Another testing year ahead but Napo will be there for our members
The last 12 months for our members whether in Cafcass, PBNI, NPS or one of the 21 CRC's has been one of the toughest years that you and your trade union has faced in living memory.
The systemic assault on public service provision by the last two Governments’ has seen some disastrous decisions take place and the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda (despite the courageous campaign waged by our members), has surely been the worst example.
Since then, our members have done their best to try and make the system work, simply because they care about what happens to clients and their communities if standards of supervision and intervention are allowed to slip; all because of an ideological and politically expedient reform of a great public institution.
In the NPS we see massive workloads and staff shortages in many areas, despite having been told that sufficient provision would be in place to cope with the impact of the staff split. Our work on the E3 project is a classic case of trying to build the operational system that should have been there in the first place.
Prior to the implementation of TR, Napo warned what would happen. Following the 400 plus jobs that were shed by Sodexo across its CRC estate, after they cynically avoided their moral responsibility to pay EVR, we now see that the MoJ have placed remedial measures on one of their CRC's due to poor performance. Napo members working within the Working Links owned CRC’s now face another unwelcome challenge with the announcement of a staggering 584 job cuts across their areas. As you would expect, Napo opposes these proposals, but we will also be demanding answers from Ministers as to how they believe such reductions can be justified or safe.
Just as worrying, are the increasing numbers of incidents of further harm which appear to indicate that the wheels are starting to come off the TR bandwagon, despite the propaganda being issued by some of the CRC owners.
In Probation Northern Ireland, members face massive uncertainty with the seemingly endless deliberations between the PBNI Board, the Justice Department and Stormont over the cuts that it is claimed are needed to the operating budget. Napo has pledged to do all it can to try and influence the outcome and to help ensure that community safety and rehabilitation are given the priority they deserve.
In the Family Court Section, we are in as good a position as we have been for some time in terms of Napo posts on the CAFCASS representational structures now having been filled and some already impressive planning on how the section can recruit more Napo members. The work that has taken place between Napo and CAFCASS Senior Management to improve the industrial relations climate is starting to make a difference, but we need more strength in numbers in order to capitalise on this and force the pace on the perennial problem of workloads and a lack of resources.
Pay next year
All of the above has been difficult enough without the continuation of the Government pay freeze which, once increases in National Insurance come into effect next April, will mean that many members will have seen an overall reduction in their earnings. Napo is determined to do all that it can to try and make a breakthrough on pay next year as we press politicians to understand that not only are our members underpaid in comparison to their Civil Service counterparts, but the work that you do and the responsibilities that you bear, mean that you should be treated as a special case. If there is an opportunity for Napo to be part of a wider campaign through the Trades Union Congress on public service pay, we must be part of it.
NQ (Napo Quarterly) First Edition Available Online NOW!
Given the myriad changes that Napo and its members have been through and the complex issues affecting you all, it is felt that Napo News no longer met the needs of members in terms of keeping them up to date on key vocational issues and in a way that provides a fuller analysis.
Over the last few months the communications team of Tania Bassett and Kath Falcon have developed a new quarterly magazine. The larger publication of around 24 pages allows for more detailed articles to be published and also includes a new guest writer section to provide a wider perspective on both justice and trade union issues. We are also adopting a more interactive approach to enable members and branches to submit their own articles and news updates. We hope you enjoy the first edition and welcome any feedback that members may have. NQ can be accessed by using the following link: https://www.napo.org.uk/sites/default/files/nq1-digi.pdf
Ensuring that your membership of Napo continues
We know that your Napo membership is important to you and we don't want it to lapse. We also want you to take advantage of the new lower subscription rates from January 2016 (which are only available if you pay by direct debit). Make the switch to direct debit NOW easily and quickly using this LINK. You will need your bank sort code and account number to do this as well as your membership number which is at the top of this message. One final point, do please remember that anyone trying to switch to DD using the gsi system will probably encounter problems, so it is recommended that you undertake this from your personal computers, I-pad or a smartphone
In the New Year, Napo will be launching an engagement exercise to reach out to as many of our members and potential members as possible, to explain the work we have been undertaking on your behalf and our agenda to work in partnership with our members to progress the vocational issues that matter to you.
