Monday, 18 January 2016

Lets Look at E3

E3 Blueprint Effective. Efficient. Excellent.


It is nearly eighteen months since the National Probation Service (NPS) was formed. Throughout that time, our staff have delivered consistently effective services to the courts, offenders and victims. That is a credit to the commitment of everybody. 

But I know that maintaining delivery has involved a lot of hard work and that there is more still to be done to make our systems work better, to build our identity and to maximise our impact within the resources available to us. And we need to deliver our contribution to the savings committed to as part of Transforming Rehabilitation to reinvest in those cases previously not managed by probation. 

As with any major change in how the system is organised, our immediate priority has been to stabilise the system. There is a long list of small gains that have been achieved over the last year that build the resilience of the NPS. Where issues have arisen, you’ve increasingly shown the collective ability to fix them. 

That is not to say that everything is perfect. I know from the time I’ve spent with probation staff that there are still frustrations. We must be realistic about the level of service that we can expect from others, but you have my commitment that we will continue to push for resolution to issues with central and other service provision. 

The focus on resolving the immediate issues we have faced as an organisation has necessarily meant our concentration has been on what we do and how we do it, rather than thinking about the type of organisation that we want to create. 

That is the shift we need now to make. The proposals set out in this document paint a picture of what service delivery across the NPS will look like, and how we will shape ourselves for the future.

The Blueprint is in part about completing the job of Transforming Rehabilitation (TR). TR formed the NPS as an entity but it did not establish common ways of working across the organisation. E3 is also about preparing for the future challenges that we will face, including the continued expectation of reducing cost, driving improvement, and creating an organisation that can support the emerging shape of prison reform. 

To meet these challenges requires an organisation that has established an evidence-based model of practice, applied consistently across the country, backed by a fair distribution of resource. The Blueprint sets us on a path to achieve that. 

For some of you the proposals are likely to require changes to the way you work. For a very few, they may signal a more fundamental change in your role within the organisation. A great strength of probation staff is your commitment to the service and your ability to speak your mind. I encourage all of you to read the Blueprint and to work with us on how these proposals might best be refined and implemented. 

COLIN ALLARS Director of Probation

Chapter 1 Overview

The National Probation Service (NPS) was created in June 2014 as part of the Transforming Rehabilitation Programme. The NPS brought together parts of 35 former Probation Trusts to form a new organisation with over 9,000 staff and a caseload of 90,000 offenders. 

The NPS, as part of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) is a national organisation covering England and Wales, with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for NOMS overseeing the entire NPS delivery structure. However, the management arrangements for the NPS in England and Wales vary in acknowledgement of the distinct differences in the delivery landscape. 

In Wales many of the areas of work necessary to make communities safer and improve reoffending rates are devolved to the Welsh Government. This includes housing, substance misuse, physical and mental health services, education, skills and training, child and adult safeguarding and local government (community safety). NOMS in Wales was established to reflect this unique situation. The Director of NOMS in Wales has overarching responsibility for the delivery of all of NOMS services in Wales, including direct responsibility for the NPS and public sector prisons and contract management responsibilities for privately contracted prison HMP Parc and the Wales Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC). 

In England, the Director of Probation has direct responsibility for the delivery of probation services. Responsibility for public sector prisons and contract management in England sits with other directors within NOMS.

With the creation of the NPS in England and Wales, we inherited a positive legacy from the former trusts of high performance which we have, to your great credit, maintained over the last year. The harder legacy is that we have also inherited significant differences in how we do our job, how many people do it at what level, and at what cost. And, of course Transforming Rehabilitation has fundamentally changed the operating model for probation.

There are differences in the way court reports are prepared, the services provided to victims, the contributions we make to youth offending teams, how approved premises are managed and resourced, and the types of cases managed by Probation Officers (PO) and Probation Services Officers (PSO). 

