Saturday, 12 September 2015

TR Latest News 2

Here's the latest from Nick at Northumbria CRC:-

Dear Colleague

Further to Roshan's last 'Your Staffside' email, you'll be aware that the Executive team met this morning following yesterday's deadline for submission of signed settlement agreements for voluntary severance. The meeting was mainly to agree the next steps in our restructuring programme, including the likelihood of needing to implement compulsory redundancies.

Following this morning's meeting, and a further consultation meeting afterwards with the trade unions, I'm pleased to be able to confirm that we have received sufficient volunteers to avoid the need for any selection process for the following groups of staff:

Case administrators/receptionists
Probation Service Officers (PSOs)
Probation Officers

This means that the above groups of staff are no longer at risk of compulsory redundancy and will therefore not be required to attend a one-to-one consultation meeting for that purpose. There will need to be a small number of redeployments for PSOs within their current grade so as soon as we have the detail I will confirm the arrangements as to how we will progress this.

Whilst this is undoubtedly good news for some staff, there are still some colleagues where the process for compulsory redundancy will need to continue. Of course we will still work hard to do everything we can to avoid compulsory redundancies if at all possible. A key element of this is the ongoing process of consultation we have in place with our recognised trade union representatives.

Finally for now, those staff that have accepted the offer of voluntary severance by signing and returning their settlement agreement, they will receive a copy of the final fully signed agreement for their records via email. They will also receive a separate email in due course outlining the details of the Company's outplacement support package being offered.

As always I'll ensure that all staff are kept as up to date as possible and in the meantime if you have any questions then please send them to nbr_hr_enquiries.


For the second week in a row, we have another pedestrian blog from Ian Lawrence. No mention of EVR, or a cunning plan and the only bit worth reproducing appears to be this:-


News came through this week on the progress of the OM review. In a letter to the Trade Unions NOMS Chief Executive Michael Spurr outlined five key principles which underpin his aim to achieve improvements to the current system.

In the formal invitation to consultation, we have been told that the review is based on the views of HMI Prisons and Probation, over 550 employees and partners, including a wide range of prison Governors and staff, (NPS) managers and practitioners and service providers.

The key principles contained in the letter are:

1. An underpinning rehabilitative culture

‘A safe, decent and rehabilitative prison is the essential foundation for empowering prisoners to turn their lives around. We must renew NOMS’ commitment to supporting prison Governors/Directors to drive a truly rehabilitative culture in all prisons. Whilst there are notable instances of very good practice and many staff are undoubtedly passionate about making ‘every contact matter’, we are some significant way from fulfilling the challenging goal of consistency across the estate. This needs to change. ‘

2. Target resources effectively

‘The level and intensity of OM service provision should vary between prisoners, targeted where it is most needed and most effective. In particular, we need to ensure that processes and administrative activities are proportionate and that duplication is eliminated.’

3. A collaborative approach between prisoners and staff, emphasising prisoner agency and relationships with staff

‘There must be a much greater focus on personal relationships and contact between prisoners and staff, to motivate and support the prisoner; to offer hope, empowerment and opportunities to rehabilitate; to challenge pro-criminal attitudes and behaviours; to help prisoners take responsibility for their lives; and to reflect with prisoners on next steps. We also need a greater emphasis on prisoner agency and engagement in a collaborative approach with staff. ‘

4. Skilled and supported OM staff

‘OM staff must be appropriately skilled and supported, with a competency threshold for each role, including a senior manager in each establishment with the lead responsibility for OM. ‘

5. The responsibility for custodial OM should sit with the prison

‘OM staff must be accountable to the Governing Governor/Director, who should be responsible and accountable for the quality of the offender management provided to the establishment’s prisoners. OM must therefore be properly reflected within the performance framework for prisons, utilising effective performance measures that are accorded appropriate weight.’

Our views

All of the above looks to be sensible and should give rise to an interesting debate where I want us to have a strong influence on the final outcomes, so I would welcome feedback from members through their Branches in terms of how you see things. I am particularly exercised by the last of the principles following a meeting that Katie Lomas and I had with Russ Trent who is the new Governor of HMP Wrexham. I reckon his could be a name to watch out for, but I was especially struck by his positive attitude and his recognition of the important role that our members play in the rehabilitative process.

