Sunday, 5 March 2017

SFO Lessons to Learn 4

Carl Eve of the Plymouth Herald discusses the latest developments in this sad case:-

TV documentary offers Tanis mum fresh hope in fight for justice

Tanis Bhandari's mother says telling her story during last night's TV documentary has given her fresh focus in her fight for justice. Andrea Sharpe says appearing on the programme - broadcast on Welsh language channel S4C - allowed her to swap experiences and knowledge with Nadine Marshall, mother of South Wales man Conner Marshall, whose case bears a lot of similarities to Tanis'.

She said the experience of being on-camera and talking of Tanis's killing was "quite difficult", but she added that Nadine was "so lovely and helpful and made me feel at ease." Andrea said speaking to Nadine about her own experiences in getting information about her son's death and his killer has spurred her on to keep fighting for justice. And she says that will stand her in good stead when she meets with the Justice Minister and Lord Chancellor next week to discuss the monitoring of offenders like the one who killed her son.

She said: "It really felt like we were achieving something and being more aware of what she are entitled to and should fight for." Andrea said she will be meeting with Elizabeth Truss MP – the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor – next Monday in London. The meeting, organised by Plymouth MP Johnny Mercer, will allow Andrea chance to express her feelings about the case and how the families of victims feel and are treated by the criminal justice system.

She will also highlight the petition signed by thousands of Plymouth people, calling for more information to be revealed about how Pemberton was monitored by the privatised probation service. She said: "I will show the petition results to her and ask her questions. I'd really like to push the numbers up, push to something like 10,000 before I see the Minister for Justice."

One of the questions Andrea said she'd like answered is how can one of the CRC's run by Working Links be allowed to investigate another CRC for suspected failings. She said: "The hope is to urge the Justice Minister to do something about these cases. Meeting with Nadine Marshall made me realise that we're not the only ones out there going through this, and it's just not right that any of us should have to."

Last night's documentary, broadcast on Welsh-language channel S4C, revealed the terrible similarities between the murders of Tanis Bhandari and of South Wales man Conner Marshall. Conner, aged 18 was savagely beaten to death by David Braddon in March 2014.

The Herald exclusively revealed that Tanis's family were not even made aware of the SFO summary report into the handling of their son's killer, who was on licence at the time of his arrest for murder.

Details of how Pemberton was dealt with by both the police and the probation service after he was arrested for brandishing two meat cleavers in Anstis Street, Stonehouse on December 15, 2014 – just two weeks before he was at the Green in Tamerton Foliot where Tanis met his death – was also not handed over until they were alerted to the report by The Herald.

The brief report claimed the supervision of Pemberton, who had been released from prison just a few weeks before he was arrested for the meat-cleaver incident, was handed to a "staff member who was newly appointed to the role of case manager (Probation Service Officer - PSO). The report claimed this case manager member was "an experience staff member" who had worked "for a few years in probation in another role".

However, it also admitted the CRC's practice was to "provide training for newly appointed case managers... through a designated PSA development programme" but there was a "delay in getting the case manager onto this training programme".

The report also revealed the case manager was not made aware Pemberton had been arrested for more than a week and only then because of a call from a member of the mental health Insight team. Tanis family have called for more details and evidence that action was taken or that improvements have been made, but to date this have been refused by Working Links.

At the time Braddon was under the supervision of a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) run by Working Links – the same firm which runs the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC which oversaw the supervision of Donald Pemberton. Pemberton and Ryan Williams were both jailed for life for the joint murder of Tanis in the early hours of New Year's Day in 2015.

A Serious Further Offence (SFO) summary report was initially handed to Conner's mother Nadine, but she had to battle the privatised firm to be allowed to see the full report. She found that while the summary report claimed there was "nothing the offender manager could have done which would have predicted or prevented the offence", the full report gave far more information.

