Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Guest Blog 47

1 Year-old PSO

Hi Jim,

My name is Xxxxxxxxx I'm 25 from Xxxxxxxx and I'm a PSO working with CRC at Xxxxxxxx Probation. I've currently been in post for 1 year. I came across your blog sometime ago now and I've been checking in ever since. I think it's a fantastic blog and I'm really happy to have found it. It gives me motivation, keeps me informed, plus the comment sections are great as I can hear different things from other officers all over the country.

I graduated in criminology a couple of years ago now and very fortunately found my current employment within 6 months of graduating. Probation is something I had a passion for whilst at university and I've worked hard to fulfil this ambition of mine.

My father has been working for probation for over XX years now and during my final year at university my lecturer was also a VQ assessor and she managed to get me access to a probation office in Xxxxxxx to shadow officers for a couple of days and I based my final year dissertation project on the privatisation of probation.

I like to think I was somewhat informed about the current controversial events surrounding probation such as privatisation prior to applying and had also done a fair bit of work on probation whilst at university. I wasn't as such going in blind and despite what was going on I still was determined to work for the service as this is something I really wanted to do.

Following my graduation I got through to the assessment centre for the first job I applied for which was the PQF with NPS. I unfortunately didn't get this. Shortly after CRC were recruiting in Xxxxxxxxx, so I picked myself up, tried to develop myself further from my first interview experience and really went for it. The next day I got the good news.

I was going in to the CRC as a fresh graduate with experience of doing some voluntary work with youth offending whilst at university and also maintaining a part time job for the last three years whilst doing my studies. I was eager to learn, gain experience and apply my knowledge from my academics and make a difference in people's life and reduce reoffending.

Jim, within 2/3 months of being in post I absolutely had it. I was overwhelmed, pressured, depressed, anxious and just plain felt horrible. I understand I joined during a crazy turbulent period, it was at least three months before the company that I'm under MTCnovo signed the probation contracts for London and Thames Valley. It's been this major transitional phase which is still going on to this day and I've just been dragged from pillar to post. Within 4 months my caseload was growing rapidly, I was even overtaking more experienced officers than me in terms of number of cases! Half way down the line I've reached over 50 cases. I felt sick, lost and my manager at the time was just not supportive at all (my manager at the time could have a whole email just for him).

This job has taken me to different heights and all ranges of emotions. I've been fatigued, coming home and just jumping in bed, at times my heart just pounding whilst in my own home from what I've been through and encountered. I feel as I've had to rush my development with no time to digest anything. Most of the time I'm just forever chasing things and feel as if I don't have a platform to do anything. It's a jungle and your given multiple cases and then off you go. I just can't do it.

MTCnovo are still in process of introducing new ways of working and we are now in cohorts which includes working aged males (26+), women and young adult males (18-25). We've just about completed all our reallocation's of cases to the respective officers which will now be managing them within their cohorts.

I currently have a caseload of 40 plus consisting of xxxxxxxxxx which is growing. I only came back from annual leave and had another x allocated to me, one which I just found out by chance as well.

Jim, I currently reflect over the last year of me being in post and I have worked extremely hard, staying back late, reaching these targets and doing as much as I can. I'm even doing my VQ3 at the moment. But I just simply cannot go any further, I have no job satisfaction and I'm just slowly losing my desire. I have even begun slowly looking at other jobs and even career prospects.

I've been reviewing a lot of things lately and I just cannot go on with the way things are. Yes as your previous bulletins and comments have mentioned, they are making breaches a lot more difficult, there is just no clear vision, I'm sick and tired of going back and fourth with targets, corporate bollocks and then discussions and presentations about probationary practice and caring for the individual which we're just stuck in the middle between these two ends of the spectrum.

I'm just fed up and can't go any further. I'm trying to do as much as I can but it just never ends, we are short staffed and have been for a while now and they are only recruiting now so I don't know if this will make any difference to the workload yet. There's so many things going on with my cases and it's like I can't even be responsive to it due to the madness and then who's the finger pointed at....myself.

Right now I've told myself get on the next probation officer qualification training with NPS, that's my aim for now. That's my long term call, I genuinely want to become qualified and work for NPS which I am interested in the kind of work and cases that they hold. However should this not become available, or I'm not accepted, plus if things are the same with how they are now same time next year, then I am leaving. I'm going to try and give it another year at least. Should I be in the same position and nothing has improved then I'm gone. My health has been compromised, I've worked to the bone, I've been ill as a result, limited support, it just can't go on. It's such a shame as probation is such a unique and amazing profession, but it's just in ruins at the moment. I've been looking at other career choices and I'm just keeping an open mind.

