Friday, 15 April 2016

PI and the Brave New World

With some trepidation, I think it's time to mention the Probation Institute again. I notice they are looking for two Directors (unpaid):-

Dear member


I am writing to let you know that the Probation Institute has two vacant director positions and to invite you to consider applying. Directors – who need to be members of the Institute - are responsible for the management of the Probation Institute, setting its direction of development and ensuring that it operates in the interests of all its members.

The Institute’s Representative Council, at its next Annual General Meeting on 24 May 2016, will consider nominations and conduct an election.

To be a candidate you will need the support of a member of the Representative Council (an up-to-date list can be requested from and you should also submit a short - no more than 500 words - personal statement setting out why you wish to be a director and the relevant experience you would bring to the Board. Electronic submissions are preferable. To be eligible to be considered for election as director, you must, at the time of application, be a member of the Institute. Nominations should be received by no later than 18 May 2016 and should be sent to

The Institute’s Board generally meets on the second Tuesday every other month. At this stage of its development the Institute is not in a position to remunerate directors for their time, however reasonable expenses incurred on Institute business will be reimbursed.

You can find out more about the work of the Probation Institute at If you would like to discuss the role or process please get in touch with me at or telephone 020 3053 9280/1

Looking forward to hearing from you

Best Wishes,

Savas Hadjipavlou
Chief Executive


I also notice that they very recently published their 2016-17 Business Plan. This from Chairman Paul Senior:- 
I am pleased to set out the Probation Institute’s Business Plan for 2016/17. The Plan represents a move from the start-up phase that has created the structures for a high functioning professional body, to an Institute that now must grow in its visibility, its authority as a professional body and its membership. This will be a critical year that will establish the sustainability of the Institute. 
The need for a membership body that is independent of the MoJ and employers is clearer now than ever. We have suffered compared to similar professions because we have lacked such a body. However, this plan recognises the significant challenges of recruiting and retaining membership at such a volatile time. It sets out the substantial achievements of the start-up phase which have created good foundations on which to build. It then sets out our key objectives for the coming year in respect of membership, visibility, professional development, practice, partnership and stakeholders and resources. 
I look forward to engaging with current and new members in delivering these objectives.
The opening section graphically sets out what an uphill task the Institute has in the brave new world of TR:-


The Probation Institute was set up in 2014 on the initiative of its founding organisations: NAPO, Unison, the Probation Chiefs’ Association and the Probation Association. A Steering Group including representatives of these four organisations had been set up the previous year.

The rationale for the creation of the Institute was the lack of an independent body that represented the profession as a whole. This contrasts with other professions such as in medicine, nursing, teaching and social work. The lack of a coherent continuing professional development (CPD) structure and code of ethics were two manifestations of the absence of a recognised professional body.

This rationale was strengthened by the government’s “Transforming Rehabilitation” reforms which have created a mixed market of Probation and criminal justice providers. Community Rehabilitation Companies are in private ownership and have supply chains that include both private and third sector providers. The National Probation Service comprises about 30% of the sector and remains in public ownership whilst commissioning services from private and third sector providers. This diversity of provision strengthens the case for a professional body spanning the whole sector. Such a body has benefits for all parties and provides underpinning for the system.

The setting up of the Institute was resourced by donations from the Probation Chiefs’ Association and the Probation Association together with a grant from the Ministry of Justice. The latter followed submission of a business case to the MoJ and meetings between Steering Group members and the Minister for Prisons and Probation, Jeremy Wright. The minister was adamant that the funding was to assist in the setting up of the Probation Institute which needed both to be seen and be independent.

The aspirations set out in that business case were as follows:
  • Providing professional leadership, enhancing the professional status of the sector 
  • Publishing a code of ethics which provides an underpinning for the development of practice 
  • Being a centre of excellence which provides an independent view of what constitutes good practice 
  • Contributing to the setting of competence levels with the profession 
  • Providing a professional register that records levels of qualification and continuing professional development 
  • Enabling providers to demonstrate that they adhere to common standards of practice with a firm evidence base. 
It was unclear at the time that the Steering Group was setting out their aspirations and composing the business case to MoJ, how the TR reforms would play out in practice. The reality, perhaps inevitably given the accelerated timetable for implementing the programme, has been complex and, one year after the sale of the 21 CRCs to their new owners, the system remains very much in a transitional stage. 

Lack of certainty about work volumes with consequent volatility of funding streams has been a complicating factor for CRCs and their supply chains. At the same time the National Probation Service is undergoing significant structural reform under the “E3” programme. 

This uncertainty and volatility has had a clear impact on some of the early planning assumptions made by the Steering Group. 
  • Recruitment and retention of members has been much more of a challenge than anticipated. Reduction in staffing numbers, changes in roles and the sheer pace of change in the day to day roles have not created the ideal climate to focus on longer term aspirations about professional development and recognition, critically important though these remain to the future of probation. 
  • Achieving sufficient visibility and getting the Institute’s voice heard amongst the noise in the system has been hard. 
  • Whilst the Institute has established good working relationships with most of the new providers, it became clear that the concept of “corporate membership” was not one that was likely to be viable and has been replaced with a focus on partnerships.

Finally, I see that Frances Crook of the Howard League appears to still be deeply suspicious of the Magistrates Association, their connections with some of the CRC owners and now their relationship with the PI. This from Private Eye:- 

Peter Wright, a former Probation CEO on twitter:-

"I wonder what Probation staff (NPS & CRC) think of the 'network' being "incorporated into the Probation Institute?"


