Saturday, 26 March 2016

Probation Voices 3

Seen on Facebook:-

Sometimes when I really think about what's happened.. I verge between anger despair and disbelief.

Yep! And sad x

I just feel so very very sad, frustrated and a bit lost in it all. I keep thinking it can't get worse. Then it does.

Yeah for me this week has been a bad one. But not as bad as my workmates in Working Links CRC.

Been tearing my hair out all week just to be told that today, as a PSO, my job in West Yorkshire CRC is safe but admin and POs and managers still have to apply for their own jobs by 4th April. Sickening. xx

Flaming hell.

Makes me so damn angry. We went though about 6 months of not knowing if we had jobs or not. Really feel for everyone going through what we went through some months back.

This time yesterday I was in tears trying to get my head around how to write 2000 words to demonstrate why I can do my job after 8 year's service. They've now decided that they need all PSOs due to workloads. A relief for me but still so much unnecessary stress and anxiety. And still feel for people in other roles who still have to do it. I don't understand why, if workloads are so high, that they don't need the same ratios of other staff. x

No offence but PSO's are doing the job they said you had to be a PO to do a few years back....Just at a cheaper rate without as much investment and training. Don't get me wrong, some PSO's are very capable and can do just as good a job, it's just the fact they keep changing the goal posts for cheaper labour. X

That's what it's all about isn't it? Getting people to do more for less money and expecting people to do stuff that previously they were told they couldn't.

Yep it's true. I work with high risk people on my groups. Even though I'm supposed to only work with low to medium risk. I've done my degree and worked with offenders for years but yep it's still work that they have previously said POs should do. x

The goal posts get changed to suit what's happening at the time.

CAs in our CRC are the first to be at risk.

I think it's an absolute disgrace the way staff are being treated. It's an insult.

It really is. I deliver Accredited Programmes and was today told I'd got a high score (in treatment management) in my team for delivering TSP. But at that point I still thought I had to apply for my job. Our admin colleagues are fantastic and we need them. All of them. I feel so bad for them. We're working with society's most risky people but we're just numbers. xx

I know I'd be lost without my CA. Yes we are just numbers. CRC owners just thinking about profit. NPS it still seems to be about reducing costs too.

We have no admin support in our new office. Everything is through our lovely Hub colleagues. One centralised office that deals with all admin for 4 counties.......

Is that even with the IOM?


We lost our dedicated IOM admin about 2 years ago....

CRC in Devon Cornwall and Dorset are going into Admin hubs I've heard.

It's very reliant on automated processes via ndelius. Hmmmmm say no more.

Actually IOM admin has had to go back to main office. As I'm NPS my CA at main office has always had to do my IOM admin

Our admin are going into 2 hubs too. To cover the whole of the North (Liverpool to Hull). And we're meant to be getting a whole new computer system....still no idea what it looks like!

Or if it will work!!

IOM. Don't make me laugh. If l was a CRC being paid by results l would put absolutely nothing into prolific offenders. What is the point they will very likely offend. No first time drink drivers is where its at. They will provide a return on my investment.

Hmmmm... most drink drivers are prolific. ..they just didn't get caught til now!

I recall a business analyst interviewed on the radio when CRCs were first starting up - he said it made no business sense to aim for high quality outcomes and the performance related pay element of these contracts as you'd put a lot of resources in for very limited likelihood of success. The trick is to do the basics with as cheap labour and overheads as possible, collect the basic funding and still make a profit.

And yep makes total sense. Supermarket probation. Stack it high and sell it cheap.

Sadly, so true. Glad I am out.

Hang on in there. (not that I did...)


Funniest thing ever was seeing an NPS admin colleague storm upstairs and rip out a toner from a CRC printer, as the NPS had lost all printing abilities. Somebody actually shouted 'Theft'....this actually got reported!

I imagine that it's all down to frustration with the mess we're all in. We're lucky that we don't have that in our office. That said, we have 5 printers in our small building and we're lucky if even one of them works.....

CRC staff at KPO and WPO can't print at mo though, can they? Due to the IT switchover? X

I didn't know that x

That's what I've heard. X

Oh we can. Most of us are still using lotus notes!!

