Monday, 1 February 2016

Prison Realities

A new Chief Inspector of Prisons is now in post and it will be interesting to say the least to see what he makes of things. In the mean time, lets remind ourselves what the outgoing inspector thinks. Here's an edited version of Nick Hardwick's interview for the Guardian:-  

‘You shouldn’t do this job for long because you get used to things you shouldn’t’

The outgoing chief inspector of prisons is explaining why he is so keen to get out of the job. It’s not the budget fights Nick Hardwick had with the Ministry of Justice, nor the fact that he wasn’t actively encouraged to apply for another five-year stint. It’s not even the fact that the previous secretary of state for justice, Lord Grayling, “robustly” tried to influence him – as Hardwick revealed to a select committee last week.

No, he simply feared that he was becoming desensitised; that he was getting prison-horror fatigue. “You shouldn’t do this job for too long because you get used to things you shouldn’t get used to,” he says. “I’ll give you an example of something that is objectively shocking, but how do you keep the outrage going? Take the level of self-harm and suicide. On one level, one bit of your brain is thinking, ‘Oh well, they’ve only had two suicides since we were last here, good.’ On another level, that is appalling.”


If Hardwick has got compassion fatigue, he’s making a good job of hiding it. His outrage could not be more visceral. Throughout his five years as chief inspector, he has been an outspoken critic of the conditions he found in the prisons of England and Wales.

When Hardwick took up his post in 2010, the incoming coalition government promised a “rehabilitation revolution”. In his final annual report, in 2015, the chief inspector said he was “still waiting for this to happen”. The same report quoted an inspection at Wormwood Scrubs in which a guard urged him to look at cells the officer “wouldn’t keep a dog in” – broken windows, filthy, inadequately screened toilets and cockroaches everywhere.

But perhaps the most telling verdict on the system he leaves is the stream of reports on the young offender institutions he and his team visited towards the end of his tenure. To quote from his 2014 inspection of Glen Parva YOI, “this is a model of custody that does not work”. He said the same about virtually every YOI he inspected, citing rising levels of violence and self-harm; young men locked idle in their cells 23 hours a day; 30 minutes outdoor exercise the norm. The situation is so bad in the YOI estate that Hardwick took the decision to inspect them annually, instead of every three or four years, which is the norm across the penal estate.

While the outspoken Hardwick has had his critics, he has also had plenty of supporters. Surprisingly, justice minister Michael Gove appears to be one of them. This week he announced that Hardwick would be the new head of the Parole Board. It’s an interesting choice, given that Hardwick does not believe that many of those incarcerated in England and Wales for minor crimes should be there in the first place. But, he makes clear, the new job will largely be dealing with very different people – serious offenders, who should have been sent to prison.


Hardwick says there are so many problems with our prisons. For starters, they don’t prepare you to return to society. “What a good prison does is teach you to be a good prisoner, so it teaches you to be compliant, not to use your initiative, to do what you’re told, to rein in your emotions, and that isn’t necessarily what you need to do to be a good citizen, or a good parent.” Prisons are based on rigid rules, he says, and another problem is that most prisoners are no good at following rules – that’s why they ended up in prison in the first place.

And then there’s the issue of who is in there in the first place. The more time he spent in prison, the more he wondered whether many of those locked up should have been. “It is striking the number of people in prison who are obviously ill, who have either got mental health problems or substance-abuse issues.

“At one end of the spectrum, you have people who are clearly ill who definitely shouldn’t be in prison, and we need to find ways of diverting them out of the criminal justice system.” These are by no means the only prisoners he fears for. “Then there is a bigger group in the middle who may not be ill per se, but certainly struggle to cope. If we had better care in the community – not just in a sense delivered by the state, but actually if we all took a bit more care of each other – then some of those people could be managed much better in the community than prison.” He accepts such people can be difficult, that many are a “nuisance”, but he still insists that they should not be in prison for minor crimes.

Roughly how many of the 86,000 people locked up in England and Wales is he talking about? “I’m talking about a very large proportion of the prison population.”


