Monday, 20 February 2017

The Hokey Cokey Internet

Last week saw publication of HMI Probation's latest report and this is how Russell Webster summarised the findings regarding the CRC:-
  
Manchester probation struggling to implement new model

Overall, inspectors found the quality of the Cheshire and Greater Manchester’s CRC’s work was mixed. The CRC (owned by Purple Futures) is applying the same innovative way of working in each of the five CRCs it owns, based on solid research into what makes people turn away from crime. Despite this, leaders were finding it hard to embed in practice. Public protection work was not good enough because policies and procedures, though commendable, were not being applied consistently enough by frontline staff to protect actual or potential victims from the risk of harm.

Sickness absence rates were high in the CRC and individual caseloads had been large in the months before the inspection. This led to cases moving from one Responsible Officer to another, making it difficult to keep hold of the meaningful relationships so central to good rehabilitative work and reducing reoffending. Extra staff had recently been recruited, which should improve the quality of work and staff morale.

The CRC was delivering impressive services for women, supported by additional funding from the Police and Crime Commissioner.

In common with other regions, the NPS had experienced less change and was more settled. Staff morale was relatively high and good core work to protect the public was carried out, though there was more to do on delivering rehabilitation work consistently.

Inspectors made recommendations which included the NPS accessing the range of accredited and non-accredited programmes and services on offer from the CRC to reduce reoffending, and the CRC providing all staff, and especially new staff, with regular supervision and training. The CRC should also improve the effectiveness of the management of unpaid work.

The main inspectors’ findings of the work of the CRC were:

  • The CRC had not made a sufficient contribution to protecting those at risk of harm. Public protection policies and procedures were robust but they were not being applied consistently, and so the impact of the work to protect actual and potential victims was limited.
  • The CRC was not sufficiently effective in delivering interventions to reduce reoffending. Progress in the delivery of interventions to support desistance had been made in too few of the cases. The quality of the work and its impact was not consistent. Assessments had largely been carried out well but planning for work to support desistance was weaker.
  • The CRC was generally effective in supporting service users to abide by their sentence. The frequency, quality, enforcement and the number of appointments offered was generally good and consequently, service users usually complied.

--oo00oo--

I currently work within CGM (owned by Interserve Justice/Purple Futures!). I was somewhat surprised at some of the content of the recent HMIP inspectorate report - it was rather weighted towards the views/opinions of senior management (oh quelle suprise I hear you shout) - apparently allocations between NPS and CRC is going well (couldn't be further from the truth) not sure if this is due to the PSC's (Professional Service Centres) who deal with allocations and enforcement - the powers that be told us that these centre's would free front line staff up to work more effectively with offenders. 

What happens here is that staff spend more time chasing up enforcement requests - breaches unable to be completed due to the poor quality of letters or letter not even being issued - UPW contacts not being updated with staff not having any idea if someone has actually attended (at the start of the new year they had a massive backlog of hours to be inputted). 10 day initial OASys are supposed to be inputted by the PSC's however staff end up chasing these up which results in staff being left with very little time to complete (like 10 days isn't bad enough).

We have IM's (formally SPO's) who have no formal Probation officer training/qualification (no longer required to be a manager) - they are now more like business performance managers who have to look after health and safety, estates management and imprest (that was always going to work NOT) they have no idea what they're doing so it's little wonder they're struggling to embed the interchange model!

Managers are constantly banging on about meeting targets and service delivery targets otherwise we'll loose money (back to being our fault again). We are constantly battling with the hokey cokey internet (one minute your in the next your out - may also have something to do with staff being in charge of setting up IT systems that have absolutely no experience or skills in doing so).

We have so many new staff that through no fault of their own been dropped from a great height into roles with no case management (some of these staff have been displaced from their previous roles when the initial changes took place - admin and UPW). There is a feeling of total despair from most staff, the environment is that of a dangerous one and yes we are not protecting the public but this is not down to damn hard work from front line staff, but that we are constantly hindered by rubbish systems and procedures. I could go on forever and as you can guess I missed the memo requesting I collect my rose tinted glasses.


