Saturday, 9 May 2015

Of Young Pups and Grumpy Old Has-Beens

I think there's a gulf between those who have grown up (professionally speaking) in recent times, and those who have longer memories & experiences. Neither is right or wrong, but times and practice are significantly different. My DipSW Learning/training experience bears no relation to the current TPO experience. 

My time as an assessor didn't have any resonance with my practice teacher's efforts to knock me into shape. It shouldn't be a case of going against grain, it is just different for so many reasons. Grumpy old gits sometimes find it hard to be eclipsed by young pups, whilst fresh blood can be feisty and enthusiastic and blind to the privileges that experience brings.

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If there's another "dinosaur/old git" comment in our shared building today I won't be needing my redundancy, but I will need a PSR after I've given one of the smug NPS newly qualified POs a good slap. NPS manager isn't interested in addressing it. CRC manager says it's not his staff member so he can't do anything about it. Looks like it'll have to be 2 falls and a submission a la Mick McManus, or a thick ear a la Frank Bruno. I haven't a fucking clue what happened to professional standards in the probation service. Where did they go?

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I am a new NPS Trainee and looking at this thread and the negative comments about trainees is quite offensive to be honest. I am not a 'young pup' and since I have started it has been assumed that I am fresh out of uni and have zero life experience possibly because I look younger. I have been very respectful to colleagues about the changes etc., but consistently met with rude comments.

There is an us and them attitude prevalent and I find it quite vile coming from an organisation of people trained not to be judgemental. If this is what we are supposed to aspire to, then of course we are going to come across as smug. We have already tolerated a huge amount of disorganisation in our recruitment. Managers are reluctant to fulfil their basic obligations and we are grilled publicly when we take the initiative. I think it would be useful if people on here are mindful of the fact that we are all human.

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Come on, Sodexo. Hurry up & get Chris in a headlock, sort out how you're going to honour the redundancy agreements enshrined in the CRC contracts, get the slicing & dicing over & done with, get shot of them owld moaning minnies & let the dog see the rabbit. The quicker you act the quicker the CRC can thrive. You've now got the government you need to help you make this profitable. You've got the opportunity to heave the nay-sayers overboard at relatively modest cost.

The longer you let them hang around the greater risk they might cost you more. Make the incision, clean the wound; physician heal thyself. It's time for a new paradigm in managing social dysfunction. Plenty of us want to work in CRCs. Let those that don't go; let them join the NPS or social services or Tesco. I want to be surrounded by enthusiasm & energy & like-minded colleagues, not miserable sods who whinge about "the good old days"; "it was never like that in my day"; "we wouldn't do that". So come on! Lets make those changes and get this CRC show moving!!!

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You are clearly a company man (or woman). I am thrilled for you. The problem is that there are huge holes in the operating models. We are duty bound to draw attention to them. To wait until they reveal themselves is negligent.

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No 'operating model' has ever been without flaws. Radical non-intervention, nothing works, what works, prison works, we are an enforcement agency, we are the world, Eithne's merry dance, dances with wolves, noms, nimbys, desistance, dyspepsia, etc etc.

Targets for Change is maybe the only piece of practice that has proved its worth across the 20th & 21st centuries. That was castigated when launched, but it has proved effective & durable.

So, duty bound, let Sodexo & the CRCs worry about the holes in their models. Either work with the changes or retire to your allotment. Neither you nor any of the whiney "it's not right" brigade have made any significant lasting difference to the wider population of those who commit offences. You may have been compassionate, empathic, enabling & supportive, but not a lot has changed in reality.

So let the CRCs try to hit their targets. The battle is lost, the CRCs are in situ. If they reduce reoffending by any amount, hurray. If they don't, then you can shout "yah boo sucks" from your greenhouse. I personally believe not a lot will change, just that the measuring stick will be re-calibrated to suit a new scale. No, I'm not a corporate bunny. It's simply hard enough dealing with clients who are low and defensive and intractable every day, I don't want to have to deal with miserable, reluctant colleagues as well.

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The problem with the argument above is the assumption that any of the magic bullets listed was ever anything more than one more tool. Targets for Change has remained because it is not one tool but a wide selection of tools. That is not the point. The issue is the removal of the other thing that has stood the test of time: the offender/practitioner relationship. The call centre approach will render all other interventions meaningless.

I will be going when the time is right. Not because I do not believe in the value of Probation but because I do not believe that the proposed models are anything more than a pretence. I am too young for an allotment but I will be looking for something that has some integrity. It will not be a Sodexo CRC, of that I am sure.

