Saturday, 6 February 2016

Warm Words from Interserve

Many thanks to the reader for sending me the following missive of comfort from the new boss of West Yorkshire CRC:-

Hello Everyone,

I thought I'd write a quick summary of my initial thoughts and observations following my first week in West Yorkshire. Its been a busy week of meetings, looking at our processes and I've been able to meet around 50 people from different offices across all job roles.

You won't be surprised to hear I have consistently observed the same themes, with the main two being: 

1) people just want to do a good job
2) obviously people are concerned about the future, last weeks announcements of staff reductions are raw and sensitive, understandably people want to know about their own future 

What struck me, with pleasure, was that despite the potentially personal impact of change, the overriding priority is that of doing a good job, whether that be front facing with service users or corporate services assisting in the delivery of services. 

It is that passion and commitment that has always helped Probation stand apart from other sectors, and it is important we never loose that value, one which aligns very neatly with Interserve's own values 'do the right thing' and 'be proud'. 

I want to try and make it as easy as possible for us to deliver the best services we can. One quick way we can do this is to make it easier for you to access local performance data. Within a week or so you should be able to access that data within one or two clicks rather than the complex process you currently go through to find performance reports. Last quarter we failed to achieve a couple of measures, and this has resulted in a significant fine of £95k, this is something I know no one wants to happen again.

With regards to the second theme, we all understand the anxiety every staff member will be feeling and will seek to provide you with clarity of your personal position as soon as we are able. The unknown is never pleasant, but we will be open, transparent, and as fair as possible. We genuinely do want to find as many people jobs as possible, but the reality is the MoJ pays us significantly less than we received as a public body and as such, restructure was inevitable.

The staffing changes should not be confused with the Interchange Model though, of which I'm a huge fan. The Interchange Model gives us a real opportunity to work with service users in a way that we were unable to do under NOMS direction, and I'm genuinely excited by that. 

Well, I will finish there. Other than to say thank you for the warm welcome I've received so far, I really do feel privileged to be working alongside you all. 

Speak soon

Martin

Martin Davies
Chief Executive
The Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire
Community Rehabilitation Company Limited
8 Corporation Street
Lincoln LN2 1HN   

--oo00oo--

We learnt yesterday from the Napo General Secretary's blog that he'd signed up to a 'ground breaking operational procedures agreement' with Purple Futures, which raises a number of questions in my mind and that of this reader:-
What exactly is this 'ground breaking operational procedures agreement' signed with 'Purple Futures' - or, as they now seem to be known, 'Interserve', what with the supposed 'partners' - plainly no more than bid-candy – barely getting a mention these days? And when the GS says 'just' signed does he mean AFTER their announcement of 23% job cuts in Yorkshire alongside smaller but significant cuts in their other CRCs too? And their plans to decimate PO numbers and force qualified PO staff into PSO roles? And does he mean AFTER the presentation of their woeful desistance-lite, research-free, social work devoid, disaster in-the-making 'Interchange model' for transforming clients lives by being a bit more chipper and trying not to mention their crimes? I wonder if he might instead consider trying to help those of us under the purple cosh to fight to maintain some professionalism, some integrity and some jobs?
--oo00oo--

My name is Jasmine and I am an undergraduate student at the University of Greenwich studying Criminology and Criminal Psychology. I am currently undertaking a dissertation research project exploring the emotional impact associated with being a probation officer. The study would like to hear about the personal experiences of being in probation and how it has affected the probation officers. Officers will be asked a series of questions that will explore matters to do with caseloads, stress, interactions with clients and feelings towards the changes made under Transforming Rehabilitation. If you are a probation officer working anywhere in the UK and would like to take part in the study, or if you would like more information, please email me at bj430@greenwich.ac.uk. Interviews can take place in person or over the phone and will last no longer than thirty minutes. Your contribution to the study would be much appreciated.     

69 comments:

  1. I may be translating this incorrectly, but my view of Martins' priorities are:
    1. Folks, keep an eye on performance as this is the most important thing.
    2. Sorry about sacking you all, however, we have to make a profit somewhere and I'm afraid it's going to be at the expense of your livelihood.

