Thursday, 4 August 2016

How is TR Going?

This from the Northern Echo:- 

'Must do better', probation staff in Durham are told

SOME work by probation staff in Durham needs to improve, an inspection report has said.

In 2014 the former Durham Tees Valley Probation Trust was abolished as part of the Government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ programme and replaced by a combination of the National Probation Service (NPS) and a privately-run Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC).

Dame Glenys Stacy, Chief Inspector of Probation, said staff from both organisations were working well together, but needed to improve the quality of some of their work.The NPS has responsibility for managing offenders posing a high risk of serious harm to others and staffing the courts, while any remaining probation services are handled by the CRC.

The report said the quality of some core probation work carried out by the CRC had deteriorated and

“reducing reoffending and protecting the public outcomes were less likely to be achieved”.

It said although some aspects of court work needed to improve, overall work carried out by the NPS was good quality, helped by an experienced workforce and able management. Inspectors praised an initiative involving the police and NPS – Checkpoint – which they said was diverting “low level” first time offenders from the criminal justice system.

But they said the standard of “on the day” pre-sentence reports prepared for use in the courts by NPS staff was not good enough. Recommendations included fuller training for pre-sentence report writers and improving the quality of management oversight and supervision of responsible officers working within the CRC.

Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said the break-up of the public probation service and the increasing involvement of the private sector was concern. Mr Neilson said: “The fear is that inspections of probation in other areas of the country will uncover similar problems.”


This from Frances Crook of the Howard League:-

Transforming Rehabilitation is having a disastrous impact on women

The Howard League provides support to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System chaired by Baroness Corston. The APPG has been looking at the treatment of women in the new landscape of privatised community penalties. Later this year it will be publishing research based on oral hearings and written submissions.

Kate Green MP, a member of the APPG, tabled some Parliamentary Questions following the last meeting because of concerns raised about failure of the community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) to look after complex and vulnerable women. The responses from government are alarming.

The construction of 21 profit driven CRCs to care for hundreds of thousands of men and women serving community sentences was the brainchild of Chris Grayling. It included the new provision to supervise people coming of prison having served a short sentence. There was a nasty sting in the tail – if you failed to comply with orders, you could be recalled to prison for two weeks. The package was sold as a caring innovation to help people sentenced to short prison terms, but its unintended (or possibly intended) consequence has been dreadful.

In the eleven months from February to December 2015, 310 women were sent back to prison for not doing as they were told. 37 were sent back twice, six women were sent back three times, and, three women were sent back four times.

The table published alongside the answer to the Parliamentary Question shows that recall is far from consistent with some areas having much higher numbers recalled than others with a similar caseload.

A couple of weeks in prison is not long enough to set up any therapy, work or education so it means the women just sit in cell day after day.

The Ministry of Justice had to admit that it does not know how many women’s centres are no longer providing services under contract to the CRCs. As we all know, women’s centres are proven to be successful at turning lives round and helping women to steer clear of crime. Our research to be published in the autumn will show a national disgrace emerging, with funding for women’s centres being cut off by the CRCs in order to save them money (and enhance their profits), despite it harming women.

Watch this space.


Seen on Facebook:-

I'm at my witts end with ndelius losing reports. A Parom1 yesterday and today a psr. Help desk say it's a problem they are working on.

Is it a problem with not being able to upload the report once you've updated it or is it not saving it at all?

It disappears all together. I started and completed both reports and uploaded. I then went back in to change a few bits and save. When I go to upload again it disappears. We've been having a meltdown in Xxxxxxx these last few days.

Have you tried removing the -1 next to the file name & uploading it again?

I've had this definitely works when you do what Xxxxx says above xx

Oh ok. I'll try that. Thanks guys.

