Saturday, 10 October 2015

TR Latest News 8

"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. It's a travesty that it's the people of the UK who have to pay the price whilst the perpe-traitors simply make more money & live in unfettered luxury.

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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.

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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!

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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?

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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, it's that sort of PO mentality that has seen the TR revolution in.

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

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Martin Kettle says we should all cheer Gove's reforming zeal and not worry about Cameron's hang-ups – giving the vote to prisoners would make him physically sick. Kettle thinks the Tories have changed. Had Graying been the one at the conference delivering a hardline speech, I doubt he would have been jeered. It will only take a few sensational pieces in the Daily Mail to dampen Gove's zeal. Kettle contrives to argue that this reforming stance says good things about the Tories in the 21st century. But what does Jeremy Hunt's comments (supported by Cameron) about cuts to tax credits sending cultural messages to the poor and how there can be no true self-respect if you need to receive a government subsidy. So, even the working poor are not the deserving poor where the Tories are concerned. To borrow a phrase, the Tories are genuine charlatans.

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"We are also watching a British version of something that is happening in other jurisdictions too. The penny is dropping across the western world and beyond that prison doesn’t always work." Our prison-centric friends in the kingdom of NOMS have annexed probation from under our noses (which are, as ever, pushed to the grindstone) thereby ensuring their continued existence.

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The vast majority of those clients serving short sentences, those with stubbornly high levels of reconviction, are unlikely to have sufficient time to engage in any education. They may get basic levels of reading, writing and arithmetic, 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 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, education, eduction to work, work, work, where are the jobs and the sympathetic employers willing to take a chance on our clients?! I saw someone yesterday, has an excellent level of education, a really decent work history and he was delighted to report he'd got a job, 9 hours over three nights, cleaning at one of those German supermarkets! He'll even lose £13 a fortnight in job seekers allowance but, he's thrilled!

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I won't be going (to the AGM). I was shafted into the CRC despite opting for the NPS way back when. I challenged this but received a threat from the employing Trust Chief that by pursuing my challenge I would effectively be resigning. Napo did nothing, the Chief left with an eye-watering golden goodbye. I accepted my CRC fate whilst the fanfare of a consolation prize, EVR - agreed by Napo - rang out. The CRC CEO spoke of teamwork, commitment & opportunities for all. I applied for EVR within the initial timeframe. I was told I did not qualify for the scheme. The "totally committed" CEO left with a generous package. Six months later I was told that a vast chunk of jobs were to be axed BUT without any redundancy scheme, just an alternative voluntary scheme at a vastly reduced level of compensation. I no longer work for the CRC. If I go to Conference, even at the subsidised unemployed rate, I will probably punch someone on the snout. Still, it might get Napo some media time.

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If this one isn't quorate, future conferences are going to need to be delegate-based, though how that can be achieved in the absence of quoracy is a riddle. It's a disappointing situation and as more older members leave probation, levels of activism are likely to diminish. Perhaps a member-based AGM was always more professional association than trade union.

The leadership could have done some things differently, but they should not be scapegoated for trends, such outsourcing and political hostility to trade unionism. Only a fool would see anything progressively reformist about the Tories and with regard to the unions they are positively vindictive, they are pursuing a scorched earth policy. I don't know why Napo members cannot be bothered to vote in ballots or why there was no collective will to oppose TR. The beneficiaries are the employers who must increasingly see an atomised workforce incapable of collectively asserting their interests. Sodexo have shown how easy it is to divide and rule – and get rid of staff on the cheap.

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At this point all staff know we have all been individually shafted and they must know that it is not the end, we will be shafted some more. This process will not stop until we fight back and take them on, we will be work slaves and economic paupers unless we do.

Too few were ready to fight during the TR process. Are things bad enough yet to get people to get their heads out of the sand and become active citizens? Society will continue to deteriorate until we get to the point when we understand that if we give a damn and start to organise we can beat the barstewards. Actually fighting may lift the spirit and bring vigour to the struggle. Is the Corbyn factor a sign that the young are at that point? Probation staff really should feel this moral outrage and join the fight, isn't this why most of us joined the service?

