Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Queen's Speech

This from the Guardian:-

Privatised probation programme 'could be dropped with negligible impact'

A joint report by the chief inspectors of probation and prisons says staff are focused on paperwork and targets at the expense of prisoners

A key part of the government’s probation privatisation reforms could be dropped tomorrow without any impact on the resettlement of prisoners, a joint report by the chief inspectors of probation and prisons has warned.

In what critics dubbed a “devastating report on a growing scandal” Dame Glenys Stacey, the chief inspector of probation, and Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, say that the work done by the 21 community rehabilitation companies in the government’s Through the Gate programme is having a negligible impact on reducing prisoner reoffending rates, two years after its introduction.

The chief inspectors say that too many prisoners have been released not knowing where they would sleep that night, that in too many cases prisoners’ risk to the public had been inadequately assessed before release, and despite much talk about the use of mentors, they could find only one prisoner out of a sample of 98 who had been mentored.

“None of the early hopes for Through the Gate have been realised,” they said. “The gap between aspiration and reality is so great, that we wonder whether there is any prospect that these services will deliver the desired impact on rates of reoffending.”

The chief inspectors’ report was based on visits to nine prisons where Through the Gate services were delivered by seven different rehabilitation companies in England and Wales and a detailed examination of the cases of 98 long-term prisoners.

“The overall picture is bleak,” they conclude. “If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.”

They said that CRC staff focused most of their efforts on producing written resettlement plans to meet contractual targets, while the needs of prisoners received much less attention.

“Many have enduring problems including mental illness and addiction, and yet links between treatment in custody and in the community were not always easy. Indeed the whole transition is often fraught. Affordable accommodation is hard to source, and claims to state benefits take time to process, so some prisoners are released with nowhere to live, and like others, may face weeks without any income.”

The provision of post-release resettlement services was one of the key aims of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which saw the part-privatisation of the probation service.

The inspectors say that while many CRCs have employed well-respected voluntary organisations to deliver resettlement services, their potential has not been realised as they have focused on completing delivery plans. The few examples of the promised innovation, they add, have been on a very small scale.

The performance of the CRCs raises questions about whether they will qualify for any payments under the payment-by-results mechanism in their contracts when the first reoffending data becomes available in October.

Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, described it as a “devastating report on a growing scandal” adding: “One of the first challenges for the new government is to sort out this mess.

“The break-up of the public probation service, with a large part of it handed to private companies, was supposed to turn lives around, reduce reoffending and make us all safer.
“Instead, successive inspection reports have shown that the risk to the public has increased, and now we learn that Through the Gate services are so useless that they could stop tomorrow and we would not notice the difference. People who are trying to lead crime-free lives are being let down,” she said.

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, added that the report’s central conclusion pointed to “a complete failure of the Tories’ reckless part-privatisation of probation. Public safety is being put at risk because ex-offenders aren’t getting the support, supervision and rehabilitation they need,” he said.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “We will take all necessary action to make sure the probation system is reducing reoffending and preventing future victims.

“We have undertaken an overarching review of probation, looking at the standards we set for providers and how we hold them to account. Additionally, we have made changes to how community rehabilitation companies are paid so they can focus on activities that will help cut crime. As part of part of the probation review, we have been looking at Through the Gate services and will be publishing our findings in due course.”


Following yesterday's Queen's Speech, Rob Allen tries to work out what the future is for prison reform:-

Prison Break

Why has the government junked the prison bit of the Prison and Courts Bill? There seem to be three main possibilities.

The first is that with big issues like the purpose of prisons and the role of the Secretary of State in running them due to be determined, ministers didn’t fancy depending on mavericks like Philip Davies MP let alone the DUP to get their way. The Tory party has always had its Michael Howards as well as Douglas Hurds and the risk of being held to ransom by hardliners – and having to rely on Labour votes to get their way- simply wasn’t worth the candle. Besides, the key to sorting out prisons-so this theory goes- doesn’t lie in a new legal frameworks but putting staff boots back on the ground as new Justice Secretary told us in his open letter today.

Theory two is that when Theresa May and her people asked what was in the bill, they were told that inspectors would get greater powers and ministers would have to respond to their criticisms. To which came the reply why on earth are we making another rod for our own backs? More transparency and accountability are the last thing we need just now.

Option three is that Mrs May is simply no prison reformer or at least not in the grandiose Cameron/Gove mould which gave shape to the thinking behind the Bill. She may be an instinctive hardliner herself but her record on social issues defies that simple characterisation. More likely in her weakened state she has realised that as far as the public is concerned, there are no, or few votes in prisons. With crime rising once again and what maybe a growing threat and reality of terrorist violence, reform and rehabilitation of prisoners is unlikely to help her government’s popularity in the country.

Whatever the reason - and it may be a bit of all three - within 18 months prison reform has been marched to the top of the hill and back down again. Mr Lidington’s letter promises that the work of making prisons places of safety and rehabilitation goes on. Maybe that is better done away from parliamentary and public gaze. But it feels, as the Chief Inspector of Prisons has said, a missed opportunity.

Rob Allen


  1. Through the gate is a scam and has never worked! TR is a complete scam too and only people who benefit are the private companies and shareholders. Whole thing should bw scrapped and put service back together. Crisis point in majority of CRC's.

