Tuesday, 10 March 2015


This blog has been around for some time now and of course really 'took off' as a result of the TR omnishambles, but despite sailing past 2 million hits, it's never been officially acknowledged by either of the main protagonists, Noms and Napo. Although bemused by this, I can say I'm not that surprised and probably grateful as I'd hate to feel in any way compromised in what I might be tempted to publish. 

Right up until dissolution, both the Probation Association and Probation Chief's Association studiously avoided any acknowledment of the blog's existence either and I guess all these bodies would cite the 'unaccountability' through anonymity as reason enough to ignore it publicly, but at the same time read it avidly in private. It's a strange world isn't it, but how big does something that's 'anonymous' have to get before it can be talked about in any official way? As big as Banksy?  

Even the mainstream media have generally given me a wide berth and almost invariably contact with journalists has been a futile exercise I'm sorry to say. Until now, the only exception in openly mentioning the large elephant in the room has been academia, and I guess that's only right and proper in recognising and referencing a useful source of material for when the time comes for the inevitable post mortem on the whole TR omnishambles. 

Happily bloggers as a group are not at all churlish in highlighting each others work and in this context it's pleasing to note that Russell Webster has chosen to cite this blog as a key resource on his contribution 'Should We Reverse The Privatisation Of The Probation Service?' on a brand new discussion website called ShouldWe. I wish the site well in being able to spread the word and distill sometimes complicated issues into easy to read bit-sized chunks. 

On the subject of recognition, following his recent election to the Probation Institute's Representative Council, I'm grateful to Mike McClelland for putting his head above the parapet over the weekend and making the following contributions to the discussion:-  

Just for the record, I applied as an individual. Napo haven't yet decided whether they want to engage in the PI going forwards. I have written to the Officers/GS stating that they need to do this but they've missed the boat re these elections. My election allows them an option. If they decide against further involvement then its my own time going forwards. 

Mike McClelland Not anonymous - just don't know how to operate in the blogosphere & not very keen to find out!

Now that I seem to have figured out how to do this blog thing, just a few more thoughts on the PI. See above as Anonymous for earlier comment.

I've been involved since before its birth and have been on the Steering Group since the outset. The others on the Steering Group, from the PA (now no longer in existence) and the PCA (also now no longer in existence) - that's the Probation Association and the Probation Chiefs Association, and from UNISON are all people who I believe have the best interests of Probation at heart.

The Code of Ethics that we developed are largely based on European Probation Rules and Napo's own Professional Practice Book is sound in my view.

I have always favoured a Professional Register operated independently rather than what we have at present - operated by NOMS and the Prison Service ( see PI 31/14). This is hugely unsatisfactory in my view though nothing we are likely to change this side of the Election and/or the back of Mr Grayling. Then, we might have a chance and the PI is the obvious candidate for operating it. Napo couldn't because of conflicts of interest in the event that we had to represent members faced with being de-barred.

A word more on training.

NOMS are undertaking a review of the PQF. The current contracts with Higher Education (HE) providers expire in March 2016. It is now urgent to plan for a successor training structure to ensure there is no training gap. A Review Group has been convened and has started work . Napo and the PI are represented on this group as are some of the CRCs. But primarily this is aimed at ensuring continuity of training within the NPS to Probation Officer level.

What the CRCs do is up to them - so they can buy into the (son of) PQF if they wish. But the Secretary of State's new training and qualification guidelines, issued under the 2007 Act, are at pains NOT to fetter the CRCs in any way in this respect. It is true that some if not most of the CRCs, in the shape of training staff transferred from Probation Trusts know that training for staff is required and some plans are in place but they have also been waiting to see what the new owners want to do about it. It is fairly evident that the new owners mostly haven't even begun to think about training - other things to think about. We also know that CRC staff, notably PSOs, are feeling very much "second class" in this respect - the longer route to PO qualification having been closed off to them. In fact, the CRCs themselves are pretty fed up since NOMS/NPS staff did not, indeed were not able to, talk to them about training issues until the new owners were in place. They were thus effectively shut out until February.