Speaking to the BBC's File on Four programme late last year Nadine said the full report was "markedly different" from the three-page summary report. She said: "For starters, [it was] more than twenty pages long. But perhaps most worryingly, it said David Braddon's supervision was unworkable and he should have been sent back to court."

The petition – available at – currently sits at 5,891 signatures.

Written by Andrea it states: "To date we have been denied access to this [the full Serious Further Offence] report, being given only a summary which leaves more questions. Despite numerous requests to management of DDC-CRC we remain without answers and explanations as to many aspects of the case. At the start we were assured complete transparency but as yet we are still in the dark. This has lead to suspicion and mistrust towards those in authority. Being the mother of a murdered son is not my choice. Knowing that DDC-CRC mismanaged and failed to identify numerous factors within this case review is unacceptable and inexcusable. As a parent I'm looking for honest, truthful answers and explanations from those who deny me the full report."


  1. It is utterly shameful that Nadine & Andrea have had to endure such resistance & reluctance to engage on the part of 'the system' (whether public or private) in allowing them to come to terms with the murders of their children. I have enormous respect for their strength & refusal to capitulate in the face of callous, greedy bullies. And well done to Carl for pursuing & making public the sorry tale of an unjust, corrupt & broken UK justice system.

  2. Eve great journo should have his own tv investgative programme.

  3. All areas of public services should be open to scrutiny and a freedom to access information, regardless of whether they're being delivered by government or private enterprise.
    It's not acceptable that private companies (many of which gave dodgy backgrounds in service deliver) should be allowed to hide behind corporate sensitivity.
    Privateers companies that take on the delivery of public services should be made to take on the responsibility and transparency that should go hand in hand with the service being delivered.


  4. I am pleased to see that this case has been highlighted on today's Blog. I receive many petitions on my email account, and I signed this one about a month ago, and shortly afterwards I posted a comment on this Blog asking people to please sign it, as the mother was desperate to get more signatures before taking it to Parliament.

    It did not appear to make much difference to the number of signatures already given, so I posted another request last week, on the Blog, and all I got was one abusive response, suggesting I was criticising the PO, to the point of hounding them (or words to that effect). I sent another comment, explaining that it was the CRC and others in management who were irresponsible -not the new -in -post and untrained officer- and who had refused to disclose the full SFO, which highlighted many faults in this sad case.

    I was very grateful immediately after this for one further posting, telling me that they had signed and put the petition on Facebook.

    I am so glad to see that it is receiving more publicity, particularly today on the Probation Blog, as it reaches out to those of us in the know, and who forecast that it was only a matter of time before a dreadful situation such as this would arise.

    Please sign the petition and give this mother further support before she has to face Liz Truss.

    And thank you Jim.

  5. I've just signed.

  6. Replies
    1. 6,158 signatures when I last checked. Why not 10,000 already? Or 100,000? Or 8Million? Come on, this isn't about stopping an oversized orange twit rolling up a red carpet...

      This is about doing the right thing, its about achieving some retrospective honesty as to why there were victims of potentially avoidable killings, its about helping mothers to come to terms with the deaths of their children, its about bringing the managerialist bullies to their senses, its about getting 'the authorities' to admit their failures and do something about it for a change.

  7. A bit off to left field but as Liz Truss was mentioned....

    She was on Question Time last Thursday and whilst she mentioned prisons, court services and the judiciary, not a mention of Probation. Does she know that Probation is part of her portfolio?? The Labour party representative on the Question Time panel referred to Probation and Liz Truss simply ignored it. Clearly we are in safe hands.

    1. Whenever I have had an abusive or ignorant manager I have been grateful to go unnoticed. Perhaps probation is safer if LT doesn't know of our existence

  8. Liz Truss may have something to say about this,it'll no doubt cause some lively debate within the CJS.


  9. Working Links staff on verge of meltdown. Caseloads doubled due to staff either leaving for other jobs or as result of VS packages. Anyone can see increased risks of cases falling through the net and not being adequately monitored/managed.

