Monday, 27 April 2015

Bleak Futures Week 17

Stockton office in Teesside losing six staff to TTG. Two Admin and four practitioners. AFAIK none have been given security clearance so I'm unsure how they are going to work in the Prison(s). Caseloads shared between remaining staff who are already buckling with post TR and ORA cases. I heard one staff member was holding over 70 cases which I feel is quite dangerous (obviously the findings from the Sonnex/Monckton review have been disregarded). Most of her time is spent completing Oasys to make sure targets are hit. Sad times :(

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Do we know how many from other offices around the country have lost staff? It's turning into a right dogs wotsits. Given that 80% of the caseloads went to the CRC's, who had 40% of the staff, I'm not sure how much more can be shared out without the whole things becoming a debacle!

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CRCs had 40% of the staff? How is that figure arrived at? Surely most staff went to CRCs and NPS is smaller?

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It varied. 45/55 in my area, NPS/CRC

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One CRC missed its ISP completion target - got 0% simply because they changed the way they gathered the stats and didn't tell practitioners who should've been putting a delius entry 'oasys completed'. This failure potentially could have resulted in fines amounting to thousands of pounds - I think but am not sure that no penalties were enforced this time.

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Having experience with the Work Programme, one of the major issues (and it creates the capacity for fraud), was the constant (almost weekly) changing of how data was recorded and presented. It's a nightmare for those working within the primes, but for those further down the food chain it's hell and many subcontractor organisations went to the wall when they failed to be paid by the primes month after month on the basis of submitting uncompliant files to support invoices.

This could be one of the issues with Purple Futures and Addaction at the moment. I hate to say it, but there will be many days where some will feel unfairly reprimanded because you've been pulled over the coals for not doing things in the way the big bosses want it done, but no-one bothered to tell you! And a lot of the time even if someone does bother to tell you there's a change, what you're advised to do doesn't work anyway, and it's all changed again the following month. Those that rely on the primes for payment will find themselves going hungry pretty often I fear.

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It's been alluded to, quite often, that failed targets means lost jobs. I think out Chief has been taking tips from DV perps!

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Not entirely true! Many of the smaller fish feeding off the primes struggle to produce the 'paper trails' and outcome evidence that are required by the primes to release payment, and are therefore pushed into recruiting more admin staff to deal with the workload. Extra cost to them, but the primes still pay the same agreed amount per outcome.

My experience with the Work Programme in no way makes me an expert on the cut throat world of outsourcing, but I do predict that pretty soon tier 2 and 3 of the 'supply chain' will be heard squealing very loudly (and hopefully very publicly), about the unfair and unworkable demands imposed on them by the primes. Purple Poopers and Madaction are I think only the first of many 'relationship' breakdowns that TR will experience.

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It is my understanding that once ISP signed and locked, within 24 hours it automatically uploads on to Delius - no one in my office is recording ISP completed manually onto N-Delius.

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Well there must be something going wrong cos ours definitely came back at 0% and there is only one way to sign and lock an OASys - why one Area's automatically uploads to Delius and anothers doesn't is a mystery.

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Well we are talking N-Delius my friend and OASys is now worse than it ever was and it was bad enough before. It's a complete load of you know what.

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OASys and Delius only talk to one another over night so whilst you might believe you have 10 days to complete the ISP, you only have 9 and so in some areas you have to put in a manual entry that it has been completed just to make sure nothing is missed.

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In response, when creating an ISP assessment in Oasys you have to link this to Delius so that when it's locked it sends an update back to Delius. If the OAsys assessment is locked on day 10 the system doesn't update until early hours of the next morning making it look like it's been completed on day 11. Therefore you have to put a manual entry into Delius to replicate the date on 10 to hit targets. We have been doing this in our area and are hitting this target with relative ease.

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No-one's told us how to link anything to Delius - the whole CRC has not been doing this so it's not like some of us were doing it and others weren't. We've now been told to just put the delius entry 'oasys completed' on.

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We have been told not to make entry manually. Told to do ISPs in 8 days to allow countersigning where required and 24 hrs to upload from OASys to Delius. Every upgrade makes it more flawed, perhaps that is causing issue now.

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I think you'll find that this all relates to the DOG'S BREAKFAST THESE AMATEURS HAVE CREATED. I have met a stream of providers over recent weeks and they are all remarkably unimpressive and equally ill-informed. They were warned but knew best. Watch the farce unfold.

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I fear when the penalty of not meeting targets for ffs or PbR, it's our jobs, those that are left, which if others go down Sodexo route won't be many. It is a shambles just as we all predicted but still we have Senior and Middle Management trying to tell us it's a wonderful opportunity - clueless.

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No surprise in seeing the payoff figures for the so-called senior executives. That's what happens when you keep your mouth shut, or if you keep it wide open with platitudes. And, of course, Napo paid off JL handsomely when a lesser mortal would have faced disciplinary action. It isn't fair, but it's the way ALL the establishments work. And they don't give a ****! And there ain't no God in heaven to put things right. 'Everybody knows that the dice are loaded....The poor get poor, the rich get rich/That's how it goes/Everybody knows...'

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Look it was worth every penny to be rid of Russell Bruce....many of you would be astonished as to how he treated staff, the 'new' management all seek to distance themselves from his management style "let's just say things will be done differently" is the phrase being used.

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Cheshire have been told that there will be no more Education Training and Employment (ETE) staff in the community. They will either be made redundant or be sent into the Prisons to try and make 'through the gate' services work. When asked what our clients will do who need their assistance in the community, we were told "direct them to the job centre". Great!