I think the colleagues that I work with are amazing and couldn't be here without their support and guidance. I believe this is the only great thing, the people. We all speak about our feelings and it's great to know you're not alone, your blog also helps with this as it gives me comfort knowing I'm not the only one going through this madness. I sometimes feel isolated with my own issues at work but talking to people, hearing other people's stories, what they have gone through recently, some of the issues they face and your blog definitely helps me and motivates me and let's me know I'm not alone.

Before I close things, the recent post on NAPO aims for 2016 was really encouraging. I've thought about joining on and off and have had discussions with officers who are already a member. I think following from the post and looking at what they are working on I will be joining too.

Anyways Jim, thank you for your work and maintaining your blog. I just wanted to reach out and say my bit in confidence and privately. This is for your information only however if you wish to highlight any extracts please do so without identifying me.

I hope you have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Kind regards,


Hi Jim, 

Thank you for your reply, it feels great reaching out. I have no objections towards my piece being published, thank you for taking the time to amend it and keeping me anonymous, it is very much appreciated.

I currently have a DRR report to do for an individuals DRR review at Crown Court however we have not had any drug testing kits for the last month and I've had nothing to test him with, so I look forward to doing this report. I really hope the service can take some responsibility and actually support staff's welfare and provide them with a stage for them to do their jobs.

It's just bit of a circus at the moment and it's like this factory, let's get these orders in, do these 'RARs' swiftly and get them out. No real acknowledgement to other factors in ones life and needs, and the whole situation with breaches and recalls is just something else. In a cohort of xxxxxxxxx we have been told that as a team we are only allowed to do 5 breaches for the month covering the whole of Xxxxxxxx area.

Anyways I'm going to get myself going again, but I'm really passionate with this line of work and have endured so much this last year and find it really frustrating with that's happening, I hear some real horror stories coming out of Xxxxxxxx. It's fortunate that my father works in probation and I can speak to him at home and he understands.

Thank you again for your support Jim and your inspiring blog. I hope you have a great week.

Kind regards,


  1. As a former SPO your contribution made me want to cry.You clearly have talent and ability.Please ask yourself if the PO qualification will be worth fighting for and getting.I qualified as a social worker,spent nearly 4 decades in the Probation Service and have found .myself as a social worker again.I left the Probation Service after being "shifted" into the CRC.Having no wish to work for a French catering company I left before they took over..
    Best of luck.Please look after yourself because it seems your manager,who should,is unable to do so.Happy to discuss further privately if you wish.
    Anon SPO no 2

  2. So sorry to hear of your experience as a new employee it's very different to when I started in probation12 years ago. Your account of the job echoes all those of my colleagues in the CRC in my area. I'm in the NPS and can tell you it's a mess but at the moment we don't have those privateer arseholes on our backs just the relentless beaurocracy of Noms! Wish I could find another job my advice to you is get out now while you are at the start of your career because I can't see any hope of ever delivering proper probation practice in the future Good luck and take care of your health

  3. I am so sad to read this but think you were brave to write your guest blog. I want to tell you to get out as soon as you can, you clearly have talent and the right value base but both are wasted in what probation has become. PLEASE get out whilst you can. I mentor a PQF Learner who is really great but is distressed and feels increasingly unable to cope with a massive case load and no management support. Please look for a better profession whilst you can.

  4. Probation Officer15 December 2015 at 10:04

    Warning: I'm going to do a Simon Cowell. I won't do the "sorry to hear about your ordeal" response because this is how probation has been for years. The PSO's dad works in probation and uni lecturer was a VQ assessor, which means they both would have told the PSO what he/she was getting into. If they didn't, they should have!

    Large caseloads and lack of support have been the norm in probation for a long time in many places. In fact most jobs can be busy, stressful and tiring, but unfortunately probation also comes with an unusually high staff mortality rate! Jumping ship to the NPS won't be much better as large caseloads, poor management and 'ministerial bollocks' exists there too. PSO's are set to replace PO's in the NPS so it won't be much different from the CRC. Don't think Napo, or the Probation Institute for that matter, are going to change anything, they are weak organisations with pointless actions and weasly words. Napo's biggest action against TR was giving Chris Grayling a birthday cake!! Say no more!!

