Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Court Report

Seen on Facebook:-

I keep saying that this NPS\CRC professional divide will happen and widen as time goes by, as new staff join both services, and it is! I am now hearing that CRC staff are feeling that they are being spoken down to by Prison and NOMS staff as well as Courts and some previous colleagues. Personally I wouldn't take this but then again I'm an old Probation gunslinger. I would not like to be joining either service in this era.

I think it will actually be easier for those joining now. At least they know what they're coming into. As a CRC PO who still sits in an office with NPS, I still struggle to accept all the tasks I miss from my preTR role, especially when listening to other staff still doing this work. It's difficult not to feel 'second class' sometimes, even though I know sifting was largely down to luck (or in my case, maternity leave). I for one will be glad when we do move out, I think it will actually improve morale.
Recently a Magistrate in our area admitted he did not realise that CRC staff were still the same staff from the 'old service', he thought we had all be drafted in by Interserve. They also refused to revoke an Order for good progress (which was entirely justified) because we were 'just doing it for targets'. Unfortunately we are getting a lot of resistance from the NPS court staff who are not helping the situation and are sometimes just rude to us.

I am NPS court staff and it's really hard because we don't mean to be resistant or rude and I always email the CRC OMs to tell them what's happened in my breach courts in case they need to show it to managers or something. The revoking for good progress is a really contentious issue because court services have had a directive that the applications aren't necessary (because when an Order is made, 12 months is just the maximum, but if they do their RAR and UPW in 8 months that isn't especially good progress, it's just them doing what they were ordered to do) and I can see the court services point of view. But then equally I understand that for OMs having lots of cases sat on your case load who have finished is hugely problematic and you want to get rid of them. Aside from that, CRC senior management is pushing OMs to put the applications in court, NPS court managers are telling us we have to accept them, sign them off and list them in the courts, then make the applications despite knowing the outcome will be a rejection (all applications are currently being rejected) and HMCTS managers are telling legal advisers to reject them.

I'm really sorry you feel that NPS staff are being rude and unhelpful (I hope it wasn't me) as we are also at the end of our tether, not that that's any excuse. I'm a Xxxxxxx Mags CDO and if you need any help with breaches or applications then you're more than welcome to phone me personally because nobody should be being rude to you, you're all following directions same as us and the courts. I try to remember that you are Xxxxx trust colleagues and friends and you're under lots of pressure and it isn't OMs fault that management can't get things right at all.

Thanks, I think you hit the nail right on the head, we are all just at the end of our tether!

It doesn't give people the right to be rude though, we really should all be saving that for higher management!!!

Awful to hear that people feel so low altho I'm very lucky n never have any problems with Xxxxxxxx or Xxxxxxx court staff - they're ace x

Thanks, if all applications were for orders a long way along, that would be one thing. However, a blanket ban on revocations is outrageous and needs to be challenged, if any senior management can be found willing to support their field colleagues. Not likely though.

I think in fairness, the difficulty in Xxxxxxxx and obviously I'm not sure about other areas but I'd be interested to find out, is that our breach courts (2 each week with around 25 available slots in each) currently are 50-60% applications. Almost all of those applications are to extend the 12 month period in which someone should complete UPW, which the courts are arguing doesn't need to happen, a CO doesn't die til the hours are done so why are we clogging up available slots with those apps when they were never seemed necessary pre split, and then applications for people who have simply done their requirements within the allotted time (ie they've done 100 hours UPW in 5 months) which also would never have come back to court pre split.

CRC are being told to make the applications, so it means time taken to write reports, NPS court staff like me are checking them and signing them and listing them and making the applications which takes a lot of time, and then court legal advisers have been told to refuse them because they just aren't necessary. It's causing really bad feeling because sometimes I think OMs think we aren't putting forward a good argument in court but in reality, once the legal adviser sees the information, court officers barely get to say anything from the report before they get refused. Senior management from the CRC have been to court and have spoken to managers there but as someone in the middle it's hard to figure out what was said because they're both still ploughing ahead with their own decisions leaving NPS piggy in the middle.

