation Service we need to have consistency of process but there needs to some room for local application because we know our partners and the courts work in different ways. EQuiP should benefit offenders because they will receive the same service even if they move around during their supervision period.

I have experience of developing and implementing this kind of system in two previous Trusts so I am confident of its value in our service delivery.

Each NPS Deputy Director has a national portfolio and EQuiP will be structured in the same way. We are appointing Process Owners for each process and Process Managers for each sub-process. For example, my portfolio is public protection which includes, sex offenders, domestic abuse, and Approved Premises.

It can get quite complex and in due course there will be around 200 process maps - all mapped by subject experts within the NPS. The aspiration is that the creation of EQuiP is built by staff for staff – this isn’t about people sitting in a central office somewhere and not involving those who do the job on a daily basis. Anyone across the country can be a Process Manager for a process in which they have a keen interest.

All the Process Owners in the NPS have linked up with the relevant NOMS policy leads which, for the first time, gives us a real opportunity to influence national policy. Our priority is to map our operational processes which we expect to take a year but then we want to map Shared Services and Corporate Services processes.

Lynda Marginson, Deputy Director NPS North East

E3 Programme update

Following the launch of the E3 Programme in the first issue of NPS News, this fortnight we look at the programme in more detail.

The aim of E3 is to build an efficient, effective and excellent NPS. We will do this by achieving the following outcomes:
  • To fully establish the identity and character of the NPS as a national organisation operating from seven divisions, not as the legacy parts of 35 former Probation Trusts. Critically, this includes identifying a more consistent approach to delivery of services.
  • To deliver a service that is further underpinned by evidence-based practice and which delivers through partnership to protect the public through reducing reoffending, harm and number of victims
  • To embed continuous improvement as the way that we do business - creating a culture that encourages new ideas and ways of working 
  • Continuing to invest in our staff and ensuring that we have the right people with the right skills in the right place doing the right things in the right way
  • To provide an improved ICT infrastructure, including enhancements to Delius 
What are the key milestones?

There are three planned phases to the E3 work:

Between now and summer 2015 we will assess current practice and design any improvements to practice.

Through the second half of this year we will implement priority changes to address key pressures. A second wave of implementation will then follow in 2016.

What’s happened so far?

The E3 Programme Board, chaired by Colin Allars, meets monthly to manage overall delivery and to set the direction for E3, which including agreeing priorities, timescales, budget and approach.

To ensure there is sufficient trade union (TU) engagement with the programme, it has been agreed that the programme will also look to establish an E3 TU group as a separate branch to the Probation Consultative Forum (PCF).

The E3 Programme has already acknowledged that there are inconsistencies in roles and responsibilities across the NPS. E3 will look to address these inconsistencies with the aim of ensuring fairness and consistency in job roles across the NPS in consultation with the TU group as well as core staffing groups.

How can I engage with E3?

Staff engagement is central to E3, and all staff will be encouraged to take an active role. Starting with three NPS senior leaders events scheduled for March, there will be an E3 focus at staff engagement events from now on.

And all staff can engage with E3 starting now by contacting the programme’s new functional mailbox - – with any questions or suggestions.

Wellbeing 2015

This year, we are focusing on supporting staff in recovery and prevention of illness. We know that the reasons behind staff absence are often complex, so in order to address this challenge; we have produced a range of material that provide support to staff and managers.

We have created 20 guides covering everything from mental and physical wellbeing, to offering support to a colleague through bereavement. They have been divided by topic so that you can quickly and easily access the relevant information you need.  

Three guides have been created specifically with our employees in mind, with the remaining 17 guides designed to help managers support their staff, but we would encourage you to become familiar with all of the topics so you understand your rights and responsibilities. Don’t forget, further advice and support is always available on the Employee Assistance Programme Help.

We have also produced a video for managers, to help remind them of the core elements of our attendance processes. Videos are being sent out to every LDU cluster along with a letter of guidance for their use.

