Thursday, 7 April 2016

Getting a Grip with MASH and Hubs

Here's some selected quotes from the latest edition of the London CRC Stakeholders Newsletter that help give a flavour of what the exciting new world of probation is all about under TR, including some wonderful fresh acronyms:-

Message from our Director of Probation

Welcome to the second edition of London Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CRC) partnership newsletter, designed to keep you up-to-date on our latest news and to provide insights into our approach to offender rehabilitation. Since I took up my post as Director of Probation for London CRC in December last year, we’ve:

  • Launched a Cohort Model to enhance our offender engagement 
  • Introduced two new directorates to support the Cohort Model 
  • Embedded our new Through the Gate services in all London’s resettlement prisons 
  • Migrated to a new ICT system to free up frontline staff to spend more time face-to-face with offenders 
  • Further developed our approach to working with partner organisations such as yours.
London CRC remains committed to collaborating with partner organisations that share our goal of reducing reoffending across the capital. Four Heads of Stakeholders and Partnerships (HOSPs) are London CRC’s dedicated first points of contact for all its strategic partnerships. You can find out more about our HOSPs on pages four and five.

Also in this newsletter, you can read about two multi-agency pilots London CRC is involved in: ‘Gripping the Offender’ (an IOM initiative which aims to reduce reoffending in some of the most prolific offenders), and the extension of the Alcohol Abstinence Monitoring Requirement pilot (the UK’s first mandatory sobriety scheme). We also provide an update on our Through the Gate service, an insight into how we support offenders’ employment and training needs, and our plans to enhance London CRC’s Community Payback model.

I’d also like to draw your attention to our article on information security on page six. It contains some important information for those of you who may be experiencing issues exchanging emails with us via our new ICT platform. 

I hope this newsletter gives you a good picture of London CRC’s work and current priorities. However, if you have any questions, please speak to your local Head of Stakeholders and Partnerships. You’ll find their email addresses on pages four and five.

Helga Swidenbank Director of Probation

A fresh approach to working with stakeholders 

An update on our commitment to working with our external partner organisations to reduce reoffending across the capital

In the previous edition of this newsletter, we announced that we were launching a new Rehabilitation, Partnerships and Stakeholders Directorate. Read on to find out more about this directorate and some of its initiatives. 

We remain committed to helping our partner organisations meet their local crime reduction priorities and to fulfilling London CRC’s Community Safety (Integrated Offender Management) and Safeguarding (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs) responsibilities. Operating a dedicated Rehabilitation, Partnerships and Stakeholders Directorate allows us to take a more focused approach and ensures we focus our involvement where we can have the most impact. 
  • Staff in the Rehabilitation, Partnerships and Stakeholders Directorate work strategically with London’s Reducing Reoffending Boards to identify new interventions and help shape policies and commissioning decisions. 
  • While staff are unlikely to be able to attend every Community Safety Partnership meeting, they provide written reports that capture the specific information needed by individual partner organisations. 
  • If asked to do so, staff attend meetings to help develop strategic plans or cross- department policies, or to provide clarity on London CRC operations. There are four Heads of Stakeholders and Partnerships (HOSPs) in the directorate and you can read more about them and their areas of focus on pages four and five.
Gripping the Offender: a new IOM initiative 

From April 2016, London CRC will be part of a 12 month multi-agency pilot aimed at reducing reoffending rates among repeat offenders by 10%. Up to a thousand offenders in Camden, Enfield, Hackney, Haringey, Islington, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest will be involved in the Gripping the Offender (GtO) pilot. Doug Charlton from the Rehabilitation, Partnerships and Stakeholders Directorate is London CRC’s GtO lead. 

