Friday, 8 April 2016

Telling It How It Is

All over the country, in every CRC, the process of cooking up plans and policies on the back of envelopes goes on and we had some fine examples yesterday from the people at MTCnovo, now running probation in London:-

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 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.

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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 perceived 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.

--oo00oo--

But the chaos continues to have a devastating effect on the morale of formally highly motivated and skilled staff and the evidence is that they are just jumping ship in droves and the process is now almost certainly unstoppable. The following resignation letter published recently on Facebook is typical of hundreds and powerfully tells it how it is. The owners concerned, Interserve Purple Futures, should take note, as indeed should those in control of this fiasco at MoJ HQ London:- 

Dear .......,

Please accept this letter as notice of my resignation from my position of PSO within the CRC. After careful thought and consideration I have concluded that my core values are not aligned with the dysfunctional organisational structure within the CRC.

As you are aware since being transferred to the Xxxxxxxx office in June 2014, I have become increasingly disenchanted with how CRC is run and its staff managed. I now find that the stress endured by myself is too much to enable me to continue in this position.

I have grave concerns about the pressures placed on CRC staff and do not believe that the safety of staff or the public are given the consideration they deserve. I feel that the time constraints placed on staff, who are already under extreme pressure, mean that they are expected to achieve far more than is reasonable. We already undertake so much to develop and reintegrate offenders and are constantly encountering services that we are expected to refer to, changed with poor or no replacements offered. These dynamics are not conducive to innovation and productivity.

When I was first introduced to CRC I felt encouraged by the promised new developments that were being suggested and the hope of new equipment. However, two years on, our targets are constantly being increased but with no new tools available. 

As you are aware, recently my specialist software was not installed in my our new office despite its necessity as I have diversity needs. I was given the impossible choice between working alone in our old office or working without the software I rely on. This remained the case for a considerable amount of time and was a turning point for me, showing me how disorganised the organisation is and how little staff are valued and cared for. When I highlighted this problem it was suggested to me that this issue was a result of poor stress management rather than admitting the error and proposing a reasonable solution. I have found the culture of blame and indifference I encountered completely unacceptable.

I'm positive my experience is not an isolated one. The turnover rates and lack of employee engagement and satisfaction are further evidence of CRC's inability to attract, develop and retain the passionate, talented and dedicated people this service depends on. In my experience the way the staff are treated throughout CRC is poor and the service dependant on the goodwill of the staff. I am no longer prepared to place myself in this position.

Kind regards,  

--oo00oo--

The responses:-

That is so sad, the service are losing an excellent practitioner - sorry to see you go. Great letter of resignation but I suspect that it will fall on deaf ears. xxx

I was thinking that the same thing.

So sad to hear. Good resignation letter. Hope this share goes viral. CRC owners don't care tho do they!!

Great letter but very sad it's come to that for you. I hope that u are able to be happy in your new venture x

Awagh, it seems that things have taken a turn for the worse since I left in Feb. It's really sad and youre going to be great loss to the service - you are a brilliant practitioner. I also think so many people are leaving - the service is collapsing and at some point they will have to wake up and smell the coffee do to speak. Would love to meet up with you so please get in touch. I'll send you my number via messenger. Sending you big hugs and lots of love gorgeous lady.

Oh by the way the letter is very good. It would be great to be able to share it with the media. X

I agree share it with Media. You could always take out a grievance for them not responding to your diversity needs.

Although I was NPS, I felt the same way and left the service last July.

Sorry to see you go.

What a shame hope you enjoy whatever you do in the future. Your be great whatever it is take care xx

Oh no, so sad it has come to this. Your be an asset to wherever you go. X

Great letter but sad you are going and that so many others are leaving for similar reasons.

That's a very sad letter.

Sorry you're resigning because this government/private comps/NOMS have created absolute fekking chaos in what was a fantastic service...great letter - 'nail on head' - maybe send a copy to Gove & the mug CG ! Very best of luck in your next chapter.

So sorry to hear that you have been forced to go down this route, I however applaud your willingness to say it as it is and truly hope that someone sits up and takes notice. Good luck for the future in whichever direction it takes you.

So sorry it has come to this for you. It is a sad day for Probation every time we lose staff who work hard and care about their work. Unfortunately, I see a long road to recovery ahead which will only start when this government realises the damage it has done. I hope you find somewhere you can thrive and flourish in.

Sorry to hear this, good luck in any future ventures xxx

Sorry to see you go. Your letter is excellent and echoes what a lot of us feel. It's a brave but understandable move. I wish you luck in the future and hope that your skills are appreciated in whatever role you choose in the future xx

Such a shame you have been put in this position. Good luck in the future.

All the best for future, congratulations on having the guts to put yourself and your principles first!

Good on you for putting your morals first. Nicely done.. I wish you well xx

I don't know you but very good letter. This should go to the media. I'm off sick with stress at the moment from work and I know other colleagues are but not in position to resign or I would. I agree with everything you say. The media might get someone to listen. All the best.

