Monday, 1 August 2016

MoJ Rewards Failure

With both prisons and probation in chaos, well done to the Mirror for digging out and highlighting Michael Spurr's 10% salary increase as CEO of the failing National Offender Management Service.  

Prison boss enjoys bumper pay rise - despite a year of budget cuts and turmoil behind bars

The man in charge of prisons has enjoyed a bumper pay rise of nearly 10% – despite a year of turmoil behind bars. Michael Spurr, chief executive of the National Offender Management Service, is now earning £180,000, up from £165,000 the year before. Meanwhile, his agency – the wing of the Ministry of Justice responsible for prisons in England and Wales – has been forced to make swingeing budget cuts, reports the Sunday People.

Mr Spurr’s pay rise comes amid claims of growing problems in jails, ­including violence, drug use, radicalism and use of drones to smuggle contraband. Yet demoralised staff who deal with the mess on a day to day basis have been given a ­measly rise of just 1.3%. A prisons source said: “This is a real kick in the teeth for staff. “And critics will question whether the guy in charge deserves a hike given the mess we are in behind bars.”

The chief executive’s pay rise was ­revealed in the service’s annual report, published on July 7 – the day after the Chilcot Inquiry report on the Iraq War. Glyn Travis, of the Prison Officers’ Association, said ­yesterday: “Michael Spurr has presided over a ­prisons sysyem in total crisis. Anyone else with his output would be out of a job, unless he is doing exactly what the Government wants – doing more with less.”

Mr Spurr joined the Prison Service in 1983. His pay and perks package is better than that of Prime Minister Theresa May, who earns £143,462. The Sunday People has catalogued the explosion of drug use and violence in our prisons.


The MoJ Annual Report can be found here.


I’m pleased to present the eighth Annual Report and Accounts of the National Offender Management Service Agency. The last year has been particularly challenging but I’m proud of the way colleagues across the Agency have responded to the pressures we have faced with a commitment and determination to deliver the best possible service we can for the public. 

In Probation our priority has been to ensure the successful implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which have fundamentally changed the way offenders are managed in the community – extending statutory post release supervision to all offenders who receive short prison sentences. 

The National Probation Service (NPS) is now responsible for providing advice to court; allocating cases; and managing high risk offenders and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are responsible for managing medium and low risk offenders (around 80% of cases) across England and Wales. The CRCs were transferred to eight independent providers in February 2015 and new ‘Through the Gate’ resettlement services for all offenders leaving prison were implemented in May 2015. The scale of these changes should not be underestimated and it is a huge tribute to Probation staff that in the words of the National Audit Office “Services have been sustained throughout a period of major change, with users reporting that services had stayed the same or improved since the reforms”1 . There remains more to do to ensure we gain maximum benefit from these reforms, and we are reviewing resettlement services in particular to ensure these are as effective as they can be – but overall performance in both the NPS and CRCs is continuing to improve which provides a solid platform for future progress. 

In Prisons, despite considerable effort both nationally and locally, levels of violence, self-harm and suicide have risen and remain unacceptably high. Tackling these issues is our top priority, firstly because we have a duty of care for both prisoners and staff but also because we know that a safe, secure and decent environment is fundamental to support effective rehabilitation. The causes of the rise in violence and self-harm are complex. It is undeniable that the rise has coincided with major changes to regimes and operating arrangements in public sector prisons combined with significant staff reductions which have reduced overall unit costs in line with our 2010 Spending Review commitments. But the rise in violence and self-harm crosses the whole sector (public and private) and affects a wide range of establishments, including those where resources have been maintained or increased through this period. 

The massive increase in supply of illicit psychoactive drugs into prisons has been a key factor in undermining safety and driving violence (as acknowledged by the Chief Inspector of Prisons and the Prison and Probation Ombudsman) and tackling this issue is critical to reverse the current trend.

Over the next 12 months we will be concentrating on this issue, as well as taking forward the exciting reform agenda set out by our Secretary of State. Ultimately, increasing the emphasis on rehabilitation; providing a positive purposeful environment and rewarding prisoners for taking positive steps towards becoming responsible citizens will transform the way prisons work. Providing hope and opportunity for prisoners to ‘turn their lives’ around is the best way to combat violence and to reduce reoffending. Giving Governors the tools and the autonomy to make this happen is at the heart of the Prison Reform Programme. It has the potential to make a real and lasting difference to the lives of the offenders we manage, which will make both prisons and the public we serve safer. 

