Thursday, 25 August 2016

Probation Gets a New Voice

I see the Probation Institute has appointed Helen Schofield as acting Chief Executive and this is her first blog:-

This month the Probation Institute says good bye to Savas Hadjipavlou, CEO since the Institute opened in 2014. Savas successfully set up the Probation Institute as a membership organisation, owned and directed by our members. We wish him well for the future.

The Board have appointed me to lead and manage the Probation Institute to drive forward the future direction. In taking this role I am working closely with Professor Paul Senior Chair of the Probation Institute. Some of you with long memories may recall that Paul and I shared, with others, an earlier challenge nearly 20 years ago in which we succeeded in retaining probation training in higher education despite pretty fierce opposition. That was a long time ago and much has changed since.

Returning to the Probation landscape after 12 years in a senior management role in Police Training with the National Policing Improvement Agency and the College of Policing I am reminded but still surprised by both the differences and the similarities. The proportionate difference in central funding is massive and still deflects criminal justice priorities away from crime prevention and rehabilitation towards detection, investigation and arrest. In spite of, or perhaps because of this, creative alliances between policing and probation rely heavily on the initiative and energy of individuals and struggle to achieve sustainable funding. I read the EHRC report on eliminating all forms of racial discrimination with real sadness; “As well as being more likely to be a victim of hate crime, people from ethnic minority communities and migrants are much more likely to experience disadvantage in the criminal justice system”.

Our ambition and vision for the Probation Institute today is much wider and more radical. Our ambition for consistent, high quality standards must now include all practitioners and managers in Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement; in NPS, CRCs, voluntary organisations, private companies, prisons or those managing offenders in policing roles. We want to be the Professional Body and Regulatory Body for everyone working or volunteering to help individuals to stop offending and lead fulfilling lives in positive relationship to others.

I see the role of the Probation Institute to reach out to practitioners, managers and leaders; to work together to set standards of competence, learning and research, to promote qualifications and to speak up for professional practice. Our ambition must be strong and radical because this occupational group is now very widely dispersed and urgently needs regulating to meet standards.The Probation Institute is ready to become the Regulatory Body for Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement.

In proposing this I want to build on our achievements in the first two years – the Code of Ethics, the Professional Development Framework, joint projects with partner organisations and position papers to list just a few. All our activity must be relevant and important to public, private and charitable organisations; we can’t afford to neglect knowledge, skills and values for any groups. Our Professional Development Framework seeks to raise and recognise competence and strengthen performance in all roles.

The Trailblazer Apprenticeship which we are leading with CRCs and voluntary organisations sets out a single, funded standard of competence, learning and qualification for a Rehabilitation Practitioner at the equivalent to the PSO grade, in all types of organisation. I am convinced that an independent Regulatory Body is the only possible mechanism for setting and achieving the essential standards and consistency where responsibilities have become so devolved to plural groups of employers.

A Regulatory Body would be independent of government, it would have representation from higher and further education, practitioners, trade unions, employers, awarding organisations, sector skills councils and representatives of government departments. It would set levels of competence and qualifications for all practitioner and management roles, and maintain the Professional Register. This would leave the trade unions free to represent their members, and to negotiate pay and conditions of service, collaborating with the Regulatory Body but free to act on behalf of their members. There would be strategic interfaces and joint projects with other bodies. The sector as a whole would be stronger because it could demonstrate consistency, clarity and confidence in professional practice.

This project to establish a Regulatory Body needs to move forward in Autumn 2016. As we drive this forward my priorities will also be to continue to increase our membership, to be the professional voice for practice and learning in Probation, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, to work with our partner organisations in joint projects, and ensure that our offer to members is clear, relevant and timely. I will be writing a blog regularly to keep up to date with our activity and look forward to readers’ views.

Helen Schofield
Acting Chief Executive
August 2016

Helen's CV according to Linked in:-

Director Probation Institute
January 2016 – Present (8 months)

Delighted to be co-opted on to the Board of Directors of the Probation Institute, working with Paul Senior again and helping to grow the first professional body for probation and rehabilitation. Now we have the Probation Register in place, the Professional Development Framework, and the Learning Provider Endorsement Scheme.

