Saturday, 21 November 2015

Inquiries Here, There and Everywhere

First, news that Gove has written to the House of Commons Justice Committee in relation to the preferred candidates for the two vacant HMI posts:-

As you are aware, I am responsible for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation. Further to our correspondence before the recruitment process began, I am pleased to put forward my preferred candidates for the Committee’s consideration: Peter Clarke for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Glenys Stacey for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation.

Peter is a retired senior police officer, who served in the Metropolitan Police Service for more than 30 years. He rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner and also served as Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. In 2014 he was appointed Education Commissioner for Birmingham, with a remit to conduct an inquiry into the allegations concerning Birmingham schools arising from the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter. Peter is currently a member of the Board of the Charity Commission.

Glenys is currently the Chief Executive of Ofqual, the exams regulator in England. She is a solicitor by profession but also has 17 years’ experience leading public sector organisations, having previously served as CEO of Standards for England, Animal Health, the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Courts Committee and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In August this year, she announced her intention to leave Ofqual when her term comes to an end.

Candidates were informed prior to appointment that the positions were subject to scrutiny by the Justice Select Committee. As you are aware the hearing is non-binding but I shall consider the committee’s conclusions before deciding whether to proceed with the appointment.

Clarke has been a very busy chap since retiring from the police:-

New board members appointed to Charity Commission 22 May 2013

Mr Clarke is a retired senior police officer. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service where he was Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. Previous roles included Head of the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Department and Deputy Director (then Acting Director) of Personnel for the Metropolitan Police. He is a trustee of Crimestoppers, a patron of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London, and a non-executive Director for the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Rob Allen has his concerns and it's probably worth bearing in mind I'm pretty sure he broke the story about Paul McDowell's family connections.This from his recent blog post on the matter:-

Whatever one thinks of Clarke, it is disappointing that the opportunity has not been taken to make the post of Chief Inspector of Prisons more independent of government. Last year Hardwick told the House of Commons Public Administration Committee that being appointed by and reporting to the Ministry of Justice is “by its nature incompatible with full independence” and proposed direct accountability to Parliament. The Committee recommended as much in their report but just before the election, change was rejected, with the MoJ arguing that allowing the inspectorate separate offices and a website plus more freedom to recruit its staff were sufficient to “reflect the unique watchdog status of HMI Prisons”.

At the same time, as if to amplify concerns about independence, the Justice Committee were involved in a spat with Chris Grayling over the selection of Hardwick’s successor. The fact that the two "independent" members of the selection panel were revealed to be tory activists, led the Commissioner of Public Appointments to promise to amend the rules about panel membership. In the event no appointment was made but now that it has been, the Justice Committee will no doubt want to know who made it.

What else might they ask when Clarke comes before them for a pre appointment hearing? Most of their questions will no doubt focus on the skills, experience and values he will bring to a post which many consider as one of the foremost human rights monitors in the country. But there are three specific matters they would do well to raise.

First they will need to establish whether Mr Clarke has any family relationships that might cause a conflict of interest, such as that which ended Paul McDowell’s time as Probation inspector (and about which the Committee regrettably failed to inquire at the material time).

Second they might want to ask how being an ex-police officer could affect his judgement. After all inspection of police custody suites is an important role of the prison inspectorate these days. Former prison service staff are ineligible to be Chief Inspector of Prisons, but ex police officers seemingly not. His investigation skills will not be in question but will his impartiality?

Finally, they may want to ask a bit not only about how his experience in counter terrorism might affect his attitudes to the treatment of Muslim prisoners but about his other police roles too. For example he was deputy then acting head of personnel at the Met in the early 2000’s. Today the Met admitted that that there had been no proper management of the deployments of undercover officers, even after the introduction of supposedly stringent legal controls. Was that debacle any part of Clarke’s responsibilities? Lets hope not otherwise he will be busy contributing to Lord Justice Pitchford's inquiry.


It must only be a matter of time before the awful Criminal Courts Charge introduced by Grayling gets the chop. The Justice Committee have pronounced:-

Justice Committee report concludes that the Government should bring forward legislation to repeal the criminal courts charge.

Report: Criminal courts charge
Report: Criminal courts charge (PDF 243KB)
Inquiry: Courts and tribunals fees and charges
Justice Committee

If the Government is unwilling to abolish or radically reduce the levels of the charge, the Committee recommends that as an irreducible minimum, judges and magistrates should be given discretion to decide whether to impose the charge, and on the amount, in accordance with individual circumstances.