He segues to another issue that has concerned him in his half-decade as chief inspector – asylum seekers detained in immigration removal centres. And here he is almost hissing with anger. Locking up asylum seekers is simply an abuse of power, he suggests. “These people haven’t been convicted of anything, and they’re detained on the say-so of a relatively junior civil servant. If you lock someone up in a detention centre, you are punishing them. Whether that’s your intention or not, you are. Right? Even if you’re trying not to run it like a prison. Even if you have the best staff in the world, right, it’s still a prison.” And the bottom line is, he says, most detained asylum seekers have not committed a crime. “It should be very exceptional that you lock someone up without going before a court, and at the moment, it’s simply not exceptional enough.” He returns to the junior civil servant. “It ought to be a huge decision to lock someone up, and the problem is that if you make a huge decision often enough, it becomes not such a huge decision; it becomes routine.”

Hardwick believes there are two major failings with policymakers – “lack of imagination and failure of empathy”. “Too many policymakers do not ask themselves the crucial question: ‘How would I react if I were in that situation, and why are people in prison in the first place?’”

For Hardwick, the most striking example is children. In fact, he says, if he had the clout to close down any institution and start again from scratch, he would do so with youth prisons. “If I could, I would bear down on the juvenile estate, because these are the buildings that are least fit for purpose. Children should be held in much smaller, more caring places, he says. He talks about the time he visited one institution and a boy asked him for help. “I said, ‘What can I do?’ and he said, ‘I want to go home to my mummy, and echhhhh … ’” He chokes up and can’t complete his sentence. “Then another boy in healthcare was just lying in his bed with his blanket pulled over his head. I went away thinking I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a call over the weekend saying any of those boys had hurt themselves.” He pauses, and drinks his coffee from a navy blue NYPD mug. “And that was not an uncaring place. But you think: oh God!”

He hates the way these kids are so often referred to as young people, as if to disguise the fact that they children. “I went on the warpath about the boy who wanted to go home to his mummy, and got him into a hospital.” Again, he pauses. “And they are boys – largely boys – and girls, they are not young people.”

We have the ultimate duty of care to the children we lock up, he says, and we are currently failing them. “The kids in custody are our most troubled children; school teachers, social workers, community workers, all these skilled professionals have not been able to get through to them, so what do we do? We put them in an institution with loads [of others] just like them. It’s bonkers, right? Bonkers. And we could afford to take these children and have them in smaller units with the skilled professional staff and staffing ratios to be able to make headway. There are not so many of them that it would break the bank.” You’re only talking about around 1,000 children, he says.

Again, he says, it goes back to empathy – or lack of it. “Once the state decides to take over the parental responsibility of a child, it has obligations to do all it can for them. If it was our own children in those places, or in that level of need, you would move heaven and earth to try to sort them out and help them. Well, these are our children; we should be moving heaven and earth to try to make a difference and we don’t.”

Last week, he told the justice select committee how his independence had been undermined. For starters, he had to have his budget cleared on a weekly basis for inspections, which resulted in him threatening to suspend all inspections. The solution to this “absurd” situation is simple, he says. “The inspectorate should not be sponsored by the department that has direct operational experience with the things that we inspect. Right?” He mentions a conversation he recently had with a team of Russian inspectors and laughs. “I was going on about how important it is to be independent, and they said, ‘Well, who appoints you?’ I said, the Ministry of Justice, and they asked, ‘Who sets your budget?’ Well, that’s the Ministry of Justice, I said. And they go, ‘Ah, you mean that kind of independence!’”

The most alarming thing he said to the select committee last week was that Grayling “robustly” tried to influence reports.But he never went into details. Actually, he says now, that’s a slight misquote. “I said we had some very robust conversations with Chris Grayling – that was often after reports had been produced.”

But yes, he says, there is one particular report that he did try to change. “The only time he tried to deliberately try to influence a report was an annual report where he said, ‘This is what I think should be in your annual report’, and I said, ‘That’s very interesting,’ and then went away and wrote my report.” What did he try to change? “It was the last one, published this July, and I can’t for the life of me remember what he said should be in it, because I wasn’t taking much notice.”