Partly it is an unfortunate side effect of conflicting targets and changes to practice on both sides. Also compounded by changes to court practice. Before we could adapt to the needs of the Court and Probation would adjust accordingly and all staff would be pulling together. I guess it is easier to grump at your old colleagues than get targets changed.

Myself and several CRC colleagues were transferred to the new TTG teams and now work from inside a Prison. A prison officer said he felt sorry for us as we had been demoted, asked why he thought that, apparently a NPS PO had told him that was the case and that NPS had retained the best staff. Also when we ring around re offenders that are now in Prison the number of times we are told we aren't qualified to deal with NPS offenders. The mind boggles tbh, we were one united front not long ago and had little say in where we ended up in the split yet lots seem to have forgotten when we all had each others backs. A very sad affair x

It is a very sad affair. It's also sad when our colleagues and good friends from CRC have been moved out of offices and told they cannot come in as they are not NPS. For gods sake it's all pathetic xx

If I heard any NPS staff make such outrageous comments about CRC colleagues  - as you well know - they'd get both barrels... I'm hoping the delightful prison officer was just meddling!

You would tell them in no uncertain manner I am sure, as would Xxxxxx, you are sadly in the minority it would seem these days. As for the Prison Officer he was stating what his wife had told him and was surprised and apologetic when he found out the truth. The amount of times we are spoken to in a not so pleasant manner is now becoming the norm. Several trainee PO's telling our qualified with many years under their belts that they don't know enough or aren't experienced enough to deal with their offenders. I have no idea where they are getting their superiority complex from xx

I'm truly astounded... & bloody furious. Staff - like yourself with a few yrs in - will have forgotten more than the trainees have learned - cheeky you mean his wife was NPS? She needs to be reminded mischievous gossip & meddling is wholly inappropriate from an alleged professional. Just sorry for the trouble from a few x

Yeah his wife is NPS PO, sad really. As for the trainees I still laugh when they want to revoke an SSO, er no you activate it, or tell me a licence has ended because our involvement has, er no licence has an expiry date we have no control over. But hey what do I know lol. I just laugh to myself tbh, it's the best way xx

My god it's disgraceful. Some of the best PO are with the CRC go no further than the staff at Xxxxxxx. And if I heard a trainee telling staff they don't know enough they would get my foot up their arse xxx

Sad times xx
I'm NPS and I wouldn't be too happy to hear people talk about CRC staff that way. We shouldn't be split like this in attitude, even though we're physically different now.


  1. There are so many contradictions going on, and while too many interests are being served to make the omnishamles work!

  2. our local court has an administrative slot for revoking our COs that have completed their requirements - they don't even make it to the court room. Shows it can be done when people work together for a common cause which seems sadly lacking in most areas

  3. I'm a CRC PO and I was in a meeting recently and when I suggested that we recognise that if we are now a private company that was grossly under resourced to deliver what we had delivered as a Trust and that we should ask the MoJ what it is that must be done and what we can stop doing. Their reply was we must appear to do everything including going through the motions of returning people to court even though we know the applications will be rejected. They also said they were aware things were crap but were in no position to say so.

    Yesterday I met a trainee on placement and had a long chat. She told me that she had initially been confused about the difference between proper POs in the NPS and those now called POs (but aren't really) in the CRCs. She said she had been put straight by experienced NPS colleagues and the situation explained to her that all the best staff had been hand picked to go to the NPS and that all those in the CRC were basically rejects who were not fit to hold any real responsibility for high risk or report writing or speaking as a professional in court or at oral hearings. She on the other hand as a recent psychology graduate whose only work experience had been a Saturday job in Boots was more qualified. She accepted some people may have slipped through on either side but her experience of unprofessional CRC staff tended to confirm what she was told. She had noticed they tended to dressed more shabbily have lower vocabularies and appeared to be less well educated and basically a lot thicker than her NPS colleagues.

    She was warned not to take too much notice of CRC staff who were no longer considered proper probation staff along with other 'partnership odd bods' like housing association staff who would in any case be made redundant soon as they were not fit to do the job and Privatisation was the most efficient way to finally get shot of them. She said she had been told it was very hard for an ex CRC person to join the NPS and if they did their previous CRC experience counted for nothing and they were at a disadvantage as they had already been rejected. She had apparently heard these kinds of things from several sources.

