Sunday, 24 January 2016

Lets Look at E3 (7)

Chapter 6 Approved Premises (AP)

6.1 What does the model look like now? 

Approved Premises (AP) provide accommodation, oversight and support to the most complex and challenging cases managed in the community. Their residents are almost all on licence, having committed serious sexual and violent offences, and most are assessed as high risk of serious harm. There are currently 101 AP across the NPS, of which 89 are directly managed by the NPS (the rest being independent AP). They vary in their number of residents (nine have fewer than 15 beds, seven have more than 30), and also in staffing structures. Whilst they are all required to operate within the framework of the AP Manual (PI 32/2014), in practice there are a range of models of operation. 

The main E3 proposals for AP address referrals, an operating model and a staffing model. We want to harmonise AP provision across the NPS, using best practice as the benchmark and ensuring value for money. The proposals would be likely to mean changes for most AP, although all proposals are currently in place in some part of the NPS and so have been tested out in practice.

6.2 What do we want the future model to look like? 
AP will continue to make a vital contribution to the management of serious offenders in the period after their release from prison (and to a lesser degree prisoners released on temporary licence). They play an important role in the NPS, with staff who are skilled and trained to manage their residents in a positive and constructive way. They will work together with other AP in their division and across the NPS to ensure that AP places are available for those who need them most. The AP remit will be far more than simply providing accommodation; during their stay residents will undertake evidence-based individual and group activities designed to support their rehabilitation. Our ambition is that the referral process should be smooth, staff groups will be skilled and resilient, and that offenders should move on having benefited from their period of residence.

6.3 End state proposals 

Our proposals are: 

6.3.1 Enabling Environments Standard 
All AP will become accredited by the Royal Society of Psychiatrists as ‘enabling environments’. Approximately half of AP are already accredited or in the process of being so, and we expect the remainder will be accredited within three years. We anticipate that this should improve the quality of staff interaction with residents, enable them to manage more difficult residents, reduce the level of recalls, and have a positive impact on parole. Training for staff will be required over the next three years to achieve accreditation.

6.3.2 Standard electronic referral process 
We will roll out a standard electronic referral process, accessed through nDelius. This will be a more streamlined process, reducing duplication. In particular we envisage a significant reduction in demands on AP managers, some of whom report spending 30% of their time dealing with referrals, many of which are being considered by other AP at the same time. It will facilitate inter-divisional decisions and also resource-sharing. It will also mean an equitable distribution of the most challenging residents. Offenders will be placed where possible in their home divisions, but where placement across divisions is necessary this will become easier to arrange. The ICT requirement for this is likely to be met quickly. Staff in AP and LDUs will need some familiarisation training in the new process. We anticipate this will mean offenders receive a more equitable access to AP and that it will enable us to prioritise AP places for the most challenging cases, so supporting their rehabilitation. 

6.3.3 Divisional management of referrals 
In order to ensure the smooth running of the referral process, it will be managed by a central ‘referral hub’ in each division. These arrangements are already in place in some divisions.

6.3.4 Standard Operating Model 
AP come in different shapes and sizes, they operate within different neighbourhoods and vary in their resident mix. As a result they will continue to have their own individual character. Notwithstanding this, we believe they should have a common framework for their focus and activities and that they should all have a standard operating model.

The E3 AP work package has sought to define more clearly the purpose of the AP within the NPS through defining their functions and emphasising the essential elements of an enhanced regime. We have concluded that AP have three inter-related but distinct functions: public protection, rehabilitation and accommodation services. We will map the key AP processes associated with these tasks in EQUiP to ensure consistency. 

Each AP will deliver an enhanced regime. We define this as purposeful activities, linked to resettlement and based on an understanding of desistence research, which are underpinned by the key worker relationship. The activities will include life skills, education, employment and social skills. We believe that this will improve outcomes for residents and reduce the levels of recalls. 

A variety of arrangements are currently in place for procurement of aspects of enhanced regime; at present there are no proposals to change this. 

We will introduce the concept of ‘standard’ and ‘complex’ AP. We will calculate this using returns to NOMS, using the criteria of level of risk of residents and the number of beds in a premises. It should result in small number of ‘complex’ regimes which will require additional staffing levels. 

