Wednesday, 11 February 2015

MoJ Away Day 2

Another helping from last weeks ministerial pep talk to MoJ staffers. The contribution from the odious Simon Hughes MP is particularly cringe-worthy:-  

4th February 2015 London - Atrium Event for MoJ Staff

Chris Grayling: Well good morning everyone, thank you Ursula, and now this is another occasion for us to have a bit of a discussion but I wanted to start first of all with some thank yous and then hand over to my ministerial colleagues to do the same. We’re lacking Mike Penning who is out of town and Shailesh Vara who’s – who’s ill today but you've got most of the ministerial team today.

I really wanted to start with a big word of thank you to all of you for the work that you've done over the last few months. The department’s I think made some real progress in a number of areas, er, and each of us is going to talk in turn about a bit of the work that’s being done in our own areas.

But I wanted to touch on a couple of things in particular if I might. First of all I want to say massive congratulations to everybody involved in Transforming Rehabilitation. This is the programme that virtually nobody else in Whitehall thought was deliverable. And yet last Monday it started, the transition was smooth, we now have the new CRCs in operation, we are now rolling out the resettlement prisons, and crucially, anybody who commits a crime today gets taken off to court, gets a short prison sentence, when they come out for the first time will not be walking the streets with £46 in their pockets but will actually be getting proper support and supervision for a twelve month period.

Now that is a massive change for our justice system. It is closing one of the loopholes I've never been able to find anyone who would defend, and an awful lot of people thought it couldn’t be done. It has been done, it is happening now and there's a team of people in this room who made that possible and I am really grateful to all of you. You all deserve a massive pat on the back. Don’t feel ashamed about nudging a few of our friends in Whitehall to tell them what you've been doing because this is something that should look really good on your CV, it is a massive transformation programme that’s been delivered as planned, by a team of people I know worked long hours over a long period of time and I'm really grateful to you, you deserve a massive pat on the back. You have made a real difference. I'd also like to say a big word of thanks to the team working on the Global Law Summit. Now this is not an MOJ project, it's being run by a number of different organisations, the City of London, the Bar Counsel, the Law Society, UKTI, with involvement from us, but we have, within this department, played a big role in the last few weeks in making sure it comes together. And particularly making sure we get a good slate of international guests.

We have representatives at government level coming from 60 countries now. Nearly a hundred Justice Ministers and Attorneys General, and the team have worked on getting all of that together, and indeed are still working hard on getting all that together. Again I'm really grateful to you, that’s tremendous achievement, it will be a great event to celebrate the Magna Carta.

But it's actually become more than just a point of legal discussion, it's become a major intergovernmental event as well and I'm very grateful to all of you.

Couple of other teams I'd just like to make mention of as well if I might. First of all the team working on legal aid reform. We haven't got there yet, but there's a huge amount of work being done and a lot of effort again being put long hours dealing with court cases, dealing with many very complex and technical issues. You have made real progress, we've achieved most of the savings that we needed to achieve. It's been stormy and bumpy on the way, but I'm really grateful to all of those who have been involved.

And the last group I want to make mention of are the ones for whom the work is really now starting. And that’s the team working on court reform. This is a big challenge for us for the future, it's essential to the department’s future, it's probably now become our most significant change programme, the transformation of the court estate, court IT, court working practices, backed by a very substantial capital investment, which should create a more user friendly court system and at the same time make our court system much more cost effective.

It's essential for the department. It is going to be a lot of work, but I'm grateful to all of you for the work that’s been done so far and I'm looking forward to working with you as – as this goes forward. Hopefully I should be back in May, carrying on working on er, that project.

But really the last thing I wanted to say before I handed over to the ministerial team - we’ll probably do one more of these get togethers before the election - but it has been and continues to be a matter of enormous pride to me to lead this department. There is a team of really great people who work very hard in a whole variety of areas, I've just touched on four of them for now, the others will touch on some of the rest.

I hope every one of you feels proud to be part of this department. Yes it's difficult times, yes there are concerns and challenges, and yes it's sometimes been very difficult but the team of people in this room have risen to the task, with great aplomb and great dedication and I'm very proud of what you've achieved and I feel privileged to have worked with you all and hopefully to carry on working with you all for some while to come.