Can't print from laptops but given that we are reliant on poor wifi or our 'hotspot' (which fails if someone calls you) to log in I tend to give up and use the old system!


Our "wifi" is shit! And yep, have that problem with the hotspot. Really useful if you get a call which usually involves looking something up but connection gets lost due to the call interrupting the signal which then causes laptop to freeze and you can't access anything.

Oh I thought you had the wires there? Not seen these but heard these act as a direct connection? What a load of old..

Yes, we do but the iPhone hotspot thingy is pants if remote working (from CRI, etc). Also, if I am sat wired up but need to move laptop, when you disconnect, it loses the connection so you have to log off in order to change to wireless connection.

You've just got to laugh eh!! you couldn't make this up!!

Good grief what farce.

We ran out of paper the other day....!

You couldn't make it up could you? X

I think Office Depot ran out of paper lol!!

Ours hadn't been ordered! 😯

Oh dear! We did but were told they had none

Sounds familiar?


Our CRC colleagues moved out of our office a couple of weeks ago - D-Day was the Thurs - so Fri night we ALL (even our cleaners came) went out for food & drinks. Safe to say it was a sad - but great night... they won't beat us if we stick together :-)


  1. where I work I rarely see my case admin and I've no need to really as everything's done via phone/email and all documents are uploaded onto delius. I miss them as individuals etc but they could be at the other end of the country and it would make no difference to me. I am very sad to hear of colleagues round the country going through what can only be described as a daily nightmare - i'd have thought things would have settled down by now but if anything it's getting worse - in my area estates are high on the agenda, working environments are totally in appropriate and the bickering and sniping is wearing me down.

    1. I don't suppose that it would make any difference to your service users if you was in a call centre the other end of the country.

    2. When I was a po admin and reception were vital every day - passed on news of court appearances of my clients' families and such like - gave me a warning so & so was sounding desperate on the phone - when leaving a message and so on and on. Hence Probation traditionally was a true team effort and admin/reception were the glue that kept it functioning effectively and they needed to be on site so we all had personal but professional relationships with each other and the clients. Never forget that the most relevant part of communication is the non verbal stuff, that does not happen in video conference calls, though nuances can be 'picked up' in telephone conversations and are enhanced when the parties concerned are already in trusting relationships.

      Gradually probation has moved away from that but best practice depends on such relationships - lets hope that good enough practices can evolve that do not unduly increase crime or worker stress.

    3. Feck me Hatton, an on topic, link-free reply that contributes to the debate - sincerely, you should do more posts of this ilk! ;-)

    4. Putting a wink smiley face doesn't make your comment any nicer.

  2. CP Admin are so specific in what they know and do,it is an absolute disaster that they are leaving our office.It will be difficult to function remotely.
    How soon then before Admin staff are enforcing first failure to comply.Bring in the volunteers to work alongside the remaining PSO's.
    "And then they came for us"!

  3. What FB page are these quotes from,Jim?

  4. Unfortunately the battle to keep admin staff in probation was lost a long time ago along with secretaries and paper files. The battle to keep have our own little offices/consulting rooms was also lost in favour of open plan. Even open plan offices will soon be closed and admin work outsourced to the lowest cost bidder. The MoJ regard the privatisation of probation as a part completed project and an interim arrangement. The modern deprofessionalised probation officer is to be agile, badly paid, and know their place as lowly corporate worker who does what they are told to do or hand in their phone and laptop and make an appointment at the nearest jobcentre. The only reason the NPS exists at all is that outsourcing high risk work may have taken longer to complete and have been less commercially attractiveto potential bidders however unless the NPS budget can be reduced by 25% then they are for the chop too. APs would make a nice package for a housing provider. Prison based PO's can be absorbed into the prison. All those holding community cases will simply be transferred to their local CRC. Court and prison PO's will retain the right of audience and do the bulk of reports. Job done privatisation completed.

    1. open plan offices are totally inappropriate, we have banks of desks pushed together and we're literally on top of each other - various conversations are going on at once whilst you're trying to concentrate on recalls or breaches, you cant hear yourself think. We have colleagues who talk on the phone like they are talking to Austrailia and there's a couple who type extremely loudly and are a total distraction - the other day one had metal bangles on so as she was typing the flaming bangles were bang bang bang. It's really stressful and i'm at my wits end.

