Sunday, 6 November 2016

Pick of the Week 19

Bizarre offering from Phil Andrew, Working Links CEO today on the WL Justice website! Biggest heap of shite I have read in a long time! Says absolutely nothing yet he seems to think it is somehow important! Can't trust a thing WL say. John Wiseman should be keeping his staff in the loop but WL have muzzled all the managers, the ones that might have been prepared to speak out and the spineless arse lickers that have only been interested in their own self serving vanity don't give a monkeys anyway and can toddle off for salsa classes without a hint of guilt and pretend they are actually doing a good job as they get pissed every night!

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Wasn't it just! I was intrigued at how the loss of the DWP contract could be spun into such a monumental success story of prudent redirection and corporate reinvention. There was so much 'sparkle' it made my head hurt!! Meanwhile, on Planet Earth, Paul Hindson was due to meet with the Unions and ACAS today...

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I hope they gave him a good roasting! When will we get the feedback on that? I hope they are recording all these discussions and not relying on the WL spin-doctors to report back on how brilliantly it all went for them. Must have been 3 or 4 farewells I read about only today, so many good staff have already left yet continuing with 40% cuts. The maths doesn't add up!

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As played out in my head over & over during the last month, the meeting between the 20-something CRC Operational Manager & 50-something PO.

Mgr: So I've completed your appraisal & it's been scored Poor in all areas. You'll get a copy when we're finished today. Record keeping is especially low scoring, which as you know is critical to the CRC's future development.

PO: You know its been difficult to keep up with the IT constantly crashing & the sky-high numbers on my caseload

Mgr: You were given clear guidance on how to address that

PO: To cut and paste stock phrases to fill any gaps?

Mgr: No, it was to improve efficiency using approved concise entries that met the CRC's clearly defined requirements. Your reluctance to comply with company policy features throughout this appraisal; as are your explicit attempts to frustrate the purpose if the CRC by being outspoken, critical & obtuse. If you were in a union I'd think you were being subversive.

PO: There are hardly any staff, dangerously high caseloads, unstable IT systems & we can't get NPS to take cases that are plainly High Risk. I'm doing sixty hours a week, I'm exhausted and have already spoken to you several times about needing some time off next week but you haven't responded.

Mgr: There you go again. I'm surprised that someone of your experience keeps making excuses for their poor practice. How can I approve time off when all your records are out of date? And I note you've expressed an interest in redundancy, well, there's no way I can recommend that to HR either. Once you're up-to-date we can revisit that. If you want out you could resign. Oh, and you are not being recommended for an increment on the payscale. 
Last year's appraisal was similar in tone and I see no attempt has been made to effect any improvement. 

Finally, I need to allocate three new DV cases. They were High Risk initially but NPS have recently reassessed them as Med to Low. I've had a quick scan through the paperwork - its all in good order, every box has been completed, so I'm allocating them to you. I don't want to see the records in a mess when I check up next month. All three have been instructed for appointments next week, so there's your answer about leave! Okay? Your Appraisal will be in your in box by 3pm today. Just sign it & send it back please. I won't be available except by email for the next three weeks as I'm at meetings in London, Paris and Birmingham, then I'm working from home during half-term. Got to dash now. See you next month.

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Anyone who breaks the perfectly good laws of this fine upstanding country should be forced to wear an electronic device which law-abiding folk can access via an App on their mobiles (except when they're driving) in order to instruct the law-breakers to complete useful tasks for the benefit of the community. The requests would stack at a G4S comms centre & be distributed according to whichever crim was next available. Control & Command at its most efficient. (NOMS please note this is not a serious suggestion; its just a pisstake).

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Tagging, labelling, branding or simply segregating 'them' from 'us' is just fine & dandy, isn't it? Some don't think so... R4's Analysis programme broadcast last night:

"Should we place more trust in prisoners to help them change their lives? "Trust is the only thing that changes people," says Professor Alison Liebling, the director of the Prisons Research Centre at the University of Cambridge. But, asks Lucy Ash, how can we encourage trust in prisons that are overcrowded, often understaffed, and blighted by rising rates of violence? Prisoners are locked up because they broke trust, and on the wings distrust, rather than trust, is an essential survival skill.

And yet Professor Liebling's latest evidence surprisingly shows that ultimately it is only staff-prisoner relationships built on trust that ensure better outcomes. "Values grow virtues", she argues. Treating prisoners with the same values as other people - dignity, respect, trust - will help them turn their lives around."

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Exactly, good support and supervision is what works well, but the MoJ killed that when they did away with 'supervision' with the new Offender Management Act.

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When the government imported Lie Detectors, they where seized be the customs because they were not CE approved. The MoJ retrieved them arguing that they were Defence Equipment not subject to CE approval. The truth is that they are Non Intrusive Medical Monitoring Equipment and need CE approval as such. If anyone is using one the CE mark should be on page one of the manual.