But thank you for all that you've done, and I'm now going to hand over to the ministerial team in turn to say a bit about their own areas. So first of all I'll pass to the Minister of State, Simon Hughes.


Simon Hughes: Ursula and Chris, and everybody, thank you very much indeed. I hope there are going to be meetings like this in April around the country where lots of people come and stand and listen to people seeking elected office and are terribly well behaved and respectful and don’t heckle us horribly all the time, so I hope somebody’s taking photos from this end of you lot that we could use as a model of the sort of Athenian democracy come to town. It’d be really good.

I wasn’t able to be at the last one of these because I was doing something formally for the department. Can I just say it is an absolute privilege to do a job in the Ministry of Justice, as somebody who has had a justice interest since I first did my law degree. I couldn’t have wanted, if I'd been given the opportunity to come to any department more, and it's been a privilege to be here. And a privilege to work with you and I'm proud of that, and honoured to have done that.


And it's been a real joy and excitement and challenge and stimulus to work with the Secretary of State and my colleagues, and with the Permanent Secretary and others, with my private office who have been fantastic, some have gone on to other things, I don’t think it was because they wanted to escape from my private office, but it was all in the career advancement, but with all of you thank you very much and it's good that I know lots of you already.

And those I haven't actually seen beavering away, I apologise for that, but you probably don’t want ministers looking over your shoulders all the time.

Just a few things as well, I'll be brief because we’re keen to have questions and answers and not just talk at you. Firstly, can I just endorse absolutely what the Secretary of State said about Transforming Rehabilitation. Chris, it is – it is a commitment of both coalition parties and it absolutely needed to be done.

And if we can manage to support people on release from short periods in prison in a way that we don’t have the recycling and – of reoffenders we will not just hugely improve their lives and the lives of their victims and save the tax payer money, but have a much more successful society. So I'm – I'm absolutely clear that it was the right thing to do and we were right to do it and it will now be delivered and I believe we will see the difference, and we’ll have a very different justice system thereafter.

I've had the privilege of looking after women offenders in the criminal justice system, that’s been a real privilege too, we have some really excellent women’s prisons, we have excellent leadership in them, I'm going to Drake Hall tomorrow, I will have been to all of those at least once, by the end of this term, I've seen really, really positive work and I'm really grateful for the team, I've driven them hard.

We had an event, I went to Styal on Thursday and we opened an open unit outside the fence, and we then had an event in Manchester Town Hall where people from all the other metropolitan areas of England came, plus from Greater London, because they’ve worked out in Wales and in – in the north west how to link local authorities and the probation service and the health service and all the agencies to make sure that when women leave prison they don’t slip back immediately for lack of housing or lack of training and employment opportunities or because their relationships with their children and their families have broken down, and we've got to have a much more joined up system.

My view, we need to prevent many people who are in prison from being in prison, Secretary of State and I have worked together with other colleagues to try to address the mental health needs of people in prison, but we need to make sure that we don’t leave people to fend for themselves in a way that is not joined up afterwards, so thank you very much to that big team.

Secondly we've reformed the family courts since I have been in the department, not by any means all my work, mostly other people’s significant work, it has made a huge difference now that we have integrated family justice. Yes there are challenges, yes as always there are litigants in person, but there have always been litigants in person. We've brought down the time people wait for decisions about children to be taken, really important.

We have one united court system, we've introduced mediation incentives and people are now going to medication, I'm very keen we have many more people going to mediation rather than a contest in the courts across the floor of the court. I'm also clear that whether it's public law or private law, the job of the court system is to be a place where people resolve disputes and don’t have disputes spinning out to make their lives more difficult. People who have relationship breakdowns have hard enough times, and the justice system should be there to support them in readjusting their lives, particularly the vulnerable.

I made a very clear decision that children from the age of ten should have a voice in the future of their families when the family breaks up and that is now being delivered in a way that’s appropriate, but children and young people must be able to have a say about what happens.

