Saturday, 5 March 2016

It's Definitely not Probation

Frances Crook of the Howard League tweeted this the other day:-
"We have to find a new word to describe the privately run community sentences, as it's definitely not probation"
It was subsequently retweeted by shadow justice minister Jo Stevens MP, adding:- 
"Met #probation officer in a CRC today who told me exact same thing. CRC owners simply don't understand probation" 
So, if it's definitely not probation, what is it? The answer probably lies in all that carefully-crafted new management-speak crap that appears on each CRC website, indeed like this fine example from Seetec Justice. Note particularly how the word 'probation' is never mentioned, oh and all that obligatory swadling about "Our skilled staff are our greatest asset"  yeah, right:-   

Community Rehabilitation has undergone a revolution in recent times and we have emerged from it leaner and more focused on who we are and what we do. In KSS CRC this means we believe that service users are at the heart of the rehabilitation journey and we will work with them and support them to change. Change is evident from the word go, as we reject the ‘offender’ label that only serves to perpetuate stereotypes. Rehabilitation is by its very nature about new starts, not easy to do when saddled with that burden. Our ethos is that this is a journey only service users can take; it is their problems that need to be resolved so it must be their solution. This is the theory that underpins the My Solution Rehabilitation Programme, a delivery model grounded in What Works, combining strong social work practice with clear messages about responsibility to themselves, their families and society. Our skilled staff are our greatest asset and they work across many different functions either directly or in partnership with others to create opportunities for service users to grasp.

New technology plays an ever-increasing part in our daily lives, never more so than at work, and this is true at KSS CRC. However the technology we are creating is different than that which has gone before, simply because it is ours; we are creating it, it is there to serve our purposes and it is designed to respond and evolve according to our needs. Our new systems enhance what our skilled staff do, not replace them; it engages service users not alienates them and above all it will be user friendly. We believe that the job is tough enough, without having to battle outmoded and onerous electronic systems.

Our attitude is one of optimism and purpose, in a world where the former can sometimes be in short supply. We believe that staff should be free to focus on the work their role demands and we support this through a clear command structure with a hierarchy that delegates responsibility appropriately and without micro-management. In short we believe that managers manage and practitioners practice, both ably supported by a capable and agile administrative function. Our purpose is clearly articulated at every level of our organisation; we are here to reduce reoffending and through that, protect the public.

We engage with those around us in different organisations who share this aim because we know that together we are more effective and deliver better value for communities. Through collaborative working we aim to increase our reach and speed up the rehabilitative journey so that service users become responsible citizens sooner. Naturally this brings us into contact with all those whose purpose it is to resolve problems associated with families, attitudes, health, money, substance misuse, work and homes. These organisations enhance not replace what we do, adding value to the efforts of service users as they begin the process of change.

The challenge has been clearly set out by Government and we will stand or fall by the results we achieve, but we are confident by investing in that which we know works and by focusing on our core values, we can meet this challenge and become a top-performing Community Rehabilitation Company.

--oo00oo--

Meanwhile, the reality:-

Been in probation nearly 20 years in various roles/areas. It is heart breaking to witness such a swift, mindless destruction of a public service that wasn't broken. Now each day a continual slurry of emails: missing information, complaints, a sheer waste. We are bombarded with demands/threats on a daily basis for explanations re targets. Good staff treated appallingly, have already left or fighting on. Everyone in this team, what's left of it, looking for another job. A miserable, oppressive state of affairs - no doubt precisely the view of these so called politicians as to how our experience of labour should be. Where is this leading?

50 comments:

  1. I get the feeling that CRC's are living in a strange alternative reality where upper management come out with these glossy statements that super positive while on the ground things are falling apart.

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    1. As an offender under Purple Futures I can safely say that the offender has noticed zero difference - the service is still as crap as it ever was with no help and no support

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    2. Hopefully you won't be a repeat customer then

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  2. The right-wing normally shy away from advocating revolutions. They regard revolutions as upsetting, chaotic and destructive of established practices, that though not perfect, have stood the test of time. Rightists are attached to preserving traditions and existing practice and when they argue for change they favour slow, evolutionary steps. And yet when it comes to the public services and probation in particular, there is a fixation on being revolutionary – of destroying the old order and building a brave new world. They sweep aside older practices and without any evidence whatsoever they want to go back to year zero.