Was it an issue of substance? “He was telling me the points he hoped I would make that were positive, and I didn’t think it was his place to say that.”

Can he give a general indication of the positive points he wanted made?

“I can’t remember, I didn’t take a note of what he said.” Really? He ums and ahs, looks at his PA, then finally comes out with it. “His general concern was that I had said the lack of staff, overcrowding and some of the policy changes that he had introduced had contributed to poor outcomes in prisons. I was very clear about that, and he disagreed very strongly with that conclusion.”

What does Hardwick think he has achieved in the job? Well, he says, women’s prisons are better than they were, and now most inspections are unannounced, whereas previously only half were, but he’s struggling for positives.

“The other achievement is much more modest,” he finally says. “In the adult estate, the reality is [that] things have got worse, and I think they would have been even worse were it not for us.” He smiles. “That’s probably not a great claim to make, is it?”


It seems Nick Hardwick is quite a fan of the excellent Prison UK blog by Alex Cavendish, as indeed I am, and no doubt he was chuffed when Nick agreed to an interview. Here are some edited highlights, but the whole is remarkably candid and well worth reading in full:-

Prison UK: You have been in post as HM Chief Inspector of Prisons since 2010. What do you consider has been the most challenging aspect of the Inspectorate’s work during your term in office?

Nick H: My time as Chief Inspector has coincided with a deterioration in safety and conditions in prison and that is shown both by our inspection findings, but also by the data that NOMS [National Offender Management Service] and the Prison Service itself publishes, including the very concerning figures just published.

One of the challenges for us... one of the big debates we’ve had, is that we knew a lot of these issues were beyond the control of individual prisons. There's a point where you think criticising a prison for the fact it was overcrowded and understaffed seems to be a criticism of the prison and its management when these issues weren’t an individual prison’s fault.

It sometimes felt unfair, but on the other hand we decided that if we weren’t describing as honestly and fully what was happening, it would be assumed we were saying what was happening was all right, when it wasn’t. It was difficult to chart the decline, but that’s what we felt we had to do.

Prison UK: In recent years the prison population in England & Wales has hit a record high of over 86,000 and although numbers have now fallen slightly, most prisons are at - or over – their certified capacity. What practical impacts have you seen on the stability and safety of prisons?

Nick H: It’s not for the Chief Inspector of Prisons to say how many people should be in prison, but it is for me to say that the facilities need to match the size of the population. Which they don’t.

People – particularly politicians – see overcrowding purely in term of physical overcrowding: two men crammed in a cell designed for one. Now that’s not acceptable and you go into some of these places where you have a tiny cell with an unscreened toilet and people are locked in there 23 hours a day. They may not be dangerous to each other, but they may just not get on.

That is unacceptable, but beyond that, what overcrowding means also is that prisons don’t have the activities places, the number of telephones on the landings, space in the showers, offender supervisors. It’s more than just physical space. It means that the resources for the population are not adequate to meet their needs.

So when people say they want prisons to do all these things – from rehabilitation to more education, to keeping prisoners safer to dealing with extremism – there are too many prisoners and not enough staff to do it. It’s important that we look at overcrowding beyond simply how many people there are in a cell to what is the capacity of a prison over a whole range of activities.

Prison UK: I think it is fair to say that the relationship between HM Inspectorate and the Ministry of Justice has been strained in recent years. How has that tension affected the work of HMIP? Is the situation improving?

Nick H: It’s well known that I have had a pretty robust relationship with Chris Grayling and I think he’d say the same. If the relationship was strained, in some ways that’s as it should be. There should be a degree of tension between the Inspectorate and the Ministry.

We will sometimes be critical of things ministers are directly responsible for and they won’t like that. It’s fair enough for them to come back at us and say ‘we don’t agree with what you’re saying.’ For someone in my post, if you haven’t got the stomach for that, then you’re probably in the wrong job.

I’ve always thought it was important to preserve the independence of the Inspectorate. Sometimes it has been necessary to draw a line pretty firmly in the sand and that happened the other day in the Justice Committee. But I think that tensions and strains are a sign of things working themselves out… which is as it should be.