Trustee Carnegie Community Trust
October 2015 – Present (11 months)

A real challenge to build a Community Hub and Enterprise Library at Carnegie Herne Hill where there is huge anger at the closure of the public library by Lambeth Council

Director Justice Sector Training
September 2014 – Present (2 years)

Launched the first pan Justice Sector entry level qualification Preparing for Work in the Justice Sector. A huge opportunity. Full suite of teaching, learning and assessment materials now available and we are inviting pilots across 2016.

Independent Consultant
May 2014 – Present (2 years 4 months) London, United Kingdom
Training and Learning Strategy from pre entry to CPD

Head of Learning Strategy College of Policing
December 2002 – May 2014 (11 years 6 months) London, United Kingdom

Transformed the national police training infrastructure.
Introduced and developed the first National Policing Curriculum and the National Policing Learning Programmes.
Developed the first Initial Qualification Framework for Policing.
Developed the first national Police Race and Diversity Learning Programme.
Established National Operational Gold Command Training.
Led and managed the expansion and consolidation of the Police E Learning capability (NCALT). Led the Police Olympic Training Project 2012.
Steered the Joint Emergency Services Tri Service Training Project 2013 (JESIP).
Developed networks, partnerships and effective models for the delivery of police training across England and Wales.

Chief Executive Community Justice National Training Organisation
August 1998 – December 2002 (4 years 5 months)

Established the first National Training Organisation in the Justice Sector, responsible for Occupational Standards and Qualifications for the Probation Service, Victim Support, Police in Community Safety an for Youth Justice. Built a UK wide membership organisation spanning the justice sector and aligning knowledge, skills and values of practitioners across the sector.

Assistant General Secretary NAPO
1995 – 1998 (3 years)

Finally, in researching Helen's background, Google also threw up these letters in the Guardian from December 1999 that serve as interesting reminders of the journey we've all been on:-

I can accept your characterisation of the change of name of the probation service as "Jack's tough love" (Straw's tough probation order, December 8). But I must correct your shallow analysis of our plans for the Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Service.

A change of name is essential. Not as a sign of weakness nor as some sort of obsession with marketing. But to reflect the work the service will be delivering in the future. Community sentences are punishments served in the community and they must rehabilitate to prevent future offending.

The new name is part of major reforms in the organisation of the service. We are introducing programmes to stop offending behaviour, based on evidence of what works. And under a new bill to be published shortly, there will be new enforcement powers for the service to ensure offenders comply with the terms of their orders, otherwise they will be returned to court with the presumption of firm punishment.

The government is determined that the CPRS will be a credible and important law enforcement agency, whose purpose is clear - to protect the public and reduce offending.
Paul Boateng MP Home Office

The proposed new name for the probation service is totally inappropriate.
1) It is based purely on the government's wish to project itself to middle England as tough on law and order.
2) It is contrary to the humanist ideology on which the probation service has always been based.
3) It is opposed by the vast majority of probation officers.
4) The words punishment and rehabilitation have only to be interchanged to leave it open to ridicule.
5) Where is the evidence that the probation service is seen as over-sympathetic to offenders? Most research shows that the public is less punitive than governments believe. 
Tom Penny London

I was sorry to read that Paul Boateng seemed to have rejected the Community Justice Service as an "unappealing" title for rebranding the probation service.

The Community Justice National Training Organisation is proving to be a very appealing concept and structure through which we are raising skill levels and developing consistent standards for all agencies working in the community to reduce harm from offending.

One of the 70 new national training organisations, the Community Justice NTO is working with employers and with government departments to ensure that the community justice sector delivers crime reduction strategies and offers support and protection to the victims and witnesses of crime.

