Friday, 7 July 2017

CRCs Rewarded for Failure

Thanks go yet again to Frances Crook of the Howard League for spotting the following Parliamentary Question and Ministerial Written Answer:-

Community Rehabilitation Companies: Finance: Written question - 2540

Asked by Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) on: 03 July 2017
Ministry of Justice Community Rehabilitation Companies: Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what changes his Department has made to the funding of community rehabilitation companies.

Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah  06 July 2017

We have undertaken an overarching review of probation, looking at the standards we set for providers and how we hold them to account. We have already made some changes to how CRCs are paid so they can focus on activities that best rehabilitate offenders and keep society safe. The details of these changes are commercially sensitive, however the contract modification notices are published online at the Official Journal for the European Union.


So, just to be clear, the MoJ under former Minister of Justice Chris Grayling, completely screws-up the Probation Service; the CRC's have completely failed to perform according to the TR contracts, but they are rewarded, in secret, with more money!   


This from yesterday:-

"Supervision" is a total joke. Mine consists of a monthly phone call saying "has anything changed?" You say no and in a couple of days you get the next telephone appointment notice through the post. And that's it. If you need help with anything, the answer is always no. I'm just surprised there aren't more violent crimes committed by people on licence because there literally is zero supervision of any kind."

This from today:-

"no access to delius or any internet connection in Interserve CRCs. This has been since first thing this morning. We can't even get on at home via our own wifi."


  1. "We have already made some changes to how the CRCs are paid so that they can focus on activities that best rehabilitate offenders and keep the public safe". Well I haven't seen hair or hide of such changes yet here in the London CRC, quite the reverse I am sad to say. I can't work out whether those people who say such things are deliberately pulling the wool or whether they believe their own lies. In London CRC there is by now an almost hysterical atmosphere as pressure months on our managers to produce perfect spreadsheets showing that all the t's have been. Tossed and all the i's dotted to the last infinitesimal detail. This means that all the focus of the entire organisation is spent on this exercise at the expense of the "rehabilitation " work. This obsession now occupies the very centre of the endeavour of the entire organisation so that what should be there is pushed to the periphery. If you want to do some god work with a service user do it in your spare time. If you do it during working hours then be prepared to spend time in the evening on those stats which have to be entered in the right way at the right time into an already highly moody IT system. I want to take the MPs, the ministers, the MOJ civil servants and our own senior management and I want to knock all their heads together. Together they have made and continue to perpetrate and maintain an unholy mess. I want to be given a chance to swap places with them for 6 months. Running a good show is not rocket science.


    1. Where are Probation?
      I am writing in response to the submission below:

      Searching in the dark – HMP/YOI Parc

      “I have been in custody for 10 months and in that time, I have had NO contact from my Probation Officer. My Offender Supervisor has been brilliant, but there are things only my PO can help with. My release is in four months and I need to see Probation. Since Probation got privatised they seem to have disappeared. Can anyone tell me what Probation are supposed to be doing for me before my release?”

      As a result of the restructuring of probation services in England and Wales under the Transforming Rehabilitation reform as of 1 June 2014, probation services have been delivered by two separate organisations. The National Probation Service (NPS) is a public sector organisation covering the whole of England and Wales, and by 22 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC), each CRC covers a specific geographic area within England and Wales, with the ownership of each through private and third sector organisations.

      At the point a person is sentenced to a term of imprisonment he or she will be assigned either a Probation Officer or Probation Service Officer. The probation officer, whilst the convicted person is in custody, will liaise with Offender Supervisors and Resettlement staff in prison and plan for the terms and conditions of release on licence, and also what resettlement issues will need to be addressed.

      The Probation staff would have contact with the person whilst they are in custody and would hope to engage them in the process of sentence planning both whilst in custody and upon release. For instance they would discuss what activities and courses need to be completed in prison, and what issues on release need to be addressed. This is mainly achieved through directly visiting that person, or through video or telephone conferencing. If the convicted person needs to contact the community Probation Officer or Probation Service Officer this can often be arranged through the prison Offender Supervisor, the CRC Resettlement Officer, or contact made by letter or telephone.

    2. The original Inside Time questioner from HMP Parc may be interested to know that the Wonky Links model, operating in Wales, the West and South West is explicitly based on them not having contact with their OM until the very end of their time in custody. As a custody case they count as Blue under the BRAG model, and allocated to the In Touch hub, where they are just one dimly-recalled name amongst 100+ others on some poor PSO's caseload. In theory, 12 weeks before release their case is reassessed and they are allocated to a front line member of staff, but in practice it's in the last week or two before release, when the prison starts chasing up the PD1, and the hub staff frantically uncover some minor aspect of risk that means the case has to be shifted to someone else. The front line staff member who is next in the firing line then tries to find out what the TTG staff have actually been doing as part of their end of the contract. Usually the discovery is that there is a BCS screening which bears no relation to reality, and little or no effective resettlement work has been done. We hope there is a friend or family member willing to take them in (little hope of doing any kind of assessment of suitability), otherwise it's telling them to report to the local housing options team on release.