It is legitimate for an elected politician to want to ensure their view of the world is the one that is implemented. They are elected, I’m not. It is perfectly legitimate for me to say that there are certain standards below which you can’t fall and sometimes the way that gets worked out leads to a bit of a clash, but I don’t think that’s unhealthy. I think people should be worried if everything was sweetness and light the whole time.

We’ve had a stormy passage lately. A point of tension will come when the MOJ’s budgets are under threat, so they are looking at ours. I’ve made the point about our operational independence.

I hope people will see us as independent and when we are critical, we’re critical. But also when we are positive, that’s genuine and our independent view.

I think a lot of the things Michael Gove is talking about are absolutely right: more autonomy for governors; better focus on education; focus on decent conditions and looking at the juvenile estate. On one level it does feel like a new era. You listen sometimes to what he is saying and you think ‘crikey’. Now turning that into reality: that’s the big challenge to come, but the rhetoric matters. The tone at leadership level does filter through to what’s happening on the ground in prisons.

Even if there’s no policy changes and no strategic changes, if he is saying ‘that is what I want’ it will affect how staff behave. It empowers people.


Prison UK: At the time when your own appointment as Chief Inspector was coming up for renewal last year, you declined to reapply for your own post. You also commented publicly on why the MOJ role in the appointment process could involve a conflict of interest. How do you think this issue could be resolved?

Nick H: The issue here is we aren’t doing things for the Ministry of Justice; we are doing things to them. We are inspecting things for which they are operationally responsible. That’s what makes it inappropriate, in my view, for us to be sponsored by the MOJ.

Ministers have decided that position isn’t going to change… OK. In that case I think we need a much clearer protocol that sets out how that relationship is going to work. It should be published so people can see what it is. That’s what the Justice Committee in Parliament have asked for.

Prison UK: It was announced last week by Michael Gove that you have been appointed as the new Chair of the Parole Board for England & Wales. Given your recent candid comments concerning the MOJ and its attempts to interfere in the work of HMIP, do you think that your acceptance of this very senior appointment may puzzle some observers?

Nick H: I suppose it could do. This definitely didn’t come out of the blue. I applied for it. I think the issues are different. With the Parole Board it’s a different role. I’m not making decisions about the Ministry of Justice. The Inspectorate is making findings and judgments about things the MOJ has done. The Parole Board isn’t doing that. It’s making decisions on behalf of the department. So I don’t think the issues are the same.

There were a number of reasons I didn’t reapply for the Chief Inspector’s job. One is that I’ve done it for too long. You get used to things, so it’s important you get in some fresh blood and a new pair of eyes. It was time to move on.

Prison UK: Some critics might suggest – rather unkindly – that the Parole Board post is a convenient manoeuvre by Michael Gove to silence your criticism of what has been going wrong in our criminal justice system? How would you respond to such comments?

Nick H: I applied for the job myself. No-one asked me to apply, so that’s that point. I wouldn’t in any case get into my successor’s hair too much. Whatever I was doing, I wouldn’t comment in the same way as I would in this job. But also I’m going to have another role as a professor of criminal justice with Royal Holloway at the University of London, so on that basis I will be able to use the knowledge I have, both as having been Chief Inspector and from the Parole Board, to continue to improve the system. There was certainly no suggestion from Gove that I should apply [for the Probation post].

Prison UK: Unlike he did with telephoning Peter Clarke…

Nick H: Everybody says that, but I think people are being a bit fussy about it. Throughout my working life, sometimes when I have been recruiting people and I have a vacancy, I’ve said to people ‘we’ve got a vacancy coming up and I’d like to see an application. No promises though. Once you get there it will be whoever is best on the day.

I think people are getting over-fussed about that. I don’t personally have a problem with people being encouraged to apply for a job. I think that will happen in any walk of life. Once you get to the selection process itself, it should be a level playing field.

Prison UK: The Parole Board itself has been the subject of much criticism especially for delays in scheduling hearings for lifers and IPPs. Some reports suggest that the acknowledged delays of up to six months are actually closer to 18 months in some cases. Do you believe that these issues can be addressed without additional resources?

