Saturday, 25 March 2017

Latest From Napo 141

Highlights from the latest blog post by Napo General Secretary:-


Next week sees the second session of the Justice Select Committee hearings into Transforming Rehabilitation. Napo will be among those who have been invited as Witnesses to provide oral evidence.

It’s one of several important opportunities that have come my way at various stages of my work with Napo and other unions before it, and this one follows on from that of last Tuesday where HM Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey gave a full and frank account of her views about what has happened, what is still going wrong and what might be done to improve the situation.

This Tuesday the Committee will hear from the Probation Institute, Napo and Unison and representatives from two of the Community Rehabilitation Companies.

You can see what was said last week’s gathering and follow proceedings live or afterwards, on Parliament TV.

Earlier this week I addressed a seminar held by the Westminster Legal Policy Forum on the possibilities for Devolving Criminal Justice Services so that a greater responsibility for delivery might fall within the remit of Metropolitan Mayors or Police and Crime Commissioners.

True to form, some of what I had to say about the impact of the TR programme did not go down especially well with some CRC chiefs who were in attendance; but as I said to a number of them afterwards I have a duty to our members to reflect the facts which, in short include the following:

  • CRC performance (with a few exceptions) is well below what it ought to be
  • Through the Gate has been an abject failure
  • Many CRCs have gone running back to the Ministry of Justice crying foul over funding, the contract parameters and the fundamentally flawed Payment by Results mechanism.
  • Many staff have been treated abysmally by their new employers
  • Workloads have gone into meltdown
  • Professional standards are seriously slipping
  • Some Operational Models are well short of what is needed to ensure standards of service and protect the public
Solutions needed quickly

I also made it clear that Napo members (much as they would love it to happen) are realists, and don’t expect some miraculous ‘Damascene’ moment where Ministers suddenly decide that they are going to patch Probation back up again as once was.

But there are serious issues around accountability, competence and the way in which staff have been (and are being) treated, that also need to be addressed otherwise a devolved service to whoever is considered capable of taking more control of it locally in the future will simply be a waste of time.

That’s as honest an assessment as I can manage right now and the spotlight will be on others next week as well to come clean about where they are in life. It might be helpful if some CRC owners as well as the NPS bosses who told everyone it would be OK, fessed up and admitted that this whole TR thing was bigger than they thought and that they have miscalculated the enormity of it all. Whether they welcome it or not, it’s my view as well that not everything that has failed to work is necessarily their fault, but some have not helped themselves with perilous forecasts and strategies around staffing and service delivery that have left many of our members who remain in the NPS and CRCs in pieces. If senior management wherever they are from, are truly committed to making a fresh start in their relationship with the unions to find workable solutions than Napo will be there willing to engage.

Working Links in the spotlight again

It’s comforting to see that the recent media activity from Channel 4 and BBC Wales Radio into the Aurelius/Working Links CRC operation has been followed up by BBC South West last week.

I want to personally thank our former Napo activist Helen Coley and serving staff (anonymously for obvious reasons) for setting out the problems of an unrealistic operational model in stark fashion, and there won’t be anyone watching the programme who won’t have shared the sense of despair of the families of the two victims of the SFO’s that were featured.

One of these dreadful events happened prior to TR, and one afterwards; raising questions about the disrupted operational environment that existed prior to share sale and that during transition which shows little sign of major improvement according to our members.

To set the record straight, Napo’s part in this production was a legitimate attempt to illustrate the difficulties that have been among those that have given rise to a long running dispute between the unions and employers. The issues of responsibility and accountability, especially given the huge amounts of taxpayers money involved, are ones that ought to see the light of day and if Working Links think they have been hard done by then they should take it up with the BBC who many observers felt gave a very balanced view of the situation.


  1. Hmm, not your worst blog Ian. But hows about you offer up some brutal honesty about your own pisspoor performance, and then I might take your words a bit more seriously. What's good for the goose and all that...

  2. I liked the use of the word Damascene and I similarly am of the belief that it will not happen. Is there a word that describes someone who keeps on doing something that isn't working to prove to others and themselves that they were right with their wrong decision? I am looking for something better than 'stupid' and with the gravitas of Damascene.

    1. Obdurate

      unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.
      stubbornly resistant to moral influence; persistently impenitent:
      an obdurate sinner.

    2. indefatigable recidivist :)

    3. 'Deluded' has something to offer.

