Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Guest Blog 27


Hope you are well. Just thought I'd drop you a quick update. 

Well, as you know, a lot of POs have bailed out and gone back to NPS. It would seem there are now PO shortages in Xxxxxxxxxx, and Xxxxxxx LDU has been identified as having the capacity to send POs across to plug gaps. If no-one volunteers, people will be directed. How stressful! Not only have we been booted out of our service, we could now be booted out of our LDUs as well! Morale is really low. I don't know how offices will survive. For example, Xxxxxxx only has 4 x POs and if two are directed, that would only leave 2 plus 3 PSOs. 

Anyone who is directed will be walking into a whole new caseload of unknowns and will probably - as ever - be expected to hit the ground running. Those in offices where the POs are directed from will have to pick up all of the cases they leave behind. The workload weighting tool means nothing - it doesn't take account of the extra time it takes to do everything these days, the fact that Positive Pathways has to be done with every case not subject to an accredited programme, etc, etc. NAPO doesn't seem to care what's going on - the feeling in CRCs is that they seem more focused on NPS (it says something that most of our Union reps applied to go back to NPS, doesn't it?).

Since the introduction of the Offender Rehabilitation Act on 1st Feb, it would seem that even solicitors don't know what they are doing. One solicitor - mentioning no names but you would know him - was recently heard to comment, "Thank goodness the offence was committed before 1 Feb...." You may know that the ORA is the Act that introduces supervision for all offenders post custody, including those sentenced to under 12 mths. The way it works is, for example, if someone is given a 6 mths custodial sentence, they'd do 3 mths in prison, 3 mths on licence and a further 9 mths under supervision with probation. There's supposed to be a sentence plan in place before everyone is released. Well, we'll see......

NPS are responsible for reviewing all offenders and then allocating them to either NPS or CRS to be managed. They have to do a request transfer on Delius if they are allocated to a CRC. We found that we were getting transfer requests for those offenders who are sentenced to under 12 mths custody but whose offences were committed before 1 Feb. They said we might like to work with these people on a voluntary basis. Well, I think not - we don't need the extra work and there's no money in that, is there? I think that NPS staff simply don't know what they are doing and are just requesting to transfer everyone so that the CRC staff can determine later whether they should be supervised, or not. Our admin staff have been instructed not to accept requests for transfer on such cases, so they will bounce back to NPS and they'll have to start looking at cases properly.

Courts are not putting results onto Delius correctly. For example, an offender committing an offence of Drink Driving in December was sentenced and court staff put one of the Order Requirements on the system as "Specified Local Activity - Alcohol" (correct for post 1 Feb offences, incorrect for pre 1st Feb offences). It should have been put on the system as DIDs - a request had to be made to court staff to rectify this. It's happening a lot.

PSRs are still rubbish. I just got allocated a young man who had kicked the door when his partner locked him out. Its his first time with probation. Yes, there had been police call outs previously re arguments between him and his partner, but no charges. He is now subject to an order with supervision, UPW and domestic violence programme. He self harmed last week because he felt overwhelmed and depressed. So this guy now has a sick note and his GP has said he isn't fit for work or to be in group situations at present. So this is going to be complicated..

I absolutely dread making any kind of application to court - eg for removal of a requirement or for breach, as the NPS Enforcement Team seem to knock everything back. Here's an example - offender working on a temporary basis so referral to programme delayed as his work hours prevented attendance. He was then offered permanent employment and it's now too late for him to do a programme as he has maintained this. Application was made for removal of programme requirement. NPS knocked it back - they want a letter from his employer confirming his hours (even though payslips submitted for evidence). Also, despite having a signed copy of consent from the offender to this course of action, NPS staff want him to go to court for the hearing. He'll have to ask for time off and will lose a day's pay (he only gets just over £200 pw). He might even lose his job. Madness.

I had a first breach knocked back because I had asked that it be dealt with by way of imposition of the ReEngagement Programme - I had said UPW etc wasn't appropriate, but I hadn't spoke about a curfew. (He already has a residence requirement). So, if someone isn't coming in for appointments, let's curfew him and keep him at home? Mad. Of course, all this to-ing and fro-ing of paperwork takes time and adds to the stress and creates bad feeling. For every breach we have to go through all options in our report, like we would in a PSR. If an Order is revoked and resentenced then we fail one of our targets so we daren't ask for that.....

