Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Latest From Napo 153

Here we have the latest blog post from Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence. Regular readers will be aware that I regularly tend to edit these, and today is no exception. I don't usually comment either, but mention of broken electoral systems reminds me that constitutionally the post of Napo General Secretary must surely be put to the vote very soon? If not, why not? I wonder if the current incumbent would be quite so keen on electoral reform in respect of his own contest? 


So much for ‘flaming June’, but at least the political scene has been running hot. Following a hugely dramatic week (featuring a farce of the highest order in respect of the public sector pay cap) which has revealed the 31.5 billion price we are all paying to keep the minority government in power. If this reversion to Keynesian economics is good enough for Northern Ireland, which nobody doubts desperately needs help for its social infrastructure, then its surely good enough for the other regions in the UK who are also in need.

The much criticised arrangement between the Tories and the DUP has inevitably given rise to any number of questions about the fairness of the UK electoral system.

Essentially It goes something like this: as in how is it fair that the Democratic Unionist Party (237,000 votes in the General Election) with 10 MPs gives them such leverage while half a million Green Party voters are represented by 1 Member of Parliament, and the Lib-Dems with over 12 million votes get 12 seats?

Two years ago Napo successfully seconded a motion at the TUC Congress calling on the TUC to review the options for electoral reform and proportional representation (PR), here’s their report


Napo members who are understandably encouraged by the outcome of the general election and the prospect of one more heave through ‘first past the post’, should beware of the lessons of the past, where minority governments hang on and hang on and then win the next election with a working majority.

Perhaps the seismic shifts in voting patterns make that a tad unlikely, and the results from other elections across the globe suggest that one should never take anything for granted.

Anyway, Napo has no mandate for PR and the point of sharing my thoughts is that perhaps it’s time that we did? Maybe a motion to AGM might emerge from somewhere?

Advice to Napo VLO members on E3 1:1s, job descriptions and pay protection

If you are a VLO member who has encountered difficulties or has queries about the E3 job descriptions, 1:1s and/or pay protection, please feel free to share this advice prepared by National Vice-Chair Katie Lomas with other VLO colleagues.

Napo has discussed the issues and concerns raised by Napo members with the national NPS HR team and they have offered the following helpful clarification of the process – some additional narrative appears in italics.

  • All staff should receive a 1:1 meeting with their Line Manager. During the 1:1 meeting the line manager will discuss the E3 job description which the employee has been matched to. - There could be more than one 1:1 meeting if circumstances change or further clarification is needed or if implementation is delayed by the division for any reason.
  • Dependent upon the Divisional Implementation Plan timescales the general expectation is that the employee should then work to the JD stated. Timescales for implementation may differ between divisions dependent upon when necessary structures are in place. - If the implementation of the new JD is delayed from the date of the 1:1 the start date should be given either at the 1:1 or at a reconvened 1:1 once the dates are clarified.
  • Divisions provide the E3 HR team with the information relating to the new JD and subsequent pay protections requirement (if applicable). This information is then sent to SSCL who make the necessary changes on SOP and inform the employee of the changes via a letter.
If there are any specific cases where staff do not receive their letter relating to pay protection, these can be raised via the HR Business Partners (HRBP) through the probation functional mailbox and we can then look into individual queries.

Napo's advice to members who feel this process has not been properly followed for any reason is to raise it via their Line Manager (or the Head of Service where no Line Manager is in place). Any issues with SSCL should be raised with the HRBP and logged as a complaint with SSCL to ensure they are properly recorded. If the problem is not resolved you should contact a local Napo rep to advice on further action if efforts to deal with the issues via the advice given here are not successful.

Late Night Courts

The Government is piloting late night courts and everything I have seen so far about this suggests it is another bad idea. Below is a link to a petition to stop late night Courts from running. Members have contacted Napo Officers and Officials saying that this will have a direct impact on our members as well as court staff and lawyers. I have seen several comments to the effect that this is particularly discriminatory to those with child caring commitments, which also clearly affects some of our members.

If you agree then please sign and circulate.


Members in Working Links show courage under pressure

I am signing off this week’s Blog posting on the way back from a hugely encouraging South, South Western, Napo Branch AGM. Here members turned out in a good number and again demonstrated their resolve to see recognition of their union’s right to meaningful consultation and negotiation with the CRC owner Aurelius/Working Links.