    The most worrying thing she said was that those who were physically disabled had been deliberately left in the CRC because she had been told they were a nuisance and the private sector was more efficient at encouraging them to resign.

    I was also told that financial institutions now give better rates to NPS staff than to CRC so even the banks think CRC are second class.

    Welcome to the future.

    1. Trouble is Anon 9:15, this isnt the future, this is the 'now'. Hey ho, I've quickly scanned the E3 blueprint, and noticed in the section on courts that 'POs will support the PSO's in court' with PSO's doing the lion's share of the work. What a turnaround hey, once upon a time it was PSO's supporting PO's in their role. But what do I know? I'm just a badly dressed, less well educated (2 first degrees anyone?)thick CRC PO.

    2. Both comments utter drivel. I'm nps and I am currently furious at the way my former colleagues and friends are being treat having to Duke it out for their jobs. I am completely attuned to the fact I ended up in now because I shifted to an office closer to him 6 months before tr. That's it. The only difference. Don't know anyone in my office who doesn't think the same. Save the moaning for seniors and the government.

  4. There is some irony that Amey is also the company that has the NPS cleaning contract as well as being part of MTCnovo in London. The Courts Police and others have some evidence to think that the CRC is basically a beefed up cleaning company with ideas above its station and beyond its skill set. They haven't even got a proper email address. Some in the NPS have taken a little too eagerly to the notion that they are some kind of elite rather than 3rd class civil servant wannabees and you can spot these by the increase in the number of people now wearing suits to the office. CRC staff on the other hand sem to be reinforcing their identity by dressing down.

  5. This all reminds me of the now famous Jane Elliot experiment 'A Class Divided'

    Her aim was to teach Iowa third graders about racial prejudice the day after Martin Luther King was assassinated but it has important parallels with what has happened in probation with blue eyed NPS staff looking down on their brown eyed former colleagues and equals. Just looked what happened .........

    Read more:

    1. I'm an NPS PO. I don't wear a suit to work nor do I look down on CRC PO's.

  6. You might want to tell that trainee po the following: i am a po in crc. I have two good university degrees. The latter being a post grad degree in social work with c.q.s.w probation option
    I better qualified than some chief po's. Prior to graduating with post grad degree i worked my arse off working with children an care. My first ever job was working in a bail hostel at 23 years old!i do not come from an advantaged background and went to an awful school. I witnessed dv growing up and also as a young adult. My first partner died of a heroin overdose. I was the victim of two sexual assaults as a child snd had anorexia. I have dragged myself up from my arse and am proud of what i have achieved and the effort i put into my job which i remain committec to. I worked in the publicprotection team with offenders su ch as nps now have. I havealso worked for yot and home office drugs ptevention initiative as a senior practitioner. I chose to go to crc and turned down a job i wad offered at nps as crc suited me better. More face to face work. She sounds inexperienced and maybe being fed detritus so i won't take this personally. What i would day is nps role has a shelf life. How long csn the average person cope with working with high ridk offenders? My ecperience is maybe 3 years or so and then you become emotionally drained. Burn out or even ptsd are not uncommon. I coped until i had kids and tjen it began to effect me emotionally and i became hyper vigilant and terrified for my own kids. In this job you need alot more than a professional qualification. My training was great and i consider myself very lucky to have had that opportunity but life experience and working with relevant groups are also vital. It worries me that nrwly qualified po's some with no previous experience will be in this position. I dont want to be patronising but has anyone considered how they will vope emotionally long term and where they eill go if they need a break from high risk offenders?

    1. I completely agree, In NPS and stressed out my box by the relentlessness of what my clients have done. there is no light relief.

  7. At present we in crc still have daily contact with nps. We are in seperate offices but same building. Often discuss the cases i have risk escalated. Are they doing anything different to me? No,we come from similar position so no real difference there. Also frequently converse with nps court staff when they are dealing with a crc breach etc.have never felt looked down on. I'm too much of an old timer for anyone to get away with that. Sadly we will move out to our new offices soon to save some pennies. Our only contact with nps will be by phone. The split just goes on and on. Admin will go to their call centre or whatever and we will be a very small team managing all the dv cases. Any so called low risk will be 'remotely controlled' via a human maybe a robot at the call centre. I must start practicing my new phone voice, maybe a dalek or darth vader would be appropriate! Why even bother having an would be easier to have us working at home making calls all day to people we haven't even met using a checklist devised by..could save even more money if it was all done by phone minus a human or robot..'if you have re-offended please press 1' 'for all other options or to speak to someone with no qualifications or experience on the minimum wage press 4'..otherwise just bog off.