The other mad thing is that we aren't going to get a copy of the Order in future. I have had many examples where requirements have been missed on Delius or put on incorrectly. Or where things have been missed off the Order and it's had to be re-issued. Well, it'll be difficult to check now, won't it? Also, when doing breach, the court used to reject paperwork if the offences listed on your paperwork didn't correspond to those detailed on the copy of the Order. You may have had examples yourself where the PSR has dealt with 3 or 4 matters and only one or two are shown on the Order. I don't know how this is going to work - we are going to have to trust that court staff put things on properly (as in the example above, we already have instances of things not being put on correctly).

Well, that's enough for now, I think!

Best wishes.


Hi again. Management are making decisions this week on who should move office - I will def be in the frame as I have been here for years, and have never put myself forward for promotional moves because of famlly care responsibilities near to work and because I felt I couldn't take on any more and didn't need the stress. I'm now thinking I might as well have applied to NPS if I'm going to be moved anyway. Don't know how it's going to pan out but not good for anyone. I hear now that PSO's are going to be moved into the prisons - likely to be those living nearest. Of course then we'll be left with the problem of having to move staff about to plug the gaps that they leave. It just gets worse.


  1. I expect the next govt- whoever they are - will make hasty amendments to this sorry arsed shambles. Grayling will be binned whatever happens. PS- congrats to all who braved the cold and the wind for the Not the Global law Summit demo yesterday.

    1. There are many understandable frustrations illustrated above. However those involved in prosecutions & applications have good reason to request verifiable evidence in support - they are not trying to be difficult, just anticipating what is needed for that application to succeed in court, based ön their experience and knowledge. They have magistrates and legal advisers to persuade, don't forget. As for the new court orders, they look a complex joke, like someone's cobbled something together in their own home. Totally crap. For CG's complete contempt of anything to dowith the authority of the courts / legal system look no further than this mickey mouse 'document'. Again, a policy of not providing copy orders demonstrates this awful situation we are being forced towards. The court order was, and still is (as far as I am aware) legal authority for depriving someone of their liberty by being subject to statutory supervision / instruction.Who came up with the bright idea that the order isn't needed? Presumably they also believe evidence of our legal authority is irrelevant? Where does that lead?

    2. I remember having to get the offender to sign both copies of the order (and date) keeping one on file and letting them keep the other. Those were the days when we actually had papers to put in the file!

    3. I have clearly misunderstood as I thought we were not getting a hard copy of a court order but that a copy would be uploaded to N-Delius - what a mess and I only foresee that staff sickness is going to go through the roof on both sides of the divide. Great economic savings from this shambles - I think not - but then we all warned what would happen. Can't help but agree that NAPO HQ appear to be ignoring CRC staff (feels that way). I have raised some recent concerns locally but it took a few persistent emails to get some form of action. Keep the pressure on.

    4. I am In constant contact with NAPO HQ and I am CRC. I don't feel ignored at all.

  2. Ps complete joke, not complex

  3. Guest blog Sounds like one of those Carry On Films, slap stick doesnt come in to it. Bet my house that what is happening in the guest blog area is happening up and down the country.........

  4. Had to do a double take reading this, I could have written today's guest blog myself, and wondered if I'd been sleep blogging. I'm one of the people in line to be directed to a new LDU so have decided to volunteer in the vague hope I might get a little bit of a say in where I go. There will be no time to handover any of my existing clients. I don't know what will happen to them, some will be moving to their third PO in less than 9 months. The new LDU is in an area I am unfamiliar with. I don't know what services are available, who the partnership agencies are or even how to get around. I'm supposed to hit the ground running, it feels more like I'm hurtling to earth without a parachute.

    1. This just can't go on, and I sense a further split in the service around the corner. One where there will be those who do all the paper work, inputting, collection of information, referals, recalls etc etc, and never see a client, and allocate cases to officers whos job will be 'only' to see clients all day and pass information back to those chained to their desk to update and take action.

