Friday, 24 July 2015

Lets Not Be Gloomy

I am sorry if you feel all the comments on here are negative, and we don't want to frighten any other CRC's, but we all received our letters today in SYCRC and it stirs up negativity and it is a release to read and comment, which is better than doing it at work. Thanks to all the contributers on here as if you read the comments as they are intended it gives you the information that you need.

Lets not be gloomy. 24 years ago I qualified as a probation officer (& social worker at that time), having spent two years funding myself through university, with Home Office sponsorship & several jobs (shiftwork in a probation hostel, homeless shelter, Safeway shelf stacking, labourer for a local builder). Prior to that I spent 3 years in various roles gaining relevant experience & knowledge in order to qualify for the DipSW course. I had a young family, hardly saw the children as they grew up during those years - & endured a painful divorce as a direct result of selfishly focusing on developing a career rather than spending time & money on those close to me. Some bridges have since been repaired.

I'd like to think I've been a diligent, hopefully fair & effective PO. I've experienced some amazing things; as well as some terrible things. I've met some amazing & some terrible people. But hey, nothing as life changing as TR. In the space of 18 months it's taken me from the dizzy heights of an experienced, respected professional in a low-key but fascinating career to becoming 1 of 600 unemployed, unwanted, expensive cast-offs who even the trades unions & professional associations don't give a fig about.

So not only has the UK government sanctioned throwing their nurtured babies out with the bathwater, but they've brought in hired help to do it for them. They have charged 21 unknown entities £1 each for the privilege of joining in, then handed over more than £60M of public money - plus any publicly owned assets that were lying about.

But hey, lets not be gloomy. There's plenty to celebrate... isn't there?

Yes let's not be gloomy. In a slightly contrasting journey to yours, a few decades or so ago I was released from a juvenile detention centre. Overcoming the difficulties this entailed and working in numerous jobs ranging from cleaner to shelf stacker, I graduated from university as a postgraduate. Then I chose to go into rehabilitation work and after working with a few organisations I joined probation and was amongst the early TPO's to quality as a probation officer.

Fast forward not far off two decades or so and here I am working in this utter mess of what probation's become. It was bad enough enduring the sometimes appalling and egotistical management and appalling local policies under probation trusts. And I never had any faith in governments or unions either.

I won't say which side of the NPS/CRC divide I'm currently on but the choice does not bode well on either. We've all been on tender hooks from before TR and staff morale has consistently found new lows. The NPS is a place where we're dictated to with misplaced policies, jobsworth managers and directors, constant threat of dismissal for standing up for ourselves and now imminent cuts that will lead to job losses. The CRC's are badly managed shadows of probation where we're no longer called probation officers and lied to by more jobsworth managers in order to keep the ship afloat until we're made redundant without due recompense.

Same as you, I've had great experiences in probation, have had a lot of good colleagues, managers included, and have had loads of opportunities and have a great CV to boot. My life has changed immensely and like many I learnt the hard way how to reduce the work stress and the importance of shutting off when the work day ends and spending time with the ever growing family. Like many I thought the past sacrifices were worth it as I'd found my life's calling. Now I'm back to an uncertain future and at a time I've got more bills and responsibilities then I can calculate, and back to worrying about applying for probably new lines of work with a juvenile criminal record.

I've done good work, given 200% and I have made a change in the lives of many others and seen a lot of people change for the better. I've helped countless colleagues in becoming outstanding probation officers. I can also whip out a PSR, Oasys or parole report in no time at all, chair a meeting, stand up in court, instill ambition in the wayward, cheer up those fallen into the worst of circumstances, support a victimised person, even give a theoretical kick up the backside to those needing it, though I doubt how useful a skill this all is in the real world. I can't knock probation for the opportunity it gave me, but I also know I'm also just a statistic waiting for the end in an organisation and profession I don't really recognise any more.

TR, Sodexo, CRC, NPS, Napo, Grayling, Gove - it's all a crock of shite!!! So yes I try not to be gloomy, I'm trying not to encourage gloom to colleagues whom are rightfully gloomy, but there's just not much to celebrate within work right now.

