Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Latest CRC News

"Reports are reaching us today that at least two CRC’s are in serious difficulty with their planning for the provision of the Governments flagship ‘Through the Gate’ support scheme (TTG)." 
So says Ian Lawrence on his latest blog, but problems have been flagged-up on here almost from takeover day Ist February:- 

Two weeks ago in Northumbria, 14 CRC PO's applied and were accepted for transfer to NPS, with the expectation that PO's in other 'divisions' would be moved to those CRC offices which had been left with little or no PO's! And now I am reading that PSO's are being asked to transfer to prisons!

It would seem that the CRC's are just being used as carriers of reserve staff to be moved anywhere at any time, with offices topped-up by new, unqualified, unskilled (in that area of work) even voluntary, staff, or not topped up at all. How demoralising can that be? And given that there are high risk offenders in CRC's too, whatever Mr bloody Grayling might say, as well as often difficult and time-consuming middle and low risk offenders, how dangerous and irresponsible can that be?

And how unsettling for clients, with supervising officers coming and going. Or will it even end up like admin? Officers picking up the next one as 'it' comes to the top of the in-tray; or the detached voice behind the screen in the Job Centre or Benefit Office - a different one every time. What a recipe for total disaster. I fear for the mental and physical safety of staff, victims, and clients.

Meanwhile, back at the DTV not for profit CRC branch, this weeks announcement of only a small number of job losses expected through natural wastage seen as welcomed news; jobs secure for next 12 months. Well, what we do know is there are a number of PO staff jumped ship back to NPS prior to deadline date of the forbidden sale, what is not being said is how many.

Perhaps NAPO Branch locally and indeed Nationally should ask the question how many staff were sifted across the divide to CRC pre share sale? How many and at what grade in each CRC were given EVR, dates of leaving (as some post share sale) and how many staff and at what grade in each CRC area are in post after all EVR depart post share? If you equate the original staff split from NPS to CRC and break it down to Senior Management, Corporate Services, Middle Managers, Case Administrators to front line POs/PSOs, you may well be slightly overwhelmed by reality.

Hot off press news, no more NOMS money left in the pot for EVR for anyone hoping to get it, any future redundancy payments now down to CRCs. Guess we all know what that means. Post share briefings in DTV set the tone, if you are not on board now is the time for a career change. Interesting message when combined with this is your opportunity to use professional judgement. Yes there is a "but" - it has to meet the defined model set, despite this still apparently being defined by 'staff' focus groups.

The old DTV trust claimed they could deal with the supervision of under 12 month prisoners at no extra cost, yet now the private, not for profit DTV CRC with less staff, the promise of reduced estates, the reality of reduced supervision of offenders, a further reduction in staff in next 12 months (albeit) supposedly through natural wastage, instill confidence for the public, taxpayer, victims or offenders. DTV CRC is not unique in this, other than their claim to be not for profit. They may not have shareholders in the same way other CRCs contracted profiteers may have, but they are in the race to gain and make money for the execs.

Email sent to us in the CRC today: "Sodexo have alerted us to a potential delay in their supply chain delivery of TTG work to the under 12 month population unless we can support this on an interim basis by using our own staff.

St Giles are working with Sodexo now to determine how best to meet the need and fill the gap that has been identified, but the deadline for staff names to be submitted to NOMS is approaching (end of February) which is faster than their recruitment and identification of appropriate staff can be completed. So, we have been asked to provide the names of 12 PSOs who are able to undergo the vetting process and potentially move into each of the 4 prisons from May to October on a full-time basis for that period. We are therefore requesting 3 volunteers at this stage for work within each of the following prisons - HMP Peterborough, Bedford, Wood Hill and The Mount.

There may be staff across BeNCH who are already vetted and we are also considering how best to use agency staff, either to backfill our staff or perhaps to go into the prison places where possible. It is a difficult situation but one which we believe can be overcome with good co-operation across BeNCH and we will be working closely with managers to ensure that business as usual, which remains our core work, attracts minimal disruption."

Wheels falling off!

I'd be surprised if BeNCH have staff to spare. With some staff leaving and others off sick the workload in our office is now unmanageable.

So what this means is they cannot deliver TTG within agreed deadlines, yup they might in the future but only might....

