Monday, 4 May 2015

Probation in the News

As we have often complained bitterly, the plight of the Probation Service hardly ever gets any airtime or decent press coverage and ignorance of our situation is pretty universal. 

So, with only 72 hours to go before the polls open, it's particularly good to hear a powerful piece in the Independent get a mention on the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme 'what the papers say' slot. It's also worth adding that it's largely your testimony on this blog that is helping keep at least one national newspaper's interest going - so keep it up guys.    

Probation service 'staffing crisis' leaves public at risk from violent criminals

A “staffing crisis” in the probation service due to cuts and reforms is leaving the public at danger from violent criminals – with women who have suffered from domestic violence among the most vulnerable, unions and campaigners have warned.

At least 1,200 staff will have left the probation service by the end of this year and the skills shortage means lower-grade employees are being asked to pick up the slack, taking on complex cases involving sexual and domestic violence. Rules to make sure only the most-experienced officers work on domestic-abuse cases are being disregarded as the service fights to stay on top of rising workloads. The losses are a result of planned redundancies and hundreds of staff retiring or changing careers due to disillusionment.

Frances Cook, chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the rapid loss of experience could have a devastating impact on women. “There are only 9,000 probation officers to start with, and I think domestic violence is a particular worry. If somebody has already killed someone you know you need to treat them very carefully, but we know that domestic violence can escalate very quickly. Two women a week are killed by their partners.”

Around 500 probation officers have chosen to take early retirement or leave the service since the Government split it into two, outsourcing the least-complex work to privately run groups known as community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). Ministry of Justice figures confirm that more than 200 had already departed by late 2014.

An additional 700 redundancies have been announced by Sodexo – one of the largest private companies to win a contract to manage offenders, and which is now operating six of the 21 CRCs across England and Wales. Many of the employees transferred from the public sector to private firms as part of the reforms are also considering leaving.

“We have already got a staffing crisis. With the redundancies as well there are significant staff shortages around the country,” said Tania Bassett, head of press, parliament and campaigns at the probation officers’ union, Napo.

Napo reports 375 probation vacancies in London which are being covered by agency workers, but agencies are struggling to find sufficiently experienced staff. New staff being recruited into probation will not be fully trained for at least another 15 months. To keep on top of the workload, jobs that should be carried out by highly experienced officers – those holding a degree and earning up to £37,000 a year – are being passed on to “probation service officers”, an entry-level job which pays as little as £20,000.

Ms Bassett said the situation was not only dangerous for the public but damaging for staff too. “If you haven’t got the training to work with sex offenders it can have a very emotional impact on individuals.”

One senior probation officer, who did not wish to be named, said: “Collectively the service is having a nervous breakdown and my guess is at least 80 per cent of staff are just looking to get out by any means. The damage is done; there’s worse to come and there’s absolutely nothing that can stop it. I’m pessimistic about the future and it will take a couple of serious murders, prison riots or similar for politicians and the public to take the slightest notice.”

Under the new probation system, low-grade cases of domestic abuse fall under the remit of the CRCs. Plans for private companies to computerise much of the job, requiring offenders to log attendance on a screen rather than meeting an officer face to face, mean years of experience in how to help prevent an escalation of violence may be lost.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said she was “very concerned about the implication for the safety of women and children” due to the loss of experience. “Specialist knowledge is of the utmost importance when it comes to working safely with perpetrators and survivors of domestic violence,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice said the number of people working in the National Probation Service – the part of the service that remains in the public sector – was rising.

“Staffing levels in the National Probation Service are closely monitored to ensure public safety. We are on track to have 1,000 officers in training by the middle of this year. The community rehabilitation companies allocate staff as appropriate to ensure medium and low-risk offenders are safely managed.”

Yvonne Patterson, 49, is a probation officer in Scarborough. She has been employed in the sector for 13 years and now works within the National Probation Service.

“There have been a number of people who have left in my area of work. There have been big numbers in other roles. Some staff have chosen to leave, some have taken early retirement when they would have worked on longer but they said, ‘we have had enough’. They don’t want to be part of it. A number at chief officer grade have said they won’t play any part in what the Government’s chosen to do.