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One is never too young for allotment. And you are right in what you say that kiosks or telesales are not helpful. I'm just weary of grumpy old has-beens making my working day more difficult than it needs to be.

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I work positively & enthusiastically & without prejudice with all of my caseload; and I understand the CRC is politically (and probably practically) toxic, but I haven't the energy, time or patience to work 100% with my caseload and then be subjected to the incessant whining & moaning & time-wasting of colleagues who, because I'm stressed to fuck & non-stop busy, are not helping me by loading me up with their stress.

I used the phrase "Grumpy old has-beens" because most (not all) are in the twilight of their professional careers, are evidently distressed by the decimation of probation, but are still yowling on day after day some 2 years down the line. I don't disagree with their complaint; I don't dislike them; I just wish they'd shut the fuck up, behave like professionals they tell everyone they are, & do some office duty!!

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No wonder people around you are complaining, it probably relates in large part to having to work next to the likes of you, ignorant, naive and evidently of the self (deluded ) opinion that you are simply the best. How dare you. Many of those people you patronise and don't dislike, how very generous of you, would likely have been those that invented half of what you do and think you know.

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I'm taken a bit aback by some of today's reactions. I've read through this thread & I see it differently in that I see someone saying that the damage is done, accepting CRCs are here, saying they want to work but find the office environment stressful. And yet not one response has recognised that. Everyone seems hellbent on hurling abuse. We don't know the poster's gender, age or qualification/s - yet a number of replies are very specific in their abuse. Perhaps they know the poster?

I'm a 50+ year old male PO. I didn't feel attacked by the post. I felt sad that someone finds their workplace and colleagues contribute so significantly to their feelings of stress, and thought how poor the local management must be. And I also had to pause and think how often I grumble to new colleagues about TR and reminisce about the golden olden days. Perhaps the post is complaining about me?

42 comments:

  1. "There is an us and them attitude prevalent and I find it quite vile coming from an organisation of people trained not to be judgemental. If this is what we are supposed to aspire to, then of course we are going to come across as smug".

    The above comment from a new trainee made me laugh. "Trained not to be judgemental". Are you serious? Every PO/OM/RO I've had to date (4) has been judgemental beyond belief. It seems to be the default setting amongst probation officers. So its hardly surprising that you are meeting this attitude. It's dished out to everyone by most probation officers.

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    1. So you've met four probation officers and based on this sample you make massive sweeping generalisations?

      Perhaps what they're judgemental about is your attitude, but you're so blinkered that you can't accept that it's not the same as judging you as a person?

      Delete
  2. I have recently been asked to provide proof that I am legally allowed to work in the UK. Sodexo been caught out before have they???

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  3. Protests in Westminster today not on mainstream news so far. Anyone know what they are about?

    Also, there is talk about potential for elections having been rigged: van of postal votes stolen weeks before the election. I don't believe it myself. Any other info out there?

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    Replies
    1. The protests in London and Cardiff were in response to the election results and against austerity. There are loads of photos on Facebook. Also info re stolen vans and 'lost' postal votes

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  4. As an 'old git' (not grumpy) Probation Officer I am still grieving for a Service I loved for 30 years and have now lost. I do, however, endeavour to share my experience and continuing value base with our new trainees and new members of staff. The service we offer, whether NPS or CRC, needs to be under pinned by Probation Service values, which includes respecting each other; failure to do allows Grayling and his cronies to win and diminish the effectiveness of the work we do. I don't like the change, but it is what it is and we need to work within it.

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  5. Sadly probation staff confuse their role in challenging offending behaviour with a perceived right to challenge other staff about everything and anything. Since joining probation 15 years ago I have been really shocked by how staff treat each other and I believe the climate is set by management. I understand NPS HR professionals have been shocked by issues they have had to get involved with due largely to the probation culture.

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  6. It's interesting to see how the comments on this blog are starting to reflect the new private world of probation unfortunately such enthusiasm is not reflected by Sodexo who want all existing staff to be phased out and replaced by cheaper alternatives........don't believe me, take a look at the recruitment policies of private prisons.......

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  7. Young Turks and the Old Guard in conflict. The MoJ must be rubbing their hands in glee.

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  8. Posted on behalf of a third party:-

    Never have I enjoyed some thing as good as your blog. I may be one of the grumpy ones?? I just want SOD U CO to pay me out and I am off. I can change, adapt and overcome most obstacles but I cannot sign up for a voyage on the second sailing of the Titanic.
    thanks

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  9. I think people are simply tired. Its been a long slog and no wonder folk are getting grumpy. 19:25 makes an important point about the grieving process. The ongoing and unresolved issues do not allow the grieving process to reach full term.