There is no capacity for PSOs to bail out Sodexo/NACO with TTG. It's just not going to happen. Watch this space, the train crash is coming and it's going to be big.

Coming back to the problem with BeNch and TTG, man in pub tells me that staff are rebelling and now withdrawing their applications for TTG. Top marks to them.

We have received news that Sodexo have ordered the CRCs they own to freeze recruitment. In at least one CRC, Probation Service Officers (PSO) have been asked to volunteer to go to the prisons to do the pre ‘Through the Gate’ work as St Giles Trust and Sodexo are not ready to deliver. Can anyone confirm these reports? Thank you.

Confirmed. 12 PSO's have been asked to transfer to prisons for TTG. What will happen to their caseloads? Oh yes, shared out between already stretched staff!

Man the Pub is on form tonight. He says the big players are seeking to renegotiate the contracts already. Did someone once say "you couldn't make it up". I will let you know further when I can afford another couple of whiskys for him again.

Your man is correct my woman says. Matters referred to those damn consultants again 'for urgent advice' yes really...

So they should. They have been sold a pup. But quite frankly they should have known better. What the hell is the point of the due diligence period otherwise? I do hope a friendly journalist is sitting adjacent to you at the bar..

These MoJ presentations are so depressing. The disconnect is astonishing although I am aware that the MoJ contract managers on the ground are starting to get a sense of the distance between the rhetoric and the reality. The providers are starting to put their ideas together and the specific operational issues are manifesting themselves in subtle and not so subtle ways. I think some fingers are going to get burned.

Shennegans started in DTV. Email from the Chief that, until further notice, we are to treat normal appointments as RAR's. Hits those targets at least, lets just hope that nobody reports her to NOMS.

"treat normal appts as RARS".........I'm not sure what this means?

RARs are a separate appt with external agencies, drugs, alcohol, etc etc and a set number is given by the Court as part of an Order. They are supposed to be separate and not counted as a normal appt with your PO. To do otherwise defeats the purpose of the Court Order and undermines the purpose of supervision. I think this will be illegal and the Chief responsible (if this is factual) will probably not be in a job for much longer.

Your Chief should know that the number of days specified under a RAR is a maximum number, not a minimum - theoretically the Responsible Officer could deem the RAR completed without any of the days done, should they feel the rehabilitative purposes have been achieved. Corrupt as anything, obviously.

Ok, this is different from my understanding after the ORA briefing in DLNR CRC. My understanding was that the court sets a max number of days on a RAR not the number of appts - the number of days would be based on info given by NPS/CRC at sentencing time re what is available in that area eg victim work, women's work & also normal supervision. A half-hour supervision appt can be used for this & would count as 1 of the days. Separate requirements should still be given for eg programmes/UPW/DRR as the RAR only replaces the supervision & specified activity requirements - this is my understanding. I am happy to be put right if I have got it wrong...

​Although the maximum period of the activities is expressed in days, the instructions in respect of the activities will be expressed in terms of a specific activity and the duration of that activity. A day is not defined in legislation but this does not mean 24 hours of activity. This means that an activity which only lasts for 2 hours would count as one day for the purposes of calculating the number of days on which an offender has participated in an activity, to ensure that the maximum number is not exceeded. Equally, if an offender is required to undertake two separate activities on the same day, this would also only count as one day for the purposes of calculating the number of days on which the offender has participated in an activity.

So, if Joe Blogs comes in to see you or I then that is ONE appt. If he sees ETE on the same day, it's still ONE appt. It must not be counted as a RAR as it's within the 24 hour period. Basically DTV are being told to ignore the guidance from NOMS and put the initial supervision appt down as a RAR. Confused yet? Probably not half as much as our offenders will be.

The supervision appointments do not - or at least do not have to - count as RAR days. You, as the irresponsible Responsible Officer, could require your lucky client to attend every day of the week to see you, and they still wouldn't have done any of their RAR days.

I understand almost all of the above. Are your managers saying that a supervision appt and an ETE appt on the same day counts as two RAR days? That is clearly wrong. But, in my view, this means that if you just see Joe Bloggs for a half-hour appt for supervision (which could be the initial induction appt) and he does not have any other appts that day, it still counts as 1 RAR day. How else could it be recorded as there is no longer a supervision requirement on the new Orders?. What do you think?