The key elements of the pilot will include: 
  • Comprehensive tracking of offenders and continuity of interventions from sentence to release from custody – right through to supervision in the community. 
  • Enhanced services for 18 to 25 year old adult male offenders (rates of reoffending in this cohort continue to rise unlike in other groups where they have reached a plateau or are reducing). This will include working with PACT, RISE Mutual and the Transition to Adulthood Alliance to develop a young adult-centred approach for this cohort. 
  • Ensuring GtO offenders can be fast tracked and prioritised to receive the services we are contracted to supply in prisons. 
  • A focus on increasing access to alternatives to custody. 
  • Cognitive behavioural and family resettlement interventions.
  • Personalised budgets for women offenders to provide access to services that meet the unique needs of this group, such as trauma based interventions. 
  • Providing a link between local Integrated Offender Management services and interventions that are available for women offenders. 
London CRC Coordinators will maintain an IOM case management system to ensure GtO offenders can be tracked by all partner organisations and appropriate interventions are provided. They will also make sure that requirements (such as a need for health and accommodation support) that are detailed in an offender’s Resettlement Plan, are actioned following release from custody. 

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hubs (MASH) 

Partner organisations now have one point contact for London CRC when requesting information regarding individuals who are subject to safeguarding checks. They simply need to email and their request will be picked up by staff in our central Allocations Hub. If the individual who is subject to checks is known to us, Hub staff will pass the request onto the relevant offender manager to respond within four to 72 hours (depending on whether the information request is flagged red, amber or green, in line with national agreements). Hub staff will respond directly to requests if the individual concerned is unknown to London CRC, or our checks indicate that the offender is supervised by the National Probation Service. Sam Rosengard, HOSP for North West London is London CRC’s MASH lead and has presented this new process to the London Safeguarding Children’s Board. 

We will of course continue to work closely with partner agencies to share and discuss information about any of our offenders who are subject to live MASH arrangements.

A tailored approach to working with women offenders 

A key element of our new operating model is delivering rehabilitation services to groups of offenders who have similar rehabilitation needs. This Cohort Model of offender management allows us to deliver tailored services to tackle the underlying causes of offending. 

Recognising that women’s routes into crime and their rehabilitation needs are often quite different to those for men, one of our cohorts is for women offenders. We are working with the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) to develop multi-agency services to help break the cycle of offending among this vulnerable offender group. To help shape this work, we’ll be jointly hosting an event that will bring together organisations that specialise in providing services to vulnerable women. 

A key part of our approach is to develop a number of local hubs where we can deliver our services to groups of women. Bringing together local organisations that specialise in working with women, these Hubs will provide holistic trauma-based interventions to tackle issues such as domestic abuse and safeguarding children. The first Hub, in partnership with Sutton Council and a number of local providers, will launch on 5 April.

Meet our Heads of Stakeholders and Partnerships Find out more about this new role and who’s who

Four Heads of Stakeholders and Partnerships (HOSPs) work in our Rehabilitation, Partnerships and Stakeholders Directorate. These individuals are responsible for engaging with both local strategic partners and organisations that work across all London boroughs. They are London CRC’s dedicated first points of contact for all its strategic partnerships. Read on to find out more about their professional experience, their areas of focus and priorities. 

The HOSPs’ role 

Each HOSP covers a number of London boroughs. Our HOSPs have already met many of our stakeholders and continue to arrange meetings with them to identify where they can add most value – whether that be producing a standardised report or attending a meeting to help develop strategic plans or policies. And, the good news is that our new ICT platform gives the HOSPs opportunities to engage with, and share information with, partners in a variety of ways that haven’t been possible before. For example, potentially using Instant Messaging for quick information exchange, or Skype for Business rather than onsite meetings. 

Our HOSPs are responsible for both ensuring London CRC meets its statutory Community Safety and Safeguarding obligations, and for working with our cohort leads to identify new opportunities to partner with organisations that provide support for particular groups of offenders.


A continued commitment to information security Helping you to have confidence in our new ICT networks

As you know, London Community Rehabilitation Company has implemented a new ICT system to enable staff to work more flexibly away from their offices and to spend more time working face-to-face with offenders. This involved us moving off the Government Secure Intranet platform (GSI) which is being phased out across the public sector. 