    Well, I would say that this fits in nicely with Selfserves values of 'doing the right thing'. I hope that mans' day is as pleasant as he is!

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  2. Following on from 08:55's post above:

    Mr Davies - "I want to try and make it as easy as possible for us to deliver the best services we can. One quick way we can do this is to make it easier for you to access local performance data."

    Seriously, how does accessing performance data make it easier to deliver better services? My experience is that such data is selective, confusing & divisive; the anxiety it generates is more of a hinderance than anything.

    Plus he states "... the reality is the MoJ pays us significantly less than we received as a public body and as such, restructure was inevitable."

    The CRC was never a public body, not even when in the hands of the SoS. Mr Davies seems to be confused, perhaps because he is receiving significantly more than he was paid by MoJ/NOMS?

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    1. Quite right, as a front line worker, accessing local performance data makes no difference to my ability to do my job. In fact, it probably makes it worse, as I'm distracted from doing real work. I work with people, not numbers.

      In the probation arena, performance data at an individual level is by and large meaningless, as there's such a large variation between individual caseloads.

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  3. As Ben Gunn points out on his Twitter account, before TR Probation Trusts met or exceeded EVERY target.

    These lot couldn't pour piss out of a cup if the instructions were printed on the bottom!

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  4. Oh Martin, yes I'm sure no one wants purple futures to be fined £95K again. There, there, Martin, don't have to many sleepless nights about it.

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    1. True. Such a fine is not to be sniffed at - PSO 6650 on Sentence Calculation gives a maximum of 2 years imprisonment in default, even with civil debts. Oo'er missus.

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  5. Not even literate, "loose" instead of lose!!

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    1. It had to be transcribed and I corrected a number of errors, but then thought, 'oh fuck it' it's all just so much shit anyway.....

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    2. The man is a joke. He only got where he is because no one else wanted the job! He has fallen lucky again because Bill has bigger fish to fry. Rumour has it that his mum does his tie every morning

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  6. Why no coverage of what's going on in London? They changed IT this week and it's been a disaster.

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    1. London seems to have become an information-free zone ever since the row at the Napo AGM. I'm reliably informed branch meetings continue to have a toxic atmosphere and are often not quorate. All a great shame seeing as it's the largest branch by a long way, but I understand this is Pat Waterman's last stint as branch chair and some changes at the top might improve the situation.

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    2. Waterman is going strong as is the London army. We bossed the AGM

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  7. Martin Davies says that Interserve's own values are 'do the right thing' and 'be proud'. So it can't possibly be related to the Interserve company that was fine £11,634,750 by the Office of Fair Trading for engaging in illegal anti-competitive bid-rigging activities can it?

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  8. You need the performance reports to see what you need to prioritise in your day. If a target is due, that is your work priority, over anything else. Fines cannot be afforded guys.if you're costing a company money you're shown the door in most other companies. We have had it drilled to us "how can I contribute to the business". One way is meeting targets. That's your only priority. To meet the metrics and reduce offending. It's really simple

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    1. "That's your only priority. To meet the metrics and reduce offending. It's really simple."

      Bloody hell guys - looks like we've been barking up the wrong tree.

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    2. I realise that 15:11 is only trolling, but perhaps he or she could explain how "meeting the metrics" (sounds like an even worse sequel to Meet the Parents) contributes to reducing reoffending?

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    3. I can't believe you're employed by a probation service if you need me to make the links for you. Boom. Destroyed.

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    4. Please enlighten me, 17:20. Share your wisdom.

      Then, once you've realised that the performance targets only measure things which can be measured, and don't actually equate to good quality work, come back and apologise.

      Or just go away.

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    5. I agree with 17:31, I could miss every target I have and it still make no difference to whether one of my clients commits a further offence.

      They could be seen for their first appointment six days after sentence (fail), have their initial sentence plan done 11 days later (fail), not have their Unpaid Work arranged for eight days (fail) - but fundamentally none of that makes a difference if I'm able to make a difference when I work with them.