His ideas about listening to the experts and deploying their skills effectively, clearly suggests that he would like to see probation practitioners in the driving seat irrespective of the aim by NOMS to see all of custodial OM responsibility remain in the prison. In response, we were able to point out that previous attempts to reform OM had led to the patchy regime that exists now and that with the best will in the world, making the required transition will need to involve communities and practitioners across prisons and probation to make it work effectively. Russ and his allies will have their work cut out, but as always we stand ready to positively engage.

If (the soon to be constructed) HMP Wrexham is the start of a new model of OM delivery then let’s hope it becomes a beacon for others rather than just another future project for the bureaucrats and politicians to get their clammy hands on.

Napo and HMI Probation

Since the departure of Paul McDowell as HMI Probation, and the tensions of the pre-TR world, we have felt much more comfortable in our relationship with the inspectorate.

Our meeting with them last week provided us with an opportunity to get a perspective on how they see things post-TR, and for us to let them have the up to date view of the experiences of our members at the sharp end. Whilst we have broad agreement on the areas that still require attention, all of which have been covered in their last published report such as ICT, workload allocation and communication within NPS and across to CRC’s, we do have a different opinion to the inspectorate about just how long it will be before things in the NPS actually start to improve.

Meanwhile, we have released information and exchanges that they will take into consideration during their fieldwork, and we can expect another report fairly soon. We have also asked NOMS to let us see their formal response to the 67 recommendations contained in the HMIP report earlier this year. In a similar vein we have been invited to provide evidence to the National Audit Office as they embark on a Value for Money review of the TR programme. I reckon we should have a bit to say on that one as well.

Finally, here's details of an up-coming conference in Leicester next Thursday and at only £37:-

Privatisation of Criminal Justice

The Privatisation of Criminal Justice conference is to be held at College Court on 17 September 2015.

Conference aims:

  • To explore the general development of privatisation across the criminal justice system as a whole.
  • To provide an opportunity to discuss the expanding role of the private sector in criminal justice from a critical perspective.
  • To critically discuss the recent privatisation of substantial aspects of probation, policing and prisons.
  • To generate discussion and consideration of the impact of privatisation on practitioners, victims and those who offend.
Each speaker will deliver a presentation of approximately 20 minutes and there will be time allocated in each session for questions and discussion. 

Conference Themes:

Experience of the private prison sector
The probation service in England and Wales
Expansion of the private sector in policing 'back office' services etc
Nature, organisation and occupational culture of the private security agencies
Privatisation as an aspect of the deskilling of criminal justice practitioners
Privatisation and the rise of the 'risk agenda'
The role and experience of the voluntary sector as part of the privatisation process
The role of technology in the privatisation process (e.g. electronic tagging)
The impact of privatisation on penal strategies (e.g. rehabilitation)


Lol Burke The impact of Transforming Rehabilitation in one CRC area
Chris Fox The impact of privatisation on rehabilitation
Kevin Albertson The impact of privatisation on rehabilitation
John Deering The attitudes of probation staff towards Transforming Rehabilitation
Martina Feilzer The attitudes of probation staff towards Transforming Rehabilitation
Mary Corcoran Penal markets and austerity
Harry Annison The politics of privatisation
Jake Phillips The lack of resistance to privatisation by probation
Amy Ludlow Prison privatisation and service quality
Manuela Barz Education in private women's prisons
Dennis Gough New actors in the probation and voluntary sectors
Kate Williams Adaptive strategies of the voluntary sector
John Lea Privatisation and political legitimacy
Wendy Fitzgibbon Privatisation and working with offenders: the future of photovoice
Mike Nellis Electronic monitoring
David Raho Biometric monitoring

Here's a taster of what delegates can expect from Napo's David Raho, taken from Facebook. I hope he doesn't mind:-

Sodexo commissioned a review and development study from Sam King looking at how they were proposing to divide their cohorts. That's presumably where the assessment tool comes in. The documentation I've seen doesn't say what this review said and to be fair we cannot assume it was either supportive or critical of the matter being reviewed as we have not seen the actual review and Sodexo says a review was done and who did it but does not spill the beans re content and recommendations. What I have seen is an outline of the prioritised approach adopted and the resulting categories that are fairly familiar to us in terms of tiering and following the principle of resources following risk. We don't know what influence Sam's review had on this and I can only really speculate on the probable purpose.