    My advice to the PSO is get out now while they can. There's not much "career" in probation. The 'powers that be' are reducing probation professionalism with each new policy and direction, and NPS/CRC (senior) managers are part of the problem NOT part of the solution. Training used to be a 3 year social work degree, then a 2 year criminology degree and now it's a diploma in less than 18 months, and it's being further reduced. The all important Court work and Pre Sentence Reports to be done by untrained/unqualified staff, and supervision of higher risk and more complex cases are set to go the same way. Job descriptions are being reworded to include more for less, and pay is actually reducing in real teams rather than increasing. There's no job satisfaction, because of silly targets and "corporate/ministerial bollocks" staff rarely feel they've done "what works", and staff get used to coming in and going home feeling anxious, stressed and tired. On top of all that we're well aware of all the ongoing discussions to replace us with electronic monitoring, electronic supervision and volunteers, and both Napo and the PI are part of these discussions.

    To the PSO: - rather than waste more time and energy on probation, which is going to get worse in NPS and CRC, stop living in false hope and start a new career. You've already a degree and a years experience, so why hold out for a PQF type diploma with the NPS which won't bring much additional value to your CV. On the other hand, if you just want to work then any job is a decent job for a uni-leaver of an 'ology' degree and at that age a PSO wage in what has become the Asda of the CJS ain't too bad. Say the right words and you'll make manager in 2 years.

  5. There is clearly something wrong with an organisation that crushes enthusiasm and depresses a new recruit within months. So much for the transformative powers of TR. And all very different from the upbeat storytelling by fellow travellers on the Probation Institute website. And all past and present evidence supports the analysis by 10.04 and there is nothing to suggest it will get any better anywhere in probation.

  6. A big tragedy is that we were deceived into accepting that separating probation training from social work training, would still leave us a worthwhile career & the academic degree level specific pre entry probation training was more relevant to the criminal justice sytsem than joint training.

    Social Work trained folk are being welcomed as new probation officers, as I understand things, and certainly as locum probation officers. Probation trained Probation Officers are not allowed to be Social Workers. According to the media this week it seems AT LAST, that Government and others are beginning to realise they need to look after social workers - it is a national economic and social issue. I say it is exactly the same with those now doing work traditionally reserved for Probation Officers, be they in a CRC or NPS.

    1. Andrew, I don't know if you are aware of this, but every time you comment on the separation of probation and social work training, it comes across (to me, at least) as dismissive of the qualifications and experience of everyone who doesn't have a CQSW. I would guess, though I don't have the figures, that this is now the vast majority of PO grade staff across both the NPS and CRCs - certainly in my office there are no CQSW-trained POs any more (I am the longest-serving PO and I have a DipPS), and I believe only one SPO with a CQSW.

      I don't intend to make any kind of comment on the merits of DipPS/PQF as opposed to CQSW - not least because I don't know nearly enough about the CQSW (or PQF, come to that) - but your implication that the probation-specific training is somehow less relevant to CJS work than a social work degree is clearly wide of the mark! My training involved aspects of social work theory, as well as criminology and psychology, but tailored to the job that I was training to do. If I'd wanted to be a social worker, I'd have applied for a social work course - I didn't, and I still don't; and it certainly seems clear that the original poster wanted (maybe even still wants) to be a PO rather than anything else.

      Andrew, I don't say all this to get at you, simply to ask you to think about the way your words come across to others.

    2. Actually Andrew is right. The previous social work training (DipSW and CQSW) was of better quality as it included more knowledge/training and enabled probation officers to work as social workers. The probation TPO training (DipPS) was good and allowed time for development and reflection, but didnt provide access to social work which would have been a much needed back up career. The current probation training (PQF) is now very watered down and not very good. It mainly attracts graduates and furnishes them with a diploma for 18 months intensive on the job work with a bit of distance learning thrown in. At the end many seem to feel untrained and want to leave.

    3. The essential probation skills are core social work skills and these two professions once shared the same value base. Probation was a specialism within social work. And in Scotland it remains a part of social work and I assume the training continues to be generic.

      Breaking the link with social work training was all part of the political effort to show that probation was first and foremost in the business of public protection and enforcement. Social work was regarded as the wrong image for the tougher probation world. Whether you think the training post CQSW is a progressive or regressive step is a matter of opinion.