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I had the misfortune of having to attend the job centre mainly to get my stamp paid. It is run by people who started there at 16 on apprenticeships and have never had to look for work. Some of our Clients wouldn't stand a chance of gaining employment, they need the encouragement and one to one help. Not everyone has the ability to just apply for hundreds of jobs which is what it takes now and hit on the right job instantly. The ETE staff are needed in probation another resource that will be lost.

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Bidders chose to ignore voice of frontline probation, preferring to trust in & believe Grayling et al. They're now finding out the truth but refuse to publicly acknowledge this. They'll take out their frustration on frontline staff, e.g. resisting to honour the redundancy agreement. As has been highlighted on this blog many times, it yet again mirrors the abusive behaviours we (as probation staff) have to challenge on a daily basis, i.e. the bullying, irrational & power-base abuse exemplified in DV & sexual offence perpetrators. Not enough peas on your plate? So spend the evening terrorising your partner before beating her to a pulp. Someone has to pay... Pass it on.

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We fought and lost....we struck and lost....we challenged bad managerial practice and lost....every TR battle the workforce fought we lost while senior management ensured that their nests were well feathered and yet the sell off went ahead and yet.......The man in the pub tells me that alarm bells are seriously ringing now with the realisation that TTG is a cobbled together disaster in the making. The Secretary of State is now looking forward to his next posting and Messrs Allars and Payne getting ready to carry the can to allow the next government to try and modify the contracts that have been awarded. Could it really be true that it's always darkest before the dawn?

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So they're putting job cuts on hold... until when? Until September when they can use compulsory redundancy? Until they have trained tier 2&3 providers to do TTG? Until after the election so we're not causing a fuss? It suits Sodexo/ Nacro's timeline to delay.


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I am appalled by the statement. Throughout all of my TU Reps training the message being hammered home was that the ultimate role of the union is to prevent job losses. Therefore, in my opinion phrases like 'unavoidable job losses' should NEVER be uttered by a Trade Union Rep involved in redundancy negotiation processes. It signals collusion in the process and plays right into the employers hands. Someone (later) in this thread poses the question - who do we think we are - the NUM? Well, at this point I wish we were - NAPO presents as just a toothless lion by comparison..

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Everyone knows it is the hard working local reps who advise members if they are facing issues including redundancy not the GS or the weak symbolic Joint Chairs or in fact anyone on the top table. People need their union for support and guidance when they are feeling at their most vulnerable so let's recognise and thank the people who do the hard work everyday.

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It will be those with union association that will be first through the door. No room for opposition in private enterprise. NAPO need to realise that apart from its membership concerns, it's in a fight for its own existence.

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"As you would expect we have fully briefed politicians about these developments, and while it is difficult to secure as much media coverage as we would like during an election campaign that is focused on anything but law and justice, be sure that in the event of a different colour administration being returned, we will be knocking on doors very loudly."

1. Who have you briefed? There are no MPs until Parliament is reassembled. Until then, who gives a fig? 
2. You never secured media coverage when numerous opportunities were handed to you on a plate.
3. I would expect my subs to fund you knocking loudly on those doors REGARDLESS of the colour of administration, not just if there's a change of colour.
4. This is my professional career, 30 years of my life. It's already been diluted into probation-lite, its now being reformulated into a 'just-add-water' version. No depth of flavour, no nuance, no character; just a bland, one-size-fits-all product wrapped in a shiny box. "See ya down MaccyP's, yeah?"
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With very few notable exceptions, no MP stood up for us before, when TR could have been stopped. Briefing prospective candidates & getting their lame words of support ain't going to stop Sod-U-Co getting rid of staff.

Isn't there something called employment law which protects employees from being exploited? Where's the legal advice about contracts that have been signed? How can our union on one day talk about staff protection being "enshrined" in the national agreement, then the next day be sharing skinny lattes with Sod-U-Co and releasing statements to the effect that "some losses are unavoidable" ?

What do I think this is? I thought I was paying into a trade union & professional association who were committed to protecting my interests as a professionally qualified Probation Officer, not financing my own professional funeral. I thought I was contributing to the not insubstantial salaries of trade union activists, not apologists for bullies - whether ministerial or global enterprise.

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A company can terminate all employees contracts and immediately re-employ them on different terms. If employees don't like the new terms and don't sign they will have deemed to have resigned. The Unions can do nothing about it. Employment law isn't worth the paper it's written on. It happened to Probation Partnership workers. Some had their salary cut by 5k per year.

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There may be job losses, but IL emphasises that they be on the EVR terms. There is no green light here for compulsory redundancies. And, on job losses, there have been hundreds over the past four or five years in the form of voluntary redundancies and there has never been a shortage of takers, though there have been many who were disappointed not to get VR. So those who bemoan job losses need a bit of historical perspective in their thinking. A respite is a good thing.

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I don't read it as this at all. I read it as no redundancies for now (not even enhanced) then compulsory redundancies in September. Given that most people want to leave if they get enhanced, this is just a way of stringing staff along until compulsory redundancies can be made.

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Who are they trying to kid? They don't have 'colleagues' in Sodexo – they have bosses. They don't 'discuss' – they follow orders. It was agreed on Monday between unions and Sodexo to pause. The CEOs are merely ciphers with no volition of their own.

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But this is the consequence of the unions getting into bed with Sodexo; Sodexo play them like a mandolin, then issue scripted instructions to local CRC management, effectively regional puppets of the Sodexo imperial commanders. This is why your view of "its okay" is being challenged.

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Yes Essex received a similar email today, but making it clear that this had been an agreement between all parties after union talks. Essex hasn't started consultation yet over potential redundancies. It's still very much mushroom management at this stage.

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Same email in Cumbria and Lancs CRC - in fact the intial paragraph is exactly the same as above. (Looks like a pre-planned approach) The email also points out that this only applies to Corporate Services staff at the moment as they have started with formal consultations since the 2nd April.