    2. That is true for all open plan or crammed offices.There has been a lot of work done on how stressful they are,hence employers'favourite option of agile working instead.Saved getting more working space if you make use of someone else's office or kitchen table.

  5. There was a comment above 'glad I'm out of it'. I left also. No job is worth unhappiness. I just wonder what those that left are doing now? I have an administration job in private sector. A paycut from my PSO role but I decided my mental health not worth the £5k extra.

    1. How much were you paid as a PSO?

    2. About £24.5 k. Did 11 years.

    3. I am also wondering what other alternative careers are out there....

  6. Admin officers helped me when I was training, a friendly word here and there helped prevent many a bad decision from becoming worse.....over the past 20 odd years or so I have witnessed them becoming de professionalised, marginalised, treated like dirt by managers who relied on them when they were training yet without them we are nothing, I know it, they know it the only ones that don't are gutless managers who state with one breath that they're cutting red tape whilst advertising for yet another diary couldn't make it up

  7. Next in line for a transformative experience will be all the schools in the state sector. Franchised academies nationwide, the destruction of collective bargaining, goodbye to local governance.

  8. I recently hot-desked at our Head Office in London and overheard a conversation by senior managers in the tearoom complaining that the new owners were strutting around basically blaming them for unable to change rapidly enough and tolerating poor performance and complaining that they were not whipping the lazy good for nothing staff into shape. The phrase 'bastards in the grey lanyards' was used frequently. Too many over inflated egos and no one being on board with anything or just fighting their own corner and darned if they care about anyone else. They agreed the cohort model was sufficient to convince the MoJ but completely impractical to implement operationally. They were saying that morale was at an all time low with some teams on the point of mutiny who had just been left to their own devices for fear of more key staff walking. They didn't blame staff for thinking everything was crap because that is what they thought too. They also agreed it was time for any sane person to get out as probation was not finished. I was taken aback by how angry they sounded and how reckless they were to be having this kind of conversation in a tearoom where they might easily be overheard - perhaps this is how paranoid we've all become.

    People are now quite openly describing the new Head of Probation Helga Swidenback as less than useless apparently asking managers to put more staff on capability and more staff to be disciplined for insubordination with the real power being wielded from the Mormon Church dominated MTC in the US. What a sorry state to be in. By the way I had to abandon hot-desking as the IT system kept breaking down and no one could find the IT guy - maybe he had enough and left too.

    Napo are doing their best to engage with senior managers but are they talking to the puppet or the hand? From what I've heard they should be heading to the US if they want to talk to those supposedly running things.

    1. Helga Swidenbank - say no more - her threats in regards to getting OaSys completed in 10 days and they will be checking - she can sod off - We are so overloaded with work in our office (CRC) carrying 150 cases each - literally running to the toilet at the last minutes as stuck to the desk!! just taking it one day at a time

    2. our crc on 90 - 110 cases. impossible to keep track of everyone. IOM cases, the PSS has had a big impact on me and they're regularly breaching- I've 3 on multiple licences all of which are in breach and for which I can only recommend custody. Out of an original 8 week sentence by the time the 12mth period is up he'll probably have done 9 months in custody as it's warrant after warrant due to being nfa. Everytime he gets recalled he gets 28 days and now he's into PSS he gets 2 weeks as persistant dna and no point asking for fines. Touchwood he's not offended for a few months so once the PSS starts to expire he may stay out of the CJS.

    3. I wonder if anyone is doing any research regarding the operating models of the CRC owners. It seems that as soon as they start trying to implement their MoJ approved plans then the proverbial hits the fan. The MoJ has after all considerable expertise procurring the right companies to do the job such as the wonderful G4S and Serco. Grayling certainly did transform rehabilitation but not into anything better than was there before and as the weeks go by it is obvious that some of the new owners like MTCnovo are more interested in other projects.