Me too. I feel like we're in a sausage machine. We work with people. You can't allocate 10 minutes to rehabilitate. Trying to get support from GPs who are under the same timescales is ridiculous. How can they work out what can be offered to help in that time. I was prescribed beta blockers on a telephone appointment. Unfortunately without checking my blood pressure this ended up with my blood pressure dropping so low I couldn't function! It's taken a week to detox. Family said I looked and behaved like a recovering crack addict. On top of this I've got the added worry about my sick leave. Apparently Purple Futures are 'concerned' about the high levels of sick leave. No shit Sherlock! Staff are leaving at fast rates, respected and competent staff have to apply for their own jobs, move offices, new useless systems, no proper links between our colleagues CRC&NPS, sorting travel expenses for service users between the two. The list is endless. It's no wonder our "service users" are getting more frustrated as how can they understand what's happening behind the scenes? They present as instructed and reception can't always know who they are meant to see. Listen here.... EVERYTHING IS GOING TO KICK OFF SOON! We need to stick together and look after each other. We are all going to have a wobble at some point. But most importantly JOIN YOUR UNION AND GET ACTIVE TOGETHER! UNITY MAKES US STRONG 🏻🏼🏽🏾🏿

Well said xxx

I'm really sorry to hear your story, however you mention Xxxxxxx office, so I assume you are interserve? I'm in Leeds and I can assure your that colleagues in other areas feel the same.

I'm in cambs and northants and colleagues feel the same it's soooo sad and awful.

You should look at disability discrimination. It is shameful and sadly too common treatment since privatisation. Wonderful letter. Good luck and lots of happiness wherever you go. You will be an asset.

Can we share it ourselves from here?! I want to but don't want to do it without the persons consent!! Such a shame, and I know there are so many others in the same position

I'm more than happy for this to be shared you have my full consent.

So sorry it's all gone to shit. Great letter and I wish you all the best - you deserve (as do we all) a workplace which appreciates and supports you xxx

Sorry this has happened to you but it is a very good letter and I shall be showing my colleagues in my office, as I think many will agree.. All the best x

This is a really sad letter but should be shared wider because your experiences aren't unique to your CRC I'm sure of that.

Well said and so true.

Thank you for your kind words of support at present I have no idea what the future will hold for me. I am happy for this to be shared and used if it will make any difference to the current conditions of my former colleagues

I have worked for Probation for 16 years. Left CRC October as I felt so unhappy with the changes. Best decision I made. Don't let it get you down a change in career may be the making of you. Stay strong and I wish you a happy and fulfilled future.

Bless you, what a great shame and loss, whatever you land up doing in the future, take care. I hope your next employer has more respect for staff, I hear that Richard Branson states that how managers treat their staff leads to greater productivity and joint respect.

I'm sorry is been that Pants for you. It's been great working with you and I hope you find something where your positive sprit and hard working ethic is rewarded. Hugs. X

Wishing you all the very best for your future. Sincerely hope you are next employed by a company that deserves you and your passion and care.

Bless you, take care...xx

So sorry it's come to this. It's devastating to see people leaving the service after so many years of dedication. I really hope your words are heard by those that need to hear it. Good luck and best wishes for your next bold step hun xx

I don't know you but well done for saying what a lot of us are feeling. The content of your letter rings so true to what is going on in so many places. It is so sad that this is happening to our service. I wish you all the best for the future.

What you have said totally encapsulates how reality is, most lamentably, across England and Wales in CRCs everywhere. Well done for saying it exactly as it is and putting that message out, without fear or favour: unlike everyone in government, in MoJ, in NOMS, in private owners of CRCs. It is utterly shameful and disgraceful how things are, but Chris Grayling never offered that he would ever be capable of feeling regretful, culpable, responsible, or of giving two hoots, if it didn't work. Because he never cared about how things would work out anyway. Shame is beyond him and his cronies, because it doesn't enter into their concrete thinking. You are a beacon that shines and you will flourish and help people to flourish in whatever you do next, as you could no longer do, and sadly what all are finding they cannot do, in this dysfunctional landscape...


Nothing's changed then! Still a culture of indifference and blame. Well said X

Proud of you! It's a noble thing to give voice for yourself and your colleagues. But take care of yourself xxx

Good luck for your future direction. 

21 comments:

  1. Surely there is a case for constructive dismissal, as you cannot be expected to complete a task, to any standard without the necessary equipment! Where are you napo?

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    1. I'm getting sick of posters like you who immediately blame Napo for everything. Do you know if the person was in a union? If so which one there is more than one? and did she report it? Actually are you in a union. I bet you were someone who stood and watched or even crossed the picket line while the minority were out trying to fight to save our jobs!