      There is *no* liaison with Offender Supervisors in prison, *no* efforts to "engage them in the process of sentence planning", certainly *no* "directly visiting", and very limited video or telephone conferencing. Licence conditions are based on guesswork, normally at best 'informed' by some handwritten notes from court, or copied from the poor prisoner's last period of licence supervision.

      In short: take everything we know about the effective, decent and humane ways of working with prisoners and ex-prisoners (having a single point of contact that changes as little as possible, giving them the chance to develop a meaningful working relationship with their supervising officer, long term planning that includes assessment of home circumstances and incorporates support networks where appropriate) and do the exact opposite.

      It's a fucking shambles.

  3. The details of these changes are commercially sensitive ... so there! Like it or lump it! Crikey Mikey what a strange way of providing an important public service! Someone provide me with the rationale why our precious personal taxes came to be buried in the black hole of commercial sensitivity. Genuinely I would love a detailed answer?

  4. do you have the information regarding how they have changed the service level agreements?

    1. Service Level - SL. These are from 1st July

      SL01 - initial face to face from court (CO/SSO) to take place 5 business days from point of NPS transfer thru Delius. The change is that if someone rings to re-arrange we can't just re-schedule but we have to put either acceptable or unacceptable - Delius MUST be updated by day or it will be a negative result. Target 97%

      SL02 release from custody on licence must be seen 1 business day from point of release. If fta the delius entry MUST be populated - left unresulted it willresult in a negative result. Target 97%

      SL03/SLO4 sentence plan (Community & Licence cases) completion target extended from 10 days to 15 days so more time to gather info and make a more informed assessment. Target 97%

      SL06: 75% target for UPW cases to have first UPW apt no later than 7 calendar days from NPS transfer in Delius. Target 75%

      SL08 Community Orders to be terminated on Delius with exit plans uploaded. Target 75%

      SL10 90% target for UPW to be completed within the 12mth deadline.

      SL11 all programmes to be completed in the timescale of the Order. 90% target

      SL13 - was a 'through the gate' target but TTG is no longer part of CRC service level agreement.

      SL15 - Institutional Reports to be returned to be returned to custody within 10 business days. Target 97%

      SL16 - all breach documents to be uploaded by day 8. Target 90%

      SL18 - Recalls to be resubmitted within 24hrs. Target 95%

  5. could it get any worse?

  6. Interserve CRC Manchester put the public, the clients, and the staff at risk on a daily basis as a matter of routine. NOTHING matters except for the money. Management don't even pretend to value meaningful work with the client group anymore - that's not our job. Our job is to input - and input and input and input - and manipulate data to ensure the company gets it's cash. Consideration of what might be best for the clients or for the public is frowned upon and actively discouraged. What will be faster? What will be cheaper? What will enable the maximum number of clients to be processed for the minimum outlay? How can we minimise our contact with the client group while maximising our returns? How fast can we get clients back to court to get their orders rescinded? What is the absolute minimum we can get away with and still get paid? We are haemorrhaging experienced and committed staff on a daily basis as they grasp for any opportunity for escape and no effort is made to retain them as their integrity and their concern to do things well and to do things right is at odds with the company ethos where NOTHING MATTERS BUT THE MONEY.

    1. With you all the way 20:43.. My PF inbox of late contains nothing but spreadsheet after spreadsheet from on high.. your heart sinks when you have to interpret its content and what they are asking you to do.. what's more, to complete in a timeline that makes your eyes water.. percentages that make no sense.. figures of compliance to the 2nd decimal point.. if any member of the public was looking over my shoulder as I try to make sense of this nonsense..., they could be forgiven for thinking I was a stock exchange trader and not a Probation Officer with a diary full of real people to see.... The recent Interserve 'chicken lickin' the sky is falling in moment was a mad chase to clear up a backlog of historical data that was cascaded down to PSOs/POs to sort out. This exercise was to look back at an awful lot of cases that had admin information missing... Once the domain of the trusty CA, now renamed Case coordinators. That subtle change in title by Interserve now means that all POs/PSOs are responsible for their own admin, to type, then print on headed paper your letters, then upload them into Delius, put them in envelopes and the receptionist will post them for you. The facility Managers (no longer SPOs) cannot help as they are too busy sorting out the latest H&S building issue....This organisation has well and truly lost its way.. They really do think that it is more important that I have recorded in some dark part of Delius that little Tommy Aitkens has a NVQ in basket weaving, which has absolutely no relevance as to how I manage him, is worth me dropping everything. Correcting this historical admin oversight is more important than my unpicking his real problems and finding a way through to improve his lot.... We are about 3 years into this TR pantomime and I cannot see any light.. If I was a master of the excel spreadsheet, I would tug on my red braces and shout as loud as I can above the stock market bear pit...SELL

    2. over the past week we've had another spreadsheet that has made us all groan, it's a list of staff; caseload numbers and worryingly it shows the amount of acceptable/unacceptable absences and breaks down further into how many offenders we saw over the last quarter AND the amount of time we spent with them. OMG they are drilling down to the minutae.

