Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Angry, Sad and Betrayed

The Guardian today:-

Probation officers feel angry, betrayed and sad about government changes to probation services, which last year outsourced 70% of services to the private sector, ending 100 years of being a unified public body. They also say there is no evidence that the service will be improved.

That’s the inescapable conclusion from the online survey of more than 1,300 service employees that we carried out just before probation was split in 2014. The National Probation Service (NPS) is responsible for the supervising the most dangerous offenders, about 30% of the previous probation workload, and community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) are responsible for the remaining 70%. While the NPS remains within the public sector, CRCs were contracted out to a range of different organisations in February 2015, including some large multinational private companies as well as smaller third-sector organisations.

For most of the probation officers we heard from, this was the end of the probation ideal: the marketisation of probation has introduced an unwelcome dynamic. Staff in our survey were unequivocally opposed to most of the government’s proposals and felt anger, betrayal and sadness about the destruction of a unified, public probation service.

These staff expressed strong concerns over introducing a profit motive to offender management, with some referring to the bad practices that saw G4S and Serco referred to the Serious Fraud Office in 2013 over their dealings in criminal justice. They were also concerned about the erosion of probation values in working with offenders and about the willingness and ability of the NPS and CRCs to communicate with each other effectively.

The break-up of the probation service was perhaps one of the most dramatic and radical of the wide-ranging reforms to the criminal justice system introduced by the coalition government , including significant cuts to the legal aid budget and the charging of offenders for appearing in court, which began this year.

Respondents had a clear antipathy to the involvement of the private sector and, though to a lesser degree, the third sector. The private sector was regarded as being inevitably responsible to its shareholders and the need to make a profit. This was seen as one of the major reasons why it could not provide an appropriate service.

There was no agreement with government assertions that the marketisation of services would improve innovation via the discipline of competition, with this idea regarded as ideological and without any empirical foundation.

Our respondents queried how innovation would be possible in the new fragmented probation landscape. One officer said there was no evidence to suggest the service would be improved. “We believe it will be to the detriment of the current good practice. I accept that there is always room for improvement but we need some evidence to convince us that the government’s restructure will do that.”

Another put it even more succinctly: “I can’t see that the shambles that looks to be unfolding will deliver good standards of probation work any time soon.”

Interestingly, respondents were no more kindly inclined towards the new National Probation Service, despite it remaining in the public sector as part of the civil service. There were concerns about individuals’ ability to dissent where necessary.

Much of the future of probation work is unknowable. There is some hope that probation staff, both in the NPS and CRCs, will hold on to their values, and that some of the alternative humanistic voices that were present in probation before the split will be retained despite the new structure. But there is significant concern that such voices will be lost.

There is a more general question as to whether the destruction of the unified probation service is a symptom of a wider assault on the public sector and public sector values, and a rewriting of the responsibilities and ethos of state provision in criminal justice.

27 comments:

  1. good piece, like the news but real.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Three words
    Sad, shameful and criminal.....

    ReplyDelete
  3. CRC's are crap.

    ReplyDelete
  4. ..and of course our fears have come to pass and then some. The reality of the day job in NPS now is even worse than I thought it would be when I completed the survey. I just react to the most pressing issue these days and hope the wheels stay on the cases that I can't get round to...

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Haves see that 70% as the crime of the Have nots..petty..doesnt affect us......so dont give a hoot. like librarys,childrens centres etc

    ReplyDelete
  6. We all knew it was going to be crap but I don't think any of us, however cynical, knew HOW crap it was going to be and how quickly.

    ReplyDelete
  7. For me, the chronic state of NPS is summarised by the shameful system that is DELIUS. Trying to write a PAROM is now a nightmare - I have actually cried because I cannot use it and there are no instructions that make any sense to me. It is just humiliating for a professionally qualified officer to be reduced to this level. I promise you, if you haven't tried to use delius for a parom or recall you will not believe me how awful it is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As a recording system delius is super crap! several steps to put on a contact and then you cannot trust things will save . Contact logs have vanished or 'timed out' as have reports. A PAROM 1 is a hell of a lot of work- never do it straight on delius, I work on a separate word document and copy it across-other people I know even copy and paste their contact logs as they're so sick of them not saving/disappearing. Have to 'open' up each entry to get a flavour of whats been happening-remembering to buzz down the page as it opens five inches below where you'd expect. Don't put on an 'initial appointment ' unless you can rattle off the oasis in ten days-tough if your on leave or only work part time. One of my colleagues climbing the walls the other day when two days work was lost. Another has a stock phrase-'reported and recorded but not saved in delius'

      Delete
    2. And if you are an AT user you may as well give up and go home now. New browser window for every search, times out after 7 minutes, system crashes, requires rebuild and you are out for at least a week!!!

