Saturday, 8 July 2017

Latest From Napo 154

'While the cat's away, the mice will play'. Here we have the Assistant General Secretary standing in for the holidaying General Secretary and admirably demonstrating his credentials in the process:-
GS Blog Guest Writer: AGS Dean Rogers

With Ian away on annual leave I’m filling in for his blog with a quick overview of some issues we’re engaged with nationally and an invitation to all Napo members to join a big conversations on professional issues, informing issues that will have a huge impact for all of us.

Pay Update

National discussions about pay reform across probation has restarted, after stalling for a few months due to the NPS team being swamped by day-to-day pay and reward breakdowns. A strengthened NPS team are now picking up where we left off and the aim remains to have something that we can discuss in detail with members ready in the early Autumn.

The importance of the timescale has been amplified in the restarted talks. Pay reform is one of two critical pillars needing to be in place to provide firmer foundations for however probation is structured in the future. The other critical pillar is a national professional skills, knowledge and development framework for all staff. These two are also interconnected as a sustainable pay system must reflect what people are and need to do; and reward them at appropriate, competitive levels. Napo’s claim recognises and highlights this link.

The urgency to address the broken probation pay system and help stabilise things is increasingly evident on numerous fronts –

  • MoJ can’t credibly push on with prison reform plans that require probation teams to have a more leading role in custodial settings, whilst there is a likelihood that prison staff are earning more than the probation staff who are expected to mentor, train and even manage them;
  • uncompetitive pay rates are one of the factors undermining the NPS recruitment drives;
  • the outcomes and costs of the Probation Services Review can’t be finalised until the going rate for staff is settled, as CRCs will be uncompetitive and doomed if the contract price isn’t adjusted to allow them to compete for experienced staff;
  • and these instabilities make it more likely that a CRC fails an inspection or decides to walk away from a contract - with the NPS, still struggling with E3 delivery on the ground and PAYE processing failures and therefore in no position to take any area back-in, even for a short term crisis.
In the meantime, we have had one breakthrough this week. At the National Trade Union Engagement meeting on Wednesday, Yvonne Pattison and I secured agreement from the NPS to issue a joint-statement recognising the scale of the PAYE and SSCL problems in recent months and setting out clearly how staff and managers can make sure problems are being addressed with increased NPS HR input and accountability. We hope this can be finalised and issued next week.

Join the Professional Conversation

I’m in the middle of what feels like a National Tour of Napo Branches during the AGM season. It is always a great opportunity to get out and meet members across the country face to face, and say more about Napo’s plans and visions whilst listening to the realities and priorities in workplaces.

Napo is unique in that we have at our heart the principle of direct member involvement and engagement, underpinned by our Plutocratic structures, constitution and AGM set up. In truth though, we’ve recognised that at least since the TR War broke out, we’ve not been making the most of our potential to facilitate and lead professional discussion across probation.

The need for us to do so is greater than ever before – not just in terms of Napo needing to know and reflect members’ feelings, priorities and ideas on critical professional issues across the more complex post-TR environment, but because the complexities, complications and uncertainties in the new environment means the everyone from the HMI Probation to Ministers to CRC owners and Prison Governors are desperately in need of our input to know what works. We are their only organised, credible collective source of knowledge.

This means we have a great opportunity to really influence the shape and content of the big debates that are and will be happening across probation – pay; training; professional standard and role boundaries, and professional pathways; management numbers, support, development; professional development and accountability.

We can’t do this in isolation from Napo HQ. To do this effectively we need to make sure as many members (and potential members who haven’t yet joined) are directly involved and telling us what you think.

Napo is currenty consulting through the National Executive Committee (NEC) about a strategy with proposals that review how we support branches, talk and engage with members and pretty much everything we do. With what our members do and how you work having changed so much Napo has to consider how we change and adapt, but in ways that are anchored to and strengthen our values. The paper is called, ‘Pride in Napo – A Strategy for Growth’. You can get a copy from your local NEC Rep, BEC members or by asking for a copy from Napo HQ ( Branches will also be looking at how they can broaden the professional conversation locally. Let us know what your priorities are and what you think.