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    6. How can you manage risk with a late sentence plan. How can you justify to the court you could not be bothered to start the upw req within 7 days of sentence as per CP operational model. 6 days for a first appt. Just laziness and drives me mad. I work hard to meet all targets and it drives me mad when others can't be bothered. Going to have this out in the next team meeting.

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    7. You don't manage risk with a piece of paper...

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    8. No you use a computer fool

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    9. You don't manage risk using a computer either. You use a computer to record things that you've done.

      I'll give you a choice - imagine you've only got time to do one thing: 1) take action to prevent harm coming to someone, or 2) write something on a computer to meet a target. If you choose 1), you fail to meet the target. If you choose 2), someone gets hurt.

      Oh and on the issue of timescales for UPW commencements and first appointments? I really don't think the courts care one way or the other, as long as the job gets done. If someone has their first appointment on Day 6, it makes very little - if in fact any - difference to whether they complete their order. The targets are essentially arbitrary deadlines, so stop imbuing them with such fake importance.

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  9. Jim they are now the two priorities so deal with it.

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    1. They might be yours, 16:51 - but they're not mine. Deal with that, sunshine.

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    2. You're probably in a non service level position so that's fine

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  10. Two priorities. Meet metrics, reduce reoffending and increase profitability. No three priorities. All of the above plus ruthless devotion to the ceo. Four priorities.

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    1. I couldn't have said it better myself. You're leadership in the making 16.57

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    2. So, apart from meeting the metrics, reducing reoffending, increasing profitability & ruthless devotion to the CEO, what have the Tories done for us?

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    3. The NHS and the welfare state! Oh no, hang on, that was the Labour party, wasn't it?

      Paid holiday, the right to safe working conditions, and the right not to be dismissed unfairly! Oh, silly me, that was the trade unions.

      Corrupt public life, unemployment by the millions, lost manufacturing sector, huge North-South divide, slavish devotion to the interests of big business?

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  11. From "The secret junior doctor's diary" in The Guardian today (http://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/feb/05/the-secret-junior-doctors-diary-after-40-minutes-of-chest-compressions-we-stop):

    "I’ve never seen the NHS so stressed. It’s fuelled by the goodwill of its workforce, rather than financial investment. But this goodwill is drying up. You see it, feel it, hear it everywhere. These people are tired and fed up. And without them, the NHS is broken."

    Replace "the NHS" with "Probation" and you see what I see every day.

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  12. Probation Officer6 February 2016 at 19:03

    Interesting comments from Martin Davies but I don't think probation values can be aligned with Interserves'. It's a construction company at its core and its CRC contracts are just another few numbers on the spreadsheet.

    Also interesting comments about about meeting targets. I have to agree with the commenters as I pay no mind to these either after the boxes have been ticked. Yes my sentence plans and reports are on time and the targets are met, but it's the rehabilitation and support we try to provide that really counts. I wonder who decides these target timeframes and I'm not sure why the 'emperor's new clothes' style "new strategy" of professional judgement was reversed and replaced with rigid targets. I doubt any offender would suffer because an initial appointment was on the 6th working day rather than the 5th, or their sentence plan completed in 20 days rather than 10.

    I'm fairly confident that most of us would continue to do a pretty good job without OASys, Delius, MAPPA processes, performance targets, appraisal targets, the majority of managers and much more. These are important tools to support and record our work but they should not be considered to be the work. What we need is resources - direct access to housing, drug and alcohol services, mental health services, employment and training opportunities, finance and benefit services, and more. The problem is that under Probation Areas and Trusts we were moving towards being key professionals in our local communities and were actually makings successes, and all the targets were met.

    Since TR probation (NPS and CRC) is a shadow of its former self, where rehabilitation and proven probation practice is overlooked because the performance target is king. Probation staff meet targets = CRC directors make profit + NPS directors get pats on the back. Not so long ago the Work Programme was described as "worse than doing nothing" because of meddling government ministers and the practices of unscrupulous private companies that owned the contracts. How long will it be until probation is described in the same way?

