Friday, 16 December 2016

Latest From Napo 130

Edited highlights from the latest blog post by Napo General Secretary:-


‘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.

Pay developments

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:-
By email 
13 December 2016 

Dear Justice Committee Member 

Justice Committee 

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.

Best wishes,

Tania Bassett
National Official Press, Parliament and Campaigns  


  1. G4S describe incident at Birmingham prison as 'low-level incident' That's reassuring, I thought it was a riot when you lose control on not one wing, but four wings.

    1. The home office said it was all ok now, no prison officers hurt and no members of the public not at risk . But what about the prisoners? They are members of the public aren't they?

    2. Having just heard the news I am extremely shocked (but not surprised) to hear that G4S are handing control back to Public Sector prisons.....I have commented about this previously where the Public Sector is in the position of been provider of LAST RESORT !!
      When the shit hits the fan the public sector bails out railways( GNER, East coast) Banks ( RBS, LLoyds) Care Homes in Cornwall and now PRISONS. This Governnment will never give the PS the opportunity to run things properly but will always call upon them to clear up the private sector shit storm.

  2. '... 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 would effectively mean that probation in London would be returned to the public sector. Probation staff in the CRC in London may well see this as a desirable outcome can someone start a petition for the mayor to run probation in London.

    1. That would be tricky if I'm a London CRC employee.

    2. True. But if you succeed you'll have a new employer anyway lol

  3. Why is Tania only just introducing herself to the Select Committee ??? With all the problems on the TR/CRC/NPS front , if I was her , I would be camping out at Portcullis House! and another point why is she about to prepare a report ?? again there should be one on the shelf ready to go ...after all WE all saw this coming

    1. Maybe she is a little on the shy side and so forth. Yeah yeah yeah
      OK we've been there and some on the blog have said all that and more about the poor woman. She did fine this week.
      Let's hope she is finally getting her act together and let's encourage her to keep going. She is one ordinary person trained as a PO an treading water whilst going up against the best PR and Comms professionals the UK government can muster so try cutting her some slack for a change as you'd have to be pretty damn good to make headway against those suits.

    2. In which case she was the wrong appointee for the job. Or at least should have upped her game months ago

    3. 19.24 A worthy defence of the "poor woman" , but there needs to be press officers who are savvy , a step ahead of the game , willing to mix it and to mix in ... The service , either private or public is jammed full of colleagues who have managed to change role and get up and running very quickly ...I am sorry to say that the press officer has not adapted, not learned, not developed the brief and is too slow to get involved - is the job to big for one person? perhaps so - therefore we should get someone to do the bits and pieces in the office and appoint an appropriate press officer to make the most of the current situation.
      "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"

    4. Oh Come on who wouldn't apply for a job on her description.
      Applicants desirable PO experience tick
      Working from home and office flexible Tick
      Keen to show willing to PR tasks over a range of nice conferences and safe comfy training and membership events. Tick
      London weighting even though none of the Staff live there Tick
      No detailed work tasks other than putting yourself out occasionally and look like your present Tick
      A need to look smart half the time Tick
      A need to actually be smart desirable not essential Tick
      Willingness to look after the biggest ego in town Tick
      Ability and experience to engage senior management and public relations issues in a mature and capable way desirable Tick
      Actually deliver on any of the key task totally unlikely but he friend on the panel did not hire her for any abilities just nepotism and cronyism its been said before but shameful the performance and wrong person in such a crucial role and always when it counts. Is that Ian posting 19:24

  4. "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... I am in Westminster fairly often; so just let me know if you are available at any point in the near future."

    "Cooey! Hiya! Er, just wondered if you're okay? Fancy a chat? No? Too busy? Oh,okay, another day then? I'm always hanging around on the off-chance someone wants to."

    Is this the language of professional PR? Its hammy shite like this that keeps Napo in the relegation zone of the Johnstone Paints North Midlands Sunday morning League.

