Saturday, 24 June 2017

Latest From Napo 152

Here we have edited highlights from the latest blog by Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence:- 


As everyone who has suffered the chaos that has befallen probation knows, the Through the Gate (TTG) scheme was heralded as the main driver for Transforming Rehabilitation by the former and unlamented Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling.

His oft repeated boast that his reforms would mean that prisoners on release should get more than £45 in their pocket has been bettered; in that now its £45 and a leaflet.

Given the millions of pounds of taxpayers money that was squandered on his vanity project this is hardly anything to shout about.

Below is an early Day motion that has been submitted by the Labour Party after we had briefed them on this week’s damning joint report by HM Inspectors of Prisons and Probation.

It about says it all.

Early Day Motion submitted to Parliament

That this House is concerned by the recent findings within the joint inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Prison regarding Through the Gate Resettlement Services; notes that Through the Gate resettlement services were introduced in 2015 to bridge the gap between prison and community; is concerned by the findings within the report which suggest that CRCs are making little difference to the prospects of prisoners due for release; notes that the report indicates that the primary focus of CRCs is to meet contractual arrangements instead of helping offenders within the service; further notes that inspectors found prisoners were no better served than 8 months ago noting that should Through the Gate services be removed tomorrow the impact on prisoners would be ‘negligible’; is concerned that Through the Gate services have never fully or successfully integrated into the prison system and that communications between all organisations responsible for carrying out Through the Gate services is almost non-existent; understands that a key role of Through the Gate services is to assist released prisoners in securing appropriate accommodation in time for their release; is aware that of the 98 cases observed by inspectors only two prisoners were found accommodation via Through the Gate services; is further aware of the consistent concerns raised by organisations during the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme and calls on the Government to urgently review the performance of CRCs and the NPS as well as the Transforming 

Rehabilitation programme.

Another HMI Probation report – Courts in the spotlight

The third report in a week, this time looking at probation work in courts. Compared to earlier reports this is relatively positive in that it shows there has been some improvement in probation court work in the last year. However, it still raises concerns about how the probation service is functioning post-privatisation and that pre-sentence reports are not providing adequate risk assessments in many cases.

Our media release today basically says that while Napo welcomes the reported signs of improvement it still doesn’t fully reflect the difficulties faced by members on the ground with many of you reporting the requirement to complete up to six reports a day and 80% of those being written in a short format or delivered verbally to the court. This leaves little or no time at all, for safeguarding checks for domestic violence and child protection.

We have already started to channel the findings to our various contacts in and outside of Parliament.

A chat with the new Secretary of State

As is traditional upon their appointment, the new Secretary of State for Justice Telephones round the leads for the various HMPPS Unions to introduce themselves and this week I was happy to field the call from David Lydington on behalf of Napo/Unison and GMB.

These types of discussions are always a bit of a squeeze but the appearance of the report on TTG provided some additional material for me that probably was not on David’s original script.

A number of key issues were raised especially around the Probation System Review and the need for something to happen on Probation Pay and I intend to cover this in a bit more detail in the next edition of Napo’s online magazine NQ5 due out soon.
What I said to the Public Policy Exchange

A really good opportunity for Napo to get its messages across to opinion formers and CJS providers comes in the form of specialist seminars and conferences, and one such opportunity opened up this week following the invitation from the Public Policy Exchange. Among others present were Norman Lamb MP, and a one Jonathan Aitken former MP, and once a guest of Her Majesty’s prison, the latter who offered a particularly insightful view about prison reform and safety.

Here is what I said which helped to elicit an absorbing Q&A and I have subsequently heard, was well received by the audience.

Britain Still Needs A Pay Rise Public Rally – Monday 17 July 5:30 -7:00pm

Central London location (likely to be Parliament Square)

The new political realism that is signalling the end of neo-liberalism and the austerity agenda that has been part it, has clearly woken the TUC from its torpor and at long last we are seeing what could be the start of a proper combined pay campaign with the announcement of a public rally next month.

I am told that the aim of this event is to enhance the public profile of the TUC’s pay campaign, engage union members and build their awareness and capacity to campaign on the issue and to build on the strength of support shown for public services and fair pay for public sector workers during the general election campaign.

I hope that this rally which I have offered to speak at, will see a mobilisation of union members (including Napo members from across the 24 employers where we are represented) The TUC will be developing a common set of messages, materials and branding around the event, with a coordinated media strategy.

