Saturday, 6 May 2017

A Desperate Plea

I find the following seen on Facebook absolutely astonishing and yet further evidence of the utter chaos probation finds itself in. We desperately need some effective leadership!


This week I have been challenged by a very senior CRC executive to convince them that there is a strong evidenced case to support the theory that reducing average caseloads to say 45 (but increasing the expectation from staff that those who are assessed as being at highest risk of reoffending in the CRC are worked intensively using all we know from the offender engagement project SEEDS etc) will result in reduced reoffending. Whilst we know this may be true any claim to truth needs to be evidenced.

What I am looking for are detailed evidenced comments of research, pilots etc so that I can use to counter the assertion that frontline probation staff are no better at reducing reoffending rates than any responsible person they might hire with a passing interest to supervise offenders/clients. This is quite an important debate to win as failure to provide a compelling counter argument could have dire consequences for our profession.

Whether evidence is ignored is another matter. Please share this message widely as I want to be overwhelmed with considered responses. Let's see if we can crowdsource some arguments. Your job as a Probation Officer or PSO whether NPS or CRC may depend upon it. Please either leave a comment here or contact me.

David A Raho


Would be worth contacting Shadd Maruna via message on twitter. Also isn't this the sort of thing the Probation Institute is supposed to be doing? - big ask for a Union rep.

Good on you DR. Police at Xxxxxxxx IOM scheme have produced figures for 2014-2016 showing that during that period Xxxxxxxx IOM with a cohort of approximately 200 service users saved £6 million in saved court police and prison costs. This was owing to intensive work involving police probation DWP housing and drug multi disc work. I'm not sure that is what PTB have in mind exactly. I am sure they are looking for cheap and simple as ever. But it is an illustration and concrete proof that a small investment can produce huge savings.

I think it's like asking someone who likes children to teach a class of them - they might be ok as a one off, but they don't know the curriculum, child development theory, safeguarding... ultimately, they could do more harm than good. The probation training ensures staff not only know what to do, but why they are doing it. We're talking about complex academic theories, backed up by research, which underpin everything we do. It breaks my heart when our experience and qualifications are dismissed as being something anyone could do.

Some might say we need an independent body to look after our professional interests like the BMA.

A mix of shock a CRC manager could be so contemptuous of us but also happy we could disprove such rubbish. But my question is - no one has had 45 cases for years - so how can this be studied? Has a study specifically been done on caseloads?

If it hasn't been done, how can there be real evidence produced on this specific issue? If not, could a study be set up for this purpose? Would need to be funded.

Great challenge I will post you mine and Xxxxxx's response over the weekend.

I can play football but does not mean I could manager a premiership or any team in a professional league and win. I would like to think I could make a good attempt but winning even a game would be very difficult, however If you are a trained football coach you are likely to have a better change you will have knowledge experiences and an understanding of different methods to improve your team and individuals. A football team is made up of a complex set of variables the better trained you are in the variables the better outcome you are likely to have.

What is the difference from being a trained PO and a trained football coach? Apart from the obverse the sentiment yes any one can do it but you will have a better chance if you are well trained. The main variable is how motivated is the person towards change. Do you have the particular knowledge to address the underlying issues. We need to be better trained, not less. Crazy CRC.

The problem with the organisation as it is that they are not willing to listen to any arguments whatsoever no matter how much evidence they are presented with. The attitude is pretty much "My way or the highway".


  1. Exactly why accountants, sales execs & target-oriented self-serving greedy-pigs (and the numpty Grayling) should never have been allowed anywhere near the provision of probation services.

  2. Think the two, 45 cases and SEEDS (Skills For Effective Engagement, Development and Supervision) matter but not the same. Higher caseloads mean less opportunity to work with cases. What an optimum caseload is, in order for SEEDS which comes packaged with its evidence base for effectiveness needs to be established. SEEDS also requires a whole organisation approach to effective supervision of offenders. I see no resources in CRCs that would come close to supporting the approach (unable to comment about NPS).

    1. Absolutely agree with you 11:05 - CGM Interswerve is all about groups ,groups ,groups regardless of whether this approach is effective in reducing reoffending and actually addressing the reasons why a said offender has committed a crime in the first instance - it appears that one oversized jacket fits all.
      Attending SEEDS training is however one of Interswerves new objectives for staff as part of their new appraisals !!!!!