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Sad, sad, sad - probation as a profession & a concept is being deleted from history. My 24 year career was finished by the CRC. Other long time colleagues are also gone. In one office alone, 5 staff leaving meant 90+ years of knowledge, skill & experience has been lost. NPS are next, most likely becoming swallowed up by the NOMS "brand" with the loss of NPS identity. And staff are complicit with it because their jobs, livelihoods & futures are at stake. The nation has gone bonkers. 15M people watched people baking cakes & cried whilst the critical, vital unseen professional services are being eroded - probation, mental health, primary health, teaching, housing. I don't see 15M people being remotely bothered about that. In fact at our office only 4 out of 21 staff eligible to strike did so.

Every other advert on the TV is by a charity requesting "just £5 a month" to care for those with cancer, to care for the elderly & sick - basically to right the wrongs committed by uncaring politicians. Sadly due to FORESEEN but badly managed &/or ignored circumstances, i.e. CRC job cuts, all my direct debits to charitable causes have had to be cancelled. So that's a total of £100 each month that various charities won't benefit from, excluding the benefit of giftaid.

Dave claimed this is The Great British Take Off. More like the Great British Rake Off, with a nation crying into their soggy pastry while the privileged & friends stuff their faces & their pockets.

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The newsletter is cleverly worded. It even contains six explicit potshots at the MoJ. My, they must feel confident with their "7-10 years" contract in the bank. Oh how the bubbly must have been flowing.

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With Yvonne Thomas also defecting from NOMS, Interserve were a shoe-in. Remember the team players?

"Rob Kellett, Operations Director, joins from the National Offender Management Service where he has spent over 30 years in the management of large and complex prisons. He was also previously Head of Contracted Prisons.

Steve Taylor, Director of Custody, has over 20 years’ experience in public and private custodial services, most recently at Forest Bank Prison. He has a particular interest in the development of stakeholder relationships to deliver reductions in reoffending.

Simon Taylor, Commercial Director, joins from private-sector firm Sodexo, where he developed the management systems for PFI and prison contracts. He also negotiated the innovative PbR Social Impact Bond at Peterborough Prison.

Interserve has also retained Trevor Williams, the former Director of Operations, Director of High Security and Head of Contracted Prisons for HMPS and subsequently NOMS, while Christine Lawrie, the former Chief Executive of the Probation Association, and Ben Emm, who was Chief Officer of Bedfordshire and Head of the National Probation Improvement Agency for probation, are responsible for community and strategy advice."

The bubbly certainly WAS flowing as these ex-civil servants (many involved in designing this cash cow project) added to their gilt-edged pensions with massive paycheques guaranteed for "7 -10 years", all thanks to C S Grayling, Michael Spurr, smoke & mirrors... & the keys to the public purse. How they look after their own is beyond reproach.

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Another one here who will have a 'voluntary scheme' to deal with redundancies. These Q&A formats are patronising and open to planted questions. But in the absence of proper collective bargaining you get this drip-drip commentary. Understandably the workforce is worried about changes ahead; in the meantime the workplace becomes a rumour mill spreading insecurity and anxiety. And management love it this way: nothing better than a cowed and disorganised workforce. Meanwhile, junior doctors, even on the basis of the mere threat of a ballot, have already got Hunt making concessions and giving guarantees. I know doctors are an inherently more powerful group than probation staff, but they know how to organise and stand together, something that has been lost in probation. Where you have unequal parties, there are no fair and just outcomes. Purple is the favoured colour of emperors.

18 comments:

  1. Boring as no comments. Someone made a good point yesterday about IOM and it's role in the new world. This sounds interesting so let's discuss this today?

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    1. Start us off then...

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  2. I think somebody made a comment of IOM being in total confusion, as they have no partnership with CRC and PO's from NPS can no longer fulfill the partnership role as they now have generic caseloads and can't spend days at the copshop!

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  3. I just booked trains and accommodation and registered for NAPO conference. Of course its all shit, we have a relentless horrible Tory government in power, hell bent on destruction of our country and its institutions. (not overdramatising: if I was in Scotland or even Wales I would be highly motivated to separate with immediate effect). Of course NAPO could have done better. Bring on the debate, but lets get there and debate it. And lets be a Union. In fact, lets be a Union affiliated to the Labour Party. This is bigger than us as individuals, and us as Probation.