      One thing that has changed for the worse is the treatment of newly trained recruits. At one time their formative years were managed with some care and their workload was calibrated in terms of caseloads and case complexity. They were allowed to grow into the job and practice their skills in a nurturing and humane culture that valued staff. It's a different picture now and even if recruits arrived with shiny CQSWs they would find the going tough - not as tough as Sports Direct, but definitely derivative thereof.

    4. There still appears to be an assumption that the CQSW is "better" because it allows someone to work as a social worker as well as a probation officer. This may be "better" for them as an individual, but it doesn't automatically mean the training itself is any better. This was my point at 11:23.

    5. The problem with the DipPS is that it equips you only to work in Probation and for an organisation that is hell bent upon dispensing with those who have it. I have a DipSW and, fortunately for me, was able to leave the CRC I worked for and move over into a social worker role. I am now protecting the public properly and not just filling in forms that pretend that I am. My DipPS colleagues, many of who are equally competent and experienced, are as frustrated as I was in the CRC but cannot move across to any other social work discpline because their qualification is industry specific.

      In short, the DipSW or CQSW are 'better' in that they are more marketable. Whatever the merits of a DipPS, it is increasingly looking like an qualification in pressing vinyl. Nice to have but, if you want to leave Probation, little or no use on the employment market. The DipPS was create to meet the needs of an industry that has decided it doesn't need it any more. I wouldn't want my children to waste any effort on it. It is a fool's errand and a professional dead end.

    6. At least the DipPS came with a honours degree. Those that studied under the TPO programme had good training, a credible qualification, and now have a good few years work experience and more. It's a pity the PQF came along and ruined any chance of the DipPS becoming a DipSW equivalent. I wish I had a DipSW or CQSW as I'd be long gone from probation.

      Those initially involved in delivering the DipPS fought hard to keep the degree element at its core. Many were DipSW holders and probably hoped for the training to return to its social work roots. Instead the DipPS ended and we got the PQF, and many of the old hands moved on. The PQF graduate diploma in community justice is nothing more than a work based training curriculum. There's little point in working your backside off in understaffed probation officers for 15 months, only to be rewarded with a certificate that doesn't actually mean much. I hate to think what the next bout of probation training will be.

    7. At the risk of repeating myself, my point at 11:23 and 14:41 is not about the portability of the DipPS, it's about not making the assumption that having a CQSW makes someone better qualified to be a probation officer.

      If I want to leave probation and don't want to work as a social worker (the words "frying pan" and "fire" spring to mind) then the CQSW is just as valuable or worthless as the DipPS. There is inherent value in having a professional qualification of this nature, as it shows dedication and an ability to study whilst working, but if someone is trying to change sector entirely, the important thing is being able to explain how their skills translate to that different arena.

    8. As ever Netnipper is right at 14.31 in reminding us that basically, probation (perhaps that should be probation as practiced in England and Wales at least up to the end of last century - though I presume MANY probation workers in NPS & CRCs continue the tradition) is indeed a branch of the wider profession that came to be called social work by about the middle of the twentieth century.

      However in England and Wales, at any rate, there are basic differences in the level of statutory authority held by probation workers and local authority social workers.

      Because social workers have the power to instigate detention of people not currently subject to any sort of court order, they continue to have significantly more authority than probation workers, despite the inference from some past government ministers that social work is cuddly whereas probation is harsh.

    9. Anon 18:35 I don't think the DipSW/CQSW makes a better probation officer than a DipPS. As I said, DipSW were well trained and the TPO programme was widely considered the "gold standard". This makes it better than the current PQF. I also think and know that the DipSW is a better qualification than the DipPS as it does have more scope for employment, range for job skills and authority.

    10. I was half way through my social work training when I got my TPO post. I don't consider my skills or knowledge to be less than that if social workers but I have to agree that these comments (which are frustratingly frequent) do seem to imply that I am somehow a less worthy probation officer because I don't posses the right piece of paper. I have to say I disagree - the social work training I did complete was no more enlightening that anything I learned in my degree. Most of the skills I needed for probation (or social work for that matter) were already established by 8 years in a variety of roles in residential care. The best probation officers I've worked with weren't particularly academic - that have people skills and life experience. I don't know how many social workers you meet these days but the ones I meet tell me that their training leaves then woeful unprepared for the chaos that is social care in the austerity age. Recombining the training and qualifications will result in nothing but some extra modules in your NVQ and maybe some extra options to try before you leave the field entirely completely burned out. It's just not a fight worth starting when we should be fighting for the vocation that we all joined because of our value system (which contrary to your implication Andrew certainly does exist).
      Going back to the OP'S guest blog - I'm sorry you've joined at such a turbulent time but if you still think this is a vocation you could love I'd encourage you to take a couple of weeks leave, full of those application forms and stich with it. We need people who will stand up for our cases and for our colleagues. Without people who care there's no hope, while there's one of us left there is hope.