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Very similar email in Northumbria also.

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Thanks to Chris Grayling, collaborators across all Trusts, Sodexo and the weasels managing the CRC, and what seems to be meltdown by the unions. There will be several more CRC months of misery, ill health, long-term sickness, uncertainty, stressful work environments. - whilst enduring the crowing from an insensitive core of NPS staff with their new cars in the car park, loud conversations about holiday plans & voting Lib Dem "to get the pay increase for public sector workers". Can't fucking wait. Thanks a bunch. The torture never stops.

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There are some nauseating NPS staff in our office doing the same thing. They haven't worked for probation for 2 mins. Administration especially rubbing their colleagues noses in it. I don't know how I am still going into work!

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I am so so sorry. I am NPS and will do anything I can to see us reunited in the public sector. I have heard an NPS colleague 'crowing' as you put it and it disgusted me, she reported me to management when I protested. BUT the vast majority of my colleagues are not crowing, we know we are not safe and the axe will fall on NPS in the next round of cuts post election. I just wish we could all stand together.

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How can courts have so many report writers and yet the quality of them be so poor? Brief outline of offence: stole 5 packs of bacon. No more the time and date of the offence etc. Oasys used to be one of the easiest parts of the job as it mainly contained of transferring info from PSR to oasys but not anymore. Every line I read of an FDR raises questions as they are making statements but not expanding on the reason for said statement. I hate oasys it's a millstone round my neck.

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My personal favourite NPS gem: "OASys completed less than 6 months ago so no requirement to undertake rosh or OASys at PSR stage." Lost so deeep in the grass.

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The IT is such a massive part of the problem. It's so overly complicated that we can't even do the most basic assessment in less than half a day. How the new contractors can even think about building an interface to bridge two ridiculous systems that won't stand still for five minutes is beyond me.

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It's a joke. The CRC chiefs don't even have the balls to write an email in their own words. It's utterly pathetic that these people, most of whom have already lined their own pockets, are still trying to sell us the myth that they are in control! If they had opened their greedy eyes or had any degree of care/loyalty to their staff, they would have stood firm years ago but no, they chose to sell us down the river and that will never change.

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The wrong choices Napo members made was not to strike. 20% of my Trusts Napo members took action, the rest bottled it. No-one to blame but themselves.


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I am sorry to be so confused but I do not understand anything. If SOD exo have to make voluntary redundancies on enhanced terms for the life of the contract, surely this would obviate a compulsory redundancy situation from arising? Why then in the agreement is there reference to 'no compulsory redundancy in the first 7 months'? Can anyone explain, in simple terms? Thanks in anticipation.

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So I see it as this - figures released by MPloy indicate (for example) 30 x PO, 19 x admin, 15 x management posts are to be lost. Phase One = announce & consult with those 'at risk'. Redeployment or other options are considered, figures re-visited then requests are for indications of those wanting to take VR. Phase Two, assuming figures aren't met, compulsories are chosen. If too many volunteer then I guess they have to use selection criteria? How does that sound?

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As I understand it, it would not necessarily be the case that the organisation's need to re-organise (reduce staffing levels) would totally be met by those who might want to go. It could be "wrong" grades etc who wanted to go ie people the org wanted to keep so would not grant those applications. Hence you could end up with situation when org argued it needed less staff, had allowed EVR where it deemed it feasible and redeployed those it could and still had view it had to reduce staff complement. In which case it's left with compulsory redundancies ie saying we need so many who fit this criteria and then they assess all staff in that group and determine who scores highest on the agreed "eligible" criteria (eg worst capability or disciplinary or attendance record etc).

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So does it have to offer voluntary redundancy before compulsory?

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Yes but just because the org says it needs to lose 50 staff that doesn't mean it pays out 50 VRs; (see above) as may be staff who apply may not be deemed suitable.

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This is understood. Thanks. However, what I still don't get is why, given EVR lasts the 7 years, SOD exo don't have to just offer this again in the scenario you describe (ie get rid at one point, then want to shed more a few months later). I am clearly no good to them as I have no business brain, and am a wooly thinker!!!

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Because businesses (including the old Trusts) typically work to annual budgets. They'll want to streamline sooner rather than later (when Serco took over Unpaid Work in London they began consultations on redundancies within a month of starting) If Sodexo or whomever, say the org needs to lose staff their estimates will be to lose this year rather than next (although they could revise their business plans again next year. This is not new. For example, we had about 3 "revisions" of staffing levels for Unpaid work in Lancs over about 5yrs).

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Thinking about this a bit more, I speculate the Sodexo will back track a little in order to seem reasonable. EVR will go to large chunks of CRC senior staff such as ACO grades and their friends in finance, PA's, etc, maybe a few select SPO's that were good at brown-nosing over the years. We all know this is how probation trusts worked and they created policies to enable this. This is how Chiefs and their friends left with tidy nest eggs. Operational staff from PO grade downwards will not get a sniff of EVR and instead be on the compulsory redundancy list, actually they are already on the list and they just don't know it. Some PO's will be offered alternative roles as PSO's. PSO's will face changes in job descriptions to justify pay cuts. Admins will be shown the door. I suspect job titles will change to justify the above.

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What this blog shows to me is that partner agencies are confused about the new structures and don't know which AGENCY to call, never mind which officer. The simple truth is that PROBATION' the brand has been compromised and no-one knows or trusts the new structures. Historically, this provider would have been supported through their enquiry by a single agency with a professional and emotional commitment to service delivery and public protection. Now we have confusion, buck passing and poor quality information. A bad idea badly executed.

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I have trouble catching my SPO and I work in the same office so as an outsider you were always on a hiding to nothing.