  3. Saturday Morning wasters. The NAPO General Secretary has written a blog that helps explain some of the frustrations and general totals of a range of TR failings. Here you lot are quoting the use of words occasionally used. Play games on TV go watch chaser or something. I would rather read your so called intellect if it was well placed at helping Ian Lawrence's profile as supported by his union members. Give the NAPO leader some confidence so he can speak more aggressively on your behalf . Encourage him to speak out without worrying about his own side. He can then feel you are backing him all the way. Imagine getting slagged off by you family and then expected to graft each day to pour your life and soul into looking after them and nothing you do is seen as ok or good or even worthy. You, me, we us, are part of the mess. All we need to do is rally round, Ian Lawrence is not the enemy he is the current leader and we are NAPO as team not a destructive force. None of us accepts you can attack the top. We have problems we have internal matters and we have some failings and yet we play this out in the open. Get real you foolish few . The management and the MOJ love the divisions they encourage, but they would hate it if this blog was loaded with WELL DONE IAN WELL DONE NAPO WELL DONE MEMBERS let us pursue those lying cheating dishonest politicians for their expense claims. Remind them in their constituency of their failings that cost your jobs, professionalism and community safety. This picking and griping is JUST NOT ON. Let us get sensible and join as one in united defence, only criticise the ones who have done this to us. For all out sakes motivate the leadership hold them to account properly internally and without opening a line of public negative posts. Congratulate support and assist, or just shut the hell up if it is division your making in the ranks. Help Napo the unions not become the management supporters .

    1. The lark with the words was not aimed at Ian Lawrence it was poking fun at the government's persistence with the mass outsourcing of Probation Services. Thought Ian's blog was particularly good including Damascene quote.

    2. Thank you 9:41` ! Support the GS and NAPO ! Support Our Selves ! Friends of Napo unite.

    3. @Anon 9:19 why don't you "waste" a little more time reading the comments before you let fly, and save the embarrassment of misunderstanding?

    4. Get lost mouthy twat look at the first post I thought 19 :19 is well in order your a wanker.

    5. Having just read this thread I think 19>19 is correct and in fact poster 14:21 appears to have misunderstood the first negative poster. Whether the poster is a T**T and a W****R who knows but the negative attacking of the Napo General secretary should stop, he is trying to do the best he can.

    6. 07:03 here, just in from another day's graft (as opposed to reading Ayn Rand over a skinny latte) to read hilarious outrage from residents of Myopia. My comments WERE aimed at the GenSec. I offered lukewarm commendation of a more constructive blog-post but felt he should 'fess up to his own shortcomings as well, thus assisting in establishing his own credibility. His tendency to grandstand & oversell his self-importance can lead to people taking the piss out of a minor union figure who has a Trump-esque record of achievement.

    7. Contd from 20:10 above - indeed, just read the shitty experiences highlighted below & the failure of Napo to influence anything over the last few years is more than obvious.

      09:19 & 18:23, save your bile for the CRCs, the senior managers who sold you out & the oligarchy that is Tory UK 2017.

    8. Despite you poor slangs and interjection of the pseudo intellectual comedy
      Your post is incredibly negative and you infer to me at least that you have an agenda against the General Secretary.

      Whatever your personal problems sounding off about what you think would make the GS more credible is naïve. A public confession of self recrimination over lost issues is ridiculous. What you feel is a subjective issue to you. How this is credible for the man in charge who is leading Napo through the most difficult times is another. Your post reads hypocritical in that you tell others what to do in the CRCs yet do not appear to follow your own trumping advice. You talk a lot but report zero actions of your own under achievement. The General Secretary however, is out there doing what he can in the face of every critic. Your comments are inept personal and just what the management and this Government enjoy. Take note of your last 2 lines and keep your negativity for those who deserve it not the General Secretary.

    9. Beep Beep! My word, aren't we sensitive?

      My "poor slangs" and "pseudo intellectual comedy" [?!?] are probably unintended consequences of frustration whilst posting, but I'm really not sure what you mean. Do you?

      You comment about my "personal problems" & "sounding off"; these are not naivete but based upon NO progress achieved by the unions. Is this purely subjective? I don't think so. As for my own "under achievement" issues - As most people who wake up each day I do have to face such issues & I deal with them in my own world. Sorry to disappoint but its not an issue for Napo, trolls, or anyone else outside my private circle.

      Do I "tell others what to do in the CRCs"? I don't think I do.