    High risk of more victims if service provision further deteriorates. Staff not being supported as focus on meeting performance targets. Payment by results at what cost???

    1. Any cost! Just as long as they keep getting paid! They have no other concerns.

  10. Would recommend the documentary '13th' on Netflix - UK govt must be salivating as they endeavour to implement their own version of 'justice' here.

  11. Interesting developments regarding SFOs I think.


    1. Inquiries into serious crimes committed by recently-released prisoners should be published, politicians have said.

      A review into the murder of Rhys Jones, who was killed by a man released five days earlier, questioned whether his killer's risk to the public should have been reassessed. But Mr Jones' family were initially blocked from reading it. Plans to transfer the management of such reviews to HM Probation have been put on hold.

      Mr Jones, 36, who had schizophrenia and had been under the care of mental health services for much of his life, was stabbed to death by Rhys Barnes in November 2015 at the Solas supported housing hostel where they were living in Newport. Barnes, 28, who had 17 previous convictions for 41 separate offences including grievous bodily harm, assault and carrying offensive weapons, was jailed for life in March 2016.
      At the time of the killing he was being supervised by the National Probation Service after his release from prison, having been assessed as a high risk to his family and a medium risk to the public. He had been readmitted to prison at the beginning of November for breaching supervision conditions, but five days after coming out, he murdered Rhys Jones following a row about a girlfriend.

      A review into the killing questioned whether Barnes' level of risk to the general public should have been reassessed, and whether a multi-agency public protection meeting should have been held. The report said staff should consider referring prisoners who breach their licence conditions to a probation-approved premises following re-release. The findings of the review were shared with staff across Wales, "to highlight areas of learning so that staff across the organisation can embed the learning into their own practice". But Mr Jones' family had to push to see it after they claim they were initially told it "would not benefit" them to know the findings.

      David Hanson, Labour MP for Delyn and a member of the justice select committee in Westminster, said it was important families and the public know what went wrong in cases such as these. "That means that the report has to be published for the victim, but also for those like myself who take an interest to make sure the system is working well," he said. "Without that we think something may well be hidden and something may not be dealt with that could be dealt with."

      Labour's Newport East AM John Griffiths, who had been supporting Mr Jones' family, echoed his call. "I would pay tribute to Rhys' family because they've shown dogged determination to try and ensure that the whole of the circumstances are understood, and that lessons are learnt for the future, crucially, to try and minimise the chances of further tragic loss of life in these sorts of circumstances," he said. "The more openness the better, for public confidence; if people feel things are being hidden that arouses suspicions and concern."

    2. Tania Bassett, of the National Association of Probation Officers, called on the government to honour its pledge to transfer management of serious further offence reviews from the probation service to Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation. She said: "We welcome that [the transfer] because it would apply a much more consistent approach across the board: everyone would have the same treatment, it would be an external independent body looking at that investigation rather than those who may have their own commercial interests, and also it would mean greater transparency for the public, which we think is the right way forward."

      The National Probation Service said: "Serious further offences such as this [Mr Jones's murder] are rare but each one is taken extremely seriously and investigated fully. "Public protection is our priority. A full review was undertaken and all identified learning was taken forward."

      Nick Taylor, of Solas Cymru, said an internal hostel review of Mr Jones' killing found there was "absolutely no way that this incident could have been predicted".

  12. Has anyone read the howard league report regarding working links being in 'advanced talks' with G4S to take over Oakhill secure training centre in sussex? A secure unit for children! This is diabolical in the true sense of the word ( of the devil ) How can our so called advanced Country be allowed to trade vulnerable children like goods. I feel ashamed to be part of such a system. This is intolerable. I work for WL and so I can tell you that they have no interest in or concept of risk management and do nit care about the welfare of their staff or service users and as such they are unfit to run bgsw crc and also unfit to work with vulnerable children. This abomination needs to stop now.