Some were really, really good people who have been there for 25 or 30 years. They chose to leave because they could see what it’s turned into. Since the split happened, it’s a very different environment to work in. People that ended up in the community rehabilitation company side were made to feel like they weren’t good enough. They felt very under-valued. It’s not a nice place to be anymore. I used to like going to work, but if something else was to come along I would certainly seriously consider it.”

58 comments:

  1. Always interesting that yet again the service users have no input into any of the debate around probation. In virtually every other service industry the service user is central to the service and is considered when changes are made. Only in probation is the service user an after thought if not completely ignored. No wonder there is such a high rate of reoffending in this country. If probation actually met the needs of service users instead of treating them as stupid non entities reoffending rates might actually improve. To be brutally honest I cannot see that any of the changes are going to make the situation for offenders any worse than it already is: apparently we already run the risk of administrative errors made by probation staff killing us, we get slammed back in prison at the drop of a hat - not because we've done anything wrong but because of those lovely "administrative errors" and so on and so forth.

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    1. "In virtually every other service industry the service user is central to the service and is considered when changes are made."

      An interesting point - but is Probation really a 'service' industry anymore than Police, CPS, Courts, Prison are service industries?

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    2. AND (responding to JB at 09:12) also especially now the management of probation work overall has, since long ago, been taken away from local Magistrates and individual staff, is it right to blame those trying to do the job, for what the Government has never resourced?

      It reminds me when as a new officer in the mid 1970s there was a campaign in Merseyside attacking us for not looking after victims.

      (In fact on a case by case basis Probation Officers usually did have a concern for victims, sometimes at a face to face level - in relation to the direct victims of their clients)

      When I was in touch with 'the public' in some representative role - public speaking or local community event - it was a frequent challenge. The fact is probation officers are allocated work on an individual basis, and individuals cannot be responsible for what the policy makers resource the service(s) as a whole to do, be that support victims of crime or collectively consult service users.

      As far as service users are concerned obviously probation workers, (hopefully) aim to establish constructive relationships with clients and thus discern their views on an individual basis.

      Obviously because of the power differential in the relationship between probation workers and clients most clients are likely to be wary of expressing opinions about the Service as a whole - so it is for the Service as a whole to undertake that enquiry - that surely is what the Probation Inspectorate should arrange?

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    3. Yes the offenders are "service users" or clients or whatever trendy term you want to call them. Probation provides a service to a consumer - it certainly isn't a manufacturer or producer so its a service industry by definition. Probation instructions set out the standard of service users can expect from probation and the probation staff employed by the service. Probation have an obligation to meet these standards just as prisons do with PSO's and PSI's.

      If the services users do not get what they need or the level of service that is promised in the PI's from the service provider (probation) to be able to turn their lives around - whatever that maybe - then the service will have failed the user.

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    4. So do "Service User" of a "service" delivered by Probation consider themselves as "Consumers" of free goods when they out stealing from others who have worked hard for their belongings - probably - take responsibility for your actions, whatever they may be - Probation staff will help you - but ultimately you need to take responsibility and also help yourselves

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    5. " If the services users do not get what they need or the level of service that is promised in the PI's from the service provider (probation) to be able to turn their lives around - whatever that maybe - then the service will have failed the user".

      Maybe you should try shopping somewhere else then-I'd never use a service I wasn't happy with.

      Delete
  2. That is just part of the problem.......I work with high risk offenders/clients/service users and that means challenging the behaviour to facilitate change in people. How on earth can that be described as a service industry?
    Just doing my job has resulted in needing protection through MAPPA for myself and another member of staff. I work with people who have murdered, raped and broken the laws in the most serious of ways. I am trained to do my job but deliver a service???
    a PO

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  3. Probation Officer4 May 2015 at 10:29

    Every time I hear "service user" it makes me cringe.

    I think "service user" was (wrongly) introduced by the offender engagement programme. It would have been better to rid ourselves of the term "offender" manager.

    I doubt "service users" feel they are "users" or our "service" when being forced to attend appointments, breached or recalled. Are they "users" of the NPS public protection job description and will CRC reporting kiosks be a "service"?