Meanwhile, and on behalf of the Napo Officers and Chivalry Road Staff, we wish all our members and their families’ seasonal greetings and hope that 2016 brings better news.
Ian Lawrence Chris Winters Yvonne Pattison
General Secretary National Co-Chair National Co-Chair
23rd December 2015
Latest blog from Napo General Secretary:-
Will 2016 be the start of the wheels coming off?
News of an appalling case of self-harm which took place at a Bristol Court last week made the local media, and obviously does not make for pleasant reading. Yet it doesn't tell half the story of an incident which is especially notable, firstly because of the obvious lack of communication between the NPS and the Working Links owned CRC who had been supervising the client, but because many members have already been in touch to say that we will see plenty more occurrences as the predictions we made before the catastrophic share sale are now starting to unravel.
Of course it’s not just cases of harm that are the principal concern. More and more reports are coming in from worried members that the reputation of particular CRC’s is being given a priority over both public safety and compliance. We are investigating these and will get the facts out to our media connections once they are available. We are also chasing down some leaked information that remedial measures may also have been placed (or about to be placed) on other CRC’s in addition to South Yorkshire. We will keep you posted.
Whilst we are fully entitled to do the: 'We told you so routine', we are well known for having a bit more about us than that, especially as our members have been pulling out all the stops to ensure that they continue to do what they always have done, which is managing service users in the most effective way whilst having to cope with the organisational shambles that is still all too evident within the NPS (see previous HMI Probation Reports). This has been the driver for the E3 programme, and a cost cutting mentality that is embedding itself within the CRC environment. I have already lost count of the numbers of the wider CRC hierarchy who have trotted out excuses to me about how the misrepresentation or absence of critical data in what was supposed to be a ground breaking tendering process (yes, the one which saw the MoJ procurement gurus even get nominated for a national award) has caused them to press the panic button.
Since that particular farce was played out, we have seen Sodexo and Working Links make the first moves in terms of the dreadful job cuts that have been implemented by the former and announced by the latter.
This has started to attract the attention of Politicians and the media over the last few days (which we have already started to follow up) and here is a letter from Leanne Wood who many of you will know was a Napo member before becoming leader of Plaid Cymru.
Letter to Welsh Assembly
Serious questions need asking, so let me have them?
Napo and the other Probation Unions have already asked for a meeting with the Secretary of State where we will be asking some serious questions about the current position and Mr Gove’s views on the likelihood that other CRC’s will follow the job cuts agenda and how this is at all sustainable in terms of public safety.
To borrow a tactic employed by Jeremy Corbyn, I am now inviting our members to send me their specific questions which they would like me to directly put to the Justice Ministers. They obviously cannot include expletives and if you want to anonymise them then fine, but I guarantee they will go into the briefing that we will be putting together beforehand.
Speaking of Ministers
We must also be due a meeting with Caroline Dinenage, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, to see what she makes of CAFCASS since her elevation to high office. I will be consulting with FCS Vice-Chair Jay Barlow to get this arranged as soon as possible and will keep members posted.
Meanwhile here is a link to the speech that the Minister gave at an event held by Relate to launch their report looking into family justice reform ‘Breaking up is Hard to Do’.
Yes, it’s finally Xmas and you could not make this up
I am receiving reports that most CRC's are finishing at 3:00 on Xmas Eve but many NPS members are being told they will have to stay till 5:00 because they're now civil servants. Although there are some regional variations on the theme, the problem in those locations where the CRC fronts the reception is that the doors will most likely be locked, thus keeping NPS staff who have also worked their shirts off and given untold (but clearly unreciprocated) goodwill to their employers, sat at their desks till the close.
Napo will be there
Have a happy festive break, (whatever your faith, or not) and lets all hope for a peaceful and successful 2016. As we have said in the members e-mail that we have sent out earlier today, Napo will be there for you as always, standing up for the professions that our members work in, calling politicians and employers to account and speaking out against injustice and discrimination.