As a national organisation we need to address these inconsistencies to be able to provide a quality, equitably resourced public service across England and Wales. We have been working with the Performance and Analysis Group in NOMS to develop a resource allocation model that builds on the tried and tested Metropolitan Area Capacity Model that was previously used by a number of Probation Trusts. The model analyses the case load and activity within offender management and courts and will allow an equitable distribution of staff and resources throughout the National Probation Service. Getting the most from service delivery is in the interests of staff, offenders, victims, our partners, and the public as a whole. 

The E3 Programme was created to define and implement the changes necessary to achieve a consistent way of working. E3 stands for Effectiveness, Efficiency and Excellence. Those three words define what we are trying to achieve through the programme.

• Effectiveness in better delivering on both our performance targets and securing the outcomes of reduced reoffending and public protection. We have successfully maintained performance throughout a period of sustained change. That is a huge achievement and is credit to the professionalism and commitment of our staff. But feedback from staff and partners as well as recommendations in recent audit and inspections have shown us there are opportunities to further improve service delivery 

• Efficiency in ensuring that every penny we spend makes the greatest impact. We need to find ways to reduce what it costs to deliver services to offenders while ensuring that we continue to protect the public and reduce reoffending. The relative efficiency of former Probation Trusts varied significantly. We are committed to using the opportunity of creating a national service to improve the overall efficiency of the organisation. Our proposals will deliver our contribution towards savings for reinvestment in the additional offenders now being supervised by probation. But they will also improve the quality of our provision 

• Excellence in the way that we operate as an organisation and the outcomes we deliver. Most former Probation Trusts worked to the European Excellence Model (EFQM) and many had achieved 5 star ratings. Our long term ambition within the NPS is to replicate those standards

So what does this mean for us? 

It is worth recognising that much of what we do will not change. 

Our purpose and the core of our work will not change. NPS staff will continue to assist Courts and the Parole Board by preparing reports which incorporate accurate and evidence-based assessments and appropriate proposals. We will continue to work with the NPS caseload of mainly sexual and violent offenders, focussing on reducing their risk of harm and enabling them to avoid further offending. We will use Approved Premises (AP) to monitor and support the most dangerous of these cases. Our unique contribution to multi-agency partnerships such as MAPPA, MARAC and Prevent will remain. We will work with victims to ensure that their voice is heard. We will fulfil our statutory duty to contribute to Youth Offending Services (YOS). 

We also recognise that most of the proposals that we outline in this document are not new. They are delivery models that are already operating in parts of the NPS, and which were in place under Probation Trusts. We know that they work. We also know that they will release staff time and resource. 

We are committed to ensuring that any proposed changes to service delivery have been made with due regard to our Public Sector Equality Duty [PSED]. We acknowledge that any changes to service delivery has the potential to impact positively or negatively on both service users and staff groups of particular protected characteristics. The intention of the E3 programme and this Blueprint is to show due care in identifying possible impacts and where necessary highlighting activity that should take place to either promote positive impact or mitigate against possible negative impact of proposals. We will continue to recognise differential need and are committed to ensuring services meet that need effectively.

Our proposals are based on evidence. E3 has looked at the evidence base on what is effective in reducing re-offending and risk of harm. This has included a review of research into effective Probation practice both in the UK and internationally, and discussion with HM Inspectorate of Probation and the NOMS Serious Further Offence (SFO) review team about their analysis of good practice. Even more importantly we have worked with and involved experienced probation professionals in the development of all of these proposals. 

In applying consistency we will also want to preserve the local responsivity and partnership work that has been the driving force of so much innovation over the last few years. That will continue to be true, not least through the evolving relationships with the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). Our aim through this programme is to become an organisation that is ‘consistently innovative’. Consistent in that we work to an agreed and equitable structure and that our processes and practice are founded on evidence. Innovative in that we provide our managers and staff with the opportunity to utilise their professional experience in the way we work, including with local partners and in contributing to the organisation’s continuous improvement. This model provides scope for flexibility to operate within different areas, including Wales reflecting the uniqueness of the devolved delivery landscape, and the NOMS in Wales focus on increased integration of delivery of offender management services across custody and the community.