Probably GPS tracking equipment used to monitor the location of an individual is Non Intrusive Medical Monitoring Equipment, the ones that measure alcohol in perspiration certainly are.

The official guidance says GPS-tagged offenders will be banned from “unsuitable activities”, including water sports such as diving and surfing, as well as contact sports such as football, rugby, hockey and kickboxing, because they risk hurting themselves or damaging the tag.

This implies that a Lithium Ion Battery is in use, intrinsically very very dangerous due to their combustibility, attaching one to a persons ankle, probably breaks health and safety law, its foreseeable that you are fixing a firebomb to their ankle.

The Samsung Galaxy fires where not caused by a failure in design, but a very very small oversight in quality control specification. Incredibly microscopic particles of metal in the electrolyte caused the fires. The more modern higher capacity batteries all fail the nail test, drive a nail into them and they catch on fire. Banning certain activities does not lead to safety. My local roads are so full of potholes it's only a matter of time before one causes me to crash on my bicycle. Imagine picking yourself and finding your ankle is on fire. No one is above the law including the MoJ, if they fail in their duty of care they must be prosecuted.

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Having been involved in junior and open age football for 18 years now, I have on many occasions felt I did my best social work with the men and boys I have coached. So, it fills me with horror to hear those subject to these tags will not be able to participate in football, rugby, hockey or kick boxing, 'for their own safety' as for many of the young men I encounter, this is the only pro social, healthy activity they engage with; where they get praise and get to do something they are good at! I've coached many lads on tags, or who are only available to play alternate Saturdays, as the Attendance Centre calls them in on the others. Removing their capacity to achieve and mix with non offenders, ex offenders, just alienates them all the more!

Also, I don't see magistrates, judges or governors buying into this, save for a small group of people for whom it would be the right and proper response, to protect people. I fear it'll be used as an add-on to the sentences they already had in mind.

Then there is the MoJ/Noms! I rang them a few weeks ago, to check that it would be deemed proportionate and necessary to include a total of 14 hours in a licence? The general rule, not exceeding 12 hours doesn't apply to ROTL! Why? I was advised that overnight ROTL is to rehabilitate, to provide opportunities for clients to take part in purposeful activity. I was told in no uncertain terms that if my lifer is a high risk of harm, he shouldn't be eligible for ROTL, and if restrictive licence conditions were required, he should not be deemed safe, for any type of release. 

I found this to be an interesting point of view, so described where I was coming from. Parole Board at last oral hearing asked that I provide opportunities for client to demonstrate through ROTL his capacity and willingness to comply with supervision/licence conditions and Mappa and VLU insisting on all manner of restrictions and exclusions! The representative of the MoJ/Noms was clear in his response 'ROTL should not be used to satisfy the requirements of Mappa or the Parole Board or the Governor when assessing risks when approving ROTL? I put the phone down and laughed out loud, what planet are they on? My colleague had no idea, as far as he was concerned, until a prisoner achieved low risk, he should not have access to ROTL, he should not require ANY bespoke licence conditions!

Sorry, I digress, my point is that this GPS sentence is not the panacea being peddled, and as long as there is no joined up thinking in Noms/MoJ, I can only ever see it as the belt to match the braces of existing sentences, which is little more than a money making exercise. If, following the pilots, there is any positive outcomes I will pickle my walnuts!

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Two hours charging time means the technology being used is cheap crap. Offenders already have an excuse to go under the radar, "my battery ran out when I was sleeping". This is why previous pilots failed because offenders have to voluntarily agree to keeping it charged and know they cannot be penalised when it is off unless somebody physically visits their house to check in they're in.

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This is about the government rehashing old news in a bid to earn revenue from tagging. It doesn't work because the technology is not advanced enough and this is common knowledge. A quick google and here is a probation pilot of GPS tagging in 2012 which obviously didn't continue for the same reasons of cost, technology and practicality. 

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Never mind all this. Bigger things are occurring as E3 spreads it's cancerous claws. In our office, PSO's with no experience at all have pinched our caseload. They have had NO training at all and will not have any for months aside from online workbooks. They are out of their depth completely and working with medium risk cases, who were all high risk cases up to very recently. SFO responsibility should this occur, which it almost certainly will, is left ambiguous. Meanwhile we are being flooded with brand new cases from another office. No workload for ARMS assessments or address checks. 

Now extra hidden workload as we have been told we need to oversee and train the PSO staff but the case points go on their workload. We are being expected to mentor them as well. What can we do? Train others to take our roles over eventually. They are trying to kill PO roles in my view over time. No PSR's as all done in Court. No longer supervising cases in prison soon, hardly any new cases aside from online sex Offenders who don't have any chance of completing Programmes. It's all going to hell in a handcart before our eyes. E3 will do for the NPS what TR has done for CRC's.They are planning the demise of Probation Officer's I am sure.