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    1. Let me assure PO at 19:03 it is far better for public safety and worker stress to have MAPPA than not - I recall several very tricky & varied situations, when there were real concerns about supervisees, causing harm, but no offence had been revealed and the police simply refused to engage with probation.

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    2. I guess the point about meeting targets now is that the CRC will lose money if it doesn't. Probation has had tagets for many years, but not a lot happened if they were not met. Most staff really didn't care much, and left it to the managers to sort it out. Unfortunately I expect that heads will start to roll now. No CRC can afford to lose £95k a quarter and not take action to sort it out. Expect to see personal score cards coming soon. Not so different to having to hit sales targets, or dish out x number of parking tickets. You may not like it, it may not be what you signed up for, but this is the world we are now in.

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    3. "The problem is that under Probation Areas and Trusts we were moving towards being key professionals in our local communities and were actually makings successes, and all the targets were met".

      Except that no-one really checked the data that related to the targets.

      Now they are (because it carries finacial penalties) it turns out about half of it is very suspect. And that is before people start to feel the heat of failing the targets and start to massage what they put on the system. Corruption (or at least the accusation) lies a short step behind. Get more money for a successful completion? .... perhaps not taking breach action might be advised on this occassion.... then its just a normal completion. Oh I see..you just didn't get 'round to taking up the breach - can you prove it was your incompetence... or are you going to say you were under pressure from your management to get the 'performance up'. Neither option is great is it?

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    4. Probation Officer6 February 2016 at 22:04

      Andrew, I too remember the pre-MAPPA days and when it started just over 10 years ago but it's a very different world now. Resources for most agencies have been stripped to the bone and this includes the police and those others around the MAPPA table. This differs with area and it has its place, but I don't agree that the job would be more difficult and stressful or the community less safer without MAPPA. I actually think the existence of MAPPA has paved the way for increasing police 'offender management' and the takeover of parts of our work.

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    5. Probation Officer6 February 2016 at 22:22

      22:03 I don't disagree with you and I can think of Areas where money was "lost" and Trusts where it was "found". I think it's as easy to fudge the data as it always was and this will continue in the new world of probation services. My concern is that when we became Trusts probation began to hit targets across the board, perhaps with the help of innovative (or paid to be corrupt) performance managers. What I found was there was focus on various other areas of practice too, including practitioner skills, offender engagement and community links. The benefits reaped for being successful were being ploughed back into the organisation to an extent. Under the perverse regime forced on us with TR the only agenda is hitting targets. The profits are being further increased by laying off staff and nothing is being invested back into the service.

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    6. RE PO at 22:04 - you obviously know better than me & the little I saw of MAPPA did reveal there was a possibility of police/probation roles being blurred.

      I was not entirely impressed with an IOM joint work TV documentary where police seemed to be doing work normally done by pbn, which may not be helpful, as clients NEED to have a different sort of relationship with pbn.

      MANY years ago, I experienced a similar blurring with a localized shared Pbn/police Juv Justice Project in a large city in the 1970s.

      There it went the other way & I remember 'helping' police arrest a 15 yo who I was involved with as a High Court divorce custody/access case - my presence acted to gain the police a quiet admittance - I cannot remember enough of the detail now to be sure of all relevant facts & I do not remember the outcome BUT am pretty sure I had separately concluded that it was probably in the boy's best interest as far as his safety was concerned for him to be arrested at that point.

      I think he was bailed very quickly - the only other thing I remember as far as the divorce case - it was the first time I took part in a High Court case and to my utter amazement - it was conducted in a smallish Judges retiring room with all parties (not the children) present sitting round the table and the judge conducting a sort of committee meeting drawing up an order on the basis of discussion and almost complete agreement of all present - so possibly me helping to resolve an outstanding criminal matter concerning the oldest child might have even facilitated that. BUT the point is generally police & pbn perform different functions & it needs to stay like that.