    But of course it's not really a revolution, as revolutions, even when they fail, at least offer hope in the immediate aftermath. And it's not about sweeping away the old order, because the command structure stays intact - it's only those being experimented on who suffer the consequences of the crackpot ideologues. They are not architects and builders, they are destroyers and scrapyard merchants. And with every day that goes by they become evermore fanciful and fantastic in their claims that they are pioneers making services better, as all the evidence amasses to the contrary.

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    1. Better than Wikipedia!

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  3. Its definitely not probation. This from the website of Seetec, owners of KSSCRC:

    "Our redundancy outplacement services help individuals build their confidence as well as their skills, further boosting each recipient's opportunities for alternative employment.

    Our dedicated advisers are on hand to offer support with creating a CV, brushing up interview skills, assistance with job searching as well as on-going advice and guidance.

    Seetec’s redundancy outplacement service is funded by the Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund, this service is free of cost to you and your staff at the point of delivery."

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    1. Very clever. Seetec have actually accessed more money (ESF) to be used to shoehorn staff out the door. Seems to be a lot of money to be made in getting rid of staff.

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  4. since the split i'm on my 3rd partial caseload swap. Imagine, trying to get your head around a sudden influx of 40 new to you cases (CRC)they just keep moving staff around plugging holes but creating gaps elsewhere.

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  5. Why isn't there more of a fuss about the way the uk govt has sold off public sector provision to the same names, over & over again? The conflicts of interest are glaring, the abuses & frauds are legion, the quality is in the gutter, the loss of skilled professionals is a disgrace.

    Recognise any names in this written answer from nov 2015?

    Q Asked by Emily Thornberry(Islington South and Finsbury) - Asked on: 23 November 2015 - Department for Work and Pensions Employment Schemes17164: "To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what organisations are providers of Community Work Placements under the Help to Work scheme."

    A Answered by: Priti Patel Answered on: 30 November 2015
    DWP Community Work Placement Prime Providers:

    Seetec Business Technology Centre Limited
    G4S Regional Management (UK&I) Limited
    Advanced Personnel Management Group (UK) Limited
    Learndirect Limited
    Rehab Jobfit LLP
    Working Links (Employment) Limited
    Interserve Working Futures Limited

    So any taxpayers out there, the 40+% of your income that the Treasury take off you in direct & indirect taxes is going straight into the pockets of these global shysters. Innovation? Transformation? Revolution? Nah, just another version of Hatton Garden but on a grander scale whereby the UK's financial security has been compromised & raided by organised crime with the explicit assistance of insiders "hiding in plain sight".

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    1. Young people are more than ever disconnected from interest in the community - distracted by powerful commercial influences on their sense of themselves and the world around them, saturated by the media, celebrity culture, etc. Others maybe just focussed on trying to make ends meet as cost of living rises and income falls, and keeping a family / home going - that can be exhausting. Numerous ways of grinding a population into the dust.

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  6. So what's wrong with what Seetecs website says. I don't get the issues? They seem forward thinking and innovative as opposed to the other crap I read on here. Again Jim your blog is disappointing today. Hoe about giving us some real news about the new pay deal.

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    1. You really are a very sad person if you keep coming back to read disappointing crap. I think you know what you can do.

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    2. It's not innovation nor forward thinking - it's all empty words and soundbites, masking deep cuts at the front line in order to safeguard high salaries and profits at the top. It's a mirror image of this and the last Government.

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    3. Actually Seetec haven't made cuts to people, yes their corporate speak is what you would expect and quite frankly I'm glad they don't mention Probation because its nothing like it used to be.

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    4. Well said Jim

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  7. Profiteers would be a more apt description than probation

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    1. Correct, and no disrespect to former colleagues working in CRC's but CRC's should no longer be able to use the word probation in their descriptions. CRC's are not probation and their practices are not practices of what was formally the probation service. CRC's are now private companies run for profit. It is not helpful that unions and the probation institute are instead continuing to recognise CRC's as probation when they are not.

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    2. Speaking as a probation officer in a CRC, you may not have intended any disrespect, but that's the effect of your post.

      How would you feel if I said "the NPS shouldn't be allowed to call itself probation because it's now just an arm of the prison service?"

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    3. I agree 10.41 I never asked to go to a crc and as far as I am concerned I am a PO, that's what I trained for. Have you seen the new breach report. 10.13 could be right about welfare to work etc cos it asks on the report for nat ins number and where they sign.

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    4. 10.41 and 11.07 dont rise to it.Trust me these NPS folk will soon change there tune when there in the firing line. 2016 will be very interesting once there budget is announced and work moves from the NPS to the CRC. Believe me it's coming so you're better placed in the CRC and you should be proud POs in your CRC.

