Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Helga Wields The Axe

We may now be living under a zombie government and a zombie opposition, have no chance of prison reform any time soon, have a vacancy at the top of NOMS and the guy in charge at the MoJ very much pre-occupied elsewhere, but the TR omnishambles carries on regardless. My thanks go out to two seperate readers for the following news from London:- 

My vision for London CRC is to be the number one CRC in the country, committed to reducing reoffending, and we recognise that quality service user engagement plays a key role in achieving that aim.

While we appreciate the importance of service user engagement, we are making some changes to our approach that I would like to share with you.

Probation Engagement Workers’ consultation

We have made the difficult decision to end the Probation Engagement Worker (PEW) role in London CRC. We recognise the valued contribution that our PEWs have made to our organisation, and regret not being in a position to extend their contracts or to make them permanent.

We will begin a six week consultation period with the PEWs from 28 June. During this period, we will work with them to look at ways of avoiding potential redundancy including exploring job opportunities internally and with our partner organisations.

The PEWs will also be able to get advice and support on topics such as CV writing, interview practice and networking skills from staff at specialist outplacement company Penna.

I’d like to extend a personal thank you from myself and the senior management team for the positive impact that the PEWs have had on service user engagement while they have been in post, and wish them all the very best for the future.

User Voice

Over the last five years, we have worked closely with User Voice and have valued their input and work in helping us to achieve our goals. It’s with regret that I announce we were unable to agree new contractual terms and conditions with them. As a consequence, we have both decided not to continue our relationship going forward and held our penultimate Service User Council meeting last week.

I would like to emphasise our ongoing commitment to service user engagement and confirm that we will be exploring new and fresh approaches. We will share these with you as soon as we can.

Please speak to your ACO if you have any questions about this announcement.

Helga Swidenbank
Director of Probation

London Community Rehabilitation Company
Floor 9, Hannibal House, New Kent Road, Elephant and Castle, London SE1 6TE


The CRC in consultation with the NPS have decided to remove existing security guards from most offices in order to reduce costs. We are currently raising concerns in respect of this decision.

We had been advised that a pro-forma had been sent out to managers so that a review and risk assessment of every office could be done.

BUT the process of withdrawing security staff has already begun.

In order for NAPO to try and ensure that management are meeting their obligations on staff safety we need you to become actively involved in raising concerns so that security staff are either retained where needed or appropriate alternative arrangements are made.

  • Are you aware of the current safety procedures in your office? 
  • Do you feel safe with the current arrangements? 
  • Have you been consulted by senior management on whether or not you feel safe with the current arrangements? 
If your answer to any of the above is no then raise the matter urgently at a staff meeting. A full risk assessment should be carried out immediately.

1. Ask to see the risk assessments in relation to your place of work. These should be reviewed annually by all those concerned i.e. staff and management. They should also be reviewed when there is a significant change in circumstances that might either increase or decrease risks to staff e.g. removal of security staff.

2. Look at the risk assessments with others in your workplace and decide if whether they are accurate, if they are suitable and if they are sufficient. Try to agree what risks you are most concerned about. What changes are likely to increase risk and decrease safe working. If they are not up to date, and you consider they are not suitable and sufficient to address the risks, then you should alert your manager.

3. Write to your line managers copying in their line manager with a recommendation that your concerns are addressed urgently and reviewed at the next local health and safety meeting. Ask for a report back of all actions taken.

4. Copy in Ian Lander (NPS) and Paul Fairbrass (CRC) Senior H&S managers especially when you have serious concerns. Copy us in. We will try to support members in resolving local issues regarding safety concerns.

5. AND Remember to complete an A&I Form every time something happens that compromises your safety or the safety of anyone else.

Terry Wilson (H&S Convenor NPS)
David Raho (H&S Convenor CRC)


  1. What senior Noms vacancy?

  2. Colin Allars, Director of the National Probation Service, will take up the role in July 2016, replacing Lin Hinnigan, who recently announced her decision to step down after three years in the position.

    Colin has been Director of the National Probation Service (part of the National Offender Management Service) since its launch in April 2014. He has worked in the justice sector for more than 30 years, including in a number of senior leadership roles at NOMS.

    1. Thanks Jim. I did some search engine work & notice he replaces the YJB boss who is baling out in advance of a damning review report. Maybe, as part of the civil servce merry-go-round, Allars knows something we don't know re-what's due to be disclosed about probation?

    2. From civil service world:

      "Part of the remit for the Taylor Review is to address a lack of progress on the YJB's part in reducing reoffending rates among young people over the past decade.

      When Gove announced the review he said 67% of young people leaving custody still went on to commit further crime within a year.

      Taylor’s remit includes exploring whether the current delivery models and governance arrangements for youth justice remain fit for purpose and achieve value for money.

      Last month Gove announced that the National Offender Management Service would take over the management of the Medway Secure Training Centre in Kent following revelations about the mistreatment of young people made in a BBC TV Panorama documentary.