    1. As an experienced journalist I can tell you that being a press officer is a thankless job that requires a tough hide and 24 hour 7 day a week commitment. There are few people I have met who work for unions who are both qualified and have the specialist skills and qualities required. For instance there are things that cannot easily be taught such as the instinct to see a story brewing and know when to keep on going through the pain barrier pushing a press release to disinterested hacks when you're tired. You need the ability to tune out the background noise and isolate the essence of the story that will capture and sustain media attention. You need to be able to communicate with others persuasively using the right tone and turn of phrase and to network efficiently and effectively. Never underestimate the careful maintenance of a broad range of contacts that you can call upon. Getting others to do work for you is the key but you also need to recognise when to serve up a story. Whilst recognising London is the beating heart of the national media you should also seek to enable others to take on media relations locally. Someone is not always going to be around to nudge you in the right direction and if you don't have those qualities and you cannot recognise that you do not then it is time for you to be honest with yourself and others and to seriously consider another career more suited to your talents.

      The above letter comes across as amateurish and is written by a non journalist who means well but does not know their target audience and will not be taken seriously by those politicians who mean business. It is lacking in authority and engagement. You are not asking them out on a date. Consider when writing a letter of this nature that you are meant to be conveying that it is imperative that they meet with you to discuss matters of the utmost importance to the electorate.

    2. A good lesson there thank You. Reading between the lines either the current press officer if that what you could call it resign or be dealt with on competency. Either way they ought to go and get job they can realistically do.


    1. A mass disturbance has broken out at one of the country’s largest prisons, leaving prisoners in control of several wings and forcing police to deploy a riot squad to restore order.

      A “Tornado Team” – comprising specialist prison officers, firefighters and paramedics – was deployed to quell the situation at the G4S-run HMP Birmingham, which has a capacity of 1,450 prisoners. It is understood that 80 additional prison officers, including the Tornado Team, were deployed on top of the jail’s usual staffing levels.

      The trouble started at about 9am on Friday and by the evening had spread from two to four wings, according to sources, with reports of prisoners burning and destroying their files. It is understood that about 260 prisoners were involved.

      Jeering and shouting could be heard into the evening coming from inside the jail, with smoke rising from the roof, apparently from fires lit inside the building.

      Prisoners caught in the middle of the disturbance have spoken of their fear they might be attacked by the other prisoners. One prisoner said others had tried unsuccessfully to force their way on to his wing.

      Speaking through his solicitor, the prisoner, who is on the jail’s G wing, known as the protected wing for inmates accused or convicted of sex offences, said: “The others have been trying to get in here. We’re terrified.”

      All prison officers have been accounted for, but there were reports that two were injured, one with a broken arm and another with a head injury. Helicopters and dogs were also deployed to restore order.

      The managing director for G4S custodial and detention services, Jerry Petherick, said: “Our teams withdrew following a disturbance and sealed two wings, which include some administrative offices. The disturbance has since spread to two further wings. All staff have been accounted for.

      “Additional officers have arrived on site and we have deployed canine units within the prison. West Midlands police helicopter is also in attendance. We are working with colleagues across the service to bring this disturbance to a safe conclusion.”

      A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “The prison service is managing the ongoing incident at HMP Birmingham. The situation is contained, the perimeter is secure and there is no risk to the public. We are absolutely clear that prisoners who behave in this way will be punished and could spend significantly longer behind bars.”

      Prison affairs academic and blogger Alex Cavendish said an “inside informant” told him the trouble started with lights being broken and prisoners controlling fire hoses. “The officers were then, as they are instructed to do, trying to get as many prisoners locked in their cells as possible to contain it,” he said. “While one of the officers was putting a prisoner in the cell he was threatened with what appeared to be a used syringe.”

      Cavendish said that while this officer was distracted by the threat, “another inmate came up behind, snatched the keys from his belt and snapped the security chain”. He said that once prisoners have control of the keys, protocol tells the officers to “withdraw to a place of safety” and said they “abandoned the wing” where the incident started.

