Thursday, 9 February 2017

HMPPS - Reaction

Here we have Rob Allen's take on the news sneaked out yesterday by the MoJ under cover of the Brexit Parliamentary vote:- 

NOMS to HMPPS: Rebadging or Real Reform?

So the National Offender Management Service is no more, to be replaced by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. Is it a rebadging of what is perceived as an unloved and unlovely bureaucratic monster with a more transparent and comforting title? Or a more significant shift in responsibilities which will lead to real change?

There are undoubtedly highly positive elements in the Truss reforms; long overdue investment in staff not only of resources but professional training and status. There will be a greater focus on women in the criminal justice system - much needed although we’ll have to see whether adding the responsibility to an existing role will bring about the far reaching reforms that are urgently required.

For some in the probation world, the hope of a quickie divorce from their forced marriage to prisons has been dashed although the new arrangements could lead to a conscious uncoupling in due course. Much depends on the review of the reformed system which will report in the spring.

But what of prisons? The Prison Safety and Reform White Paper makes no mention of replacing NOMS. It’s in the design of the reformed prison system in paragraph 68. HMPPS will be an Executive Agency like NOMS. It will continue with the core of its business – managing prisons -but be stripped of its role in commissioning services, making policy and it seems monitoring performance. From April these functions will move to the Ministry of Justice. Agreements between individual prisons and the MoJ will also come into play although in an unpromising start, the Prison Governors Association have advised their members not to sign them. Despite the White Paper’s promise of negotiation, there apparently hasn’t been any.

Although the new arrangements promise clarity, there are still many questions. Is it sensible to split commissioning and contract management between the MoJ and HMPPS? Where will Electronic monitoring fit? And where will the line on policy development be drawn? The Prison service instructions introduced last year included guidance on preventing corruption, the interception of communications, faith and pastoral care for prisoners, searching of cells and the care of transgender prisoners. We have been promised a bonfire of these instructions although almost all look important and most essential. Some may be better informed by policy wonks in the Ministry of Justice but most need experienced operational input.

One of NOMS biggest critics argued it was “dangerously out of touch with its operational heartland”. In that respect the new arrangements could make things worse not better.

Rob Allen


The Napo response:-

The Secretary of State for Justice has today deposited a statement in the House of Commons Library which confirms that the existing National Offender Management Service is to be rebranded (with effect from the 1st April) and will be known as Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). 

It is understood that the intention is to create a more effective Executive Agency that will deliver improved integrated offender management using the various skill sets that are currently available within the prison and probation workforce. Napo expects that the Ministerial statement will also announce the creation of a new policy directorate within the Ministry of Justice covering Prisons, Offenders and Youth Justice.

The Chief Executive for HMPPS will be Michael Spurr with Sonia Crozier retaining responsibility for Probation services and assuming responsibility for the development of a new approach to the custodial estate for female clients.

Current arrangements for managing the contracts with Community Rehabilitation Companies will remain with the Agency, and it is intended that the reorganisation will result in the development of a more focused approach to team working with an increase (as yet unknown) as a result of the current Offender Management Review, in the numbers of probation practitioners working within public sector prisons. Here there will be teams led by a Senior Probation Officer who will be part of the line management regime that is overseen by the Prison Governor.

Napo understands that there are no expected implications for individual terms and conditions and no possibility of redundancies as a result of this change. Clearly, there will be a need to enter into early discussions with senior HMPPS management about the staffing plans for each public sector prison establishment, the development of suitable industrial relation arrangements, and the substantial challenges of identifying and dealing with the technical complexities in constructing and delivering a more integrated approach to rehabilitation and supervision.

Napo will be issuing further news for members at the earliest opportunity and we will be meeting urgently with our sister union the Prison Officers Association to consider their views on this development.

Whist generally welcoming this initiative, that if it is successful, will place probation at the heart of the justice system Napo has already advised senior management that urgent action must be taken to address the perennial problems of low pay and excessive workloads, both of which are at the centre of Napo's recently launched campaigns.