--oo00oo--

And that's just the start of it. I too was disappointed at the report it certainly does not reflect the reality. Staff morale non existent, high case loads and sickness, staff leaving at some frightening rates. Those that are left behind can't cope and CGM are struggling to recruit especially PO's, no one wants to work for them. And this situation does not seem to be getting better, they have no answers to the mess and are flapping about like fish out of water. CGM needs to be handed back to the gov before anything serious happens either to the public or the staff.

37 comments:

  1. So far there have been nine HMI Probation reports about TR covering seven geographical areas plus an early overview & a look at TTG.

    All seem to have suffered from the same fate, i.e. they identify significant failings but (as identified by the frontline contributor above) are coated with a thick rose-tinted sickly-sweet sauce which negates any sense of urgency, concern or outrage.

    These reports are expensive to produce. They involve many hours of travel & subsistence of HMI staff; and many hours of preparation, shredding & data inputting by the inspected area. But however costly, what is their value? And what is their purpose? Just taking examples from the blog above I find myself utterly bemused. Firstly, what I assume are three definitive tasks for probation service providers:

    "The CRC had not made a sufficient contribution to protecting those at risk of harm."
    "The CRC was not sufficiently effective in delivering interventions to reduce reoffending."
    "The CRC should also improve the effectiveness of the management of unpaid work."

    Yet this is followed by "Overall, inspectors found the quality of the Cheshire and Greater Manchester’s CRC’s work was mixed."

    Surely the CRC's failure to effectively provide or manage three core tasks cannot lead HMI Probation to offer such a saccharin overview?

    The CRC providers have been given red carpet treatment from the start - they've been handed vast sums of public money as sweeteners, they've been gifted experienced staff and the Govt are protecting them as far as they dare. So how can they ALL be failing to provide core services yet ALL continue merrily on their way? Presumably hoying all the expensive frontline staff overboard helps. Presumably cashing in the assets and replacing them with the cheapest possible alternatives helps. Presumably having malleable chums in convenient, lofty places helps.

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    1. What are the outcomes of these inspection reports? How is their impact - if they have any - measured. If you take a car for an MOT and it fails, you know what you have to fix before it can pass the test. With these inspection reports, we are left with curate's eggs and then the inspectors move on to their next Premier Inn or whatever.

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    2. I lke the analogy. And if the car is deemed not to be 'sufficiently safe' it remains off the road until its fixed & reassessed as okay. No cash handout from Ministry of Transport to cover the costs. No special exemptions.

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    3. Or you could go to see Mike the Mechanic darn some sarf Landan viaduct & get a tickit for just an' andful ov sovs. Sortid!!

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  2. There was a CRC, just over a year ago, that was reported, as a result of a dire inspection, to be at risk of renationisation if it did not markedly improve. Has it improved sufficiently, can it claim to be satisfactory in its performance? Who goes back and checks anytime soon? Don't think the MOT is a good analogy. My car gets tested annually and not by Mike the Mechanic.

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  3. Why high sick rates?

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    1. Yesterday it was asked if anyone could confirm that, as promised, TR has brought us:

      1. fewer people in prisons? No. In fact Truss wants more locked away.
      2. lower reoffending rates? No. See HMIProbation reports.
      3. substantial £public savings? No. In fact its cost tens of £millions more from the public purse, including an extimated £80M cash handout to the 21 CRCs, £12M in selected prison officer pay rises, etc.
      4. an open market not cornered by big players? No.
      5. retention of the skills & expertise of probation professionals? No. Most have either been pushed or have jumped.
      6. national transfer framework built on fair processes & protection for staff? No. Utterly skewed, totally unfair with widespread concerns that the union were either utterly hoodwinked (?) or somehow complicit (!).
      7. no different systems for NPS & CRC? Who knows?
      8. co~location of agencies? No.
      9. a simple process? Certainly not.

      Isn't that enough of a pre-meditated disaster to make anyone sick?

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  4. Why high sick rates ???