6.3.5 Standard Staffing Model 
There will be a standard model for staffing which will apply to all AP. Larger AP will have additional staffing to reflect their greater numbers of residents. The proposed model focuses on the staffing required for the range of tasks undertaken in AP, and is affordable within the current budget.

i Double cover at all times 
There will be a minimum of two waking staff on site at all times. There will be agreed minimum and maximum shift patterns. This will ensure security and appropriate oversight, as well as compliance with health and safety expectations. Recognising that this includes a contingency, we will look at how this capacity might most productively be utilised. 

ii AP Manager for each premises 
There will be a dedicated AP manager (expected to be band 5) for each AP, who will be responsible for the smooth running of the premises, the line management of staff, and risk management decisions. Some AP currently have band 4 deputy managers on site with an SPO manager shared between more than one AP, however we have concluded that a single manager for each premises is the best model. We anticipate that the improvements detailed above will free up management time currently spent on reviewing referrals to enable greater focus on managing the premises. We will need to be clear what cover arrangements are appropriate when managers are absent. 

iii Area Manager Role 
An Area Manager (indicative band 6), with devolved budgetary responsibility, will manage clusters of AP. Clusters will be determined by the number of ‘complex’ and ‘standard’ AP and geography. This arrangement is currently in operation in several divisions. It enables more detailed attention to AP than can be achieved where the direct management is included in the portfolio of the Divisional Head of Public protection.

iv Day and night staffing 
We wish to prioritise the vital role played by key workers (indicative band 3) in AP in face to face work with residents, liaison with colleagues and partners and in purposeful activities. This work is most effectively undertaken during the day time, and these staff will therefore work primarily during the day. We will explore shift patterns which may include weekend day time working. Work which focuses more on “accommodation” services will be undertaken by residential workers (indicative band 2) whose working hours will include overnight and weekends. The second member of staff present during night and weekend hours provides security and monitoring services. In the light of this role profile we intend to explore the pros and cons of contracting out this work through a national contract. Evidence from AP which currently use this staffing model is that with a well-managed contract and appropriately trained contractor staff there is no increase in incidents. There will always be a senior manager on the ‘out of hours’ rota to provide support where necessary and to authorise recalls. 

v Administrative support 
Each AP will have a 0.5 receptionist/administrator, and a 0.5 financial administrator to support the work of other staff. 

vi Standard payments to sessional staff 
We have inherited arrangements which mean that sessional AP staff are currently paid different rates. We propose to harmonise these arrangements so they are paid at a standard rate, with additional payments for those working in London. The standard staffing model should reduce our reliance on sessional staff so that there is better consistency of staffing in AP.

vii Out of hours enhancements 
AP staff receive additional payments to reflect out of hours working. Processes for payment vary across the NPS. We propose to negotiate a harmonised system for these payments, which is fair and reflects the working pattern. 

The E3 work package has also looked at areas including Health and Safety, Management Information and Quality Standards. We intend to use the outcomes of this work to make further improvements in the quality of AP services. 

Further work streams are working on the Strategic Direction of AP, including the physical AP estate, facilities management, independent AP and AP for women. They will review the capacity, resident profile, and layout of AP with the aim of matching NPS need to resource, equity across the country and compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). These work streams will make firm proposals following this large-scale review. We anticipate that this review will enable improved efficiency and effectiveness in the running of the AP estate.

6.4 Impact on service delivery 
The changes we propose are predicated on Offender Managers managing their offenders in AP and AP staff managing the AP and its service delivery. AP staff would be better trained, better able to manage challenging residents, and offer an improved level of rehabilitative interventions. We expect that this would result in a reduction in recalls of AP residents and more positive move ons. We anticipate that there will be greater equality of access to AP places across the NPS and that this will enable better prioritisation of places for those who most need them. We anticipate that the increased clarity about the function and operations of AP will have an impact on Parole Board decisions to release in more finely-balanced cases. 

As noted above, the E3 proposals are likely to mean changes for most AP. Where these involve significant staffing changes, these will need to be planned in order to minimise the impact on service delivery.

6.5 Impact on staff 
As noted above, the improvements to the referral process are expected to free up staff time. The process of accrediting AP as enabling environments will mean staff become more highly trained. Focussing on purposeful activities and on formal key work will enhance the role of key workers, who will have more consistent contact with the residents and will be able to undertake more planned work. This in turn will develop their skills meaning they are more easily able to move to other roles in the NPS for career development. 

Whilst there may be some concerns that concentrating the availability of key workers during daytime hours may reduce staff resilience to manage difficult situations at other times, this is not supported by evidence from the AP which already have this staffing model.

We will aim to harmonise arrangements for payments for out of hours working to be fair to staff alongside properly reflecting the work to be done and to ensure equity across the AP estate. 

6.6 Conclusion 
We believe that these proposals will lead to an efficient and effective AP estate across the NPS which has a single purpose and consistent structures in key areas such as staffing, referrals and interventions. We are confident this will mean that AP can continue to provide appropriate accommodation to those offenders who need it most, with beneficial effects on the reduction of serious harm and reoffending.

(more to follow)


  1. Once again, this is about cost cutting. Reducing staffing levels from the model of one band 5 manager plus a band 4 deputy manager to one band 5 manager only. No consideration for leave cover, professional discussions etc etc.

  2. Not surprisingly senior managers have kept in their responsibly for the 'out of hours' rota to 'sign off recalls'. A nice little overtime earner for leaving their phone switched on!