It was always recognised that there would need to be change in how some of our work is undertaken and by whom, once the NPS had been established. The changes will for some staff be significant. They will remove some roles from the organisation and change what we ask of others, in particular PSO grades. We intend to create generic job descriptions for core roles (Case Administrator (CA), Senior Probation Officer (SPO), Head of Cluster/Function, PO, PSO), and these will be formally evaluated through the established job evaluation process. These will cover the range of roles at each grade. They will support our goal of flexible and multi-skilled staff. 

For staff who read this document and see proposals that may change their role we would offer reassurance. It is important to stress that we do not believe compulsory redundancies will be necessary to achieve our ambitions. The NPS caseload is higher than we had planned for. Implementation of the changes described here will release the capacity to absorb that work among our existing workforce, but in some parts of the NPS and for some staff it will mean operating in a new way. 

We have called this document a ‘Blueprint’ because it sets out for staff and partners an early and high level plan for what service delivery in the NPS will look like in the future. This Blueprint sets a high level direction for the future shape of service delivery in the NPS. We are sharing it in the interests of transparency and to give staff and stakeholders the opportunity to comment on those proposals. We want your help to support us in best making the shift to this new way of working. Significant further work is required to translate these design principles into a clear organisational structure.

1.1 Vision

The core role and purpose of the NPS is consistent with the 100 year history of probation in England and Wales. 

Our role is to protect the public, support victims and reduce reoffending. We, alongside the rest of NOMS, have a simple vision: 

“Preventing Victims by Changing Lives”. 

Everything that we do should be with the aim of contributing to the delivery of that vision, whether that is in the advice we provide to sentencers, the support we provide to victims, the approach we take to the management and rehabilitation of offenders, the relationships we build with partner agencies, or the way that we support our staff to improve their ability to deliver. 

As an organisation we have described ‘how’ we go about delivering on that vision through a series of organisational principles 
  • We believe in the capacity of people to change. We know that through excellent professional practice, strong partnership working and by making clear what is expected of offenders, we can help them change their lives 
  • We are accountable. We are proud of our role in protecting the public which is always at the heart of our decisions 
  • We are collaborative. We work with individuals and with national and local services to create a real and sustained difference 
  • We are effective. Our work is focused on delivering results and building on our skills and experience. Our work is based on evidence of what works, and on continuous improvement. This means embracing evidence and innovation to provide a service the public can be confident in We are fair. We value the diversity of our staff, our communities and individuals, knowing that this strengthens our ability to be responsive and effect real and long-term change in how people live their lives 
  • We are professional. We trust and support our staff to make the best decisions for public safety, investing in their ongoing development, encouraging innovation and always striving for excellence The aim of E3 is to help us better deliver against that corporate vision and organisational principles. 
(more to follow)


  1. This document says it's based on evidence, where is it? Where's the evidence that existing "delivery models under probation trusts" don't work, eg local delivery units and 'end to end offender management'. These very same models in which all targets were met and a gold award was won. Isn't this why the highest risk work was left with the NPS and to be completed by qualified probation officers? The MoJ now wants to change job roles and the work we do. This is not to provide a better quality or service but simply because "the NPS caseload is higher than we had planned for. Implementation of the changes described here will release the capacity to absorb that work". This move is the result of NPS probation directors doing exactly what the likes of Sodexo Links et al are doing. Even though this is a "blueprint" meaning a draft in layman terms, we know they have already reduced the quality of PSR's, they are recruiting PO's to send them into prisons (despite some prisons closing and others getting rid of probation OMU staff), and they're recruiting PSO's to replace qualified PO's in the community.