      But for you, 22:46, I'll make a rare exception. I'll even use modern nomenclature if it helps:


    10. Dave Cameron to Angela Eagle " Calm down dear" Having read your initial attack on the Napo General Secretary it could not be described as "lukewarm commendation" perhaps lukewarm condemnation would have been more accurate. You made the patronising Myopic reference whilst naming an author who espouses self interest over collectivism. Is this what explains the blame of the GS rather, than the wider collective failure of the members of the Napo Union to maintain a singular solidarity. Too much self interest and individuals going their own course led to a collective union failure. This is not the General secretaries failure alone.

      Wanting to see him flail himself with a public outcry of Maya culpa to encourage a view he could become more credible remains naïve as does your explanation which instead illustrates better your retrenched attitude to the bigger political spectrum. Perhaps lay off the "skinny Latte" and bourgeoisie condesation of the poor literate readership. Then we might not get confused from your unintended comedy or confused consequences of the commentary you make. The response illustrates at least some attempt understand what readers are perceiving. It read as comedy but it is not good.

      Your description of the GS and to "fess up" might be asked of you. What is really underlying your attack on the man who has a difficult job to do but is doing his best.
      I do not expect any reader to be disappointed that you have daily problems but I am not surprised either as you refer to your own world. Perhaps that may be underlying some of the distortions that you portray and don't look to blame any trolls I am just responding to your comments. The anger you displayed lead to place what looked to me to be your initials. A notice of confidence in your beliefs but I was then advised what it meant. Perhaps that may be exactly what you need to restore your sense.

    11. And a Good Morning to you.

  4. Still waiting for our printers to work post new laptop roll out at working links...has been 3 weeks without even being able to print of a PSR to go through with an offender. Scanner not working either so can't scan documents like sick notes on to system! Service user wanted a letter to explain to jobcentre why she had failed an appointment ( probation appointment!) Had to write it by hand on computer paper as can't print anything off!jobcentre then told her 'you could have written tbis yourself'..rang office but no one picked up as reception staff on leave and evertine else busy seeing service users. Working Links CRC =Fawlty Towers! Standards are seriously slipping but not just in CRC. NPS standards are also slipping, quality of their reports and discriminatory language is appalling!

    1. 3 weeks without printing - I'm guessing you're in BGSW? Down in the far SW it's been 6 weeks without printing (or usable IT generally). When Wales migrate over on Monday prepare for everything to slow to the pace of a drunken snail once again - utterly shambolic.

      And PSRs? I literally cannot read the handwriting on many of these, so I've stopped even bothering to try.

    2. Yes, BGSW, where the rats are rapidly abandoning the sinking ship! The Captain of course left first ( sounds familiar ) many more followed with a few quid in pockets, those that chose to stay are doing the jobs of 3 people and a few others have sensibly left to pursue other careers or sign on at local job center! NPS might take a few on if you fancy working with high risk offenders and returning to your starting salary as a PO! PO what's one of them then?

  5. I agree that we need to unite. CRC/ NPS..we should stand behind NAPO and support them. They did the right thing to whistleblow and I can only hope that the BBC will continue to take an interest. Working links are after accreditation and presumably need thia to access more funds from MOJ and apply for new contracts. As it stands they do nit deserve to get this. They treat staff and service users with equal distain and their risk management is appalling. Their estates are also not fit for purpose. The BBC could have a field day if they really wanted to because the public are being put at risk. You should not expect general public to share waiting areas with prolific offenders, it is asking for trouble but this is what is happening in working links CRC's!

  6. What's happening in Wales?

  7. Some of us in CGM CRC were 3 months without access to a scanner / printer / photocopier - we were only connected this month - some offices have only just been connected to the Interserve internet network which fails on a regular basis - very very frustrating.

  8. Im a case manager in Interserve and my caseload's hit 100 again!! Too many new orders are making it difficult to keep on top of initial sentence plans and do the consequential work that arises from meeting new service-users ie referring on, reading cps and returning Orders to court that are unworkable. I really am juggling a lot of plates at the moment. My main gripe is that as case managers we're not only underpaid but we're working alongside colleagues taking £200 home more per month due to years in - btw i've 8 years experience myself so i'm not sure how more experienced the others are due to practices being changed since they joined. They are effectively being rewarded for longevity rather than production/skill and it isnt fair.

    1. Your employer will be happy that your main gripe is with your colleagues, who like you are arduously climbing an unfair pay spine.