    2. Yes 11:57 we in the great interserve family are wrapped up in that big padded one size jacket.. Can you remember when you were last asked by a manager, at any level, what you delivered today? What actual work did you do with your case whether that was SEEDS based or any other intervention , or any practical work that may have helped? No, me neither. However there are endless emails about such vitally important target interventions we need to be on top of such as our SL11, SL10 SL04 targets. These failures are expensive and could cost jobs.. I do not have the time, the desire,the inclination or strength to explain to the wider blog audience what they stand for as they are fatuous by definition ; mean nothing to the delivery of face to face rehabilitation, and anyway I always get them mixed up..... My next supervision will consist of a verbal test of what SL (whatever numbers)mean and what they stand for.... Need to swat up ... sod it... supervision will be cancelled anyway and by the time they remember the next re arranged session they will have moved on to the next big thing!!!!

  3. Probation Officer6 May 2017 at 18:25

    The answer to the question is in the success of those Probation Trusts that were top performers prior to TR. Their practices were leading to reductions in offending rates. 'End to end offender management, 'SEEDS', 'structured supervision', offender engagement' and effective community partnerships were among the strategies that worked. TR ended this, period!

    In response to anon 11:05, the NPS is the same as your CRC, if not worse, and there is no longer place for SEEDS type probation practice. Working for the NPS means dumbed down training, minimal professional development, prisoners to be supervised by prison until 6 months prior to release, lack of adequate staffing, staff dissatisfaction, over-emphasis on targets and performance, and no in-house resources.

  4. The UK has been heading for this Fall for the last forty years or so. The profligacy of 'The City', its bankers, traders & accompanying 'celebrities' has been the driving force behind the boom/bust & the outward-facing expression of capitalism. The political classes have been necessarily complicit to facilitate this disastrous state of affairs.

    Grayling ensured that Probation no longer a profession. Its now firmly incorporated within the capitalist economy, merely another corporate facility alongside electricians, cooks, waiters, caretakers, front-of-house, custody staff. None of the ideology of desistance, SEEDS or social work theory means jackshit anymore.

    And it won't be changing for some years to come because love him or loathe him Corbyn isn't The Messiah. He bumbles along and manifests as the ordinary, the not-so-polished, the not-quite-the-finished-article; he's universally rubbished for not joining in the game, especially by the eager wannabe's on the Labour benches; and as such he's an easy target. How must it feel to wake up every day knowing the posh boys & girls - and those who join in because they want to be friends with them - are going to mercilessly taunt you for another 24 hours? Yet he turns up to work and continues to defy the bullies.

    For me he represents the last glowing embers of humanitarianism in politics as opposed to the baying, slavering orcs who currently populate Westminster.

    1. Sadly, the great British public as a collective are not a thoughtful and considered bunch. We want fast food, fast news, fast solutions , fast Delivery reports..... and we want it now... If you look like a 1970s English teacher or dare I say it: social worker/probation officer, then the 21st century Briton will snigger, lovely man but can he fight the nasty Hun... Middle England only does soundbite strong.... Liverpool, my city..... loves him to death, we even have a banner on the Kop for him.... why? because he isn't a tory.... Who is out of touch... me and my city or middle England? As they say in Big Brother (Newcastle accent please) You decide!!!!

  5. I'm worn out with it all. End to end case management agreed was good. However, it comes down to basics - face to face contact with the service user, building trust, working with him or her, transparency, support (alongside service user) with outside agencies, challenging thoughts / comments / beliefs. It really is that simple. Somewhere along the line targets and finance seems to have come ahead of everything. What I have stated is easier, cheaper and what we are trained to do - risk management! I could go on with this but like I said, am worn out with it all. It really isn't rocket science but involve the corporate politicians and it does indeed become rocket science. Unbelievable and lack of common sense not to mention a complete waste of tax payer's money to create these target driven guru's who dictate. I haven't even started on NOMS / HMPAPS or whatever we are these days. Identity lost

  6. Or maybe not anon 22:41, not in 2017!

    Ever heard anybody on probation refer to themselves as a 'service user'? No because it's an inaccurate term imposed on people that are forced to comply with a service most would rather not have.

    'Risk management' is made up and meaningless. The true aim of probation is to help those that have committed crime to try and change for the better.

    And you may think you're 'honest' and 'transparent', but you're working for an organisation that offers a poor service in its current post-TR form and prides itself on catching out it's clients and sending them to prison.

  7. Prior to TR, Probation Trusts on the whole, ensured there was sufficient resourcing of staff training via the Diploma in Probation Studies/Practice. Although not perfect, at least it offered a recognised qualification for PSO's (VQ3) and a pathway to proceed to TPO Training if successful in recruitment Assessment Centres. Provision now fragmented post TR. Established Training Teams destroyed. What's happening to staff training now? Who does the training? How is it done?

    If resources for staff training and development are cut back to the bare minimum, if experienced staff continue to leave, who will be left to support any new entrants/existing inexperienced staff? Let's see what happens over the next 12 months? So much has happened in the past 12 months.