      However MAPPA gives Pbn a route to approach police and be entitled to a response, which I did not get in either a case where a parolee was a possible target from armed gangsters in a rural area (We had to prevail on Social Security to fund his whole family for a stay in a coastal hotel 50 miles the other side of the county for a fortnight - or my SPO with good connections achieved that bit!)

      Another case involved a parolee transferred in (dumped) who was a young widower temporary agricultural worker (without a permanent home) , living in tied shared family accommodation, who had convictions for incest with his, fortunately living elsewhere, 14 yo daughter & unlawful SI with her friend. There the issue was to keep the balance & not have him take off & go missing & - who knows what. Again Police refused to get involved - as I could not monitor effectively.

      Both cases - completed parole licences without repeat convictions - but police help would have relieved my stress and provided better public safety.

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  13. sentence planning auditors have been in our CRC, lots of stress, casefiles pulled for inspection, staff interviewed.

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    1. What would they find? Good or bad ?

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    2. sentence planning auditor......err didn't that used to be a SPO???????????

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    3. I think they're external bods - they look at the sentence then the sentence plan - I wonder if they are going to be querying why didn't people put x, y, z in a plan? Anyone could point out holes in others sentence planning because of the diverse nature of those doing the planning. I just hope the auditors aren't there to nitpick bearing in mind morale's so low.

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    4. I don't think it is a case of nit picking, from what I see there are plenty of sentence plans that are entirely absent, or old and pulled through, or only relate to doing UPW when they have to pick up the broader crimionogenic needs, or don't have a basic risk assessment done in OASys etc etc but all ticked on the system as done. Good SPOs used to pick this up and deal with it, but seems there are plenty of my colleagues who either don't know what is required or are nor competent to actually do it. All of these things will be counted as failure under the contract - and will lead to fines and worse.

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    5. I always used to use 'victims' as an objective but in our CRC they are not relevant - it's all about the service user now - and I am being serious.

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  14. Could it be possible that Mr Grayling actually planned it this way? Raise money for the treasury, allow the private companies to believe they could actually fulfil the probation role; give them the impression of easy money for 10 years, then watch them fail and take back hefty fines and eventually take back the services, into a much leaner public service-no moj penalties, as the CRC's have failed? Could it be?

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    1. Most likely, the plan, cut wages and pension cost. CRC are bleeding money with delays and half arsed services.

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  15. The printer in our CRC office was replaced with a new one but they failed to bring the ink - hence it can't be used! Sums the place up.

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    1. Si instead of moaning what about offering some solutions. Posses me off. Everyone moaning and not taking responsibility for anything.

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    2. Take responsibility for what exactly? There have been countless solutions offered from pre to post TR. Nobody wanted/wants to listen because Probation is a commodity that has been sold. It's a sign of a professional and committed workforce when staff begin highlighting the glaring problems. There are many that continue to stand up for what probation should be. Unfortunately the buyers, CEO's, directors and justice ministers are only interested in how best to strip the carcass. Probation staff are increasingly unnecessary expenses and where they cannot be paid to leave they'll be made to leave.

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    3. I think I am with you 10.17, although can sympathise with the 'stripped carcass' brigade - but mainly because I think they are sadly entrenched in their own set-in-stone old ways, and unable to see past the end of their own dependency of the 'old' rather ineffectively managed, and sometimes lackadaisical approach which had been allowed to proliferate over the past decade or so. Good, but ambitious Probation Officers (with that original 'social work' ethic) were promoted up into management positions, and from there on it ... all went pear shaped. Good and effective respected management is a skill in itself - which seems to have been completely missed, and by default very damaging, in my view, to the overall culture and workforce of Probation.
      But the world moves on; changes WERE necessary in Probation! (I personally wouldn't have done it like THIS), but some of the new TR initiatives are undoubtedly, the way to go, even - dare I say it - the Kiosks.
      It's sad that more people aren't prepared to, can't, or won't, adapt their attitude, and embrace some of the new working model ideas going forward, rather than just moaning and being negative all the time. Essentially it is the same people/workers (POs and PSOs) who are still 'Probation'- if they haven't already, jumped ship or taken the money and run; or sadly been made redundant - when what they really WANTED was to remain and take part in the new probation of the future (and I wonder how many of them there are!)?
      After all new probation, it is about the future of the service users, and their rehabilitation, not a bunch of old dinosaurs who are afraid of change.