It is also intended to organise a parliamentary lobby of a targeted group of Conservative MPs which will take place earlier the same afternoon. It would be helpful if Napo members could let Tania Bassett know if you might be able to take part in the lobby.

The list of Conservative MPs that we want to engage with appears below:

MP/Constituency/Size Majority

Royston Smith Southampton Itchen 31
Zac Goldsmith Richmond Park 45
Derek Thomas St Ives 312
Stephen Crabb Preseli Pembrokeshire 314
Stuart Andrew Pudsey 331
Jackie Doyle-Price Thurrock 345
Amber Rudd Hastings and Rye 346
Theresa Villiers Chipping Barnet 353
Chloe Smith Norwich North 507
Craig Whittaker Calder Valley 609
Jack Brereton Stoke on Trent South 663
Lucy Allan Telford 720
Michael Ellis Northampton North 807
Anna Soubry Broxtowe 863
Chris Green Bolton West 936
Simon Clarke Middlesbrough South & Cleveland East 1,020
Ben Bradley Mansfield 1,057
Matthew Offord Hendon 1,072
Andrew Lewer Northampton South 1,159
Andrew Stephenson Pendle 1,279
David Morris Morecambe & Lunesdale 1,399
Justine Greening Putney 1,554
George Eustice Camborne & Redruth 1,577
Mike Freer Finchley & Golders Green 1,657
Iain Stewart Milton Keynes South 1,725
Bob Blackman Harrow East 1,757
Mark Lancaster Milton Keynes North 1,915
Richard Harrington Watford 2,092
Ian Duncan Smith Chingford and Woodford Green 2,438
John Stevenson Carlisle 2,599
Nicky Morgan Loughborough 4,269
Robert Halfon Harlow 7,031
Margot James Stourbridge 7,654
Jeremy Lefroy Stafford 7,729
Ken Clarke Rushcliffe 8,010
Bill Cash Stone 17,495
Caroline Spelman Meriden 19,198
Philip Dunne Ludlow 19,286
Jeremy Hunt South West Surrey 21,590


Press Statement

23 June 2017 - Immediate Release

Some improvements to court work still failing to deliver

Today Her Majesties Inspectorate for Probation published the third Inspection report this week, this time looking at probation work in courts. Compared to earlier reports this is relatively positive in that it shows there has been some improvement in probation court work in the last year. However, it still raises concerns about how the probation service is functioning post-privatisation and that pre-sentence reports are not providing adequate risk assessments in many cases.

Whilst Napo welcomes a more positive outcome from this inspection, it does not truly reflect the reality that our members are facing on a day-to-day basis. Napo members report that they are having to complete up to six reports a day at court in order to meet the Ministry of Justice target of 80% of reports being written in a short format, or delivered verbally to the court. They say they have no time to do safeguarding checks for domestic violence or child protection before an individual is sentenced, thus increasing the risk to potential victims.

Napo welcomes the recognition by the Inspector that probation ICT systems are woefully inadequate with many laptops not having the functionality to complete the tasks in hand. This is despite the government’s aspirations to digitalise the court system. Napo is concerned that probation is being left behind in technology which makes the workload even greater for our members.

It is deeply concerning that the Inspector found that Community Rehabilitation Companies (private providers) are allowing offenders to miss too many appointments before they take legal action via the enforcement courts. Napo members echo this concern with reports that some CRCs encourage staff not to enforce court orders in order to show offenders as complying and increase the organisations performance targets.

Ian Lawrence General Secretary said: "Whilst it is welcomed that there have been some improvements in court work, we still believe we are long way off from the quality of service being delivered before TR in 2015. Our members feel that they do not have the time to do adequate risk assessments prior to sentencing due to the arbitrary targets set by the Ministry of Justice. This situation must be reviewed urgently by Ministers as professional practitioners should be able to decide which sort of report they provide to the court on an individual basis. It is also deeply worrying that CRCs are not breaching offenders who fail to comply with court orders and this must also be investigated immediately."


  1. Inadequate IT systems too.

    1. Probation staff are poorly equipped to work effectively alongside criminal justice colleagues, the chief probation inspector reveals today.

      Reporting on the findings of a thematic inspection, Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, said probation services in courts have significantly improved over the past year. However, 'despite government aspirations for criminal justice in a digital age', probation staff are 'poorly equipped and stand at a clear disadvantage'.