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    2. That's so true I share an office with colleagues who blatantly crossed picket lines at the time we needed to show solidarity who are always the first to bleat about NAPO not doing enough....makes me sick

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    3. Stop crying over spilt milk about the Lax membership, I wasn't being critical of napo per SE, but this is a clear case of constructive dismissal, and I know not if this individual is\was in a union! I was asking generally, as a napo member! Where is the advice, guidance and support! So get back in your crate!

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    4. Bollocks. Of course you were being critical of Napo . If your so clued up on Employment Law why didn't you offer your advice to this individual?. Idiot !

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    5. 19:40 has a point although I wouldn't have worded it so strongly. 19:09 you are blaming Napo for their lack of action but don't even know if the individual is a Napo member. Why are you asking where are Napo if you are not calling them into action?

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    6. I think we should try and stick together and not resort to pulling each other apart. Whatever union we belong to or otherwise we need to pull together now more than ever. Yes i'm angry and disillusioned too but there are still.moments when i love my job and feel i am priviledged to be able to do a job that uses so many skills and still allows me to a degree to work with individuals in quite a holistic way. When i'm stuck in a noisy open plan office i can feel trapped but it lifts my mood when a service user is motivated and wants to make use of the support on offer. Mainly DV now but many of these men are relying on me to help them avoid re-offending. It's a big responsibility for all of us and i hope in time things might turn around for the better. If we can support our colleages and not allow bullying or intimidation that can only help. We have to stay optimistic and try to find a wY forward.

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  2. There have been many examples where people have been "eased out" using these methods.Where indeed have you been NAPO?

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  3. I think constructive dismissal too but Napo will shy away from it. The cohort model was never going to work. All we're doing is typing sentence plans to meet targets and there's a huge backlog because we don't have the staff. I find it wierd that at some MTCNovo CRC offices we have to physically carry our laptops to a printer to print documents. All that talk of new fangled start of the art equipment. This actually means bad connections to the systems and queues at the printer because MTC is too cheap to install Bluetooth or buy the correct cables !!!

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    1. Think yourself fortunate, in our CRC we are not allowed to print, so no access to printers.

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  4. try taking photos of what's on the screen. They will never know you have it either.

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  5. Working Links are still looking for the envelope to start planning. Hopeless

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    1. They're too busy trying to work out how we do our jobs, and then writing patronising drivel about it in the weekly briefings.

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    2. Apparently we'll have news in May from Working Links.

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    3. "They're too busy trying to work out how we do our jobs, and then writing patronising drivel about it in the weekly briefings."

      Anyone care to forward examples please?

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  6. Bgsw crc have now lost 'my HR' ! I couldn't believe it! It was such a good tool for managing time sheets,leave,sickness and toil. We only had about 2 weeks notice and then it wad all pulled and we are back to doing it all on paper like the old days! What a farce! On another note does anyone know what is going to happen after the 40% cuts or whatever it is? We are already so short staffed before all the redundancies! Never get maternity cover or cover for staff on long term sick ( which happens quite a lot) no idea how we are going to manage. We are told to cancel appointments to meet sentence plan targets! I am not happy about that because it could surely backfire if someone re-offended when they haven't been seen.only way we can cope is reducing number of appointments which goes against what working links say about 'freeing us up for more face to face work'. Maybe we will end up 'seeing'everyone by so called 'remote management' ie. Over the 'phone! Working links want this for all the green brag cases! I only have one of those in a case load of 50+ so not sure how this is going to work. to be honest if one more po/pso goes off long term sick or leaves in our team we will sink!

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    1. "green brag cases" new one on me.

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    2. Same sorry state in Wales CRC. Experienced admin staff finding new jobs and leaving prior to the outcome of EVR. Corporate staff leaving one by one following their EVR decisions. Next few months, over the summer will really show the impact of staff reductions. Like BGSW, cases BRAGGed and Operational Hubs in Cardiff and Swansea piloting the remote case management model.No news yet as to whether there will be an Operational Hub in N Wales. Talks of co-location of Working Links other staff in CRC/NPS offices. More localisation of services with partnership agencies in community hubs etc ......... everyone who's left waiting to hear what happens next, apparently in May according to Paul Hindson. This information is a available to all staff who have either the time or inclination to read weekly Justice News and Newsletters. Note to self - enjoy the weekend !

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  7. BRAG = blue, red, amber, green to denote tiering of risk/need and resourcing. A proportion of green cases will have all centre contacts only.

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  8. Blue is when they are in custody! Apparently there is zero risk! Well so long as they don't assault or murder anyone in custody! If they sever their own penis whilst high on spice that is appatently irrelevant. Same goes if they hang themselves in prison. A regular occurance so hardly worth even mentioning is it! Met with a working links manager and pointed out that most language is non verbal so how can people assess service users over the phone. They could be sat there in pool of blood and partner beaten to a pulp and someone would be saying ' have a nice day'!@

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  9. Working Links do not have a clue. Time will tell

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