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    5. You are probation officers but you are not working in a probation organisation. Because a probation officer works for Sodexo or Working Links doesn't make these organisations 'probation'. CRC's are not trying to be probation and the widely reported practices of CRC's across the board are not representing probation work. While we continue to call them probation we are propping up their lies and shortcomings. The NPS is already in the firing line. I've no doubt the NPS will not follow suit but it's not happened yet.

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    6. 10:41, 11:07 and 11:14. You've obviously not read the title post; "It's Definitely not Probation". This accurately refers to CRC's.

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    7. Anon 12:10 - I posted the comment at 10:41, and I can assure you that I did indeed read the title post. I found it, and the comment at 10:31, disrespectful to the work that I and my colleagues are doing, despite all the shite being foisted on us by the ignorant owners. I chose not to go into the NPS because I could see the direction of travel was away from what I consider to be "probation work".

      At least 11:52 makes the distinction between the organisation and the staff.

      Whilst I'm here, though, I found the comment at 11:14 disrespectful as well, and probably intentionally so.

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    8. I made the comments at 10:31 and 11:52. I agree with France's Cooke and I've not stated whether I'm NPS, CRC, retired, redundant or other. What we're seeing in CRC's is not 'probation'. Now we all know that some of the old probation trusts were not greats, but all of these CRC's are awful and they're not even hiding it.

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    9. Probation schmobation. TPO/PO/PSO/SPO/ACE/ACO/CEO/EI EI O/blah blah. How about everyone just being the tried and tested Agent of Social Control or ASC (not to be confused with the well known pizza chain)? Covers all roles and responsibilities.

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    10. Taking an dump whilst reading these comments. It's a Saturday. Chill out everyone.

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    11. There's a thought.....

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  8. On top of telephone only contacts, Working Links keep dropping onerous hints about bringing together employability and justice functions. Could the future include CRC staff implementing welfare to work and benefit sanctions while employability staff take on overall case responsibility for community orders?

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    1. I believe Purple Futures/Interserve are thinking along similar lines.

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    2. This is definitely part of the Wonky Links Way, though if they try it, they'll have a big fight on their hands as everyone I know says they will refuse to do it.

      All awkward issues around the CRC being a separate legal entity are being well and truly brushed under the carpet.

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    3. A certain CRC being criticized for being too lenient with breach proposals. Are they kidding - if they think it's too lenient then just increase the length of the proposal ffs moaning for moaning sakes. Maybe we could counter-claim about the shite sentences being passed? Nope thought not!!

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    4. So sign on for benefits and probation all in one place. This is possible as I've seen job centre staff sign people on at probation offices in the past, but separate. The danger is the breach, recall and benefit sanction will all be rolled into one and with targets and profit as the underlying motivation. Now we see why the NPS has to authorise breaches and recall as a safeguard What a mess; this is why CRC's should no longer be called probation.

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    5. Just look at the list posted by 09:38. The organisational & financial incentives are already in place, they just need to push the button. Why no investment in fancy buildings for CRCs? Because they're holding out for the one-size-fits-all benefit bill to clear the Lords, then they can open their one-stop warehouses into which they can herd "the jobless, the feckless, the homeless & the hopeless", as I overheard a CRC director describe our client group recently.

      Is that "probation"?

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  9. our chief wanting us to donate educational books for international womans' day. all books are going to......Saudi Arabia.

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    1. Who's your chief? Speak up or your comment will be dismissed.

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  10. Probation legal definition of probation - Legal Dictionary
    legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/probation
    Probation is the period during which a person, "the probationer," is subject to critical examination and evaluation. The word probation is derived from probatum, Latin for "the act of proving." Probation is a trial period that must be completed before a person receives greater benefits or freedom.

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  11. No, it is no longer Probation, neither "side" can make a claim to that any longer.
    It starts with NPS court teams, there is one NE court based manager who said " we are not here to make assessments any longer, we are here to deliver reports for the Court and anyone who thinks otherwise should leave". He said this on the back of delivering volume, not quality of delivering a unit of work not professional assessment.
    Now when both sides of the great divide get those 'reports'
    they are faced with trying to decide how to make the sentence work and when it is worth their time to essentially, back fill and make good the deficits in said reports, is it worth their time? Now in CRC time is money and that is what drives their process. In NPS it is practitioner fear that drives the process, what has been missed that could mean I get blamed for a SFO?
    I know it used to be about the client/offender/service user and rehabilitation. That is now gone, blown to the wind by TR. Shareholders or Senior Civil Servants, neither makes a good master or has anything to do with probation values or ethics.
    NPS PO

