Monday, 20 March 2017

Failing CRCs To Get More Cash - Shock!

As we all know, TR has been an utter disaster, just as predicted by everyone with any knowledge of the probation scene. So, here we have the Minister preparing the ground for further 'reform', but one that shovels more money in the direction of the privateers:-  

Bob Neil MP Chairman, 
Justice Select Committee 
House of Commons 
London SW1A 0AA

7 March 2017

Dear Bob, 

Transforming Rehabilitation review 

Thank you for your letter dated 6 February about your potential inquiry on the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. 

As you know we are conducting a comprehensive review of the probation system. This review is looking at all aspects of the system, including our contractual arrangements with Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), the services delivered by both CRCs and the National Probation Service (NPS) and the performance and accountability mechanisms for probation. Although work is ongoing and discussions with providers are continuing, I am happy to provide an update to the Committee on the work of our review of the probation system. Once the review is concluded in April we will set out more detailed plans for community supervision and probation reform. 

It is worth us recognising the scale of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. The probation system was fundamentally restructured in 2014-15, with 35 probation trusts replaced by 21 newly-created CRCs and the NPS. The caseload of offenders was split between these two sets of providers, and we also introduced through-the-prison-gate support for all released prisoners and post-release supervision for those serving custodial sentences of less than 12 months. This has been a period of significant change in probation, and many of the challenges the system now faces are a reflection that new arrangements are still bedding down. We will not have final reoffending outcomes for the first cohort of offenders to be managed by CRCs and the NPS until October, but we recognise that aspects of probation delivery are falling short of our ambitions. It is to tackle these problems, and to take stock more broadly of the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, that we are conducting a review. 

As the Public Accounts Committee noted in its report on Transforming Rehabilitation, a key factor in the performance of the probation system has been the volume reductions which have had an impact on CRC revenue and their ability to transform their businesses. We are discussing with providers the steps we can take to provide them with greater certainty over their future income and to enable long-term planning and transformation of services. This element of the review includes examination of potential changes to the CRC contracts’ payment mechanism. We are currently discussing proposals with CRCs but are confident that we can bring greater financial stability to providers and provide a stronger foundation for improving system performance. 

In addition we are discussing with providers how we can raise the quality of ‘through-the-prison-gate’ support. We recognise concerns identified by Her Majesty’s Inspectorates of Prison and Probation in their thematic inspection of last year. We are currently exploring with providers how we can achieve more effective provision of resettlement support, in particular in relation to securing accommodation and employment for prisoners on release. This will complement our ambition for prisons to achieve better outcomes for offenders on release from custody. 

Our review has also been considering the service levels which CRCs and the NPS are required to meet and against which performance is judged. We recognise that at present these are overly focused on process and output measures, rather than on quality and outcomes. As with prisons we want to create a simpler, clearer system with specific outcomes measures such as getting offenders off drugs and into apprenticeships and work. We are exploring options to introduce a greater focus on outcomes within our performance framework for probation. 

At present we are conducting commercial discussions with CRCs on potential changes to their contracts, and conversations with the NPS on a new service level agreement. Some of these conversations are necessarily sensitive. I hope that we will be able to conclude these discussions and reach agreements with providers shortly, and once we have done so I will provide an update report to the Public Accounts Committee. I would be very happy also to share this update with the Justice Committee. 

The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms were a significant first step towards a more effective probation system. As well as looking at our contractual arrangements with CRCs, we are also looking more broadly at how we supervise and rehabilitate offenders in the community. As the Secretary of State made clear in her recent speech on criminal justice reform, this work does not begin and end with prisons and probation. 

We need to intervene earlier with offenders and tackle the problems which are driving them to commit crime. To do this we must make sure our courts have the tools they need to reform individuals, but interventions to tackle problems like drug addiction and mental health issues are not working as well as they should. According to a 2009/10 survey 29% of offenders on community orders reported having a mental health condition, yet in 2015 mental health treatment requirements accounted for fewer than 1% of all treatment commenced as part of a community sentence. We are working with the Department of Health to develop a new protocol which will ensure timely access to mental health services where the courts impose a mental health treatment requirement as part of a sentence. Each court will have support from a dedicated senior mental health professional who will oversee delivery of treatment requirements, and we will introduce new maximum waiting times for treatment from the date of sentence, alongside national standard waiting times for mental health and clinical assessment of risk. 

We also need to create a justice system which responds to the particular needs of women, recognising that many have been victims of abuse. This requires better assessment of female offenders, a multiagency approach to tackling their problems and effective community sentences which command the confidence of the courts. Probation services must play their part by providing gender-specific support and safe environments in which to tackle the causes of offending. We will set out our strategy for female offenders later this year and have already announced Sonia Crozier as the new director with responsibility for women in custody and the community. This work builds on our prison safety and reform programme and complements our review of the probation system by considering how we can better identify the causes of an individual’s offending and target interventions more effectively. By tackling offending in the community we can prevent individuals ending up in prison while making our communities safer. To do this we must make sure there is sufficient consistency and quality of provision for offenders in the community. 