    The default position of being convicted and sentenced means the forcibly supervised are not "users" of our probation "service". They cannot opt out of the "service" and they are punished should they choose to not comply.

    The relevance of the views of the forcibly supervised in an article about the demise of the probation service is an interesting point. I'd think the reason they're not consulted is for the same reasons convicted offenders currently serving sentences are not consulted on privatising prisons, cutting the police forces, abolishing the TV licence, legalising drugs, etc.

    As has been said, the HMPI does take views from those supervised. We also can and do take views at every appointment, every review stage .....

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    1. Responding to Comment from PO at 10:29

      I agree - and apologise for using nonsense term 'service user' in anything like the way I am a service user of (say) a boot repairer who I happen to CHOOSE to ask to mend the hole in my boot!

      Prison and Probation Inspectors have to my certain knowledge obtain the views of 'clients' back to the 1980s.

      I do however think it is good practice to consult clients in an anonymous way - because they can help agencies understand how their work is received - especially when they are able to comment without personal consequence - I used to feel guilty that we were poor at doing that - when it definitely was an issue at an office where I worked in London in the mid 90s where one colleague was insistent we should have a suggestion box - he was right - but the duty to arrange it was with the (then) probation committee - who were VERY distant - from the day to day work.

      As for the coming of the euphemism 'service user' - I think it is a parallel with that other nonsense term 'inmate' instead of prisoner or detainee - it some how comes from the area of society that is sure it knows best what others should do and think and feel!

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    2. I second your opinion Probstion Officer @10:29.
      Probation is no more a 'service user' industry then prison is 'service user' industry. Complience, management and enforcement is and has been the probation model for quite some time now.
      I personally feel that model detracts from the concepts and visions that the creation of probation was originally based on. To that end I would arguee that 'probation' exists now only in name, and I feel even the name is hanging by a thread (70% reduced already), and maybe soon the NPS will become the National Offender Management Service (probation no longer defines the role anymore-IMHO).

      'Getafix'

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    3. Probation Officer4 May 2015 at 12:21

      Getafix - For too long probation struggled with its identity. It couldn't make up its mind whether it was an enforcement agency or social work agency.

      Sadly due to the split (NPS/CRC) rehabilitation already no longer features in probation and vice versa. The CRC's omit the word "probation" and the focus is on and profit not on help, rehabilitation or providing a "service".

      I think the word "probation" will remain with the NPS, but will come to mean something very different as it dishes out the politically enforced values (and "service") of 'public protection', 'risk management', 'enforcement, and 'proper punishment'.

      Delete
  4. In more ways than one probation or what was formally probation has become oppressive. We no longer serve the community we follow the money and serve the interests of the State and some of those interests are vile. We have become part of the problem rather than part of the solution; most go to work simply to pay the bills, in the past it was very different for most.

    Papa

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    1. I see outsourcing the service as a means of imposing political doctrine on the CJS.
      No longer can services have any autonomy in delivery, which I feel essential given the vast and complex issues presented by both individual needs and regional differences. Instead, service delivery is dictated by the objectives bullet pointed and contained within the parameters of a contract. The contract being drawn and designed of course by a political party.
      It's no longer service delivery, but contract delivery.
      The 'free hand to innovate' said to be given to CRCs is just a red herring. Whatever innovative measures are taken, they can only be designed to to meet the contractual demands defined by the politica party that designed the contract.
      I'm begining to think that Orwell may have been an even greater visonary then even Nostradamus.

      'Getafix'

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    2. I think you have it in a nutshell, Getafix.

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    3. I agree with all your comments about contracts, fake autonomy and doctrine. But probation's preparedness for TR was a long softening up process – the dismantling of autonomy and innovation under the last Labour governemnt, with its third way rhetoric of legislative contestability, centrally imposed rigid, accredited programmes; an overweening target culture with league tables to boot; the growth and power of managerialism and the concomitant belittling of the professionalism of individual staff.

      There was also the departmentalisation of probation into courts, breach, programmes, Mappa teams, etc, that split probation staff off from each other as individuals, weakening previously common bonds that created the shared experience of doing probation work. You can see TR as a step change, but I see it as part of a process.

