Saturday, 28 February 2015

Schadenfreude

It's Saturday, the guest blog cupboard is bare and I'm getting increasingly fed up with the whole probation train crash. I suppose it could be described as conflict fatigue, and I can sense it on the blog. It's time for another diversion and an attempt to try and bring together a number of things that have been bothering me of late. As usual, I think I know where I'm going to start, but have no idea where it will end.

A couple of weeks ago this was left by a contributor:-

Devastating example of impact of LASPO on civil legal aid given by Dave Emerson to Justice Committee:

"I was sitting as a judge yesterday in a family case, in a London family court, where a young woman came before me. She was physically disabled. She had to come into court with crutches so it was not easy for her to carry her papers. Attached to her application was her refusal of exceptional funding from the Legal Aid Agency. She had modest learning difficulties and her father with her. She was making an application to see her child who was in care. There was an order that she sees her child three times a year and she was looking to increase that. The special guardian who was in court, who was ironically funded by the local authority, was there with a social worker, and they were seeking to decrease the amount of contact she had. She started by making representations that she had written down, so she was able to explain what her case was. But it was abundantly clear, once the lawyer from the other side had started making representations, that she could not deal with them at all. She did not understand the nuances of the case against her and could not adjust to deal with it. It is absolutely appalling that this woman, who now faces possibly not seeing her child again, should not get representation.

The form itself is almost 30 pages long and you need a doctorate in law to complete it. In informal discussions—Resolution and the Legal Aid Agency—they have almost agreed that, if a litigant in person is able to complete that form, they are almost able to show that they are able to represent themselves, so it is self‑defeating. In the statistics, you will see that there is only a handful of applications from people themselves rather than through lawyers. There is no funding to make the application."


It got me quite depressed and pondering on what sort of society we are becoming, all in the name of 'reforms' and austerity? For the first time ever I found myself asking if I really wanted to be part of a society where prison suicides are rising? The poor are sanctioned? The ill punished? The low-paid go hungry? etc etc., and all at the same time as the Tories seem able to claim their fiscal measures have been a huge success and entitle them to believe they can win a majority in the General Election.

We've had evidence of the MoJ trying to hide the truth about what's happening in jails by refusing visits from journalists, an attempt to silence an academic from linking suicides to staff shortages, the Church of England top brass saying things are getting bad, and the Church of Rome voicing concerns, but it all seems to make no impression. 

With the opposition so feeble and disorganised, as far as I can see the only cause for hope has been provided by the vagaries of lady luck in the shape of superbly timed 'events'. The HSBC banking scandal completely scuppered the carefully stage-managed political election posturing by all the main parties and instead got us all focused on fat cat tax cheats - brilliant!

Ever since Tony Blair and his Prince of Darkness were able to demonstrate the ease with which the news agenda could be 'managed', and democracy took another turn for the worst, our only hope of getting any real political debate going has been via leaks or whistle blowing. Don't you just love it when politicians prove their credentials as self-serving bastards when they so easily succumb to the classic honey trap, provided in this case by flattery from a young Chinese woman offering loadsa money? 

Oh how sweet to see that arse Jack Straw finally having his political career terminated. It very neatly scuppered another weeks-worth of stage-managed crap from our political leaders and firmly put back on the agenda exactly what value we get out of this bunch elected on our behalf. I wonder what's coming next week?

It's all been pure political gold in my view, getting Tory grandee Sir Malcolm Rifkind on the record having the bare-faced to cheek saying he's 'self-employed', doesn't get a salary and has 'lots of spare time'. Another political career terminated in just a few 'misjudged' words and one can only imagine David Cameron's fury in response. With the House of Lords already embarrassingly full to bursting, it's no ermine for either me thinks!  
Having indulged in a little Schadenfreude, I think I'll stop here and end with something I saw on twitter that seems to sum things up nicely.   

38 comments:

  1. It's not just in this country that things are going this way. You only have to look across the Channel to Europe or across the Atlantic to North America to see that this is a planet wide problem. It continues to amaze me how humanity has managed to not obliterated itself by now as we rarely, if ever, seem to learn from our mistakes or learn to settle our differences in a more constructive way or even solve problems in a cost effective and humane way. No wonder the aliens from outer space have given us a wide birth to date - as a race, we leave a LOT to be desired.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't argue with that, feels like we're about to implode!

      Delete
    2. I for one, was pleased to see both Straw and Rifkind exposed. Their behaviour was disgraceful and shaming of a generation of politicians who have reduced the public's faith in the offices they held. It is the self serving nature of parliamentarians coupled with their sense of entitlement that leaves me not wanting to vote for the first time. As a PO I have always been proud to serve the community I work in - no wonder politicians never understood that aspect of my work, it is now an alien concept to them. The altruism premium has been squandered at great cost to society.