So yes, the CRCs should be arranging their own training, but who will ensure consistency, accreditation, portability etc? Is it a good idea for the new owners to all plough their own furrows in this respect, or should there be some national co-ordination? We think the latter and see the PI as the obvious vehicle for doing this. Again not something I think Napo could possibly have done. So the PI is planning a workshop later this month to talk to the CRCs about their training requirements and maybe help and guide them to achieving a consistent national framework that works for everybody.

Maybe there is a view that one shouldn't seek to breathe the oxygen of life into the CRCs because we are still completely agin their very existence as private/voluntary sector providers in what we hold as being public sector work. But, like it or not, they are now a fact of life and i believe we have to do our best by their staff, our Napo members, and indeed the service users who should expect properly trained and qualified supervisors. 

That is why I, personally, thus far on behalf of Napo, have been actively working to promote this work alongside what has at times seemed a one person crusade against PI 31/14. So having given my 'take' on training and the PI, if nothing else, I encourage you now to read that Probation Instruction to see what we are up against in terms of a professional register. If you work in Probation - NPS or CRC, it affects you. And if you don't know where to find it - MoJ website - NOMS - Homepage - Probation Instructions.

Alongside this, I have been working with others whom I greatly respect, from HE and other places, under the umbrella of the PI, to develop a training framework mainly for CRC staff (who else would do this?) both basic qualifying and CPD. I don't give their names because I don't think it's appropriate and nor do I have their permission.

I'd be sorry to leave this work if Napo chose not to support the PI going forwards, but I would have to - I work on Napo's Training & Professional committees, but sadly I don't think we have the resources to progress this work. Moreover, I don't believe other stakeholders, such as the new CRC owners would entertain Napo holding such a pivotal role.

I think that Napo and the PI can co-exist and work to the same end - protecting and promoting Probation but in different ways. But you'll need to make up your own minds.
Does it have the ear of Westminster? Not particularly. Certainly not Chris Grayling. Andrew Selous has made positive noises but not much more. It's still all to play for on this front.

Was the election fixed? I doubt it very much. Not a clue how you'd do this. Was it independently verified? No. It's early days in developing democracy within the PI but I think it's moving in the right direction.

Mike - I think I'm right in saying you are the very first Napo official to come on this blog openly and make a contribution - so thanks for that. Any chance you can encourage any of your colleagues to do the same, or at least acknowledge the blog's existence?

Cheers, Jim

I rather doubt it on either front. I responded because you questioned my mandate (understandably). However I like the record to be straight when my motives are questioned. What i have shared with you here is largely about the PI rather than Napo - and of course training. 

Until quite recently I have used TR Briefings as the outlet for most of my information sharing with members. Now that TR as a programme is over, I guess we need to decide on a different vehicle and I have raised this issue. It's difficult to get the balance right - not too much info' and not too little. But, so far as Napo is concerned, I should probably confine myself to official channels - though it is possible I have appeared in other guises over the months past. 

I'm sorry, I'm not well engaged with social media - it's just taken about 3 hours of my holiday to figure out how to respond here! I do keep an eye on your Blog but not every day. I'm confident we both have the best interests of Probation at heart. I fear we have entered a dark period which may last for many years. That isn't even necessarily a criticism of new CRC owners, though if I had my way, it'd still all be in the public sector. The worst of it is that we have had a crazy operating model foisted upon us which will be damaging and difficult to operate. But we have to try to make the best of it for everyones sakes - and primarily that means trying to counter the impact of the fundamental split. I believe the unions and the PI have a central role to play in seeking to achieve this. It's pretty evident, talking to NOMS civil servants, as they shuffle uncomfortably in their seats, that they realise that having no means of talking collectively to CRCs could just be a rather big problem. There is a whole new empire of contract managers with each team managing one of the 21 contracts. I have heard that they are setting up some sort of collective interface but so far details are scant. Competition - v - cooperation. Bit of a tricky challenge.