In addition to this, keep an eye out for attendance and well-being focused articles throughout the year. Each month we’ll feature an individual or organisation which has overcome a significant challenge. We’ll be examining best practice, and highlighting the support available for those facing similar challenges. 

Business Support Applications Update 

Significant work has been undertaken during the TR Programme to identify the locally
developed Business Support Applications that the NPS still needs to support delivery.
Our first priority has been to ensure that all such applications are moved under the control of the NPS so that the staff who rely on them on a day to day basis can continue to access the systems with which they are familiar. But where possible we have also looked at opportunities to harmonise from lots of local systems doing similar things to a single national system.

There are currently 90 different Victims Databases in operation. All of these systems, whether they are still in use or just contain legacy information, will be brought into the NPS. We will then start the gradual roll out of Aegis (a system developed by Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust) across the NPS. Aegis has gone through rigorous testing and is now ready to deploy across the NPS.

Before we do this there are some improvements to its functionality that we want to make. We expect to start migrating some databases onto Aegis from during the second quarter of 2015. However, before we decide to migrate any database we will work with Victim Liaison Officers (VLOs) and the relevant middle and senior managers in the Division to assess the impact of moving to Aegis.

While Aegis is a good system, it doesn't fully meet all of our business requirements. There are also some technical limitations to it as a system which mean we need to plan now to put in place a more strategic solution. The NPS has therefore commissioned the development of a full set of business requirements. This is the first step towards creating a new victims database.

VLOs, managers and other practitioners will be invited to take part in that work. It’s too early to set an exact date by which this system will be in use. But we're aiming for delivery in 2016. More detailed briefing on this plan has been provided in due course.

The MAPPA databases used locally are also being migrated to the NPS Shared Drive and will continue to be available to local users. Longer term we will look at what options there are to harmonise to a standardised national MAPPA database. This will include reviewing the outcome of current pilots of a more web-based system and exploring the potential to integrate MAPPA with other systems.

The email to text messaging systems will continue to be available to the NPS. But we will move to a new supplier from April 2015 to bring us into line with the provision elsewhere in the MoJ. The functionality available under this contract will be equivalent to that currently available. Further details will follow as we near roll out. 

A number of corporate support applications have also been adopted for use within the NPS. The most significant of these is Unicorn which will provide a directory of all staff in the NPS and structured mail groups to make communications easier to direct at those with a clear interest. There is some data entry work still to do, but we expect to start to roll Unicorn out to parts of the NPS later this month.

CRCs continue to provide support in some areas to the NPS in terms of access to legacy applications. A final audit is being undertaken at the moment to ensure all of those applications have been identified and decisions made as to whether they need to be migrated.

Jim Barton, Deputy Director NPS Development & Business Change


  1. "ego non capio; ik begrijp het niet; eu non entendo; не розумію; e kore e matau i."

    This is the opening paragraph for my proposed policy document for the NPS, or maybe a CRC - I'm not overly fussy. If anyone is interested in the complete text I can provide a Swiss Bank Account for receipt of funds.

  2. What.

    I give up, I seriously do.

    1. Agreed.
      Pots of gold
      Little green men
      Man in the moon

    2. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
      Peter Venkman: What?
      Spengler: Don't cross the streams (nps & crc?)
      Venkman: Why?
      Spengler: It would be bad.
      Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
      Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
      Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal!
      Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.


  4. Equip?

    Like the author, I too have experience of similar process maps developed in my Trust. It was never used by staff because it's interface was totally absent from practice reality. If it doesn't connect then it will be a vanity project.

  5. Managerialism has come full force to CRC and NPS. This is not going to end well.

  6. Probation Officer25 February 2015 at 08:25

    It's all gobbledegook - I've no idea what the NPS newsletter is saying. It seems we're getting processes for processes and guides to tell us when we're too stressed to read them. Nobody reads or uses process maps, audits and databases are of no benefit to probation officers, and IT upgrades are pointless when the IT is shite. My view can be summed up as Believe It Or Not I DONT Care.

