Wednesday, 13 July 2016

TR and Women

Here's Frances Crook of the Howard League pointing out in her latest blog post just how bad TR has been for women:-

Women centres and Transforming Rehabilitation

Last week the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System, supported by the Howard League, held its AGM and heard from three women’s centres about what is happening to community sentences for women. It is a very depressing picture.

The centres giving evidence to MPs and Peers were: Anawim in Birmingham, Alana House in Reading and WomanCentre in Calderdale and Kirklees. All three centres used to provide support to, and manage, women who were convicted and sentenced, but no longer do this work.

Their success was astonishing. The women’s centres had reoffending rates of below 10%. Yet, all this has been destroyed with the handing over community sentences to private companies.

They said that the private companies that have taken over community sentences are only interested in numbers, shoving people through the system. This means that men and women are only given group work as an intervention, they no longer get any personal support. The new system is ticking boxes, literally. The companies had no evidence that this would have any impact on reducing crime or reoffending.

The women’s centres used to provide a wrap-around service, seeing the woman at the centre so that her problems and her offending could be solved. The centres would no longer be able to support women at court, get them to the doctor, visit their homes, solve problems with child care or drug addiction or domestic violence. The centres used to collate information on a woman’s life so they could help her live crime free, but much more than that, flourish as a person. This no longer happens, and the CRCs only want to know the number of women in the groups.

The centres said that CRCs often don’t send workers to meet women being released as the prisons are too far away and it’s too expensive. Instead a volunteer peer mentor might meet them at the probation office when they get back to their home area, but they do not have the skills or resources to provide much help. One witness told the APPG that her staff had to intervene when the contracted peer mentors went home at 5pm on a Friday, leaving a homeless woman with nowhere to turn. The women’s centre staff worked with her until 11pm when a bed was found.

Although, when it suits them, the CRCs are positively profligate with money. Apparently one hired a very expensive expert from the oil industry as a consultant, who knew nothing about the justice system, who advised the women’s centres to come together into a consortium so they could bid for a sub-contract with the CRC. The centres did this, at some cost to themselves from their charitable resources. Then the CRC changed its mind and told them each to submit individual bids and they had to compete with each other.

Centres were given draft contracts of 140 pages based on commercial contracts that included gagging orders. This meant they would be prohibited from criticising the service delivered to women by the CRC. It also included clauses that allowed the CRC to change the contract and charge the charitable women’s centres between £3,000 and £10,000 in fees for making and imposing the changes.

No wonder the centres walked away.

There may be times when commercial expertise is useful in the justice system, no one denies this, but the system set up to deliver community sentences for women is a disaster.

21 comments:

  1. The whole system that has been created is bad for everyone. Male or female. Having to interview dv perpetrators in a completely public building! How can that be beneficial to anyone? Dv perpetrator wanted to disclose his behaviour and another non crc staf member walked past and gave him a dirty look! Please can someone tell me how this sorry stste of affairs has been allowed to happen?

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    1. Sorry to rain on anyones bonfire here, but needs must when the truth has to be told. The PF MCRC has maintained its Women's Centre exactly as it was with MPT. It is manned (or womaned) by both CRC and NPS and is, despite any un called for snipping, it is doing what it set out to do. Me: A male PO and not PFs biggest fan but for balance; this needs to be acknowledged.

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    2. Thanks for that and please keep us posted of any changes.

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  2. A free market in rehabilitation services – it will drive up standards and the capitalist process of creative destruction will see to it that poor performers will fall by the wayside. The market thrives on open competition and red tape is for the dustbin of history.

    But in practice the CRCs press for monopolistic control and they replace red tape with commercial contracts that repress openness and transparency through gagging clauses and so-called commercial confidentiality.

    No surprise that their business made is to pile 'em high in groupwork and ignore the complexities of individual circumstances. A crude approach that shows a cold corporate indifference to the actual needs of service users.

    In cutting costs to the bone you end up with services that are not fit for purpose. The result is empty rehabilitation that will do more harm than good.

