Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Guest Blog 29

Some Thoughts

I frequently meander around North Yorks, love the castles, canals and countryside, and Pocklington, near York, and its surroundings, is one place we return to regularly. I am reading a 'Pocklington Through Time' book as I speak, as we plan to return for a few days later this month, and I am aware of the independent boarding school in the small town, which had educated William Wilberforce, who did great things to abolish slavery.

Although he was a Hull lad, born in 1759, and initially attended Hull High School, in 1771, after becoming an evangelical Christian, he moved to Pocklington Grammar School, before going up to St John's College Cambridge in 1776. During his adult life, apart from his work as an abolitionist, for which he is mainly known, he was also heavily involved in other contemporary social issues. He supported legislation to improve the working conditions of chimney sweeps and textile workers, promoted education as a means of alleviating poverty, and he also helped found the world's first animal welfare organisation, later to be called the RSPCA. He also campaigned against dualling, which he called 'the disgrace of a Christian society'. 

I think of myself and thousands of others who are signing online petitions and making their impassioned comments on horrendous injustices, in a bid to make the world a bit more humane and caring. And it makes you feel as if you have done just a little bit to help. But this man was jumping in at the deep end to inform and rid the world of its badness in many diverse areas.

Indeed, as well as being instrumental in the above reforms, (the emancipation of slavery was formally achieved in 1807) he was also involved in prison reform and lent his support to limit capital punishment. And the philanthropic and social responsibility that characterised this man, lives on in the William Wilberforce Trust, an apparently effective charity, with strong religious motivation, which works on a number of issues to improve life generally for those affected by debt, addiction, homelessness, unemployment, trafficking, loneliness and vulnerability. This includes prisoners and ex-offenders as well as others in society. I have just checked their website, and as well as such programmes as debt advice, the Recovery Course, Building Community on Estates, they have a 'Caring for Ex-offenders' Programme, where 
'the vision is to reduce re-offending by re-integrating ex-offenders into society through the local church. We equip churches, through training and advice, to enable them to support ex-offenders live transformed lives. Through the CFEO (Caring for Ex-Offenders) network, we support ex-offenders on their release from prison. We meet them at the gate, link them with a mentor, and support them as they re-integrate in the community, with practical and emotional support as appropriate'. 
 Where have we heard this before???

I know there has been criticism of the motivation and religious emphasis of some reforming charities, but if it works and provides succour to the isolated and desperate, does it matter? It has to be better than CG's plastic, watered-down copy, with ambitious, unrealistic and potentially dangerous plans. His idea is not even original, and indeed, had already been a part of Probation long before he got his filthy paws on it. Nothing is new ... except what has been forgotten. (Marie Antoinette)

A final note, the improvements to society, driven by individual philanthropists over the centuries, must be worthy of a PHD thesis. Nowadays, we are seeing the needy being driven into greater isolation and suffering, by politicians with over-sized egos and their bulging-pocketed mates, as the poorest of our forebears suffered. But philanthropy is still alive but modified - from successful people who want to give their money away to worthy causes, to the lowly public who do not hesitate to raise money to support those in worse situations than themselves, to help dying children to enjoy what is left of their lives, and to support fighting against injustice, while lying politicians, bankers and fox-hunting creeps continue to despise the have-nots.

I fear for the future of this country, of this planet, and those most vulnerable. While being warmed and inspired by those who understand that you only need so much money and give the rest away, as well as the good deeds of those who may not have money but have huge hearts and, like the good Samaritan, do not cross the road...

Clinging to hope..



  1. A very interesting blog thank you. It feels as though I have woken up in a country I do not recognise. It is not a nice place, but it must have been creeping up on us, wordlessly, sneakily, for some time. I do not like what now seems to be everywhere - people suffering and struggling, starving and killing themselves. Homelessness, rip off jobs, ridiculous rents & artificially inflated property prices, permanent food collection point in the local supermarket, benefit sanctions, unkind policies and well fed, over paid politicians who break lives and let people die. Politicians who begin sentences with "the truth is..." I am so ashamed of this country and what it is turning into. We are being forced down a horrible road. I feel extremely fortunate that I have employment in the traditional sense - a contract, some measure of security. But for how much longer. Nothing makes any sense anyway. As a " hardworking taxpayer" I actually do not give a stuff if a very small minority are not looking for work. But a million people sanctioned? What a nasty, vindictive situation. But not only does that mean people cannot eat, it means they are not contributing to their local economy. Surely that does not make economic sense, let alone moral sense. So the knock on effect must be wider than a brutal punishment of än isolated individual. I think the wealthy elite have washed their hands of any remaining sense of 'social responsibilty' of those in power. They are gathering up their ill gotten gains s fast sa they can and pulling up the drawer bridge. It's planned and deliberate, with 'austerity' the smokescreen. Is not taxpayers money used to pay for TR? Do we not see day in, day out examples of inreasing cost of this farce, costs written off because some people will get even more wealthy, cheers suckers! God help us if they are re-elected.