Sodexo are shareholders for 6 of the 21 companies & are shedding about 600 jobs. So are we to expect job losses across the CRCs in excess of 2,000? I would guess 2,500 won't be far off the final figure. And the average salary will have dropped by some £5k at least. Does that change anyone's perception of the need to focus on the shitstorm that Sodexo are stirring, and its implications? Or of the anger being directed at the unions (plural) who seem to be pleased with their capitulation into negotiating about the "offer"?

Agree, likely to be over two thousand staff cut at the end of the day. Key questions - WHEN were these staffing numbers agreed, and by WHO - the government, or the bidders? At what point in the process were the staff cuts financially accounted for - before the bids were won, or after? Someone must know this information, who can say? Please tell. A bidder (successful, or failed) maybe can, or someone from MOJ? Unions - do you know? Anyone?

I realise it doesn't help us, the employees - either those losing their jobs, or the folk left to work in the new world with too few resources/people. Or indeed the offenders who are undoubtedly going to be massively impacted by the new operating models. But in the interests of transparency, I think we'd all like to know - when; who; and at what point? One simple sentence can answer all these key questions.

All agreed by the point of submitting winning bids. Sodexo have already admitted as much when they spoke of having planned to lose staff through compulsory redundancies 7 months after share sale (statement issued Apr 2015); as have MoJ when they speak of having budgeted for covering loss of resources (staff redundancy) from 'Modernisation Fund'. Selous said as much pre-share sale. Previous posts have highlighted these admissions in Hansard, in press releases, the weasel words & the timelines, I find it astonishing there's next to no interest in the media, or that the Unions haven't capitalised on the discrepancies, anomalies & lies.

It makes no difference now, but one thing that gets me is that probation chiefs, senior managers, SPO's, managers and Napo all knew this was going to happen. They have their senior management meetings where advance projections and decisions are shared, which is then shared in management meetings, what affects the staff is also shared with unions. At the last minute they tell us, when it's too late, and when senior managers and favourites managers already had their EVR in the bag. We all know this is why chiefs and senior managers all took EVR and early retirement prior to TR implementation 2014. Some of these charlatans probably even worked on the Sodexo TR bid too while they awaited their golden handshakes, consultancy jobs and OBE's.

It is what it is now. Can Napo advise on the legal aspects of current entitlement for "severance" and voluntary/compulsory "redundancy" based on the current situation, and the implications of taking either now or holding out.

I recall learning somewhere that what's being offered may not actually be received by all applicants, that those left would like fall under the compulsory redundancy axe, and that Sodexo would still have the "restructuring" option in its back pocket which could be used to end job roles fullstop - do not pass go, do not collect £200.


  1. A once proud profession....R.I.P. Sad times or darkest before dawn? Is it really grab what you can and go?

  2. The problem with all of this is that the 'model' being used by SODEXO is all too familiar and many staff have experienced these 'innovations' before entering Probation. They know how it works. Dumb down, cut staff, create superficial services that tick boxes but nothing more and then sit back and cream off the moolah. It cheapens all of us and I will not be party to it. I am off as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

  3. If anyone still thinks that the government were not fully aware of Sodexo's intentions when handing them the contract, then this leaked info about a lucrative NHS contract may help convince you.
    If the Liverpool ECHO knows the privateers intentions (still at the preferred bidder stage) then the government certainly know.


      sorry forgot the link.

    2. More than 70 NHS support staff in Liverpool face redundancy under massive privatisation plans potentially worth £1bn, union leaders fear.

      NHS England plans to hand over responsibility for the country’s primary care support centres to private company Capita in September.

      Up to 29 of these centres – responsible for keeping medical records up to date and sending out letters to patients – could then be shut down, according to a leaked NHS document seen by the ECHO.

      Under the proposals, just three centres would remain open in Leeds, Preston and Essex.

      Public sector union Unison believes these plans will place around 800 jobs at risk – including more than 70 at the Bevan House centre in Wavertree.

      Paul Summers, Unison’s North West regional organiser, said: “The Tory government moved quickly after the election to privatise this important NHS function.