      Delete
  2. Jim - you have worked so hard on this brilliant blog that you should take a break every now and then. Why not do the summaries on a Saturday and chill on a Sunday? I am sure there are plenty of colleagues who will share this sentiment reference you're unstinting hard work - dare I say it is of Stakhanovite proportions!?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You raise a very good point and I've said in the past I have no wish to post if there's nothing new to say. I suppose I'm driven by a desire to try and maintain momentum and a lively platform for news, discussion and mutual support.

      It's not all hard work as I do find writing very therapeutic and in many ways it feels just like talking to my mates down the pub. I think rather than opt for 'rest days', I might just inflict more self-indulgent digressions on my audience, especially as we are in electioneering mode.

      To be honest I'm continuing to surprise myself - as someone who was/is always late with homework, essays and PSR's, I'm astonished at this new phenomenon of self-imposed discipline, although I could never aspire to the heights of output achieved by those Stakhanovites!

      Finally, the more I write/post, the more I learn - it's rather addictive.

      Delete
    2. Maybe start a paralell blog site where you could be more indulgent with your personal opinions and views? A place to post on days when material for this blog is a little thin?
      Just a thought.

      Delete
    3. Late with PSRs?. You may think your anonymity is safe Jim, but as an admin manager, I've narrowed down the search to, well, you're definitely a Probation Officer!.

      Delete
    4. Annon 21:46

      Maybe you'd have more to contribute on another blog site more suitable to your mental status. Try the following one.

      http://letterstostupidpeople.blogspot.co.uk/?m=1

      Delete
    5. Sorry annon 21:46!

      That comment at 22:11 was not ment to be for you, it was ment for the idiot who keeps posting taunts and rubbish. So sorry.
      In fact its the commentator at 14:36 that needs directing to that blog site.
      Sorry again.

      Delete
    6. Don't tell lies - I bet yours get gatekept by the judge!. He he*

      *means the same as LOL.

      Tony

      Delete
  3. Lots and lots of overtime is going to be announced soon as they realise that Oasys completions are up the swanny and emergency measures will have to be put in place to give the impression that everything is all going well....the train is so huge that it has now left the rails and is careering into the public that have gathered to see what all the fuss is about.....it might not have ground to a halt but it has certainly caused damage and those that cant see it are either on the outside looking in.... on the inside with their eyes shut hoping its not them that gets the 4am knock...apologists for TR (Well its happened now lets just get on with quietly slitting our own throats) or the three or four who really believe that TR will bring them great opportunities...usually CEOs and ACEs....

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oasys means nothing, whats the problem?

    Just fudge them quickly, they'll be just as useful as before.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Man down the pub told me a prison in the Midlands was in lock-down one day last week following a serious incident. Tornado type team and dog team in all day.

    Generally management has split off from those at the coalface and they gladly do the biding of their masters; they are collaborators in the privatisation and immiseration of society.

    papa

    ReplyDelete
  6. Oh, seems like someone can't handle a differing opinion today... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can always handle differing opinions and reasoned discourse - all deliberately inflammatory crap gets deleted at my discretion.

      Delete
  7. Well Mrs Jim, as you yourself say, we shall see if there is a TRain crash.

    I myself am fairly certain that the standard of service will be maintained very easily as you were doing next to nothing worthwhile long before TR was even conceived of.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oy, leave Mrs Jim alone!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I was thinking, in these past months with numerous persons leaving the service and giving their reasons as to why, as well as a number of commentators giving their reasons as to why they'd really like to leave but cannot why has Mrs Jim herself not outlined why she, despite keeping this blog and updating it every day (despite a good deal of regurgitated blogs), doesn't resign herself?

    Working conditions can't be anywhere near as bad as they are made out to be!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The blog is not about me - it's about an entire profession. You are making yourself look foolish my friend. If you have a point to make, make it or move on.

      Delete
    2. Don't bite Jim. Keeping him on here is keeping a 12 year old girl safe online. Mind you, it's also probably doing some Internet vigilantes out of a chase.

      The rest of us are grateful for this valuable forum. Tony

      Delete
    3. Blimey Tony, are you a PO? With comments such as that I very much expect so.

      Delete
  10. That's because of the great secrecy that protects us all you numpty! Now stop your mischief 'cos we all know what we know don't we?
    A PO

    ReplyDelete
  11. A man down the pub told me a member of staff was seriously injured at hmp Leeds and now a prisoner has been murdered at hmp Doncaster. Talk of wheels coming off, understates the seriousness of it all!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/incoming/prison-riots-squad-called-100-8741338

      Delete
  12. yep - there's are a nbr of sites about a 25 yr old inmate being killed by another 25 yr old earlier today at HMP Doncaster
    The Leeds incident was on 17/2 - '2 officers injured when trouble flared at HMP Leeds', but not detained in hospital overnight. There were also a number of inmates injured.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mrs Jim sidestepping a relevant question....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oi, Eejit... Because of your crass stoopidity a lengthy & carefully crafted comment of mine was lost today - probably because it coincided with the removal of your earlier stoopid comments.