Their service delivery solution draws on desistance theory and I don't personally have a problem with that (both Fergus and Shadd who Sodexo also refer to in their literature are good guys and long term supporters of probation). I am guessing the review was more about translating ideas from desistance theory into a coherent model for service delivery - desistance is one area of Sam's expertise. However I am guessing and have not made a detailed study of their model as my main interest is in biometrics. Presumably Sodexo's idea was to obtain an independent opinion as part of a consultation process. The devil as always is in the detail regarding what resources and form of intervention is to be deployed. Academic experts are frequently commissioned to take an independent look at models of intervention programmes etc and this certainly happened in Trust days. Often these days they are given a very narrow brief rather than carte blanche I would not want to assume that Sam was involved in an exercise to evaluate/endorse or conflate these terms with a 'review and development study' as you will appreciate they are different things. Hopefully I can have a chat with the man himself.

What interests me is the proposed use of biometric kiosk reporting. It did not surprise me they would be included in Sodexo's model as they have an established network of self service kiosks in their prisons. Sodexo are not the first or even the second CRC to use biometric kiosk reporting but uniquely linked this to job cuts. I am hoping the paper I am writing on the subject of biometric reporting (to be considered for publication) and the conference will provide a suitable forum to examine that approach to reporting in greater detail but I am not going to say much more here. However I will just conclude by saying that I have been researching biometric kiosks and their use in the supervision of probation clients across three continents for a number of years including Sodexo's system and how they are used quite differently in other jurisdictions from how they have been used in previous inconclusive small scale pilots and present proposals to use them in our own justice system. They have been found to be a useful tool in some instances i.e. as a communication device in the Australian outback or in New York where the ratio of probation staff to clients is very high and part of a system totally unlike our perception of probation supervision and reporting. 

Kiosks can certainly perform certain functions well and potentially assist in specific circumstances but claims that there is a body of independent research indicating conclusively that their use can impact positively to bring about reductions in re-offending rates is to be taken with a very large pinch of salt (if you find any let me know). Simply Google 'probation biometric kiosk research' to see descriptions of use and predictions about future technology but apart from a few media reports and opinions there is no real independently produced research of any substance and quality and very little evaluation of existing schemes. You can even find some of my own stuff from 2012 that predicted the increased use of kiosks and warned about their use and limitations but anything else is very hard to find and I think I am probably aware of most of what has been published and is in the public domain (not a lot).


  1. Nick- undoubtedly good news for some staff- cos they've escaped!

    Russ Trent- didn't he partner Pixie Lott in last years strictly come dancing? Wondered what became of him when he didn't appear in this years line up!

  2. As usual the listed conference speakers blathering on about privatisation of the penal system fails to include a single prisoner/ex prisoner who would actually be able to give the unvarnished truth about the differences between private and public prisons, which model works better etc. I can only conclude that as this happens so often absolutely no one working in any capacity in the penal system has any interest whatsoever in the perspective of the service user. If this was a business and it paid so little attention to the experience of the service user it would have gone bust within about two seconds. Whether or not you agree that probation provides a service and therefore has service users to fail to take account of the user's experience of the service provided is beyond short sighted

    1. You are right but perhaps the victims not the prisoners are the service users?

    2. The victims don't have to put up with regular probation supervision nor do they have to abide by probation's diktats on every aspect of their lives.

    3. They also didn't commit the crimes...

  3. So less OMs in community .. Great !!!

    Ps I'm so pleased Jeremy won. I'd like an emergency motion for napo agm to affiliate to Labour Party

    1. Yes but NAPO is part of the Blairist followers. We need the same kind of spirit of change like that shown in the SNP and Labour in NAPO by getting rid people and replacing with energetic and passionate people.

    2. I am up for that .


    Heidi Gilboy
    ‎Keep Probation Public, not Private

    Covering annual leave for a colleague, seeing one of their cases discuss curfew review as not done yet. Offender response to the fact it hasn't been done already... "he's not a real PO, he's a private one".

    A sign of how we're now viewed? Of things to come?


    Keep Probation Public, not Private
    10 mins ·

    We are aware that many staff got letters re voluntary settlement yesterday and were shocked to think they may be gone within weeks.