Mike McClelland

Well, a guest blog will be welcome any time you fancy Mike. 


  1. I think now is the time for NAPO and PI to set as our main campaigning goal; to bring the Probation Service back into the Public Sector at the earliest opportunity. Like the Work Programme Probation is now an oppressive organisation and there is no evidence of success in either organisation. Would the Green Party and Left Unity support such a campaign?


    1. I feel that the PI will legitimise and approve whatever practice the CRCs decide to run with, rather then setting a universal standard that the PI has determined by itself.

  2. Heres a very interesting thought (off topic), but it would be the best way of recognition for Graylings term in office perhaps?


    1. From the later stages of the article...

      "One man who knows what action looks like is David Ramsbotham, Lord Ramsbotham, the former British Army Adjutant General who served as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons from 1995 to 2001. Yesterday I asked him for a swift response to the latest PPO report. Here’s what he emailed back:

      “In 1999, as Chief Inspector of Prisons, I published a report on the prevention of suicide entitled ‘Suicide is Everyone’s Concern’. In it I called on the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to issue a ringing declaration that suicide prevention was a management issue, in which everyone, from him down to every officer on every landing, shared accountability and responsibility.

      “This followed an inspection of Brixton during which we found that staff had taped the alarm system in a wing office, so that cell alarm bells would not ring, and that someone had, at 2.15 pm, signed the official register, claiming to have visited the prisoner every 15 minutes until 4pm. I asked the Director-General of the Prison Service to come to the prison at once, to see these for himself, as examples of what could happen if management was not doing its job."

      Ramsbotham went on: “Currently staff shortages are causing considerable problems in prisons, because there simply are not enough prison officers to carry out all the tasks with prisoners that are required.

      “The first test of whether a prison is doing its job properly is whether everyone in the prison — staff, prisoners, those who work there, or visitors — is or feels safe. Safety should be the absolute determinant of staff cuts, and it would be utterly irresponsible of any Secretary of State for Justice to sanction anything that put safety at risk.”

    2. And it concludes:

      "He said: “I do not know why Mr Grayling recently announced the recruitment of 1700 prison officers, having just cut more than 4000, but must presume that the cut proved too severe. Nor do I know whether safety was the determinant for his reversal, but, hanging over the Prison Service is the possibility of its management, or members of it, being charged with Corporate Manslaughter, if it can be proved that poor management contributed to a suicide.

      “The Corporate Manslaughter Act has never yet been invoked over a prison suicide, but it could be. If it were, and the Secretary of State or other senior managers indicted – for failing to oversee their subordinates, it might prove to be the wake up call that the prison system has needed for years. Of course not every suicide can be prevented, but there have been far too many occasions when failure to observe regulations, let alone oversee a vulnerable prisoner, have resulted in a Coroner castigating prison authorities for neglect, for which management is ultimately to blame.”"

      The article is credited to Clare Sambrook.

  3. Its all related, London's property boom underpinned by world wide money laundering that comes into London, the centre of world financial corruption. Money printing does not make its way into the real economy it just pushes up the stock market making the rich richer turning the rest of us into slave labour.

    The world of financial corruption and ISIS are interlinked, We supply the Saudis with money they supply the West with Oil and they push Wahhabism a conservative puritanical form of Sunni Islam. And on top of this there is a section of the America elite that looks to make money from permanent war. And the Ukraine has the potential to become a Third World War, with the Russians talking about moving nuclear weapons to Crimea.

    Ideology and money power are driving all these forces the demise of probation is just one little act in this global madness but it is a madness that is developing before our eyes.

    Nick Cohen wrote a good article in the Observer yesterday saying that the good panorama people who exposed Jimmy Savile have lost their jobs . They have been pushed out because the bosses at the BBC didn't what Savile exposed given their role in building him up over the years. Again its like Probation we have to post anonymously to keep management off our backs. Managerialism and politics generally is deeply oppressive.


    1. I wonder what NAPOs response will be to Frances Maudes statement about Trade Union reforms within the Civil Service, given that those in the NPS are now Civil Servents?
      Will they bat an eyelid?
      I think not!