The loyalty of our UPW service members and their refusal to be intimidated or bullied into variations of contract are a shining example to Napo members across the three CRCs. I am now awaiting feedback from the Napo AGM’s for Wales and Western branches before attempting to finalise a Memorandum of Agreement with the employer over the way in which unpaid work services should be delivered and how the associated staffing issues should be dealt with sensibly and fairly.

A short break beckons for me and I will be back with more news in just over a week’s time where I will also be focusing on Napo’s future direction of travel as we now enter a critical period of consultation with members.


On the continuing saga of Working Links, this caught my eye from the other day:-

WHISTLEBLOWER HERE: please forward to Probation inspectorate. EMERGENCY situation at Working Links CRC'S. PLease can inspectors do an emergency inspection of staffing situation; staff losses post redundancy; voluntary severance; use of agency staff to plug the gaps; staff morale; working conditions; offender management. Offenders are being shunted from one OM to another as they resign or go off sick, offenders not being seen for months, PO's with caseloads at 85 including many DV cases. PSO's with caseloads up to 100 who have had no training, staff encouraged to falsify figures to meet targets. Puplic are at risk of significant harm. Please can someone forward this to the Probation Inspectorate as I have now resigned and don't have the energy to fight anymore. Hopefully NAPO read this now and again. This is not malicious, it is the truth.


  1. Interesting comment from you Jim about the democracy of NAPO.
    When and where did the discussion take place that candidates could job share for National Chair position? How do voters express their preference for one of them over the other. Seems to me you vote for one but get two whatever the electorate think. This is not a straight forward process which NAPO seem to have adopted for several years now. Smoke and mirrors. What are the implications? Does it cost more in operating costs to have a job share? My guess is that it does. What is the democratic deficit when two people occupy such a vital post at the top of the union under the guise of 'equality'. I don't buy it.
    Could we have a job share GS?

    1. Napo first had a job share Chair back in the 1980's,John Hague and(I think)Helen Schofield?Next job share Chair 2012ish Lisa Robinson and Tom Rendon then the current Yvonne Patterson and Chris Winters.It's always been an option.If the members don't want the job share combo they shouldn't vote for them. Costs are split between the Probation areas who continue to pay their staff salary whilst in Union role and Union pay expenses like travel costs. If the Co-chairs share meetings on a rota then such costs should not increase. I'm not sure but wonder if Govt changes on employees having Union role now make job share more likely as you can 't spend more than 50% of your work time on Union role(Chair role has been full-time so Co-chairs presumably split the week)so to get a "full-time" presence we would need Co-chairs. Every member has the option of standing for election and has a vote to cast as well. The current gap for me is hearing from the Co-Chairs as to what they actually do. They don't communicate seemingly via social media and rarely via Napo publications so unsurprising if their role/work is not understood or valued.

    2. Have just read 5.41. Now I get it!
      Two candidates running on a job share. One could have a decent vote but it is still less than a leading single contender. Add the votes of a proposed job share, which might be very low, but enough to knock out single contenders. So we are electing a pair of losers.
      How is this reflecting the wishes of the voters? Do we even know? From memory, I don't remember the individual votes of job share candidates being published.
      Are we being played here, or hasn't it been properly thought through.
      Can't see how this is for the benefit of the members.

    3. What a list of names there the early candidates set a job share opportunity in place and subsequently one of them end up in the PI how bad can it get. Robinson Rendon duo both unceremoniously out of chairs role neither of them able to hack events based on their lack of experience and some serious failings in decisions. The latest pair have not a clue of what they needed to have done to yet they were returned. They will now most certainly sit back as Napo falters and fails its last but upcoming fence.

    4. To 14:16 above.If 2 candidates stand as job-share applicant, they are voted for (or not) via 1 vote for the pair not a vote per "half"

    5. That's the point 08.15. Surely that's the problem. You only get to vote for the bundle not its constituent parts. I don't think people understand the implications of that. People could vote for one of the individuals because they genuinely support them, not realising that the other part is a walking disaster.
      This approach could knock out one or more able single candidates.

  2. I'm really concerned about the other parts of NAPO's democracy. The NEC hardly meets and when it does I'm told that debate doesn't take place and dissent is shut down.
    For that matter, attendance at AGM is now very low and the quorum has been adapted. Some might say manipulated.
    So, who is running NAPO? Who is making key decisions that affect our working lives?

    1. Ian Lawrence is running Napo or manipulating it as the officers and chairs don't really have any obvious roles or accountability. Any dissent is shut down activists are covertly avoided and subsequently the end is on its way. Why , because NAPO have gotten away with too much for too long and there is no one strong enough to have taken on the clique.

