Friday, 5 February 2016

Political Corruption

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According to the latest edition of Private Eye, SEETEC is the latest of the probation privateers to be in special measures for failing an audit, but Home Secretary Theresa May has a cunning plan for probation - give it to PCC's to sort out.

Now those with long memories will recall that Police and Crime Commissoners was a concept floated a long time ago by the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange to replace Police Authorities. It was an idea that had no public support and their election three years ago recorded the lowest ever turnout with hundreds of thousands of spolit ballot papers, a fact that the government and Theresa May has conveniently swept under the carpet. This comment from yesterday summed it up nicely I thought:-
Democracy all round, then, as probation services and the modern version of borstal schools are handed on a plate to politically sponsored individuals who, at best, were shoe-horned into something like £65,000 a year PCC roles on the back of 30% of the votes from an average 15% turnout by the electorate. I'm not a statistician, but doesn't that effectively mean these quango's are being run by one person on the basis of getting the nod from just 5% of the electorate?
Like much of government policy nowadays, it was cooked up on the back of several fag packets and during her speech yesterday, even she admitted that at one point she felt it had all been a ghastly mistake. But only three PCCs have so far significantly disgraced themselves, none of them Tories, so relief all round and in fact completely unbeknown to the public, the decision has been made to give these barely-elected officials even more power over the Fire Service. 

In a very sneaky move last month, departmental responsibility for the Fire Service moved quietly from the Department for Communities and Local Government, back to the Home Office in readiness for what will effectively become a merger of police and fire service functions under the joint control of PCCs. But clearly Theresa May feels suitably emboldened in her empire-building to now actively consider adding youth justice, probation and education to her portfolio:-
"But in the future, I would like to see the PCC role expanded even further still. Together with the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, I have been exploring what role PCCs could play in the wider criminal justice system. This is something that I have long believed in and which a number of PCCs have shown interest in. As they say, there is a reason that we included the words “and crime” in PCC’s titles.
So after the May elections, the Government will set out further proposals for police and crime commissioners. Because as a number of PCCs have argued, youth justice, probation and court services can have a significant impact on crime in their areas and there are real efficiencies to be had from better integration and information sharing. We have yet to decide the full extent of these proposals and the form they will take, but I am clear that there is significant opportunity here for PCCs to lead the same type of reform they have delivered in emergency services in the wider criminal justice system.  
And there are other opportunities too. As Adam Simmonds has argued, I believe the next set of PCCs should bring together the two great reforms of the last Parliament – police reform and school reform – to work with and possibly set up alternative provision free schools to support troubled children and prevent them from falling into a life of crime.
And alongside the expansion of PCC responsibilities, the development of powerful directly elected mayors provides a fantastic opportunity, where there is local agreement and boundaries make sense, to bring together policing with local transport, infrastructure, housing and social care services under a single directly elected mayor. I know many PCCs have engaged with local proposals, and I would encourage them to continue to do so - because I am clear that PCCs’ consent is a prerequisite for the inclusion of policing in any mayoral deal."
Now there's another funny thing - mention of 'Elected Mayor's'. I seem to remember the public were not too keen on them either. When John Prescott floated the idea years ago up in Durham and the North East, it was roundly rejected in a referendum and similarly where I live, electors comprehensively gave it the thumbs down. So how is it we're getting one imposed on us by George Osborne and Central Government anyway? 

So lets get this right. The public didn't want PCCs, didn't turn out to vote for them and many that did, spolit their ballot papers. The public don't know who they are, what they do or who is standing for election because candidates do not qualify for a free mailout. During the election for PCCs there will be no mention of the proposed new powers, that will only be decided after they are get elected. 

What was the title of Theresa May's speech? Why, 'Putting People in Charge' of course! Oh how the English language has been utterly corrupted by politicians.    