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    4. ' preparedness for TR was a long softening up process'.
      I agree with all you say Netnipper. However, I'm unsure as to whether the 'softening up' process was an actual deliberate stage by stage plan, or just an accedental consequence of political meddling by polititions that know bugger all about the CJS? Perhaps the accidental consequences created the platform for a more calculated dimanteling?
      I guess thats a bit of a chicken and egg question really.

      'Getafix'

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  5. I would like to return to the original blog by JB. Public protection and victim support. TR has without doubt damaged the whole service but why won't our various SMT's show the world what is happening? Instead they do whatever is necessary to hide the mess! Our CRC has at least one of it's LDU'S being inspected for the first trimester of privet ownership. So, instead of letting the inspector's see the truth, several admin staff have been tasked, along with their normal duties to ensure that every case chosen is perfect. They spend hours and hours trying to track down vital information that wasn't received at allocation by NPS. Officers bringing cases in to do more in depth risk assessments only to find the case should have remained with NPS in the first place. Then all the additional work of a Risk Review Referral. The public will never get to hear the truth and NOMS will be provided with false information, which is what they want so they can publish to the world that TR works! Caseloads and targets are killers of staff, but they will also be killers of the public!

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  6. Please understand why many who post here say, in effect, they are now just working to pay the bills.It is because we are trying to show how far we have fallen recently. I, for one, used to love my job and was really motivated to work hard to get it right. I never felt appreciated by management but could rise above that for the good of the offenders I worked with. I think we are trying to get the point across that even the most motivated altruistic workers have been exploited by change without progress or process. We feel all we are left with, is the justification that at least we can pay our bills ( for now!).

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  7. As a po in NPS, I was asked to attend a learning evet, a briefing about RAR's. Imagine my surprise when thie presenters introduce themselves as "promoting their product."...I couldn't quite get the imagery of The Wire from mind, Stringer Bell's product being Heroin! At the end I asked if they would provide the us with leaflets for clients on the various activities on offer! Well you'd have thought I'd just taken a dump on his shoes! They looked at each other and said, the Courts have been provided with leaflets! That's handy,but what about those of us still writng 2/3 reports a week? I was advised that the NPS would have to pay for them, and I was reminded of another programme on my tellybox- The Apprentice and just as so many appearing on that show, we were being told to buy their product, without any marketing or consultation necessary! Divies

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    1. Try 5 Reports a week with some idiot NPS manager deciding that we should be able to do 2/day. Idiots.

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  8. The Institute of Fickle Studies have just announced that snake oil sales have risen several thousand percent in recent years, as has the global production of emperors' new clothes. A speaking person said: "These are the markets that UK plc have been focused on for some time now and are the drivers behind the artifice of our economic force and the layering of societal wealth whereby the monetisation of public sector provision has led to the inevitable increase of wealth layering in society through economic artifice." The speaking person added: "The general election in the UK will inevitably lead to close scrutiny of financial and economic activity and the sentinels and guardians of global markets will therefore be ensuring they keep a close eye on activitity in the UK financial and economic."

    This was brought to you by "Bullshit Today - the magazine of Corporate Crap". The Paywall closes in 5-4-3-2-1...

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    1. Thanks for the laugh!

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  9. Dreading the thought of work tomorrow. Tough times ahead. If we carry on like this I doubt I can keep going.

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    1. Used to be straining at the leash to get back after a bank holiday. Now I'd prefer to all the mundane jobs around the house that I constantly avoid. Infact I'd sooner work at Tescos then the job I have now!

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    2. Very difficult to find any motivation when you have this hanging over you.

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  10. There's a murder investigation at Wandsworth Prison

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    1. Police were called to the jail in south London on Monday morning after receiving reports a male prisoner in his 60s had been found apparently dead in his cell.Another prisoner in his 40s was arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody.Wandsworth is the largest prison in Britain and one of the biggest jails in Western Europe, able to hold some 1,800 prisoners.Since 1989 there has been extensive refurbishment and modernisation of the wings, including in-cell sanitation and privacy screens for cells occupied by more than one prisoner.But a report in 2011 branded conditions inside "demeaning", "unsafe" and "below what could be classed as decent".A Prison Service spokeswoman said: "An HMP Wandsworth prisoner was pronounced dead in hospital at 8.52am on Monday 4 May."A police investigation is ongoing, so it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

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  11. Without the reports of the arrival & shooting of the 'gunmen' in Texas, would we otherwise have heard about the 'competition' to draw a cartoon of The Prophet Mohammed? Wonder what would have won? The most humiliating? The most grotesque?