  7. Talk about good money after bad. I read somewhere that the Inspectorate is changing the drill, relying on performance data, but inspecting more frequently. It wasn't clear if they intend to stop interviewing staff (and offenders). Does anyone know what's going on?

  8. Published by: Ministry of Justice
    Publication Date: 27/05/2017
    Deadline Date:
    Deadline Time:
    Notice Type: VEAT
    Has Documents: No
    The contracts for the delivery of probation services by the contractor referred to in V.2.3) below, a Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) was originally awarded on 5.12.2014.
    The contract is now being modified to amend the sums in the Fixed FFS Column in the Fee For Service tables in Appendix 3 of Schedule 11 of the contract for Contract Year 4 onwards. The fixed FFS figures for Band 6 to Band K in the Fee for Services tables will increase. The Fixed FFS figures for Band 7 to Band 14 will reduce.

    1. IV.1.1) Type of procedure
      Award of a contract without prior publication of a call for competition in the Official Journal of the European Union
      Justification for selected award procedure:
      The procurement falls outside the scope of application of the Directive
      This notice relates to the intended modification of a contract originally awarded on 5.12.2014. The authority considers the modification of the contract without prior publication of a contract notice to be permitted by Part 2 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (‘the Regulations’), which implement Directive 2014/24/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council (‘the Directive’), and intends to sign the modification on that basis. The contract is being modified in accordance with Regulation 72(1)(c) of the Regulations/ Article 72(1)(c)of the Directive, and accordingly does not in the authority's view amount to the award of a new contract. The authority considers that Article 72(1)(c) applies because the need for modification was brought about by circumstances which a diligent contracting authority could not have foreseen. The modification does not alter the overall nature of the contract. Any increase in price does not exceed 50 % of the value of the original contract.
      The unforeseeable circumstances were as follows. Since the contract was awarded, the volume of cases allocated to the CRC has been much lower that was foreseeable, and the volume of community sentences and nature of service requirements applicable to offenders have been significantly different from historic data and this was not foreseeable. Consequently, the Fee for Service payments have been significantly lower than anticipated. In addition, the CRC has a much higher proportion of fixed costs than was foreseeable. This results in too much of the Fee for Service payment being changed when volumes change, when more of it should remain fixed.

    2. This IT cntract was snuck through in Dec'16:

      IV.1.1) Type of procedure
      Negotiated procedure without prior publication
      Justification for selected award procedure:
      The works, supplies or services can be provided only by a particular economic operator for the following reason: absence of competition for technical reasons
      The Contracting Authority relies on the ground set out within Regulation 32(2)(b)(ii) (Use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication) of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. For technical reasons, the services can be provided only by a particular tenderer. This is the Incumbent Supplier (Sopra Steria) who have been providing the services that form the subject matter of this contract (the Services) under contract with the Authority for the last 11 years. The existing contract is due to expire on 31.12.2016.
      Whilst a number of the Services that formed part of the original contract with Sopra Steria have been transitioned to the Authority's replacement suppliers, a limited number of Services are yet to be transitioned. These Services continue to be required for a period beyond 31.12.2016, to enable the decommissioning, exit and phased transition of the Services to long term replacement suppliers to be concluded. From a technical perspective, it is not feasible to transition the limited number of remaining Services to a new supplier for a short period, in order to complete the exit activity, before transitioning again during 2017 — 2018 to long-term replacement suppliers. The exiting services come at the end of a complex, high value, extended contractual relationship. Given this position, it is the Authority's view that it is likely that the cost of appointing a different supplier would not only be prohibitive but also that no other supplier would choose to bid for such a short-term appointment where the Services are expected to gradually diminish over the term.
      The Contracting Authority has therefore identified that the only viable route, both in terms of technical solution and cost, is to enter into a contract with the incumbent supplier for provision of a limited number of the Services. The maximum term of the new contract is 24 months, with the services being scaled down during that term as they continue to be transitioned to the Authority's replacement IT estate. The terms and conditions of the contract duly reflect the expected gradual diminution of the Services to be provided over the term.
      The absence of competition has not arisen as a result of an artificial narrowing down of the parameters of the procurement.
      IV.1.8) Information about Government Procurement Agreement (GPA)
      The procurement is covered by the Government Procurement Agreement: No

    3. Translation: sopra/steria have sewn this job up so tight that regardless of how crap they are it would be more costly than even we can justify (and we've justified wasting £billions to date) to get get someone else in to unravel the total fuckup. Our only way out of this mess is to make someone else responsible and hand it over to them.

