Saturday, 29 July 2017

How Is TTG Going?

As we all know, the main reason given for the imposition of TR was the scandalous release of prisoners serving 12 months or less 'with just £46 in their pocket'. It was a soundbite repeated by Chris Grayling ad nauseam as a way to get political support for the whole TR project. 

At last it would magically result in all prisoners being assisted into employment and education by the innovative and cash incentivised CRCs. For the group probation had 'ignored', the so-called 'Through the Gate' initiative would deliver both a reduction in reoffending and handsome rewards for the contractors through Payment by Results. What a wheeze - what was not to like? What could possibly go wrong?

It was all smoke and mirrors, of course. Pure fantasy, confirmed over and over again by numerous inspectorate reports, such as this 'An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Short-Term Prisoners' from October 2016 - in other words the famous 'just £46 pound in their pocket' group :-  
‘Through the Gate’ is a flagship policy of government, intended to bring about a step change in rehabilitation, and so reduce reoffending. New services have been rolled out in prisons to prepare prisoners for release and resettlement and increase their prospects of leading a better life. When the policy was introduced in spring 2015, post-release licence supervision and rehabilitation support was extended to those formerly ineligible (serving short sentences) so as to increase the impact on reoffending overall. 
In our fourth Transforming Rehabilitation report published in January 2016, we signalled our concern that Through the Gate expectations were not being given priority on the ground. Probation providers were focused on the more immediate demands of leading and managing wholesale change to the delivery model for all probation services. Now, more than six months hence we find little change and little delivered, albeit the reasons for that are more complex than those holding back improvement last year.
Newly formed Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are responsible for Through the Gate provision, but are not sufficiently incentivised under their contract arrangements to give priority to this work. Payment is triggered by task completion rather than anything more meaningful. Additional financial rewards are far off and dependent on reoffending rates that are not altogether within the CRC’s gift. CRC total workloads (and therefore income) are less than anticipated when contracts were signed. As CRCs continue to develop and adjust their operating models accordingly, CRCs are hard-pressed and are generally giving priority to work that is rewarded with more immediate and more substantial payment. These detailed contractual arrangements must change and develop, for the government’s rehabilitation policies to be delivered well.
Last month another joint HMI report was published 'An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Prisoners Serving 12 Months or More' and the findings were utterly damning. This from the Guardian:-   

Privatised probation programme 'could be dropped with negligible impact'

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.”

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.”


As confirmed recently, the special pleading by the CRCs for more money or they would 'walk away' from their contracts was successful and they were collectively 'bunged' an extra £20million as a result.* It won't make the slightest difference of course because the whole concept of TR, TTG and CRCs is just so much fantasy, founded on zero evidence and unlikely to ever be anything other than SNAFU. 

*Incidentally, it's interesting to note that the CRCs have the MoJ over the proverbial barrel because even if they walked away, the MoJ is committed to paying them for the whole 7 year contract period, even if they fail to deliver for any reason. Brilliant contract drafting and a lasting Grayling legacy.   


  1. So let's try to be clear about the known costs of this TR thing, including NAO published statistics to assist.

    There are 21 Community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) in England and Wales, and despite there being 19 bidders for those 21 contracts there are just 8 different providers across the 21 CRCs
    £10.7bn is the highest end of a conservative estimate of the annual cost of reoffending to society in England and Wales, whilst £889 million was the forecast total probation costs for 2015-16, including costs of CRC contracts, the National Probation Service, and operational and contract assurance activity

    £3.7bn was the claimed total lifetime contract value for all 21 CRCs, with£259 million estimated payments to CRCs for payment by results over contract life, based on a 3.7 percentage point reduction in reoffending rates.

    So we must now add in Grayling's magic sweeteners of an £80 million Modernisation Fund grant and the July 2017 (estimated) £20 million contract adjustment, a further £100 million for the CRCs. So £259 million just became at least £359 million which, spread over 7 years is...£51.2 million per year clear profit for directors & shareholders.

    £3.7bn over 7 years = contract value of £528.5 million per year
    No less than 9.6% profit for CRC owners based upon a publicly funded operation, or put another way:

    The UK taxpayer is bankrolling operational capital for global multinationals to run public services and pocket 10% profits for the privelege, with a guarantee that whatever happens the 8 providers WILL get paid the £3.7bn.

    And Parliament swallowed it, hook, line & sinker. The UK electorate didn't pay any interest whatsoever. And this is but one example, just one tiny fraction of the scandalous, outrageous organised, systematic theft of taxpayer monies by capitalist ideologues.