We must also develop a clearer framework for reforming offenders in the community. This should set out the outcomes that probation should be seeking to achieve and how providers will be robustly held to account. By doing this we can make sure that both prisons and probation, with the support of the courts and partners such as local authorities and health services, are not only protecting the public but reforming offenders and enabling them to make a positive contribution to society. We intend to set out further plans once our review of the probation system is complete. 

I hope this response is helpful to the Committee’s consideration of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms. Should the Committee decide to conduct an inquiry it can be assured that the department will cooperate fully.



This evidence-gathering session tomorrow should be interesting:-

The Justice Committee questions stakeholders on the Government's review of its Transforming Rehabilitation programme.


Tuesday 21 March 2017, Thatcher Room, Portcullis House

At 9.45 am
Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation

At 10.25 am
Malcolm Richardson JP, Chair, Magistrates Association

At 10.40 am
Nathan Dick, Head of Policy & Communications, Clinks
Nicky Park, Head of Prison Services, St Giles Trust

At 11.00 am
Yvonne Thomas, Managing Director, Interserve Justice
Rich Gansheimer, CEO, MTCnovo

Purpose of session

Questioning will focus on:

  • What has caused the difficulties in Transforming Rehabilitation, and who (or what) is responsible?
  • What are the best solutions?
  • Are the Government plans for the programme’s future adequate?
Transforming Rehabilitation

Transforming Rehabilitation includes, among other measures:

the creation of the National Probation Service (NPS) to manage high-risk offenders
supervision of low- and medium-risk offenders by Community Rehabilitation Centres (CRCs), operated by private- and voluntary-sector providers
statutory probation for offenders who have served sentences of 12 months or fewer
'Through the Gate' resettlement services with early involvement from CRCs.

The Justice Committee in the 2010–15 Parliament reported on Transforming Rehabilitation prior to its implementation.

Following its introduction, there have been criticisms—including by the Committee of Public Accounts, the National Audit Office and HM Inspectorates of Prisons and Probation—of its practical effectiveness. The caseload and contractual arrangements for Community Rehabilitation Centres, execution of 'Through the Gate' and coordination between various responsible bodies have raised concerns, as have other issues.

The Committee intends to investigate the causes of these problems and identity possible solutions, rather than simply to restate them. The Committee does not wish at this stage to receive any written evidence on Transforming Rehabilitation: it will announce its plans for further work on the subject, including any opportunity for submission of written evidence by interested parties, in the near future.


Don't forget - readers in the south west, tune in to BBC1 Inside Out at 7.30pm tonight and afterwards on i-player:-
"Jemma Woodman asks whether people in the south west are being adequately protected from offenders on probation"


  1. 'What has caused the difficulties in Transforming Rehabilitation, and who (or what) is responsible?' Fudge, fudge, fudge, fudge, bumble, fudge.

  2. I am hoping the Justice Select Committee read between the lines of this response from SG ! I do fear this is setting the scene for pumping more public money into the pocket's of the privateers!
    Not entirely about this post, but I do think we can never loose sight of the strain placed on individuals but management making descions and issuing directives without ANY consideration for staff! A colleague has been battling for at least 4 months to get some agreement on her return to work contract! Needless to say, the plan made before she left, isn't being honoured! So, she has been trying to get some agreement to plan and secure childcare! A couple of weeks before she was due to come back (whilst on leave), she was chasing around anyone who would give her a response. It eventually came, come back full time, or part time, nothing in between! In order to come back, 4 instead of 3 days, her mum had to give up a days work, as the childminder couldn't provide an additional day! Finally, the week before her return she was told that she could do four days, covering full time hours; a temporary contract that would be reviewed in a number of months. However, two weeks later, we are provided with instructions that renage on that plan. We now must work core hours, 8.45_5.15pm daily- the office will close 12noon - 1pm and if anyone is in the building before or after those hours, there must be a minimum of 3 members of staff! You cannot work full time, over 4 days doing core hours, and she cannot be on her own in the office! Beginning to look like constructive dismissal to me?

    We no longer co-locate, infact, CRC clients now have to report to a City team, at least 10 miles away- unless they are okay to report to a satalitte office, at a local drug project! Personally, if i was not a drug user, i would have serious reservations about reporting to a drug service, with only one entry and one reception area!

