Thursday, 14 May 2015

Time For Another Break

Regular readers will recall that I went off to Berlin for a week last year and you all had to be trusted not to be too beastly to each other. Well, as this comment ably demonstrates, you can't please all the people, all of the time:-

Bored now.
Your horse didn't win the race.

Not the most erudite of contributions admittedly, but as it happens perfectly timed because I'm off again for at least 10 days. I will have internet access throughout, but feel somewhat under a self-denying ordinance to try and knock on the head the temptation to keep dipping in. Obviously, if something dramatic happens that might relieve the boredom felt by our disgrunted reader, rest assured I'll be on the case.

Before I sign off, I have another appeal for information as follows:-

In relation to the blog entitled 'Assessment Special' last November and concerning SARN, if any readers have direct involvement in helping develop treatment plans based on the SARN, and are not prevented from openly discussing your experiences, please contact Kush on

So, look after each other, keep the info coming in and think about the offer of writing a guest blog.


  1. Gosh was that a year ago that you went to Berlin ? How time flies.
    Have a great break

  2. Saw this as soon as I pressed the publish button:-

    The Supreme Court has said that councils must do more to help single homeless people, in a landmark ruling.

    The court found that local authorities were failing to recognise homeless people in vulnerable situations. Ruling on the cases of three homeless men, the court found that one, Patrick Kanu, was wrongfully denied care.
    The court said councils assessing the needs of single homeless people should compare them with an "ordinary person" rather than another homeless person.

    The decision will change the "vulnerability test" by which councils decide which homeless people should be provided with housing. Before today's ruling, councils assessed potentially vulnerable people by comparing them with a so-called "ordinary homeless person".

    That led to situations in which single homeless people suffering from problems including depression and suicidal thoughts were deemed not vulnerable because an "ordinary homeless person" might be expected to suffer from those problems. The comparison meant that Mr Kanu was deemed not to be a priority for housing assistance when he applied to Southwark Council last year, despite suffering from "multiple physical problems as well as psychotic symptoms and suicidal ideation".

    Mr Kanu - along with two other men, Craig Johnson and Sifatullah Hotak - took their cases to the Court of Appeal but the court upheld the decisions made by Southwark and Solihull councils. All three men then took their cases to the Supreme Court, which found on Wednesday that Mr Kanu should have been deemed a priority. It ruled that Mr Johnson and Mr Hotak should not have been, but suggested that Southwark council look closely at its protocols with regard to Mr Hotak.

    The change in the "vulnerability" assessment will lower the bar for those suffering from various problems and clear the way for them to be given priority status by their local council.

    Giles Peaker, a partner in the housing department at Anthony Gold Solicitors, told the BBC it was the "most significant judgement in homeless law on vulnerable people in the past 10 to 15 years".

    "The ruling makes it more likely that vulnerable, single homeless people will have their vulnerability taken seriously and it clears the way for them to go into priority need," he said. "Vulnerability had become almost impossible to demonstrate but this now gives purpose to the original intention of the law that people with more risk are given accommodation."
    Evidence provided to the court by the charity Crisis showed that the average age of death for a homeless person is just 47. They are nine times more likely to take their own lives and 13 times more likely to be a victim of violence.

    Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis said: "This ruling represents a major step in tackling the injustice faced by so many single homeless people in England today. The reality is that anyone sleeping on the streets is vulnerable, and we applaud today's ruling for making it easier for people to get help."

    Campbell Robb, chief executive of homeless charity Shelter, said: "At the mercy of an almost impossible test, thousands of vulnerable homeless people have been forced to sleep rough or [been] pushed into dangerous situations. "Today's landmark ruling should make this a thing of the past, and mean the law rightly acts to protect those who need it most."

    1. our council's appalling - only help if you're female and 39 weeks pregnant. Their default position is always to send people to the night shelter in the city which is 5 miles away.

  3. just as I entered a question in comments, on the previous blog, Jim added a new blog!! Can't keep up with the man!
    My question was - does anyone know what happened to the Guernsey job? Has anyone had an interview?

  4. Purple Futures have issued new guidance for Oasys:

    1) all standalone UPW to have basic layer within 10 days

    2) all ISPs to be completed within 10 days on the info to hand.

    3) when ROSH & RoR are both low then no need to fill in text boxes - just score sections 3 - 13.

    4) if criminogenic ROSH fill in appropriate text box.

    5) if after 10days info from FCIU etc still missing the ISP must be locked and a review must be done within 8 weeks.