    Here's a few possible reasons !! ;
    * high case loads
    * high number of RAR days imposed by the court's with little community based resource to refer people into resulting in front line staff completing the work ( RAR days were again supposed to free up staff as offenders were supposed to attend with partnership agencies , however most of these were culled way before we were with massive finances / funding cuts )
    * mindless proceedures to follow
    * useless IT systems
    * hot desking ( staff having to pack up equipment at the end of everyday and put together every morning ) not being allowed to personalise desks resulting in staff feeling disjointed and dissaffected / not belonging - this also has the opposite effect of productivity
    * being moved into new offices that are not fit for purpose ( no initial security , health and fire safety are massive issues , interview rooms offer no privacy with paper thin walls ) but the higher powers that be feel that because the buildings look pretty all's well with the world
    * all case managers being pressured to be group facilitators which is in the new job descritions for staff owned by inerserve justice - group tutors being forced to case manage - these decisions are due to the Interchange model you know the one that's struggling to be embeded !!!!!
    * staff being managed by IM's that have no Probation officer qualification or case management experience
    * staff constantly being reminded how we need to meet all the service level measures and if we don't how much money we will loose

    I'm sure others will be able to fill in the gaps !!

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  5. Confirmed 8 ACOs in London to go out of 15. Most were decent and had told the MTCNOVO puppet masters what they thought of the silly cohort model before it was implemented. Seems like good people sacrificed to bring in more and more prison peeps. The senior management team is crawling with them. The senior management team is now know as DEC. Each time I read that it reminds me of decks, the same decks they keep clearing of existing staff and what they keep calling legacy issues.

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  6. There is a simple reason why CRC's are failing to deliver..........MOJ have imposed so many controls and bureaucracy that its simply unworkable and destined to fail.

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  7. I don't think our CRC has been given red carpet treatment, quite the opposite. The money is simply not enough to run the business. The NPS cant afford to buy anything which has been very damaging to the CRC's financially, forcing the hands of the owners to reassess their delivery model, leading to staff cuts and rationalisation.

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    1. To 19:20 & 19:29 - the deal was on the table & the greedy CRC bidders snapped up the MoJ's offer to get their snouts buried deep in the trough. Flawed motivation, flawed ideology and clearly no evidence of business acumen - just yard dogs salivating at shiny pound signs & beliebing empty promises from ambitious politicians.

      "The money is simply not enough to run the business." So hand it back. Or raise shareholder funds. Or get the overpaid bullies to take a pay cut, or forego a bonus, or surrender some of their vast pension. But don't fucking whine like a babby.

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    2. Exactly ! Anyone with an ounce of business sense could see that the funding for the contracts was not enough and any profit could only come from poor probation services The NPS is also grossly underfunded which is why probation is going to hell in a handcart and no one gives a damn

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    3. 20:09 no need to be a dick. We are all in the same boat and doing our best.

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    4. Aye. It was a wee bit fierce. Low sugar levels, I guess.

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    5. Not fierce at all, it's the truth, Grayling was told from the start that there wasn't the resources to manage the U12 month cohort, but the privateers said they would do it. No surprise then when it turns out to be true. They've tried to make their profits with cost cutting as their model and then pressure people to hit PBR targets, no wonder staff are sick and don't want to work there!

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  8. "In common with other regions, the NPS had experienced less change and was more settled. Staff morale was relatively high and good core work to protect the public was carried out"

    Who did they speak to?

    What a bag of shit!!

    More like NPS staff are sick of the changes, tired of the relentless work and demands, fed up with the barrage of top down emails and instructions, and running scared of the arrogant managers and draconian civil service policies being enforced.

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    1. I agree it's shocking in my NPS area and just as bad as crc

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  9. E3: Effluent, Excrement and Entrails.

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  10. agree who did they speak to. Nps staff I know hate the constant demands of the parole board and ppcs and yes the barrage of emails orders from faceless people

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  11. Why are so few right and so many ( front line staff ) wrong.
    CRC; Complicit Ridiculed Compliant - Snr management teams that is !!!

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  12. Im NPS just had a weeks leave and don't think I can face going back tomorrow been struggling on since the split at 130%workload with no prospect of any let up I'm completely burnt out and can't think straight anymore. No hope of redundancy and not in a position to just walk it's a nightmare

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    1. Same here. NPS is a horrible place to work and like everybody else in my office I put up with it as I have no choice. We don't do "good core work" as there's no resources. What we do have is high caseloads, treated like crap by managers, no respect from anyone. I read a senior management email today instructing how a Delius contact record should be done, because that more important than all the staff that are stressed, bullied and off sick. I'm unwell but not off sick as the new sicknesss policy doesn't allow me to!!