  8. I like this blog because it very often mirrors my experiences of working in the post Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) apocalypse world. There was a time when it was referred to as a TR revolution. We pointed out at the time that the problem with revolutions was that people often got hurt and post revolution euphoria the reality was not so pleasant, that voids and divisions would emerge and so the evidence is now presented. Our on message management refer to these as 'transitional issues'. Those of us at the sharp end are not so understated in our sentiments regarding these issues, they were and will continue to be predictable consequences of an extremely bad plan. An appeal then, therefore, to our leaders and politicians, put away your fixed and entrenched positions whatever side of the divide you are on and concentrate on what our common goals and needs are to bring about a settlement that works. Too idealistic and unrealistic?

  9. Yes,let the dark abyss of crc resound with the rallying song, 'things can only get better',just as it did when mr blair took us into war with iraq to prevent them deploying all those weapons of mass destruction. I'm sure we can all rely on the current government to have the countries best interests at heart, just like the previous government did!

  10. I'm fairly certain that though a staunch neoliberal who would privatise his own grandmother Gove genuinely does want out of the CRC contracts as he can see a duff deal and will be aware that Grayling screwed them over too. Gove is perfectly aware that he has no real investment in seeing them succeed at any cost as he can blame Grayling for failure. He can't simply end the contracts because of the poisonous clauses but he does have the option of turning the screw and systematically starving them of funds to frustrate the contract then renegotiate. Private probation service providers have made a total mess of everything and no sane person would have suggested such a barmy system in the first place. An idea apparently being given serious consideration and gaining momentum at the MoJ is that it makes sense for NPS and CRCs to be brought back together in the community under the working title of National Community Rehabilitation Service (a public private sector partnership) with larger package areas roughly coterminous with police areas and courts probation to be absorbed by the courts service and prison probation to be absorbed by the prison service interestingly APs would be part of the new NCRS but will be managed by a private prisons contractor. Apparently this is the preferred option at the moment and it's all being kept under wraps so as not to alarm the CRC owners as their relationship with the MoJ is a little strained. Waiting for costings.

    1. What Anon at 00.42 writes sounds reasonably informed and even maybe feasible, inasmuch as whatever way out of the mess and consequences of the foolish split is ever going to be feasible it will also be politically embarrassing and is likely also to be personally painful for many, especially front-line probation practitioners, who will experience yet more job turmoil. It maybe do-able in the aftermath of the Euro- referendum, when most media attention is on the yah-booing about that as well as the resolution of Scottish parliament matters perhaps under the cloak (at last) of the publication of the Chilcot report. Even fewer people will understand the structure of probation governance in England and Wales and the work actually undertaken, than now, though eventually probation maybe become better understood by more of the public depending on how much interest is taken in the increasing role of the PCCs.

      I query his or her accuracy on one point because if anon at 00:42 truly does have inside information (which I DEFINITELY do not have), 00:42 has not referenced the already public stated intention of the Home Secretary, supported by Gove, to shift probation to the responsibility of the police and crime commissioners (and presumably back under the auspices of the Home Secretary) after the second PCC elections at the beginning of May, along with other duties including the management of the education of young offenders. Responsibility of Fire & Rescue Services is also heading their way, if the intentions of some are fulfilled.

      In other words piecemeal local government reorganisation with probation being shifted back to local control, away from the current direct management by central government.

      I query his or her accuracy on one point because if anon at 00:42 truly does have inside information (which I DEFINITELY do not have)

  11. I look down at cabinet ministers and civil servants who are wholly responsible for this mess

  12. From reading through the comments, there seems to be a common theme of 'identity crisis'. It would appear that the constant questioning of who we are, what we do and how & when will we have more clarity, is troubling everyone.

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