    6) OMs to make assessments concise, no need to write numerous paragraphs;

    7) Section 2 needs completing fully

    8)A risk of harm screening is to be done in all cases

    9) all isps must demonstrate client involvement ie include ENAM/SAQ items in the sentence plan

    10) all sentence requirements to be included in the plan

    11) Always put delius entry that oasys has been completed - this can be done prior to oasys countersignature as we are being marked on timeliness and not quality!!!!!!!

    Definition of ROSH: many offences of assault where an injury's been caused which isn't life threatening or traumatic and where recovery will not be difficult or impossible are not viewed as 'serious' therefore no ROSH needs completing because although the offender poses a risk it is not a serious risk. We're to avoid using 'risk of harm' and focus upon risk of SERIOUS harm.

    Despite the rights and wrongs of the above it is going to save me some serious time.

    1. Yes until your interviewed for an SFO and you will be asked "serious" questions about your assessment and your ability to risk assess.

    2. I don't think so as the assessment is based on the information to hand ie even if it's an assault so long as no harm done then we're clear. We are no longer expected to have crystal balls and that will always be my defence.

      Very interesting the timeliness is prioritised over quality. Oh my word!

    3. SFO's will not be about crystal balls. It will be about information that is already available but the worker 'failed in their duty to investigate further'.

    4. but we're being encouraged not to enter text in boxes and only to score. Therefore keep delius brief and they will have to prove we were aware of information and didn't investigate. Don't forget if its not written down it didn't happen.

    5. Sounds dreadful. How can they demand that! They dont know anything about oasys and ROSH

    6. I agree with your comments 21:23 although i would have to question what kind of culture are we being made to develop and what is our responsibility in that. Yes you have to look after yourself but we also have a responsibility to challenge the oppressive nature of our working environment in which we are required to practice. We can't let our professional integrity become undermined. Important to raise the issues of good and safe practice at every team meeting and at every supervision meeting. Self refer to occupational health and leave a paper trail of evidence of concerns. Have it recorded and have it documented, so when something does happen you can say..." see i told you so but I was ignored in favour of profits for shareholders".

    7. Thank goodness, some sense at last. Hopefully this will provoke a long overdue review of exactly what risk of serious harm, and what is meant by high,medium and low is actually meant to be about. It wouldn't hurt to get people to actually read Oasys before filling it in either, ie; it says insert language if other than English and what is consistently in the box ? , Provide the exact detail of the offence it says and what is in the box ?, not the exact detail, the why and how. Risk of serious harm,insert detail of the most recent offence/ behavior that raises the risk of serious harm and what is in the box?,the current offence is not indicative of serious harm or the pulled through detail of the current shop theft. Over the page in previous behavior is the sentence along the lines of convicted of , lets say, Indecent assault, no detail available.( detail there in full in the assessments completed when that was current ), but hey who has time / cares enough or even thinks of reading the previous sentences assessments. Oh and score the sections according to the analysis in the guidance, rather than 0-2 as least to worst. ( It's guaranteed that there is at least one person happily completing assessments, hitting the targets, doing it without even speaking to the person concerned, oblivious to the impact of what they write on the person concerned,( bet they would love to be told in supervision that they have a number of 'deficits' ) and is totally oblivious to the existence of help and scoring guidance. Oh and don't forget that if it's written down it certainly doesn't mean it DID happen.

    8. Oasys at birth was a somewhat agricultural tool which was originally a useful concept, i.e. Bring all assessments together in one place.
      Oasys now? Try to imagine a transatlantic aircraft intended to carry 500 passengers with all modern luxuries, but built upon the original Wright Brothers' flying machine.

      Its utter bollox, well intentioned but nevertheless bollox. And worse still, NOMS got their grubby mitts on it & decided to build in a spy network. Result - uberbollox.

      22:13 raises good points but its difficult to make those points because of the complexity of the bolloxing stoopid tool and the lack of clarity of definitions. How many different systems now refer to "risk" as high, medium or low? How many different forms of "risk" are there - serious harm? Serious sexual harm? Serious psychological harm? Red, amber or green? Reoffending - same type of offence? Any offence?

      For me, the tool should be an ever-expanding chronologically aligned single record. No locking off, guillotines or multifarious versions where data is abandoned or deleted - simply one continuous rolling assessment with key milestones/markers, e.g. new offence, start of order, new offence, hospital admission, transfer to prison, release, etc. Then, at any point, assessors can review without having to close & open multiple documents hoping to find if/where/when certain data was entered/deleted.