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In our area the housing providers would have determined him as not suitable for housing because, with a criminal conviction, he immediately represents a risk of anti-social behaviour. Problem solved before it arises. Next?

Seriously, folks, that is what we have to contend with. Local Authority homeless, housing providers from ALL sectors and police all hold on to this approach. It's a friggin nightmare getting anyone housed, CRC or NPS. Shelter have closed their offices here and baled out, which doesn't help matters.

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I'm a CRC officer and if I had received this information, I would have actioned it. No matter which side of the divide created by MoJ we still have a responsibility. As repeated numerous times here, any MAPPA eligible cases should be NPS. I previously stated we have had a number in my area incorrected allocated - but once this has been raised by Officer allocated case, a reallocation has taken place. I oppose TR and everything about it, but if as individuals we do not take responsibility to action RISK then we just add to an already dangerous environment.

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The real problem is that profit rules. Whatever situation arises, if there's no pennies to be made from it, then leave it alone and fingers crossed, it'll just go away. As for the MAPPA issue, I think you'll find that quite a few MAPPA 1 cases will have been allocated to CRC on the basis of being medium risk regardless of whether they are subject to MAPPA or not.

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There are plenty of violent offenders who are MAPPA Level 1 by virtue of serving a 12 month sentence, don't forget them. The division is very clear - all MAPPA nominals, whatever level, go to NPS. It astounds me that we're nearly 12 months on from the split and this practice still isn't consistent. I'm not saying it makes sense - I have plenty of 'medium risk' cases on my CRC caseload who are one hell of a lot more dodgy than at lot of the MAPPA 1 cases I used to hold - but the dividing line is very clear.

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Well I work on reception and this would have been put through to NPS duty no question. It's standard practice to ask an outside agency which part of the business they need to speak to and if they do not know then a quick conversation would have signalled this as being NPS. We have it all the time, in that for some reason they have been given a name, ask for that person who now happens to be in a different side of the the business and they end up going around in circles. The phone systems are also a complete nightmare, for every one call we need to hang onto another 4 go onto the answer machine so it may be that this was just put through unannounced as a specific officer was asked for and it went onto someone's voicemail who wasn't in the office that day which probably includes the SPO on this particular day. I cannot see anyone ignoring this at all.

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Let's reflect a bit here. I am left to conclude that business as usual (pre TR) is not being delivered, yet that is the standard by which probation is being judged. Yes everything the guest blogger needed from probation would have been delivered, in the past. Staff are now exhausted and blighted by change. Sadly, the world has moved on and I believe effective communication is the single most crucial failure of the confused probation world I now inhabit.

As a PO in NPS, I am simply unable to process the volume of and means by which I am communicated at. I simply cannot read the daily lengthy and voluminous emails from the Hub. Probation Instructions remain unread until I need them because I cannot afford the time to read them and am now unable to retain the volume of instructions. I no longer know the information exchange protocols and my manager is available to the team approx 20% of the working week and frankly is in the same position. You see, the agencies we deal with have changed and I do not even recognise some of their organisation/business names. So I have decided I will use my professional judgement and if the risk issues justify information being exchanged I will do so.

I often google phone numbers of people leaving messages for me because at least it is a cursory check of sorts. I remain acutely aware that if I am later deemed to have disclosed inappropriately, I will be blamed and possibly disciplined, that is the world of new probation. It is not good enough, I agree with the guest blogger, but it is what has been imposed on us and we are all trying to muddle through. Now, how safe is that?

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Alongside all of this, what is being said about the unreasonable and unmanageable demands being placed on staff? Increasing duplication and bureaucracy. Managers and admin organising everything to meet their own needs, changes and more change to right errors in the first change. The list of error and incompetence is almost endless.

IT upgrades and shutdowns with hours notice, none of it actually improving anything, much of it detrimental. Stress and exhaustion rife. Meanwhile the Prison Service is storming on, accorded priority, promised increased income, people with a dangerously limited knowledge of what they are doing and having little if any understanding why they are doing it. Not that Prison didn't need one heck of a shake up. Who knows, perhaps they will get so good at sorting people out whilst they are nice and cozily locked away, that they won't need anyone to see people through 3, 4, 5, 6 and longer years of licence.

88 comments:

  1. As ever, thank you JB for keeping everyone informed, keeping debate alive and keeping a light shining in these dark times. No, its not Sevastopol, or Kathmandhu, or Tikrit or any other area of human calamity &/or crimes against humanity - but it is nevertheless important.

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  2. Another prison visit and another sea of blank looks when I asked how the plans for TTG are going, now some prisons are shanghaiing admin and support staff into roles without any formal training,,,,,message to those staff who see this as a career move.....if something goes wrong in between picking your old lag up before transporting them to their new pad...please make sure that you are in a union...those that aren't can expect to get picked off one by one

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  3. If the conservative government get back in watch the NPS be hived off within 12 months.....after all, this is the favoured policy of Francis Maude et al..they've just been hiding it.....

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    1. I absolutely agree

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    2. I agree too - hopefully it will go to the same bidders who have the CRCs for continuity purposes. I hate privatisation but I hate the split from NPS even more. #bettertogether

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    3. Don't agree it's better to join our colleagues in the private sector. I'd prefer we were fully subsumed into courts, prisons, LA/youth justice and police services. What is the NPS but an adjunct to these bigger beasts?

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  4. Off topic, but it makes my blood boil and can't resist posting it.

    http://m.yorkshirepost.co.uk/business/business-news/20m-windfall-for-emma-harrison-as-she-exits-welfare-to-work-firm-a4e-1-7231725

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  5. Yet another upgrade to N-delerious and worse again - its a fecking joke.

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    1. it wont let me change the screen colour - its dark blue and we cant read the top of the screen - there's a facility to change colour but it doesn't work unless it will upgrade overnight. And don't get me started on it kicking me out when I've not used it for like a minute aarrgghh.

