Monday, 4 January 2016

News Roundup 2

It's been some time since we had a roundup of bits and pieces. This is interesting, but I guess not surprising from the Young People and Children Now website:-

YOT leaders unconvinced by youth justice transition protocol 

Youth Offending Team (YOT) managers remain concerned about handing over cases to adult probation services despite the release of a joint protocol on the issue.

The Youth Justice Board, the National Probation Service (NPS) and the National Offender Management Service have published a joint national protocol for managing the transition of young offenders to adult services when they reach 18. This promotes a duty of care around the safety of young people and also encourages flexibility around the transition to better meet the needs of each young person.

It also has strong focus on early planning when moving a young offender between YOTs and adult provision, with further guidance due to be published this month to ensure that transition planning starts as soon as the young person is referred to a YOT.

In addition, a dispute resolution process is also in place for YOTs who disagree with a decision around moving a young person to adult probation services. Such disputes could involve whether a young person should be placed under the supervision of the NPS, which takes on high-risk cases, or community rehabilitation company (CRC), where lower risk cases are dealt with.

But Gareth Jones, chair of the Association of YOT Managers (AYM), said that while the bulk of the protocol is “easy to follow and very clear” the section on conflict resolution lacks detail. He said: “In some parts of a country a case may be sent to a CRC or the NPS but if a YOT disagrees with that the conflict resolution side of the protocol is unclear. It says that a meeting should take place. But at what level will that take place and who ultimately decides on the issue?”

The protocol also specifies that each YOT should have a "qualified probation officer to act as the lead contact” with the NPS “to provide advice and recommendations on transitions to adult services”. However, Jones believes that financial cutbacks across youth justice services could mean many YOTs miss out on having this role within their team. He said: “It is good to see in the protocol that they are talking about a qualified probation officer in YOTs. But how many will have this if resourcing is reduced?”

Earlier this year, the AYM warned that many YOTS were keeping hold of cases when a young person reached 18 even if they were not receiving funding for them due to concerns around the quality of care some CRCs provide. Financial pressures rather than trust in the protocol are more likely to drive YOTs to hand over cases to adult services, Jones believes. “I don’t think there will be more confidence to transfer,” he added.

Last month, inspections of YOTs were suspended to help them cope with £9m of in-year cuts rubberstamped by the YJB. 


I was and still am to a certain extent against the whole Police and Crime Commissioner idea, but this good news story from the BBC website just before Christmas demonstrates how they are able to 'plough their own furrow' despite the wishes of a Tory government and big business hell bent on destroying public services:- 

Three East Midlands police forces reject G4S control room deal

Three police forces who looked at handing over their 999 control rooms to the private sector have decided not to go ahead with a deal. Police in Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire will instead form a "strategic alliance" to coordinate their work. A spokesman for the Unison union said the decision was "good news for our members and the public". A full alliance, which was "not a merger", could be in place by 2020.

A police spokesman from Northamptonshire said "a decision was made not to progress any further work by G4S across the three forces in this area". Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Sir Clive Loader said: "We'd prefer to be the masters of our own destiny."

A spokesman for the three forces said: "On 3 November, we announced that G4S had been asked to carry out a feasibility study into contact management. "We are grateful to G4S for providing their report but although we have identified an urgent need to explore options... we can confirm at this early stage that this will not include outsourcing.

G4S spokesman John Shaw said the firm was "disappointed" that a deal had not been agreed. "We firmly believe that we can help police forces unlock resources in their support functions to release money for front-line policing and keep more officers on the beat."

A joint statement from the three forces' police and crime commissioners said: "To be quite clear, the alliance is not a merger. "It is all about protecting the quality of local policing services in each force area as a result of maximising efficiencies ... and each force will retain its own identity."

Leicestershire Police Unison branch secretary Chris Hanrahan said the union will be looking to meet chief police officers early next year to discuss the three-force alliance.


Talking of G4S, here's a sobering reminder to all the privateers involved with CRC's of what can happen if you get involved with stuff you know nothing about. This from the Daily Telegraph:-

Hedge funds short troubled outsourcing firm G4S as shares drop

A pair of hedge funds has resolved to bet against G4S this year after setting up short positions in the beleaguered outsourcing company’s shares. G4S, the security specialist that runs everything from cash machines to asylum detention centres, has endured a tough few years since it struggled to guard the 2012 Olympics in London.

However, the firm’s shares are currently tempting just three hedge funds to hold large short positions, which involve loaning out shares in the hope of buying them back later, at a cheaper price.

CapeView Capital, a hedge fund run by former Deutsche Bank trader Theo Panos, declared a short position worth 0.5pc of G4S’s overall value on Christmas Eve. It joined Henderson Global Investors, whose trade was revealed to the financial regulator on December 21, and Ako Capital, which has been shorting G4S for more than two years.

Their contrarian positions are at odds with a number of the City’s biggest hedge funds, which have closed out their short positions in G4S in recent months. Blackrock, GLG Partners and Marshall Wace were among those cashing in their bets in 2015 as G4S's price dropped.

G4S left the FTSE 100 last month after its market value became too small. Its shares have lost 17pc over the past year. The stock continued to decline even after the group posted a 2.8pc rise in half-year revenues in August, with a 10pc rise in underlying earnings and a bullish tone about its growing order book in Asia and the Americas.

Ashley Almanza, who became chief executive after the Olympics debacle, has sold off a number of overseas businesses while dealing with the fallout from a scandal over criminal tagging. G4S and its rival outsourcer Serco were temporarily barred from bidding for public sector contracts after they were accused of charging the government for tagging suspects who were in fact already in prison or dead.