  7. We are all getting ridiculous numbers of briefings on updates on our email. If they get opened at all, they usually get discarded after reading the first paragraph, or more likely two sentences. Yesterday we got an urgent update on a briefing paper that no-one remembered or ever opened. It was written in a language no-one could understand. The next update might include a dictionary that no-one will ever look at!
    The fact that a 'Deputy Director' or whatever she is, could seriously think that this communication would be welcomed is unreal. The disconnect is now staggering. We need things that matter and make sense.

  8. but what do they DO????!!!!!!!!

  9. Do management go on some sort of course to learn how to speak/write such meaningless drivel? This is simply not the way normal people communicate so there must be some sort of training to be able to witter on and say absolutely nothing of worth

  10. Where are the offenders in this management speak, the people NPS are supposed to be working with to rehabilitate or protect the community from? This is someone who know nothing but wants to pretend what they are doing is important. Its a case of read and weep or laugh.

    1. I agree, it took same dep director 15 minutes to mention clients at recent engagement shots! Its all bollocks!

  11. Talk about "fiddling while Rome burns".

  12. Do that lot just sit around desks (I bet THEY don't hot desk), discussing what rubbish they can think of next to complicate everything for no meaningful purpose. 200 process maps (everyone can have one)?? 20 wellbeing guides -3 for staff and 17 for managers 'supporting ' staff - plus videos to show them out to do it???!!! And how much will this all cost?

    And you never know, one day some genius might come up with an amazing idea and call it 'THE WHEELl'... Now THAT would be something really useful!

    Oh dear , this is all so very sad- how far away is the day when the National Probation Service is renamed NATIONAL OFFENDER PROCESS SERVICE??? NOPS!

  13. Ironic on the day it's announced that 6 billion of the NHS budget will be devolved to Manchester Council, we, to borrow a phrase, see Colin Allars continue his transformation from Mr Bean to Stalin. These process maps are disablers, not enablers; they are not about support, they are about surveillance; they will not encourage autonomy and the exercise of professional judgement, they enshrine micromanagement. And woe betide any worker with an SFO, as their actions will be ticked off against the commandants of process maps – it's management by flowcharts and it neatly protects managers from operational responsibilities – as they 'own' policy as cascaded through their flowcharts while overworked frontline staff will have to be word-perfect in following these diktats.

    There will be a PCF – probation consultative forum. They will hope some frontline staff will engage with the development of E3. No doubt it will attract some staff who wish to acquire privilege and power. As for the trade unions, there is yet another forum – the E3 – TU group that will be ancillary to the PCF. This, in effect, pays lip service to meaningful consultations with the trade unions. The E3 – TU will be a sideshow and the PCF will be used to make sure that it stays a sideshow. These 'staff councils' are simply devices to marginalise the trade unions. The unions will have to swallow their pride to attend such meetings, as their existence will make a mockery of the union's recognition rights to collectively represent members.

    As for their bogus concerns about staff welfare and sickness management, the probation trusts set the aggressive practices in this area, with many adopting the Bradford Factor. A Trust I knew well was ruthless towards many staff who had the misfortune to become ill. They understood broken legs but when it involved anything to do with mental health, they were Darwinists/Eugenists. Remarkable, really, for a service that has many clients with mental health issues.


    2. Devolving the NHS Budget and decision making in Manchester is a fabulous ground breaking idea, that perhaps could be carried across by the MoJ to Manchester as an experiment in joined up devolved working. They could call it about .....Greater Manchester Probation Trust, or would that be too forward thinking???

  14. "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore Toto".

    1. Oh Dorothy your so right, look there's shit creek, we've no paddle, but shit loads of processes! Toto!

  15. The news channel that comes between sky & bbc (on a skybox) is carrying live coverage of the committee questioning two of the HSBC chiefs, Gullible & Skinflint. Of course, Mr Gullible hasn't done anything wrong at all - he's just been hiding his marks for his homework (aka £millions in bonuses) so he doesn't get called a swot and beaten to death by the school bully (aka shopped by jealous colleagues).