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It's happening in SY, the view from management is let them get on with it and us hard pressed POs don't care anymore. We just do what we can in an impossible situation dictated by Noms. It's dreadful.

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With all responsibility, including, typing, administration, for both NPS and HMP - those damn ROTL 007,008,009, our job to send for and collate responses from VLU and police. Responsible for our own development, which requires a log into Equip every day, at least to soak up new information, and hear of changes in how we do things; in addition, we are being asked to train PSO's and co-work with trainees! I'm good, but I'm not f**king Paul Daniels!

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Refuse to train or mentor PSO staff. This is not in your contract and unless you are a probation trainer it cannot be a "reasonable instruction". Hand them the case file and let them get to work, and if they ask for help tell them to go to their managers.

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'A voice for Conner'. I wish the family success in their fight and will donate to this cause, we all should. And let's be clear about who 'Wales CRC ' are. This is CRC contracted out to Working Links who in turn were bought by another company called Aurelius! They run all CRC's in Wales and South West. BGSW CRC, Devon and Cornwall. A very large area! Despite this appalling situation they are right now ignoring union advice and making sweeping cuts to 40% of staff across the board, experienced managers, PO's and PSO's. losing our most experienced staff will only increase risk of further SFO's. We need to retain experienced staff but WL prefer staff who tow the line, can be manipulated, put up and shut up and this is dangerous for the public.

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Look we know they're dumbing down probation officers. The training is now slimmed down to about 16 months or less and there's no degree or guarantee of a job at the end of it. The CRC is filled with agency temps and the NPS is replacing qualified staff with unqualified PSO's who are either former admin staff or anyone off the street that applied. Everyone does the same work and professional status/qualification means nothing any more.

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The NPS encouraged its admin staff to apply for the PSO jobs because nobody else was applying. The funny thing is that the NPS was designed for the "high risk, MAPPA and dangerous offenders". What a croc of shite because now this work is to be done be untrained admin staff and the qualified probation officers will be transferred elsewhere or made redundant.

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I am sure that I am right in remembering that in the one of the first Home Office inspections after the split (possibly here in Dorset or did I read it elsewhere?) Inspectors queried why PSO' s had been sifted into the NPS when, according to the forward model, there was no role for them as all only cases coming into the NPS were those deemed high risk.

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I currently have an SFO as does my colleague on the same team - NPS. I welcome the review. I have 45 cases with more coming in all the time I am almost 130% in the red WLMT and 3 parole hearings this month. I feel confident that I did everything possible in the case including arguing to keep it a MAPPA case and high risk. Unfortunately, I can't say the same amount of time is going to all cases it feels like a game of roulette.

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You need to focus on managing your cases and less so on your perceived workload. You're no different to anyone. That's the best advice I can give as a manager new to probation.

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That's not advice. It's a sop; something yielded to placate or soothe. As a very experienced Manager, I chose to leave because the plan was to deliver a service that was tokenistic and superficial. The staff recognise this, the managers recognise this. There is nothing left to do but fail. Quarts and pint pots, I am afraid. Workload prioritisation only works when not everything is a priority. When everything is a priority, you simply have too much to do!

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Nothing like a bit of bad publicity ie. Prisons news, to get the government to wake up. So prison officers have been cut by 10,000 and meeting with Truss yesterday results in agreement to recruit 2,000 back! Hmmmm! Impressed by the prison union leader on BBC news this morning. Sticking up for his members. Hopefully more will follow than the paltry 2,000 who will hopefully be frontline staff on the wings and not jobs for civil servants sat at desks!! CRC/NPS need similar outspoken union leaders to get up on the soap-box!

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The current Rehabilitation Revolution is so new, that the governments rhetoric is that CRCs are still bedding in. I'm surprised that no one I've seen speaking about the present crisis has alluded to this. I'm just as surprised that Grayling has hardly been mentioned at all. I've just watched Liz Truss being interviewed on BBC, and thought she looked like a rabbit in the headlights. What I did find very interesting though was her reference many times to the unacceptable level of reoffending rates. The figure given at justice questions this week was said to be 'roughly 30%', Liz Truss this morning spoke of a 'over 50%' reoffending rate. Wonder what they really are, and if that's the next big failing of TR?

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Truss is getting a roasting on radio 4! Increase prison officers by 2,500 but cut staff by 40% in some CRC's including experienced PO/PSO's! It doesn't make sense if the objective is to reduce re-offending does it! We need a joined up system. Now the public know prisons are in crisis they need to know that community rehabilitation services are also in crisis.

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Really? I thought she was let off extremely lightly and was allowed to mouth a lot of sound bites with little or no serious challenge from JH. Extremely short on detail; just lots of sweeping intentions. The only positive thing I heard was the plan to introduce (reintroduce?) Personal Officers for all prisoners. I await this development with interest.