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    2. horrendous IT day yesterday with loss of capacity for hours both Citrix and Delius.....whole day without everything working........really really shameful. Heading in now hoping to do some catch up, I really can not go on like this.

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    3. Unpaid overtime, presumably? Why do we do this to ourselves?

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    4. Yet more problems with N-disastrous. All day long I have had exception or time out errors, repeatedly having to make the entries over and over. With only two staff and a caseload of five staff - a trying day to say the least. We were told this upgrade would improve the system - it is worse than ever and takes even longer to find something.

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  6. Stockton is not only office suffering from TTG staff transfer - they are lucky in comparison to some

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  7. A prisoner released after 5 yrs in prison never used the internet told by Work Programme to go to his local Hub to enrol on an IT course so he can upload his CV to emails etc. Course was full. He has to try again for next months course. He wants a CSCS card so he can work in construction but WP won't pay the £180 for it unless he has a firm job offer. He attended ETE in Probation, run by longstanding partnership, who have sorted all of this for him apart from the CSCS as they don't have a budget. The Work Programme fails and parks prisoners. This guy is trying to go straight after supplying class A. He can easily make some money but chooses to go straight. He needs professional help to do this not volunteer mentors who don't have the expertise

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  8. An IT technician with Gwalia housing has just started working as a TTG peer mentor trainer with St Giles in a prison Wales. I give him the benefit of the doubt!

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  9. Interesting thought. A lot of people used to do Criminal Justice related voluntary work because they wanted experience that would help them to get into Probation'. Now there IS no Probation, what's the incentive?

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  10. It used to be a befriend and assist job, if you had life experience you may be suitable as long as you could show you could relate to the clients, now you need a degree and the ability to enforce punishment for non-compliance. Some colleagues' whole life work trashed and maybe facing unemployment in their 50s, lost career and vocation to make way for profiteering from crime. This is the new future of the Probation Service. Oh and don't forget the devalued pension pot they have robbed as well. RIP

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  11. "a vocational career requiring stamina, dedication and flexibility of approach. Applicants must be aged 24 years or over and be able to evidence at least 800 hours' relevant experience working in a related field."

    Taken from additional DipSW course information for those wanting to apply for Home Office sponsored 'Probation Pathway' in 1993.

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    1. However being over 24 was an unnecessary restriction.

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    2. Response to Anon at 08.28

      When I applied for what became a CQSW in 1972 (The first CQSW was awarded in 1974) there was a 25 and over age restriction for some courses if one did not have a university degree - was it essential for all applicants to be 25 in 1993 or did it depend on qualifications.

      it was relevant to me because I was 23 in 1972 and just had 6 GCE 'O' levels - about four courses would consider me, and Liverpool where I was accepted required me to sit a pre interview written examination - it took a morning and about 750 sat it that year - I was flattered to be accepted as they only took about 40 in total and only half of those were Home Office sponsored for probation training.

      Maybe something similar still applied in 1993??

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  12. While Napo is essentially recommending acceptance of the recent pay offer through branch voting, Unison is balloting its member on industrial action. This kind of stuff confuses.

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    1. NAPO's leaders never miss an opportunity to help the employers to fuck us over: 'Ooh it's a terrible offer but the best we can hope for'. Yeah - you keep on banking your 60 grand+ of our money to tell us that a pay rise of precisely fuck all is the best we can hope for.

      Simon Garden

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    2. I voting NO to acceptance

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    3. As am I and as did everyone at our workplace meeting. When will the results be in?

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  13. " Alert follows explosion at Probation Office, Crawford Square in Derry, Northern Ireland "

    Sadly not 40 years ago but on Monday evening 27th April 2015!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-32490580

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    1. Thankfully I read no one injured - thoughts are with staff affected.

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  14. Interesting article.
    "Probation officers currently only spend 25% of their time engaged with offenders".
    It's alluded to that that isn't long enough to have significant inpact on the offender, and TR will change that?
    Surely biometric kiosks will reduce that percentage even further?

    http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2015/04/reasons-to-be-tory-6-graylings-rehabilitation-reforms.html

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    1. One of the comments is fairly accurate I'd say:

      If we win it will be despite the considerable handicap of Chris Grayling rather than because of him.

      This man has ruined our relations with many professionals who would otherwise have supported us and who have good reason to.

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    2. At this moment in time, I am actually spending more time behind a PC than I was pre-TR - not what I expected in CRC - man down pub tells me its going to get better - if and when it does I may buy that man a drink but I cannot see it being achieved in my CRC lifetime

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    3. This link leads to a Tory propaganda website – the home of compassionate conservatives. The 25% is old research and in the article it is cited as justification for TR...

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    4. We spend more time at a PC than ever before, the systems are less efficient and detrimental and duplication is running rife

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  15. Government in gagging row with suppliers

    Gill PlimmerCabinet officials are engaged in a row with outsourcing companies over attempts to prevent them from disclosing information on key government contracts such as prisons or housing for asylum seekers.Bill Crothers, chief commercial officer at the Cabinet Office, sent a letter to some of the biggest government suppliers during the sensitive pre-election purdah period outlining new measures for disclosure on public sector contracts.Among other measures, the publicly available document states that the “government will be a single point of contact for public enquiries relating to the performance of privately delivered services they oversee”.This in effect means that private sector suppliers could be barred from talking about controversial public sector contracts, such as managing probation services or assessing claimants for welfare benefits.The CBI employers’ organisation, which has been involved in heated discussions with the Cabinet Office over the issue, declined to comment directly but said it believed “both the government and its suppliers should share more information with the public”.The move comes in the wake of a series of botched contracts that have put the government’s ability to manage complex, sensitive outsourcing deals under the spotlight.Troubled contracts from the West Coast railway franchise to the referral of G4S and Serco to the Serious Fraud Office for alleged overcharging on electronic monitoring contracts has put the relationship between suppliers and the government under scrutiny.