    At one point Gulliver said "We have systems and processes and surveillance and monitoring..." - sounds familiar?

    Their arrogance, unshakeable belief in their own bullshit and utter disregard for other peoples' lives ("I've sharpened up the company operating profile and reduced staffing by some 50,000 [big smile]" is also sounding familiar.

    1. Just watched the last half hour of the Gulliver/Flint grilling & as a direct result of the utter claptrap they came out with I'll be going to the bank to close my HSBC account tomorrow.

  16. Meanwhile, back at Westminster:

    By Freya Findlay

    MPs must be allowed to hold second jobs, to avoid becoming “professional politicians”.

    Rejecting demands that MPs should seek no extra earnings outside parliament, Rory Stewart insists that if MPs were forced to work only in politics – for a basic £67,000 a year salary – there would be risk of constituents losing a breadth of knowledge and experience.

    The Conservative member for Penrith and the Border said: “I believe very strongly that Parliament is better and richer for having people who are not just professional politicians, people who are able to have experience of the outside world.

    “But what we must not have – and that’s what Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind showed – is conflict of interest.”

    Former foreign secretaries Jack Straw and Sir Malcolm Rifkind are facing pressure over cash-for-access allegations, following an undercover sting by reporters from Channel 4’s Dispatches and The Telegraph. Both deny they broke any Commons rules.

    Although Mr Stewart defended his own right to hold a second job, Tony Cunningham, Labour MP for Workington, believes being a politician is a full-time commitment, if it is done properly. “There is no role or place for another job alongside it,” he said. “Your duty is to your constituents and that’s 100 per cent full-time.”

    1. Anne Widdicombe, Nadine Dorries and Edwina Currie all published novels whilst being MPs. William Hague and Ian Duncan-Smith did the same whilst holding ministerial posts. So, patently, being a parliamentarian is only full time in their dreams. Or they could have devilishly clever process maps that they get their minions to follow whilst they battle writer's block. When Sir Stuart Bell MP, died in 2012, it emerged that he hadn't held a constituency surgery for over 20 years because his constituents scared him. He represented Middlesbrough. Yet, no matter what the 2 main parties do or get caught doing or not doing, the plebs, (it must be you, because it ain't me) still vote for them.

    2. Re Sir Stuart Bell, he spent most of his time at his home in France......that's the main reason for not holding surgeries. Constituents didn't scare him - he never met them....

  17. "Amnesty attacks UK's assault on civil liberties and justice"

    By Paul Gallagher. from "The Independent" today.

    An assault on civil liberties and the reduction of access to justice has led to one of the worst assaults on human rights in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall, according to a damning Amnesty International report published today.

    The Conservative - led Coalition has rushed through legislation such as anti-terror measures and invasive surveillance powers without adequate time for parliamentary debate, amnesty said in its "State of the World's Human Rights" report.

    The NGO condemned David Cameron for not only "leading the charge" in attacking the European Convention of Human Rights, but also for passing legislation that has come at a cost of basic civil liberties. Amnesty's report warns that draft proposals threaten significant restrictions on rights. Legal aid cuts "continue to restrict access to justice, it added.

  18. A document to give sleeping tablets a run for their money!

  19. "The main purpose behind business process mapping is to assist organizations in becoming more efficient. A clear and detailed business process map or diagram allows outside firms to come in and look at whether or not improvements can be made to the current process."
    They think we're daft don't they? NPS is next.....remember MOJ needs to save 30% in the next Parliament.....

  20. This is a great blog and well titled......totally agree with Netnipper's post. These are Godawful people....leaders???? Oh how I want to LEAVE>>>>>

  21. She might as well have cut/pasted from here.

    I was tempted to reply to her email and warn her that her account had been hijacked and that someone was sending out bullshit emails from it!!!


    An officer at a Serco-run immigration centre justified leaking stories to The Sun by claiming the firm turned a blind eye to corruption, a court has heard.