    Burning to sign this in my own name, bloody gagged

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  4. From the Express and Star - Wolverhampton: -

    " Criminal tried to hold probation officer hostage

    A criminal tried to hold a woman probation officer hostage and bit a male police officer during a rampage through a hostel for released prisoners,a judge heard. "

    PUBLISHED: October 10, 2015 8:00 am

    http://www.expressandstar.com/news/local-news/2015/10/10/criminal-tried-to-hold-probation-officer-hostage/

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    1. A criminal tried to hold a woman probation officer hostage and bit a male police officer during a rampage through a hostel for released prisoners, a judge heard.

      Stephen Barry barricaded himself in an office with the woman and held a pen to her throat at the hostel in Aldridge, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.

      The 48-year-old burst into the room before blocking the entrance with a fridge and fax machine torn from the wall said Mr David Bennett, prosecuting, who said: "The door was forced open while the probation officer had her back turned and the defendant went straight for her, pulled her round and holding a pen like a knife to her throat."

      Barry struck as police - called after he broke a snooker cue, smashed furniture and caused further damage at the hostel - were being met by other members of staff at the main entrance of the hostel in Stonnall Road on August 24.

      When two constables closed in on the room where he was holding the probation officer he tried to drag her by the hair to another hiding place but she broke free from his grasp.

      Then police pounced and he bit one of them on the wrist in the struggle before they could arrest the defendant, who had previous convictions for 199 offences and was on licence from jail.

      He was sexually abused in a childrens' home when young and snapped after passers by mistook him for a sex offender when he was seen leaving the probation hostel, said Mr Gurdeep Garcha, defending.

      Mr Garcha said: "He recognises this was an ugly incident that was fortunately short lived but there is significant mitigation."

      Barry was first sent to a Leicestershire hostel 50 yards from the childrens' home where he had been abused before being moved to a place where convicted sex offenders were also living, added the lawyer.

      Mr Garcha said: "Knowing what he has experienced in life, perhaps, one can understand why this was such a painful experience.

      "The staff said they could not transfer him and the red mist descended. It was all over in seven minutes,"

      Barry, of no fixed address, admitted affray and assaulting a Pc and was jailed for 12 months by Recorder John Freeman who said: "It is very unfortunate that you were sent to a hostel which has sex offenders but the pity is that you took this out on a woman who could do nothing about it.

      "It must have been terribly frightening for her. Probation hostel staff and police do dangerous jobs and deserve the protection of the courts."

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  5. From Rob Allen's Blog: -

    "
    Unlocking Potential

    Wednesday, 7 October 2015

    Brave New World or False Dawn? The Tory Agenda on Prison Reform "

    http://reformingprisons.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/brave-new-world-or-false-dawn-tory.html

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    1. I haven’t checked but I’d guess that prison policy has seldom made it into a Prime Minister’s Tory party conference speech. On the face of it, David Cameron’s promise that “this is going to be a big area of social reform in the next five years” should be hugely welcomed by those of us who want to see radical improvements in the way we punish people in conflict with the law.

      There’s no denying the Conservatives have come a long way since I (and Cameron as it happens) worked in the Home Office twenty years ago. When then Home Secretary Michael Howard (for whom Cameron worked as special adviser) announced in 1993 that prison works, he invited a victim of rape to address the conference. Yesterday Michael Gove was preceded by an ex offender made good and went on to say that “the best criminal justice policies are good welfare, social work and child protection policies”.

      So are we about to enter a golden age of change in which offences are decriminalised, vulnerable people diverted away from the courts, greater use made of community based sentences and shorter prison terms served in genuinely rehabilitative facilities?

      Three big question marks hang over the reform policy. First of course is the strength of the political will behind it. Gove may have complained yesterday that those sent to prison spend their sentences in enforced idleness but he was quoting almost word for word what Kenneth Clarke had told the conference five years ago. Despite Coalition with a party with a track record of commitment to penal reform , prison policy and practice was something of a disaster between 2010 and 2015. Partly this was because Clarke did not last -and there must be long odds on Gove staying the course. One wonders how widely his reforming zeal is shared- presumably not by Mrs May.

      The cynic may wonder too if the PM’s apparent conversion to the cause may be in part to prepare his troops for a climb-down on votes for prisoners. Once Cameron has taken his anti-emetic, bowed to the inevitable need to allow some prisoners at least to vote, perhaps the party will return to a more familiar stance – particularly if by then he has lost Gove his “the great Conservative Reformer”.