  3. The most interesting part of the select committee will be what the privateers say. How honest will they be?

  4. More, back of a fag packet management!

  5. There's been a couple of high profile SFOs discussed on this blog recently where CRCs have obviously had to recruit considerable legal advice. It won't have come cheap either.
    I'm wondering if anyone knows if the individual CRCs involved have to pay those legal costs, or is the costs for such legal advice paid from government coffers?


    1. BBC news.

    2. Probation officers fear lives are at risk because offenders are not being supervised properly, a BBC investigation has learnt.

      Private firm Working Links won the contract for Wales and the south west of England in 2014. Whistleblowers said job cuts and reduced face-to-face meetings mean some people are not being seen for months. The company says "public protection is our top priority and it is our job to help move people away from crime".

      Since taking over the running of service in February 2015 the firm has proposed to cut about 600 jobs - 40% of the workforce. One anonymous probation officer said her caseload has doubled since privatisation. She said: "I'm aware of colleagues that have resorted to sitting in their car just so they can weep, pick themselves up and get back in the office and get on with their job. "Sometimes it's very difficult to make room to see everybody that you need to be seeing. There have been delays where people haven't been seen for months at a time."

      Working Links is introducing a new practice which involves offenders being more frequently supervised over the phone. Another anonymous probation officer said: "I actually have no idea of who I'm talking to. All you hear is a voice you have no idea where somebody is or what they're doing."

      Helen Coley worked for the service for 27 years but quit last year because she was unhappy with the changes being brought in. She said: "The probation service, what's left of it, is just waiting for somebody to murdered, raped or very seriously wounded. It could happen any day and could happen anywhere."

      The probation union Napo's general secretary Ian Lawrence called for the operational model to be "seriously reviewed". He said if changes are not made soon "there'll be more chaos, there'll be more confusion and there'll be more reoffending".

      Working Links said: "We are committed to reducing reoffending and protecting the communities in which we work."

      The Ministry of Justice said: "We hold providers rigorously to account for their performance. We are carrying out a comprehensive review of the probation system to make sure it is preventing future victims." The findings are due to be published in April.

      Watch Inside Out South West's investigation on BBC One on Monday 20 March at 19:30 BST and on the iPlayer for 30 days thereafter.

    3. Helen Coley needs to catch up, there have been many SFOs in Working Links reign and murders committed, maybe she doesn't read newspapers or this blog enough.

  6. "The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms were a significant first step towards a more effective probation system."

    Revisionist Liar.

  7. So no changes then, the CRC's will continue to be, destroying peoples lives, that's staff community and those we work with.

  8. "As the Public Accounts Committee noted in its report on Transforming Rehabilitation, a key factor in the performance of the probation system has been the volume reductions which have had an impact on CRC revenue and their ability to transform their businesses. We are discussing with providers the steps we can take to provide them with greater certainty over their future income and to enable long-term planning and transformation of services. This element of the review includes examination of potential changes to the CRC contracts’ payment mechanism. We are currently discussing proposals with CRCs but are confident that we can bring greater financial stability to providers and provide a stronger foundation for improving system performance."

    Should read:

    "TR has been the shambolic fuckup anticipated by the PAC but as you know we carried on regardless. Now the CRCs are underperforming - for all of the reasons predicted so widely by so many - it highlights what an utter clusterfuck we find ourselves in, so once again we're going to try to buy our way out by handing out even more public money to the private sector."

    I shall be writing to the PAC myself today to this effect:

    "Dear PAC - these thieving, lying bastards have already stolen £Millions of public funds, they've ruined hundreds of professionals' careers & blighted communities with their ideological vandalism by dismantling the pre-existing professional probation service. Please don't listen to anymore of their pathetic lies and make them accountable for the damage they have caused. Thank you."

    1. Probably a stupid question, but can the MoJ just change the payment structure (remembering that they've all claimed they were misled in the tendering process), or should changes, that may result in more public money being given to private companies be a matter that should first be discussed in parliament?


    2. Its a good question, but I think most Govt's have an 'overarching policy' of "we'll do whatever we want to get what we want, regardless of the cost to anyone else."

    3. Good on you Getafix, as always a pertinent question. I'd like to see the Government s response, if as a staff group we told them them that had not put enough aside for the CRCs to respect the vol redundancy arrangements! Something tells me, fuck off maybe high up there on the list of possible replies!

  9. "providers will be robustly held to account."

    No they won't. This hasn't happened yet, nor will it happen. The providers have MoJ tightly by the balls and simply squeeze whenever they want something. The NOMS contract police are invisible nobody's who have not once intervened; they have stood silently to attention, impotent whilst CRCs have decimated staff & services. The nigh-on £100M contribution from the Modernisation Fund - not a peep from the contract managers when that money wasn't used as intended, then suddenly it became free money for the CRCs to pocket. "Robust contract management" or craven capitulation?