Michael Spurr 
Chief Executive National Offender Management Service


This is what the report has to say about probation:-


In 2015-16 our key priority for community services was stabilisation and delivery through the new structures created by the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. We achieved this through three key areas of work: 
  • ensuring no reduction in operational performance
  • delivery of the NPS Stabilisation Portfolio, over 30 projects designed to embed activity prompted by Transforming Rehabilitation 
  • launch of the Effectiveness, Efficiency, Excellence Programme (E3) to design a new operating model for the NPS and learn from the best practice across the newly unified service 
Two significant advances in offender management have been made under the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms over this last year. 

Commencement of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA) means that virtually all offenders now get statutory support and rehabilitation upon release. The ORA means that any offender whose offence was committed on or after 1 February 2015, and who are sentenced to a custodial term of more than one day, will receive at least 12 months of supervision after release. As a result, there has been a gradual build-up of eligible offenders over the course of this year. 

In addition, we introduced the nationwide ‘Through the Gate’ resettlement service run by CRCs, meaning that the vast majority of offenders should be given continuous support from custody into the community. 

The owners of the 21 CRCs have now been running their CRCs for just over a year. The focus over this period has been on stabilisation of the new system and delivery through the new probation structures. The performance of the CRCs has continued to improve and is now broadly comparable to performance before the reforms. This is a substantial achievement in itself. 

CRCs launched their ‘Through the Gate’ service on 1 May 2015. This element has the objective of providing offenders with support to find accommodation and jobs, finance and debt advice, and support given to former sex workers and victims of domestic violence. The CRC may also choose to offer additional rehabilitation services with the aim of reducing reoffending. 

The vast majority of prisoners will spend at least the final 12 weeks of their sentence in one of their home area’s designated resettlement prisons meaning that the CRCs should have sufficient time to engage offenders prior to their release into the community. 

We continue to monitor CRCs closely and are committed to ensuring that delivery of resettlement services meets the high standards expected. Our contract management teams are closely monitoring and robustly managing providers to make sure they fulfil their contractual commitments to maintain service delivery, reduce reoffending, protect the public and provide value for money to the taxpayer. 

The NPS manages the highest risk offenders. This is a critical public service and it is essential that we ensure services are delivered effectively. 

In 2015-16 we sustained stable performance across the majority of our key performance targets. We saw continued improvement, in line with plans, on measures relating to new processes introduced by Transforming Rehabilitation, for example the timeliness of case allocation decisions after sentence. This strong record of performance was achieved alongside the challenge of adapting delivery to absorb a caseload in the NPS that was materially higher than originally forecast. 

In the final quarter of 2015-16 we saw a slight drop in completion rates for Community Orders and Suspended Sentence Orders. A priority for 2016-17 will be reversing that trend.

Our investment in a new generation of Probation Officers continues, with the recruitment of 650 additional trainee Probation Officers during the year and the qualification of 192 probation officers in the final quarter of this financial year. 

In 2015-16 activity continued to fully embed the new structures created by Transforming Rehabilitation. As the CRCs have started to implement their strategies to move away from Local Authority provided ICT and buildings, we have ensured that the NPS has the resources in place to operate effectively. This has included a programme of building moves to ensure that the NPS makes efficient use of the remaining estate following the CRC exits.

Significant progress has also been made to continue the migration of the NPS business applications and data from IT servers maintained by the CRCs. We have continued to engage with the Future IT Sourcing Programme to deliver improvements to the NPS ICT infrastructure. 

In 2015-16 we launched the E3 Programme to design and implement a new operating model for the NPS. The NPS inherited significant variations in ways of working from the 35 legacy Probation Trusts. The programme undertook detailed engagement work with staff, managers and stakeholders to design an operating model that will improve the outcomes we deliver and which is financially sustainable. We published an early design of that operating model in the E3 Blueprint in November 2015 as a basis for improvement. 

The model has since been refined and was published in April 2016. We have started implementation of operational improvements and changes to roles and structures will start to take effect during 2016-17.