    2. Gawd, what area is this happening in ? Down South or up North ?...

    3. I think it's pretty universal, my friend

    4. this is the PS to the above Guest blog, emailed to me last night -

      'Hi again, management are making decisions this week on who should move office- I will def be in the frame as I have been here for years, and have never put myself forward for promotional moves because of famlly care responsibilities near to work and because I felt I couldn't take on any more and didn't need the stress. I'm now thinking I might as well have applied to NPS if I'm going to be moved anyway. Don't know how it's going to pan out but not good for anyone, I hear now that PSO's are going to be moved into the prisons- likely to be those living nearest. Of course then we'll be left with the problem of having to move staff about to plug the gaps that they leave. It just gets worse.'

      This email to me and today's blog (also by email) are from a long serving, excellent PO with considerable responsibilities outside of work. I think the emails to me are a way of venting frustrations and increasing despair. What MoJ are doing is sickening. I think CG and his cronies are either warped psychopaths, or pig ignorant to believe this can work without destroying people's lives, never mind the delusional belief that it can reduce crime!

      Sorry 9 02, I cannot divulge south or north, as I feel obliged to keep the officer's identity anonymous, but I think it is representative of what appears to be happening all over.

    5. Positive Pathways - a 6 session strength based approach with its roots in the desistance model. To be used with everyone except DV perpetrators and people sentenced to accredited programmes. It's supposed to be done in groups of 2-3 and any other issues brought up are supposed to be 'parked' until the last session.

      Session 1 - Introduce the programme, score strengths on a cog wheel.
      Session 2 - What's in my locker? Identify strengths, write them on a picture of a locker.
      Session 3 - Whose in my corner? Identify positive people, put them on a dart board and decide who you want to be closer to or further away from.
      Session 4 - What's in my way? Draw boulders on a sheet of green paper and discuss overcoming obstacles.
      Session 5 - On my way. - Do a Facebook profile page of the new me.
      Session 6 - Watch a film and redo the cog wheel scores.

      Then refer on to mentors, volunteers and other agencies. End of supervision.

    6. Marvellous. Just what we have all been searching for for the last century. Thank God for the private sector and it's innovations.

    7. This was around before the private sector. Prof Fergus McNeil was paid to help come up with this for the Trust which came up with it.

    8. ...but it was developed for the purpose of a CRC

  5. I am so glad I got VR. I could see, normally unflappable, colleagues starting to unravel with the atrophying effect of TR last year. There are few worse sensations than starting a new job, feeling completely overawed. You know though, it will soon start to ease off as you settle in and your new workmates rally as they don't want you to fail. When you've been there years and you spend every other day doing conference calls where the only crumb of comfort is that your managers and 'The Centre' or 'The Hub' are just as fucking clueless as you, you know that knot in your stomach is not going away any time soon. I remember one of those calls where 2 admin managers reported experienced staff crying at the pace of the changes. The ACO listening in said that it was important that management had that kind of feedback to feed upwards. I suppose he had to say something but we all knew it was whistling in the dark. What a complete fuck up. Great blog today despite the subject matter, thanks for sharing. Tony.

  6. The appalling human cost of TR continues to reveal itself. Its so sad to hear.

    Mark Leftly (Indie) wrote a brief piece about Sadiq Khan. Here's a snippet:

    He became shadow Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, two years before the man who has become his political nemesis, Chris Grayling, took up the roles proper for the coalition.

    “He’s a typical Man United fan,” seethes Khan, a lifelong Liverpool supporter. “Glory-hunter. Politician’s equivalent of getting rich quick – he wants to make headlines quickly...

    Grayling is the first Lord Chancellor in the role’s 400 years to not have a legal background; an advantage, he recently claimed, as “it enables you to take a dispassionate view” of the profession. He has certainly been one of the most controversial, angering lawyers with his legal aid and judicial review reforms.

    Khan says of Cambridge-educated Grayling, who is, indeed, a Man Utd supporter: “I’ve got no objection to the Lord Chancellor not being a lawyer, but the basic qualification of being the Justice Secretary/Lord Chancellor is that you must at least have read the dummies’ guide to the law. It seems to me he hasn’t even had the courtesy to do that.”