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  13. Why are so few right and so many ( front line staff ) wrong.
    CRC; Complicit Ridiculed Compliant - Snr management teams that is !!!

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  14. Where does this notion that CGM , or indeed any Interserve CRC is applying an 'Innovative way of working' come from? They can't seriously be talking about the so-called 'Interchange' model? Cobbling together a couple of random lines from the Good Lives model with a rephrased 'Simple Wikipedia' outline of Desistance Theory, and particularly when you've apparently not really understood either, does not make a 'model' for working with the troubled, alienated, largely destitute and disenfranchised Probation clientele- even if you do give the 'model' and it's supposed 'modules' (each element has a name but no content to speak of) otherwise meaningless names that sound a bit like 'Interserve'. The 'Interchange Model' has no more meaning than the farcical statement of 'Vision and values' that Interserve seems so unaccountably proud of. 'Do the right thing'? Pull the other one ! And as for 'Bring better to life'? What does that even mean?? Interserve CRC staff CAN'T apply the 'Interchange' model because there's nothing to apply

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    1. Just One of the many reasons I chose to retire early (former SPO/IM). The promises of the Interchange model would bring including new ways of working and innovation were not backed by the resources, time and commitment required to allow staff to understand and apply. Focus was on targets linked to cash and NOT ON IMPROVING PRACTICE AND PROTECTING THE PUBLIC by working effectively with service users. I am waiting now for the new dawn of NOTHING WORKS, which if you ask me and from what I can see and hear is not far away.

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  15. Absolutely spot on but like I said earlier the management teams are complicit and compliant and not matter what keep telling us " it's got to work " so sick of hearing that from them when it's so bloody obviously NOT working !!!!

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    1. I suppose it depends on what you mean by 'working' - there's been at least one round of substantial financial bonuses for senior managers so far, so it's no doubt 'working' as far as they're concerned. Does any out there have the real figures on how much they got?

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    2. Interserve are clueless they should go back to their cleaning contracts. Interserve Justice NOT.

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  16. Very interesting comments and some of which if taken at face value and representative of CRCs say, 'don't blame us for the mess, look elsewhere, we came to do good and make few quid but have been thwarted by forces beyond our control!'

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    1. They must have been stupid in the first place to think they could make money out of a service. Probation will never survive as a business because it is not a business.

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    2. And we all saw that lesson learnt by Probation Trusts when silly probation chief officers let the title "CEO" go to their heads. No doubt there's currently a number of SPO's and ACO's believing they're set to become big wigs for the privateers when the CRC's fold. Wishful thinking for most!

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  17. Here's your answer from the blog above:

    "Public protection work was not good enough because policies and procedures, though commendable, were not being applied consistently enough by frontline staff..."

    Nothing to do with managers or owners but explicitly the failure of frontline staff per the report of the "independent" HMI Probation.

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    1. This totally misses the point ! Frontline staff can't adhere to all the policies and procedures which constantly change they don't have the time and don't get any managerial or admin support it's very simplistic to. Lame frontline staff who it seems are responsible for everything these days!!

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    2. No, its EXACTLY the point. The point being that the hmi probation report is equivocal throughout; as a PSR it wouldn't have got past the gatekeepers! So Purple Ronnie or whatever they're called can quote the report, as 06:47 above has done, and THEY can blame staff all day long. I suspect that's why 06:47 used the highlight "independent", to emphasise the total lack of objectivity.

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  18. Frontline staff are the ONLY reason this shambles is held together. I value my job but despise everything around it, the destruction of the service, the crap IT, the bollocks and bullshit,the shabby treatment of staff, the ignorant management, the stupid newsletters by email that don't even open, the scary personal emails that say "we've noticed that you haven't clicked on (some bloody headache of a system) for a while..." Talk about Big Brother... Could you all just F OFF I'm trying to work.

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    1. Frontline staff the easy target as always In our team we had 6 cases allocated in one week with less than 1 day notice of release from custody that's obviously plenty of time to follow procedures! It's a disgrace and if it wasn't for the dedication of frontline staff believe me things would. Be a lot worse

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