    Mark Blake, a detention custody officer at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre, was paid nearly £8,000 for tips between 2008 and 2010, the trial heard.

    Those tips allegedly led to headlines about "cushy" conditions at the west London facility, such as "Gastrojail".

    Mr Blake, 43, from Slough, denies misconduct in a public office.

    The tips led to 10 stories in the tabloid newspaper, including headlines "Wiis for foreign lags in UK jails" and "We fund massages for foreign killers", jurors were told.

    Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told the Old Bailey jury that Mr Blake had received training about not talking to the press.

    When police arrested him in March 2013, he told them the information was "all public interest", the court heard.

    'No pay expected'

    Colnbrook is an immigration removal centre, near Heathrow Airport, which provides 318 spaces for male and female detainees, including individuals considered "high risk".

    Mr Blake justified leaking stories to police by saying there was violence between detainees and "widespread drug abuse" at the centre, Mr Rees said.

    The defendant also told police that Serco would give detainees items to avoid paying fines if disorder broke out, the court heard.

    He gave an example of a man who assaulted a female officer and was given a new X-box to play, the jury heard.

    Colnbrook UK outsourcing company Serco secured the contract to run Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre in 2002
    Mr Blake told police that the detainee's games console was replaced when he smashed it.

    He said he was told to "man up" and get on with his job even though he was distressed about what was going on, jurors heard.

    Mr Blake said he first contacted The Sun because he knew what was happening at Colnbrook was wrong and did not expect payment, the court heard.

    However, Mr Rees told the jury that the prosecution did not accept Mr Blake's assertion that he made a written or verbal complaint before going to The Sun about every single story.

    Pop star's autograph

    The court was told of another alleged conspiracy between Daily Mirror reporter Graham Brough and a prison officer at HMP Pentonville in north London.

    The officer allegedly sold stories to the newspaper about celebrity Jack Tweed being on suicide watch.

    Another story claimed that inmates clamoured for pop star Boy George's autograph, the court heard.

    Between January 2009 and January 2010, the officer, who cannot be named, received four payments from the Daily Mirror totalling £1,150, Mr Rees said.

    Mark Blake denies conspiring to commit misconduct, and misconduct in a public office.

    He is standing trial alongside Mr Brough, 54, of south west London, and Sun journalists Tom Wells, 43, of south east London; Neil Millard, 33, of south Croydon; and a Sun reporter who cannot be named.

    All deny conspiring to commit misconduct. The trial continues.


  24. Probation officers (and some clients too) are generally pretty good at stringing words together as evidenced by the posts on this blog. I agree there must be a course where managers are trained how to forget this and instead adopt this new business speak- a way of masking content that doesn't amount to much it seems to me. They are also given delusional pills that make them think everything is OK bar a few hiccups.

    I try to read stuff, I really do but I get 'brain fail' (see todays guardian) when I try. I have however created a nice file in 'My Documents' where I'm dumping all of this garbage.

  25. We will then start the gradual roll out of Aegis (a system developed by Devon and Cornwall Probation Trust) across the NPS. Aegis has gone through rigorous testing and is now ready to deploy across the NPS.
    While Aegis is a good system, it doesn't fully meet all of our business requirements. There are also some technical limitations to it as a system which mean we need to plan now to put in place a more strategic solution. The NPS has therefore commissioned the development of a full set of business requirements. This is the first step towards creating a new victims database.
    So it's not that good after all ? or maybe, just maybe, there is another opportunity to line the packets of friends and old school pals, whilst continuing to sit around doing nothing of any use to anyone

  26. Interesting how they moved from NPS getting started to NPS News already, clearly they have conned themselves, perhaps they think others too, into believing all is in place and darn near hunky dory.
    OR, does all this relate to the absolutely appalling reviews received in the NPS survey ? I am still furious with those who didn't take up the opportunity. The results are around, but for some reason not being widely shared.. pretty damming by all accounts.