    This highlights to me the total lack of any cultural awareness in the USA. What other delights are being celebrated in their dumb, introverted universe? Who can sculpt the best likeness of God from a hock of ham? How many Vishnu-burgers can you eat in an hour?

    Please do not let the UK follow that path. I fear that economically we are becoming globalized (note the "zee"?) and that culturally we are also drifting. The media do not help.

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    1. Over here we have been so docile, you can post ( I'm assuming genuinely) that we must be respectful of someone who will put a bullet through your head, or stick you in an orange jump suit and slit your throat because someone who lives in your country drew a face on a piece of paper and called it Mohammed. Tolerating that kind of savagery is what leads to 14 year old girls being handed over to taxi drivers in Rotherham by care home staff, no questions asked. If you want to indulge that kind of cultural sensitivity, move to Saudi Arabia. Diversity training is turning out slavish, obedient and purblind automatons. Give me the 'free speech extremists' (Daily Mail website really called them that) over the islamification by stealth any day.

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  12. Agreed. There is freedom of speech and there is being a f**kwit. Provocation the results in offences does not justify them bit can be seen as contributory negligence.

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  13. The protester thst climbed on Graylings roof last year has this morning climbed up on Nick Cleggs roof with supplies for several days. Guess he wont be voting in the conventional fashon then?

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  14. After almost 25 years I'm serving (as it now seems like a sentence) the last month as a probation officer. I still remember the pride I felt when I got my first job but now feel only sadness when I think of leaving. I don't have another job to go to but simply can't face any more. What really pisses me off are those in management (many I remember coming in as new TPOs) who pretend nothing is wrong or they are teething problems. At first I believed them (I knew them to be honourable people or so I thought) but what is happening now & is planned for the future by our CRC bosses is just wrong on all fronts!

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    1. Very sad to hear this, but I know there are many others in a similar situation. Can you be tempted to say a bit more via an anonymous guest blog piece?

      Delete
  15. FROM TWITTER: -

    " Clinks ‏@Clinks_Tweets

    Clinks & @NCVO launch project to track Transforming Rehabilitation #probation reforms.Have your say: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/trackTR #TrackTR #volsec

    https://twitter.com/Clinks_Tweets/status/595490806863126528 "

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    1. Links don't work!

      Delete
    2. I tried it again and got the Tweet quoted and the Survey linked in the Tweet.

      Alternatively I Googled "Clinks Transforming Rehabilitation" which took me to a webpage where I read

      "Transforming Rehabilitation

      This webpage serves as a live resource, keeping you updated as new information becomes available. | Last updated: 5th May 2015
      Latest news

      Clinks and NCVO have announced (5th May 2015) a new project to track the voluntary sector's involvement in Transforming Rehabilitation. Over the next year we will survey the voluntary sector three times. Find out more here"

      And also had links to another webpage which had a direct link to the 'survey monkey' survey.

      I also tried Googling "survey monkey clinks transforming rehabilitation"

      and was taken to a web page containing the survey itself - which is for "voluntary sector organisations"

      Delete
    3. Looks only for voluntary sector unless you sneaky pretend to say your from a vol org to post a comment.

      Delete
  16. Off topic, but given Graylings new costs for those appearing before the courts, this article may give an indication of what success he may have in recovering them.
    I note to the mention of 'bringing in' a new company to assist recovery- another dodgy contract for an even dodgier outsoucer??

    http://m.portsmouth.co.uk/news/crime/crime-victims-owed-2-3m-as-criminals-ignore-court-orders-to-pay-compensation-1-6725663

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  17. They don't ignore court orders, in many cases, they cannot and could not ever afford to pay. Gestures can be futile even if their intentions are honourable.

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    1. Recent case in court involved theft of pasta £1 - to eat - court fee £150.