It's a pain! Lots of special little 'quirks' at the moment!! X

In future just do it in word then copy and paste the report:-)

Another muck up with reports we've found in Xxxxxxxx is make sure you don't put in your completed dates before you upload and lock your report. Court admin go in and think the report is done, open the doc and then delius reverts the author to the admin and the officer writing the report effectively loses the link until the admin hits discard in the "my docs" section up the top. I hope you find your reports! X

I always save the report in another file so if its lost I still have it. If its vanished from upload I dont even bother, just send it my SPO to sign and he sends it back, and I upload as a document from my other file (as an 'add' document) under the event page. I know its not the correct way but I dont care as its there for admin to send on.

Also if you get IT to show/explain, if you continuously save the document, the system backs up twice a day. You click on the ND file, go to properties and tab to 'previous versions,' it maybe on there.

Did NPS staff get told the system was being shut down (for updating) at 5pm on Friday? If not, please let me know - I'll see what I can do with my Napo hat on.

Yes we did. Thanks.

Working on doesn't get all your hard work back though!

Some good ideas above but, if the system was adequate, you'd be able to trust it, get on with your job without having to faff around. I hope your reports get found. You really don't need the extra stress in this job.

Yes, with the help of some terrific admin. I'm just gonna save reports in additional places from now on. I'm off next week and the added stress that brings is enough without losing bloody reports too!!


  1. i'm disappointed by the increasing suggestion that if people breach by way of further offending or failing to comply then it must be in some way the fault of the managing CRC staff.

    1. Our CRC are getting directed not to see offenders that officers feel they really need to see. Recalls are being stopped by managers who, pre spilt, would have recalled immediately for same circs. Risk escalations likely to increase as officers don't feel they are able to manage (what might normally be described as medium risk) with enforced restrictions.

      Officers being told not to take people back for breach.

      High staff sickness and good staff leaving.

      Although not necessary the fault of individual officers, I would say that the complete lack of engagement with offenders is contributing to failures (breach and further offending). Some officers seem to be relishing the changes though. The ones that weren't good officers before TR.

  2. It's also disappointing that Grayling and his cohort didn't listen to people who do the job. PSS is in the main unwanted by offenders it offers them very little and is just another way to control and monitor them. At present the CRC I am in is in meltdown with sickness and people leaving and this is before the cuts. No idea of the complexities of the job shown by those imposing their ideas to save money. A not so slow train crash which lives up to the title omnishambles. Shame on those who imposed this circus

  3. Recommendation 11 in the inspection report demonstrates how the CRCs' need to make money undermines a good initiative at diversion. It is essentially arguing that diversion carries disadvantages for CRCs balance sheet.

    'The NPS should be aware of the negative financial consequences for the CRC of positive initiatives, such as Checkpoint, that are designed to keep low level first time offenders out of the criminal justice system.'

    It does not spell how what being aware of negative financial consequences should lead to. Should a percentage of diversions be dropped in favour of helping CRCs to get their payments for results? In other words don't overdo preventative work. Don't cut too far back on your sugar intake because you will hurt Tate and Lyle's share price. Or don't overdo community penalties because the prisons need high occupancy rates.

    This recommendation is fatuous, irresponsible nonsense and marks a new low in the worth of these inspection reports.

    1. Netnipper - this earlier quote from the report is even funnier & more explicit:

      "Checkpoint, a scheme to divert offenders from charge and prosecution following arrest, was a recent initiative which would be subject to evaluation. With active involvement of the NPS, working alongside Durham Police, it was a positive attempt to stop offending before it escalated. The scheme, however, had an adverse impact on the CRC’s budget which was clearly an unintended consequence."

      Now that's what I call TR!!

    2. The law of unintended consequences - nothing new under the sun.

      "In the first half of the nineteenth century, the famous French economic journalist Frédéric Bastiat often distinguished in his writing between the “seen” and the “unseen.” The seen were the obvious visible consequences of an action or policy. The unseen were the less obvious, and often unintended, consequences. In his famous essay “What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen,” Bastiat wrote:

      There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen.