Ian Lawrence        Yvonne Pattinson Chris Winters          Dean Rogers
General Secretary National Co-Chair National Co-Chair Assistant General Secretary


From Facebook:-

Predictably very little interest in this story in terms of column inches. It has generated little if any public interest and some fairly unimpressed Twitter postings by ex chief probation officers. It's clearly a failed PR move by a frightened bunny caught in the headlights response rather than anything worthy of much attention. A take over by one ineffective and dysfunctional organisation by another ineffective and dysfunctional organisation to form an even larger ineffective and dysfunctional organisation with impressive letter heads (what next embossed envelopes?). Liz Truss shows a complete lack of anything that might be generously termed strategic vision keeping whatever talents she may possess extremely well hidden from all. She has however demonstrated consistent levels of ignorance/impotence in the face of an ongoing crisis . Therefore it is no surprise to anyone that the answer Liz has managed to formulate after straining every brain cell she possesses to the limit to address prison overcrowding and probation failing is not what was required but rather 'let's change the name and give everyone a new logo with Her Majesty on the letterhead' whoopee do. David Raho

 I particularly like this paragraph given the past five years:-

"The creation of HM Prison and Probation Service will build a world-leading, specialist agency, dedicated to professionalising the prison and probation workforce, backed by an additional £100m a year and 2,500 additional prison officers."

 "Professionalising the prison and probation workforce" FUCKING CHEEK OF THE WOMAN

Very understandable scepticism from most in probation combined with hiding the story in very, very busy news day - not least with the Brexit vote. However, whilst scepticism is good cynicism needs to be avoided. The fact there isn't a plan (let alone a worked up strategy) does give probation a chance to grab the agenda and shape it. This is the central admission that both arms of Grayling's prison and probation revolutions have fallen off. Once Gove changed direction, and started questioning, today was inevitable. Even a chance of moving rehabilitation to the heart of the justice system is worth trying but - and it is a big but - to work they need to invest, listen to staff, work out the huge organisation and people issues in both services, honestly accept recent failures...without all of that and more they'll just prove that doing a good thing badly is not much better than their usual doing bad things badly. Dean Rogers.

Is there anyone left from probation with any influence to "grab the agenda"

I tend to agree. Probation as a profession is being deprofressionalised and subsumed. Dean the 'big but' is an enormous ask and would mean those in power doing something they have never previously committed themselves to doing even when responsibility was shared between the Home Office and local authorities. We know what they should do but I would be amazed if they committed to doing this. For me this goes in entirely the wrong direction with the inevitable result of a a prison dominated organisation with a 99% prison agenda occasionally talking down to those providing probation services indicating they should do more for less. In my opinion control probation needs to be devolved to local authorities and at the very least be roughly coterminous with police areas. There is little justification for a large centralised bureaucracy that have never delivered anything but bureaucracy failing to stand up for probation as a profession and acting as nothing more than a political football with no semblance of an autonomous identity. If I am proven wrong in my scepticism I will freely admit it but for most practitioners the impact with be to see a new sign go up outside one of the few remaining offices. David Raho.

So NOMS is going replaced by the new Prison and Probation Services!! Essentially the same organisation with a convenient name change!! What will it mean in real terms for probation?? Resources are already pledge for the prison side any for us??

Well said.

Headlines on GMB tv this am is campaigners are saying probation is failing female offenders in spite of increased we go again. It makes me so angry. People are working so hard and with often overwhelming case loads and reducing resources. Can't they see it's the bureaucratic and ill informed decisions which are failing, not us

Sonia Crozier has been given the lead on this. What could possibly go wrong?

Same old with a new name. Prison Officers are leaving at a rate not seen, new ones will not be in place for some time. Recruitment for Probation haphazard major shortages in South East Kent can't recruit PO'S despite MFS £32k start!

I turned down two NPS jobs as they wouldn't put me back on the top scale despite being on it for some years before I left and having over 25 years in the service!! Others made the same decision!! This was based on a prison service policy!!

Yes agree. I was approached and I told them to come back with something sensible. The prestige of working for the NPS is not worth a pay cut

The only way is to return to what worked - no CRC and no civil service - both are equally as bad as the other !!

I was no more than a facilities operative within the probation so no one will understand where I am coming from but I will try. In my thirty years I worked under many CPO's and don't get me wrong they were all good people but not successful in fighting politicians who have their own agendas. Sir Graham Smith was the only one to successfully fight the then Home Secretary on joining the prison service and probation together. He did this with skill and humility and a personal belief that offenders could change. Rather than incarceration into a prison system that was failing even in the eighties. On a personal note if I achieved anything in my career it was because I took my lead from him and always put Staff and visitors above my own needs and it served me well. (I only wish I could be as eloquent as he was).

