Keeping the politicians focused
We have secured more oral questions through the Labour Front Bench Team for next week’s justice question session in the Commons which relates to prison safety, access to justice and probation.
This is just one example of the parliamentary activities we are involved in as we approach a week where I will be making a contribution to an informal hearing being organised by the Justice Select Committee, and where Napo will be taking up an offer to meet with Probation and Prisons Minister Sam Gyimah in lieu of him not being able to personally attend our recent AGM.
As more noises are being made in Westminster about the efficacy of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme (see last week’s Blog feature and the questions asked of Ricard Heaton by Robert Neill Chair of the Justice Select Committee) we are doing everything possible to try and get politicians from all benches to turn up the volume.
This week saw another story which featured a remarkable, and of course very welcome, contribution from the Royal Society for the Arts and Manufacturing (RSA), where the society appositely demanded that the Government construct a Rehabilitation strategy for the next five years.
This follows the not surprising revelation in the Financial Times earlier this month, where the Financial Times reported that ‘almost every contract to provide probation services... is lossmaking and that talks to resolve the problems faced by the CRCs had stalled.’
This is why we are keeping a keen eye on the outcomes from the Probation Systems Review which is scheduled to report to Ministers next week and where it would seem from feedback from some sources within CRCs, that the going has been somewhat tough.
Government issues heaps of probation related material
Meanwhile, and in advance of the Parliamentary activities scheduled for next week, we have been even busier than normal trying to digest a swathe of information that suddenly appeared on the GOV.UK website yesterday. This includes statistics, revised guidance notes and reports. In amongst all this is an invitation to respond to some interesting proposals from the Sentencing Council:
The Council says: “The definitive guideline for the Imposition of Community and Custodial Sentences, which will be effective from 1st February 2017, replaces the existing guidelines produced by the Sentencing Council’s predecessor body the Sentencing Guidelines Council ‘New Sentences Criminal Justice Act 2003’.
The simultaneous publication of the consultation on a draft guideline for breach offences and the publication of the definitive guideline for imposing community and custodial sentences is to ensure the right order is imposed at the original point of sentence, to ensure any breach which may occur can be dealt with appropriately.”
It would be helpful if members who have a view on this particular consultative paper could let us know (via their Napo branch) by contacting Tania Bassett who will co-ordinate our central response.
A death in the community
Dreadful news reached me this week of the murder of an Approved Premises resident, which the Napo Branch have been able to confirm took place some way from the premises itself. Nevertheless, it will obviously have been a traumatic situation for the AP workers and it reminded me of a discussion I had some years ago with a member who had suffered terribly following a totally preventable physical assault, as to how risky the profession can be in a world where acts of violence are never that far away.
Perhaps it’s why I spent a few more minutes than normal examining yet another of this week’s MoJ data releases which makes for some interesting reading. Even allowing for the old adage that there are lies, damn lies and statistics, I noted the apparent increase in self-inflicted deaths of clients under post-release supervision which may well be down to the fact that (post-TR) there are more individuals in that category these days. We will be seeking some answers about this and the other data from NOMS and the MOJ, meanwhile what do you think?
Official Statistics: Deaths of offenders in the community annual statistics bulletin 2015 to 2016