  2. - TR formed the NPS as an entity but it did not establish common ways of working across the organisation...
    - For some of you the proposals are likely to require changes to the way you work...
    - It is worth recognising that much of what we do will not change...
    - The harder legacy is that we have also inherited significant differences in how we do our job, how many people do it at what level, and at what cost...
    - It is worth recognising that much of what we do will not change...
    - Transforming Rehabilitation has fundamentally changed the operating model for probation...
    - It is worth recognising that much of what we do will not change...
    - It was always recognised that there would need to be change in how some of our work is undertaken and by whom, once the NPS had been established...
    - It is worth recognising that much of what we do will not change...

    What a confused, mealy-mouthed, contradictory & desperate pile of poo...
    "It is worth recognising that much of what I say will not make sense"

  3. Just listening to Bully Boy Cameron's "You Will Become English" rhetoric. Can't wait for Spain to deport all expat Brits who can't speak Spanish.

    1. Correction: "... Expat Brits who don't or won't speak Spanish."

      There's no such thing as "can't".

    2. The major influence for this upheaval in roles and responsibilities is austerity. By the second paragraph there is reference to 'resources' and 'savings' and then, later, 'reducing costs'. Not a single mention of investment. If this blueprint, despite all the fine rhetoric about consistency, sharing best practice and excellence, failed to deliver financial savings it would be discarded. The only way they can make savings is by making cuts to staff costs, as these account for 80% of the budget. So there will be the charade of a job evaluation exercise which is a foregone conclusion. It will redesiginate roles and responsibilities to deliver a lower unit cost. And they don't believe compulsory redundancies will be necessary is the strongest reassurance they give on job security

    3. On the job evaluation exercise, I think the unions should carefully consider whether they should be participants. This JE is essentially about making changes to contracts of employment and thus by their involvement the unions will be complicit in making these changes. JE gives off the air of being rational and objective, but really its purpose is to rubber stamp radical role changes and cheapen the workforce. Would it not be better to force the NPS to go down the changing contracts route?

  4. TR was never about saving money, apparently:

    Dame Ursula Brennan, PAC 2014: "To pick up the point about savings and Treasury targets, Ministers have been clear from the start that this programme of reform is not designed to produce savings in and of itself..."

    And at the ebd of the witnesses' woeful performance the PAC recommended that the relevant departments "Write to us in six months to update us on their progress against the 2013 White Paper action plan." I wonder where that written update went to?

    However, way back in June 2013 a certain Jim Brown highlighted the following from a prospective bidder for a CRC area. Richard Johnson was managing director of Serco's Welfare to Work and wrote this in an article on his blogsite 'Buying Quality Performance'

    "If we are to win this contract, our tender will have to meet a quality ‘threshold’. But we are old-hands at this outsourcing game and know how to tick all those boxes. It comes down to price.

    We know that the MoJ is looking for a 30% cost saving. We are going to have to bid at around £20m per annum. For this, we will take on all court-directed activity, including new supervision orders for people receiving sentences of less than 12 months. It is not going to be easy! But our Board are very keen indeed for us to secure this contract. They have, after all, agreed with the shareholders some stretching growth targets that can only be achieved through new contract wins.

    We will inherit in Area F the ‘newco’ of transferring probation staff. In order to make it work, we will have to: strip out overhead; look for significant redundancies on the frontline; take the remaining staff through a radical cultural change programme, rolling out a new rigour in performance management; and also find ways to deliver some of the court orders differently (for example, using call centres instead of face-to-face contact).

    This transformation programme is going to cost us a lot of money, which is obviously going to have to come out of the £20m too.

    What this certainly is not is a rehabilitation revolution. It is not a mechanism to deliver a big decrease in re-offending. In order for that to be the case, real returns would have to be possible from the introduction of entirely new services over and above court orders. This conflicts with the objective of cuts. Payment by Results or outcome-based funding does not necessarily mean additional results – when combined with simple cost-cutting it generally just means de-risking public expenditure through shifting to cash-on-delivery."

    As Netnipper rightly highlights, Allars confirms the reality of the programme of cuts - a programme of slash & burn that was categorically denied in evidence given to the PAC.