1x Supervision on Monday = 0 RAR days.
1x Supervision + 1x ETE both on Monday = 1 RAR day.
1x Supervision on Monday, 1x ETE on Tuesday = 1 RAR day.
1x ETE on Monday, 1x Accommodation on Monday = 1 RAR day.
1x ETE on Monday, 1x Accommodation on Tuesday = 2 RAR days.

Whoever came up with this idea has clearly never met a Probation client.

Ok, it is just the first line I don't get, I understand all the rest. If a standalone supervision appt does not count as a RAR, how can it be enforced if Joe Bloggs DNAs? He hasn't breached anything if it doesn't count surely?

I think the difficulty you're having is expecting it to make sense... ;-)

The Responsible Officer can offer "appointments" as necessary to run the order, but these don't count towards RAR days. I have probably confused issues by putting "supervision" above as we are going to have to stop thinking of them as "supervision appointments".

Ok thanks. I hadn't previously picked up that these appointments don't count. I'd better go back to the briefing notes.......cheers.

Who will provide the ETE/Accom appts? Partner contracts are ending soon. Lurking Winks already park offenders on the Work Programme.


  1. It sounds more and more like the script of a Carry On film! It's going to be very interesting to see how many of these organisations running CRC's pull out of their contracts in the next 2 or so years. I have wondered why none of these new organisations seems to have hit the ground running - as previous posters have said surely their bids for these lucrative contracts were made on the basis of research, evidence etc??? But apparently not. In my area there is not even a sniff of Purple Futures anywhere in the CRC office and we are now over two weeks down the line since they took over.

    I also wonder how many lawsuits there will be brought for failure to provide TTG services and support to people coming out of prison as Grayling promised this and is now failing to deliver. It could be a nice little earner for some enterprising solicitor or two.

  2. Can I just try to clarify for myself how things have developed since last July 2014 - apologies if this is a painful & dumb process for some, but I really am struggling here...

    Trusts are dispensed with, and operational staff are transferred wholesale to either the CRC or NPS on random criteria, e.g. what name came out of the hat, did your face fit, were you off sick, were you on secondment, etc. Appeals are regarded as staff handing in their notice to quit - i.e. do what you're told or walk.

    Those referred to as "HQ staff", e.g. directors, executives, Board Members, HR, finance, IT - they were all (or mostly) offered the chance of EVR because the Trusts were being dissolved and their roles no longer existed. Am I right in thinking that those staff were also offered the opportunity to defer their EVR so they could assist with the transition arrangements?

    So, as far as I am aware many (but not all) of those "HQ" staff seem to have reappeared in either NPS or CRC roles.

    For example, a Chief of an area is awarded EVR and is then successful in being appointed CEO of a CRC on a similar salary. S/he then remains in post (havithe privelege of "suck-it-and-see" period) until shortly before the EVR deferment deadline, gives notice & walks away with EVR... perhaps to become a consultant on healthy daily rates? Or perhaps S/he has already taken their 67 weeks' money and (on a CEO salary that's a few pennies to play with) has been actively working with CRCs to ensure the 'new order'?

    Similar could perhaps be applied to a Finance Director, or HR Manager. These were people in priveleged positions within the Trusts who not only knew in advance what was happening, they were potentially involved in the attempts to set up staff mutuals, involved in the "commercially sensitive" negotiations & information coming from MoJ, who had access to information not permitted to be shared with the frontline cannon-fodder.

    In many areas (as ever, with the exception of admin staff) the "HQ" roles were allways well remunerated roles. So (and again this does not apply to all) they have had handsome payouts (or at least those payouts are in the pipeline) and slotted into new roles in the newly created organisations which they were involved in creating, i.e. the CRCs.

    Their roles could, and perhaps there is a case for SHOULD, have been transferred across in the same way that PO, PSO, UPW and admin staff were "TUPE'd" over. Those frontline operational staff are equally in the same jobs but in new organisations - why were they excluded from EVR?

    It seems very much, looking from afar, that many probation staff have been more severely abused than perhaps they had already imagined, whilst others have profited handsomely.