      Bastiat applied his analysis to a wide range of issues, including trade barriers, taxes, and government spending."

    3. So what: an unintended consequence for CRCs. What about all the beneficial consequences that arise from successful diversions for the individual and society. I really think the Inspectorate have lost the plot - they should not be doing marketing work for CRCs.

  4. I think the fact that people are leaving in droves speaks volumes. My own contacts suggest that the reason is that people with a long history of professional standards are sick to the teeth of being asked to do 'dumb'. Superficial pretence fails to deliver any element of job satisfaction and any one with the slightest modicum of intelligence is going to get frustrated very quickly. Those that remain are either only in it for the money, like the employer, or are dumb enough to be satisfied with maintaining the illusion on behalf of a corporate parasite. There is no professional basis on which to justify the practices that have been outlined in this blog since TR 'bit'. Probation is now little more than a twitching cadaver that doesn't yet realise that it is dead. A shame. It was a noble profession for more than a century before the disease of TR took hold. Now it is more tumour than living organism.

    1. Very accurate account my colleagues are all seeking ways to get out including just leaving! We are struggling to carry on when all we knew has now gone and only meaningless targets count It's fair to say that most of us have compromised our professional integrity now

  5. Cut & Paste comments from the HMIP report sections on Reducing Reoffending & Protecting The Public which I would humbly suggest shows that TR is, as was always known, fatally flawed. Why can't HMI Probation just admit its a fucking mess?

    "- The move towards on the day court reports provided less time for the NPS to gather required information prior to allocation of the case. We found the quality of the pre-sentence report assessment of the likelihood of reoffending was sufficient for cases subsequently allocated to the NPS, but not always suf cient for those cases allocated to the CRC. Proposals contained within the reports were not always appropriate for the needs of the case.
    - There was an overall lack of awareness by the NPS, CRC and sentencers about rehabilitation activity requirement days, which required addressing. The NPS and courts had recently agreed that the CRC could have some representation within the Durham courts to improve the appropriateness of pre-sentence report proposals.
    - Information provided by NPS court staff to the CRC at the point of allocation was often incomplete. It was particularly concerning that domestic abuse call-outs and/ or Child Protection concerns were not checked or responses not provided prior to allocation of the case. That placed the onus on the CRC responsible of cer to carry out the necessary enquiries, which was not always done.
    - The risk of harm assessment and risk management planning were not always suf cient. In particular, relationship concerns were rarely addressed, even when there was a history of domestic abuse. That failure to deliver meaningful rehabilitative work to domestic abuse perpetrators made it less likely that reoffending and public protection outcomes would be achieved.
    - The inadequacy of some risk of harm assessments at the court stage acted as a barrier to addressing potential public protection concerns in CRC cases. In addition, CRC staff were not always knowledgeable about the Case Allocation System form that highlighted outstanding risk of harm tasks that needed completing."

    1. All of the above issues are NOT local staffing issues but are wholly due to the stupidity of ideologues & lickspittles expediting the TR project, e.g. Loss of resources, loss of experienced staff, unnecessary & inequitable splitting of service provision, etc ad infinitum...

  6. Even Sir Geoffrey Boycott has a view on TR: "Totally Rubbish!"

  7. Like the notion of 'unintended consequences'. As an experienced PO in a CRC, was trained to assess and plan for 'contingencies' - back up plans for when things don't go as planned! How many CRC Owners have done this? W Links & Aurelius takeover. Smart forward planning there!

    1. I cannot think of a more likely 'intended consequence' The whole idea is to keep someone out of a system that labels and harms life chances. Next the probation inspectorate, using the same screwball logic, will say that conditional discharges and fines have unintended consequences. The probation inspectorate has become a parody of itself - a laughing stock!