  27. If you were cynical you might ask why a loud mouth Tory mp with links to the gaming industry would be shouting about these statistics.
    You may wonder what he was 'looking' for when he 'uncovered' them in the first place?
    If you were 'more' cynical you may think that the MoJ actually fed him these stats, knowing that he'd shout his big mouth off and make a big issue of it.
    And if you were cynical to the point of conspiracy theory, you may even start thinking that the CRC owners could even have approached the MoJ asking for help and some 'breathing' space with regard to what may be considered as the most 'problematic' group in the <12month cohort.
    I think I'm cynical!


    1. There are some cracking quotes in this one - well spotted:

      "Mr (Philip) Davies told the Standard: “What I want to see are longer prison sentences. It’s not sending them to prison that’s causing the problem, it’s letting them out. A drug addict, for example, may get sentenced at a magistrates’ court to six months, then serve only three. That’s not enough time to get off drugs.”

      The figures were released in a Parliamentary answer that showed last year 807 of the 1,242 drug offenders jailed immediately after trial in England and Wales had more than ten previous convictions.

      Shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said: “People looking at these figures will question whether the justice system, after five years of a Tory and Lib-Dem government is up to scratch.

      “It is a scandal that so many offenders on drug charges are committing multiple offences. This government has no solutions, only excuses.”

      For class A drugs, 398 of the 585 offenders immediately jailed had more than ten convictions. A further 94 had between six and ten.

      Meanwhile, 366 of the 601 offenders sent to prison for class B drug crimes had more than ten convictions.

      For class C drugs, 43 of the 56 offenders jailed had more than ten convictions.

      A Ministry of Justice spokesman said the Government had put in place “tough sentences” for drug offences.

      He added that previous convictions are taken into account by the courts and do lead to more severe punishment, and said: “These re-offending figures again bear out the need for our newly-introduced reforms.

      “Too many criminals are walking the streets unsupervised and returning to crime.""

    2. I particularly enjoyed "It’s not sending them to prison that’s causing the problem, it’s letting them out."

      I also liked the added indignation at "too many criminals are walking the streets unsupervised..." ... This after Davies "uncovered" statistics about 1300 convicted people, representing 0.00002% of the population.

    3. Davies is an attention-seeking crusader who has bridges to build witihn the Tory party after having to apologise over his links to the gaming industry. He's still waiting for an answer to this question:

      "To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many offenders released from custody after serving a sentence handed down following the riots in London in 2011 have subsequently been convicted of a further offence and received a non-custodial sentence for that offence."

    4. ...but oops- a direct result of TR in our area is that high risk (or schedule 15 offences) DRR/OMU cases come to NPS and get less intensive supervision than before the split. Whose bright idea was that then ?
      ..also..ooops- a significant number of people I supervise have come out of prison with a drug problem they didn't have before they went in.

  28. Chris Grayling: "Rights boys and girl, damn TTG not going to be ready, I am NOT going to lose my legacy to society by sorting that pack of losers out"
    Dame Ursula Brennan: "Yes Minister, you have achieved so much we cannot allow your legacy to be damaged".
    Michael Spurr: " It is such an honour to serve you Minister, just tell me what to do"
    Collin Allars: "Yes,Minister anything, what is your bidding?"
    Simon Hughes:" Ooo Ooo, I know, we'll make them have longer sentences, say over twelve months...."
    Exit, pursued by a Bear......

    1. In the mean-time (for It is true, we ARE living in mean times), 27 prisoners are known to have died in custody in the UK this year so far. We're on track for another bumper crop of dead prisoners.

  29. Good-Christing-Hell. I don't know what terrifies me more: The fact that not only does this twaddle pass muster at High Command, or that someone thought it just the thing to pep up an already demoralised workforce. Want to know something really scary? This represents the best plan they've got for hammering a square peg into a round hole. Charts. Systems. Whisper on the grapevine has it that phone scripts are being considered to ensure continuity of supervision as workloads rotate around staff. This, to be fair, wasn't Grayling's big idea behind restructuring Probation - it's just one of the real world consequences of it . The Cocktrumpet.