Data security is of paramount importance to us. Our new ICT system, which incorporates new email addresses, is accredited by the Cabinet Office to meet PSN requirements up to OFFICIAL (which includes OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE). This is the same level as GSI, enabling sensitive and confidential data to be safely shared with external agencies such as yours. 

Criminal Justice Secure eMail 

Despite this accreditation, we are aware that a number of partner organisations that use Criminal Justice Secure eMail (CJSM) have experienced issues exchanging emails with us. We have now identified what the problem is and are working to ensure emails can be sent and received across the CJSM firewall. Please get in touch with your contact at CJSM if you continue to experience problems.

Replying to emails sent via our network

We have also recently been advised that when replying to emails from our secure network, some organisations’ networks are delivering responses across the internet. Please speak to your IT team or internet service provider to ensure they have correctly validated the path messages are taking from your domain to ours.


  1. The PR blurb seems to have forgotten to mention the overarching, underpinning, all-consuming CRC initiative, StM (Spanking the Monkey).

    TF I'm no longer involved in TR or CRC.

    1. If only we thought of it earlier...we needed to launch a cohort model..we were all so stupid not to see something so simple,,, for the first time in years in the Criminal Justice System I am excited...oops. I have prematurely Cohorted. I'm so sorry.....

  2. Gripping the Offender? Uh!?!? Isn't that assault?

  3. Gripping the offender offender no less.

  4. I heard London/MTCNOVO CRC had run out of money. The IT doesn't work, there's nobody to attend MASH and there's no partnerships providing actual housing to "gripped" offenders.

    1. Well Helga is in charge so this is not exactly surprising news.

  5. Who the fuckety fuck in their right mind would name an initiative Gripping The Offender ? After 25 years as a PO I have never heard such puerile nonsense.

  6. What a load of shit!

  7. Maybe they meant 'griping' offenders?

  8. Maybe they meant grappling hahaha

    1. Groping the Offender... now that brings a whole new dimension to the job!

  9. 'Getting a grip' is one of Cameron's favourite soundbites. To label an initiative as 'Gripping the Offender' is to use aggressive and alienating language which makes one fear for the twisted mind or minds that coined it.

    Or maybe they got their ideas about gripping from the Urban dictionary. There are several, including this one: Fornicating with extraterrestrials: The process involves a human placing his or her hand, palm side out, into an aliens hand, interlocking the fingers. Once the connection has been made, the human receives the greatest form of ecstasy circulating throughout the entire body. The grip recipient usually levitates 4 - 10 inches off the ground and displays an intense glow, varying in colors. Those who grip almost always ejaculate immediately and continues to orgasm even though the human runs out of semen.

    1. Has anyone got a phone number for one of these aliens?.....Bobbyjoe

  10. I hope the company lose loads of money and then hand the keys back about you don't know what you're doing ffs!!!!

  11. This newsletter has Helga written all over it. The woman is a master of spin and deception and not much else at all.

  12. I'm genuinely confused... Is the CRC MASH different to normal MASH or the same? If different, it's a little confusing. Who is based there? Just CRC staff or other agencies too? If just CRC staff then should it be a SASH not a MASH??

    1. Where's Hawkeye when you need him most? (MASH 4077 for the uninitiated).

    2. Jingle - 'For mash get Smash'. Remember the giggling aliens?is someone losing their grip on reality? ........ so many puns, just makes it sound even more ludicrous.

    3. Must be all them orgasms that makes them giggle... Gripping stuff, eh?

  13. In April 2014, as reported on this very blog, Mr Douglas Charlton set out his innovative approach on being anointed into the hallowed higher reaches of the CRC:

    "It’s a real chance to try out some new things with this hard-to-reach group which has a high reoffending rate. We will be working very closely with our partners to make the new model work.”