Nick H: It is too early for me to say yet. It is certainly important that the Parole Board clears its backlog. That’s in everybody’s interest. If there are people in prison who don’t need to be in prison, then that’s crazy. It needs to be able to get its backlog down and if that requires extra resources then that is what I’ll be saying, but it’s too early and I wouldn’t want to jump the gun that. Certainly, let’s see if we can get the backlog down. That’s the number one priority.

Prison UK: You have also recently accepted an appointment as Professor of Criminal Justice at Royal Holloway, University of London. What do you hope to contribute to the ongoing debate about criminal justice policy?

Nick H: There’s no doubt, when you look at the recent debate in Parliament about penal reform that there is a degree of consensus about the need for reform that I can’t remember before in my lifetime. There’s an opportunity now that I think is very rare. There are job opportunities for prisoners that weren’t around before, the employment market’s better. There are possibilities now that haven’t existed for a long time.

What I would hope to do is use my experience, both in this role and from roles I’ve had before, to support colleagues at Royal Holloway to make an academic contribution to that debate. I’m pleased that I’ve got a role that will enable me to play a part in that and I’m looking forward to it.

Prison UK: Will you have a teaching role?

Nick H: I’ll certainly do some teaching. It’s a new area, although I already do occasional lectures for students. The whole academic sphere is a different world that I’m not yet used to.

The thing about understanding prisons isn’t simply a question of knowledge. It’s also a question of empathy. If you want to try and understand how people behave, how you might influence those behaviours, then you have to get your head around what it feels like to be in prison. It’s very difficult to understand that if you’ve never been in prison.

When you arrive in reception – first of all you have to take off your top, then your bottoms… What’s going through your head when that goes on? How do you navigate the wing when you first arrive and work out what to do? How does all of that work?

If you can begin to imagine it just a bit, if you can empathise in that sense, then it’s much better for people who are going on to these professions or to do academic work. I think you need to start with empathy, what it’s really like. So I’d like to contribute some of that to students.

I'd also say that one of the great dangers for those people who are interested in prison reform is that is sometimes seems to be a different agenda to care about the victims of crime. I think it’s very important that we talk about the two things together. If we can reform and rehabilitate, then we’ll have fewer victims in the future, so these things are not opposites. This is in everybody’s interest. We want people to leave prison less likely to reoffend than when they went in.

Prison UK: If you had to give one piece of good advice to Peter Clarke, your successor as Chief Inspector, what would it be?

Nick H: It’s very striking that in his first week he went to two prisons and he spent three days in prisons out of the five. I would say keep doing that. My advice would be spend as much time in prison, talking to prisoners, as you possibly can to start with. If you want to know what is going on in prisons, ask prisoners. If you ask enough of them you will get a pretty accurate picture of what is happening. And that is exactly what Peter appears to be doing.

Prison UK: Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers of the blog?

Nick H: While I’ve been doing this job, there have been lots of people who’ve spoken to me as I’ve been going round, both serving and former prisoners, as well as those who’ve written to me, who’ve messaged me via Twitter – the whole community – and I’ve had a lot of help from them. So I’d like to thank them all, if I may, through your blog.

Stop Press

Great to see that the Prison UK interview is getting national attention thanks to a piece by Ian Dunt on the website:- 
Parting shot: Prison inspector steps down with last blast at Grayling
The prison system is declining in safety and conditions with more threats on the horizon, the outgoing prisons inspector has warned. Nick Hardwick, who is stepping down later this year, issued a parting shot to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and, in particular, former justice secretary Chris Grayling in a series of media interviews over the weekend. Speaking to the influential blog Prison UK, Hardwick pinned the blame for overcrowded and deteriorating prisons directly on the MoJ. "My time as chief inspector has coincided with a deterioration in safety and conditions in prison," he said.


  1. am busy at mo so have only read first and last paras of this interesting blog, Jim, but I wonder what Nick would do if you invited him to do a piece for THIS blog! (and I wonder if he reads this himself....)