I'll just very briefly flag up the other things, we've done lots of work on freedom of information and data protection, I hope the regulation that we want will be delivered in Europe before the election but if not, effectively organised before the election, Secretary of State and others have been seeking to push that.

Freedom of information is very important to both coalition parties in the government, I'm delighted that this very week, next week, any day, we’ll be delivering freedom of information, regulation with Network Rail, I think the public actually will find that very valuable and Network Rail might get a few questions asked of them, because it's really important, that transparency of government is very important so thank you to those who help answer the FOI requests, and those people who help us with PQs and all the other things, really important.

We have a fantastic digital team which probably does as good a job as any government department and is the leader, Secretary of State said we’re gonna have to concentrate on court reform, we are, one of the things we need to do is have a really effective digital relationship between, individuals and the court process so that we can be much more streamlined and efficient.

Just two last things to signal. Coroners and burials are under my wing specifically, the coroner’s courts are not ours in the sense that coroners are appointed by local authorities as you all know, but the team who’s worked with me have worked with me to make sure that coroners’ courts are much more sympathetic than in the past some of them have been. I know from my own personal experience in our family, I know from being the MP for the Marchioness victims that the coroners’ system could be a nightmare, it must not be a nightmare and we must make sure that if people need coroners’ services at the weekend or er, out of hours that that’s delivered and delivered effectively.

Lastly, there are loads and loads of people who support us in things like, human rights and other things which are sort of smaller items on the agenda of the work we do. There are differences between us in the coalition about the constitutional structure on human rights, there is not a difference between us, which is why the Global Law Summit is important, on making sure that the rule of law, good justice, good practice, non-corrupt judges, is spread around the world and we are committed absolutely across the coalition to working with those in other countries to help deliver the best of British justice in countries which have a long, long way to go, and I'm really grateful for the team who help us do that.

Thank you very much.

54 comments:

  1. Jim - he truly is a nut ball:

    "... and crucially, anybody who commits a crime today gets taken off to court, gets a short prison sentence, when they come out for the first time will not be walking the streets with £46 in their pockets but will actually be getting proper support and supervision for a twelve month period."

    He actually believes himself, doesn't he? He IS The Messiah!!

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    1. No he's not the messiah! He's a very naughty boy!!��

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    2. Needs a good spanking

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  2. I thought civil servants were meant to be politically neutral, to serve the government of the day. This sounds like a party political rally.

    Someone should be told.

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  3. What an insight, thanks Jim. By the sounds of it it's time to rally to support our court system before that is ruined next.

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  4. Is this the new ministerial '60 minute makeover team"?

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  5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/11403594/Our-crumbling-prison-system-is-a-disgrace-to-modern-democracy.html

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    1. Deep in the Staffordshire countryside stands the gatehouse to liberty. The open unit outside the perimeter fence of Drake Hall prison is home to women, many of them serious offenders, who are nearing the end of their sentences. There is no obvious security beyond surveillance cameras monitoring well-furnished rooms, equipped for the babies and children who can spend the night here with their mothers. Where other jails reek of neglect, this one smells of women’s perfume.
      I am at Drake Hall with Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem prisons minister, who has come to open this unit – the second such institution in the country. Under its regime, women are helped to re-enter normal life without succumbing to drugs, drink and re-offending. “We’re never again going to let anyone through these gates without someone to support them,” Mr Hughes tells his audience.
      The offenders I meet here include a medical practitioner and a senior teacher. The queue for lunches, cooked by inmates who get £2.10 a day to eat, contains murderers, fraudsters and suppliers of Class A drugs. Many are now working as personal trainers, beauty therapists and call-centre assistants, and low-risk prisoners serving the last months of their jail term are driven out to jobs in nearby towns. “This is our chance to be human again,” one woman says.

      Drake Hall and the handful of “resettlement” prisons like it are less a quiet revolution in Britain’s jails than a rare counterpoint to a silent crisis. The prison population, at more than 85,000, has almost doubled in 20 years, and the Ministry of Justice budget, £9 billion when the Coalition government took office, has been cut by £2 billion. Around 28 per cent of prison staff have gone, and deeper cutbacks are promised for jails already on the cusp of riot. An inspection report which yesterday declared HMP Nottingham to be an unsafe place of “very high” violence and tension was the latest instalment in a litany of neglect delivered to Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary.