    Constructive dismissal?

    1. Very useful to be reminded of Richard Johnson's assessment. Later in the article he made the point that in order to make savings in the long-term from reductions in reoffending you have to invest. He quotes the following figures that are from 2008 but still give a clear picture of the costs.

      The total cost to the economy of crime committed by recent ex-prisoners was between £9.5bn–£13bn; of this, the cost of crime committed by offenders released from short prison sentences was around £7bn–£10bn a year.

      Johnson argued that to save you have to invest – a spend and save model. There is sound evidence that investing leads to savings in the long-term. This would mean providing new services, not cutting existing ones to the bone.

      Instead all the NPS offers is the slash and burn model – aka E3

  5. does the next segment give details of the new staffing structure? Still rumours of POs being taken out of courts - is this true? Rumours of POs being taken out of teams and into prisons - is this true? Are offices mainly to be manned by an SPO and PSOs? I hope the next part of the article clarifies these things.

    1. Here is hoping they get on with it no matter what the demented plan they intend inflicting on us. Like you i am fed up with the speculation. Whatever outcome you can be rest those in command will be the winners and the rest of us who are currently holding the process together awaiting shafting round 2. So just get on with it rather than prolonging the agony.

  6. Gandolfs brother18 January 2016 at 19:03

    We were all of these things before the bastards split us up......a plague on your house for such wanton you can I am nowturning to sorcerery to right the wrongs of NOMS

  7. Jim since privatisation have you noticed the declining quality of commentary in blogging and increased crap being posted. Privatisation has destroyed the quality of probation

  8. A comment in the fourth paragraph from Allars is *very* interesting: "We must be realistic about the level of service that we can expect from others".

    Recognition in NOMS that all is not well with the CRCs?

  9. The 2013 post from ex-Serco necromancer Johnson just goes to prove that robbing the public purse is one of the more straightforward dark arts in the beancounters repertoire, and that the shafting of the probation service was clearly a well planned heist, although not quite The Italian Job, Ocean's Several, etc, etc:

    "But we are old-hands at this outsourcing game and know how to tick all those boxes. It comes down to price... We know that the MoJ is looking for a 30% cost saving... In order to make it work, we will have to: strip out overhead; look for significant redundancies on the frontline; take the remaining staff through a radical cultural change programme, rolling out a new rigour in performance management; and also find ways to deliver some of the court orders differently (for example, using call centres instead of face-to-face contact)."

    1. Okay, so it was an orchestrated heist involving the daylight robbery of £hundreds of millions of public money, but you have to ask yourself this question:

      *** Who gives a fuck? ***

      PAC? Clearly not.
      HMG Opposition? Too busy fighting each other.
      Unions? Never had a clue in the first place, and now all they're trying to do is catch up with the E3 debacle - another done deal they've missed by a country mile.
      MPs? Not anymore.
      Press? Not until there's an obviously linked tragedy, but even then some poor probation employee will be hung out to dry and the truth will be buried in the blame & shame game.

      And that's it.

  10. Hurrah!! Great news from Shropshire:

    Shrewsbury born and bred, Beccy has been in the Probation Service since 2001 after completing her studies at the University of Birmingham.

    She has 10 clients to look after and spends her spare time being part of island life, including trips to discover its rich and varied wildlife.

    It wasn’t just her love of Shrewsbury Town that she took with her to the Falklands. She iss also hoping to follow in the footsteps of Shrewsbury’s most famous son Charles Darwin.

    She said: “In 2013, I happened upon a job advert for the probation officer role in the Falkland Islands, and applied. I was hoping that I would get the chance to follow in Darwin’s footsteps. After an interview in London, at the Falkland Island Government Office, I was successful and the great adventure began.

    “I am the probation officer for the Falkland Islands and am responsible for helping to rehabilitate offenders back into the community. I cover all aspects of the work, from preparing reports for court, managing offenders in the community and within the prison population.”