      Recent example - new case,name was familiar, looked at last oasys, nothing to link with what seemed familiar. Out of curiosity I looked back at random assts as far as records went and found one with mental health report attached. All reference to that had been deleted on the subsequent oasys and thus any "pull thru" after that contained none of that vital information. I have now resurrected that historical information because it informs the why & how of risk to female staff. Last known officer told me "it all makes sense now. We couldn't work out why he kept on about being a risk to women when his offences were shoptheft."

  5. From our wacky friends over the pond:

    "People that are on probation or parole should still be allowed to use legal medicine. Just because someone is in the criminal justice system doesn’t mean that they don’t suffer from various conditions or ailments. Marijuana is a proven form of medicine, and if someone qualifies for a medical marijuana program to use it, they should be allowed to do so. To prevent someone from using medical marijuana, while on probation or parole or otherwise, is non-compassionate. Colorado’s Legislature and Governor agree, which is why they recently passed House Bill 1267. Per The Joint Blog:

    Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has signed House Bill 1267 into law, allowing those on probation or parole to use medical cannabis.

    Although medical cannabis has been legal in Colorado since voters approved Amendment 20 in 2000, the use of the medicine while on probation or parole has remained prohibited. House Bill 1267, which takes effect immediately, changes that.

    This is a common sense move by the State of Colorado. Colorado joins Arizona and Rhode Island in allowing those that are on probation or parole to use medical marijuana. This will help countless numbers of people in Colorado, who might otherwise turn to much more harmful substances in an attempt to mask their conditions. I really hope more states follow suit, including my home state, Oregon."

  6. "I have nothing against these trainee's, many are talented and committed to doing the job but I'm concerned that they are all under 25 and female. I saw one on twitter complaining about having to clean her room. If that's all that worries her in her life, how can she relate to the cases she's supervising."

    Firstly this sounds like one of them statements 'I am not a racist...but..." This kind of judgement of trainees is awful. I have been patronised so much since I joined as a TPO as you call it. I am not under 25 and even if I was I left home at 16, was in the care system, became homeless, struggled with substances, was cautioned, have been a victim of crime and had gone through an awful lot by the time I was 25 and had worked in various partner organisations. If a trainee wants to rant about her room on Twitter that is up to her, a simple tweet is not indicative of her outlook on life (And no it was not my Twitter account...but why are you spying on trainees anyway?). Some people do not take the internet too seriously.
    If anything I find it disgraceful to Probation that your negativity of people that have been brought in to train under immense pressure to help you with workload is so obvious to us trainees and we feel in the way of the constant rants of some long term POs.
    Then you go and tell offenders to change the way they think and behave. Since I joined I have observed the worst hypocrisy in staff I have ever seen. We had to pay nearly £40k for our degrees when I am certain those studying way before had grants didn't they? Also this moaning about work constantly makes me sick as most of us have been shoved around on zero hour contracts for years before getting into is worse out there. Not denying your right to be annoyed that things are changing, but you are asking offenders to accept change but can't seem to cope with it yourselves....Do not judge someone on their age or gender. You do not know what they have seen in their lives.

    1. Interesting comment from Anon at 14:52.

      I am long retired but was 22 when I applied to train to become a probation officer in 1972.

      Sadly the career he or she is starting is very different to the one I left in 2003. Many current POs were employed to do one job and are assumed to be willing and capable of working in the way that is now required.

      I can see no easy solution, but commiserate with both groups and apologise as it is my generation that enabled the political system that has so destroyed much that was good about living and working in the UK.

      I listened to similar tales of woe on R4s You & Yours programme today.

      I grew into a world where though there was uncertainty - we really thought we might all be blown to smithereens in October 1962 - there was also the possibility of stable accommodation and employment, though not enough for all and dependent on hard work, application and a bit of luck.

      For me probation, even at 22 was a 2nd career, I had worked for 6 years as a bank clerk, before I applied to train.

      I had saved from my first month's pay when I was 16 and got a mortgage as soon as I was able - when I was 21, then I wanted something different and went into probation training, knowing if it did not work out, I could fall back on bank clerking. The job of probation was VERY different, it changed bit by bit from being very much social work based, to becoming largely one of a team of community sentence enforcers & monitors, which is not what I was suited to do.

      I guess I was fortunate in that as I resisted and conflicts occurred, resulting in great distress for me, when I burnt out, I was able to take early retirement. For some who came to probation at the same time as me or soon after the retirement route out was not available.

      Now they find themselves in a job that is no longer satisfying to do with 'escape routes' cut off because, as a consequence of the politics of the last 50 years, the UK is economically different.

      I think folks who are going to need to earn an income from their own efforts for some while are best to get politically educated and engaged as I fear the last general election suggests that the good years of the latter 20th century are gone for a long time, despite all the modern gadgetry and entertainment.