      And yet crime is not an election issue. Neither David Cameron nor Ed Miliband needs to allude to the shambles of incarceration, because voters do not talk much about crime or rank it among their top five concerns. People feel more safe, and their instinct is right. Most crime is falling like a stone, confounding doom-mongers who warned that honest citizens would have to protect themselves against malefactors groomed by family breakdown and economic recession. Instead, as the HSBC banking scandal illustrates, the predators stalk the boardroom, not the boardwalk.
      Despite a rise in crimes such as sexual offences, which may be due to better recording, the latest official survey put crime in England and Wales at an all-time low. The reason for the decline remains unclear, but better policing, more sophisticated security measures and a population growing older, and thus less aggressive, will play a part. So will the trend that has seen violence decline over many centuries.

      But while (even allowing for war and terror) we live in the most peaceful era of humanity, prisons have grown more dangerous and unruly. Andrew Neilson, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, warns that an unprecedented level of tumult will cause grave problems for whoever wins the election. “If politicians of whichever party [impose] more cuts, then they will risk catastrophe.”
      The Justice Secretary believes, despite high reoffending rates, that prison works. Meanwhile, in the Labour Party, Mr Miliband’s initial liberal fervour appears to have cooled, even though his justice spokesman, Sadiq Khan, has broadly maintained that stance.

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  6. Jim,

    By an unhappy coincidence I was at the MoJ when the SOS & his acolytes addressed the throng.. but the eminent sense of the facilitators on training event I attended immediately under the Atrium meant that we avoided the effusive Nomspeak above...

    There was a patched up add on to our programme -ORA - needless to say my new colleagues on the Bench were a little bemused as to how would the PS cope with these significant changes & who would be ' profiting' ..

    Regards

    A Mag in the making!

    Mike

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  7. Re Simon Hughes comments about visiting all the female prisons: I really have no idea why any politician bothers to go into any prison as they never see the prison engaged in daily routine. All the prisoners are locked up apart from a select few and so the minister trots round an empty prison patting a few on the head and dealing with fawning staff. They simply do not get to see a prison in working mode and all the problems it has nor do they ever get to actually talk to prisoners to really understand what goes on inside prisons. I always felt that HMPS had to keep the cons away from the good and great because apparently criminality is catching and if a politician came into contact with a con they would some how be contaminated. Mind you, the average politician seems to be more than capable of criminal behaviour without catching it from someone else.

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    1. Really? I governed three prisons and had Ministers visit each one and never locked prisoners away during the visits.

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    2. Every prison I was in did this in the four years I was inside (5 different prisons) no matter who the visitor was either a minister or another VIP such as Princess Anne during Butler Trust visits. That's five different governors doing this so it appears to be the norm rather than the exception. You also don't mention when you were governor. Was it recently or some time ago?

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  8. Makes me want to vomit

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  9. Could be an interesting problem brewing for Grayling here. Perhaps it's even an interesting problem for society?

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11402870/Grandfathers-body-could-be-exhumed-after-relatives-of-Muslim-buried-alongside-complain-he-was-an-unbeliever.html

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    1. Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, could be dragged into a messy legal battle after a Muslim family demanded that a “non-believer” who was buried next to their relation be exhumed for religious reasons.
      The unnamed Muslim family raised objections after an 89-year-old Roman Catholic man was buried in a plot adjacent to their relation.
      Shadrack Smith was buried in the multi-denominational Lychgate Lane Cemetery in Burbage, Leicestershire, following his funeral on Jan 30.

      Mr Smith had lived in an official gipsy camp in nearby Aston Firs for more than 20 years, and in excess of 400 relations and friends attended his funeral.

      His family later received notice that relations of the man buried alongside him had complained because Mr Smith was not an adherent of the Islamic faith.
      Islamic religious authorities say that it is forbidden for non-Muslims to be buried alongside Muslims under normal circumstances. Mr Smith’s family have now been warned by town hall officials that Mr Smith’s grave may be moved.