    2. From BBC - "The government says it has saved £26m a year by curbing the activities of union representatives in the civil service.

      Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude told MPs that abuses of "facility time" - the practice of allowing union reps paid time off work to deal with union-related matters - had been dealt with.

      He said the number of civil servants who were paid full time by unions had fallen from 200 to eight since 2010.

      Labour said the changes were part of a "campaign to disenfranchise workers"."

  4. Grayling has been speechifying - Via Twitter: -

    Joanne Thomas @Innovations_Jo · 3h 3 hours ago

    Chris Grayling: really proud that from 1st Feb no one leaving prison will be left to walk the streets without support #reformjustice "


    1. Sorry wrong link - try this: -


    2. http://justiceinnovation.org/

      The place where heather munroe ended up after a knighthood.

    3. https://twitter.com/BBCMarkEaston/status/575309982633230336

      Mark Easton
      Justice Secretary Grayling says he doesn't rule out widening role of PCCs to cover courts & probation. @MoJGovUK #reformjustice

    4. In Wales prisoners are now being released under the new ORA with no support agencies in place. TTG not up and running and still no date given for it

  5. When Frances Maude reviewed public sector pensions, he changed the MPs scheme from final salary to career average. So, any backbench MP who has tried and failed to climb the ladder, suddenly got a nice bonus on retirement, courtesy of Maude's sleight of hand. By rights, Gordon Brown should now be picking up a backbencher's pension. How ironic, that the man who did more to ruin peoples old age has had his super-boosted by the Tories. No wonder Maude's reforms went unchallenged. Tossers.

  6. a tweet from PF tells us that 'they are busy planning transformation programme launch events and to keep an eye on our internal email'. This should hopefully give us a bit more of an idea what's going on.

    On another note, the CRC awards ceremony has now been extended to temps; volunteers, etc. Im assuming not enough permanent staff have decided to go thereby leaving plenty of empty seats that need filling. Gotta laugh!!

    1. Ah, the annual CEO chance to showboat to a captive audience. I remember a PO receiving a national, as well as an award at conference, for charting a family tree of related sex offenders. All very laudatory but colleagues were quick to point out that such an exercise was bread and butter casework. In the old days, it was done on the records index cards!. They have to invent stuff to fuel these taxpayer funded ego trips. Hopefully CRCs will be hard nosed enough to get rid. I'm quite content with an email if the CEO wants to 'address' me.

    2. These awards are unbelievably patronising, and as already pointed out an unjustifiable waste of public money, how dare they and how those so called award winners have the gall to take it and allow the mindnumbing garbage that goes with the photos is beyond belief

    3. fortunately, CRC is full of realists and know exactly what the whole point of it is and many are boycotting it - no way am I using my free time to sit through nauseating speeches regardless of there being a free 3 course meal and free beer - I have principles and standards. Bet your bottom dollar Uservoice are lauded and given an accolade for something or other and therein lies the problem - hardworking case managers will be totally overlooked unless of course they are to collect a long service award that apparently are also going to be distributed at the ceremony. In the not too distant future you wont get colleagues with 25+ years service.

    4. I'm a hard working Case Manager. I wasn't overlooked, I just refused the award I was nominated for.

    5. a PO in NPS NE nominated herself ! Honestly, manager just acquiesced, rest of us laughed when we heard!

  7. Just listening to a Radio 4 item on Pension funds, particularly Local government. Manchester is happily spending millions on property, housing and corporate,,, in Manchester, All of them together are spending approx 1 billion on admin costs, ie paying the financial services, fund managers et al to buy and sell shares, etc, commonly spending more on fees than is actually being made to increase the funds.. guess which part of the country and into whose pockets most of that is going.