      The second problem is the money. Gove’s laudable desire for more education and help for prisoners to address the often catastrophic life experiences which have led them into jail does not come cheap. Even training prisons for young offenders – the highest priority in a sensible system- have been pared back so that almost half of prisoners are kept in their cells all day. On the day Gove made his speech, the Prison Inspectorate was describing Aylesbury YOI as having a very poor regime that fosters inactivity and indolence. The reason? Chronic staff shortages.

      With at least 25% further cuts to come, Gove will have to explain sooner or later how he will do more with less. He may have been able to conjure up a standing ovation by calling for better prisons but he’ll need to magic up some serious funds to create them. Selling off inner city jails may help but there are sequencing problems in that strategy - developers won’t take kindly to Gove’s brand of sitting tenants. The cynic may wonder too whether Gove’s plan to give Governors greater responsibilities may be a way of sloughing off his own. Without enough staff, the most able governors will struggle to cope let alone innovate.

      There is of course a way of solving the money problem which is to lock up fewer people for shorter periods. But this is the third and biggest problem. Cameron urged us to “get away from the sterile lock-em-up or let-em-out debate, and get smart about this”. The reference may be to the "Smart on Crime" movement in the US, but there, behind the neutral sounding slogan is some pretty serious “let em out”. Indeed the Justice Department is about to release 6,000 drug offenders serving terms now considered way too harsh.

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    2. Yet sentencing reform does not seem on the agenda here at all and restrictions being introduced on cautioning fly in the face of the first smart on crime principle which is to prioritise prosecutions on the most serious cases.

      It may be that the government will be able to pursue alternatives to prison for low level non- violent crimes; Cameron suggested that “where it makes sense, let’s use electronic tags to help keep us safe and help people go clean”. But let’s remember David Blunkett was heralding tags as Prisons without Bars a decade ago and they have delivered considerably less in the meantime. And diverting short term prisoners away from custody doesn't save you much in the great scheme of things.

      Where the Coalition government has taken action is in trying to improve re-entry to curb repeat offences. But the results of the introduction of post release supervision for all prisoners (let alone the impact of the wholesale re-organisation of the probation service deemed necessary to fund it) are not yet known.

      Lack of evidence about success may not stand in the away of a similar regime change in the prison system. Cameron’s description of prisons as “a service run by the state that all too often fails and entrenches poverty” suggests radical change may be on the way. Whether it will bring with it radical improvement must be open to doubt.

      Rob Allen

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  6. From Twitter where some tweeted from Unison National Police & Justice Conference 2015 at Brighton using: - #upjc15

    " Elisa VasquezWalters ‏@UKChile Oct 9

    "I don't envisage having a surplus staff situation as part of E3 findings" says Colin Allars #upjc15 #probation

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    Colin Allars tells #upjc15 "absolutely there is a will to make the NNC work on the part of NOMS" #probation

    https://twitter.com/UKChile/status/652416318604447744

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  7. Celui qui ouvre une porte d'école, ferme une prison.

    Victor Hugo

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    1. He who opens a school door, closes a prison.

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    2. Thank you my friend in French and lovely code. I can assure you with every breath in my life you are an enlightened soul. The naïve probation officer who does not understand this key to change in behaviour is a fool. That said there is a part to play the support encourengement and maturity of thoise wiser older experienced in life officer help make the differences. Too many mouthy younger attitude offensive women who have been recruited into a right wing training regime. The blindly helped the transformation to destruction. Back to the past recruit mature people seasoned and experienced across the board. The feminisation has a place but not this extent.

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  8. Clear off Hatton with your off topic shite

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    1. What Anon at 23;29 is off topic about Colin Allars speaking at a Unison Police & Justice Staff Conference?

      - Thousands of probation staff had representatives there and some of the reps were probation workers - PSOs - Clerics & others as well.

      Here is a link to the website - it seems as if they will be posting more about the meeting in due course: -

      https://www.unison.org.uk/events/police-and-justice-staff-conference-2015/

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    2. I don't know who you think you are Anon 23.29, but you have no right to tell Andrew Hatton to clear off. This is NOT your blog and many value the contributions Andrew makes. If you don't 23.29 then perhaps you should just STAY off the blog rather than keep attacking Andrew.

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    3. Well said 0138!

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