Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Crunch Time

In a week that a reforming justice secretary makes a major speech to their political party and doesn't even mention probation once and Napo, the Professional Association and Trade Union looks to be heading for an inquorate AGM, lets remind ourselves of the situation.

It's not rocket science of course, has been discussed at length on the blog and been entirely predictable. Experienced probation staff have been leaving the profession at an accelerating rate since Chris Grayling announced the TR omnishambles and we are now in the early stages of a purge and cull as all the other CRC's take action following Sodexo's lead on the staff reduction front.

We know morale throughout is at rock bottom, including NPS as they contemplate what the government's public sector spending review will mean for unprotected departments like justice. Those staff that are left are considering their position, either by applying to fill the many vacancies appearing in NPS, part company with an obviously dysfunctional and ineffective union, or just give up, leave and move on realising that the much-hoped for and promised fair redundancy packages were just a cruel mirage all along.

Now faced with all this, together with the end of 'check-off', I think a reasonable person would expect the union to be galvanised into action, put into crisis mode and taking some decisive action to address the myriad of problems that are self-evident, not least the dissatisfaction levels of members. We know they are mightily fed up in a number of ways:-

  • Cancelling membership
  • Complaints
  • Voting turnout
  • Dead Napo Forum
  • Blog comments
  • Poor AGM motions
  • Low AGM registrations
The indicators couldn't be clearer, unless you don't want to see them of course or interpret them in some other way like 'it's all the members fault' or 'if people are unhappy there are democratic channels' or 'it's that bloody blog'.

I'm told the last NEC was a 'shambles' with important reports from officers missing. I'm also told that once keen and active members are voting with their feet and deciding not to turn up at Eastbourne this year. To be frank, although utterly understandable and in effect a 'defacto' vote of no confidence in Napo's leadership, it lets them off the hook completely as only a quorate AGM can have a fighting chance of holding anyone to account. 

Members have only a few more days to reconsider their attitude towards their union, prove me wrong and register for the AGM. It really is crunch time, both for those who think everything's just fine at Chivalry Road, together with those who don't.   


  1. Extract from version of David Cameron the Prime Minister's Speech to the Conservative Party Conference today as published by The Independent newspaper: -

    " We, the Conservatives, we are the ones who will bring you together.

    There’s another service run by the state that all too often fails and entrenches poverty.


    Now I believe if you’ve committed a crime, punishment must follow.

    And when it’s serious enough, that punishment must mean prison.

    Let’s not forget, since we came to office, crime is down by a quarter.

    But the system is still not working.

    Half of criminals offend within a year of being released.

    Nearly half go into prison with no qualifications; many come out with none either.

    And all the problems that may have led them to that life – drug addiction, mental health problems, childhood abuse – remain unchanged.

    We have got to get away from the sterile lock-em-up or let-em-out debate, and get smart about this.

    When prisoners are in jail, we have their full attention for months at a time – so let’s treat their problems, educate them, put them to work.

    When we restrict someone’s freedom outside prison, we can make sure they’re working and paying taxes, rather than spending £30,000 a year keeping them in a cell – so where it makes sense, let’s use electronic tags to help keep us safe and help people go clean.

    And when our prisons are relics from the time of Dickens – it’s time to sell them off and build new ones that actually work.

    This is going to be a big area of social reform in the next five years. And I have just the man for the job.

    The man who takes on every vested interest and gives everyone a chance…

    …the man who began the great transformation of our education system and is now going to do the same for prisons…

    …yes, the great Conservative reformer, Michael Gove. "

    he does not seem to have mentioned probation.

    1. Cameron also mention prison in his concluding remarks, he ended< -

      " Over the next five years we will show that the deep problems in our society – they are not inevitable.

      That a childhood in care doesn’t have to mean a life of struggle.

      That a stint in prison doesn’t mean you’ll get out and do the same thing all over again.

      That being black, or Asian, or female, or gay doesn’t mean you’ll be treated differently.

      Nothing is written.

      And if we’re to be the global success story of the 21st century, we need to write millions of individual success stories.

      A Greater Britain – made of greater expectations…

      …where renters become homeowners…

      …employees become employers…

      …a small island becomes an even bigger economy…

      …and where extremism is defeated once and for all.

      A Greater Britain…

      …no more, its people dragged down or held back…

      …no more, some children with their noses pressed to the window as they watch the world moving ahead without them.

      No – a country raising its sights, its people reaching new heights…

      …a Great British take-off – that leaves no-one behind.

      That’s our dream – to help you realise your dreams.

      A Greater Britain – made of greater hope, greater chances, greater security.