      Delete
  8. In one area they are offering offenders £100 incentive if they complete a programme.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I don't know of any other 'profession,' who would put up with this rubbish instead of moaning on here about it why don't you all go on strike go sick?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To anon 20.14 if you don't like reading comments, don't read the blog- simple!

      Delete
  10. Completely Ridiculous Chaos7 July 2015 at 22:26

    Safeguarding training today in the CRC,,,, lots of discussion around managing and identifying risk, consultation with other professionals, information sharing etc....hour and a half back to the office for late night reporting....only to be presented with the (not unexpected) email explaining that BIU checks and pre- cons can no longer be provided to the CRC.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you serious? We can't see pre-cons? This is dangerous beyond belief. Had enough of this.

      Delete
    2. Chillingly Real Coldwar scenario8 July 2015 at 00:26

      Can't REQUEST, they have to be provided by the other side.

      (our friends the other side of the newly erected Berlinesque wall)

      Delete
    3. Announced in our office today that the CPS will no longer provide copies of witness statements, so we now have to rely on the police summarising the case properly. Can't see any problems there, especially not with domestic violence cases...

      Delete
  11. Lost entries are becoming common place after upgrades.

    ReplyDelete
  12. There is a definite shift in language from senior management since the split, with those within the CRC making the transition to talking about performance non stop far more easily than practitioners. Ultimately as a practitioner I really don't care if I miss an ISP no matter how much management go on about it, it is such a meaningless process and I would rather spend my time with someone on my caseload, helping them than be sucked into the void that is both OASys and Delius. There is nothing that senior management can do to me to turn me into the performance robot they want us all to be. I haven't got to the stage yet where I dread going into work since I still get the opportunity to work with people on a one to one basis but the day when that changes is the day that I'll be walking out. There is life out there beyond probation and as sad as I will be to leave what was once a great job, I don't feel I owe anything to our private owners and any feelings I have towards the client group, I feel sure that I can work with them in a different and more effective capacity elsewhere when the time comes. It does make me sad and angry about what has happened but we cannot remain trapped by past circumstance; striking or going off on sick when you are not genuinely ill, is not theoption. Nothing is going to change on a grand scale at this time, maybe one day when it all plays out someone will realise what a colossal mistake it has all been, but for now it is about making those individual changes for what is best for you, your health and your family. If you feel you cannot offer the high standard of service, then it is time, if you haven't done so already, to start to focus on your way out. If performance, performance, performance gets you motivated then crack on, you are now in a job where the sole purpose is to make money at all cost.

    ReplyDelete
  13. There is a blog from Napo General secretary mainly about Sodexo situation.

    https://www.napo.org.uk/blogs/sodexo-and-still-unanswered-questions

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What about the others areas all the focus is on sodexo when there are the likes of interserve, ingeus, etc

      Delete
  14. In case anyone hasn't spotted it, Sodexo's 'deadline' of 16th July is 45 days before 1/9/15 when they can make compulsory redundancies. The non-negotiable deadline is to get it all done in time for the axe to fall at the earliest opportunity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That will be for all areas, things are not going to plan with estates/IT/Staffing so got to cut to make that profit.

      Delete
  15. But its only their deadline. Its their bullying & scare tactic. We have NNC agreed terms & conditions on our side. We have MoJ Minister Selous's words in Hansard - and if Sodexo piss off Gove... don't forget, Gove didn't award the contracts, Grayling did. Gove's not necessarily tied in like Grayling was. Its bluster & threat & bullshit. I'm angry with napo for many reasons (not least being the fact a local rep tried to get me to admit unproven allegations), but we have to trust napo (& sister unions) on this NNC issue.

    Sodexo - Its a simple solution vs. a recipe for disaster: pay me off with the agreed 4.5/year:max. 67.5 week EVR funded by MoJ and I'll quietly slip away. Take the piss with your shitty cut-price offer & I'll pursue you for every penny, and some!!

    When dealers shortweight their customers, their customers never forget.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Believe It Or Not I Cared8 July 2015 at 00:21

    re pre-cons: we can't request them, we are no longer worthy, we can however read them when/if they are provided post sentence.

    ReplyDelete
  17. And a mention in passing for serco/G4S's massive fraud. Any prosecutions yet? This country is a bad fuckin joke.

    ReplyDelete
  18. VIA TWITTER: -

    " Purple Futures ‏@purplefutures Jul 7

    PF Tel Q&As Weds 4pm @HampshireCRC @MerseysideCRC @cgmprobation @HLNYprobation @WYorksProbation "

    https://twitter.com/purplefutures/status/618337624105857024

    ReplyDelete
  19. To rewrite the old Eighties joke, probation is now a Bonnie Tyler service. It works part of the time but every now and then it falls apart.

    ReplyDelete