The Community Justice National Training Organisation is committed to opening up knowledge and understanding about community safety and crime reduction. Perhaps the next time we debate the rebranding of a public protection service the public will also have a strong view. Meanwhile we must hope we don't find ourselves regretting a hasty decision to rename the probation service. 
Helen Schofield Community Justice National Training Organisation


  1. Well, at last, the nettle is being grasped, maybe with a biting voice, when Helen Scofield writes:

    'I am convinced that an independent Regulatory Body is the only possible mechanism for setting and achieving the essential standards and consistency where responsibilities have become so devolved to plural groups of employers.'

    A plural group of employers cannot be trusted to promote and maintain high professional standards. In fact they will look always for the lowest common denominator and pay accordingly. And if a CRC was to implode because of a lack of competence and sub-standard service, they can just walk away, as happened with the first privatised hospital, Hitchinbrooke, when the owners Circle walked away and Hitchinbrook was reabsorbed into in the NHS with a deficit of 12m to be picked up by the taxpayer.

    We can speak softly to the employers but there needs to be a big stick and that can only be of a regulatory nature. Methinks the probation institute is acquiring a campaigning edge.

  2. Probation Officer25 August 2016 at 12:47

    Well the Probation Institute can't get much worse. It's had such a bad start I doubt it can recover, especially while it continues to romance the CRC's and private companies that it endorses. Two years on and the PI offers nothing in support of probation officers and certainly is not a 'voice of probation'.

  3. Hear heat. Certainly quiet when the redundancies came round! I doubt people will forget that.

  4. The PI will not have an authoritative voice unless it acquires regulatory powers to set standards and issue licences to practice. It has failed thus far because it has no regulatory functions. Writing position papers is all well and good, but they can be dismissed out of hand, no matter how well-reasoned or sensible. It has been noted many times that probation needs something similar to the regulation and registration that underpins and validates the professional standards of social work. Any such developments in probation will need the support of the MoJ – and that could be a long time coming...if it ever comes.

    1. Its all chicken and egg. If the PI had gained the support and membership of probation practitioners across the board then it might have been in a stronger position to secure such authority. Instead the PI made the mistake of pursuing revenue and in doing so it got into bed with the very same bodies that are destroying probation. It's too late to turn back now, and we all knew this would happen because the PCA and PA were running the show (and awarded themselves fellowships too!!).

      I'd like to think that Helen Schofield and Paul Senior can change all of this, but by the above it seems they're carrying on with the existing model rather than starting afresh with what probation practitioners would have liked the PI to be. As I recall the elected board is heavy on CRC membership, inc management, so I doubt they'll be any change.

  5. I'm not interested in the PI register and I will never sign up for their licence to practice. I have no respect for the PI.

  6. The probation institute and NAPO acting as a professional association are actually all that there is to represent probation as a profession publicly and in consultation and negotiation with others. Nobody else proposes to do this job and there are very few in the wider criminal justice community who will campaign on our behalf to preserve our professional status that has been precarious at the best of times. There appear to be no shortage of short sighted persons either presently or formerly working in probation who seem to have a lot of time on their hands to attack and criticise both NAPO and the PI (or anyone who supports them) mostly for what they think they should have said or for what they would like them to have done despite either not being a member or not getting involved. It is in fact these persons who may well be part of the problem now and would perhaps be better occupied adjusting their aim towards our real enemies and trying to offer support to those who are trying to work in and deal with the new landscape. Anyone who hasn't worked in or been closely associated with work in probation in the last 18 months probably doesn't realise how much fundamental chance there has been and what the experience of this has been particularly on those trying to fight for jobs and professionals. It has been very demotivating for anyone worried about their future and who actually wants to be constructive and wants to influence change positively. I have known very hard working professionals and well motivated activists to leave both probation and/or NAPO because of member apathy and others who have been personally attacked for their association with the PI often by people who have contributed little to the profession. Some of the most vocal of these people seem to belong to a group of persons who believe that it was all so much better when Noah was a lad and that it is ok to land a cowardly anonymous low blow and then runaway apparently thinking this is somehow ok to have no respect for anyone even though it smacks of hypocrisy. As a result of lack of respect for anyone or anything there are fewer and fewer people who are willing to stand up and be be identified as supporting probation as a profession or willing to openly discuss professional issues including whether or not probation as a profession can now said to exist. Has our profession been reduced to skulking around in the shadows taking cheap shots and sniping anonymously at others? If it has then this is a sorry dishonourable state of affairs and no way to fight for professional recognition and our much cherished oft referred to though to some semi mythical probation values.
    The winners from all this infighting and personal attacks are MoJ bureaucrats who have aimed to destroy probation as a distinct profession because it delayed their plans and multinational corporations who see belief in caring as no more than a PR or marketing approach.