      So let’s get out there – all of us – and let’s make it happen.” "

    2. "Great British take-off" - that snotty shit is really taking the piss, isn't he. He couldn't deliver a pizza let alone a comedy line, and despite his promises he certainly won't be delivering any joy to the Great Unwashed.

      Still, I guess this is payback for the barefaced lies & deceptions from Blair, Brown & the LibDems. Its a travesty that its the people of the UK who have to pay the price whilst the perpe-traitors simply make more money & live in unfettered luxury.

    3. Of course there was no mention of probation - no-one understands what we do, and even if they did, there's no votes in it anyway! That's been one of the big lessons of the last 2-3 years - no-one cares enough. I for one would be perfectly glad if politicians left probation alone until the next election. They can't do anything about the CRCs, and the NPS could do without further 'reforms' right about now.

    4. NPS will see cuts its the Tory agenda to kill us all off .

  2. I'm not surprised decent probation officers are leaving in their droves. What are probation officers nowadays - snouts for Judges? I have had the most dreadful experience with the North Wales Probation Service, whereby lies and sweeping statements have been made about me with, apparently, no redress. Oh, of course, I'm forgetting the Complaints Procedure!!

    1. Did you call the PO a Welsh c**t by any chance?

    2. A somewhat cheap shot 20:52. The index offence isn't relevant to her feelings about her experience with the probation service. Unless, of course, she DID call her PO a Welsh c***...

  3. Looking at the changes Michael Gove seems to want to bring in. Why is education in prisons to replace addressing offending behaviour? One would think that there were police operations going on which meant many rich, powerful and intelligent people might be going to prison over the coming years. If that were the case perhaps these people would be stuck there if they refuse to address their offending. But what if education is the new panacea? Will they be let out having completed an educational course or two? Perhaps they wouldn't be there all that long. And now reading what Cameron has said today are they hoping that prison sentences for said people can be served in the comfort of their own homes via electronic tagging? If this is the motivation for the planned changes, does Michael know or is he being used?

    1. Are you just being naughty or are you naïve . Education Education Education is the route to rehabilitation. Enlightenment through EDUCATION. Do read up on some basic sociology . I do not agree with the tories but on getting prisoners out of cells and into a class teaching learning developing is the primary way to rehabilitate inmates. If you think a few internal POs and the odd screw is going to rehabilitate offenders in a jail environment then you need re educating. Look on down the road its that sort of PO mentality that has seen the TR revolution in.

    2. Just like being released from prison with nothing but £42 in their pocket was the mantra for TR, they used honerable arguments as an excuse for selling off probation to their friends. Do you not think they could be using education as aa Trojan horse for something else? Perhaps it is you who is naive.

    3. The vast majority of those clients serving short sentences, those with stubornly high levels of reconviction are unlikely to have sufficient time to engage in any education, they may get basic levels of reading, writing and arithmatic, they might even get some basic construction skills, but they are not getting degrees in mechanical engineering! Add to this what is rumoured to be a 7 out of 10 having some association with Personality Disorder, then the capacity to learn requires very highly skilled teachers! If you progress from education, section, eduction to, work, work,work as where are the jobs and the sympathetic employees willing to take a chance on our clients! I saw someone yesterday, hs a excellent level of education, a really decent work history and he was delighted to report he'd got a job, 9 hours over three night, cleaning at one of those German supermarkets! He'll even lose £13 a fortnight in job seekers allowance but, he's thrilled!

    4. Sorry about typos! I have a hudl, poor typing skills and rubbish vision!

  4. Cameron is just jumping onto Mr Corbins back,,running a bit scared maybe, he would never have mentioned these things, aside from locking people up, if Mr Corbin hadn't come along

    1. That's exactly what he's doing.

  5. With regard to some motions, it looks like Napo's pro-Israel lobby is upset. Whilst most trade unions are happy to affiliate to the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, some in Napo want to provide support to a country that behaves like a colonial power and runs a brutal occupation.

    1. I have no interest in the middle east as I am more interested in Latin America. Napo is not like most trade unions 07:06 The motion I saw was regarding affiliation to an Israeli trade union organisation interested in workers welfare and rights for all in the region and could hardly be described as Pro Israeli lobbying. I hope this years AGM will not be hijacked by those trendy die hards intent on sorting out the middle east at great length whatever conference they happen to be attending whilst important motions of interest to the majority of members who have traveled from far and wide to focus on probation and family court issues get lost because we run out of time. I think that is a disgrace.

      I accept Napo is part of the labour movement and as such should be more interested in making links with trade unions worldwide rather than popular pressure groups. Seems like a smart move to make links to ordinary working people.

  6. Don't worry, whilst he did not mention probation, he didn't mention CRC's either, and if all was going well there, he'd be screaming from the rooftops!