    I love the juxtaposition of a foreign company buying up public service companies then checking that staff are UK nationals or legally allowed to work in the UK.

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  10. Michael Gove is justice secretary

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    Replies
    1. Good choice. Great leader. Cameron means business.

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    2. Great leader? He's a tit.

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    3. Good trolling, 09 May 2015 22:14

      Delete
  11. Hoorah another twat to the party

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    1. Michael Gove is making a dramatic return to front-line political combat as David Cameron puts him in charge of Conservative plans to abolish the Human Rights Act.

      In the latest moves in the Cabinet reshuffle, the Prime Minister appointed Mr Gove to the post of Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor, which is set to be one of the highest profile positions in the new government.

      Mr Gove was demoted to Conservative Chief Whip – a back-room role – last year after antagonising teachers with his radical reforms to schools during his time as Education Secretary.
      He fell out of favour with Mr Cameron after causing a major row with Theresa May, the Home Secretary, over slow progress in dealing with Muslim extremism, and was also said to have irritated the Prime Minister by suggesting there were too many old Etonians in the Cabinet.

      However, Mr Cameron appears to have rewarded Mr Gove, a long-term friend, for his staunch loyalty as well as his ability to drive through controversial reforms, by putting him in charge of the Ministry of Justice. He replaces Chris Grayling, who moves to become Leader of the House of Commons, where he will be responsible for steering government plans through Parliament.

      Mr Grayling takes over from William Hague, who stepped down as an MP at the election, in what Number 10 said was “a key role in a majority Government, shepherding through crucial legislation”.

      In his new role, Mr Grayling has been trusted with overseeing some of the most radical and important reforms to the British constitution in centuries. He is expected to oversee further devolution of tax-raising powers to Scotland and reforms to give English MPs the final say over matters affecting England, so-called "English votes for English laws".

      Mr Cameron has made these reforms central to his re-election programme, while Mr Grayling has previously been a passionate champion of strengthening the powers of English MPs.
      Among Mr Gove’s first tasks will be to oversee the Bill to scrap Labour’s Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights, a reform which Mr Cameron has promised to announce in his first Queen’s Speech, expected on May 27. The reform, promised in the Tory manifesto, is designed to ensure that the European Court of Human Rights will no longer be able to overrule judgments in British courts and will make “the Supreme Court supreme”.

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    2. So who will be Lord Chancellor? Is that Gove too? Another non-lawyer running the law courts? Fucking A*, Dave. You know how to pick 'em. Gove vs. May. Did you really think this through properly, Mr Eton?

      I'd rather Chicken Supreme was supreme.

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    3. Jim - can we have some pictures of the sultry Mr Gove to refresh our memories of what this new appointment looks like?

      Many thanks in anticipation

      Delete
  12. As someone who has worked in Partnership with Probation for 16 yrs I have looked on as Probation has been sold and divided. As an outsider I see the staff in the CRC behaving more like a bunch of 6th formers. The NPS staff have a far more professional attitude in their way of working and behaving. Very sad.
    When you think it can't get any worse Gove takes over from Grayling!

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    Replies
    1. We know bullshit when its served to us.

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    2. You obviously have no idea then of the disparity between NPS and CRC staffing and caseloads. I take it you are also talking about a particular area and surely not CRC nationwide. Very judgemental comment

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  13. 22.15 you're an idiot. End off!

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  14. Probation Officer9 May 2015 at 22:22

    I don't buy into this old vs young bs. There's old PO's that are experienced, innovative and good at what they do, while there are others that are bigoted, grumpy incompetent idiots. Likewise there are new PO's that are so motivated and have great drive and ideas, while there are others that come across as school leavers without any clue about the real world. Don't believe the myth that social work trained PO's are the cream of the crop. Don't believe that TPO's had the best training ever. Don't believe the PQF is innovative in fast-tracking graduates to qualification.

    The truth is that 50% of social work trained PO's struggle to take on new ideas because they think they know it all, work at a snails pace, they falsely blame everything on IT failure and managers overworking them, and are really just coasting towards retirement. 50% of TPO's wrongly believe enforcement is a method of rehabilitation, they have been trained to believe all the other CJS agencies are more important than they are, and they use words like "public protection" and "risk management" to justify why they're really bad at (or have never really liked) supervising offenders. 50% of PQF's have life experience which consists of studying GCSEs, then A levels, then a criminology degree blurred by drunken nights out in the students union, and see probation as nothing more than an easy way to get a post-grad certificate and a bit of paid work experience before moving on. The other 50% of all groups are very good at what they do not matter how or when the trained to be a PO.