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  3. The Women's Centre I worked with is still waiting to have a signed contract-the CRC has been demanding more for less but if they don't accept their offer their finished. What to do- provide an inferior service or throw in the towel! Every single part of the Probation service is broken! Makes me want to weep!

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  4. And the giant babby that expedited this catastrophe is smug as fuck after hedging his bets on May for PM. Grayling smirking like a dog with two dicks on Sky News just now as the big daft arse clearly knows what reward is coming his way. God help us all! I'm guessing its either Chief Brexiteer (as a figurehead) or Deputy PM - he's just as numb & almost as dim as Prescott.

    I'm hoping May is putting Gove out to grass as he's wholly untrustworthy & has too many axes to grind. Look how calculating he was in wounding Cameron & Johnson, the two posh boys who he believes were unkind to him; he bided his time & never let it go. Dangerous man.

    Maybe the speculation over a proliferation of women in the cabinet might mean a woman justice minister, and maybe womens issues in the criminal justice system (as perpetrators as well as victims) will be taken more seriously? And just maybe the pisspoor construct that is TR can be re-shaped into something palatable, professional & effective?

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    1. I've always been sceptical of on ongoing clamour for women in the cabinet purely for the sake of having women in the cabinet. Whilst I feel that women are certainly under-represented in the portakabins of political power, simply being a woman is not sufficient qualification for suitability in itself, just like being a man isn't. I'd like to see who she appoints and then assess them on suitability and competence, irrespective of gender.

      Similarly, Angela Eagle's mantra about how it's about time Labour had a female leader is absolutely fair comment, but she needs to offer more than such tokenistic offerings as a platform for her ascension.

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  5. It is one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make where public services are concerned; to assume that the presence of a member of a marginalised group in a position of power will in any way bring that marginalised group into the mainstream. To assume a female minister will in any way improve the lot of women in the criminal justice system is naïve. If the incumbent minister is a Tory, it is completely ridiculous ;)

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  6. At this present moment in time I really don't give a flying toss who goes into parliment as long as someone in government whether male or female sorts out this shitty IT system within the CRCs before I really loose it!!!! Talk about crap where do they buy the licenses and equipment from
    Poundland !!!!

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    1. It system's that are not fit for purpose, being unable to put entries on the systems will lead to mistakes.

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    2. You're closer to the truth than you think! I'm ex-probation IT, so I have the answer to this - you were (and most probably still are!) using Lotus for email as NOMS would buy massive amounts of licences at knock-down prices because they were buying the obsolete version that wasn't even being supported anymore, you were using Internet Explorer 6 (donkeys years old) for a browser as they couldn't figure a way of making their software work with never version, CRAMS because they sunk so much money into it they are probably still paying the bill, and OASys because it was compatible with the (as previously mentioned obsolete) Lotus Notes. I bet you're all still using Windows XP too (which Microsoft don't support anymore).

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    3. No lotus notes has gone and been replaced with something far worse.

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    4. Still got Lotus notes in NPS!

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    5. Kafka: Still got Lotus Notes in WL CRC

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  7. My colleague was unable to log on all day because the portal had reached maximum warp speed! Told him you have to get to work for 8am to guaruntee getting logged in! Not great if you have kids to drop off at school! Meanwhile we are fighting over the one private interview room...' my service user has social phobia and paranoia...well, mine wants to talk about assaulting his partner...mine tends to shout and tap loudly on the table due to adhd.'.who is more worthy? We all make a dash for it and the rest sit in the open plan area with the general public!welcome to the modern age,this is TR , inclusive style!

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    1. And some people want to make profit out of this and will stand, without a flicker, and call it progress. C'est la vie?!

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  8. Grayling coming back to justice. Brilliant

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    1. Dont even joke about it

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  9. Come work for KSS. Our IT is great. So much better than lotus notes

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    1. Which office are you in?
      You must be extremely lucky it wasn't working yesterday.

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  10. Just waiting for Godfrey Bloom to be invited to take up womens issues in the new Cabinet!

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