    11. And please excuse typos above. On mobile and enraged by a day of relentless computer frustrations

    12. There is nothing I can write that is likely to show I truly commiserate with the sentiments expressed by Anon at 01.37.

      Residential care work is s good basis for becoming a social worker or probation worker - but - I presume is still as under-resourced now as when I did placements in residential settings 40 years ago and it is where Government need to also focus on providing appropriate training and pay commensurate with the demands & responsibilities of the work.

      The situation is equally bad, possibly worse in care work in people's own homes as the UK Government allowed that to be outsourced long ago, with extreme demands being placed on those poorly paid workers, who are often required to organise their transport to the clients with inadequate funding & insufficient time.

      Sadly parliament and the public do not care enough about all these things to actually change it and I fear that all the while there are people to do the work, even if many are poorly paid migrant workers, our political system will allow it to continue.

      I have no solution, but personally think I would put my needs and those of my family above the government's unreasonable expectations of workers in the hope of eventually forcing parliament to hold government to account and make proper provision so that the likes of Anon at 01:40 and people like my care worker relative do not feel obliged to carry an unfair burden of the nation's responsibilities.

  7. Anon at 11.23 - I am sure it does, but my literary skills do not enable me to express it another way.

    It is obvious that our guest blogger has a good appreciation of probation and like SPO ANON 2 I also feel almost tearful for the situation.

    I saw many good people go down that route and were that available in 1972 it is the route I would have gone down, because I applied to train as a probation officer and was surprised to learn I would also get a social worker qualification - at the time I applied the CQSW had not been awarded to anyone - I actually started training in 1973 delayed by nearly a year due to the introduction of the CQSW which was first awarded in 1974. When I got mine in 1975 I was told by the lecturers that the co-awarded, Diploma in Social Work by The University of Liverpool actually has more academic/professional status - I am not sure though.

    I realise I have gone on a tangent, that his how my dyspraxic mind works.

    (I heard dyspraxia described the other day as - feeling like you have over a thousand internet browser tabs open all at once - I feel a bit like - most of the time, and I do not know if it is a part of dyspraxia or addiction, or just how many non addicts & neuro-typical [as opposed to neuro-diverse] people feel, but there it is.)

    Of course folk with pre-entry probation only qualifications are just as capable as those holding DIPSW or CQSW's AND the government should recognise & let them easily convert those qualifications so they can undertake work as a Local Authority Social Worker if they so wish. Napo, Unison & GMB should have a joint campaign to achieve that( but they have rather a lot of stuff on their plate already - judging by the Napo Branch Circular I saw yesterday)

    I do not believe those folk should need extra basic training although, as with social workers coming into probation introductory familiarisation with practice and legislation is probably needed.

    Maybe some who trained as social workers will comment or write a guest blog - I presume some follow Jim Brown?

    1. It would be a smart move all round to allow qualified probation officers to work as qualified social workers. The DipPS trained probation officers more so and possibly the PQF (full degree version), but current and future variations have less and less academic input so I doubt would qualify. It's a pity we haven't a professional institute or credible senior managers that would argue the case with the social work council and our Right Honourable Justice Minister, Mr Gove!

    2. Andrew, I've replied to you before on this. As a cohort 6 (qualified in 2005) DipPS PO, there is no way in this world I have the knowledge base to be a social worker. My qualification did not come close to equipping me for that role, arguably it didn't prepare me for the one I'm in either.

      To the anon concerned that qualifications post DIPSW is being denigrated, the DipPS is inferior by virtue of its specificity - a driving licence for a 16 wheel truck on its own isn't as valuable as a full driving licence.

      Ever wondered why social work wasn't further broken into individual after care, learning disability, child protection or older adults qualifications.