    2. 100 cases that is unacceptable interswerve seriously need to quit. No wonder staff morale is at an all time low, how do you even remember 100 peoples names never mind risk manage them. Why are the CRC's saying that they are not getting the cases and consequently the funding, they clearly are or am I missing something.

    3. Never mind your colleagues people working in Tesco's, Aldi and other stores have caught up with our wages, plus those colleagues at the top of the scale don't get any further wage rises and haven't had any since they reached the top of the scale which for some may have been 10 to 15 years ago. For a service that makes you work at 100 cases, my main gripe would be with Interserve not my colleagues.

  9. 100 cases? That can never be justified. If there is an SFO how could interserve explain that one?

    1. My maths isn't great, but I work out that 100 cases equates to 24 minutes for each case on a 40 hour working week. Less if you take a lunch break.
      This week it took me 20 minutes to book a doctors appointment, and 37 minutes to get through to my phone provider to make a payment.
      It's just shocking that someone on supervision is only afforded 24 minutes a week. It's more shocking that the government allow that to happen.
      It just can't be acceptable that people on supervision are allocated less time then it takes to pay a phone bill!


  10. I too work for Interswerve - I'm a PSO / CM and have been for 18yes + - I actually think my salary isn't too bad in comparison to other public / private sector companies , my concern is that Interswerve will reduce this at some point to make up for thenloss of earnings that bleat on about.
    I see myself ( or I did ) as an experienced offender manager however with all the new IT systems and ridiculous policies / procedures I quite often feel de skilled and inexperienced.
    I was unfortunate to experience an SFO ( however no where near as unfortunate as the victim of the crime ) - my case load at that point had hit 90 + with quite a great many complex cases but due to low RSR scores that remained with me.
    The investigating IM made reference to my unacceptable case load - the report however was apparently signed off by NOMs with no further mention of it from management / Interserve , maybe as the SFO in question hadn't resulted in a death nor did it hit national headlines. My case load is currently the lowest it's been for a while at around 73 , mostly medium risk DV which results in me spending a great deal of time in risk management reviews resulting in more actions than I can cope with alongside everything else were expected to do , i know that what ive recoreded here is within CGM the norm so no bloody wonder staff are going off sick with stress and ither such related illnesses and that we are short of PO's - why would you want to sign up - I would love to be able to leave but unfortunately like so many others I'm not currently in a financial position to do so - I really didn't join this service to concern myself with business , targets and performance

    1. No one can possibly do a good job having to manage 100 cases and the constant stress this must cause going home worrying about what you need to do or have missed, and if someone is going to commit an SFO.

      Bloody liars the CRC's crying about profit when they are cutting the staff to the bone and making them work at an unacceptable level, this must equates to slave labour and is in breach of employment laws. Hope the PAC reads this blog and hears the truth. How are they getting away with this.

    2. for anyone not familiar with caseload numbers - caseload is the number of people you are accountable for - i'm currently on 102 however several of my cases are on multiple orders so in actual fact whilst i've 102 bodies i've actually got 115 orders to manage. For the PSO above who says their take home pay is ok, I'd agree 1690 is a manageable income - i'm only on 1480 which is a bit of a difference even with my 9yrs experience.

  11. Wasn't the PbR model that was being trialed at HMP Peterborough and Doncaster changed just to suit the CRCs and make it more attractive to the to bidders of TR.?
    If it was changed, the the CRCs were fully aware of the payment mechanism being operated when signing the contracts. So I don't know why they're whinging now.


    1. I think I'm right in saying the p'boro & donc'r models were not accepted as pilots for the TR contracts because (1) it was not a like-for-like model & (2) its been admitted on the record (Hansard) that if the TR contract model had been piloted it would never have been implemented because it doesn't work. In Grayling's desperate hurry he initially cited p'boro & donc'r, as did the pack of civil service lickspittles, but on closer inspection those experimental models were acknowledged as being based upon totally different criteria - except for the overarching principle of paying others to do public service work.

      The responsibility for the robust, infallible contract mechanism that is TR must lie with the much feted Antonia Romeo who (whilst in the care of the now retired Dame Ursula Brennan) was the Responsible Officer for the project. Romeo has recently been asked by covert Brexiteer-in-Chief May to assist with selling the UK to Trump, Putin & anyone else with a fustful of dollars.

      We couldn't be in better hands.