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    1. G4S, which is in the process of rebuilding its reputation, said: “We would not support moves to restrict or impede the scrutiny of any supplier, whether they are public, private or voluntary.”As part of contract negotiations, the government would agree at the outset any information that can be withheld on the grounds of commercial confidentiality. This could include the profit margin, the way the supplier calculated the price they are charging and the business plan, the document says.The Cabinet Office said the intention was to increase transparency by providing a convenient single point of contact from which information can be obtained. But Asheem Singh, director of public policy at Acevo, which represents 1,500 charities and social enterprises across the UK, said: “You do not further the cause of transparency by allowing businesses to hide their commercial arrangements.”He said the restrictions were of particular concern on large deals such as the work programme, where hundreds of smaller charities are subcontracted by providers such as Serco, G4S, Staffline and Interserve to help unemployed people find a job.Mr Singh said that so-called prime providers often set their prices by pressuring charities or subcontractors into lowering theirs. The move would prevent a charitable organisation working for a private sector provider to whistleblow over poor conditions, he said.“We are concerned that government would have a licence to wash their hands of the serious problems faced by third sector subcontractors who work with the private sector,” he added.Business groups including the CBI have long said that opposition to transparency often comes from the government, rather than the contractors themselves. Last month the Department for Work and Pensions sold Remploy, the 70-year-old agency for the disabled, to US-listed company Maximus but refused to disclose the price.Although G4S has invited both the Howard League for Penal Reform and the Financial Times to visit Oakwood prison, which G4S runs, the Home Office has refused permission. Companies say that the government is already demanding increased scrutiny, such as by screening statements to journalists.The new rules also stop significantly short of the industry’s own proposals. The government’s four biggest suppliers — Atos, Capita, Serco and G4S — all told a committee of MPs last year that they would agree to “open book” accounting, where profit margins on government contracts are disclosed.Sodexo, a French multinational that runs prison and probation services in the UK, has also called for an independent watchdog to monitor the scandal-hit industry, with an inspector of ethics and delivery.A change of government could alter the rules on public sector outsourcing significantly. The opposition Labour party has said it would impose a 5 per cent cap on the amount private companies can make on providing NHS services.

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    2. A shot in the arm for freedom of information?

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    3. I think more of a major problem growing for Government.
      Next time there's a G4S/Serco type scandal (and there will be), the outsoucer in question only has to say they've been asking for a long time to make their business with the Government more transparent and open to scrutiny from the public eye but have always been blocked by the Government from doing so.
      It follows that whatever the issue, it's the Government thats at fault, we've got nothing to hide, it's them thats been stopping us from being open about the ways we've been delivering our contracts.

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  16. I think this is accurate: in our offices (joint CRC and NPS) the receptionists can't see delius for NPS. This causes a whole heap of problems. Anyone else in the same boat?

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  17. Yes same in my office / area - causes heaps of problems. Recently Social Services were after information on a case not long finished - CRC staff unable to access - once terminated goes back to NPS - had to ask them to look up information - swamped by bureacracy

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    1. Only going to get worse, wait until you are not even working in the same building and everything is fed through and out of the central Hub..

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  18. I work as a joint CRC/NPS receptionist and can still see NPS front screen records just not full functionality. Alot of it, is interpreting the information we can see which boils down to experience in our particular field. Safeguarding and Prison checks on the increase. We are a small cog in the big wheel, but important front line staff and if it causes a whole heap of problems now wait until we are not there anymore which seems to be the plan!!!

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    1. I'm aware of central hubs for CRC but what will happen at the few NPS offices that are left? Will there be any receptionists there? Receptionists are indeed an important - if not the most important - cog in the wheel and I for one would struggle without them!

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    2. These details are still being haggled over.

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    3. What are the options?

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    4. The fact is that the default operating models are not fit for purpose in the real world. In my opinion, they have been designed without any comprehension of the environment in which they will be delivered. Every offender has a phone, none of them are mentally unwell or suffer from substance misuse issues, public transport is universal, everyone has good reception on their mobile phone, no-one ever turns up late or early, no-one misses a group..... The list of factors is endless. Receptionists are the gatekeepers. Without them there will be chaos. The CRC management know this and are still arguing the point with Sodeveryone.

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    5. Excellent points well made @8:09. Reception staff - I am sorry you've been taken For granted for so long. Your hour of recognition is now here. Similarly case admin staff - the prospect of losing your knowledge & experience makes my blood run cold.

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  19. Totally off topic, but this may be an interesting and informative case to keep an eye on.
    Grayling and the MOJ have long claimed that there is no crisis and our prison system is a safe enviornment to work in. The prossecution in this case promises to change that concept, and may raise serious questions for the MOJ.
    Just the preliminaries on day one make the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
    I'd suggest that staffs concerns on getting TTG up and running is right at the bottom of their list.

    http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/community-creative-gongs-up-grabs-9140265

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    1. Sorry wrong link posted at 20:47 it should have been this.

      http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/inmate-accused-stabbing-liverpool-dad-9140189

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    2. You can see why TTG is not high priority for the prisons. Altcourse - knives and other weapons everywhere.

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    3. An inmate went on trial accused of stabbing a Liverpool dad to death in “lawless” HMP Altcourse.

      Keir Michael, 41, denies murdering fellow prisoner Darren Ashcroft, 35, at the G4S-run Fazakerley jail. He also denies the wounding with intent of Ashcroft’s cellmate, Terry Roderick.