  6. I have just written to Jeremy Corbyn to ask him to pledge to take the whole of probation and prisons back into the public sector once more... and to Sadiq Khan to ask him to speak to Mr Corbyn and remind him what promises he made to us prior to the last election.
    C'mon folks let's get campaigning again...

    1. I was rather interested/worried that the Justice system didn't get a mention whilst he was doing his campaigning - I'd guess that the only way for probation to get back to what it was will be to see the CRCs fail, and the rump NPS grown out of necessity to pick up the slack. Assuming we aren't replaced by kiosks in the meantime.

    2. Criminal justice issues just don't interest most people, sad to say. One of the reasons why the anti-TR campaign never got wider traction.

    3. The demonstration we had in the (at the time) LRPT area didn't even make local news :-(

    4. He mentioned the prison system in his speech today

    5. Yes it did 19:49. It didn't make a bit of difference but it did get on a number of news outlets including local paper, local radio and regional tv.

  7. Good one . I will do the same

  8. Yaaay - at last a positive bandwagon. I will be joining the labour party asap - for thirty years I have had no faith in politics - thatcher, new labour, lib demo and tories but at last there is leader of a political party that I actually believe. Yaaay

    1. I agree. Never voted Labour but with Tom and Jerry things can get better and I will vote Labour next time

  9. Brilliant. Go Corbin. Hope at last.

  10. So he did it - good for Labour, bad for their electoral hopes. Don't want to pour cold water on this , but the last time we had a Labour with similar policies, did we get them? Or did we getThatcher, yuppies and even weaker unions instead? I think in the cold light of day, the best that can be hoped for is mainstream politics are pulled away from their increasingly right-wing course and rebalanced. I'm not putting money on seeing Prime Minister Corbyn after the next election :-/

    1. That was a different time and a different kind of social attitudes. In the new world of instant information, social media, differing attitudes and the gap between those who have and have not has widened means that there is now everything to play for.
      This I feel is an era of a new type of politics. People have wiser up to the corruption that settles in to those in power such as probation leaders. People will be making their voices heard. The time is now.

  11. I think we can look forward to some good debates come Monday - stop the trade union bill. At last a Labour leader not embarrassed to praise unions and their contribution :)

  12. and don't forget the benefit of the younger voting public feeling they have someone to support at last......

    1. What are you on about? I'm a younger voter and I can't envisage ever voting for somebody who is actually seems proud to describe themselves as a socialist (as opposed to ashamed, which he should be.)

    2. what I was "on about" was the anecdotal evidence from my own student children and their of course the research done by the Labour Party and media (eg Guardian last week) that confirms that under 25s have been engaged in politics by the election of Corbyn. Replicating in many ways the surge in Scottish politics in the general election. Hope that helps you understand?

    3. Someone should be ashamed for expressing their political beliefs? What a very silly thing to say, Anon 22:49.

    4. Anon 22:49 . 'Ashamed to be a socialist' (?) Your values probably mean your clients do not get the best service and therefore neither will the public.
      Jeremy may not be able to save probation but I think his voice and the movement he represents will help to improve the lot of many of the people I supervise whose lives are utter misery under the present regime. (Unless they are committing financially motivated offences that is) . This will help to make my job easier and will in the long run 'protect the public' more. Its 'joined up thinking' (Lord I sound like management!) How do you see your role anon 22:49?

  13. And don't forget he is a friend of Probation, The people's flag is flying high tonight. If a movement is developing and I think it is become part of it, we can't win a New Jerusalem from in front of the telly.


  14. I'm thinking of starting my own charity to help offenders - but where will I get the machines...?

  15. Not a lot of notice taken of the total and loaded blog by the GS again then ? No wonder he gets away with doing nothing that makes a difference. Read ! He says
    "All of the above looks to be sensible and should give rise to an interesting debate where I want us to have a strong influence on the final outcomes, so I would welcome feedback from members through their Branches in terms of how you see things" I think he said stupid things like this as he went along with the TR agenda. Read it properly they are going to axe more staff so none of it looks to be sensible unless your an idiot. If your the union leader then it should be sensible to look to resist the agenda not talk it up. The don't respect you for being a cheesa maybe a real diplomatic fighter. We need a GS who has some idea.