One of the most consistent themes in all recent Inspection reports and feedback from employers across the NPS and CRCs, is a growing recognition that it is only probation staff’s commitment, dedication and determination that is stopping the service from collapsing.

The crisis is evident and obvious. Napo is, locally and nationally, challenging on numerous fronts to address people’s fears and help stabilise things. But we must also draw upon this commitment, dedication and determination. However difficult things are probation is still vital, important work that deserves to be celebrated and rewarded. If we aren’t celebrating and shouting about the importance of probation then no-one else will be either. Napo needs to be a positive champion for probation and everyone involved in delivering it. Part of our strategy is looking at ways of bringing ‘being proud of probation’ to the fore of our campaigning, messaging and activity, with the P in Pride in Napo standing for Positive. You can help us now, locally just by telling colleagues who may not be in Napo what we’re doing, what our ambitions are and by inviting them to add their voice in championing probation.

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Dean Rogers
Assistant General Secretary


  1. "One of the most consistent themes in all recent Inspection reports and feedback from employers across the NPS and CRCs, is a growing recognition that it is only probation staff’s commitment, dedication and determination that is stopping the service from collapsing."

    Isn't that the same story across the whole of the public sector services?
    Good will being exploited, increased workloads with decreased reward and fewer protections?
    It might be time to point out that good will like everything else can be a commodity and have a market value that costs more then the occasional pat on the back.

  2. Possibly one of the better Napo blogs in a while. It's structured, it has a clear message, and I now know (a little) more than I did before reading it

    Ian's tend to be all fluff and no substance

    1. Agree. It's the first GS blog I've read, without losing interest part way through, in ages.

    2. True but we have no idea as to either of their professional experience or qualification. Rogers talk a good line but in reality its all pipe and smoke. They lack work ethic at Napo they take ages to do anything and then its too late. I think this is the bid for the top job as its elections for the general sec is it not and why not see a challenge I don't think many want him back if they can help it.

  3. I did not understand the meaning of plutocratic in this context.

    1. Wikipedia:-

      Plutocracy (Greek: πλοῦτος, ploutos, 'wealth' + κράτος, kratos, 'rule') or plutarchy, is a form of oligarchy and defines a society ruled or controlled by the small minority of the wealthiest citizens.

      The first known use of the term was in 1631. Unlike systems such as democracy, capitalism, socialism or anarchism, plutocracy is not rooted in an established political philosophy. The concept of plutocracy may be advocated by the wealthy classes of a society in an indirect or surreptitious fashion, though the term itself is almost always used in a pejorative sense.

      Sums things up perfectly me thinks :-)

  4. Remember this amendment that no LibDem would support?

    "That this House declines to give a Second Reading to the Offender Rehabilitation Bill because the implementation of the proposals in the Bill depends on the Government’s proposed restructuring of the Probation Service; believes that this proposed restructuring will see the abolition of local Probation Trusts, the fragmentation of supervision of offenders on the basis of their risk level and the commissioning of services direct from Whitehall; further believes that the Government has failed to provide any costings for their proposals; notes reports that suggest the Ministry of Justice’s own internal risk register warns that the Government’s proposals could result in a high risk of an unacceptable drop in operational performance; and further declines to give a Second Reading to the Bill on the grounds that none of the Government’s proposals has been piloted nor independently evaluated, potentially resulting in an unnecessary risk to the public’s safety."

    And lo, it came to pass...

    1. ... in a regional court in the northern reaches of this island nation:

      "It was, stated the prosecutor, a "direct echo" of earlier offending. During his latest appearance before Recorder Murray, K*** declined legal representation and expressed his wish to be sentenced immediately.

      Asked whether anybody was helping him to secure accommodation upon his release from jail, K*** replied: "No." He explained he "struggled to get into hostels".

      Recorder Murray said there "should be" assistance, but stated: "I have to tell you, Mr K***, all that happens is that the sentences get longer and longer unless the pattern is interrupted in some way."

      The judge asked: "Do you want to stop this pattern of offending, or are you not bothered?" K*** replied: "I am not that bothered, to be honest."

      Recorder Murray jailed him for 10 months, saying: "It seems that somebody is going to have to be bothered on your behalf. I can't do that today. "I do hope that somehow somebody takes interest in how you are living your life and tried to stop what is happening."