  1. Lovely to know it's all sunshine and roses then apart from the pesky problem of illicit drugs (mainly supplied by the staff rather than being brought in by visitors or thrown over the walls no matter what NOMS and the tabloids would have you believe). Doesn't seem to occur to NOMS and MoJ that if they dealt with overcrowding, proper jobs and education and rehabilitation the drug use would likely go way down because people wouldn't be taking drugs to deal with the boredom of being locked up 23 hours a day in a rat infested hole with broken windows. And if you deal properly with security and bent staff the problem would probably disappear altogether because the supply route would be cut off. But apparently NOMS has no intention of actually dealing with the problem preferring to blame prisoners and drugs

  2. Sounds like everything is tickety boo then on paper, but in reality ?????? I think we all know the answer to that question.

  3. Disgusting. We earn peanuts in probation. 1% pay rise, forced unpaid overtime, no benefits or rewards at all. I work in London. In the CRC most staff have left, of sick or forced out. Most PO's gone and replaced by agency staff. NPS just as bad. E3 isn't working and goalpost being moved. Field (om) teams being forced to complete pre sentence reports because courts understaffed. Message is most PO's to be replaced by PSO's. No Managers in CRC or NPS. Senior managers strutting about with Bionic badges.

    1. London NPS is not following E3 then. PO's shouldn't be writing PSR's unless they're Court PO's. So says the E3 job descriptions.

  4. what a cart load of blatant lies and carefully worded statements ie 'we have introduced TTG in CRC's, meaning that the vast majority of offenders SHOULD be given continuous support from custody into the community'.

    This is the thread of deception running right through this blog. Much of it is not reporting what IS happening, but what should be happening. And the whole shambles is only hanging together because exhausted staff are running around wth the sticky tape.

    This load of bollocks is making me retch. And this, added to Cameron's cronies in today's headlines, just shows what a rotten apple the whole Tory camp is. I wish some discerning newspaper would make a major running feature of the truth - on the front page for starters.

  5. Welcome to the world of the UK's self-styled "elite".

    Most will be wondering "how does it work?" Where does one find the door to be able to join in this game of "I, Me, Myself"?

    So, just look at some of the most challenging cases you work with, those who have committed the most damaging offences. The self-obsessed refusal to accept any wrong-doing, the re-telling of events in their favour, the brazen justification of inappropriate self-gratification & entitlement - its all on a par with the most entrenched offenders in denial. No remorse, no empathy; off the scale narcissists who gather willing acolytes around them to assist in their offending.

    1. From NHS checklist for narcissistic pd traits:

      "Other symptoms include:
      - exaggerating their own achievements and abilities
      - thinking they are entitled to be treated better than other people
      - exploiting other people for their own personal gain
      - lacking empathy for other people's weaknesses
      - looking down on people they feel are "beneath" them, while feeling deeply envious of people they see as being "above" them

    2. and people wonder why some offenders refuse to accept responsibility for their actions. They are only following the lead of those in power. Cameron ran away rather than face up to the mess he made. Lin Homer has been lavishly rewarded for the mess at HMRC, Spurr gets a wacking big pay rise for presiding over the worst crisis in modern prison history. People see those in power getting away with never admitting they are wrong or accepting responsibility for their failures and mistakes and people simply follow that example.

      On another note I have to wonder at how much of a public service it was for the person making George Osborne go on a diet that it was worth an honour in Cameron's leaving list.

    3. How many crc's are still offering through the gate serice.

    4. 11.05 thank you this is the perfect description of how most Probation Officers see themselves.

    5. Hmmm, not the point I was making (as you well know) but nevertheless you might have a point in some - not most - cases. I have certainly worked with one or two self-important colleagues who would fit the description.

  6. "We achieved this through three key areas of work:

    •ensuring no reduction in operational performance" Audit reports indicate that performance is declining and even this summary explains that completion of Community Orders has gone down.

    Any risk register used to spot problems in the system would be in amber and red across the board - a long way from where we were 18 months ago when it was a sea of green. do we hold Michael Spur to account for his pay rise?

    1. We don't. Once again, Raffles gets away with it. It seems that trial by media is the only means of holding cheats to account, e.g. Sunday Times (Cameron's honours), Telegraph (MPs expenses), Mirror (Spurr's payrise). But unlike Watergate, in this media savvy Age of the Goldfish it seems the impact is lost - within 24 seconds public outrage dissipates & the notion of punishment or reprimand disappears like morning mist: "Get over it!"... "Move on!"...