    And this on top of the fact (as predicted but now being widely realised) that the CRC bidders haven't a clue what they are supposed to be doing and they won't staff their organisations to an appropriate level because staff are the most expensive commodity - which means reduced profits.

    So, as raised by 08:58 above and many, many others - the promises to provide are falling by the wayside already. MoJ insisted they could rush this through, but its now evident that was at the expense of rigorous checks, public safety, staff morale and the loss of what was a world-class service.

    Grayling, Spurr, Maiden, Allars and ALL those involved in forcing through the omnishambles that is TR and all it encompasses should be utterly ashamed of their actions and of blood money they've extracted from the public purse.

    The TR structural disaster is here - Now.

    Sad to say, its only a matter of time before the human disasters created by TR start to hit the headlines.

  3. One of the problems for TTG that can't be addressed by CRCs, is the chaos thats happening Behind The Gate.
    It can't be long before the POA are forced to take action over dire working conditions and a very real concern for staff safety.
    TTG, if it ever does happen, is a very long way off, and I feel it'll just be an 'ideal' that will just fade away that no-one will remember in a year or two.


    1. And HMP Northumberland.


    2. And HMP Leeds!


  4. from Richard Garside, jan 2013:

    "On January 9 the Ministry of Justice published Transforming Rehabilitation, its latest plans for the management of convicted lawbreakers in the community. The proposals can be downloaded from the Ministry of Justice website.

    'The case for change and the principles and rationale for extending competition of probation services and effective offender management remain compelling', the document claims. The new proposals can be summarised as follows:

    1. The 'majority of community-based offender services' will be put out to competition to the private and voluntary sector, with providers paid according to the results they deliver.

    2. The role of the probation service will be significantly reduced. In the future it will focus on initial risk assessment, advising courts on sentencing options and the direct management of convicted lawbreakers deemed to be 'high risk'. The Probation Service will also 'have responsibility for ensuring that contracted providers are effectively managing the risk of harm posed to the public'.

    3. There will be a major overhaul of the existing Probation Trust structure. The government's March 2012 consultation, Punishment and Reform: Effective Probation Services, envisaged the 35 Probation Trusts commissioning offender management contracts. Transforming Rehabilitation claims that 'responsiveness to local needs does not necessitate local commissioning'. Contracts will be commissioned nationally through '16 contract package areas' that 'cover geographical areas larger than the current Probation Trusts'. This 'will require fewer Trusts of a different structure (such as a single national probation trust or direct delivery on behalf of the Secretary of State)'.

    4. Post-release supervision of released prisoners will be extended to those given sentences of less than 12 months.

    Transforming Rehabilitation closes with a series of questions related to the operational design of the proposed new system, as well as some broader questions on further reform.

    In the spirit of inquiry, I thought I would pose five questions of my own about the government's proposals.

    Question one: Will the government commit to genuine transparency - including financial transparency - on all contracts to enable democratic scrutiny?

    Transforming Justice claims that greater competition will deliver savings, citing 'the estimated savings of £25m over the four-year life' of the London Community Payback contract as proof.

    There is a long history of public sector contracts being shrouded in secrecy, with many of the promised savings never materialising. In its August 2012 report - Implementing the Transparency Agenda - the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee wrote:

    'This Committee has previously argued that it is vital that we and the public can access data from private companies who contract to provide public services. We must be able to follow the taxpayers' pound wherever it is spent... Data on public contracts delivered by private contractors must be available for scrutiny by parliament and the public.'

    Given the importance the government places on making savings on contracts, and the risk inherent in a payment by results arrangement, greater transparency has a key role to play in ensuring proper oversight and accountability by providers.

    Question two: Why does Transforming Justice claim that 'the offender management system... is failing' to reduce reoffending when the government's own data shows that reoffending rates have reduced over recent years?