      Further concerns about G4S-run secure institutions in Bridgend and Rainsbrook in Northamptonshire subsequently emerged."

  3. Probation Officer28 June 2016 at 20:04

    I like the way they make people redundant and then try to soften the blow by offering tips in "cv writing skills", and even helping them to apply for jobs in a more crappier partner agency to avoid paying redundancy altogether. Clearly our probation directors have studied at the David Brent school of management!!

  4. Corbyn has vacancies if any PEW's are considering political careers?

  5. That NAPO email is brilliant. Absolute comedy. RAHO, have you nothing better to do than to tell pdople how to raise observations.... User voice are also past their sell by date!

    1. TR was rotten to start with, best before end date / sell by date never entered. Best smell by, all used up dates yet to be realised.

  6. Heads in the Senior Management Team in London are also beginning to roll!

    1. This is what happens. They use the expertise of existing management during the transition and then drop them like a red hot brick as soon as they can. It is a tried and tested method in the private sector and comes as no surprise to anyone in the know.

  7. Met Helga on several occasions and a more venal self serving piece of humanity would b e hard to find. Farage and Trump would be proud of her

  8. Munich/London, 29 June 2016 – The AURELIUS Group (ISIN DE000A0JK2A8) has acquired Working Links, a leading provider of welfare and rehabilitation services with operations in the UK, the Republic of Ireland, and the Middle East. In the 2015 financial year, Working Links recorded revenues of around €160m. The acquisition was made for an undisclosed sum.

    Working Links delivers employability consulting and rehabilitation services across three markets: The aim of the employability services is to improve living conditions through employment, training, and personal skills development. The rehabilitation services aim to reduce reoffending and thus protect the public. The international specialist services include employability consulting services for domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, and also delivery of Job Path, the Irish Government’s flagship programme to support bringing long-term unemployed people back to work in six regions of the Republic of Ireland. This contract with the Irish Department for Social Protection (DSP) is delivered by Working Links in a 50-50 joint venture with FRS Recruitment Services, the Irish national recruitment agency with 35 years of experience in providing career advice.

    Since its founding in 2000, Working Links has delivered on more than 200 government contracts and programmes, helping over 350,000 people to return to employment and social inclusion.

    Phil Andrew, Chief Executive of Working Links: “Today marks an exciting new chapter in the history of Working Links. The long-term investment from AURELIUS will enable the organisation to accelerate its growth and transformation plans and to continue to provide best-in-class services for socially excluded people.”

    “The timing of this investment may seem surprising to some audiences directly following the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. However, AURELIUS has always sought investment in complex situations, including turbulent macroeconomic backdrops which often create interesting investment opportunities that fit with our investment model”, said Dr. Dirk Markus, CEO of AURELIUS. “We do not expect detrimental consequences for Working Links due to Great Britain’s upcoming exit from the EU, nor do we expect consequences from Brexit to negatively affect the AURELIUS Group.”

    1. From Aurelius website:

      "AURELIUS focuses on the acquisition of companies with development potential through operational engagement. With respect to the acquisition of subsidiaries, AURELIUS strives to identify, analyze, develop and exploit all available opportunities in the market.

      With a strong capital base, international contacts and a large team of specialists in financial and corporate management we will bring your company back on the road to success."

      Sounds like Lurking Winks were up shit creek...

    2. Even better is this from Aurelius UK website:

      "We are a pan-European investment group focused on creating value through the operational improvement of companies with development potential. Established in 2004, we are publicly listed in Germany and we operate from offices in Germany and the UK.

      We have a track record of successful investment in more than 50 companies in numerous geographies, industries and sectors. Aurelius improves the operational performance of companies by providing management capabilities and financial resources for investing in products, sales and R&D. Aurelius has liquid cash resources for investment of over £200m."

      Wonder if Gove gave his golden shareholder approval? If so, why? Surely MoJ had undertaken suitably thorough checks on WL? Is this a bit like the Green/Chappel/BHS fuck up, i.e. "Sold it to the wrong geezer"?

    3. Curiouser... This from WL own website seems to suggest UK Gov have also been bought out? That was never in the plan for CRCs was it?

      "Working Links is pleased to announce that it has been acquired by Aurelius, a specialist investor with a long-term commitment to our future.

      The deal will enable Working Links to accelerate our growth and transformation plan, and move to the next level of development in a rapidly evolving marketplace.

      While our ownership has changed, our founding values and purpose endure and we remain committed to helping as many people as possible to maximise their full potential, and move from social exclusion to inclusion. Our change in ownership will only strengthen our capacity to deliver better services for the people we work with, and value for money for our government partners in the UK as well as internationally.

      We thank our previous shareholders, UK Government Investments, Capgemini, Manpower and Mission Australia, for the pivotal role they have played in our success to date. Here in the UK alone we have delivered lasting employment for over 300,000 people. This is a legacy we are proud of and we look forward to building upon this foundation of success with Aurelius support."