  8. This blog has always given me the space to see what has been happening with colleagues pre and post TR so for that Jim we applaud you. Being elected to be assigned CRC has made me reflect on the quality assurance within our CRC and how effective we can be. Yes im gutted about the split but my passion for the work that we all do and the committment from staff is admirable. All the crap from on high can stay with the likes of CG and his pals and leave the face and future of our CRC to the ones who know best,,,, us!!!!!! Yes we are hearing on this blog about poor systems that are in place, managers rocking around corridors trying to creep their way into the arses of the providers and some staff walking away. However, there is a fight still ongoing around our integrity and values in the CRC world and in some ways we are winning. The providers we have in our area are listening, strange but true, and are willing to look at what we do as we are fighting for a service of quality not shite!!! Training is still ongoing and gaining speed, sorry NPS i know this is not true for you guys. QA is a priority, just as we knew it previously and for us staff we are standing up and shouting but being listened to. Sorry for going on, but my passion for my work and the good work shown by my colleagues is something i am very proud of and it is going to stay. I get sick of hearing us in the CRC world, your colleagues, being made to feel second fiddle, but one thing i will say is that we are not going away, we are going to fight this and keep our integrity because you know why,,,,,,we have a pair of balls!!!!

    1. err, not all of us
      just sayin'

  9. Wanna be noticed? Want some recognition? Try one of these events...

    This is "The Number 10 Policy Unit" Working Lunch with Margot James MP, Number 10 Policy Unit – Economy and Business.

    Kindly sponsored by Coca-Cola Enterprises and hosted by Bircham Dyson Bell.

    About The Enterprise Forum

    The Enterprise Forum is an independent, not-for-profit organisation founded in 1997 to facilitate discussions on policy between the business community and the Conservative Party. In 2010 The Enterprise Forum began engagement with the Liberal Democrats following the formation of the Coalition Government.

    We provide a two-way channel of communication, an independent middle ground where business can meet, debate policy and build relationships with key policy makers in the Coalition Government, and provide a forum for networking with other industry professionals.

    Members include commercial organisations (including FTSE 100 companies and SMEs), trade associations and charities.

    Our programme is determined by the policy interests of the member organisations. The majority of meetings are held under the Chatham House Rule.

    The Enterprise Forum is managed by an unpaid board of senior directors drawn from business and industry. The organisation does not take a position on policy, and does not donate to or receive donations from any political party."

  10. Probation Officer10 March 2015 at 22:11

    Sorry Mike, I just don't buy it! I was impressed by the elections but it really should have established itself first. It seems a huge proportion of those elected are CRC and non-probation based, which also concerns me as an NPS probation officer.

    For me the Probation Institute needs to offer more than a professional register. The PI will argue a professional register will maintain our status as practicing probation officers, when it's more likely to legitimise the status of non qualified practitioners in CRC's and anyone else claiming to be an 'Offender Manager'. The bottom line is that this type of register has not helped to improve social work so I doubt it will do anything for probation. The PI will push for this register as this is the only way to legitimise itself.

    It is positive the Probation Institute wants to get involved in probation training and CPD. Unfortunately it seems clear to me whether CRC's are required to unequivocally provide qualified probation officers or not? I am unaware that the PI conducts its own research or projects to inform CPD and training. A worthwhile fight for the Probation Institute would be to ensure that the 'probation qualification' and the status of a 'qualified probation officer' retains it's university degree, with graduate routes attached.

    For the Probation Institute to have any credibility it needs to get out of the MoJ's bed. If it wants the respect of probation officers then it must speak up for probation officers and probation work. This means condemning much of TR, which those involved on the PI (the PA and the PCA) were a huge part of. This means condemning any legislation and procedures not conducive to our work (starting with RAR and ORA). This means condemning any procedures by private probation companies (starting with BIONIC). This also means to stop receiving mass member subscriptions paid for by CRC's and then telling us about how fast it's membership is rising.

    In theory it's a good idea but I won't be joining up to the current format. I suspect there will come a point when Napo membership will include PI membership and it takes control of the Probation Journal, and so they'll probably get me then. There's so much more that could be said.

    See link below for Probation Instruction 31/14.