      Essentially, my comment was to the effect that you ought to offer thoughts as to why you think (1) TR is okay and (2) what you think would be better than the service you are abusive towards & about.

      I also wanted to make the point that a previous similarly angry person had the courage to write a guest blog which, however difficult it was for some (many?), was useful.

      So, be creative, be courageous, offer something.

      Stop being destructive, frightened and detracting from.

      Your call...

      Delete
    2. This may be of interest to you annon 22:50

      http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/mar/01/sex-offenders-rehabilitation

      Delete
  14. 1: TR is okay because the people who pay your wages say it is okay.
    2: Anything that results in spending less time in the company of feckless Probation Officers.

    1 apparently answers 2, though this blog is perhaps not as widely read or responded to as Mrs Jim would lead us all to believe, if this is an "omnishambles" and a "TRain crash" then you'd expect there to be alot more stories of failings coming out.

    Indeed the very fact that so many of you, including Mrs Jim herself, still work for Probation is evidence in itself that things are not actually all that bad.

    Perhaps Mrs Jim herself is not all that far from a pension pot and this blog is a rose-tinted view on how good things used to be 30 years ago.

    I applaud Hughes, McConnell and others for having their principles and sticking to them.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to admit your responses have lost me.

      "TR is okay because the people who pay your wages say it is okay." That makes no sense whatsoever to me. Who do you mean? HM Govt or the multinationals who bought the CRCs?

      "Anything that results in spending less time in the company of feckless Probation Officers."
      Again, not a very helpful response, just abusive rubbish. Sadly, nothing constructive.

      Come on, you clearly have strong views. Lets hear what your take is on the alternative to the current supervision arrangements. If you've a great idea, one of the CRCs might adopt it? They read this blog because they know its where their practitioners express their concern. You might make a difference IF you can be constructive.

      Delete
    2. Make a difference where and to whom?

      Like Mrs Jim and the vast majority of contributors to this blog, Probation Officers of all types have an inflated opinion on their importance regarding prevention of reoffence.

      I shall repeat that the impression given by this blog is of a minority of PO's, most of your colleagues don't care and will do anything if they are paid to do it.

      I come here to laugh at you. x

      Delete
    3. Whoever told you to 'be yourself' couldn't have gave you worse advice!

      Delete
    4. You've had numerous chances to say what's on your mind, or say what you'd like to see happen. Sadly, nothing. Just the same old blah blah blah, probation's shit, its not fair, it wasn't me, I can do what I like, I'm not responsible, I didn't do it... whine, cry, complain.

      Please say something constructive or go away.

      Delete
    5. Now Chris, we know you haven't had a lot of good publicity lately. But come on, resorting to trolling is surely even beneath you. Surely as a high ranking minister, you should be busy with your second, third or even fourth job.

      Delete
  15. Previous SFO enquiries have highlighted issues with poor communication, information not being passed on to relevant staff, ridiculously high caseloads and unrealistic expectations of newly qualified staff. TR sticks two fingers up at those painstaking findings, at future potential victims, and the staff left trying to make sense of wave after wave of poor quality IT, lengthy new bureaucratic procedures, inadequate staffing all being driven, reconfigurated and mobilised by the biggest load of pretend corporate bullshit bollocks ever, wasting time and delaying acess to the information that matters.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you not being paid?

      Delete
  16. Th e spurious arguments about working conditions etc ignores the fact that the service was once relatively well run and you always engage in debates with your managers and that such debates were seen as healthy as professional opinions were aired and debated-switch to currently were draconian managerialism reigns and you cannot speak out against the might of TR without being seen as 'out of step' or a 'dinosaur'....the reasons why the majority of us stay are 1) Because we are still trying to help our clients 2) It's such a mess at the moment that common sense tells us that things will have to change-it may take months or years but the current disconnect between senior managers and the shop floor is nothing but staggering....you dont come into this job to manage-you come into this job to help give a voice to those who otherwise would not be heard-to support-to work with and yes on occasion to recall but not to manage...and those that when they get to the front line dont like it or become scared or who realise that they're not cut out for it quickly ascend the golden staircase to higher management and when they get there what do they do? Start telling us who can do the job how to do it.
    The issue of pay is important and to the commentator at 04:48 you're right a lot of staff dont care and are only in it for the money, usually you call them senior managers.....

    ReplyDelete