    1. Other blogs are much more relevant and no I don't intend asking the outgoing HMI for Probation - I have no time for him and it wouldn't get us anywhere.

    2. So where have you get us to Jim? What have you stopped or exposed? ML is right buy you seem to have a distaste for anyone who has made it to the top of the tree. Give Hardwick respect!

    3. 18:16, I think you misunderstand what JB has written. Please try again.

  2. its been confirmed that all PSOs coming out of our local prisons within the month - all are being placed in OM roles within offices. There are going to be some interesting times ahead.

  3. How many psrs i have read which contribute to those above receiving custody ? The answer many , its the norm ro be condeming and punitive now ....

  4. With regard to 18 38 I would agree but party to this are the SPOs who are so risk averse as to influence via gate keeping this is also creeping into Paroms and I think that the proposal to remove the counter signing function is one of the only way to ensure that the reports are the authors work and not the SPOs.....

  5. Nick Hardwick has clearly touched a raw nerve where Chris Grayling is concerned. This from his local paper:-

    Mr Grayling, now leader of the House of Commons, said: "We had robust discussions. "We got on pretty well."

    He added: “We always had a courteous relationship and Mr Hardwick did a good job as chief prisons inspector."

    In the Ministerial Code, it states "the principle of collective responsibility requires that ministers should be able to express their views frankly in the expectation that they can argue freely in private while maintaining a united front when decisions have been reached."

    Ministers are not allowed to see reports in advance of publication.

  6. There are some interesting pictures here possibly of Sodexo interview Booths in Cambridgeshire

    Probation Minister Andrew Selous has not answered my Tweet about them.

    Are they genuine and in use already and are any similar in use anywhere else, I wonder???

    1. I hear similar in other areas too, with concerns about confidentiality.

    2. Will put service users at risk too - do people realise that sex offenders are managed by CRCs? It will put them at risk to have to discuss their offending in these booths.

    3. I read on Twitter they are definitely coming to Barrow-on-Furness, Cumbria.

    4. There shouldn't be that many sex offenders being managed by CRCs - nearly all will be on the register and therefore MAPPA nominals. Out of all my cases in the last 10+ years I can only think of one sex offender who didn't have notification requirements, and that was because of a quirk of sentencing.

      Obviously there will be those with previous convictions for sexual offences but obviously you wouldn't need to ask about their past behaviour because the NPS would have done a thorough assessment at PSR stage /irony

    5. There are more than you might think. I know of at a fair few... the anomaly seems to be when charged under pubic order act so not on sex offender register and not MAPPA1. If this happens, combined with medium risk of serious harm then they are allocated to CRC.

    6. The booths are absolutely genuine and also in Northumbria CRC (Sodexo) concerns about confidentiality/ safety to staff. Try to imagine challenging an offender or delivering domestic violence work or even telling someone you're going to refer their family to children's services! All in view and earshot of anyone who happens to be in the vicinity! It's crap!!

    7. Yes, that was the anomaly I had - charged with Outraging Public Decency rather than Exposure - but it only happened once. The police told me it was dodgy charging advice from the CPS and they got policy changed locally. Perhaps there are still local quirks elsewhere.

      CRC managers should be taking this up with CPS, I'm sure their shareholders would be having kittens at the thought of taking responsibility for sex offenders!

    8. It's still happening in our area, this and others meaning sex offenders in CRC. New cases coming through too so not just historical ones.


      Here is what the lovely PI have to say /s

    10. Sorry I see you have become distressed and need to wail we cannot move into the private room it is already occupied - now if you told me you would become distressed in advance - I could have arranged it differently.

      Probation is a branch of social work, change comes from enabling folk engage with their own histories, and emotions, in some situations - workers need to be flexible and spontaneous and respond to cues the client is giving.

  7. They are in my CRC. 4 booths. You sit like your are in an American dinner. I sat and listen in another booth while a service user broke down. Our booths are in reception area. Everyone can see and hear.