  2. As a paid up hethen, I have had many dealings with caring for ex-offenders and have always found that they do what they say they do, without judgement or expectation. Clients refer themselves, and caring for ex offenders then contact OMs to make the best plan, to identify the right mentor etc etc. I have only admiration and respect for the organisation, as they ask nothing in return and are truly altruistic. Unlike the 'charities' climbing into bed with Chris Grayling.

  3. I attended a CFEO conference prior to the split and disappointed they had no one to speak about the opposition to TR. I was given the opportunity by a prison chaplin (she understood the danger) to speak to at least some delegates about the true impact TR would have. I also had a lively discussion with two of their speakers who unfortunately were taken in by Grayling who had spoken at the previous conference. Sad to see a charity unaware that its ethos of caring for the underdog was being eroded by Government ideals.

  4. Err, its all okay now. Barclays Bank are fine, their CEO says they've paid off the "legacy issues" and he's decided that bonuses are back in fashion. So he thinks its okay to take as his personal remuneration for the last 12 months = £1.1m basic + £950k (Something else) + £1.1m bonus.

    RBS have paid £300m in bonuses to a handful of staff - what about the 80% ownership?

    HSBC pay shitloads to those who help the wealthy avoid tax & hide their own pay in complicated international arrangements - don't want anyone prying, now do we?

    But hey, its austerity time for the rest of us. Tighten your belts. Throw another immigrant on the fire. Shop at Aldi. Cut your cloth...

  5. Research published by Oxfam last year found that world poverty could be eradicated twice over with the combined salary of the worlds top 100 earners for just one year!
    Austerity is a conspiracy, designed to exploit the poverty market and turn people into commodities and units of profit.
    I feel quite sick when I hear the super rich Tories, who through inheretence have got 'everything' for noting shouting about those who maybe getting 'something' for nothing.
    It's not benefit claiments, immigrants, or the NHS that is responsible for poor ecconomic climates, it's the super rich that have no moral ethos and are concerned only with growing their own already over bloated wealth.
    Karl Marx said that capitalism will one day eat itself up. When you own all the money it becomes worthless. I think that day may be approaching and society will be a better place. But there's a lot of suffering yet to endure before it happens.
    Fantastic guest blog today, and a thankyou too to William Wilberforce for his great work and achievements.

  6. Contingency - a provision for a possible event or circumstance.
    "stores were kept as a contingency against a blockade"
    an incidental expense.
    "allow an extra fifteen per cent on the budget for contingencies"
    the absence of certainty in events.
    "the island's public affairs can occasionally be seen to be invaded by contingency"
    the absence of necessity; the fact of being so without having to be so.

    Barclays - £5billion profit - £1.5billion contingency should they get caught out for ForEx manipulation. Philosophy - "they are crooks, without having to be crooks."

    Drive recklessly (speeding or while using a phone) - put the fine on expenses & get someone else to take the points.

    CONTINGENCY IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS in the 21st Century.

  7. Grayling wants to sell Criminal Justice contracts to the Saudis. A country thats already beheaded 34 people this year alone.
    It maybe a move that makes sure that there's no shortage of sand for prisoners to fill the sandbags that will give them the employment skills they need upon release. I don't know.
    But I do know that success can be found in systems that are already proven to work. I don't think 'gut feeling' has much of an evidence base.
    I wonder if this article would be of interest to him? Or would he see it only as 'leftwing alchemy'?