CapeView spent about three months shorting Serco until February 2015, according to data from the Financial Conduct Authority. Serco, which has lost about 40pc of its value this year, is also struggling to recover after a £555m rights issue announced by its new boss Rupert Soames in November 2014. Neither G4S nor CapeView responded to requests for comment.


Finally, I wonder if 2016 will see the MoJ getting a visit from this lot? This from Civil Service World website:-  

Operational delivery chief Ruth Owen on setting up the Surge and Rapid Response Team – and her plans for 2016

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your profession in 2015?
The biggest challenge, and our biggest success this year, has been in addressing operational surges in demand through the creation of our Surge and Rapid Response Team.

Last year, we agreed across departments that we needed new capability and capacity to address known increases in demand for our operational teams, such as the summer rush for passports and the January tax return deadline, as well as unexpected crises needing additional resource.

As operational professions do, we got on with delivering it. We rapidly built a whole new team of 200 apprentices who work across all government departments, wherever the need arises. This team are absolutely brilliant! They are demonstrating new ways of working across the civil service in a way we didn’t even imagine. In six months, they have been deployed in DWP, HMRC, Border Force, the FCO, Visas and Immigration and the Rural Payments Agency. The team have proved themselves adept at taking on specific areas of work and delivering high productivity. And they are enjoying it too – their People Survey scores at 78% puts them near the top of the civil service for engagement.

What are your profession’s top priorities in the year ahead?
I want to keep building on the momentum of the Surge and Rapid Response Team – and am looking to expand the team and the range of departments they can support next year.

And in the context of the Spending Review, all departments are looking at new ways to deliver their services at lower cost. As a profession we want to capitalise on that and ensure we align our thinking, so that our transformation programmes work in tandem and we don’t reinvent the wheel in each department. Working together to redefine operations of the future should also give us a chance to rethink the roles and skills of the future for the profession.


  1. Gove: his public sector benefits and gaming the system.

    'Over a five-month period between December 2005, and April 2006, he spent more than £7,000 on the semi-detached house, which Mr Gove, 41, and his wife Sarah Vine, a journalist, bought for £430,000 in 2002. Around a third of the money was spent at Oka, an upmarket interior design company established by Lady Annabel Astor, Mr Cameron’s mother-in-law.

    He also claimed for a £750 Loire table – although the Commons’ authorities only allowed him to claim £600 – a birch Camargue chair worth £432 and a birdcage coffee table for £238.50. Other claims in the five-month period included Egyptian cotton sheets from the White Company, a £454 dishwasher, a £639 range cooker, a £702 fridge freezer and a £19.99 Kenwood toaster.

    Mr Gove even claimed for a £34.99 foam cot mattress in Feb 2006 from Toys 'R’ Us – despite children’s equipment being banned under Commons rules. He also charged the taxpayer for eight coffee spoons and cake forks, worth £5.95 each, four breakfast knives and a woven door mat worth £30. A claim for new patio furniture worth £219, including a four-seater bistro dining set, was turned down by Commons officials.

    Some months later, Mr Gove moved house and transferred his second home allowance from the west London home to a £395,000 new property near Guildford.'

    He paid back about £7,000

    1. The Telegraph files are still good value. Selous, for example, cites having a London property from which he received rental whilst claiming £20,000+ annually for mortgage interest on his Dunstable constituency home. Presumably he would then claim daily travel from Dunstable? Don't know if this is still the case... but no doubt being a Member is still quite a lucrative business.

    2. Update from IPSA data:

      - MPs claimed a total of £105.8million in expenses in 2014/15, up from £104.1million in the previous 12 months.
      - A number of MPs refused to reimburse any claims subsequently deemed inappropriate, which have since been 'written off'. (They don't do that with benefit overpayments).

      Meanwhile, bringing a new meaning to "petty" cash:

      - One former Labour MP, Anne McGuire, filed a claim for just two pence for stationery.
      - Ex-Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown billed the public 8p for 10 foldback clips.
      - Tory Justice Minister Andrew Selous charged 10p for pack of 160 page markers.

    3. Sealous was ranked as one of the top ten bizarre claimants. His penny-pinching including claiming 55 pence for a mug of Horlicks, now he puts in 10 pence claims.

      'In the trade' Gove has a reputation for not listening. As Will Self described him: a master of the dark arts.

  2. Beyond Govism

  3. US Outsourcing Company Abandons Plans To Sue Michael Gove’s Department

    The news follows yet another significant reversal of former justice secretary Chris Grayling’s policies by his successor, Michael Gove.

    posted on Jan. 4, 2016, at 5:03 p.m.

  4. Off this topic but I feel compelled to comment on today's news report. Junior doctors have come together in unified action to challenge the Government's plans and have organised collective action. I was proud to witness the solidarity and commitment they are presenting in the mass rally's, public condemnation of the employer, and the confidence to state they will not be pulverised by this Government. The junior doctors are educated, intellectuals with integrity to their profession who are unlikely to take such action lightly, but wholly unable to remain complacent. I wonder where we, Probation Service workers would be today had we chosen strong union leaders, challenged T.R process vigorously and taken individual responsibility to stand and be counted for the future service and our own jobs - definitely not beholden to privateers making immoral profit from crime and terminating the employment contracts of hundreds of Long service Probation staff now powerless to act against them, as we are today.

    1. We need to retain the services of the same PR team as the Saudis who, after beheading 46 people in public on state orders, have turned the world against Iran in 24 hours. The UK government has not uttered a single word of criticism of the Saudis' actions despite their use of beheading as a means of "justice" a la Daesh. Presumably Grayling's other vanity project, JSI, wouldn't have been much use to the Saudis after all?

    2. Working Links has employment projects in Saudi Arabia. Checkout their International section on their website.