The Committee's main concerns are:

  • The levels of the charge being grossly disproportionate to the means of many defendants and to the gravity of the offences in relation to which it has been imposed
  • The lack of discretion given to judges and magistrates on whether to impose the charge and if so at what level, creating unacceptable consequences within the criminal justice system
  • The creation of perverse incentives for both defendants and sentencers
  • The detrimental impact on victims of crime and on the CPS from reduced awards of compensation and prosecution costs
  • The capacity of the charge to raise the revenue predicted by the Government, and the effect on respect for the legal process of levels of non-payment
Chair's comment

Justice Committee Chair Bob Neill MP said:

"The evidence we have received has prompted grave misgivings about the operation of the charge, and whether, as currently framed, it is compatible with the principles of justice. In many cases it is grossly disproportionate, it fetters judicial discretion, and creates perverse incentives - not only for defendants to plead guilty but for sentencers to reduce awards of compensation and prosecution costs. It appears unlikely to raise the revenue which the Government predicts. It creates a range of serious problems and benefits no one. We would urge Michael Gove to act on our main recommendation and abolish it as soon as possible."

Witnesses to the inquiry who gave oral evidence on the subject were critical of it, as were those who referred to it in their written evidence, except for the Ministry of Justice.


The Committee have launched an inquiry into Restorative Justice. The Chair Bob Neill has written a guest blog for Russell Webster and the terms of reference are as follows:-

The Justice Select Committee introduces inquiry into restorative justice

We welcome submissions by 31st of January addressing this subject. The Committee welcomes views on any aspects of the use or potential use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, but would be particularly interested in submissions addressing the following points:

  • Progress made by the Government in implementing the Restorative Justice Action Plan 2014, including any changes that have been made to this plan
  • How the entitlements to restorative justice in the Victims’ Code are working, and their implications for any such entitlements in any future Victims’ Law
  • The impact and effectiveness of the National Offender Management Service’s restorative justice programme to promote the development of victim-offender conferencing
  • The effectiveness of delivery of restorative justice across the range of service providers and funding arrangements, including provision made by Police and Crime Commissioners, the Prison Service, the National Probation Service, and Community Rehabilitation Companies.

Finally, with increasing attention being drawn to rising numbers of deaths in custody, it's probably worth mentioning another of Gove's appointments :-

Although not subject to pre-appointment scrutiny, I would also like to take this opportunity to draw to your attention to the appointment of Kate Lampard, CBE, as the Interim Chair of the Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody.

Kate is a former barrister and former deputy chair of the Financial Ombudsman Service. She was previously appointed by the Secretary of State for Health to provide independent oversight of the NHS’s investigations into Jimmy Savile’s activities, and to produce a ‘lessons learned’ report. She was also commissioned by Serco to lead an independent review into the culture of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. She currently serves as a senior non-executive director in the National Health Service. She will serve for a period of 6 months from 16 November 2015, during which time a public appointment exercise will identify a permanent Chair.

There is also the enquiry recently set up by the Home Office into deaths in police custody and discussed here in a blog post by Russell Webster:-

There are three terms of reference:
  • to examine the procedures and processes surrounding deaths and serious incidents in police custody, including the lead up to such incidents, the immediate aftermath, through to the conclusion of official investigations. It should consider the extent to which ethnicity is a factor in such incidents. The review should include a particular focus on family involvement and their support experience at all stages.
  • to examine and identify the reasons and obstacles as to why the current investigation system has fallen short of many families’ needs and expectations, with particular reference to the importance of accountability of those involved and sustained learning following such incidents.
  • to identify areas for improvement and develop recommendations seeking to ensure appropriate, humane institutional treatment when such incidents, particularly deaths in or following detention in police custody, occur. Recommendations should consider the safety and welfare of all those in the police custody environment, including detainees and police officers and staff. The aim should be to enhance the safety of the police custody setting for all.
The role of Inquest

The Home Secretary also confirmed that there will be a formal role for INQUEST, a charity that offers advice to families bereaved by death in police custody. Deborah Coles, Director at INQUEST, has been appointed as a special adviser to the chair and the charity will:
  • facilitate family listening days so that the Chair can hear evidence first-hand from those who have lost loved ones in police custody to ensure their views are taken into account.
  • play a leading role on an advisory board which will offer expert advice to the Chair during the course of the review.