    1. Risk to staff too with no security screen for reception.

    2. Make mine a burger and fries

    3. Must admit I was amazed when I went to my new hub and seen them, hope they are water proofed, has there been no one actually sitting in a working reception for even a day to see what actually goes on in them. If they did, I think we'd have the situation of booking in some of our service users and seeing them in a shed in the local car park. Happy days.

  8. hmmm, wonder what the information commissioners view would be....

  9. What's happening in WY CRC? First the Chief resigns then we hear the Deputy is going?

  10. I have received a private Facebook comment thus: -

    " .16 years as a PSO..on the 4th January 2016 I returned after the Xmas break. I read an email describing the "booths", the "open plan" vision (ie no Reception area, just a desk separating staff from services users) the hot desking, the "dashboard" and promptly did what any professional would do upon realising their job now is that of a data entry clerk. I wrote my resignation there and then. I left on the 28th January 2016 "

    1. AND a later comment from the same person, following my acknowledgement of what was written above -

      " thank you ....I have taken another job but as far from the cjs as you can get - I am, as they say, done with it - however, I feel an immense amount of anger at how the Service has been my opinion the ONLY way the fight against privatisation will get air space is when the victims of crime really understand just what level of punishment the offender will get - and lets be honest - its practically nothing. Sodexo are encouraging monthly telephone supervision sessions - it will have to be that way because there are so many cases to manage - then they intend to create video booths.....a check in on line - the Offender Manager will have little to do with the case - they will be signposted to other community agencies - who are contracted by Sodexo. BeNCH (Beds Northants Cambs and Herts have lost over 37% of staff through redundancy and leavers. In the team I left there were 3 temp PSOs - in March when the the rest of the staff go under redundancy there will be 1.5 PO's. The office move that Bedford was supposed to have in October still hasn't happened .....just before xmas we had no phones as Sodexo did not pay the bill. It is beyond a is the low risk cases that continually re offend yet they get the least intervention is only about money now, not offenders or victims - just about saving money so that Sodexo get to keep as much as possible - even breaches and recalls are being brushed aside because the financial penalty for breaching is too great.....very sad... "

      I replied " I agree - I hope to use those remarks as well - I have had a response from the Labour Frontbench in Parliament today BUT am still not confident proper attention will result. Best regards "

      Which brought forth: -

      " well keep up the good work - i think that every area local paper should run an article on how it effects their own town - how the private companies are not protecting the victims - kind regards "

  11. The Working Links vision (sorry, the "Working Links Way" *chokes back vomit*) is being unveiled to front line staff tomorrow... Those managers who've already seen it have been looking increasingly hacked off in recent days, can't see the big reveal going particularly well...

  12. How will they manage offenders who kick off in these open plan areas? 2 women fighting in reception yesterday. Thank goodness for the glass screen. This sort of thing leaves Staff quite shaken. Working Links love large open plan offices, just look at the Work Programme offices.

  13. I used a Sodexo booth today for first time. Gave advice to NFA client. I was not so much concerned about the booth, but more concerned with the lack of accommodation resource for someone on licence.

  14. What's with this open plan schite. What are all CRCS doing it. Was it a term of the contacts awarded as my CEO was banging on about it when they took over as if it was a unique idea by then but it appears all are following suit.

    1. I can't wait to start serving up plates of justice in these booths. People will be held to account

    2. They are all in cahoots. That was obvious from the start.

    3. They presumably all seized on the word "innovative" as the way to win the contracts - because Grayling just couldn't get enough of it - and have assumed that innovative simply means "different from how it works now". I expect most if not all CRCs are similarly "innovatively" looking at how they can use tablets, because they're flashy new technology, rather than asking whether they actually help make the job easier or better.

  15. Now a photo of an Essex Sodexo Booth suite

    Found here on Facebook

  16. It seems the PI is beginning to speak up. About time too if it wants to increase its membership. Two new articles on its site. One challenging the coming probation qualification and the other challenging open plan offices. Both awful policies are rightly criticised. The PI has a long was to go if it really wants to be an independent voice, but this is an interesting shift! Now if it criticises E3, condemns the Sodexo Links scorched earth policy, recognises qualified probation officers as a separate membership category and drops the membership fee then I might even think about joining.