      If Burbage parish council decides to overrule Mr Smith’s family’s wishes, it would fall to Mr Grayling’s Ministry of Justice to approve the application to exhume and relocate his remains. His family, which includes eight children, 25 grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren, have vowed to fight “tooth and nail” to stop any exhumation taking place. Any bid to move human remains requires a licence from the Ministry’s officials.

      “The consents of all the next of kin of the deceased are normally required,” official guidance says. “The MoJ receives over 1,000 licence applications a year. Each will be considered on its merits, but applications made for private family reasons on behalf of the next of kin will, subject to any other necessary consents, normally be considered sympathetically.” But Mr Smith’s family have vowed to fight any move to relocate his remains.

      His daughter-in-law, Tracey Smith, 46, said: “This whole thing has devastated our family. We were told when we bought the plots that it was a multi-faith cemetery, but the council has been so unsupportive. “I feel for the Muslim family because they obviously thought they were only going to have other Muslim families buried around them. But that’s not our fault. “The council has tried to bend over backwards to please the Muslim family. “We have been told we might have to exhume Shady if the council decide to side with them. There is no way Shady will be exhumed. If they suggest it, we will take them to the highest court in the land. We will fight tooth and nail to stop the grave being dug up.”

      Mr Smith’s family were warned by the council four days before his funeral that the owners of the plot adjacent to theirs had complained, but declined to amend their plans. His family paid £2,500 for three plots at the cemetery, including one hand-picked for its position, facing towards Mr Smith’s home, a Romany tradition. Burbage parish council confirmed that the cemetery is unsegregated, adding that: “So that people of all denominations can use Burbage Cemetery, the graveyard ground at Lychgate Lane is unconsecrated.”

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    2. It appears this issue is now resolved.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/11406710/Grave-of-Catholic-Shadrack-Smith-will-not-be-exhumed-family-told-in-row-over-Muslim-burial-plot-next-door.html

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  10. " This is the programme that virtually nobody else in Whitehall thought was deliverable" and they were right 'cos you are counting your chickens before they've hatched.......it is not working, you have cheated the tax payers and we are gonna tell the world you smug liar..
    a PO

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  11. It is easy to understand why the MoJ civil servants feel proud of themselves in delivering TR. It was a tight timetable and they must have worked very hard. They may have even believed in what they were doing. The clinching moral and rational argument was that TR would do something for those forgotten by the probation service – those left to fend for themselves with a mere £46 in their pockets. This was TRs winning argument. In reality very little is likely to be done post-release, as there will be few resources and these cohorts have high rates of recidivism because of multiple needs. But this is all in the small print and so if you are an MoJ civil servant you may well believe you have been part of something progressive.

    It was a scandal that these released prisoners got no support. I don't recall the probation service campaigning to provide voluntary support to this group after it was discouraged by Whitehall with the dropping of After Care. They slipped off probation's moral compass completely, though they were often well-known to probation as many were awkward and demanding to supervise because of their disorganised lifestyles. If there were not breaching community penalties, they were reoffending. And often their incarceration led to a joyful closure of the file, as they had nowt to do with probation anymore. Unlike times past when throughcare and resettlement support would have been offered.

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    1. Throughcare and resettlement support?
      I agree wholeheartedly that that is what should be on offer. Unfortunately, I doubt if TR is going to bring that. TR will only bring 'offender management' and sanction for those that fail to comply.
      Many will fail because they 'can't' comply.
      Graylings thinking is seriously flawed because he believes merely making a group of problematic offenders subject to supervision with the threat of a further spell in custody will act as a deterent and thus reduce reoffending.
      It's a fact however, that every offender that committs a further offence is also very aware that it might result in a further spell in custody?
      Throughcare and support are expensive concepts by themselves, without the political complication that austerity brings. Wouldn't do the Tory image much good to be accused of providing better aftercare for ex-cons then for sick and disabled people who've never broken the law, or to be providing commuity based support that isn't accessable to all.
      But TR has never been about providing whats needed, nor I believe even an attempt to reduce reoffending. Indeed, the base principle of capitalism is about accumalating commodities and growing your market- why would private enterprise be interested in reducing reoffending if their profits are won by the more offenders they have on their books.
      TR is simply an excuse to shrink the state, and to absolve or detach the state from being responsible for reoffending rates.
      Throughcare and support is a wonderful concept, but it's not what TR is going to bring I'm affraid.

