The latest blog post from Napo's General Secretary:-
In previous postings I have highlighted the key findings of independent reports into probation by the National Audit Office, The Cabinet Office (Through the Gate) and latterly, the new HM Inspector of Probation, Dame Glenys Stacey.
As you would expect, Napo takes every opportunity to use these types of reports to press our agenda with politicians and senior NOMS management. One example of this was the request we made to Secretary of State Michael Gove on the back of last years HMIP reports to instigate a full post-implementation review of Transforming Rehabilitation.
Predictably, this was turned down on the basis that the minister wanted to see the outcome of the NAO and HMIP reports which were being published this year and consider what actions, if any, he needed to take.
Whilst we have unfortunately not yet been able to meet with Mr Gove as planned due to the undoubted pressures of the Euro referendum (roll on the 23rd June please?), it was encouraging to hear this week that the NOMS Contracted Services Directorate are to conduct a Probation System Review.
When I first saw the heading in the letter I assumed this was all about the still inadequate ICT Systems, but upon reading it became evident that this review is a direct initiative following the findings in the above reports. Moreover, it is about as near to a post-implementation review as you will get without actually calling it one.
An opportunity for Napo
I am told that the NOMS review is predicated on the basis of the already planned 12 month review of CRC Contracts and that it will start by measuring delivery against the stated aims of TR which, to remind ourselves (I know its painful) were broadly about:
- Opening up the so called market to a diverse range of rehabilitation providers including mutuals;
- Incentivising providers to innovate through payment by results linked to a reduction of reoffending;
- Extending rehabilitation in the community to an estimated extra 45,000 short sentence clients and
- Re-organising the prison estate to provide a ‘through the gate’ service to give continuous support from custody into the community
I will not be asking for a 'War and Peace' job here; for one thing people will be so busy dealing with the impact of the reforms to spend lots of time responding, and secondly we need to move quickly as there is an intention to provide an initial report to Ministers in July. That said, we do need to be able to validate the sorts of things that Napo has been saying to anyone who will listen: that despite some improvements in the last few months, the TR reforms are just not cutting it.
What is being looked at?
We have been advised that The Probation System Review (somewhat ironically abbreviated to PSR) will assess what adjustments, if any, can be made to the CRC contracts and wider probation system to support the achievement of the original TR objectives as summarised above. Yes, we would all like to see it torn up and go away, but this won't happen any time soon and as I am consistently told by our members, there are things that need addressing urgently and some contractors who are simply unfit for purpose and who should be invited to hand back the keys, and people in high office ought to hear about it.
Importantly, and no coincidence given the endemic panic amongst a number of CRC owners about the reduction in Weighted Annual Volumes (WAV), the review will examine the continued viability of the system given the reduction in numbers and variability in delivery.
In seeking to address the the observations and recommendations within the National Audit Office, HMIP and Cabinet Office reports, the review will focus on six particular areas:
- Allocation of cases
- Payment mechanism
- Performance mechanism
- Financial and Commercial Health and
- Contract management
Even one side of A4 from Branches and NEC members would be hugely appreciated in terms of us being able to offer this review an accurate, real time contribution about our members experiences.
Watch out.. Contract Management are about!
As an aside, Napo has recently had cause to take up some serious concerns directly with the Contracted Services Directorate regarding a somewhat comical, if it were not so serious, approach by a CRC to the basic requirement to consult with the recognised trade unions over planned staff reductions and estate restructuring.
I will not name the CRC involved as local talks are in progress involving our National Official and local Napo reps which I hope will bring about an agreed way forward that will be of assistance to all the parties. Nevertheless, the intervention of the Directorate was timely and very welcome and sends a signal about conduct befitting publicly funded providers, that CRC owners everywhere would do well to note.
Lots more news next week.