  10. I would prefer "Jemma Woodman asks whether people in the south west are being adequately protected from the incompetence, policies & practices of Working Links CRC."

  11. For *ucks much more can we take at working links! There are hardly any front line staff left now..believe me I am not making it up..some offices are empty of staff..there is hardly anyone left to work with the service users. Staff have either been given voluntary redundany / evr or left because they are fed up carrying the can for the blatant mess that someone else has created..some staff have been off sick for months and a few are taking the piss because there are no managers left to keep an eye on them. It is outrageous!

  12. Working links is a top crc. Mistakes will be made but we're good.

    1. hahahahaha bloody ha. Top of what the pile of shit called TR

    2. You are deluded figure cruncher to say top marks! You don't actually supervise service users do you?

  13. Well Ian you really told them didn't you NOT. Don't think Working Links fear that sheepish, apologetic and weak response. Just as well you lot have got Dino down there.

    1. The towel would have been thrown in long ago if Ian Lawrence was heading the fight, his record shows his continuous list of failures during his watch. Working Links will be held to account by Dino the South West reps,local staff and then to the Courts. The exposure on BBC last night is just the start

  14. Top crc? Do you think the families of those who have died at the hands of working links crc supervised offenders agree with you? Where is your moral compass?

  15. What happened to the documentary about WL? Are they saving it for another day?

    1. Only shown in south west - go to i-player.

    2. not there is a link possible

    3. Its on bbc iplayer under "inside out south west"


  16. This is indicative of the role probation has to play in this government's restructured justice sector. Its an extract from the IMB report on HMP Haverigg:

    "The following agencies provide services to the prison:-

     Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust –Primary Health Care.
     Gables Medical (Offender Health) Ltd – GP Services
     Cumbria Health on Call – Out-of-Hours GP services.
     “ Unity” -Greater Manchester West NHS –Substance misuse
     Novus ,The Manchester College – Education and Training.
     Bookers/DHL – Prisoners’ Canteen
     GEO Amey – Prisoner Transport.
     Department for Education and Skills –Library Funder
     Samaritans – Prisoners’ ‘Listener’ training and phone-line support – prisoners
     Visitors and Children’s Support Group, (independent charity) – Visitor Centre.
     Shelter and Working Links – Financial advice, accommodation and employment guidance.
     Amey – Maintenance Services
     Wickes (via Amey) – Recycling Skips.
     3663 – Main food supplier – Kitchens ."

    1. And the only reference to 'NPS' is in the context of 'New Psychoactive Substances'.

      I can't see the word 'probation' anywhere in the IMB report.


    1. Judges should face punishment if they "consistently" give lenient sentences to criminals, a Tory MP has said. Philip Davies, MP for Shipley in West Yorkshire, called for justices to be held accountable if they do not jail offenders who subsequently go on to commit more serious offences. Mr Davies said it was time for judges to face up to the impact of their their decisions.

      The MP was speaking during the second reading of the Prisons and Courts Bill. He told fellow MPs in the Commons: "It should be clear to many that where a judge consistently allows offenders to avoid prison and those offenders go on to make others suffer as a result of their continuing crime spree, there should be accountability for the judge," he said. "And there should really be consequences for that judge as well.
      "In particular, where they don't hand down custodial sentences which would be perfectly justifiable and possibly even expected, and particularly when the offender goes on to reoffend."

      He also suggested raising the retirement age for judges from 70 to 75, the same age limit as for jurors. Mr Davies also called for an end to early releases for inmates and suggested longer prison sentences would curb reoffending.

      The Ministry of Justice had yet to make any response to the suggestions.

    2. Wonder if the MP's comments were inspired by this?

      "A PROLIFIC thief has been sentenced by a judge after committing his 109th criminal offence.

      Carlisle Crown Court heard 46-year-old X first broke the law aged just 11. He was punished for his latest indiscretion – stealing £44 worth of meat from Whitehaven’s Aldi store in November.

      That put him in breach of a suspended prison sentence he was given at the crown court early last year for previous dishonesty offences.

      Judge Tony Lancaster heard X's criminal record ran to “24 pages”, and he was labelled a “prolific shop offender” due to the vast number of thefts he had against his name.

      However, Judge Lancaster learned X, of Whitehaven, had latterly shown “genuinely positive progress”. As a result, he received a three-month night-time curfew and extra rehabilitation sessions were added to his previous punishment.

      But Judge Lancaster told him: “At 46 you really ought to be changing your ways after such a significant life of offending.”

    3. I will happily support Philip Davies MP in his campaign, just as soon as he argues for MPs to be punished where their actions cause damage to individuals and society. MPs should face consequences for their actions.

      That might shut the motormouth up for a while - though I doubt it.