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  18. I'm just wondering why I was sifted to the crc against my will and they are now advertising for po's in the nps in our area and why the union is not jumping up and down about the absurdity of this. If we apply now we have lost our terms and conditions, not that our terms and conditions will mean much in the crux.

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  19. Sorry should read crc.

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  20. Managers. Why do we need them and what exactly do they do ?. What exactly do they achieve ? What is their purpose ?. Why does it cost so much to pay them to 'manage' a handful ( 10-20 at most ) of people most of whom are self motivating, committed, play by the rules and work on their own initiative, when PO's and PSO's are 'managing 40-60 people, most of whom are not self motivating, do not play by the rules and are often erratic in their behavior.
    Perhaps a 'manger' would like to explain ?

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  21. . It is about accountability. If colleagues were left to manage themselves unilaterally, you would have a massive variance in practice, people would have different priorities, you would lack any sense of the bigger pictures, no overall corporate direction, no inter-agency working would be viable, workload management would be impossible, priorities would be at variance across teams, although there would be no teams FFS, no-one would know where to sit, bullying would be rife (it already is in some places), no independent consultation or gate-keeping. The question is a cliché as old as the world of work. It's a naive perspective to think you can do without managers. Naive and insulting to colleagues.

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    1. " you would have a massive variance in practice, people would have different priorities, you would lack any sense of the bigger pictures, no overall corporate direction, no inter-agency working would be viable, workload management would be impossible, priorities would be at variance across teams, although there would be no teams FFS, no-one would know where to sit, bullying would be rife (it already is in some places), no independent consultation or gate-keeping".

      Aren't these all the things that TR is actively introducing? Managers or not?

      Delete
    2. There are undoubtedly creating problems by thinning out s management infrastructure that they don't understand.

      Delete
    3. Anon 23:29 a response to 21:35 that is equally, if not more so, naive and insulting. You describe not what would become but what is; all of it in place and happening , it has been for several years.

      Delete
  22. Probation Officer6 May 2015 at 00:55

    Interesting stuff over at Russell Websters blog. Sue Hall's bit on if she were Justice Secretary. See what you think. I've left a comment.

    http://www.russellwebster.com/the-probation-institutes-justice-priorities/

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    1. "If I were Lord Chancellor I’d start by following the rule of law, which Grayling finds difficult to do. I’d propose that all future Lord Chancellors are legally trained and have practice experience of the CJS. Then I’d outline the failings of my predecessor and reverse TR and the privatisation of the probation service. The privateers have already possibly breached contracts with failure to commence Through the gate provisions, failing to recruit enough staff to deliver private probation services, failing to implement the promised new IT systems, the news that one contractor has pulled out, the news of 700 redundancies, etc.

      Moving forward I’d formally acknowledge that ‘what works’ worked and put rehabilitation back into the core values and outcomes of prisons and probation. NOMS would be split, if not disbanded, and prisons and probation would become separate agencies in their own right and headed by their own minister and team. As Lord Ramsbotham said, the problem with the ridiculous Noms is that it has had no probation officers in senior positions. In my future the expectation would be that those making decisions on probation have practice experience of probation, and the same for prisons.

      On the point of prisons I’d be crystal clear that these worsened under my predecessor. Prisons should be reserved for the most serious and repeat offenders, resourced and staffed appropriately. The only privatisation of prisons should be cleaning contracts, utilities, provisions and the like, but not entire prisons. As probation showed the world until TR, a healthily resourced public service provides results. With an emphasis on use of rehabilitation and community sentences it would be possible to reduce the prison population. Excess prison places would increase ability for resettlement prisons in local areas to work. Prisons would be therapeutic and resourced so that released prisoners have the tools to go straight first time around. This means all released prisoners supervised by probation, paid jobs for those on probation with incentives for employers to make it happen, resources for housing, health and educational agencies to require those in prison and on probation are received as a priority.

      Finally, probation training would be returned to its social work roots. This would either be a requirement to complete a DipSW or for the previous TPO training programme to be reinstated with the addition of a social work element to its degree programme. It is important to have, primarily, qualified probation officers working with offenders in prison and on probation, and with victims. A new unbiased probation institute would be devised with a core responsibility to ratify the training, professionalism and continuous development of probation officers and probation training providers. It would also manage a professional register for probation officers. And we’ll send them out into the community to speak in schools, youth clubs, social clubs, pubs, in offices, at events, because prevention is better than a cure.