      “Now we learn that profit-seeking private firm Capita plans to slash jobs in Liverpool and across England.”

      He added: “The administration of patients’ records will now be done by staff who are no longer employed by the NHS and based outside Liverpool. Local knowledge and experience will be lost.

      “Privatisation invariably worsens services to the public because money is taken out as profit rather than being reinvested in the service.”

      According to the NHS memo seen by the ECHO, Bevan House will close no later than May 2016, while the first six sites to go – Chelmsford, Yeovil, Derby, Mansfield, Leicester and Lincoln – will shut as soon as December this year.

      The final sites earmarked for closure in Walsall and Hertfordshire will be axed in October 2016.

      Wavertree Labour MP Luciana Berger, a shadow health minister, said: “This is devastating news for staff who will now be very worried about their jobs.

      “The priority must be to ensure that they receive all the information, guidance and help they need in the coming months.

      “I will be holding NHS England to account to ensure that staff receive the best possible support.”

      In the leaked document, Capita says the closures are necessary “in order to meet the service improvement and cost challenges that NHS England has required of us”.

      Capita has yet to be formally awarded the contract until certain legal work is finalised, but the Government has said the firm is its “preferred bidder”.

      Unison says 931 NHS staff who work at all the primary care support centres across the country will transfer to the employment of Capita in September.

      Around 150 of these will be offered alternative employment, the union claims, but the rest – around 800 – face redundancy.

      Capita declined to comment further, saying it had not yet won the contract and is only at the “preferred bidder” stage.

      In the leaked document, the firm says its closure plans will be subject to “further due diligence and consultation... with unions and staff”.

      The contract to run the centres is reportedly worth between £400m and £1bn for up to 10 years.

      An NHS England spokesman said: “These proposals would release substantial administrative savings to reinvest in frontline health services and will form the basis of full consultation with the employees involved."

  4. There was posting here a few moments ago simply saying 'dog eats dog' but it's been removed perhaps because it was simply a cynical stab, but it reminded me of an old article on the very subject in the workplace... since when things have got worse

    “On every indicator of job satisfaction in the British workforce, ratings have dropped sharply since 1990: hours, pensions, pace of job and workloads are the obvious ones; but interestingly, for a society that prides itself on being highly individualistic, there has been a marked decline in control over our work. A majority of the workforce don't trust their bosses to look after their interests. Most damning of all, an OECD study found that we bump along second only to South Korea in our sense of insecurity - not about keeping our jobs, but about our positions in the organisation.”

    1. 25/04/2005 The Guardian

      No more dog-eat-dog

      The fears that so many of us have are unfounded. We've never had a better chance to improve our working lives.

      Sit in a busy sandwich bar in the centre of any British city at lunchtime and eavesdrop on the conversations around you. Rather than fevered discussion about the election, the subject is far more likely to be office politics. While the plots and characters vary, the dominant themes don't: the small injustices - the arbitrary, capricious exercise of boss power - and the wasting of time.
      "She appointed him because she fancied him and put him above her departmental chief," said a friend in a calm assessment of the war that is causing havoc in his office. "He's a waste of space on a fat salary, but he makes sure to give stupid assignments and to pin the blame on his underlings, while claiming the credit for anything that works."

      The interplay of these conversations is deeply familiar: anxiety and a sense of grievance is met with sympathy and (perhaps) reassurance. And underlying it, accepted by both listener and speaker, is their complete powerlessness. The absurdity of some of these office dramas can only be likened to the court of an absolute monarch: a Louis XIV handing out goodies to his favourites, who run their fiefdoms with comparable patronage.


    " NapoNews

    @IlawrenceL: Sodexo refuse to improve shoddy Severance Scheme more on the GS Blog later "

    1. More on the GS blog now:

    2. Response to 17:26

      No surprises there then - what Ian Lawrence has not mentioned is inter union consultations - acting in unison could be critical to achieving any success.

  6. of course they wouldnt improve on severance scheme!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I'm an SPO and I knew nothing about the structure and still no very little. Other than it's going to be bad

  8. 21:39 I am too, and no, I didnt know either.