    1. I have been a strong advocate of POs shafted to CRCs, a non advocate of the PI but as a PSO myself, I find your post quite offensive. There are good and bad POs and PSOs and may I add some bloody good ones of both grades allocated to CRC and indeed some pretty poor onesof both grades to NPS. As a PSO I know my limitations and boundaries and respect them, PSOs deserve some respect to.

    2. Not sure what you are offended about? Was there a reference specific to PSO. The post seems to be referring to 1 PO talking from their own perspective.

    3. Happy to discuss if you want to give me a ring. My number is available from Napo office for Napo members. Not keen on putting it on a blog and would rather not continue the conversation on a blog - I'm afraid negotiating my way around blogs is bad for my blood pressure.

  11. There are suddenly hundreds of fixed term contracts like this:

    "Senior Government Relations Manager
    Salary: £65,000 - £75,000 DOE + excellent benefits (12 month FTC)
    Location: London
    Specialism: Public Affairs
    A fantastic 12 month fixed term contract opportunity has arisen for a Senior Government Relations Manger with a bank.

    This is one of the most exciting times to join Group’s Government Relations team as the country heads toward the 2015 General Election. This role is central to leading the Group’s preparation for any electoral eventuality, ensuring we are representing our business. The role is also responsible for leading a number of our core ongoing programmes, working with colleagues across divisions and externally. The successful candidate will have a proven track record in politics and campaigning – and have a rigorous analytical mind

    The role will focus on:

    Providing political intelligence and counsel to the Group’s senior leaders, both at a national and constituency level;
    Facilitating meetings with Ministers & Whitehall teams [and their Shadows] post General Election, as well as with backbench MPs;
    Drawing on divisional/functional expertise to inform policymakers so we are the “go to bank” for information; commissioning thought leadership to support this;
    Managing the Group’s announcements across political stakeholders and responding to requests for information from government or select committees;
    Delivering on the Group’s sub national agenda with local enterprise partnerships and devolved administrations.
    You will need to bring "coal face" political experience, having worked on the ground with politicians in Westminster or Whitehall. You will have recent, demonstrable political analysis and interactive skills. Ideally you are working in house in financial services or for an agency doing this. Those from other regulated markets will also be considered."

    Should've gone to Eton.

  12. Why is our IT systems shite then?


  13. From Keep Probation Public, not Private facebook page

    People, we got to get emailing candidates for the General Election. A probation supporter emailed their Liberal Democrat candidate stating the Lib Dems sold off Probation. The candidate asked Lord McNally to respond this is the response...
    It is simply not true that we "sold off" the probation service. Both Simon and I have been strong supporters of the service and the difficult job probation officers do in our criminal justice system.
    The Conservatives had been critical of probation in opposition and, given a free hand, there is little doubt that they would have abolished the service. It was the Liberal Democrats who prevented them from doing so. Under our influence the most serious cases have been retained for the National Probation Service. For the first time we now have a National Probation Service. Probation was always the poor relation of the National Offender Management Service ( NOMS) with the Prison service being the dominant partner ( there was not a single probation officer on the NOMS main board). The reforms we have brought in provide flexibility and provide for "through the gate" and post sentence supervision for offenders serving less than 12 months whilst retaining serious case supervision and court assessments for the new national service. Provision has also been made for the creation of a Chartered Institute of Probation which would give enhanced professional status for probation officers.
    The new structure provides for the active participation of NGOs, Charities and the Voluntary Sector in offender rehabilitation - and many have taken the opportunity to become involved. I believe the reforms we made will deliver a better service, particularly for those serving short sentences ( the most prolific re-offenders) and will allow the Probation Service to go forward with enhanced status and increased responsibility.
    Given the financial crisis we inherited, the alternative would have been draconian cuts which would have undermined probation with non of the benefits of our reforms. So to say we " sold off" the probation service is to replace facts with a slogan.

  14. No it's not fact, thats political spin.
    the truth is LIBERAL DEMOCRATS "SOLD OFF" PROBATION. We the public will be throwing out Liberal 'sold out' Democrats come election time.