  1. Adam Simmonds ladies and gentlemen:

    1. From November 2013

      Feckless families should be put through ‘two years of hell’ in boot camps to turn their lives around, a crime tsar has urged. Layabout parents – like the characters in hit TV show Shameless – would undergo an ‘intensive’ programme to keep them out of crime and unemployment, says Adam Simmonds, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northamptonshire.
      He said derelict Army bases could be used to house them while they were taught basic household skills, ordered to stop drinking and smoking, and given basic job training.

      Their children, meanwhile, would be educated properly. ‘You’ve got to break the cycle, tackle that poverty of ambition,’ Mr Simmonds told The Mail on Sunday. The PCC – whose pioneering plan to merge police and fire services won praise from Home Secretary Theresa May – insists his idea would be cheaper than repeatedly sending career criminals to jail and taking their offspring into care.

      An adult prison place costs £40,000 a year while it costs an estimated £140,000 a year to keep a young person in a children’s home. The Tory PCC said that in Kettering, Northants, police believe that just ten families are responsible for the majority of burglaries.

      He added: ‘The kids don’t go to school, none of them are in work. They cause the bulk of the problem – they go to prison, come out, generation after generation.

      ‘I’d like to take them out of Kettering, put them somewhere else to retrain the family. ‘We’ve got to be more radical than sending social workers to get mum and dad out of bed. Sending them to prison hasn’t worked so what else do you do?’

      Under his plan, the most troubled households would be told they could escape the cycle of reoffending and unemployment by agreeing to go into a new residential programme.

    2. Maybe Cameron, Gove, May, Osborne, Simmonds et al would like to consider an exchange scheme with Syria? 100,000 of our "most troubled" for 100,000 refugees who want to work & educate themselves. What's not to like? Reduced UK reoffending rates, reduced prison costs, reduced demand on welfare benefits, no need to continue expensive military intervention, significant increase in revenues from the ambitious newcomers, political allegiance from the grateful refugees...

      What is so scary is that I don't doubt some lunatic right-wing "think tank" will have already costed such a proposal. Just look what's been achieved with probation in such short order - caterers owning & imposing fast-food techniques for speedy justice, i.e. telephone orders, atm's, diner-style booths

  2. I can assure you this company is not in special measures. Again irresponsible journalism and irresponsible blogging by Jim

    1. "After identifying some concerns in Kent, Surrey and Sussex, as well as in South Yorkshire, these companies must now reassure us they are making the necessary improvements."

      Quote by MoJ spokesperson.

      So what alternative spin would you (@09:53) prefer?

      - teething troubles
      - bedding in period
      - ironing out the wrinkles
      - putting on the ritz
      - doing the conga
      - stuffing our pockets
      - bringing home the bacon

    2. That's 1 audit in probably 50 undertaken. Calm yourself down. I don't work in either CRC but I've been an auditor before and a single audit means nothing.

    3. The level of nepotism, the many tissues of lies & the outright dishonesty involved with this whole debacle makes any attempt at unravelling it worthwhile. Back in 2013 there was a post on this blogsite:

      "Andrea Bennett (ex-Lancs Probation), Senior Commissioning Manager at UK Ministry of Justice; I understand her partner is Nigel Bennett (ex-Lancs Probation), Director at PublicCo".

      As we all know Mr Bennett is now CEO at Seetec's CRC, while Mrs Bennett remains employed by NOMS to police the NOMS' CRC contracts.

    4. Did you mean Kids Company Jim? Kidscape is something else.

    5. Fuck off Jim with your sunshine. It's funny how this companies employees blogged a few weeks back saying they enjoyed their work and received Xmas gifts and now you're trying to bring this company down. You're so transparent that you're see through. You're not even an employee for either service and thank god. TR has been a runaway success and everyone can see this but you.

    6. "a single audit means nothing"

      Too right sunshine - didn't Kids Company pass all audits with flying colours? (correction)

    7. "TR has been a runaway success and everyone can see this but you."

      I normally delete rubbish like this, but you never know, some positive evidence might emerge that supports the assertion. I think we need a bit more evidence than a Christmas box though.