  7. Grayling couldn't give a shite. He wants his own pockets lined, thats his only interest. Given the damage he's caused throughout the CJS, and he fully knows what he's done, this article fully shows what an unsympatetic, uncaring, biggoted and piss taking bast*** he really is.

    n the second day of the Global Law Summit in London, the lord chancellor has made an unashamedly mercantile case for a thriving legal sector – promising to do ‘everything I can to help foster the right environment’ for it to thrive. In an article for the London business newspaper City AM, Chris Grayling thanks firms for helping the UK’s economic recovery. ‘The legal sector is making a vital contribution to our long-term economic plan of getting the country back on a sustainable financial footing, and I want to do everything I can to promote it.’Advertisement"" style="border-top-width: 0px; border-right-width: 0px; border-bottom-width: 0px; border-left-width: 0px; border-style: initial; border-color: initial; vertical-align: bottom; ">Grayling says the fact he is not a lawyer myself, ‘doesn’t mean I won’t do everything I can to help foster the right environment for our legal sector to continue to thrive. Showcasing it at the Global Law Summit is just part of that’.His article makes a direct link between the values of Magna Carta and economic prosperity. ‘Magna Carta itself might be centuries old, but its values are no less relevant in the modern world than they were hundreds of years ago. They give families, entrepreneurs and businessmen confidence that the rewards of their hard work are safe. They secure property rights, fair trade, and free and open markets.’And, in a conclusion likely to prompt tart responses from legal professionals, he says: ‘I am incredibly proud of our legal heritage.’

  8. http://www.wrexham.gov.uk/english/council/news/andrew_selous_annoucement.htm

    1. Prisons Minister Andrew Selous has today announced that the new prison in Wrexham will be operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service (HMPS). The prison, which is due to open in 2017, will be run by an innovative new approach that will see the best of the public, voluntary and private sectors working together. HMPS will take overall ownership of the prison but with 34% of service provision outsourced – including a large industrial workshop complex.

      Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said:

      "I am pleased to announce that the new prison in North Wales will be operated by Her Majesty’s Prison Service as part of an innovative new approach to running prisons. Our combination of benchmarking and outsourcing services is saving taxpayers around £300 million a year and now it will allow us to deliver a truly efficient prison in Wrexham that is based on best practice from the opening of previous prisons.This prison reflects the true success of our reforms in helping to create a modern low-cost prison estate, and is proving a real boost to the North Wales economy with £1.1 million already committed to local companies – well ahead of the £250,000 target for 2014."

      The £212 million investment will provide good quality prison accommodation that delivers value for the taxpayer by reducing the cost per prisoner place. Recent reforms have already saved significant sums for taxpayers, and continuing to create a modern low cost prison estate is essential to further reduce the overall cost of the prison system. Once operational the North Wales prison will also bring a huge benefit to the area, boosting the regional economy by around £23 million a year and create up to 1,000 jobs.

      Secretary of State for Wales Stephen Crabb said:
      The new prison in Wrexham will provide a massive boost to North Wales by generating opportunities for local businesses and creating hundreds of jobs in the area. This is all part of our long term plan to help rebalance the economy and invest in world class infrastructure across the whole country."

  9. Off topic, but I'm very curious of what people think of this article. Particulary, whether people think the person involved is likely to get a better 'needs' met service from the 12months supervision he will now be subjected to upon release, then those self identified needs that made him request a longer sentence?
    I really don't want to detract from todays excellent (but painful) guest blog, but perhaps some response at a latter stage when things are a little quieter maybe?



    1. Simple answer is no
      The resources to house and educate offenders should be in the community. Until that happens any positive impact of courses of what ever nature are undone by a simple lack of appropriate or any type of accommodation, punitive welfare system, and lack of access to resources which will enable them to grow and develop in the community. Prison should be the option of last resort or for dangerous offenders.

    2. Fully agree annon 13:41
      That someone should even have to consider requesting a substantial spell in custody as a method of accessing drug rehabilitation and employment skills training is not only an indictment on our CJS, but on our society as a whole.
      It's probably all part of our 'long term ecconomic plan' though.

    3. I'm becoming a fan of getafix

      I think I understand the plight; stay in the community at a time of emotional crisis & consequent drug use/financial mess, run the risk of further convictions and spiralling drug debts, maybe get a 'script then have it stopped because of your chaotic lifestyle, attract benefit sanctions - more convictions, more drug debts - loss of accommodation, missed probation appointments, run the risk of 'losing it' when intoxicated & harassing ex-partner (thus invoking social services' involvement & possibility of not seeing the children again) OR...