      'Getafix'

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    2. The PR argument for TR was won as soon as Grayling first spoke about the lack of support for those serving under 12 months in custody. No-one could seriously argue that this wasn't a good idea, and it became too easy to paint those arguing that the proposal was highly dangerous as dinosaurs and vested interests.

      Grayling has also managed to sidestep questions about exactly what sort of support those people are going to receive by repeating his monotonous soundbites about "innovative solutions". In my area, those "innovative solutions" currently consist of "finding out how you do things at the moment", no doubt as a way of trying to do exactly the same things but cheaper and with larger numbers. I may be astonishingly naive, but it still beggars belief that companies can win bids to provide public services without ANY understanding of what those services actually are, and can still be scrabbling around trying to find out even after they're given the keys. As someone commented the other day, it's no way to run a country.

      I once got through to the final round of applications to join the Civil Service fast stream. That was in the Blair years, and although I was initially disappointed, it wasn't long before I realised I was well out of an organisation that tried to follow what a small political elite dictated was the flavour of the month. I'm even more glad now that I didn't get in, because although I'd like to think that I would have realised what a pile of horsesh*t TR is, I'm not sure that most of those in Whitehall pay any attention to how their policies actually play out on the ground.

      Getafix is absolutely right that TR is simply an excuse to shrink the state. I wonder how many of those in Petty France are working MoJ 'reforms' through realise that they are going to end up doing themselves out of a job? Or are they all expecting to head through those revolving doors into the private sector in the near future?

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  12. Re the burial issue. Secularism rules OK. No one should be religiously privileged. Take note of the words of members of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, Islamism is the new fascism. Read the works of the likes of Maryam Namazie, Imad Iddine Habib, Aliyah Saleem and Ahmed Idris etc, in addition to the likes of Pragna Patel of Southall Black Sisters. Keep informed.

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    1. This is a probation blog about the issues we are facing as a result of the TR disaster not a reason to vent your non-religious facist rules. Islamaphobic views you should be ashamed...

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  13. Join the National Secular Society and fight religious privilege.

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  14. In Oct 2014 PCS website wrote:

    "Lin Homer’s announcement (that mgmt were withdrawing from talks with PCS) comes thirteen days after the announcement of considerable job cuts and office closures by HMRC, and only underlines that the department never had any serious intent to resolve the dispute."

    Not two weeks later (nov 2014) Ms Homer declared she deserved her £20,000 performance bonus - as did numerous senior civil servants, not that anyone told us. Ms Homer's salary is approx £185,000.

    As I write, Ms Homer is being flame-grilled by Margaret Hodge over the HSBC Swiss Job. Still worth your £20k bonus?

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    1. Just confirming the wealthy revolving door principle is cross-party & entrenched; here's a 2012 piece from Daily Mail:

      "The civil servant who presided over years of chaos at the UK Border Agency has been promoted – to run the tax office.
      Lin Homer was paid almost £1million in salary and bonuses over four years as the first chief executive of the beleaguered agency.
      But despite major criticisms of the department – and numerous other scandals she has been involved with in her lucrative 30-year public sector career – the 54-year-old has been made chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs."

      At least Homer, Brennan etc seem to be consistent in their incompetence whilst filling their (Swiss?) bank accounts.

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  15. Jim, when I read the MoJ Away Day blog yday, I thought that it was a clever tongue-in-cheek item, emphasising the scummy self-appraisals of a bunch of self-gloriying nutters, and I was wondering why the comments were so angry! Today it dawned that this was the real thing, presumably recorded.

    Common sense still wants to tell me it is not real, it is a parody, down to the £46 in the pocket. And as for Simon Hughes.... - What a sickening bunch of unpleasant creeps they are. How can they stand there and glorify catastrophic action, believing it to have been smooth and successful? Or perhaps it is only successful because the future is loadsadosh.