    1. I agree. Only thing I don't quite get is that if the private companies profit why do these keep complaining they can't make ends meet, don't get the business they were promised, have to make cuts in their services etc? Must be just greed . When my CRC employer goes on wailing and winging that way then I ask what profit they have made so far and they clam up like the oysters they are guarding their pearls.

    2. Through the Gate was never a well-thought-out and funded programme. THG was successful in selling TR. Those poor, homeless, unsupervised short-term prisoners, cast out with a miserly £46-in-their-pockets. A sterling soundbite that nobody could gainsay.

      TR was always a facade of lies, but lies can take you a long way in life – until you are found out. But what does that matter to here today gone tomorrow politicians?

  2. Agreed ! On the news of the prime minister Mrs May actually delivered a great speech in moral and appropriately seeing through the real needs of the services on the ground. Recognising the State failures.

    It seems to me at least she does appear to know the right things to now be done. Unless the well scripted speech was written for her no doubt but she must understand what she has read out.
    Knowing this by watching her delivery we must all let her know that what she says is the same for all social needs . Those victims in a single tragedy deservedly get the response and state support they need to establish their lives and come to terms with horrific experiences they have suffered.

    The isues of loss vilonce and dangers are replicated across the country in offender services every day tenfold and which are contained at boiling point by dedicated hard working staff. Will she now look to put right the other negligence of her government ministers by acting on the plethora of condemnatory reports and inspections on Grayling on what he has done to increase the hidden risks to the public which they in the tory party voted for to have strangled all services from delivering anything positive in the chaos and tragedy called TR.

  3. With £billions probably going to the DUP, £billions perhaps required to determine the safety and correct housing issues brought to light by the London tower block fire, the probability that public sector workers may have to be given a pay rise and possibly many of the cuts in services being (if only in part) reversed, I have the feeling that probation and prisons may see tumbleweed before it sees reform.


  4. TTG needs to be mercifully put down.. I am sure it was well intentioned but when idology was the driver it was set to fail.
    MCRC by way of example.. a provider, who I won't name.. they have bought up a series of terrace housing and they are used for TTG.. They are only interested in securing the housing benefits ..All that happens is we end up warehousing drug addicts and alcoholics.. easy for the dealers to deliver to..Just waiting for Amazon to pick up on this and away we go... click and drop, your choice of any class A, any strain of cannabis can be sourced.. Free market supply and demand at its best... Free set of wine glasses or bong with any orders over 30 quid..... What chance indeed for the poor soul who self detoxed or was doing well on reducing dependency.. What do we do.. we plead to any Social Landlord for help.. but targets crop up again... they will only take high end Medium or high risk just to be assessed,, even then you only hear a sharp intake of breath from providers who feed them into some excel spreadsheet, who then spit them out and its computer says no..... TTG ... yet another one of those central government programmes that was designed by committee, looked good on some power point presentation with an audience of willing liggers patting each other on a job well done.. Tea and medals for all concerned..... Sad, just soo very sad...

  5. Shambolic. I cannot believe what this service has been reduced to. Regardless of whether or not the plug has / will be pulled on this whole farcical TR / TTG shambles, people need to held to account (Grayling - you ****** I can think of so many words to go here, but will leave readers to their own thoughts). What an absolute waste of tax payers money and politicians can all hang their heads in shame. I do not blame the private company's for this shambles, they are what they are - businesses. We should be a 'people focused' organisation but with this Government, money & capitalism is more important. So utterly disgusted with the (Tory led) ethics in this country at the moment. Absolute shame on the Government and the sooner they get out,(the country as a whole) will be better for it. Absolutely disgusted, its gone on long enough and thought you would have learnt your lessons from Thatcher who also ballsed up the country and we still pay today.

  6. All of this about TTG really isn't rocket science as it was doomed from the start ( what we would have said if anyone had actually given a shit about our professional and solution based opinions) given years and years ago ( way way before TR was even a glimmer in some bastards eye ) councils sold off all of their housing stock resulting in no affordable social housing especially for our clientele as what's on offer ( private companies that are supposed ( being the opperative word ) to offer a service to offenders are allowed and able to pick and choose whom they accommodate !!! leaving a great many people out on the streets or in the most unsuitable of so called emergency accommodation ( I've lost track of the amount of people I've worked with given this option choosing to remain on the streets and I for one have not blamed them for their choice ).
    I do feel sorry for the naivety of the TTG staff who have taken on a thankless task who will undoubtedly be blamed for this debacle rather than the Govt and the other powers that be that have banged the drum and said it was a good idea and WE as offender managers had to make work !!!! again more utter bullshit that We have had to endure - heaven forbid the poor buggers that remain homeless that we again are helpless in most ways to assist.

  7. NAPO AGM Wednesday 28th June at The Pier Marine Parade , Weston-super-Mare,lunch included. Come on CRC/NPS members.Let 's see a good turnout. Have your say and vote on new motions. Let's get new life back into NAPO. United we stand, divided we fall

    1. The AGM is in Nottingham in October isn't it

  8. Not much mention of justice system during the election, but it doesn't mean it's not been noticed.

  9. The whole situation is disgusting. I'm at a loss of how they expected every released prisoner to have a bed, money and support for mh or addictions when there is insufficient housing, a 6 week waiting list for universal credit - assuming you have a bank ac and ID - and a waiting list list for any form of services......but let's not acknowledge that, let's blame the staff of the CRC's