  8. Are you a probation officer in the London area? Read this!


    1. The Band of Brothers programme is helping some individuals to stop reoffending. There are all sorts of figures bandied about regarding its effectiveness in reducing reoffending, that it can reduce it by 50 percentage points. At one time probation would take clients on excursions and work on softer skills, but this type of work became toxic following the reactionary clampdown in probation. It's good to see that these activities are now being quoted approvingly in the Telegraph. The only thing we now need is a bit of rigorous research to underpin this innovation. It is good to see volunteers back in fashion in probation work as well.

      BoB is the acceptable face of TR – a cheerleader. Time will tell if it can bring home the bacon. In the meantime, it has political value: what a clever guy Grayling has been in transforming probation! In opening up probation to innovation...

  9. http://www.expressandstar.com/business/uk-money/2015/03/03/outsourcing-affects-job-contracts/

    1. Its going to happen, already role titles are changing, role boundaries are changing and job evaluation training is again underway within my CRC. I would bet my pension on changes to term, conditions and salaries within the next 12 months.

    2. The TUC said that workers in privatised services are more likely to put in longer hours, receive lower wages and be on insecure or temporary contracts.

      Research into outsourcing in health and social care, the prison service, local government and employment services found a "knock on effect" on the quality of care, said the report.

      Security guards are more than 12 times more likely to regularly work longer hours in a private rather than public sector organisation, while prison officers in private jails earn more than £4 an hour less than in the public sector, the study by the New Economics Foundation discovered.

      TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "This research clearly exposes the damaging effect of outsourcing on the morale and working conditions of staff.

      "But it is not just the workers who are suffering, it is also service users and family members who are getting a raw deal from the break up and outsourcing of our public services.

      "Who would you rather have treating your sick relative? A low-paid, exhausted private sector worker whose temporary contract makes them unable to see the same person more than once, or a public sector employee who is paid a decent salary and is given a proper contract that allows for a long-term care commitment?"

      The report said there was evidence of more hospital infections after the contracting out of cleaning services, and more overcrowding in privately run prisons.

    3. This is how it works. It is how it has always worked. There is no innovation here, just exploitation and evisceration. Putting vulnerable people at higher risk is what capitalism is all about. Vulnerable people are infinitely more malleable. 'And the urge to remonstrate is stifled when your dinner plate is gone'.

  10. The wheels haven't fallen off then? Where's the crash?

  11. As ndelius is down for a few hours and I need a break from the usual dross coming to my inbox, I thought it high time to inject some good news. I am also aware that a certain contributor, feels very strongly against Probation and whilst I respect his views, which may well reflect his personal experience, I want to reassure him, as others before me have, that there is a wealth of helpful, compassionate hard working probation staff out there. I can share a letter I drafted for a ex service user:

    To Whom it May Concern:
    My name is......and I'm a PO - writing this for Bob....as he cannot read or write.

    He has been in reciept of JSA, and in late 2014 he was invited to attend a work programme; he got a letter from the work programme requesting he contact them by telephone and make himself available for 30 minutes for an assessment. Having got a neighbour to read him the letter, he attended at the Job Center; he advised them he did not have a phone or access to one and requested a face to face appointment. A JC member of staff contacted the appropriate person to make the request and advise them of Bob's predicament. He was lead to believe his request had been taken on board and waited for the appointment letter. A letter then arrived and again asked him to make contact by telephone and be prepared to wait 3 hours for a return call. Bob went back to the JC and they advised there was nothing they could do to assist him. He was subsequently sanctioned from 1.1.2015 - 1.4.2015 and is without any alternative source of support or income. He is visiting foodbanks when he can. A further complication is that his electricity is paid directly form his benefits and he is concerned about this now being stopped, with the risk of his household fuel being turned off.

    I have known Bob for 6 years and although not a service user currently, he often brings in paperwork for me to read to him and asks for advice.

    Unfortunately, Bob considered his request for a face to face solution, one that had been given further consideration, and dismissed the second letter as an error. He knows now that his failure to respond to the second letter, has resulted in the sanction.