      Liverpool Crown Court heard Michael went to his alleged victims’ Valentines Green Wing cell on November 14 last year.

      Anne Whyte, QC, prosecuting, said: “By the time the defendant emerged from that cell, just under three minutes later, Darren Ashcroft lay collapsed on the floor dying.”

      Miss Whyte said Michael attacked both men with “an easily concealed, narrow metal weapon” which he “rapidly disposed of”.

      She said the jury would gain an insight into life in a modern, private-run British prison, adding: “You will not be heartened by what you hear.

      “By the time this case is over you may well conclude there was a surprising degree of lawlessness on Valentines Wing and that the atmosphere there was aggressive, with a prevailing risk of spontaneous violence.

      “You will also learn that it was not uncommon for inmates at HMP Altcourse to be in possession of all sorts of weapons, many of them fashioned in secret and then concealed.”

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  20. I just wanted to point out that the IT issues continue to put a daily strain on our work. Most of us are not moaning about it on this blog as are resigned to it being an ongoing issue, but I didn't want readers to think all is OK. It isn't. It's still a nightmare (NPS).

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    1. After 2 days off, enjoying sun, i retured to work today, dreading the upgrade, something always goes wrong or we have to re-learn how to access and use the IT systems ..I was not disappointed, got a an email fromxxxxxx crown court asking for the case allocation document! I checked and it was there in n'delius, uploaded when it was done in Feb! Oh no , would you believe it, its a blank doc! I always put a hard copy in the file too, so faxed it over. Not 10 minutes later, I was advised the FDR was also blank! I don't make a habit of uploading blanks, and I was a little put out by the inference that I hadn't done it.....as I did and offered to fax a copy, but was reminded by court staff that I will have to do them again in n' Delius to complete the record! Well no, I completed the work once and have the evidence, actual hard copies so, I won't be re-doing it all again anytime soon, been allocated more reports since then. So it looks to me that the upgrade erased some text, another colleague sent a blank recall report to noms yesterday, unaware it had been erased! You really couldn't make it up. I will be entering a complaint to my SPO!

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    2. 'Upgrade' has been a disaster in our northern office. people seem to have lost access to records, whilst some offenders and their records seem to have become invisible and impossible to find. We know they should be there but we can't find them. And then the computers are crawling or for some and completely stopped for others. I'm in NPS but god knows how my CRC colleagues are coping with their increased OASys demands. Must be pulling their hair out.

      Interesting how CRC colleagues no longer have time to see clients. Too busy fudging OASys stats.

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    3. six times yesterday I tried to make an entry on same individual and six times got exception error - three times tried again on same offender this morning. Finally cracked it when I did not use next appointment but that meant I had to put this in seperately. Its beyond a joke now. 2 staff in my office covering 5 caseloads - I am on the verge of breakdown without N-disasterous

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    4. Anon 17:58 don't know which northern office you are from my friend but same state of play in my northern office to.

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    5. Some northern offices completing basic level one oasis to save time but not being told this is officially allowed. Staff at breaking point with others shipped to TTG leaving rest to pick up the caseload. Nightmare continues

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  21. when we first split we Courts were not ringing OMs for updates to aid sentencing however today I've been emailed to send court a progress report to aid sentencing. Never heard of these reports - i'm happy to fill it in as it will mean someone getting sentenced right (hopefully) but the whole NPS/CRC is shifting sands.

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  22. Unpaid work is a disaster - only one supervisor as the other on training, no sessionals anymore. 16 turned up as per signed instructions and 6 of them were sent home. Offenders arguing about who went home last week (cos of the same problem) and who's turn it is to go home this week; others arguing to stay as it's not their fault we've no staff; OMs arguing for their clients to stay. But never mind Sodexo saving £18k pa in staffing.

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    1. This situation can have serious consequences for any offender doing unpaid work and claiming benefits.
      If your contract with the job centre has the time you spend weekly on unpaid work factored in, and the job centre get wind that you haven't actually done those hours of unpaid work for any given week, then you run the risk of being sanctioned.
      It matters not that it isn't your fault, you just haven't fulfilled your agreement.
      Harsh, even cruel, but true!

      'Getafix'

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    2. Couldn't agree more. Our UPW vans are off the road cos no one has a psv licence. Now have hire vans but can't take the tools out cos no tow bar to carry the trailer.

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    3. Not sure what area you are in, but in are CRC unpaid work we have had 4 supervisors to 6 service users today. We are twiddling are thumbs here. Maybe I can suggest coming to give you a hand.

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    4. Anon 18:33 staff do not need a psv licence. It is CP card that Sudexo are refusing to let the staff get. They will not put staff through this training. Thus resulting in only being able to carry 8 passengers. Vans are off the road because they do not know what they are doing, they do not understand how unpaid work, works.
      This is another way of cost cutting. They think that by refusing the CP card to the supervisors that they will save money, really more money is being spent on hiring brand new mini buses.

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    5. Goodness - the van saga continues....

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    6. Don't be so patronising Jim. You might not care but it's important to us.

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    7. What is so disheartening about all of this is that, despite all the evidence on here and tweeted etc elsewhere of the disintegration of the Service, none of it will make a blind bit of difference to those with decision making powers. We have HMI in at present doing an 'audit' of how things are working post TR. Assured of anonymity all questions are being answered honestly by those of us whose cases are in the sample. But will what we say have any impact - I doubt it. Still, I await the HMI report with interest, as I was told by an inspector that it wont go to the CEO (for tweaking) before publication, as is the normal practice with inspections, apparently......
      Deb

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    8. Anon 20:21 "Don't be so patronising Jim. You might not care but it's important to us."

      It was a neutral comment my friend made out of sorrow for a Service utterly fucked up.......

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    9. it's a bit worrying that they cant arrange transport for their offenders. It makes me wonder how they deal with real problems that involve risk.