  9. They did beat us because we didn't stick together because people did not believe that they would do this to the hard working drones that couldn't risk losing a day's pay whilst the rest spouted well meaning but ultimately naive statements.......the only way to proceed is to withdraw whatever scrap of goodwill is left, they fought dirty while we were still reading up on the Marqius of Queensbury rule book.....just because we're late understanding exactly how we've been royally shafted doesn't mean to say that we can't do something about it......two Northern areas are struggling financially , will they survive......time will tell

  10. The impact this is having - NPS office with staff off sick due to stress. People are walking because they've reached their limit. The way some long established staff are being treated. It's heart breaking to see. And in the CRC workloads are even higher with no streamlining of processes, I don't know how they're coping, I'm not sure I would.

  11. I absolutely agree with 14.32, goodwill should have well and truly gone. We should ALL now just do our hours. No more working over to get jobs done. We don't get paid any extra and certainly do not get any better thought of. Let's all stop giving more for less. We are already doing that. Remember folks, we haven't had a salary increase for 6 years. They are taking us for mugs and we are letting them. No more. We have to take a stand.

  12. Have worked my hours now for the last two years after removing all my goodwill.
    I feel better for it, the sky didnt fall in. I recommend it. Its what you should be doing anyway, only deliver to contract, have you not learnt anything ;)

  13. MTC Novo is in the news. Concern about them being in the running to take over secure training centres for children. They are currently the subject of legal action in America over the running of prisons they managed. Allegations of violence, abuse, etc.

    They failed to provide safe environments for adults in prison in America, yet the UK government is willing to let them have a go at managing detained children here.

    1. G4S buying more children's homes to run too.

    2. If the MoJ and Youth Justice Board are finding these companies suitable then we must surely question whether or not their 'rigorous' assessment processes are fit for purpose or is this in fact evidence of corruption? How many former MoJ employees are now advising MTCnovo? How many former NOMs employees do they now employ? Time for someone to start asking the MoJ some difficult questions. Where has Napo's press officer gone? I can't believe that if Harry Fletcher was still working for Napo that he wouldn't be on to this by now.

    3. England's troubled young offender centres could be taken over by an American company accused of managing prisons riddled with violence, corruption and drugs.

      Two "Secure Training Centres" (STCs) are being sold by private security firm G4S, after evidence of abuse and neglect emerged at its Medway centre in January, leading to the arrest of five G4S officers.

      Another STC in Rainsbrook in Northamptonshire has already been taken away from G4S after inspectors found staff involved in drug use and "racist and degrading" treatment last year.

      Sky News has learned that one of the frontrunners to succeed G4S is MTC Novo, part of a company currently named in legal action in the US, where inmates claim they were abused.

      MTC runs the East Mississippi Correctional Facility, a prison described in legal documents as "an extraordinarily dangerous" place.

      Sky News has obtained CCTV footage from another MTC-run prison, Walnut Grove, depicting inmates set upon by gangs and savagely beaten. Security staff are nowhere to be seen.

      American civil liberties groups are backing litigation against Mississippi, whose prisons were run by MTC at the time of some of the allegations.

      Yet MTC Novo has already won control of Rainsbrook, a centre plagued by controversy since 15-year-old Gareth Myatt was killed there following a restraint in 2004.

      An inquest found failures in the running of the centre were partly responsible for his death.

      The prospect of MTC Novo succeeding G4S in running the centre is causing growing concern.

      "MTC has a pretty terrible record," said Carl Takei, attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union.

      "In 2015, a federal judge found that MTC had failed to take adequate steps to protect the security of prisoners inside, including by allowing prisoners to have their own gang escorts."

      "It's disturbing that MTC would be able to expand in the UK, given its record in the United States."

      British human rights groups have written to the Youth Justice Board, which manages the process of awarding STC contracts to companies, highlighting MTC's track record in the US.

      "The fact that they are looking to give this contract to a private company which, as far as I'm aware, is under investigation in at least one instance in the US, and in respect of a prison but also a class action that's ongoing, it's very concerning," said Tabitha Kassem from the Howard League for Penal Reform.

      "I also think that this company as far as I'm aware has no experience of running a residential establishment for vulnerable children."