    3. Maybe not the knowledge base, Anon at 23:11, it is impossible to be knowledgeable about every aspect of humanity, but hopefully the skills of investigation and engagement to enable one to find a way forward with just about every category of client, including the confidence to say to a court or parole board, I need to make more enquiries, perhaps including obtain a specialists report such as medical, psychiatric or psychologist's before it will be possible to offer an assessment.

  8. Ian Lawrence's latest Napo blog is worth a quick read:


    News reaches Napo from a helpful MoJ source that one of Sodexo's Community Rehabilitation Companies has been placed on a Formal Remedial Plan under the contract with the Department.

    We will of course make enquiries about what this actually means for our already hard pressed members, but information so far suggests that the CRC has been charged with developing an appropriate Remedial Action Plan. This will have to be agreed and signed off by the MoJ, and that a greater scrutiny and oversight by the Authority will take place with a fresh audit in February 2016.

    The information also suggests that a failure to achieve the Remedial Action Plan targets within the agreed timescale may mean contract termination."


    Anyone from South Yorks able to comment?

    1. My understanding (though I'm not in S Yorks) is that remedial action plans are supposed to be triggered by two consecutive months to meet targets. Although NOMS have been measuring performance all year, it's only performance from August onwards that has actually counted - so this suggests that Sodexo have been failing almost from the word go.

    2. Management have informed South Yorks that we are on Special Measures and we have been joined by a number of problem solvers from NOMS. Staff have been told that heads will roll if we don't get things right for the next audit. The problem is that the CRC has attemped to move too fast, and failed to heed warnings and stressful cries from staff. It doesn't matter where you look in South Yorks - upw, accommodation, victim work, Group Work, IT - it's a shambles and IMO no wonder we are on Special Measures.

    3. NOMS have "problem solvers"? Surely a contradiction in terms?!

    4. @18:28 - yes, I had to do a bit of a double-take when I read that phrase as well!



    " Prisoners at risk of becoming homeless on leaving jail are to be given more support to find a secure home, amid concern about their rehabilitation.

    Communities Minister Lesley Griffiths said planning would start two months before an inmate was due for release.
    Shelter Cymru welcomed the introduction of measures to prevent homelessness."


    1. It would probably have been more useful if they hadn't removed prisoners priority status in wales this year. Two months planning won't change the 'intentionally homeless by committing an offence'excuse that housing invariably give and they will still end up living under the local bridge clutching a useless paper bond that landlords won't accept.

  10. Yes, I apologise for any insult to "Problem solvers", but I can only say it was stated with the lowest form of wit (in abundance), and with the feeling of resentment;o)

  11. To our guest blogger. How brave of you to allow us to read your blog and I really do feel for you. I hope that you get the right support you deserve and hopefully your comments might just grate on those in the CRC's on high on how little they understand of the work that we do. One bit of advice to you is dont underestimate the power of your supervision sessions. There are those clients of ours that actually do appreciate what we do for them and they will keep you in the job. I should know because it worked for me. I hope things improve for you in the future which ever path you take and take care.

  12. I enjoyed this guest blog. Typifies general concensus - the on-going willingness to maintain integrity working with clients. Another positive being support of colleagues. Better than my patch where I simply find it difficult to trust managers. All decimated by management incompetence many of whom would not be out of place participants in a series of the apprentice. Not failing to mention the agenda of our political masters. I'm glad your given it another year and you do have a choice. Keep your options open.

  13. From Wales on Line: -


    " Probation service in Wales faces 'disasterous' 40% budget cut "


    1. Wales’ privatised probations service faces “disaster” unions are warning after the company which now runs it says if intends to make budget cuts of 40%.

      Working Links was awarded the contract to run the probation service last year, and does so through a newly created firm called Wales Community Rehabilitation Company (WCRC).

      Glyn Jones, a regional organiser with the trade union Unison, said: “We must be told by WCRC why this is happening, how many staff are threatened and how the service can be viable next year when £4 in every £10 has disappeared.

      “There is never a good time to throw people out of their jobs but to drop this bombshell over Christmas is insensitive and will cause a lot of worry in many households this year when families should be enjoying themselves.

      "At a time when Home Office ministers are talking about reducing numbers in prisons, the probation service which looks after people with non-custodial sentences is being slashed to the bone.

      A Working Links spokesman said: “Since taking on the CRCs, we have been open and transparent about the need to make efficiency savings.

      "We have been in long discussions with the unions who understand the situation. After careful consideration, we are starting to streamline our support services across the business and have opened up opportunities for voluntary redundancy for those wishing to leave our CRCs. This will be an enhanced package and it is our aim, wherever possible, to avoid compulsory redundancies.