      A spokesman for the Prison Governors’ Association said: “It would appear, on the face of it, that the private sector has now been infected with the same disease that has had such a debilitating impact on the running of public sector prisons: an erosion of respect and a disregard for authority which has emboldened prisoners across both the public and private sector. Any suggestion that this riot is evidence that the staffing levels in public sector prisons are not a factor, or an insignificant one, is too simplistic.”

    2. The national chairman of the POA prison officers’ union, Mike Rolfe, said the incident was “another stark warning to the Ministry of Justice that the service is in crisis”.

      “The whole facts surrounding the incident at HMP Birmingham are not known,” he said. “National resources have been deployed to deal with this incident involving approximately 300 prisoners within two prison wings. No staff injuries have been reported and staff are currently monitoring the situation and awaiting national support, through mutual aid.”

      POA members held protests outside jails around the country in November over health and safety concerns.

      The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, said the disturbances at the Birmingham jail were “hugely concerning”. The Labour MP said: “It must be hoped that order can be swiftly and peacefully restored. This is only the latest in a number of disturbances across the prison estate. The justice secretary is failing to get this crisis under control.”

      The Victorian category B jail, which was built in 1849 and is close to the city centre, can hold 1,450 adult remand and sentenced male prisoners.

      A spokesman for the West Midlands ambulance service said it was called to the prison at 12.23pm. A hazardous area response team was in attendance, together with an ambulance and paramedic area support officer, but no details were available about any casualties or injuries suffered.

      A former prisoner who was released in January told the Press Association that drugs were rife in the jail and there was a lack of respect between some staff and prisoners.

      The man, who declined to give his name, said each of the jail’s wings was arranged over four floors, with more than 100 prisoners per wing.

      It is the third disturbance in English prisons in less than two months. On 6 November a riot at the category B Bedford prison caused chaos when up to 200 prisoners flooded the jail’s gangways. On 29 October, a national response unit had to be brought in to control prisoners during an incident at HMP Lewes in East Sussex.

      There has been a string of warnings about safety behind bars after statistics revealed soaring levels of violence in jails in England and Wales, with assaults on staff up by 43% in the year to June.

      Last month, the justice secretary, Liz Truss, unveiled her plans for prison reform, with measures including a recruitment drive to add 2,500 officers to the frontline and “no-fly zones” to stop drones dropping drugs and other contraband into prisons.

  6. I was only just saying to a colleague today that I was frightened at the possibility of the prisoners entering the vulnerable prisoners unit and now i read that they have tried to do this! If this were to happen the outcome could be very bad indeed. Noms must accept there is a genuine crisis here and take urgent action. NOW!

  7. Very important point made by ex-prisoner Cattermole on C4 news this evening that its not the type or age of the building that causes prison unrest but the quality of the interpersonal relationships between staff & inmates, the availability of an humanitarian environment & a regime of decency. "Treat a dog badly when it misbehaves, lock it up for hours at a time, fail to feed it properly & its more likely to bite you when you come to let it out."

  8. Offenders are humans, not dogs but i get the point!

  9. There is a tendency in this country and in certain circles to have a higher regard for dogs than for people

  10. Who else read Dean Rogers pie in the sky bollocks on the pay negotiations. If he thinks that the Treasury are going to sign off on pay modernisation then he is even more stupid than I thought. He's opening the door to performance related pay with the huge capacity for unfairness that goes with it. As for CRC's footing the bill; does he think we're fuck8ng stupid? Even if NOMS gave them the money they'd find a way to weasel out of it. If the conditions for a legal challenge on the grounds of discrimination exist then why not go for it now? Maybe he wants to save the cash for his redundancy? Another example of NAPO leadership doing the employers dirty work for them with no apparent mandate from the membership. And as for Tania, she was a terrible appointment who's consistently proven that she's not up to the job. Get rid of her.

  11. Tania did an excellent job this week lay off her you sexist pigs. She is far more passionate hard working and most importantly approachable. Harry Fletcher was a turd that used napo and did not care about staff.

    1. There is criticism of the role not the holder of that role - such a devisive comment helps negate all discussion where gender,race,cultural etc is involved.