  9. There are entries for each & every CRC. Here's one example with figures for DNLR:

    VII.1.4) Description of the procurement
    Successful bidders in the competition acquired the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) and contracts have been awarded (and entered into with CRCs) for the delivery of probation services. The contracts are for a 7-year initial term with an option to extend for a further 3 years. The contracts also provide for an exit period during which services continue to be provided of between 3 and 24 months from the expiry/termination date. The GBP (£) figures quoted within the original contract notice were the maximum anticipated, total, real value of the contracts where the contracts have been extended to the fullest amount allowed under the contract and payment by results has been paid at the maximum level in all periods including all extensions.
    VII.1.5) Duration of the contract, framework agreement, dynamic purchasing system or concession
    Duration in months: 84
    VII.1.6) Information on value of the contract/lot/concession (excluding VAT)
    Total value of the procurement: 159 592 000.00 GBP
    The contract/concession has been awarded to a group of economic operators: No
    VII.1.7) Name and address of the contractor/concessionaire
    The Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland Community Rehabilitation Company Limited
    4th Floor Livery Place, 35 Livery Street
    B3 2PB
    NUTS: UK
    The contractor/concessionaire is an SME: No
    VII.2) Information about modifications
    VII.2.1) Description of the modifications
    The contractor will be paid at WAV Band 4 the first 6 months of Contract Year 4.
    VII.2.2) Reasons for modification
    Need for modification brought about by circumstances which a diligent contracting authority/entity could not foresee
    Description of the circumstances which rendered the modification necessary and explanation of the unforeseen nature of these circumstances:
    Since the contract was awarded, the volume of cases allocated to the CRC has been much lower that was foreseeable, and the volume of community sentences and nature of service requirements applicable to offenders have been significantly different from historic data and this was not foreseeable. Consequently, the Fee for Service payments have been significantly lower than anticipated. In addition, the CRC has a much higher proportion of fixed costs than was foreseeable. This results in too much of the Fee for Service payment being changed when volumes change, when more of it should remain fixed.
    VII.2.3) Increase in price
    Updated total contract value before the modifications (taking into account possible earlier contract modifications and price adaptions and, in the case of Directive 2014/23/EU, average inflation in the Member State concerned)
    Value excluding VAT: 157 777 000.00 Currency: GBP
    Total contract value after the modifications
    Value excluding VAT: 159 592 000.00 Currency: GBP

    1. This should be the link to a page of all relevant contract notices:

    2. Once at this page, type 'probation' into the keyword filter box & click on "search"... a series of links to individual notifications for each CRC is listed.

  10. So not only did the CRCs divvi up the £80m "modernisation fund" (intended for staff via EVR but intercepted by the profiteers en route with MoJ blessing) but they now get additional public funds to ease their aching profit margins. The £2m extra for DNLR (see post above) could suggest the CRCs had an extra £40m to share between them in May?

  11. The smoke & mirrors effect deepens...

    Under a linked heading of TR the London crc is shown as having an increase in budget of £6m, yet under the Probation Services heading there's an implied increase of almost £10m to a new figure @£453,038,000 (up from £443,719,000).

    Simoarly KSS show a zero increase of funding under the TR banner BUT there's a difference of +£8.3m between figures when looking at the Probation Services link.

    Total increase in CRC funding per the 27 May 2017 amendments across 15 crc areas is approx £30m using one set of figures...

    Anyone able &/or prepared to enlighten us taxpayers?

  12. Under heading Probation Services Agreement the following modified contract figures are posted:

    dtv £73,438,000
    swm £196,675,000
    hlny £89,877,000
    wy £79,021,000
    wwm £75,687,000
    clcrc £96,247,000
    cgm £154,385,000
    wales £144,706,000
    nmbria £75,229,000
    mersey £72,873,000
    sy £95,163,000
    bgsm £107,522,000
    tv £86,356,000
    ddc £77,573,000
    bench £119,155,000
    essx £74,705,000
    nfksfk £61,066,000
    london £443,719,000
    kss £164,515,000

    TOTAL (for 19 crc contracts) £2,525,677,000.
    That's £2.5Bn, or two-and-a-half DUPs.

    1. Wasn't the whole probation budget pre TR less than a billion - from memory I think it was circa £850 million. I suppose Grayling did say it wasn't about saving money! Unfortunately he failed to explicitly say it was about giving his mates the cash.