      Under the government's Transforming Rehabilitation programme, in June 2014 probation services were divided into a public sector National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 privately owned community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). The NPS is responsible for advice and information provided to the courts.

      Today's report states that NPS hardware and software 'are generally dated and lack functionality, inhibiting both efficiency and effectiveness... NPS operational staff did not have access to appropriate working tools and so were ill-equipped to function in a modernised, digital working environment. Very few had functioning laptops.'

      'Consequently, access to digital stores (a cloud-based repository for criminal justice case documents for all court users) was restricted and cumbersome. We saw examples of equipment that was not fit for purpose. In one instance the laptops allocated for staff were stored away, as they lacked functionality.'

      Inspectors did, however, see effective use of video-link technology.

      The chief inspector said it was 'heartening' to report that probation services in courts have noticeably improved over the past year. 'With challenging targets for speedy delivery of probation advice to courts (pre-sentence reports), advice is increasingly being given orally on the day, rather than in the traditional, more leisurely way, in full written reports,' she said.

      'We found that oral reports consistently provided good advice to courts about what sentence to consider.' However, 'advice is sometimes given in short written reports, yet they are not of the same quality, and the NPS must consider why that is. As it is, we found judges and magistrates much less likely to follow sentencing advice in short written reports'.

      Stacey credited the NPS for having good processes for getting information the court needs about the defendant's circumstances from local authorities and the police quickly, and competent and motivated staff in court daily. These enabled sentences to be passed swiftly and safely. However, the NPS does not assess the risk of an individual going on to cause serious harm, described as 'core probation work', well enough overall, Stacey warned.

      Work observed in prosecuting the enforcement of community orders was 'very good'. But 'we heard again that judges and magistrates fear CRCs are lax in returning cases to court, undermining their confidence in community sentences', Stacey said.

      The inspectorate will review enforcement in more detail soon, as part of a thematic inspection.

    2. I feel that reforms within the CJS have basically been shelved for this Parliament. Brexit provides the curtain that most social issues can be hid behind, and be hid they will be.
      The notion of resettlement prisons have gone, and now the autonomy promised to prison governor's
      appear to be being pulled back.

      TTG is a non starter. Recalls are sky high. Clients get no real time with their probation officers, who with the best will in the world can't do much for them anyway.
      Maybe the national smoking ban in prisons in August will create some situations that put CJS reform on the front pages again for a short while, but I think personally, if something doesn't decend into total breakdown, everything will just be sidelined.


  2. Ian Lawrence: "His [Grayling's] oft repeated boast that his reforms would mean that prisoners on release should get more than £45 in their pocket has been bettered; in that now its £45 and a leaflet."

    Grayling always referred to £46 in their pocket. Who's helped themselves to the missing £1?

    1. Ian Lorrunsse: "... I was happy to field a call from David Lydington..."

      David Roy Lidington CBE PC is a British Conservative Party politician.

      The correct spelling of names is a courtesy everyone should be afforded.

    2. The missing £ is probably the cost of the leaflet!

  3. So the big question is; When the hell are we getting a pay rise? My friends in the private sector undertaking roles which obviously don't take into account whether or not sex offenders and/or violent offenders are allowed to roam the streets have that luxury. The going rate for folding cardboard boxes to ensure they fit into a container and sorting out staff rosters with Sainsbury's is £41,000 + bonuses. I am paid (as I have been for the last 7 yrs £30,0o0) to advise whether the most dangerous people in society should be allowed to roam the streets! When it goes wrong, guess who's door it stops at! MINE! Sort it out for crying out loud. (no disrespect to retail mangers)

    1. Junior doctors get about £23,500 salary, long hours and Life and death on a daily basis.
      When consequences are attached to the decisions you make, then your wages need to reflect that responsibility.

    2. A more relevant comparison should be made with NHS workers and teachers, rather than private sector workers. A band 7 NHS worker at the bottom of the salary scale would have earned £30764 in 2010. That same worker would now be on £40428, thanks to incremental rise each year on top of a 1% cost of living increase each year as part of the salary cap. A teacher earning £24243 in 2010 would now be on £38250, again thanks to incremental rises and the 1% cost of living increases. And yet both NHS workers and teachers are forever bleating on about the financial hardship they face!! Believe me, NAPO has nothing to gain by teaming up with the TUC to campaign for better public sector pay. All it'll do is lead to even bigger increases for the NHS and teachers and nothing additional for us Probation staff.

  4. Forgive the Daily Fail link:

    Now please wash your hands ;)