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  12. if you dont hit the targets they dont have a business. There is a clue in there somewhere ;)

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    1. errr yes I know I purposely did not mention targets because they are an artificial construct in terms of PROBATION they are meaningless. There was an even more clever clue there really wasn't there?
      Now, if you are thinking about coming back saying something like without targets we have no business or jobs well really PROBATION has no business with targets...we serve communities, or did!
      NPS PO

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  13. 17.02 I am a court PO and have grave concerns about the implications of E3 in respect of report/court practice. Every court team and individual is monitored each week in terms of the stats; this includes CAs in relation to whether cases have been inputted in the time allowed. With members of teams being required to prepare all reports, both magistrates'and Crown courts, something will give; this undoubtedly being quality of assessment. I was talking to a barrister regarding arrangements for the client to be interviewed for a same day report that was being transferred to another court in a large city. I was appalled when told by the barrister that they regularly go to this court and the clients are only interviewed for between 5 and 10 minutes by the POs. How can that practice even be called a report. It's an insult to "justice" for all concerned, client, victim, court and society. Units of production now, not professional assessments. NPS and CRC are just opposite sides of the same penny coin.

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  14. The E3 process will soon affect every area of NPS. P.Os in specialisms graded from band 4 to 3 as in the recent VLO outcome and where will they go if they want to remain at grade 4. Will there be enough posts to filter them into or, most likely, they will be forced to regrade and take substantial pay cuts. The lines between P.O and P.S.O duties are very blurred with P.S.O completing reports, face to face supervision of offenders already established. The NPS will have a very unhappy workforce when all staff will be moved around in their vision of inter-changeable roles and there is no need to become qualified. Job satisfaction, what satisfaction, just a My Services I.D number on a spreadsheet.

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    1. Wow but so correct.

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    2. The NPS already have an unhappy work force!

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  15. On the quality of reports as raised by 17.02, I have to as, how can any court team realistically undertake a proper assessment of those people who have committed serious offences in what could be just a one hour video-link interview? There's two concerns here as far as I can see, firstly there could be an underestimate of the danger someone poses because the interview has been too short for a realistic assessment to take place and secondly, there could be an overestimate of risk because the interview was so limited that only cursory and superficial information was obtained. Either way, it's seriously problematic from a "justice" and "public protection" point of view.

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    1. This is more about on the day reports. It's well known that court duty officers would see offenders for a very short period before preparing a report and proposing sentence. This has been the case for years and yes sometimes interviews can be 10 mins and tell the court what it wants to hear. This was not really a problem when lower level offences/offenders were being dealt with. This is now a problem when the majority of reports are in fast/short format, meaning those with complex issues and serious offences are being dealt with in this way. A recipe for disaster really and those doing the allocations will also suffer when something goes wrong and they will be hung out to dry as the small print in the policy allows for author and allocator discretion in changing report format.

      High risk and dangerousness remain as full PSR's. A 1-2 hour interview in the office or by video link is enough. Because of the length of the adjournment period this allows for enquiries and a "proper assessment" is quite feasible. A lot of these cases come with psychological reports, are known to probation already, or a custodial sentence is the only outcome.

      "Justice" is more likely to be done with full PSR's even with the time/resource restraints we have. I do not understand how probation have managed to justify moving away from full/ proper pre sentence reports.

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    2. It's dictated by NOMS / MoJ. The very same people in NPS who not long ago would have agreed role boundaries are now calling oral reports on the day for dv / sex offences an 'exciting opportunity' for PSOs. As a PSO, when I hear this I feel sick and stressed.

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  16. In a magistrates court team in NE a PSO volunteered to write a report on breach of SOPO but had to be taken aside and have what a SOPO was explained to her first. Other staff of same grade refused to do the report because they had no training or work with sex offenders POs in team had but were too busy for on the day report. The rush in NPS for some PSOs to undermine qualified staff is worrying and dangerous.

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  17. Lottery update as promised - not a sausage. But I was told yesterday that someone who was a needy, destructive individual on my PPO caseload in 2015 picked up £20,000 or so on the lottery earlier this year. Interesting that they haven't been on the radar since... Hmmm, if its that effective maybe we should get Gove to consider giving people £20k as a direct alternative to prison or community penalties. If they never come back, success! If they do come back, hammertime. (For those without a sense of satire please note: tongue firmly in cheek).

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  18. 06.52 do 1. This is a blog for intellectual commentary, not foolishness

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    1. And a good morning to you.

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