    I was going to say 'there is none so blind as those who will not see' but perhaps I should be saying ' there is none so hated as those who do not care'.

    I am still half expecting you to say - you didn't believe all that was true, did you?'

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    1. ML - I'm afraid the truth is always stranger than fiction....

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    2. Oh so true. I have just answered the door to a young man selling those excessively expensive cleaning products for a pittance, while the 'business' behind it rakes it in. So we had a good chat about his past and his plans, and I gave him a couple of quid in his hand but bought nowt. But I felt better, and he was happy, and has gone away, with an ambition to become a qualified gardener (something he loves doing) and has taken with him a couple of ideas in his head from my garden.

      retired but available for doorstep support and encouragement! Maybe that's the future when offices become redundant - working from home!!

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  16. Off topic a bit but I can't believe there hasn't been some comment on here about the four "briefing" sessions that were held over the last two days in Harrogate for all staff from NPS North-East region. Only just stopped laughing at the whole thing now I am angry.

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    1. I presume that includes Nbria? I have been wondering where everyone has gone as I have had no responses from officers(except 2 out of office responses) to whom I sent a communal 'e' to tell them to read my blog yday - Andrew's letter to me.

      That seems to explain things!

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  17. Off topic too, I am with you Anony 16:29. There is nothing about the briefing we had in the CRC either.

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    1. Well perhaps Anon 16:29 and 16:42 could post something about their experiences? Laughing followed by anger certainly matches the experience of ORA briefings in the area I work.

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  18. Again off topic, but wonder why this wasn't mentioned at MoJ away day?

    http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-31408819

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    1. Or who gets a pat on the back for this?

      http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/heart-attack-inmate-forced-wait-hour-8621584

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  19. " This is the programme that virtually nobody else in Whitehall thought was deliverable"
    Grayling and his disparaged nodding dogs are so deluded and out of touch. Ask anyone on the frontline or managing the shambles . There is a problem on every corner be it CRC or NPS . Breakdowns everywhere in communication two entities drifting off like icebergs in different directions. Failing interfaces where there were no interfaces before . The problems and issues this has created could really not be made up!
    It will fail apart in months not fit for purpose just like the SOS who is by far the worst minister in a generation if not the last century.
    Dream on SOS you will be gone in May

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    1. The rest of Whitehall hopefully looked at the fact that TR was a massive extension of work combined with a huge privatisation programme, and concluded that a sensible department of state would never try to do both at the same time.

      The only thing holding this together (where it is being held together) is a committed and experienced staff group desperately trying to do the best for their clients and their communities. When this number dwindles away, as it surely will, all pretence will collapse.

      It is Grayling's vanity project and should be his political epitaph.

      Delete
  20. saw the Basic Custody Screening Tool completed by my local prison - inaccurate information on it. I know this because I've supervised the person before. If these basic (the clue's in the word) cant be filled in properly it discredits the whole process - btw the error will not doubt lead to an incompatible element being included in the Resettlement Plan leading to de-motivation and possible dis-engagement.

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    1. The BCS has already been shortened as the powers that be realised the impossibility of completing it within realistic time scales. It is also dependent on the offender answering each question truthfully and accurately. The interviewer has no time to check information and certainly my prison colleagues are well aware that they aren't producing anything of much relevance -and if they are sensible they will be recording this. The BCS is all about the needs of the offender, risk issues, public protection concerns won't be picked up as quickly as we did with our old systems

      Delete
  21. 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.

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  22. It makes me want to vomit. My career is in tatters and I am experiencing a feeling of powerlessness. There should be a paralel process in how staff are treated reflecting how we work with clients. There' s not much hope.

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    Replies
    1. Well the judges are revolting: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/jac-2014-results.pdf

      "An overwhelming majority of judges who have been in post for at least 5 years (86%) feel that working conditions are worse now than they were 5 years ago."