      “We are now consulting with the unions and our people on our proposed new way of working across the organisation. At this stage we are simply looking for expressions of interest of those people who may wish to leave the organisation. This is a complex change programme that will last some months."

      The spokesman added: “Change is always unsettling and we are working to ensure that there will be as seamless a transition as possible. We will ensure that probation officers can continue to focus on supporting offenders and reducing rates of reoffending. And our goal is to give them even more front-line time to do this by reducing some of the non-essential back-office work that they are currently required to do.

      “As part of our proposed changes we are considering a split between physical face-to-face interactions with service users and a more remote delivery of services. We are consulting with the unions and our people on all potential changes. Our front line delivery will not be negatively impacted by our proposed changes. At all times we will ensure we deliver a safe service.”

    2. Apparently it's cuts of 44%

    3. PO's and pso's were doing all the back up office work yesterday in some offices after the devastating news of reduction in administration from being in all offices in wales, to being in two hubs both in South Wales, Cardiff area. The officers were answering phones, covering reception, sorting post, taking calls for NPS and this took much time away from doing assessments for targets and more importantly seeing their offenders.

  14. Probation Officer16 December 2015 at 00:28

    "A Working Links spokesman said: “Since taking on the CRCs, we have been open and transparent about the need to make efficiency savings."

    They're all following the Sodexo example. We knew this would happen and it's coming to every CRC. Soon CRC's will exist in name only and become a forgotten area of the criminal justice system. In a few years some smart Alec will review the ramshackle organisations that used to be CRC's. They'll then bring them all back under local or national government ownership and call it the probation service!

    Will Napo now speak out against the NPS which is starting to take its lead from the CRC's? The NPS model E3 is nothing more than a CRC strategy to downgrade probation professionalism and cut costs.

    Will the Probation Institute now stop romancing the CRC privateers? The cut-throat strategies of the CRC's do not represent probation practice and professional development.

    Will Michael Gove do the right thing and admit Chris Grayling was wrong to split and sell the probation service? Transforming Rehabilitation has been one big mess and is about to get much worse.

    1. @Probation Officer I am guessing no to all your questions.
      I have to confess to being shocked at the speed that sodexo has managed to find itself in special measures though. Reducing an acknowledged excellent service to tatters in 18 months is a remarkable achievement. I'm sure heads will roll, lessons will be learned and a shiny new 50 page form for all cases will solve the problem (paperless though obviously -much more efficient).

  15. Why the silence from the Probation Institute? Reduction in face to face delivery and remote access to services, PLEASE!!!! Research findings says relationships matter...desistance theory.....C'mon PI your silence is both deafening and COLLUSIVE.

    1. That's because the PI is part of the problem, Napo too. The PI has been hosting events filled with CRC directors to look at the "future" of electronic monitoring, when instead it should have been opposing it based on the evidence you've just stated. It's things like this that prove the PI has literally nothing to do with probation practice and development.

  16. Such true words spoken in this Guest Blog. I similarly have a years of experience working in the CRC and I certainly can echo the emotion that flows out of this Blog.
    I have seen true talent leave the service and nothing seems to have been done to replace them.
    A year in service and I feel drained physically and emotionally, reading this blog and its comments has reinforced my decision to look for another profession.
    I think I have been telling myself for months now that it will get better and things will improve, yet I am seeing nothing that reflects this.
    Such a sad thing to witness as there is such passion and care in this industry (amongst many others I'm sure) that is completely wasted and all of the characteristics that have lead such brilliant individuals into this profession are being sapped from them.
    Thank you for such a truly beautifully written blog and also the comments this has certainly helped me to make my mind up!

  17. Reading through the contributions I think this is one of the best days we have had on the blog for some time with reference to discussing the mess that is TR. So a big thanks to the initial guest blog for kick starting the comments. I remember starting my training in 1981 when I recall there was a cohesive entity to the Probation Service and whilst I am an optimist I feel desperately sad about all that has happened; and it was all so unnecessary. Again thanks to you Jim for creating this very special platform.

  18. Re DipPS v DipSW whilst one mustn't generalise I have found a shocking number of social work trained colleagues (and indeed social workers) to be completely out of touch, unempathetic, bigoted and inherently racist in some cases. Particularly in the north of England. All of which makes me extremely proud of my DipPS