      The Youth Justice Board said that it had rigorously assessed MTC Novo, and that the company "met the Ministry of Justice requirements in relation to capability, human rights and equalities".

      A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "The company submitted a high quality tender which showed its extensive experience and understanding in managing and rehabilitating young people."

      MTC said it inherited pre-existing problems at the prisons it ran in Mississippi, and that under its ownership violence, drug use and disciplinary incidents had significantly reduced.

      But the sale of G4S's STCs has raised wider questions about the privatisation of services for children.

    4. I could submit a polished bid, doesn't mean it's accurate or true! Moj too easily bedazzled and bamboozled by clever spin of people who now absolutely nothing about criminal justice or caring for the vulnerable!

  14. The bottom line is people want a job and those who qualified for and dedicated their lives to working in probation have fewer and fewer places to go. Trying to find an ethical employer in the UK these days is a nightmare. Many of the so called charities have jumped into bed with corporations. it is more and more difficult for citizens and organisations to speak out against government policies without financial penalties. The electorate has naively supported those who would enslave them or take away their means of earning a living. What will save probation is to refuse to support political parties who seek to outsource their responsibilities for justice and rehabilitation. Campaign against politicians that do not support a public locally accountable probation service. Do not accept anything less. If you work in probation fulfill your contract and nothing more until you are working for an ethical employer who is locally accountable. Neither the NPS or the CRCs are properly accountable to the communities they supposedly serve. Remind politicians that they were elected to serve the people not their own or their own party's interests. Rise up against those who would oppress and shackle you.

  15. Two young people detained at Medway said they experienced mistreatment there seven years ago and felt abandoned by the criminal justice and social care system.

    "It's the worst place for a vulnerable child. There's no support there for you," said Roni Moss, who served two sentences at Medway and says she began self-harming after repeated restraints.

    "It's not that we are bad and we wanted to be bad. It's actually that we need help."

    "A lot of the children there have been through some awful things," said Lela Xhemajli.

    "So to go in there and not get support... you lose a lot of faith in the system.

    "It should be run by people who know how to deal with children."

    Ms Kassem said private companies were incapable of delivering that kind of care for young offenders.

    "Private companies are not fit for this purpose - this is about safeguarding vulnerable children. And when an organisation is running for profit, there is an inherent difficulty with that."

  16. Does anybody have any advice for a mental health worker with a psychology background considering a career change to train as a Probation Officer? The career appears to tick all the boxes I am searching for in a job but after reading some of the reactions to recent privatisation, I am starting to wonder whether I want to pursue a career where so many people are so upset? Thank you in advance for any advice you may have..

    1. It might be difficult to get into CRC are cutting staff, NPS will be having a budget cut so will not be taking on a load more PO's. You might get into TPO training however there is no certainty that you will find a PO position close to you. Most likely offered PSO position on lower wage.

    2. My advice is don't. Many of us would be happy to find a way into mental health careers right now.

    3. Before 2013 probation would have been an ideal career move for you but not now. Anyone recommending probation as a career to you now would be doing you a great disservice. You would be entering a service in decline and unfortunately future employers may question your judgement.

    4. Many of us would likely benefit from Mental Health support right now!

    5. Oh dear :( unfortunately mental health is also in a sticky situation and with my degree and masters I'm still left unqualified with very few jobs going other than support work.. Clinical psychology is almost impossible to get on to. Thanks for the advice though. Do you think that the situation is likely to develop and change, perhaps if there was a change in government in the future? I'm stuck for ideas for what to do as a career :o

    6. Come into Adult Social Care.It is picking up the work that used to be bread and butter for a Probation Officer.

  17. MTCNOVO are even more corrupt and dodgy than G4S and Serco. Who knew that was even possible?

  18. "People are now quite openly describing the new Head of Probation Helga Swidenback as less than useless, apparently asking managers to put more staff on capability and more staff to be disciplined for insubordination with the real power being wielded from the Mormon Church-dominated MTC in the US"

    Anyone who met Swidenbank when she was running HMP Bronzefield could have told you that she'd make this sort of boss at London CRC as this was exactly how she was running a prison. The woman is a nasty piece of work and incompetent