      "Almost two-thirds (65%) of all judges report that the morale of court staff is poor"

      Delete
  23. http://www.russellwebster.com/stop-commissioning-start-licensing-public-services/

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  24. Frances Crook
    ‏@francescrook
    Staff morale in probation & prisons has crashed in last couple of years, terrible indictment of government policies

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/401978/national-probation-service-survey-results-2014.pdf …

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    1. A quick selection of results:

      Page 7:

      B40 I feel that the National Probation Service as a whole is managed well - 20% positive
      B43 B43 I believe that the NOMS Management Board has a clear vision for the future of the National Probation Service - 15% positive
      B46 When changes are made in the National Probation Service they are usually for the better - 7% positive
      B49 B49 I think it is safe to challenge the way things are done in the National Probation Service - 19% positive

      Page 8:
      B51 I would recommend the National Probation Service as a great place to work - 26% positive
      B55 B55 I believe that senior managers in the National Probation Service will take action on the results from this survey - 16% positive
      B57 Where I work, I think effective action has been taken on the results of the last survey - 11% positive

      Page 13:
      F04 Systems within the National Probation Service are working effectively - 14% positive
      F05 I believe that my local leadership team manages change well - 36% positive
      F06 Communication within the National Probation Service is good - 28% positive
      F08 I feel positive about my future in the National Probation Service - 24% positive

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  25. 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!

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    Replies
    1. I thought st giles are in partnership with ingeus and cri in midlands area. Rrp. How can they be working for both?

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    2. 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.

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

      Delete
  26. Some interesting comments in the letters section of London Evening Standards - Wednesday 11th February commenting on the re offending of the London rioters;

    That so many of those involved with the 2011 London riots are continuing to offend [Martin Bentham, Tues] is a serious worry.

    The “rehabilitation revolution” was abandoned by this government years ago and massive budget cuts have gradually diminished the capacity of the Probation Service to deliver the rehabilitative effort that is necessary.

    Investment is also needed elsewhere. Before the riots and, arguably, increasingly since, local services which provide alternatives and opportunities, notably youth services and related provision, have been decimated across the capital.

    Finally, as Reading the Riots — the LSE’s research with The Guardian — uncovered, we must remember that the trouble on London’s streets in 2011 in part reflected the anger of a section of our youth who felt alienated, ill-treated and marginalised by our increasingly unequal society.

    The big question for political leaders in London is where will they find the money to provide the public services and opportunities the capital needs if it is to have any hope of improving its record on rehabilitation and of avoiding significant public disorder in the future.
    Prof Tim Newburn, London School of Economics

    News that a large proportion of those involved in the 2011 riots have since reoffended sadly comes as no surprise.

    It is clear that the crude and outdated Conservative plans for our criminal justice system have failed. Frustratingly for Londoners, these discredited ideas are still being perpetuated by Boris Johnson, whose latest gimmick — tough “joint enterprise” sentences for everyone in a gang, even for individuals who have committed no crime — is a further symbol of a failure to understand the nature of gang crime.

    Tackling criminality in London requires a radical new approach to crime and, importantly, the causes of it. It should involve addressing the issues that lead some Londoners into a life of crime: a dearth of opportunities, no stake in society, low aspirations, absent parents and poor role models.
    David Lammy MP (Lab)

    Failing to invest in the right level of support for offenders, which needs to be in place for when someone leaves prison, has longer-term consequences which are now playing out.

    At St Giles Trust we adopt a mix of practical support for issues such as lack of housing, unemployment and lack of skills coupled with emotional support to keep people motivated and on the road to resettlement.

    If we can generate sustainable funding it will mean everyone in society will feel the benefits of less crime, fewer victims and safer communities.
    Rob Owen OBE, chief executive, St Giles Trust

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  27. 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.

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    1. your man is correct my woman says...matters referred to those damn consultants again 'for urgent advice' yes really.......

      Delete
    2. 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...

      Delete
  28. Above: the rehabilitation revolution was abandoned years ago. Just a couple of years after I joined in 1992, a SPO voiced the sentiment that he was retiring and was of the opinion that what we are/were doing was a waste of time. I get that. I still have it nagging at me. Yet I still think it will/can/has work(ed), if the alternative is their for us to point at and say that is scary and they - offenders - see it IS scary. Tony

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