    2. It's run by Ian Lawrence, the same man who deliberately stymied any meaningful opposition to TR. Sooner or later he'll be taking up his board position with one of the privateers he so ably assisted, i'm sure....

  3. http://www.russellwebster.com/what-are-the-probation-inspectors-up-to/ just seen this on twitter. I'm very wary about inspections that rely only on the already gathered performance data, not sure if that is actually implied. Inspectorate have been doing a better job than NAPO or anyone else for that matter in holding management feet to the fire, if they stop talking to staff and offenders the obvious result will be "incentivised" organisations gaming the targets for profit (CRC) or glory/advancement (NPS). And The Profession and The Staff will continue to be ground down relentlessly.
    Which is why we need an effective Union

    1. HMIP is developing a national framework for probation standards and will work with commissioners, providers, probation professionals, service users to agree quality indicators that will flesh out what good probation practice looks like.
      HMIP will inspect all probation services annually and inspect CRCs and NPS divisions separately.
      Critically, HMIP will introducing a rating system and grade probation areas to make them more directly comparable (in the same way as the CQC grades care homes and Ofsted assesses schools). Expect a rating system of the Outstanding, Good, Requires Improvement, Inadequate type.
      HMIP will include probation work done in prison as part of its area inspections.
      HMIP will reduce the burden on providers by using data and information available from providers and HMPPS, so that as far as possible, providers are only asked for information once.

  4. Hi. I was sad to read above that another person has had to resign under pressure. Please can someone tell me what the company procedure is for whistleblowing? When I worked for the NHS it was procedure and I was told law to display infirmation on how to whisteblow in every restroom etc and somewhere safe for staff to leave their forms or post them off. This was something we were actively encouraged to do by managers/senior staff and on occasions many of us did. It could include something in relation to poor or dangerous practice, medication not being handled properly, poor manual handling of patients or agency staff who were being negligent. In some hospitals this has saved lives because we all know that potential killers can be attracted to these jobs..not to mention the case recenly with the breast surgeon who mutilated so many women..it was a whistleblower who finally alerted someone! So how come there is nothing displayed in my office and no one knows about whistleblowing or their DUTY of care to other colleages and service users? We actually all have a duty of care to each other, not just managers to less senior staff! I had to whisteblow when I was concerned about a colleage in NHS who was acting out of character and could smell alcohol on breath. They got support they needed and patients were protected. This is why staff are crying out for support on this blog Ian Lawrence because the system is failing terribly. HR is rubbish under working links and procedures not being followed. So please forward this directly to probation inspectorate also.

    1. Each area will have a Whistle blowing policy but, like all policies, no-one has the time to look at (or for) them. You are protected in law but, again, it is always a case of deciding whether you believe that this kind of protection has any substance if you are compromised professionally by any disclosures that you make. I would be reluctant to whistleblow without a trade union behind me.

    2. 0759 do something yourself "So please forward this directly to probation inspectorate also." What is the matter with your own typing skills then had too much sun this week need a rest. The Napo top table cant do it all just on your naf comment besides that they are not serious on defending probation as that is why we are here .

    3. Oh dear the point is do something for yourself . The corollary or adjunct is an addition to nowhere. You then confuse the issue with your subjective mis-informed analysis and labelling which is total rubbish. Exactly why, sadly, the profession has been split privatised and your ilk are being gotten rid off. By the way SOTP increases risks another margin of the failings of incompetence in delivery of damaging process that is why Probation is a mess.

    4. THE SOTP increasing risk comments relates to an inspection of Prison based sex offender programmes NOT community based ones. There is an argument that the Prison service management have again failed to recognise the massive differences not only between the lives of offenders in prison and in the community but also the nature of programme delivery and the environmental differences for learning in a Prison vs. Community context. To assume that the findings of research undertaken in a prison can be projected onto a community based programme is like assuming that animal behaviour is a zoo is the same as it is in the wild. It is poor science. Then again, the MOJ/NSPPPPSSSPSPP are good at that, aren't they?

    5. Yes and fair point accepted however are you suggesting the programme is so different in custody than community.

  5. Totally off topic, and I don't wish to change the flow of today's discussion, so please delete if inappropriate.
    But this ruling by the ECHR I feel is going to have a significant impact on youth justice, not least as youth detention is primarily monopolised by the private sector.



    1. Talking rubbish again I'm afraid. It's a ruling by the High Court not the ECHR, and relates to being denied access to education and association over 4.5 months in solitary.