    So after two years' brainstorming it seems they've just decided to use a simple control-and-restraint technique (GtO) and grip the little beggars by the throat. I thought that was the Met's job?

    In the meantime I see Dave has now coughed to a bit more over the dodgy money, just as predicted on this blog yesterday (ref the comment about those ancient rituals known as PSR interviews).

  14. Unbelievable corporate speak! Can no one speak or write plain English these days? Being of the late 70s/early 80s training then commencement of first job dinosaur and CQSW era, the simple task for a front line probation pracitioner was about helping people not to commit further offences. As Alexi Sayle once said, Don't call anything a workshop unless it's got tools in it".

  15. This may all look like complete nonsense but the MoJ are incredibly impressed by it all because for a number of years they were meeting with the Trusts telling them everything is jogging along and staying the same or gradually improving. Lots of work was being done to work with local communities and a probation officer working in Cornwall could move to a probation job in Hull and hit the ground running because we were all more or less working in the same sorts of way. All that was dull as ditch water and no ministerial careers were likely to be enhanced by it. Now the probation service is broken no one can keep track of what is going on as there seems to be to be be little regulation but all those involved are desperate to appear that they are a safe pair of hands because what they really want are the prison contracts. Meanwhile probation goes down the pan. It's a recipe for disaster.

  16. MTCnovo kept a lower profile than most of the other owners as they took a long time to reveal their plans. Napo could not do much because in fact nothing much changed until quite recently when it was realised that in fact unlike other areas the owners received Napo as a real threat to their business. Most staff were lulled into a false sense of security even though they were being told by Napo to prepare for change. Many of those same staff are now close to panic as they have seen nearly a quarter of staff who were temps leave and caseloads are completely out of control. Some of the most experienced staff have gone and people are leaving left right and centre. Some of these staff were the ones that kept things together but there is very little sense of team or common purpose. It is just chaos and anarchy and if they offered a half decent redundancy scheme then a large number of staff would take their chances elsewhere. The cohort model is a mess no doubt dreamt up on the back of a sick bag on a transatlantic flight. Caseloads are through the roof. Personally I never ever ever wanted to work for a faceless US corporation otherwise I'd have applied to join one. If I get a chance I'm leaving after 30 odd years working in probation. Maybe I can do something useful in the 13 years before I retire. It is really hard now to look clients in the eye because I just feel my heart is not in it any longer. There are people who have taken advantage of the situation and are making money out of this whole debacle and I hope when the whole thing crashes and burns that they are firmly strapped into the burning wreckage with no golden hand shakes like the former Chiefs and don't make a single cent of profit.

  17. How are London CRC staff going to be trained in all of these new initiatives? I'm part an L+D Team in another CRC and would be interested to hear what's happening in other CRC's.

  18. Is it just me but i feel quite sickened reading all this corporte speak. It seems they just hide behind ridiculous soundbites. Do they actually have a clue what we do on the 'coalface'? The situation in the crc's is reflected in the wider community and economy. Why are offending rates increasing among young people! Ask someone working with that group. Here in the south west the homelessness situation is worsening. Every week men and women turning up having been made homeless. We club together to buy sleeping bags and food to hand out but it's never enough. Send them to the town hall knowing they will be told they are not priority. Surely having somewhere to at leadt sleep at night should be a basic human right. There is no homeless shelter in what is a large town known to have high levels of poverty and social exclusion. People exit prison with nowhere to live depite the government promises. Many young men have significant mental health issues, depression and anxiety or dual diagnosis, drug and alcohol problems. Suicide rates among our service users seems to be increasing but do we even keep records? Many offenders not engaging with mental health providers so left to us to try and support them in our multi tasking role! very high percentage of our service users appear to be on the autistic spectrum and require staff who are well trained in this issue on order to work with them effectively. Training seems to have ground to a halt.These are the real issues that the pen pushers at the top need to deal with. 'Gripping the real issues rather than squeezing the remaining life out of the offenders' would be preferable.