    8. Yes Jim, how dare you republish reputable journalism from Private Eye, a magazine renowned for being independent of large corporate interests and for relentlessly exposing misconduct in public life, where elected politicians singularly fail to do so?

    9. TR has been a runaway success - lol - it's caused numerous communication problems and as well all know by now, communication is key. My job has become almost impossible.

    10. Runaway success= Unfit for purpose IT, the lowest staff morale in the history of probation, an u ntested operational model that is coming apart at the seams, lack of leadership, a push to make working conditions so unpalatable that those on existing terms and conditions decide that anything is better than this, an infrastructure that is a health and safety nightmare, the paperless office that should be called the breach less office and then we have the state of allocations at court with no links between local services and CRCs across the country, if that!s a runaway success, you're spot on....

    11. 18.43 that's all lies. Your office may not be working but the other CRCS are. The TR train is gathering momentum roaring full steam ahead dmproducing the best ever service the probation service has witnessed in its history.

    12. 19:32, I would say you're a joke.

      But jokes are funny.

      And you're not.

    13. Give EXAMPLES 19.32

    14. Sad and Disillusioned6 February 2016 at 10:42

      Good grief what sort of whacky backy is 19.32 on and where can I get some? From where I stand we re all going to hell in a handcart and there aint no good news story from any of the CRCs - just more grief and misery.

  3. Below is from The Observer, June 2012. Reads like a familiar cast of characters in that well known satirical sitcom "Help Yourself !", recently re-released as "What's Yours is Mine".

    "Chris Grayling, the employment minister, said: "It is absolute nonsense to say the Work Programme is in crisis. Quite the opposite. The Work Programme is about giving people the individualised help they need to find and stay in employment, and it is doing well. With the help of more than 400 voluntary organisations, along with hundreds of private and public providers, we are well on the way to 100,000 job starts."

    Private firms contracted around the country by the government to deliver the Work Programme are responsible for organising the training and work placements necessary for the unemployed to "undertake active and effective jobseeking".

    INGEUS UK LTD: Seven contracts worth £727m

    Therese Rein, the wife of former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, is the company's managing director. The company paid £3.8m in dividends last year – and Rein holds around 97% of the firm's shares.

    A4e LTD: Five contracts worth £438m

    Earlier this year, four former members of staff of A4e were arrested on suspicion of fraud at the company dating back to 2010. Emma Harrison, who was paid a dividend of £8.6m in 2010, resigned as the prime minister's family tsar and as chair of the company over claims there was evidence of "systemic fraud" within the firm.

    WORKING LINKS: Three contracts worth £308m

    Working Links was formed three years ago by a merger of the government employment service, recruitment firm Manpower and Ernst & Young. Chairman Keith Faulkner admits: "If you have entered into a contract with government, you can decide whether your job is to maximise profit or to maximise your success in helping people find work and stay there."

    AVANTA ENTERPRISE: Three contracts worth £267m

    Avanta has arranged for jobseekers to work as unpaid cleaners in houses, flats, offices and council premises under the work programme. Its website says: "We're Optimistic. Creative. Stubborn. Challenging. Restless."

    SEETEC: Three contracts worth £221m

    The company's turnover last year was £53m and it employs more than 500 people. Its largest shareholder and chief executive, Peter Cooper, was paid nearly £2m in salary and share dividends in 2010."

  4. Looks like free schools are already happening. From Wikipedia:

    Simmonds's plans to relocate from the current Northamptonshire Police headquarters at Wootton Hall and to convert the old site to a free school were criticised by the Police Federation and the public. Simmonds said he is independent of the Northampton Free School Trust, a public limited company by guarantee set up to run the proposed school, Wootton Park School[17] though an article on the school website written 2 months later by Kathryn Buckle said Simmonds was the inspiration behind the project.

  5. Wasn't there a conflict of interest issue when the McDowells were picked to play for different sides?