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Liz Truss I'm afraid is clueless. I've just heard her say on Sky news that's it's "ultimately down to the parole board to decide who's fit for release or not". Isn't one of the biggest problems with the CJS whether it's prisons, probation, crime or rehabilitation, the shaping and policies that get developed as solutions to the problems are designed by people who have no experience in those areas, and probably no great interest in those areas either.
It's not really Liz Truss's fault that the whole CJS is on its knees, but nor is she the right person to be charged with sorting it out, especially when she sees the solution to everything as tackling 'drones, phones, and drugs.' They're all problems yes, but focusing just on those issues is like decorating a house and ignoring the fact it's got structural damage.

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Unfortunately no matter what Truss says in her White Paper or in Parliament about how she's going to solve this current crisis, I really doubt anything will actually happen that would actually solve the current disaster. By all means hire more staff but if all you're going to hire is a bunch of clueless 18 yr olds at minimum wage you're not going to get the staff you need to actually bring prisons back into safe running. 

This is an ideal time to completely re imagining what you want the prison estate to be and turn it into something that works like in Holland or Scandinavia. But we're saddled with a completely clueless justice secretary who fixates on unimportant things like cheese and pork rather than the important stuff and a prisons minister clearly out of his depth from his turns in the House. It's the blind leading the really stupid which does not bode at all well. I doubt anything will really change and prisoners will continue to die because the government considers them expendable. Pretty sure prison staff will start dying soon - it's only a matter of time - and then the entire POA will walk out and the system will crumble completely. Truss will still be burbling about drones at that point. Fiddling while Rome burns comes to mind.

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How lucky must Liz Truss feel today? She woke up thinking she had a thousand interviews to do, and then the front pages were taken over by the court ruling on Brexit! But as the old man in the pub says, "Tomorrow never forgets today." The POA are playing hardball, and rightly so, it's a short respite Liz, but you still have to come home with the bacon!

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As was said in response just now on the BBC news, theses officers won't be all in place until 2018. The problem is that salary, terms and conditions have been tampered with and because of the violence in prisons staff are leaving faster than they're being recruited.

The POA are rightly not buying this rubbish. Liz Truss hasn't really got a clue which is why she's trying to grab headlines by talking about 'no fly zones' over prisons. As usual too, no mention of the probation service even though this is key to rehabilitation, resettlement and reducing reoffending.

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No-fly zones for drones is headline-grabbing but distracting: though drones are highly-publicised as a source of illegal contraband they are dwarfed by that smuggled in by corrupt prison officers. But in view of the need to recruit staff, the drones get all the blame.

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Napo should comment about the rush to put 60% of POs into prisons (to be expensive clerks to do the Oasys that prison staff find themselves too busy to complete) until the new staff are in post and the powder kegs that are currently prisons have settled down.....prisoner released this week relates horror stories about current lack of respect for officers and bullying is rife...not an environment that I want to be shafted into.

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So how are NPS supposed to cope if 60% of their staff end up in prisons? Who will manage community sentences for high risk offenders? Oh I forgot, newly recruited PSO's!


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What the hell is going on in London CRC? A transfer-in case and the person supposedly managing the case called herself a 'responsible officer' and was unable to tell me what level of risk the offender was! She said she was 'not trained to assess risk'! We could refuse to accept cases where there is not an adequate risk assessment. For ***** sake Noms/MoJ, why are you continuing to allow this shambolic mess? Sort it out before we go the same way as the prisons and please get more properly trained staff. You are not selling potatoes here, we work with people and need professionals not call centre workers!

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They are in special measures after miserably failing the inspection. Not sure what the so called measures are but hopefully it may include getting rid of private company and putting in place proper management who know what they are doing!

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So, after her tawdry effort to revolutionise the prisons system & impose no fly zones for drones we have Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Truss who is happy to sit back in silence (dreaming of past good times when she was opening up new pork markets?) allowing the judiciary be vilified by the gutter press & the privatised probation services to disappear up their own business model.

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WL clearly regard the dispute with the unions and referral to ACAS as a sideshow that will have no influence on their plans. They are not interested in a collective agreement and if individuals are applying for exit packages, it would seem staff are marching to the WL music, not the unions. It's a replay of the Sodexo approach which also sidelined the unions, ably assisted by the union membership.

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Staff not marching to WL music. Most totally disillusioned and consider that things will be so dire soon that the VS money is worth going out on, rather than wait to see how it pans out with the union negotiations. It's down to the individuals decision around their self preservation. Good luck to all those who leave, and particularly for those who stay.

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It is each to their own! No one looking out for us so just have to get on with it and follow our instincts!