      Then I’d think about what I’d do on my second day as Lord Chancellor. Maybe bash the heads together of the judiciary, legal bar, CPS, prisons, probation, and work out how we’ll follow the format of progressive countries where all work together."

      Delete
    2. Well commented Probation Officer - I shall repeat my response here - Russell Webster removes what I write sometimes - so I rarely comment on his blogs now -

      " Well said Probation Officer – I did my reply in a Tweet but essentially agreed with you.

      I recall representing & speaking publicly for probation at all sorts of events – schools – invited talks – County Shows – careers conventions up to about 1989 when I moved into ILPS where there was more management and less personal responsibility on the actual probation officers for contact with the public and also sentencers.

      Far too many folk have used probation management & specialist project work to get away from the front-line.

      ALL managers should be front-line practitioners as well – such a model could work – up until the mid 1980s – I saw, even ACPO’s hold on to a few cases and also occasionally do a court duty although by then many seemed frightened of it – let me tell you about the day a a new CPO spent with me visiting landlords and other key people in my then semi rural patch of Essex (The Dengie Hundred)

      I said – don’t touch the parrot – he gave me a funny look and when the moment came- held his hand out and said ‘Pretty Polly’ and snap!

      No one knows how IT is TODAY – except those who are at the front-line today – working amidst the current regulations and culture with lawyers and sentencers practising today and clients, who cannot manage to maintain a mobile phone contract – or are in prison & have a phone stuffed up their back passage!

      Your comment is awaiting moderation. "

      Delete
    3. Someone called Brown had a go at that If I Ruled The World blog - it wasn't a bad read either, Jim.

      Delete
    4. Thanks! It was one of the first and I wasn't sure about it...

      Delete
  23. Amen to that, but I'm still voting TUSC
    Papa

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  24. Check out Russell Webster's new blog - what a surprise - PbR projects at Peterborough and Doncaster are failing. In fact Doncaster re-offending rates are higher than the national rate. RW comments how this is terrible news for the new TR providers as things usually slip further when such pilots are rolled out nationally. Oh dear.

    So when CG asks what we should do with stubbornly high re-offending rates, his answer is to increase them.

    http://www.russellwebster.com/disappointing-outcomes-for-peterborough-and-doncaster-prison-pbr-pilots/

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    1. For Purple Features and alike this is very bad news, cos their ratios of payment through results goes up as the contracts goes on. They have taken on something they didn't understand the complexity of and to make things worse the breaking up of the Service has led to extra layers of complexity and fragmentation. In short, they are going to lose money hand over fist, and the public will be less protected.

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    2. I think it may even be worse then what meets the eye at first glance.
      The offenders involved would have been carefully selected to give the best chance of achieving the statistical data required to call the pilots a success.
      The privateers who won the contracts for TR won't have a carefully selected cohort to work with.

      'Getafix'

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  25. 17 minute interview with @SadiqKhan

    Probation gets a mention but mainly Prisons & Legal Aid

    http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2015/05/06/sadiq-khan-labour-won-t-be-scared-of-taking-on-multinational

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    1. My response to the interview with Sadiq Khan mentioned above

      " Well thanks for that better than nothing but few specifics and almost nothing about minimising the damage caused by splitting up probation.

      Clearly Khan is well intentioned but whether he will have the scope to manoeuvre creatively amidst very tight fiscal controls and pre existing contracts and poor legislation is the big question.

      I like the idea about prison staff being better recognised but what about the shambles of Probation Training all mixed up with the interest groups involved with The Probation Institute - I am even more pessimistic now, but impressed by his ability to analyse.

      He will be well supported if Jenny Chapman takes on Prisons but a lot of skill and intellect is going to be needed to get the Ministry of Justice working well - first they must understand the interrelationship between prisons, probation, the courts and police and other agencies and specialists who are part of a very complex 'jigsaw' - not forgetting victim issues and the Family Courts and I expect I have missed out some pieces of the jigsaw myself! "

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