    What many 'colleagues' fail to realise is that some staff join as already suited for the job and others develop that 'x-factor' over time. The common-denominator of good PO's is their commitment to doing a good job, learning new things and helping people to change. If colleagues are committed and do a good job I don't care if they're 25 years old or 55 years old, and it's unimportant if they're DipSW, DipPS or PQF. Unfortunately, with all the diversity focus in probation we clearly forgot about age discrimination which was a huge mistake.

    I was never a 'young pup' and I don't intend to be a 'grumpy old has been'. I joined probation when I was much younger and had a bag of qualifications and a wealth of work and life experience. As colleagues we laughed, we moaned and we learned from each other, young and old alike. Many years later this is still the same. I feel sorry for you that work in offices where there are such infectious and entrenched divides based on age and qualifications. Blame yourselves for letting it be like that and stop squabbling over the TR divide.

    I've known probation officers and social workers that have been prisoners, gang members, soldiers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, professors, and more. I'll dare anyone to call them young pups or grumpy old has beens.

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    1. They say that 80% of statistics are made up on the spot. I wonder if this post is as balanced as it's author would like his/her readers to believe.

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    2. I'm referring your made-up statistics for closer analysis. Anyone who starts their pitch with "The truth is...", then quotes made-up stats, is as informed as the gobshite darn the boozer.

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    3. Probation Officer9 May 2015 at 22:37

      Well there's always the chance I'm nothing more than a young pup or grumpy old has been who has no idea what they're talking about!

      Delete
    4. Thats the spirit. If we take ourselves too seriously we run the risk of making utter arses of ourselves.

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  15. I am stunned at the criticism pointed towards CRC staff. Do you not remember the series of events that led to the so called sifting. CRC staff have been treated abominably again and again, lied to, manipulated and now threatened en-masse with losing their livelihood. To suggest the NPS are '.more professional' is to negate the abuses perpetrated against these former public servants by the most duplicitous SoS in modern history. Behaviours have consequences. I thought we all knew that.

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    1. This could well be one person's account of their observations in one particular office or LDU. It may be entirely genuine or it could be biased and one-sided. Only the poster will know, and they're hardly going to want to compromise their anonymity by revealing which office they're talking about.

      Just as with the disgruntled client at 18:35, let's not make the mistakes of generalising about anywhere else based on a very small sample.

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  16. Mr Grayling in his local paper stated that he wanted to continue at Justice to finish the job, is the latest move an acknowledgement of the absolute mess that he has created......and also an acknowledgement that Cameron's hand was always on the tiller ........now that he's gone don't think that things are going to get any better.......ask a teacher....

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  17. Michael Gove moves to justice in post-election reshuffle

    Oh fuck

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  18. Chris Grayling Worst Justice Minster Ever.

    Can Michael Gove top this.

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    1. Probation Officer9 May 2015 at 23:12

      Probably yes!

      Delete
  19. I think this is all about destroying gove, there are so many things in the pipeline that will fuck any minster up in the MOJ. Increasing prison pop, increased suicide, CRC/NPS split fuckup, Destroying human rights act, poor victim service. Chris Grayling gets to escape all these problems.

    By the way, Fuck you Grayling, you were a failure.

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  20. Be afraid, be very afraid! I have watched the complete dog's bollocks that Gove made of being Education Secretary and the result that had on my wife. All I can say is if anyone has the chance of taking the shot, don't hesitate. Aresehole.

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  21. VIA TWITTER: -

    " Simon Hughes retweeted

    BBC Radio 4 Today ‏@BBCr4today

    "You need a party for real social justice & that's what liberalism stands for" -

    @SimonHughes: http://bbc.in/1JW3nAB

    https://twitter.com/BBCr4today/status/597055059076218880 "

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He should have stopped at the first 4 words.

      Delete
  22. All those NPS staff moaning about the CRC will no doubt come knocking on the CRC door for jobs once Cameron and Groves dismantle the NPS

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  23. Gove has come in to finish off what Grayling started. For all those who thought they were safe in the nps.

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  24. I'm Admin and I've applied for the NPS as I can see staff being moved around in CRC's and training being given for new job titles. The rest of us are just being told hang in and see what happens as nothing has been decided. It's not a case that NPS is safe, it's a case that the chess pieces are being moved around so that when that day comes CRC can function when we leave on mass. So it's a case of hedging your bets and hoping your decision is the right one for you.

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