  1. It's a pity that there's not an enquiry into the whole omnishambles that TR has become and that its Chief Architect seems to have escaped sanction of any kind.......

    1. I suspect there will be a gradual drip of negative information from HMIP over the next year or so (though probably dressed up as a shit sandwich), and next autumn we'll start seeing the re-offending figures rising, once the time lag catches up to the start of the CRC era.

  2. Mr Grayling has escaped any responsibility for the complete mess he has made of justice while he was it that post.

  3. More importantly. I was delighted to see everything I said about the corbyn lovers was right. He has destroyed the labour party. Internal fighting and all sorts. What a mess.

    1. Corbyn isn't destroying the Labour party. It's those MPs who were quite happy with the political consensus as it was, and who now can't accept a democratic decision by their own members, who are causing damage, along with old dinosaurs like Blunkett and John "not fit for purpose" Reid who should accept that their opinions are as extinct as their political careers.

  4. Grayling should be exposed for the fool he is......and it's starting to happen yipeeeee!

  5. Grayling has moved on. So should you guys. Embrace the changes and accept the new world and you will be so much happier.

    1. With a comment like that, I bet you went to see Suffragette at the cinema and sat through it thinking "if only these women would just accept that's the way the world works, they'll all be much happier".

  6. Lol @ at 13.25 clearly on a wind up mission. Just wait til you've got no competent staff left.. The new people taken on to replace experienced staff are buckling. Several in tears last week unable to see how they can continue. Well done.

  7. to Anon 13:25 he might think he has ( and so might you)......but suddenly his chickens are coming home to roost and he will be held accountable for destroying probation and the resultant massive waste of public funds. History will look unkindly upon him and the vedict on government at the time will be a 'how on earth could they have let him get away with this' .

  8. as a retired PO who has been avidly and so sadly keeping in touch with the devastating goings on in Probation, with updates from former colleagues, friends, newspapers, the internet, and especially this Blog, I am surprised that there has been no mention of an opportunity to record your experiences of TR, in the Probation Journal. This was highlighted by Stephen Collett on 18 Nov on the Probation Officer @PO Twitter website ie -great opportunity for practitioners and managers to contribute to the debate on TR - 'call for short informed papers on experiences of Transforming Rehabilitation - to be published in June 2016 -Reflections 2 years on'.

    The link is on that tweet.

    Get your pens/laptops out asap folks, and give it like it is. It is all starting to come out now, sadly too late to go back, but it CAN be given a decent overhaul, for the sake of victims, staff, clients and the whole community. We have enough nutters destroying the world. Let us do our little bit to make it a slightly less dangerous place.

    and good luck.

    1. Thanks ML, hadn't seen that.

    2. Lovely thought and I have a lot to tell. Trouble is I also have a pension to protect and a good few years left to work. Anyone putting their head above the parapit breaks the civil service code and will be out the door quicker than you can say Stalinist police state. Why do you think everyone posts anonymously on here? Sorry mate, and PJ, don't think you'll get many takers.

  9. So much is in the public domain yet nothing changes:

    "Our senior politicians are providing patronage to their friends and family, while enjoying a level of wealth and privilege that means they have no comprehension of the daily lives of the people they purport to represent.

    Prime Minister David Cameron is a lineal descendant of King William IV, great grandson of a 1st Baronet, grandson of a 2nd baronet, son of a stockbroker and an aristocrat. He was gifted with an Eton and Oxford education, and one might argue his career in politics, through sheer privilege of birth. He enjoys the benefits of a family fortune made in tax havens.

    Cameron has never had to budget, never faced the kinds of ‘touch choices’ of which he often speaks, never worried if he would be able to feed his children, never felt the panic of staring at incomings and outgoings that will not balance. Neither is he listening to those who have, are and will, thanks to his policies.

    Chancellor George Osborne is heir apparent to the Osborne baronetcy, educated at St Paul’s School and Magdalen College Oxford and recipient of a £4m trust fund. He got an awful lot of something for nothing.

    On becoming Chancellor in 2010, he quickly ‘flipped’ his first and second homes to claim over £100k of taxpayer money for interest payments on a mortgage for his £455k Cheshire pad. He later sold the home for over £1m having made improvements partly funded by taxes. He also claimed taxpayer money to cover payments on a horse paddock for the property.

    When Osborne undersold the Royal Mail for less than half its value, meaning investors could buy the stock at knock down prices and sell it on almost immediately at a profit, one of the chief beneficiaries was his Best Man Peter Davies – who made £18m in a few short days.

    Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan-Smith lives rent free in a £2m country estate owned by his aristocratic father in law. Whilst claiming he could live happily on the £53 a week some unemployed job seekers receive, he has claimed £39 on expenses for his breakfast.

    In the Betsy Gate scandal of 2001, it was revealed that the tax payer was paying £15,000 a year for Duncan-Smith’s wife to become his ‘diary secretary’. There is ample evidence that Betsy didn’t perform any such role worthy of the salary, which was hardly likely to register in the bank accounts of the daughter of the moneyed 5th Baron Cottesloe of Swanbourne and Harwick.

    Duncan Smith currently costs the tax payer a whopping £134, 565 in salary and expenses.

    In fact, two thirds of the current cabinet are millionaires, when only 1.16% of UK households have assets of over a million pounds. More than half of the cabinet ministers went to fee paying schools, despite only 7% of UK children attending fee paying schools. In the face of all this, David Cameron announced triumphantly that that the Tory party was ‘no longer the party of privilege’ at a £400 a seat champagne ball."

    1. There are thousands of expose's & disclosures which have not effected any change, so numerous inquiries don't give me too much hope, e.g. the expenses scandal led to MPs getting an 11% payrise yet they still claim shitloads of expenses. Some past stories:

      "There is a revolving door between our parliament and private corporations. Our most senior MPs curry favour for highly paid post-politics consultancy positions, by passing legislation to the benefit of their future employers while in parliament.

      After his wave of privatisations in the 1990’s, former PM John Major went on to become European Chairman private asset management giant the Carlysle Group.

      After leading the war in Iraq, creating billions in business for JP Morgan bank – Tony Blair became a Senior Advisor for JP Morgan.

      And it’s not just past tense. Present day Home Secretary Theresa May’s husband is a director/shareholder in G4S. May has faced several conflict of interest allegations during her tenure. One of the most egregious was the case of G4S winning a £200m contract to run Lincolnshire police operations. G4S had recruited law firm White and Cade to support their bid. In a stunning coincidence, May invited Tom Winsor, a lawyer from the same firm, to conduct ‘an independent review of police reform’ in the run up to the bid – giving the lawyer access to privy information and contacts.

      In 2010, Mr Winsor was appointed by the government to author an independent report on police reform. Mrs May told the conference there was no overlap between Mr Winsor's roles. In February, Lincolnshire Police agreed a deal to pay G4S £200m over 10 years to deliver a range of services, including human resources, finance and IT. Mr Winsor, whose review proposed changes in how the police are paid, is a partner at White and Case but the firm said he played no part in its work advising G4S.
      Before joining the firm Mr Winsor spent five years as a rail regulator.

      The Home Secretary (John Reid) from 2006 to 2007 now works as a director for G4S but still gets wheeled out with his 'ex-Home Secretary' hat on for the media and not his 'G4S lobbyist' hat when the security industry wants to push for ever greater expansion of the surveillance and security state. He was on the BBC today to criticise Corbyn, I wonder why that was and I wonder why he wasn't asked whether he was representing corporate interests in his ostensible party political concerns. Specifically, it might be interesting to know just how much of his motivation to criticise Corbyn is related to the fact that the Labour NEC has just voted to no longer use G4S services because of their logistical support for Israeli war crimes.

      The new ‘Competition Regulations’ force the NHS put all but a minority of services out for competitive tender. The majority of services currently run by the NHS will shortly and swiftly be turned over to profit making private healthcare providers.

      And yet, the MPs and Lords who drafted and approved this piece of legislation, had a personal financial interest in the outcome. Social Investigations produced an excellent piece of investigative journalism revealing:

      206 parliamentarians have recent or present financial private healthcare connections
      142 Lords have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in healthcare
      124 Peers benefit from the financial services sector
      1 in 4 Conservative Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in healthcare
      1 in 6 Labour Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in healthcare
      1 in 6 Crossbench Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in healthcare
      1 in 10 Liberal Democrat Peers have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in healthcare
      64 MPs have recent or present financial links to companies involved in private healthcare
      79% of these are Conservative"

      It truly is a grubby, murky world in which we live.

  10. Meeting service levels and reducing Re offending is your job. Repeat over again and again and again. Keep repeating until this is your only priority. This is how my manager starts supervision session.

  11. Is your manager called Jong Un? And is this what they meant by bringing in robots to replace POs/PSO's, who are programmed to put lovely big ticks in the right places?