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If staff were marching to WL's music they would be staying, having listened to all the corporate horse shit about "changing a million lives" and claims that the all-singing, all-dancing new operating model will transform probation work as we know it. Given that we can all see through the lies, and have barely even seen any details of the operating model beyond the rehashed tiering model that is the BRAG system, the majority of staff know it can't possibly work, and realise that getting out now is the safest option.

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It's not over till the fat lady sings. ACAS talks not over yet so BGSW and DDC staff can still afford to wait before making final decision on VS. Why let WL shaft you.

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The union leadership in these situations is undermined by its members. There is no discipline, no solidarity. If staff are in unions they should follow union advice and not go their own sweet way, because by doing so they undermine their union and undermine those other members who seek to hold a union line. Whether it's crossing picket lines or applying for offers, this individual behaviour betrays the collective.

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Sit tight, don't go for voluntary severance. Better wait for WL to be pushed to their limits. They have no consideration for our legacy - don't walk to their tune. Stand up for yourself, ask questions ....... I'm standing firm for so long as I'm here, they have to pay me. Can't get any worse, so sticking it out til ACAS + Unions do their work.

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Yes stick it out as we can ask for our money they want my future they can F****** pay for it. I earned my career from hard work and several years study and poverty. They may see hundreds apply but no one with sense will take the penny when we are owed a pound and they have to go to bank or government with the keys Pay up Sharks.

36 comments:

  1. Cannot see well made points about solidarity stopping stampede for voluntary severance or early retirement. What is happening elsewhere where new CRC working models are more fully implemented?

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    Replies
    1. All failing

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    2. We all just want out before the train crashes. My workload is barely manageable as it is; when it doubles after half the staff are cut, it'll be impossible. I take pride in my work, and I don't want to do a half-arsed job which will lead to someone getting hurt. Leaving now is better than staying and helping this shambles limp on a few more weeks.

      I understand the arguments about solidarity, but for me that all went out the window when Ian Lawrence feebly dropped the JR.

      Delete
    3. Biggest fly in the ointment is loss of union membership. In our Sodexo area the pisspoor inaction, indecision & apparent collusion with aspects of TR (e.g. sifting, time limited EVR, EVR for "HQ staff" clauses, etc) by Unison & Napo led to a mass exodus from union membership. When the unions called for solidarity it was too little too late with not enough members to make a difference, and the Sodexo bullies knew this - which is why they only offered 40% of the original EVR in their severance deal. They also knew that local pressures (aka collusive managers) & toxic office dynamics would help them get shot of expensive, time-served staff who were wise enough to see through the CRC bullshit.

      And guess what? WL/Aurelius are playing the same game. Sadly I expect they'll get their way, just as SoduCo did. In fact WL are going even further by ignoring ACAS as well as ignoring the unions & ignoring the letter of employment law.

      Staff who have put their hands up for consideration of severance are not scabs, nor are they undermining anything. They've had enough and probably need to look after their own mental/ emotional well-being, might have family members to consider, etc. The only people doing the undermining are WL/Aurelius, who are focused solely on their business needs NOT on "our people" as they would like readers of their weasel words to believe.

      The unions are surely responsible for bringing this disgrace to the attention of ACAS who, I would hope, should have the authority to ensure neither side take forward their preferred actions until the ACAS intervention has been exhausted. Otherwise what's the point?

      Delete
    4. What's the point in ACAS is tha same as what's the point in the UN? They both look for consensus, but if parties want to throw their weight around, they can and WL is. Therefore, no point in ACAS in this instance.

      As for solidarity and strength in the unions, it needs self-discipline and a willingness to follow union advice and hold the line. But too many members look for neoliberal solutions for themselves and then salve their consciences by casting aspersions on their union - blame the unions, it's the easy option.

      Delete
    5. Unfortunately it was the deafening silence from napo & unison that proved too much to bear for many otherwise stoical, loyal members hence they abandoned their union membership at a critical time - a time when they most needed their union to be active & supportive & feisty and when their union most needed them, but when their union failed them.

      Lethargy, inertia, silence - those are the issues the unions have to take responsibility for, the issues that decimated membership.

      Although they soon moved their fat union arses when they realised they could do a deal with their lawyers & trouser the legal fees for the severance agreements.

      Delete
  2. Probation Officer6 November 2016 at 10:13

    Yes failing union membership is the problem, but with Napo's in-fighting, inaction and high subscriptions it is doing nothing to get the membership back.

    Napo should have dropped its subs to £10 per month for all, increased its presence and public speaking and clawed back the membership.

    Instead it does nothing!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Prisons have constantly been in the news the past two weeks and not a murmur from Napo.

    ReplyDelete
  4. CRC's have also been in the news this week. NPS have been replacing Probation Officers with PSO's. Not a word from Napo!

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    Replies
    1. And guess who's expected to mentor and train these NPS PSO's who will take our cases and jobs? ... What say Napo about that??!!