    Bob considers the decision to sanction him unfair and illegal as he has repeatedly asked for a reasonable adjustment to be made in dealing with him, given his particular situation and disadvantage. He does not have a 'phone, nor family or friends who can allow him to use theirs. As a last resort he has asked if you will reconsider the decision to sanction him and he has asked that we allow him access to a telephone, at our office, during office hours. This is not beyong our ability to provide. Bob states that he will ask for this letter to be faxed to you, the adjudicating officer and he will immediately position himself in our waiting room for the rest of the afternnoon, and await your call. I will ask that you contact our administration section, on....., we will then transfer the call to an interview room at the Probation ofifce for Bob to take. I can also be available, should you need to speak to me and I would ask that you call before 5pm,

    Well it was faxed and Bob did come to the office and wait - for 2.5 hours, but the call came and he was able to articulate his problem. The adjudicator seemed willing to accept his explanation and on reading his file, she told me the record very much reflected what Bob had said about his visits to the JC. As he had not previsouly missed any appointments she decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and reinstated his benefits immediately, backdating to 1.1.2015.

    It's not all about targets, offending behaviour programmes, risk assessments and reducing reoffending, sometimes, it's just humanity.

    Power to the people, come the revolution, Chris Grayling, IDS, M Gove, and George (Gideon) Osbourne, and D Cameron up against the wall, bop bop bop! ..........circa Citizen Wolfie Smith 1970's.

    1. Oh well done you champ.

    2. It may not have been of help to you, but Bob would have be seriously grateful for his benefits being reinstated, and the assistance he received in making it happen.
      If you had Bobs problems, with nowhere to turn, and you got that bit of support, (above and beyond the call of duty), from anyone you should be grateful.
      But I don't think thats you. Everything thats extended to you is rejected. Why? Because you hate yourself. You hate those that can, because you can't do it yourself.
      Why else would you make such a crass comment to'wards someone whos made a positive contribution to'wards somebodys life?
      I think you hate your life. But rather then accepting you're not able to deal with your own issues, you blame other people.
      You deflect your own problems by trying to highlight failings in others.
      Sad thing is you know it!


    3. What an uplifting account. Whilst Bob should never have been put into that position your decency and common sense is a lesson for us all.

  12. To Anon 11.47 what CRC are you in, because nothing like that is happening in my CRC

    1. Anon 14:17 I am not anon 11:47 but what CRC are you in?? As a result of TR role boundaries are changing across England and Wales.

  13. If you speak to senior managers and consultants involved in CRCs then what Anon 11.47 says is true. Anyone who thinks there are not going to be significant changes in the pay and staff structure in CRCs is very much mistaken.

    1. 1999 - rural area office, large patch: 12 PO staff, 3 PSOs, 6 admin

      2015 - same patch BEFORE any cuts, redundancies, etc:
      CRC - 4 PO staff, 8 PSOs;
      NPS - 8 POs, 4 PSOs Total: 12 POs, 12 PSOs, 4 admin

      Everyone is at about 110% on the old WMT, and stressed to hell. CRC have hinted at "managing cost centres" (redundancy?) and NPS are no doubt set to be slashed in the Civil Service cuts to come.

      In advance of the swingeing cuts to come I predict Grayling will offer NPS staff a pay deal to further his divisive approach to TR, based on the fact they "manage higher risk" or some such guff.

  14. I did a home visit today - isolated individual, his hip is crumbling and mobility is limited - I can not really spare the time out of the office but as he's not too far from the office I make the effort so at least I can get him through the order.

    as I was leaving I sensed something seemed a bit odd, when I asked him if everything was alright he said he'd got money but been unable to get out because of his hip and could I drop him off at the asda so he could get some food in. my pleasure - love doing this sort of stuff for those that need it. this, to me is what I love most about my job - I just wish people would not be so shy to ask for a helping hand as there's no shame in it.

    1. CRC in Manchester would never let you do this without charge. There is now a cost to everything.

    2. On behalf of a third party:- In response to 22:05

      OMG - look what we are now reduced to - a sliding scale of costs - which further punishes the already poor and marginalised. Whatever next? A letter - how much? Attendance at a meeting - how much? We need to stand up and do something to rid ourselves of this horrendous government. The ballot box is the first stop in May.


  15. PozInProbation @pozinprobation · 3h 3 hours ago

    Elected to the @ProbInstitute council following #PIelections #CRC #NPS #Probation



    Paul Senior ‏@yorkhull

    @VGeiran @WandsworthCRC I have become an elected member of the Representative Council of the Probation Institute. An interesting journey!

    1. Link for that last message - it got away from me: -