    In his Foreword to Transforming Justice the Justice Secretary writes that 'We now need real reform of the criminal justice system to tackle the unacceptable cycle of reoffending... We can't simply carry on in the same way hoping for a different result'. "

    1. continued

      "The Ministry of Justice's own data tells a different story. Comparing adult reoffending between 2000 and 2010 the data shows that adult proven reoffending was 3.1 percentage points lower in 2010 compared with 2000, after controlling for the differing characteristics of convicted lawbreakers. The average number of reoffences was also lower, by 15.3 percentage points. The proven reoffending rates for juveniles was also lower, by 1.4 percentage points when 2010 was compared with 2000. The average number of reoffences was down by 13.5 percentage points.

      These may appear to be modest reductions, but modest reductions is what the Justice Secretary is looking for with his proposed reforms. As he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme on January 9:

      'I am not expecting overnight some dramatic drop in offending but some steady year-by-year decline in offending.'

      Measuring reoffending is an inexact science; more will offend or reoffend than are ever caught. But given the weight the government places on measuring reoffending it is striking that the rhetoric in Transforming Rehabilitation is out of step with what its own data claims.

      Question three: Given these steady year-by-year declines, why is the government intent on unleashing a potentially risky and costly upheaval of the existing system, rather than investing in improving it?

      According to Transforming Rehabilitation what is needed is:

      'a system where one provider has overall responsibility for getting to grips with an offender's life management skills, coordinating a package of support to deliver better results.'

      Currently there is such a system. It is called the Probation Service and it is directly responsible for the supervision of the vast majority of individuals serving sentences in the community. It also undertakes the supervision of those who have received prison sentences of more than 12 months.

      Under the complicated system the Ministry of Justice proposes the 'great majority of community sentences and rehabilitation work will... be delivered by the private and voluntary sectors'. These providers will be accountable to the Ministry of Justice, as the commissioner, and to the Probation Service in relation to risk management. Contractors will also be expected to integrate effectively with a range of local structures and services.

      Question four: Why is the Ministry of Justice trying to shoe-horn the probation service into a structure designed to suit private contractors, rather than taking a strategic view on how it can best be organised to deliver on its local and national responsibilities?

      In 2011 the House of Commons Justice Committee expressed concerns about the earlier attempts by the Ministry of Justice to commission the community payback contracts via large geographical lots that bore little or no relation to Probation Trust areas. The Committee argued:

      'The very large and incoherent groupings created for the community payback contracts would not be appropriate vehicles for commissioning other probation initiatives, and would undermine links between probation work and other participants in the criminal justice system, such as the police, courts, local authorities and local prisons.'

      The Ministry of Justice wants to resolve this problem by reducing the number of Probation Trusts, or adopting a new structure. This will inevitably mean that it is more difficult for the probation service to retain its local links and profile.

      This appears more to be reform intended to shoehorn the probation service into the logic of commissioning, rather than one driven by a strategic view about how the probation service can best operate in the future."

    2. Get real! In middle management there are too many SPOs who have taken up the TR mantle and are sucking up to hold onto what they think will keep them in a role. It might well do in the short to mid term but the variations to contracts are no doubt being muted around the MOJ planners office as we write about it. Worse still the NAPO campaign hardly cold yet as the election may bring some new dividend or avenue to pursue. Despite that SPO grade \ middle management still ran to the light of the TR fiasco as they see the butter there ! Of course there are many left with integrity and openly hostile as NAPO reps to the TR and for those brave few there is respect the rest of them will reap what they helped sow.
      The Musings a good post to trigger some debate and get us all to look at what we could have done differently.
      The Vice Chair Napo comment seems confused here too when your in office you speak for the Union I hope someone gets this gaff sorted perhaps an application in for and ACO role in a CRC next.

  5. Concludes:

    "Question five: Why doesn't the government address the unnecessary resort to short prison sentences, instead of introducing the potentially costly community supervision of those given short prison sentences?

    People coming out of prison often need help and support: to find accommodation; secure benefits to which they are entitled; find a job; enrol in education; access health services, and so on. Modest investment to ensure through-care and support might well make sense.

    Far better, though, would be to prevent people going into prison for short periods, with all the inevitable disruption and harm it causes to them and their families. A spell in prison remains one of the the most significant causes of crime. The government is trying to solve the wrong problem, rather like the man who digs a hole only to fill it back in again."

    1. Funnily enough, digging holes only to fill them back in again is available under a RAR in my CRC... Grayling will have sold it to the Saudis as "innovative practice" before the month is out.