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    10. Quick question...What is the maximum number of offenders that you are expected to take on CP by your CRC ?

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    11. Our CRC not very good at math, we are expected to take 10 offenders with only 8 available seats on the van.

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  23. I know people who work for sodexo and they are very happy in their role. The also offer their clients an excellent service so who knows, they might come good

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    1. I'm sure that they are 'only following orders'.

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    2. Wonder if they can provide the same "excellent service" that biometric kiosks will be able to provide?

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    3. I feel like a biometric kiosk, second half of my day I was working like a robot feel exhausted.

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    4. Sodexo may be sweethearts deep down but they are making 500 of my colleagues redundant. I hope those who remain have a splendid time. The rest of us will just have to manage our personal crises alone, firm in the knowledge Tha, despite our thousands of years of collective experience and personal investment in Probation services, after reading an advert, the loveable French caterers had a better idea. I am pleased for them. It must all be very exciting.

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    5. Yep, no doubt being a 'trolly-dolly' (or boy equivalent) in the first class lounge of Emirates or some such Airline could be a hoot, meeting & greeting the greedy, the lascivious, the well-heeled & the privileged. That's a Sodxo job I'd plump for. Ah, but wait... As a 40-something slightly plump male I wonder what my chances would be?

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  24. Can anyone explain the sense behind completing an additional rosh assessment in Delius when linked to an FDR sentence that will be managed by a CRC. Given that this is required and possible to complete in the Rosha CAS document (it would seem to be in the name !) and when we seem to have been told that Delius may not be used by every CRC, whereas Oasys would seem to remain given TTG basic screenings etc.

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    1. Oasys not planned to remain in my CRC area though no clue yet what is to replace it

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  25. FROM THE TIMES of London: -

    HEADLINE -

    " Private firms ‘are in line for third of public service cash’"

    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/supportservices/article4423182.ece?utm_content=buffer107e1&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    "The biggest market for privatised delivery of public services has been in the justice and judicial sector — prisons, transportation of prisoners, probation services. "

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  26. TTG Cardiff prison still not up and running. Community part of the contract not being awarded until June

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    1. Purple Futures contracts with their partners are 'in principle' according to their website whatever that means.

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  27. Whilst a deterioration was expected that it is happening so fast is frightening.
    It seems people have regressed and lost all sense of what had been learned, supposed to have been put in place years ago and have reverted back to systems and process that applied to very dark times. Whilst 'service user' feedback is now derigeur,engagement, effective practice, for those who knew what that was,seems to have flown out of the window. Restrictive punitive measures and approach abound, law, policy and guidance is disregarded as back covering and so called risk management, predominates. Half a day training or do it yourself IT training, easy enough to cheat and falsify, resulting in.. the horrors are too many . People died, were abused, treated unfairly because of exactly this type of behaviour in the NHS. It's only a matter of time before it all crashes down on them. In many ways am beginning to see the value in kiosks, at least that will mean some people will not have to suffer

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  28. Interesting watching, the Hewer/Mountford programme on trains. Clearly the blueprint for NPS/CRCs/PI... as has been wriiten many times, a train crash in the making, whilst fat, parasitic accountants cream off the publicly subsidised profits into their pockets. The UK must be the laughing stock of the world. Still, maybe its payback for the sins of our Imperial ancestors? The World now comes to the UK - metaphorically & literally - to fill its pockets and syphon off the public funds, leaving the UK financially (and morally) bankrupt.

    My thoughts go to the people of Nepal. If at all possible please give as generously as you are able to one of the emergency funds.

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  29. Anyone in Northumbria want to add to this list of the impossibility of getting breach papers past the Enforcement Team in NPS?

    Your breach is rejected because:

    1. You haven't tried to do a home visit (offender is known to stab people)
    2. You haven't checked if they have outstanding fines (I was asking for 7 hours additional Unpaid Work)
    3. You haven't sent warning letters (he doesn't have an address)
    4. You haven't ruled out a curfew (I wasn't asking for a curfew I was asking for more Unpaid Work)
    5. You haven't provided witness availability for Unpaid Work staff (I would if he denied the breach, we're not at that stage yet)
    6. Your Delius entry from 3 months ago says someone rang and said she was sick (I don't have a sick note, I don't know who the caller was)
    7. You need a letter from his employer (his employer doesn't know he's on Probation)
    8. Your word is just hearsay, not evidence (I'm his Probation Officer!!)
    9. You haven't said whether you have tried to phone him (He hasn't got a phone)
    10. You haven't got a signed agreement to say that he understands that he has to come to appointments (he hasn't attended at all. He hasn't been signed up yet)

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    1. NPS in the northwest are also doing a fine job of knocking everything back. They simply loathe requests for WWOB; they'll eat hot gravel rather than apply for an arrest warrant.

      What's the story, NPS?

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    2. Anon at 22.25, your making a single fatal error, you had the client at the center of things, the breach procedure has targets at the center of all things!

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    3. As far as i'm aware in the NorthWest and using Merseyside as an example the warrant team is tiny and so anyone on 'their toes' has minimal chance of being hauled back before the courts. Warrants only tend to get executed when they are arrested on new matters. Stay on your toes for 3 years or so and Probation Court officers will re-apply to court to have the warrants cancelled.

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    4. Who are the breach officers in Northumbria? Are they the ones transferred over from G4S as part of TR? Remember, they didn't get asked just like we didn't, and may not have been given suitable support and training. If not, then I have no idea what's going on!

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    5. If its any consolation in another northern office close by Northumbria, breaches are also been rejected for ridiculous reasons.

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  30. Dumb, dumb, dumb. A bad idea badly executed.

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  31. Oh dear what a complete fiasco

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