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    4. The fact is that a pre-TR probation service was hitting all its targets and reoffending was steadily decreasing. There is no "new probation" and the unanimous feeling towards what's now a shadow of its former self has nothing to do with "old dinosaurs afraid of change". Probation officers have dealt with and adapted to ongoing change over the past 25 years and those past and present, and old and new do not support TR. Kiosks, Cohorts, Skype, PbR, Catering companies, deprofessionalisation, removing degree training, ending local partnerships, closing probation offices, more for less, I'd say nobody supports any of this apart from the reckless idiots at the MoJ, NPS HQ and Sodexo Links CRC.

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    5. 14.53 Your knowledge of probation history is extremely poor. Until probation was viewed as a business, the majority of CPOs, DCPOs and ACPOs had started as POs. So to state that things began to go wrong because former POs became managers is an historically incorrect analysis.

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    6. Solution= Scrap TR as a Grayling inspired experiment that, like most other things he was involved in was ill conceived, poorly thought out and relied solely on his inflicting this change on behalf of big business to provide a raft of comfortable directorships once they're out of government.....job done

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    7. I am sorry Captain Scott that is simply wrong Grayling was well supported throughout the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Parties in his plans for TR.

      Those TR plans may have originated from "Think Tanks" (so Called) particularly like Policy Exchange - who had no one involved who had any influence with a real understanding of the complexity of the integration, previously existing throughout the criminal justice system in England and Wales and the wider society and no one with real front-line experience of doing the work of probation officers, managers and administrators.

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    8. Goodness. Where to start 14:53..? I’m probably one of the ‘old dinosaurs’ you refer to but I didn’t get to be an old dinosaur in probation by being afraid of change. From as far back as I can remember the job has been constantly changing. New CJ acts with new sentences to adapt to, new interventions, programmes, latest research etc. The sort of things that made you THINK about what you were doing and how to do it better. However a common theme from all the research has pretty much concluded that the quality of the relationship between the supervisor and supervisee has contributed to the best outcomes, especially when set against working with good partnerships, good communications etc, all with a broadly similar aim. (Which has been support and rehabilitation –and therefore the route to a reduction in re-offending -rather than profit as a main priority.)

      I’m interested to know which part of TR you see as being ‘..about the future of the service users, and their rehabilitation..’ and whether, given your apparent support for kiosks (for example) what you see as the basic components of such rehabilitation? Indeed what value is placed on ‘rehabilitation’ where this (as I think it must ) is also a drain on those lovely profits? Effective rehabilitation will never be cheap and in my view we shouldn’t be trying to do it on the cheap. Its an insult to service users, victims and the public.

      There seems to be many people (do they see themselves as the ‘Young Turks’ as opposed to the Dinosaurs?) commenting who apparently think that assessing and managing risk is just about completing an OASys form in so many days and whose views about what constitutes ‘rehabilitation’ seem pretty superficial to me. Its been my experience that the best and innovative probation officers will always be those that have used their brains and questioned and challenged, not tugged the forelock and counted the beans.

      Perhaps its hoped that when the ‘dinosaurs’ die out those who are left will never have experienced anything better and believe that kiosks are the norm..(‘ hurrah..more time to prioritise those ‘targets’) but how can anyone work well with our client group and not question the wisdom of what this government has done?

      Yes a lot of original staff with sound values remain, but between the stuff of TR , the ‘austerity’ agenda-which hits the poor the hardest and in many cases service users hardest of all (eg. try coming out of prison still with just £46 in your pocket and a several week wait for benefits albeit with an appt with the homeless section set up by TTG) then it seems to me we have had most of the tools we needed to do a good job taken away from us. We can struggle through and make the best of a bad job, but, sorry, I will never believe the service will ever be as good as it was again.