    2. Getafix - Does this help?

      Doncaster Prison and Peterborough Prison: Reoffenders:Written question - 36738
      Q Asked by Philip Davies(Shipley)Asked on: 06 May 2016
      Ministry of JusticeDoncaster Prison and Peterborough Prison: Reoffenders36738
      To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, if he will publish a comparative assessment of the proven reoffending rates of the HMP Doncaster and the HMP Peterborough payment by results pilots.

      A Answered by: Andrew Selous Answered on: 11 May 2016
      We have learned important lessons from these pilots, which have informed our probation reforms. The final process evaluation reports can be found at the following links:



      The PbR pilot operating in HMP Peterborough began on 9 September 2010 and results for cohort 1 of this pilot were published on 7 August 2014. The final set of results will be published in due course. The PbR pilot that operated in HMP Doncaster started in October 2011 and closed at the end of 2014. Results for cohort 1 were published in August 2014 and results for cohort 2 were published in July 2015.
      The published results can be found at the following links:


    3. From an article quoted on this blog, 21 Aug 2014:

      "No such caution has been evident in the Government’s response. The SIB was being repeatedly cited by Justice Ministers as evidence for their Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) reforms long before its initial results were available. In which case, they were never actually interested in what the SIB might teach them. And this is seen in the way that TR appears to be rewarding results, with a rigidity that will make it very hard for the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to emulate the crucial flexibility of the SIB. What they are rolling out is not what is being piloted.
      The full resourcing of resettlement which the SIB made possible through the outcome mechanism is also going to be exceedingly tough to replicate under TR. Short term prisoners have simply been added to the responsibilities of the CRCs without any new resourcing. Following further public spending cuts, the CRCs’ budgets will be significantly lower than the former Probation Trusts and yet they will have far higher caseloads. Once short term prisoners are subject to statutory license on release, we face the prospect of overstretched staff reduced once again to the bureaucratic enforcement of sentences. In other words, reconvictions triggered by breached licenses are set to sky rocket."

  12. I'm not sure to what extent probation staff interact with the courts on a daily basis, but I'm guessing that this new piolet if given the go ahead may impact on the working day of many staff all across the justice system.


    1. Lawyers concerned as MoJ revives plans for extended court sittings

      The profession has raised concerns over government plans to test flexible operating hours in courts and tribunals, under which some courts will stay open as late as 8.30pm.

      The Law Society said the pilot scheme must maintain a clear focus on impact while the Bar Council warned that parent barristers could be placed at a disadvantage.

      The pilots are expected to begin in May, in six courts over six months. Crown courts will be open until 6pm, civil courts until 7pm and magistrates' courts until 8.30pm.

      A spokesperson for HM Courts and Tribunals Service said: 'We are exploring flexible operating hours in six pilot courts to test how we can improve access to justice for everyone by making the service more convenient for working people. These pilots will help us understand how flexible hours affect all court users and will be fully evaluated before any decision is taken on rollout.'

      The six pilot courts are:

      Newcastle and Blackfriars Crown court
      Sheffield and Highbury Corner magistrates’ court
      Brentford County Court and Manchester Civil Justice Centre

      The Ministry of Justice previously introduced flexible court sittings in the wake of the 2011 London riots. Under that scheme, 42 magistrates’ courts had extended weekday as well as weekend sittings. Around 6,000 cases were heard during the pilot.

      However Richard Miller, head of justice at the Law Society, said that that the previous experiment did not find sufficient benefits to give the green light to changes.

      'An effective pilot would have to maintain a clear focus on impact – whether on members of the public using the court service or professionals providing advice and representation. This includes advising people making or defending civil claims, those involved in criminal proceedings or family court services,' he said.

      He added: 'We welcome the assurance this pilot will be subject to a robust evaluation before any decision is taken to roll out the scheme. We look forward to getting more detail from HMCTS – both about the pilot and about how they will evaluate it.'

      Chairman of the bar Andrew Langdon QC said that working to the extended hours would be 'almost impossible' for parents with childcare responsibilities. The biggest impact will be on women, he said. ‘Childcare responsibilities still fall disproportionately to women, many of whom do not return to the profession after having children. It is hard to see how these plans sit with the government’s commitment to improving diversity in the profession and the judiciary.’

  13. Listening to evidence to date, not one individual has reflected on probation performance pre TR. I accept we were not perfect, i accept there was always room for improvement, but what we had then was a better base to build upon than what we have now ��