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    2. People laying down the gauntlet to napo need to consider what they are doing to help. Are they members? Do they support their local branch? Are they willing to train as local reps? These days memberbership of a union seems to be treated as a service that is supplied on demand rather than organising collectively. All this talk of value for money and 'not a word from napo' simply exposes the fact that people no longer know what a trade union is and how it functions. You tell your union what you want it to do through branch meetings that you first need to attend not having an anonymous pop on social media and scuttling back into the undergrowth.

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    3. How rude! The reason Napo lost its members is because the members and staff lost faith in its ability.

      Let me educate you on the basics:

      Trade union
      noun
      1. an organized association of workers in a trade, group of trades, or profession, formed to protect and further their rights and interests.

      

Let me know where Napo's disorganisation and failure to protect Probation past and present fits into this and I'll let you know what I've been doing on days I manage to get out of the undergrowth.

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    4. "These days memberbership of a union seems to be treated as a service that is supplied on demand rather than organising collectively."
      Just wondering what I'm supposed to expect in return for my subscription fee?

      Delete
    5. Hasn't Napo got a Press Officer? Not that hard to get the odd Press Release out is it?

      Delete
    6. That's not the reason 16:13. Yes but the assumption you are making is that a union is organised from the top. A union gets its strength from the number of members it has. All unions have been under attack from a hostile Tory government who has sought to undermine their organisation and promote propaganda about how ineffective they are. The expectation from members was that napo would lead from the top. The alternative is for the membership to lead using the democratic structures available. Members became disillusioned because they actually needed to do something rather than being told what to do. In many areas people organised locally and got very good coverage. Napo has one press officer at its head office but lots of members all of which can do their bit. In the words of a recent nobel prize winner. 'Don't follow leaders watch the parking meters'

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    7. Napo does have a press officer Jim but she is often known to be missing in action, apparently only works 9-5 (at weekends) and seems to be on leave/studying or working from home (the rest of the time) in an area of the country where there is no electricity or even wind up telephones that makes modern means of communication impossible. I once spent several days trying to track her down following up leads from various people by which time the journalist who was interested had lost interest. I think she can string a few words together when she is in the mood but is just very very slow and not good at working with others. Napo could learn much from the Howard League. Probably better off doing media stuff locally.

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    8. "As a trade union, we [Napo] are part of the wider union movement and are affiliated to the Trade Union Congress and the General Federation of Trade Unions. We take a full role in campaigns to protect terms and conditions as well as wider national and international campaigns for justice and protecting the public sector."


      .......

      ..... Tumbleweeds roll ....

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    9. From Wikipedia;

      "It [Napo] retains a campaigning remit on both criminal justice and family court matters and is recognised as an influential and respectable source of information by both the media and politicians of all parties."

      ...........

      Really?

      Delete
    10. That's not fair, the press officer's been really busy lately... setting up an online petition against t-shirts. Worthy cause but where's the focus on probation matters?

      Delete
  5. I worry about Liz Truss's 'phone, drones and drugs' process of thinking. It's not a case that prisoners are using their mobile phones to ring the local drug dealer, who then dispatches his wares by his drone delivery service.
    There's been much publicity about the how psychoactive drugs such as spice are causing chaos in the prison system. I agree, they cause significant issues, but they are only a contributor to the problems, and not solely responsible.The growth of psyyoactive drug use in prison stems from 'until recently' their inability to be detected by the drug tests use in prisons.
    I believe that because there will always be a market for drugs in prison, there will always be drugs in prison. The more difficult they're made to obtain, the more ingenious methods of smuggling them become, and the more expensive they become.
    I would like the MOJ and Ms Truss to reflect on what happened with the introduction of drug testing in prisons in the mid 90s. Far from reducing drug use in totality, it brought a massive transition of prisoners from cannabis use to heroin use. It's out of the system much quicker, can be masked in some cases with legitimately prescribed medication, and the transition to herion by inmates wasn't caused by a desire to move up from class B to class A, it simply was just playing the odds, reduce the chances of being caught.
    Prisoners by large are risk takers, they wouldn't be in prison in the first place if they weren't, but generally look to reduce the risks of detection on whatever they're up to.
    I would really hate to see the drug policies in prison to change in a way that effects a far more damaging
    and destructive misuse of substance taking that already exists.
    More frequent testing for drug use is not the solution, nor is the threat of harsher forms of punishment.
    I really do think the government need to think a bit harder, and a bit more 'out of the box' when they consider drug use in prisons.
    And just for the record, I think psychoactive drugs, legal highs, whatever they're called, are one of the most horrible and damaging substances that's ever been marketed.