      ... accept you're out of control, bite the bullet of a jail term, use it to get clean, focus & regain self-discipline, commit to the available training opportunity and vastly improve your chances of re-establishing contact with daughters on release because you haven't been harassing your ex-, so haven't put the girls into child protection measures.

    4. Here's that story:-

      A CONVICTED Southport shoplifter has failed in a bizarre bid for an extended stay in prison - just so he can complete an educational course.

      Christopher Jackson, 37, of no-fixed-abode, appeared at Sefton Magistrates Court on February 20 following probation reports, after previously pleading guilty to five shop-theft offences and possession of cannabis.

      As well as stealing a total of £420 worth of goods from Asda, Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Debenhams of Southport, he also admitted twice breaching bail by not turning up to court.

      His solicitor, Grahame Halliwell, said it was with a “heavy heart” that he was asking for Jackson to be given a jail term of at least ten months.

      He’d had a breakdown in his relationship and was not seeing his two daughters, he said, and as a consequence was taking street drugs.

      “He is in a bad way,” he said, but while in prison he receives strict monitoring of his drug problem and can also receive an education.

      “I know it seems like a ridiculous thing to say, but I ask you to impose a sentence of some substance,” he said, “The reason I ask that is that he deeply wishes to complete the ‘construction course’ which begins in two weeks and runs for five months.

      ”You could pass consecutive sentences on all the thefts and some of his offences were committed while on bail.“

      The legal advisor informed the magistrates that due to one of the thefts being committed in February new government guidelines apply, which require all prisoners to be released on license into probation service supervision after they’ve completed half of their sentence.

      Also, as Jackson had to receive a discount in his sentence because he pleaded guilty, they would have no discretion in imposing a lesser jail term than that requested.

      However, he added, Jackson would still be able to receive assistance with education and employment as part of rehabilitation guidelines.

      For each of the theft offences the magistrates gave him concurrent jail sentences of 18 weeks, of which he will serve 9 weeks before being released on license, and gave him 28 days jail for each of the bail act offences and possession of cannabis, again to be served concurrently.

      They also ordered that he pay an £80 victim surcharge when released but waived compensation due to the length of prison sentence.

    5. I just thought i'd highlight the bail issue. As he resides in Southport the nearest court is Sefton in Bootle which is 17 miles away ie 35 mile return journey - how when someone's got no dole and probably does not always know what day of the week it is they're supposed to remember to attend court?? Also, if picked up in Southport for theft, the nearest police station is Copy Lane, Netherton which is again roughly 15 miles away - imagine being released during the night and trying to get back to Southport - there is a train station (Old Roan) but it is a good half mile away and anyway with no money you are offending straightaway having to bunk the train (2 trains to Southport). We need to sort the geographical areas out in order to help people comply.

  10. really enjoyed todays blog - like somebody else said, it could have been written by any casemanager. we all seem to be experiencing the same problems up and down the country. The loss of staff is the most mindboggling of all - I've spoken to someone today who'd have stayed till 65 as they love their job and have no personal commitments persee but TR has put paid to that and they are going in the coming months aged 61 - that will be the 5th PO left from that office in the last 12 months.

  11. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/feb/24/uks-first-supersized-titan-jail-to-be-run-by-public-prison-service

  12. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/law/summit-im-proud-of-you-grayling-tells-sector/5046983.article

  13. Just reading this http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/sites/crimeandjustice.org.uk/files/ccjs_sentencers_views.pdf from Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, June 2008. A bit too long to post on the blog I thought, but the 'changes in probation practice' (pg.34) makes interesting reading.

  14. David Tredinnick MP, is advocating the NHS makes more use of Astrology. Perhaps that is the magic bullet that has been missing from Oasys?!. Another spooky thing is that if you work in a CRC and are a CapRiCorn, fate has played a part. You are going on a long journey.....

  15. An ex-po from long ago25 February 2015 at 06:37

    Jim-a quotation from your entry on 12 Feb this year when the blog hit the 2 Million mark:
    " At some point in the next few hours a reader will become the 2 millionth hit, which is astonishing given that it took 4 years to get the first pesky million, but only 9 months to get the second. "
    I calculate it will be about the same length of time to hit 3 Million at the present rate. 44619 hits in 12 days...
    So the blog is about making history, it is recording history.
    But it ain't history yet...