This blog has often been accused of being anti-Napo. However, discerning regular readers will be aware that actually it's tried to be supportive, but also robust in drawing attention to humbug, misinformation, poor judgement, ineffective accountability, structural short-comings, mediocre communication and lack-lustre leadership. At the top the union has proved comprehensively unable to adapt and respond appropriately and effectively to the dramatically changed probation environment brought about by TR.
The latest information regarding the Job Evaluation exercise merely goes to confirm this state of affairs. What's even more worrying is the complete lack of any insight into any of this and indeed those at the top seem completely oblivious for the urgent need for change that many of the members can see. As far as they are concerned it's 'business as usual' and indeed are suggesting there may be no need for any elections 'in order to save money'.
It will come as no surprise to the membership that money is indeed a major issue due to a significant fall in membership. It's not rocket science and was to be expected due to staff leaving in droves, with more to go as redundancies kick-in within the CRC's, added to those in NPS not transferring over to Direct Debit as a result of the 'check-off' facility being withdrawn. Anyone with an ounce of assessment ability could see there was an urgent need for action and at the very least a staffing review that responded to a fall in membership.
It's been painfully obvious to many for months that the union suffers from a leadership vacuum - the joint chairs are all but invisible at a time when people are desperately seeking inspiration, reassurance or just communication! It seems incredible, but in a modern world where the ability to communicate quickly and easily via the internet and new media is ubiquitous, for much of the time members hear absolutely nothing and that's precisely why this blog has spawned the life it has. It's why staff are increasingly turning to Facebook as a replacement for the Napo members forum so successfully marginalised and rendered moribund by those at Chivalry Road.
Actually it's probably worth dwelling on the fate of the 'family silver' because it can only be a matter of time before that has to go in the absence of an ability to balance the books by a sensible staffing review.
The more I think about things, the more I've come to the conclusion that, to quote a famous phrase, our union is simply no longer fit for purpose. This hasn't happened overnight, but over many years and as a result of a failure to notice and adapt to the fundamental structural changes within the profession. Qualified Probation Officers are increasingly in the minority amongst the workforce and I really don't see how much longer Cafcass can be kept happily within the fold?
I want to make one thing very plain. Everything I've said here should in no way be interpreted as an assault or even criticism of local branch officers and executives who I feel have suffered a great disservice by those at the top. I've heard nothing but praise for the tireless work put in by local Napo officers in representing colleagues at very difficult times in their careers and I speak from personal experience in this regard.
I've said many times before that I joined Napo at the very beginning of my career and I still feel that it's the 'right' thing to do, but I'm heartily sick of what's going on and not going on at the top and feel I must speak up in the interests of trying to salvage something from the mess that's enveloping us on a daily basis. There has got to be change and the membership have got to start making their views known before it's too late.