Edited highlights from the latest blog post by Napo General Secretary:-
HMI PROBATION SLAMS LONDON CRC
‘It couldn’t get any worse as these things go.’ That was my opening line in the full and frank meeting yesterday between the trade unions, MTC Novo and the Director of Probation.
It was an honest exchange of views where the unions heard about the urgent remedial steps that MTC Novo are putting in place to try and deal with the litany of abject failure that they have presided over and which has given Dame Glenys Stacey so much to report on.
So where next?
We also went to see the London Deputy Mayor for policing this week to explain our views about the report and what might happen in the future and the narrative went something like this. The London report whist appalling was horribly predictable and the responsibility must rest as much with the MoJ as with MTC Novo. It was the MoJ who were responsible for testing the operating models and the MoJ who assured parliament and the Courts that no contracts would be let without a safe operating model being in place.
MTC Novo have recognised the complexity of what they’ve taken on and we are of course now committed to working with them more closely in developing a new and more sustainable operating model that helps our members deal with the situation on the ground; but grave concerns remain about the sustainability of this and other CRC contracts without significant further investment.
London probation was a challenging environment before, and this report exposes more clearly the underlying flaws in this contract as well as those elsewhere. These challenges must now be taken seriously and addressed urgently not just by MTC Novo but by the Minister and by engagement with all stakeholders.
We have written* to the Justice Select Committee this week to say that the Probation Systems Review cannot wait until April. We all know there is already a prison crisis but you cannot tackle that long term without sending fewer people to prison and you can’t address prison numbers without getting probation right first.
The MOJ can’t be left to do this review in secret with the same leaders who let these contracts looking for quick fixes. There has to be more urgency and more transparency with input from HMIP, ourselves as the professional association and union, parliament and other stakeholders in London and elsewhere - local solutions, local engagement and local accountability are needed across probation and have been lost since the part privatisation and part nationalisation of the service just over 2 years ago.
Finally, and without putting too fine a point to it, we said that if it (London) can’t work then the London Mayor should take control.
This week the unions noted the payment of the incremental award that is due to probation staff below the pay maximum and agree, on a without prejudice basis, a non-consolidated but pensionable 1% award to those at the top of their pay bands.
Whilst we consider the value of whether or not to join with Unison in a combined pay claim, we have published our 5 key pay principles which form part of Napo’s launch of our specific pay campaign.
This was mailed directly to members, but here is the link for what is a comprehensive analysis of the problems, and where we have got to in the pay negotiations that have been going on for some months now.
*Here's the letter referred to above:-
13 December 2016
Dear Justice Committee Member
I am writing to you in your capacity as a member of the Justice Select Committee to introduce myself as Napo’s National Official for Press, Parliament and Campaigning.
Napo has been pleased to present information and briefings to the Justice Committee on many occasions in the past; both when the Committee has been gathering evidence on subjects relating to our areas of the justice system and our members and, as with the case of the recent implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda in the Probation Service, when we have issues of concern that we feel it important to bring to parliament’s attention. Committee members have, we hope and believe, found this useful.
I will be writing a detailed briefing to the committee regarding the current situation in the delivery of probation services. However, the HMIP are due to publish an inspection report into London probation on 15th December 2016. We have it on good authority that this report is likely to be very critical of probation services, particularly those being delivered by the private sector MTC Novo. Key findings include failure to supervise clients, little or rehabilitation intervention work with clients, chronic staff shortages and increasing workloads as a result and poor management at all levels. Napo is now deeply concerned about this situation which is mirrored across England and Wales. We are also concerned about the speed and lack of transparency with which the MOJ and the Minister are addressing these issues. We are calling for a comprehensive review of probation services. We want to see the contracts and the service delivery publicly scrutinised to ensure effective services are being delivered that are cost effective to the tax payer. We are not convinced that this is currently happening and would urge the committee to look at these issues in more detail.
In the meantime, I wanted to make this initial contact. I would also be very happy to meet with you at some time if have half an hour to spare, so I can explain how Napo members see the current situation facing the Probation service since the TR split and the sale of the Community Rehabilitation Companies to private service providers. I am in Westminster fairly often; so just let me know if you are available at any point in the near future.
National Official Press, Parliament and Campaigns