    'Getafix'

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  6. Its all a mess. The worst thing is that decent hardworking and caring employees of both NPS and CRC have been highlighting this for months and now years. No one has listened and we have been subject to the usual political spin. I'm ashamed to be part of this - 2500 extra prison officers!!!!!!!!!!! What about the 10000 that have been lost together with the experience that evidence shows is now badly needed. Prisons benchmarking and fair & sustainable - what a joke! TR and TTG - another joke. The reasons we are in this mess is solely down to this Government and the spineless managers who jumped aboard the gravy boat and stitched the rest of us up for their own means. Management in Probation at the moment is absolutely shocking - SPOs are now the new corporate people they have been morphed into where the 'needs of the business' come first. What about the needs of some of our vulnerable 'service users' as they seem to be called now a days. Don't even get me started on those above SPO. What an absolute shambles - they run around kissing the arses of the nearest person that can offer the closest sniff of career progression / pocket lining whilst stamping on the people below that are trying there hardest to fight against red tape and cost cutting measures that have been imposed on us. Amongst this absolute sham, we have offenders who need help, some want to be helped - some don't - that's part of the job. In the unfortunate world we live in at the moment, the ones that want to change don't get a look in. Why? because now we have to fire fight and deal intensively with that do cause problems. Why again? Apparently, government spin and financial gain overides the need to actually undertake our core role - this applies to both NPS and CRC. Unfortunately, the ones who want to change don't get much of a look in because my/our attentions are diverted elsewhere. Nevermind though, so long as this government can spin things to their ends and forget about the ones who genuinely want to change as they don't cause problems. By the way, what really grabbed me over the last few days was Truss's amazing white paper - clearly a lot of thought went into that and she absolutely knew what she was talking about. This is another area of bullshit - no fly zones!!!! Has anyone actually pointed out the her that prisons are no fly zones already. Alternatively, she could say sorry, we have made a mess of things, we can give you 2500 prison officers, and I appreciate the 10000 cut already were through austerity cuts but we are trying our best. As for TTG / TR, yes people have got richer to the detriment of vulnerable people who actually need the help. Shocking, absolutely shocking that these people should be allowed to get away with this and not even be held to account - cue Grayling. I haven't even started on the absolute bollocks that is E3.

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    1. At last someone telling it exactly like it is and stating clearly who is responsible for the total cluster fxxx we are in! It all a dogs dinner in NPS & CRC !

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    2. You are clearly on a roll 18:05 - please carry on and I'll put it together in a blog post.

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    3. Thanks Jim and 18.21! I feel passionate about this. I love(d) my job and joined in 2006 with the sole aim of helping people. That's gone. Now its all about corporate management and the 'needs of the business'. To me personally, surely the needs of the people come first! The people we deal with are just that - people! Not some corporate piece of junk that massages this governments figures when they feel the need to adopt figures to their suiting. I am employed in NPS and feel for my colleagues both in the NPS and the CRC's and feel passionately about this. Jim - I read your blog every day and don't often post through fear of my 'emotional arousal' becoming too high - after all, that's what we tell the 'people' we work with day in and day out. However, there comes a time when enough is enough. I fear that through publically speaking, I will be culled as I have no doubt there are many more in the same position as me. I don't know what to do, NAPO have not been the greatest of helps. I have spoken to my line manager about my concerns and I get the 'spin'. I'm still loyal to my profession but there comes a time when my profession (albeit the government spin) are wrong. Anyone reading this could understand if it was weeks in the making, but this is now years in the making and will continue. Taking you back to my initial point - I joined the NPS or [COUNTY Probation Service as it was then) because I care - I still do, but how long will it be before the corporates within both the NPS and the CRC mould me into someone I don't want to be or not what I joined for. Contrary to popular belief, my colleagues are in the CRC and are being shafted just like the rest of us. I really hate the way, good Probation Officers and Probation Services Officers are being treated on account of the high risk cases they held on one particular day - that is how the split had taken place in our county! This is a shambles, led by our government and the spineless management who bowed down for their own means. A Gold Star public service - reduced to this sham! Maybe the Government need to remind the public of that. They wont. Why? Because we needn't worry about this until next election when they can spin the figures and scream what a roaring success everything has been and how many more prison officers there are in the system. However, they will forget to highlight how such prison officers were cut by 10,000 in the first place. Police will continue not reporting or downgrading violent/sexual crimes. Why? Because figures mean everything to this government. NHS, Education, Prisons, Fire Service, Police, Probation, Social Services - all of it - In a mess but all is ok because the figures and spin say so.

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    4. JB &/or anyone reading this that has media influence - can we PLEASE, especially at this critical time, get the words (or at the very least the spirit) of 18:05's piece broadcast to a national audience. The Guardian? The Times? The Independent? BBC? C4? Its time the probation elephants, both CRC & NPS, were finally exposed as being 'in the room'. Its time that Grayling's failings were recognised & admitted, that not even by applying the much lauded intelligence of Gove could the Tories rescue probation & prisons from imminent catastrophe, nor could the addition of a Truss keep things from spilling over.