    1. Incredible... £1Million profit each week, with an operating budget of £10Million each & every week for the next seven years.

      How much has Grayling benefitted personally from this sleight of hand with taxpayer monies?

  2. In a dark place29 July 2017 at 11:32

    Similar to this scandal is the farce that is E3 agenda which is trying to shoehorn 60% of POs into the currently unsafe and dangerous prison estate..the stated aim is to make things better for prisoners yet prison officers see us as a bunch of well paid admin designed to free up uniformed staff to get back on the wings....despite the empty promises that no one is going to be directed into a prison, one ACE in the North has already suggested that 'operational need', will see a % of POs directed.....what's the betting Napo reps are amongst the first tranche....the CRCs have been royally shafted and the NPS is next...why else the fever pitch recruitment of PSOs? Keep a look for a regrading exercise in the near future so that previously High risk cases magically become medium risk overnight and so on...not sure what the answer is but would like to see Napo push a Unification agenda as a starting point

    1. Hi "In a dark place",the emphasis on High ROSH being only cass POs should work with has long been a bug-bear of mine;complexity of need/concerns is more often what characterises most of my NPS caseload which does not always correlate with imminence of sig risk to others because of the safeguards established-one of which is PO supervision.I have concerns too re hoisting of staff into prison.What do you mean by a Unification agenda? Incidentally, I think motions for Napo AGM can still be submitted


    1. We commission Shelter to run our Through the Gate (TTG) service in Cheshire and Greater Manchester.
      The service we commission aims to assess the needs of people in the prisons across the area we cover so that they are supported up to and following release. The aim is to help people to successfully rehabilitate in their community. TTG is supported by the individual’s case manager.

      Our Through the Gate service makes sure that each prisoner has a resettlement plan, and has activity starting before their release to prepare them for leaving jail. Our aim is to make sure that they do not reoffend.

      The Through the Gate service aims to work with prisoners to carry out an analysis of an individual’s circumstances with regards to their needs within the seven custodial pathways identified to reduce reoffending, eg:

      finance, benefit and debt
      employment, training and educational advice
      drugs and alcohol
      children and families
      attitudes, thinking and behaviours.
      Information from all pathways and interventions is contained within the resettlement plan which follows the individual through the gate for continued support post release.

      Through the Gate also includes:

      a crisis intervention service
      a resettlement meeting if timescales allow
      the chance to liaise with the offender’s probation case manager prior to release to ensure a smooth transition
      to identify any offenders with histories of being a victim of domestic abuse and/or having worked in the sex trade and offer specialist support
      enabling the service user to open a bank account.

      The CRC’s staff will:

      support while the individual is in custody
      ensure the resettlement plan is developed in custody
      support post-release plans
      facilitate access to local rent deposit schemes where available

    2. A crisis intervention service?????

  4. Yes but Chris had a gut feeling and went on it. The man is a time bomb destroying each project he is involved with . He should be held to account for his policies. However, this whole Tory government is the same . Shameful

    1. A cancerous Pus ridden boil on the putrid arse crack of Parliament!

  5. Think about your working day. Of all the actions you take or tasks you complete, haw many can you truly say were rehabiliative? What proportion of your day did those actions and tasks take up? WTF are we actually doing every day?

    1. agree. time is spent regurgitating information and form filling

  6. If the MoJ are prepared to throw more money at the CRCs when they're not delivering things like TTG, I'm wondering what will be demanded when the TR contracts come up for renewal?


  7. makes you proud to know that it is the Tories that are delivering Brexit, what could possible go right?

  8. This must have the hallmarks of corruption written all over it. It is so obvious now, surely evidence presented which is what we have all said from the very beginning of this shambles is happening. What makes it worse is that more money is being thrown the privateers way. Surely, living in a democracy, this can be pursued

    1. Martin Jones @jones_martinw
      28 Jul
      I do not think these individuals are anything to do with @Parole_Board we mainly deal with people serving indeterminate sentences and recall

  9. Apologies for going off topic but thought people here would be able to explain to me... in Twitter parole board chief exec saying he does mot think this is not a parole case (sounds right) but I can't figure out on what basis someone would be released "early". Any clues?

    1. Ali, from Wellington, Shropshire, was jailed for 14 years and given eight years on licence after his trial at Stafford Crown Court.

      A Ministry of Justice spokesman told MailOnline they do not comment on individual cases, but said: 'Under the Criminal Justice Act 2003, most prisoners must be automatically released at the halfway point of their sentence.

      'Time spent in custody on remand counts towards the length of time an offender serves behind bars.

    2. Thanks Jim!