    2. That experience with a shovel will come in handy when you're recalled and you have to fill in sandbags.

  6. CRCs are clearly struggling to meet basic requirements but what of NPS? Please don't lose sight of what is going on there too with accommodation and especially ETE. The provision has gone and whereas mentors/volunteers are being put in place for CRCs ( eventually) there is now a void in NPS provision. All of the partners we had have gone, there is quite literally no provision in my area any more. No-one is working to address this because all management focus is upon trying to make the basic supervision work again. It is a creeping paralysis.
    NPS PO.

    1. NPS will no doubt need to consider purchasing such services from CRC, another increased cost

  7. no PSR for Liverpool Crown Court http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/judge-blasts-probation-prison-prosecution-8666054

    1. TOP judge blasted probation, prison and prosecution services after he was unable to sentence a dangerous career criminal.

      Francis Dickinson, who killed a frail widow in a violent robbery, struck at a Liverpool pensioner’s house just one week after being released from a 17-year prison term.

      The trickster – who has targeted the homes of at least 150 elderly people in Merseyside – conned his way into the 67-year-old woman’s house in Walton after begging for water.

      He grabbed and shoved his terrified victim, claiming that he had a knife, before stealing her purse and leaving her screaming for help.

      Dickinson, 49, was to be sentenced today at Liverpool Crown Court, after the case was adjourned three weeks ago for a pre-sentence report.

      “I find it unacceptable that there is no report”
      But Judge David Aubrey, QC, said this had not been carried out, despite Dickinson entering a guilty plea on January 21.

      The judge said: “The case was adjourned to today’s date for a report, so that a full and proper assessment could be made by this court as to whether a significant determinate sentence should be imposed, an extended sentence or a sentence of life imprisonment.

      “I find it unacceptable that there is no report.”

      A duty probation officer said there had been cases where officers were unable to access defendants at Walton prison “because of lock-downs”.

      The ECHO understands that spiralling violence over the past two months, sparked by staff shortages, has seen the prison regularly put on lock-down.

      A prison officer was stabbed in the chest by an inmate armed with a home-made knife and another attack saw three guards hospitalised.

      The frustrated judge said he had been told a probation officer would meet Dickinson in prison tomorrow.

      He said: “It is in my judgement totally and utterly unacceptable – whether the responsibility lies with the prison service or the probation service.”

      Judge Aubrey also slammed the Crown Prosecution Service for failing to provide a summary of Dickinson’s past offences – when this information had already been revealed by the ECHO.

  8. there should've been a probation officer available in court on the day to interview him in the cells either before his hearing or after his hearing. Imagine if they cant get into Walton again? And what's going on with Martin dawes and trying to book video links.

    It's all one big omnishambles repeated up and down the country on a daily basis it just so happens that fortunately a reporter was on hand on this occasion.

    1. Too simplistic I fear. I can see problems with an assessment based on one possibly hurried interview at court without full prior preparation by the PSR author and the chance to re-interview. This is an assessment for a life sentence after all.
      Failure to deliver a report should really be taken seriously and I would not want one of my peers speculating on possible reasons for failure. A response to the judge from a senior member of staff rather than the beleaguered CDO is probably required also given the potential here for reputational damage to both prison and probation.

    2. he's just been released ONE week after a 17 year sentence. Agencies should have all the information they need. Critisism at probation and prisons is correct in this instance. A cell interview would have been sufficient followed up by liaison with other agencies to aid proposal. Why these types of PSR have to go back to the holding case manager is beyond me - if Delius and Oasys are up to date then all relevant information is there for a competent court probation officer to create a report and arrive at a sentence.

  9. Inside the Commons tonight (bbc2) has been fascinating. Give it a watch.


  10. Reading today's Private Eye. It mentions a detail from the Casey report into the Rotherham child abuse scandal. Namely, that the Child Sexual Exploitation team won an award from a body called the National Working Group Network. Casey points out that the team placed more value in winning awards than in getting results for exploited children.

    Which leads me to think that, apart from all those 4 star ratings, what did all those Charter Mark and Investors In People awards cost the Trusts?.

    At least Jack got a beanstalk out of his magic beans.