  3. So the NPS thinktank, no doubt after deep diving all the theories, provides this verbiage:

    'We have concluded that AP have three inter-related but distinct functions: public protection, rehabilitation and accommodation services.'

    The value attached to residential work is always reflected in the salary structure and this one goes for the cheapest option with the carrot of career development in an imploding probation service. Extra training promised here and there but no prospect of increased remuneration. This is the story of E3: shift as many tasks as possible onto lower pay grades, get rid of as many as you can on higher grades. There is simply no other way of cutting the budget. However, it must be maintained that this is about improved service delivery and in the absence of evidence to justify making changes, the fallback phrases are 'we believe' and 'we have concluded'. It's all public relations, got nothing to do with effectiveness or excellence, but all to do with the other E.

    1. Why pay good money to the Royal Society of Psychiatrists to buy an accreditation that relies predominantly on self-assessment and adds little if any value to standards that can be achieved by in-house investment in developing staff? Expensive window dressing indeed.

  4. Terribly off-topic but a stunning speech.

  5. 'We have concluded that AP have three inter-related but distinct functions: public protection, rehabilitation and accommodation services.'

    AP staff do the most difficult and demanding role within the service. They spend the entire 37hrs in the same environment as the residents and are constantly on hand to deal with whatever is thrown at them next. An AP is staffed for 120 hours a week, managers work 37 minus time away for meetings, training etc.
    I think i would want to ensure this remained a skilled role and not passed over to some security guy to sort out

    1. to describe an AP residential placement as an 'accommodation service' devalues and degrades the contribution that APs make to the overall supervision and oversight of high risk residents.

    2. Doubt that very much !

  6. AP role is a doss. Anyone gives any gip it's recall. If the NPS PO above was any good he would be a senior Manager

    1. Obviously you're a troll here to provoke. For the record, I have worked in busy London and out of London AP's. The role is certainly not a "doss". You're correct I'm not 'good enough' for senior management. There's no place for old school social workers in the ivory tower. I don't meet the criteria for being scared of frontline work, brown-nosing, sitting quietly in silly meetings and agreeing to rubbish policies like E3 that are damaging to probation.

    2. As regards 'gip' it's perceived differently like all behaviour. Some staff may have low thresholds, others higher. Staff may receive gip and also give it. In any residential setting you need to sustain a professional culture as there is always a risk of a canteen culture taking root. I agree with the poster who described it as difficult and demanding work which is true of all frontline work in probation, but there are particular stresses that go with residential work. It is too often regarded as at the low tech end and relatively poorly paid with staff who may not have the broader experience that goes with fieldwork. It's implicit in the NPS statement that it's akin to a starter role in career development. Hence their rhetoric aside, the NPS wants to cut budgets and keep residential work low status.

    3. OK correction. Maybe the role is not a doss but that was the perception when I worked in nps. The only issue I would ever hear about was the AP managers wanting the offender to move out as someone with more need was coming in... ..

    4. I'm not discounting your experience. I'm in the North'ish of England at the mo and I work in AP's on the weekend from time to time, and yes it can be easy money to top up ones wages. The manager does keep on about moving residents on, but it is a busy AP, a busy manager and AP work here is much more than seen as an entry to probation, I wouldn't want to do it on a daily basis. A lot of the AP PSO's want to train as PO's, rather than be PO's without the pay and qualifications, but this is scuppered with the E3 plans for more for less. It's also well acknowledged that AP's can do away with on call 'out of hours' directors because the AP staff and managers do all the recall legwork.

      Every E3 (Empty x3) post I ready is simply probation senior management detaching themselves even further from the frontline because they know it will be a media frenzy when it all goes wrong and overworked, under qualified staff are holding the bag when the music stops.

    5. Not sure I agree on the commentary of NPS PO but the suggestion that senior management are any good above that really ?

    6. 14:04... that does not make working in an AP a "doss". It does, almost certainly, mean that there are insufficient AP bed spaces to meet need and a chronic lack of accommodation suitable for planned moves from the APs; a situation exacerbated by the introduction of ORA and PSS.

    7. Come on. The AP role is a doss compared to good old offender management and all this entails.....

  7. Someone once used an old, old song title to describe this slow, painful death of a noble service; and I'll offer it up again as it seems pertinent to the last few days' posts:

    "The Torture Never Stops".

    CRC, E3, MoJ, NOMS... with a pinch of Troll, a twist of emotion & a dash of bitterness - it's a cocktail made in Whitehall.

    1. Wot!? No Polonium? It won't pack the St Petersburg Punch without that killer ingredient. Oh, perhaps we could also stretch to a squeeze of Chinese Plutonium, dry Saudi vitriol & a drizzle of Cameron's drool topped off with traditional Tory condescension.

      Mmmm, yummy!!!

    2. The GS started it with that highly offensive post basically implying crc staff dont know what there doing.