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  16. To 10:17- if there is no ink, how can it work, or a solution found? I'm in NPS and we've worked hard as we co-locate and are friends, to make the system work! However, now there is a lock on the CRC stationary cupboard, good will to share resources has diminished, and why wouldn't it?

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  17. Grayling is also behind the move to ban the names of MPs who are arrested from being announced in parliament......is he getting worried that his chickens may be getting ready to come home for roosting

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  18. 16.37 well said. I'm in my 34th year as a PO and couldn't agree with you more.

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  19. It seems as if Rehabilitation of Criminals is on Prime Minister Cameron's agenda with policy announcements expected from him tomorrow according to THE MAIL ON SUNDAY, whose crime correspondent Phillip Davies MP, does not seem to have had advance warning, which might be grounds for hope, if not enthusiasm.

    Do readers have any predictions, considering what perhaps the Home Secretary, Theresa May said last week about Police and Crime Commissioners possibly taking over probation after their elections in May this year.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3435559/PM-vows-cut-soaring-number-prisoners-overwhelming-UK-jails-Cameron-plans-boost-rehabilitation-schemes-shift-high-reoffending-rates.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490

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    1. David Cameron will tomorrow announce a major Government drive to cut the number of offenders who return to jail shortly after release, as experts warn that a rocketing prison population is creating '18th Century conditions'. The Prime Minister wants to boost rehabilitation schemes and education programmes within jails to shift stubbornly high reoffending rates. Currently, almost 60 per cent of prisoners released after sentences of less than 12 months go back to crime within a year.

      But Tory MP Philip Davies, a member of the Commons' Justice Select Committee, said he hoped the Prime Minister was not going to come out with 'trite nonsense' in his speech as an excuse for sparing serious offenders from long sentences.

      'No one could seriously object to people being rehabilitated, as long as it isn't a fig leaf for prisoners being let out early or not going to prison in the first place,' Mr Davies said. 'I hope that he isn't going to come out with a load of trite nonsense designed to dress up measures which will expose the public to risk.'

      Mr Cameron's planned speech is the latest in a string of initiatives he has made since the New Year brandishing his social reform credentials, including backing 'tiger mum' parenting, calling for Muslim women to learn English and criticising Oxbridge for not accepting more black students.

      The current prison population is a near-record 86,000 and some advisers fear it could hit 100,000 by the end of the decade. Each prisoner costs the taxpayer £30,000 a year to keep in a cell – a bill the Treasury is keen to trim.

      Justice Secretary Michael Gove is also looking at a more flexible sentencing regime, the greater use of electronic tagging as an alternative to imprisonment and reducing the number of inmates who are recalled to jail for breaching the terms of their release.
      But when Mr Cameron makes his speech on the issue, he is likely to place most stress on dealing with the social and psychological problems which draw people into crime in the first place, linked to drug addiction, mental health problems and childhood abuse.

      Critically, nearly half of all prisoners enter jail without qualifications, making it almost impossible to find stable employment when they leave – and driving them back into a life of crime.

      The Prime Minister's comments mark a break with traditional tub-thumping Tory 'hang 'em and flog 'em' rhetoric, which Mr Cameron regards as lazy, populist vote-chasing.

      Francis Crook, from the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: 'Something does have to be done about the ever-expanding prison population. 'We are returning to 18th Century conditions.'

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    2. According to the Sunday Times: -

      they are expecting stuff about Tagging including

      " The prime minister will admit that “prison isn’t working” when it comes to rehabilitation and will announce he is authorising the nationwide rollout of new GPS tags for those on community sentences which can detect alcohol use by monitoring perspiration. "

      http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1665587.ece

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    3. Of course Harry Fletcher has always felt the Tories agenda has always been about massive increases in tagging. The only thing preventing it earlier has been the G4S/Serco fiasco; the MoJ screwing up the contracts and the fact that the technology doesn't work yet.