I know, I saw this yesterday and was too depressed and simultaneously enraged. Same shit, different name.

Thought could not feel any worse about it all.......

It's amazing how they keep pulling it out of the bag. Buts it's okay as we will be professionals soon!

Insulting patronizing.... Words fail me ....


  1. "Dangerously out of touch with operational heartland", any sign of that changing? New NOMS and MOJ could decide to start talking to operational probation managers, but by doing so they risk drawing on the "wisdom" of people who are themselves out of touch with the operational heartland. Many probation managers on both side of the split have spent too many years soaking up and accepting the nonsense from NOMS and from the MOJ. Others have not voiced the reservations or come up with counter suggestions out of fear or apathy when they should have. To be in touch with the operational heartland would require MOJ and new NOMS to in-stop their own ears and then talk to basic grade staff and service users in prisons and on both sides of the probation divide.

    1. Too sensible never likely.

  2. I note the Jim Brown Blog ignores the labour Response - which I have only seem via a Twitter image of a statement and this as an introduction from Richard Burgon: -

    "Under Tories, prison violence at record levels and reoffending high - prisons and probation need reform, not a name change."

  3. Text of Truss's announcement

    "A new executive agency of the Ministry of Justice, called Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, will replace the National Offender Management Service from 1 April 2017.

    The Service will be responsible for the roll out of the government’s programme to improve the way we reform offenders to protect the public and tackle the unacceptable levels of reoffending. Michael Spurr will become the Chief Executive of the new HM Prison and Probation Service from 1 April 2017.

    HM Prison and Probation Service will have full responsibility for all operations across prison and probation. The Ministry of Justice will take charge of commissioning services, future policy development and be accountable for setting standards and scrutinising prison and probation performance.

    The creation of HM Prison and Probation Service will build a world-leading, specialist agency, dedicated to professionalising the prison and probation workforce, backed by an additional £100m a year and 2,500 additional prison officers.

    The Service will be a place that staff are proud to work, attracting the brightest and best talent to deliver modernised offender reform, strengthened security, counter-terrorism and intelligence capability.

    In recognition of the vital work carried out by prison and probation staff, new schemes to improve promotion opportunities have been launched, including; enhanced professional qualifications for probation officers, a new leadership programme, an apprenticeship scheme to launch in April and higher pay and recognition for specialist skilled officers dealing with complex issues such as counter-terrorism, suicide and self-harm support and assessment.

    This forms part of our far-reaching organisational reforms to the system, which will make services more accountable to Ministers for delivery and performance. This will be further supported by measures within the Prison and Courts Bill, which will create a new framework and clear system of accountability for prisons. Probation services will also offer improved training and learning opportunities for offenders to ensure they do not return to a life of crime, working hand in glove with prisons to ensure a more integrated approach. We will set out more details later this spring.

    A key priority of HM Prison and Probation Service will be to focus on the particular needs of offenders. To meet the needs of women offenders across the whole system, for the first time there will be a Board Director responsible for women across custody and community. Sonia Crozier, Director of Probation, will take on this responsibility (reporting directly to the CEO) from 1 April 2017.

    We set out also in December 2016 the government’s plans for the youth justice system, putting education and training at the heart of youth custody.

    We are working closely with the Youth Justice Board to review existing governance arrangements and will set out changes in due course."

  4. If this new creation is supposed to take off from 1st April (April Fools Day...)will the report on the findings of the state of Probation, due to be made public in April, as promised by T May, still go ahead, or will it quietly be buried, as never happened?

  5. When did Napo last grab and shape an agenda?

    1. Nothing under current leadership that rings any bells

  6. Probation Institute - is there anyone there?

  7. More changes!!! When are we going to have a period of stability. There
    is no wonder that sickness is sky high, so much work related stress. When will someone start considering the enormous impact that constant change and uncertainty has on staff welfare. No one cares, that is abundantly clear. I am sick of it.

  8. I feel for NAPO. Its a dilemma, (and mine) whether to concentrate on the crucial business of negotiating the wages and terms for members, or to be (capital P) Political and argue for the essence Probation politically. I am for the latter, but BUT there would be collateral damage. Rock and a hard place

  9. Why do I have to be informed by social media sites about change of my employers? Totally unacceptable! Nothing bloody changes in that regard. Total disrespect for staff. Trust us like f**in mushrooms. Keep us in the dark whilst they continue to throw shit at us. Please offer redundancy