  1. Probation Officer15 April 2016 at 11:07

    The Probation Institute does not represent probation or probation practitioners, I'd never join it. We need to get this message out there and the likes of Napo and ABPO should stop propping it up. The PI is a Trojan Horse for government strategies (TR and E3) to downgrade probation and give it all away to private companies. The article from Private Eye proves the PI has now established a new reason to exist which is to get in bed with private companies (Sodexo, Working Links, MTCNovo) in order to make a bit of cash. These are the only ones that pay for memberships and automatically sign up CRC staff without their permission.

    In simple terms the PI is a prostitute for these private companies who now have their way with probation for a small fee. Their executives even get to go away with a few letters after their name as a trophy- FPInst / MPInst.

    When it's not doing all of that it's busy giving away fellowships to the former members of the Probation Chiefs Association (Chaired by Sava Hadjipavlou) who bedded private companies, were in league with the MoJ and were a key part of the destruction of the probation service.

  2. Jim, did the PI ask/pay you to mention it? Will we now see FPInst after your name?

  3. I don't understand in what way the MA offshoot has been 'incorporated' into the probation institute. I do wonder if there has been any incorporation in a legal sense as there in nothing on the Companies House website to confirm this. Does this mean the seed funding has been passed to the PI? I could not find anything on the PI website that makes this apparent. There is only reference to the MA being a partner.

    You would think that the MA would have seen the conflict of interest that arises when a judicial authority takes money from private companies that supervise the sentences passed by magistrates. We know that 'research' can be commissioned to reflects the business interests of the funder. Think of all those beauty products that are 'scientifically proven' to make you younger.

    We all know that the MoJ saw political advantage in giving a grant to the PI. Alongside the £46-in-your-pocket mantra, we would hear how an independent probation institute would safeguard professional standards.

    Seems to me that the PI is representing so many different interests and parties that their claim to 'independence' is compromised. The PI is of such multiple parentage that it will forever be in an an identity crisis.

  4. I was deeply concerned to read that. They have created the PI to legitimise the privatisation of the probation service. The multinational companies are pushing at an open door with this government to control every aspect of our criminal justice system. It's frightening. We all know TR has had a disasterous effect in every area of the country. Privatisation of public services encourages corruption.

  5. PROBATION workers are meeting offenders in 'community centres and Salvation Army halls' amid a restructuring exercise which will also mean redundancies and budget cuts.

    Durham Tees Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (DTV CRC) has handed back the keys to its offices across the region, meaning staff must meet offenders on probation in public buildings, The Northern Echo has been told.

    The move is part of a restructuring exercise which it is understood has already lead to the departure of several long-serving staff members, with talks ongoing about further possible redundancies.

    DTV CRC replaced Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust in 2014 after the part-privatisation of the probation service. The CRC handles low and medium risk offenders in the County Durham, Darlington and Tees Valley areas, while high risk offenders are overseen by public sector staff.

    A source said the CRC was dealing with around 30 per cent fewer offenders than anticipated, meaning its funding from the Government was around £4 million below what had been budgeted for. This has prompted CRC bosses to move out of several offices around the region to save money.

    A source said: "Staff are meeting offenders in community centres and Salvation Army Halls because there's nowhere else. There's been no risk assessments done on these buildings and there are real concerns about privacy and safety."

    In response, Bronwen Elphick, chief executive of the Durham Tees Valley CRC, said: “Since its inception in 2014, the DTV CRC has seen a reduction in offenders and colleague numbers. As a result, the DTV CRC completed a comprehensive review of service delivery and has restructured its business to achieve operational efficiencies to ensure positive outcomes for the people and communities of Durham and Teesside.

    "The DTV CRC carry out full health and safety risk assessments on community venues where meetings with participants are held. These are available to all staff and meetings can be held at our offices in Stockton and Durham if staff feel that there is a potential risk to the themselves and the community."

    The CRC stressed that no offices has been sold as premises were under lease from the Ministry of Justice.

    "We have however rationalised all of our estates resulting in savings of over £600,000 per year, which will be reinvested into the delivery of new services,” a spokesman added.

    Napo, the trade union for probation staff, is holding talks with CRC bosses about the restructuring exercise. A Napo spokesperson said: "Napo is engaged in ongoing discussions with DTV CRC to mitigate the need for compulsory redundancies and to ensure that the restructure will not impact negatively on service delivery or compromise public safety."

    A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "CRC's are contractually required to maintain a professional and appropriately skilled workforce to deliver the services set out in their contracts. CRC contracts are designed to make sure providers deliver services which reduce reoffending, protect the public and provide value for money to the taxpayer.

    "Public protection is our priority and we continue to work closely with probation providers to maintain appropriate staffing levels and to rehabilitate offenders effectively."

  6. What we have to understand is that these people don't CARE that things look iffy and lacking in integrity. They only care about their cash flow. Conflict of interest is of no concern to them. These companies would fill prisons with innocent people to make a dollar (see US justice system). They are absolutely amoral and seeking to appeal to their ethics is a waste of energy. I walked away, with a heavy heart, but there was no way I could be party to this charade.

  7. In NPS we have had to undertake training in relation to the protection of information! I say training but actually it was an email with 6 docs to read! All this concern for data protection but it's okay to have 'sensitive and personal' information shared in open plan, in café's or down the local Salvation Army Hall! The world has gone completely mad!