  8. Yes.....I went to an engagement event with ACO last week and was told, alongside 20+ others in the room that we're crap! Not at all efficient (one of those E's) because:
    SFO's feedback says so
    We rely on our managers too much
    We are still using Admin to check our reports, and she reminded us there is a spell check available......she failed to note there are lots of templates with no spell check facility
    We are taking far too much toil, which is not reflected/indicated in the workloads (WLM tool)
    We're missing targets
    We are not using Equip
    We don't get things done on time, Parom 1's and Part B's

    Just when your feeling really rubbish trying to read endless e-mails about processes, work arounds, updates, understand Nessi and NSI's you get a 'final' interim advice on ARMs. We are all chasing our tails trying to recover work you have already done, on time, to have to do it all again....what would be a really novel idea, is to have an IT system fit for purpose.

    What would be too much to ask, is for a managers and a management structure, that remembers we are real people, not wigits.

    1. Your managers should be ashamed to treat you like this. They need to reward the staff doing their best. Instead they overload us and fail to protect us from burnout when we take on the workload of colleages who are off sick. This creates a domino effect and the whole line crashes! To be honest am sick and tired of covering sick colleages and expect managers to sort it out.

    2. We've had this conversation in our office today we feel we are treated very badly we never get any positive feedback only negativity and complaints about what we can't do We are seeing all of our work hived off by other agencies and we are left with the impossible and increasing admin it's ridiculous but we realise there's no point in resisting and we need to look out for ourselves now

    3. Sorry to hear that 18:50. It doesn't sound like your ACO is very motivational. Perhaps you could offer her a "tool kit". Should be plenty of those green spiral bound books around and surplus to requirements. Check with your local CRC for one. They won't have much need for them any more when the offender rings the call centre.

      I am grateful that this wasn't my experience in our ACO E3 engagement event. There was a general feeling of "yes, it is a bit shit but it's shit for all of us, let's work together to get through this".

    4. 18:50 I know this is unlikely to have much of an impact in the grand scheme of things but we can spell check most forms. After completing the template, unlock it (padlock on toolbar), you should now be able to spell check :-)

    5. Padlock on toolbar - "you do not have authority to perform this task, please refer to your administrator."

  9. It is now over 18 months since the split and still no sign of things settling down. People leaving and not being replaced. IT absolutely carp, everything you try to do takes forever. Senior management do not communicate with frontline staff. Agency staff that have been in post for over 2 years. New staff lacking boundaries, someone is going to get seriously hurt.

  10. I'm a manager. You lot annoy me big style. You blame everything on management when we're the ones holding it together. You need to take responsibility for your failures and recognition is not, given for doing your jobs. Do the job as your employer wants you too and not as you want too and you will do well

    1. You are a manager who cannot spell. You are also a troll.

    2. I am a manager but not in probation. However the same principles apply to all professions

    3. My manager couldnt hold up traffic its a well known fact that those who cant do the job slide away into management as its the easier option

  11. 00:12 - I am a manager and, if you are truly one, then that is a shame. Staff should get recognition for doing their jobs, a difficult one at the best of times. A simple thank you does no harm. As for being the one that holds it all together, try that without the support and co-operation of your team.

  12. Thank you 7.20 many who read these blogs daily and care passionately about what is happening to OUR staff/Vocation will be heartened by your response. Simple, straight forward and powerful words, However, tough your journey is your staff will know that you Care and trying your very best to see/find, make sense of a way through. Whatever, your differences, they will also KNOW that you are in it Together. That is the difference between Leadership and being a Manager Sharing their pain/frustrations and uncertainty's as well as their joys of overcoming and those good times of 'making a difference and belonging. That remains the beating heart of Probation caring/sharing and is what made Probation a good and innovative Service in which staff felt they belonged. I see so many on twitter iangould5 that I have only but admiration for as they continue to represent the very best of OUR legacy. I am forever prayerfull/hopful of New beginnings too. Take great care 7.20 and to all those who will be touched by simple words that demonstrate Respect, care and Integrity for those you work alongside Ian Gould