    1. *Sigh* ... Piss off David A Raho, the "winners" are those running Napo and the Probation Institute who are receiving funds/revenue and a bit of status for doing less than nothing!! Yes these two organisations exist, but have done nothing to change or successfully challenge the increasingly dire state of probation (NPS and CRC's), nor does the PI represent us although Im sure most wish it did. It's probably fair to say that Napo is well on its way to joining the PI in its role as "lipstick on the TR pig".

    2. 21:14 I think you just agreed with what was said.

    3. Actually much of the concerns with both Napo and the PI have been formally raised one way or another. It is a cop out to relegate these types of concerns to 'anonymous comments', especially with these organisation that claim to be member focused. Both Napo and the PI are a let down.

    4. Concerns have been addressed. The PI will probably cease to exist and Napo will probably lose the battle to negotiate on behalf of all those employed by probation service providers. But it does not change the fact that they are all we have to work through and doing them down by constant criticism of everything they do or say is a hiding to nothing. Anyone involved in either organisation voluntarily now considers it is a thankless task given the negativity heaped upon them. Some of those commenting on this site show little appreciation for those who day in day out do their best for both the probation profession whilst those who take satisfaction in this constant barrage are those who want to see probation deestablished and deprofessionalised. The response from a lot of former activists has been to become discouraged and withdraw from the fight against TR. If anyone wanted TR to succeed they would indulge in constant criticism against the only organisations that have opposed TR either directly or indirectly and anyone putting their head above the parapet.

    5. These are memberships to services and associations we have paid for. They have not just failed just because they were ineffective, but because they failed to listen to those they claim to represent and are still not listening even at the eleventh hour. So yes they should be criticised, because had they truly represented the members then it would have been very different. Had these two organisations not been led by incompetent, money grabbing, power hungry fools ...... and I mean the past ten years of Napo and the PI from the outset.

  7. The Probation Chiefs Association and Probation Association should not have been involved in setting up the Probation Institute. The opportunity for the PI came about and they took control, which is how they have always worked. The unions were foolish to support this move and should have sought a more neutral leadership. Instead it ended up with the very same probation chief clique & co running the show, and right at the top those that ran the PCA and the PA. Just look at which probation chiefs the PI awarded fellowships too, mostly those who were big on commercialising probation, including one currently in bed with Working Links, another that created a super-trust and another that sold off community service! Ever since its creation the PI has pandered to privatisation and has not been the professional association or voice of probation it claimed to be. These questions were raised far and wide at the start but have been ignored and this is why probation officers won't join it. Too many questions are still being raised about its revenue streams, it's MoJ shadow, it's CRC pre-paid memberships, it's membership structure that equals non-qualified managers with qualified practitioners, and the decisions around it's elected committee, it's partnerships and more, particularly its silence. Probation practitioners are a forgiving bunch and with the right change in direction this could easily be overturned but it seems the PI is happy being a failure, something it seems to have in common with Napo!

    1. The PI's big mistake was not building the support, trust and dependency of members. Why would any of us sign up to a paid membership and professional register when the basics of outlining, promoting and protecting probation practice and qualifications were and still are grey areas for the PI. Instead of gaining practitioner support and building authority to become a regulatory body, it blasted ahead blinkered delivering its messages through the distrusted senior management and the emerging privateer networks and then couldn't understand why practitioners weren't interested. Helen/Paul, if you're reading then don't make the same mistakes and instead listen to the practitioners.