      We live in sad times where Liars, Cheats, Thieves & Bullies prosper. Olympic drug cheats, Cameron's handouts to chums, failed Labour coup, Trump, etc etc etc etc ad nauseaum.

    2. Spurr will have to answer to the House of Commons Justice Affairs Committee of course....

    3. ... and suffer the same dreadful consequences as Grayling, Wright, Romeo, Brennan, i.e. none whatsoever.

    4. Very true - just saying....

    5. I know, Jim, you are right and it does need saying. I agree that's exactly where Spurr & the whole bally TR shambles should be held to account. But it won't happen. Spurr & his crew have given gobbledegook answers & confabulations to numerous Committee hearings & walked free; and equally the Committee has failed in its duty to follow up on the empty promises made by NOMS officials.

      Its heartbreaking that such a pack of self-serving hyenas can get away with the disassembly of a public service whilst being paid from the public purse & lying to the arbiters of parliament.

  7. Please can someone at MOJ/NOMS start an audit of the crc's. Something is clearly not right with the book-keeping in my opinion. Please do this quickly to avoid a similar news story to the one that has occured with the school academy scandal. Who is keeping an eye on funds and ensuring they are not bring diverted directly into someones pockets? The whistle has blown so get off your backsides civil servants and do your jobs!

  8. From House of Commons interim report on TR, 22-1-2014:

    "The national probation service team will be responsible for risk assessment. They will have a duty to carry out a new assessment when a person's circumstances change, and it will be the duty of the provider to notify the team of any material change of circumstances. They will be co-located, and when an offender becomes a high-risk offender, they will be taken back under the supervision of the national probation service. This is about people sitting in the same office and working together, just as people work together in any office environment."

    From Spurt's report per today's blog:

    "In 2015-16 activity continued to fully embed the new structures created by Transforming Rehabilitation. As the CRCs have started to implement their strategies to move away from Local Authority provided ICT and buildings, we have ensured that the NPS has the resources in place to operate effectively. This has included a programme of building moves to ensure that the NPS makes efficient use of the remaining estate following the CRC exits."

    But hey, who cares?

  9. On the subject of pay rises".............just had the GS blog from NAPO. Lots of talk about negotiations on E3 and discontent from members etc. But mot a mention of any pay rise for the foot soldiers.
    Has anybody reminded them that our anniversary date is April, not December!
    NAPO Themselves have said we have suffered a 19% pay cut in recent years. If the employers want new working practices, let them pay for them.

  10. Spurr claims "Our contract management teams are closely monitoring and robustly managing providers to make sure they fulfil their contractual commitments to maintain service delivery, reduce reoffending, protect the public and provide value for money to the taxpayer."

    The CRC owners have been given something like £80M of public money from the "Modernisation Fund" - why? And where's that gone? How was failing to honour EVR an adherence to contractual obligation? What about the assets written-off when CRCs cleared off from shared buildings, e.g. furniture & office equipment dumped in skips? What about penalties for terminating leases and other contracts? How was that cost-effective?

  11. Chris Grayling, HoC, January 2013:

    "I do not expect this to lead to wholesale redundancies in the probation service. It certainly means a new world for many people in the probation service in being part of the new organisations, new social enterprises and new consortia that will deliver the services. Yes, of course there will be some changes, but this does not involve, suddenly and instantly, mass redundancies in the probation service—that would not be right."

    1. I quite like this admission by Grayling, also from Jan 2013 questioning by back-benchers:

      "I am making sure that, when it comes to risk of harm to the public, that remains in the public sector and will continue to do so."

      I agree, Chris, through your incompetence you HAVE ensured that 'risk of harm to the public' continues to remain responsibility of the public sector namely in the hands of this venal, corrupt, dishonest government & its senior civil serpents.

  12. Exactly! Where HAS the 80 m modernisation fund gone? Perhaps one of us couls put in afreedom of information request? It will all come out in the open sooner or later. Corruption in the heart of the government and private sector! Failing banks bought back by government at taxpayers expense. Roll on 2018 ' failing crc's bought back by government at taxpayers expense'. Estates scandal, buildings built at huge public expense now lie empty!