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  20. TR has been a god send. Embrace this wonderful opportunity whichever CRC or NPS you work in. We're making history. Let's all steer the ship to greatness and evidence were better than what was there before. Those unfavourable about the changes are probably workshy as there is now no escaping poor performers conducting pointless supervision sessions consisting of how the football was or discussions around the offenders tattoos or piercings.

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    1. How do we deal with vacuous statements like this, devoid of any argument or exposition? Delete or try and engage?

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    2. Ignore or delete, as they're here to annoy rather than discuss.

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    3. that is the publishers dilemma - is it a distraction to get us arguing about it and forget the underlying issues or something else?

      I predict part of Cameron's first prime ministerial speech about criminal justice in 20 years tomorrow is to distract the media from the Junior Doctor's Strike this week.

      No doubt the MOJ PR team will be ready, will all the other CJS commentators, be ready for the calls with interviewees ready to go on air and talk about what probation really has too offer and why the Booths are bad for public safety, etc., etc., ad nauseam.

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  21. 'Young Turk' back here - and first, let me address the point by 15:20, which confirms exactly my point. They were great PO's but not necessarily managers. It was way back then, when the service was managed by probation officers who were not management trained and weren't particularly good at managing a large public service organisation (at CEO and director levels), that the 'rot' (overly harsh word, but illustrates my point), set in.
    I agree, and am aware that there have been many 'political' changes over the decades, the varying of sentencing and approaches. Some came and went, and others rightly, in my opinion, stayed. However those were procedural changes - and certainly required probation officers and pso's to 'step up to the plate' - which on the whole they did well. But such changes are not the same as 'cultural' changes, which led to the immediately-pre-TR situation that had been reached in Probation.
    I strongly believe that probation should have remained a public service. And, should not have been split. But to be in denial that it needed - let's say, recalibrating, I feel amounts to looking the other way. It may have been 'meeting it's targets' - but offending was not reducing overall, and there was an increasing culture of control, punishment, monitoring, and breaching, rather than to my mind, the preferable holistic effective rehabilitation work I hope most probation workers would agree would be the better alternative (where safe)? So, the idea of the ORA I feel, was a sound improvement, meaning that Probation staff had the real and actual say in what, which and even how rehabilitation activities could be carried out - rather than magistrates.
    No one working in probation, in their right mind, is going to think that a positive and constructive relationship with a service user isn't 'king' in this 'business'. But, surely the objective for all people coming through the doors of probation is to help them to help themselves, and ultimately leave (probation) at the end of their sentence, living a better more fulfilling life, without further offending behaviour.
    And, coming back to my attitude towards kiosk technology, I cannot see that, towards the end of the process, it isn't both positive and practical for service users, AND probation staff, if they are able to move to remote (kiosk) contact. Especially as many people are now very used living life through a mobile phone, and dealing with remote communications. The kiosk, at the right time, leaves the probation 'professionals' to concentrate their time and skills on the new people coming through the doors, and leaves the service users with a way of complying, and accessing help and contact should they need it, in the latter stages of an order. I personally think that makes a lot of sense.
    And finally, just to pick up on the point about diminishing qualifications for probation workers - I don't know details what the new plans are there? Are people saying they think newly qualified Probation Officers are (going to be) in some way sub-standard? I hear that the PSO role is being required to train to a higher level than previously. But at the end of the day, whilst the training is of course KEY and vital to ensuring a professional probation workforce, I still believe THE most important element are the people themselves, who decide they wish to work with fellow human beings who have offended. Their motivations, skills and talents - complemented of course by the necessary training - to work with people in a planned, and effective way, which hopefully reduces and ultimately halts offending behaviour for good.

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    1. Anon at 18:41 it is judicially dangerous for sentences to be set by those who administer them, but I accept that the UK parliament allows this in many ways although the split between investigator and public prosecutor instigated in 1986 is in my opinion, rightly sustained apart from with regard to Formal Police Cautions and decisions not to investigate.

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  22. Open, transparent and as fair AS POSSIBLE. Had to laugh at that one. Total bull.

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