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    5. Thanks 19:24 - I've tweaked it a bit and knocked it into a post - would you like to give it a title? I'll publish it asap as a Guest Blog.

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    6. Thanks Jim. Apologies for my anonymity at this point as have a family and do care about this job. I know many people in the CRC and NPS are in the same position as me. If it helps am willing to private message you through twitter so you at least know that I am genuine. If you're ok with what is written, am more then happy for you to take as you wish. There are some good Probation Officers in both CRC and NPS who feel the same as I do and unlike the Prison service, we cannot afford to lose that experience, especially when all good will is fast leaving. Thanks again.

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    7. Don't worry, everyone's anonymous here!

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  7. Guardian 19:24:-

    A riot has broken out among prisoners at Bedford prison over tensions sparked by staff shortages.

    Bedfordshire Fire Service was called to the prison at 5pm on Sunday afternoon to reports of a disturbance and a fire truck remained on stand-by at the scene.

    Bedfordshire police confirmed that they have been alerted to the situation, but would not say if riot police were dealing with the violent outburst at the category B jail.

    According to reports, prisoners have been frustrated over long periods of lock-down due to chronic understaffing at the prison.

    The violence broke out in the afternoon, with prisoners reportedly grabbing batons from the guards and setting small fires.

    It is believed prisoners are also ripping up toilets in a bid to flood the building as guards flee the scene.

    A prison service spokesperson said, “specially trained prison staff are working with the emergency services to resolve an ongoing incident involving a number of prisoners at HMP Bedford.

    “We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars.”

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    1. I'd rather see Grayling, Spurr & others responsible for creating this situation behind bars.

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    2. “We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars.”

      Doesn't warrant one thought about what it's all about and take action in an appropriate and reasoned manner.
      No! Just keep whipping the prisoners, and when they've shut up and stopped making the papers, there won't be any prison crisis.
      The UK penal system today should be given third world status. If any other community as small and confined as a prison community is, was experiencing the same levels of murders, suicides and assaults, lack of access to suitable health care, shortages of clothing, numbers of officials to police the situation at a historical low, the government would be offering aid and assistance.

      'Getafix'

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    3. 'We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars'. Yet more vacuous words uttered whilst staring into the middle distance, with no reference to the reasons for or admission to perhaps having contributed (in part) to the events occurring.

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  8. From the "Know the danger" Facebook Group: -

    POSTED at 18.35 Sunday 6th Novemeber 2016

    "Please post anon

    Senior officer assaulted today at a cat b local east of England by a prisoner who was recently sent to us for a court case of assault on the number 1 governor of a prison in our area.
    Hope he takes time to recover before returning to work.
    As for the prisoner being an ISPP, probably not a lot will happen! !!
    How many more times does this have to happen before someone does something."

    MY RESPONSE: -

    "t is well past the time that parliament should be demanding the government to take IMMEDIATE steps to get more order in our prisons.

    The reason for disorder is complex but staff employed on our behalf should not be subject to such regular violence and abuse as has been occuring over the last five or more years.

    It seems to me to be steadily increasing and in my opinion is mainly consequential on flawed governement policy and inadequate numbers of experienced staff on hand."

    https://www.facebook.com/Knowthedangeruk/posts/1098384740278289

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  9. Well said...this is the reality and it needs to be said and more importantly heard by the media, public and government. People are not going to stand for this much longer and are getting wise to the fact that austerity and massive cuts in public services are damaging the country and damaging lives. Allowing for profit companies to run vital services is only paving the way for greed and corruption. Thousands of working or non working people relying on food banks and charities setting up currently to provide funds to heat homes. Thousands of families being told they have been overpaid tax credits so they now get nothing and disabled people who are unable to work being told by non medical assessors that they can because they can walk so many metres and lift their arm above their head! vulnerable people being let down and at every turn! Meanwhile May threatening public with arrest if they incite protest. Drilling away at our human rights and allowing more and more people to fall to the bottom of the heap.

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  10. It is sometimes with despair that I read some of the comments put on Jim's blog by PO's who seem to constantly blame PSO's for pinching their cases, being out of their depth, taking their jobs etc. I'm a pso of 27 years experiance I think tthat counts for something and I don't want your job, I don't want to write reports on DV cases. don't want to supervise high risk sex offenders, or complete parole reports. Put the blame where it belongs not on your collegues who are in it as deep as you are. A little respect and acknowledgement of the valuble role we PSO's play in today's service would be appreciated. This PSO went on the picket line, did their best to defend job's including PO's job's and our once proud service.Stop scapegoating us and ask yourself,how many times have you asked a PSO to do a task that you didn't want to do, even though it was your job and really they wern't qualified to do it. PO's have by thier action's contributed to the situation we are in now.

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    1. Thanks for that Janet- keep contributing.

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