Sunday, 9 July 2017

Pick of the Week 25

"Damningly, the number of so-called Serious Further Offences – serious crimes committed by offenders on probation – has soared 30 per cent since the Government shook up probation, from 404 to 522."

My maths aren't the best, but if you dramatically increase the numbers on probation supervision, as with the 12mth and under group, you have to accept the potential for SFOs to increase must be far greater? I don't know what the % increase was to probation case loads when the 12mth and under were incorporated, but would it be near the 30% mark? 

The interesting statistic for me is the one that's missing. What % of the 12mth and under group are responsible for that 30% increase? That information would legitimise concerns raised at the time TR was being introduced as to the dynamic nature of risk, and the often chaotic nature of behaviour exhibited by those within the 12mth and under cohort.

I suspect that is a stone they have taken a peak under and don't like what they see... I am sure it will come out in the wash if a decent MP should ask the question during Justice Secretary questions... or not..

What we know is potentially the most at risk & risky are those who would benefit from MHT requirement, yet courts are being told by CRCs & NPS in most areas that they are not available! Imagine courts accepting that prison or even UPW was not available!

Everyone working in the TR shambles are just sitting ducks for SFOs. We do not have the power or resource to monitor individuals 24/7. Media feed inaccurate delusion. Cannot wait to get out, it's no longer possible to help individuals make real change, just a conveyor belt of tick boxing targets, sat behind a computer 75+ % of time.

I'm ashamed to be part of Probation right now. Trusts were not great, but in comparison to what we have now...boy do I miss them now (34 Trusts rated good, 2 rated excellent). In the NPS I have recently been witness to a very serious and disgusting further offence, guess what, our management brush it under the carpet. In the days of Trusts this would have had recommendations etc, under Civil Service its lets keep our heads down nothing to see here. Shameful.

The issue here is that the split completely undermined the ability of management to make effective workforce planning decisions by eliminating any resilience that they previously had. The split makes sensible and consistent decision making on workloads and priorities pretty much impossible. I am hearing stories of NPS staff having to work in three offices involving 80 mile round trips whilst CRC staff are under-utilised. Similarly, there are instances that are the other way around. Offenders travelling ridiculous distances to attend NPS or CRC offices because cuts resulted in closures. The whole thing was poorly thought out and rushed in without any real feasibility studies. In short, Grayling and his minions screwed up massively and you guys are all paying the price (I was sifted into an untenable situation and left).

"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 crossed 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 good 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.

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 f*cking shambles.

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.

With you all the way. 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

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 minutiae.

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?

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?

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.

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

DTV £73,438,000
sSWM £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
Essex £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.

So not only did the CRCs divi 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.


  1. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but, with regard to the new Service Level agreements from 1st July, we no longer have to deliver the amount of RAR days ordered by the Court. We can put a professional judgement on when we feel all that has been achieved that can be achieved. For once, I agree with this due to the ridiculout sentences passed by the courts but that's for another thread.

    1. Yeah? So everyone better get ready to be told that they have too much work to do because they're not managing their workload adequately in using their professional judgement to end RARs prematurely enough - though remember, of course, that in the event of an SFO you'll also be taken to task for applying such a judgement inappropriately , the new offence being taken as proof of your self-serving short sightedness....

    2. There has never been a requirement for the total of RAR days ordered to be completed in full since this nonsense was first introduced. While the court might naively expect the sentence to be carried out as given the legislation makes clear that the given number of days is a maximum, and no minimum number of days is given. While this may seem patently absurd let us not forget that the new sentences were never about fighting crime, reducing risk, or justice or any of that old fashioned nonsense. The legislation was solely a matter of enticing in the various cut-throat privateers with an understanding that they would be free, post appointment, to reduce the execution of sentence, and with that expenditure to an absolute minimum. profit and the *perception* of sentence being carried out are what this is about. What happens in reality - countless orders counted as successful completions with as little as one or two 'RAR days' achieved - is neither here nor there

    3. It's true that the courts are passing ridiculous sentences, but it's because they can't make any sense of what sentences actually mean anymore so they're trying to cover all bases. They give a load of RAR days on top of everything else because it feels like all they can do try and ensure that something gets done. The single paragraph, semi-literate hand written forms that pass for PSRs today, and the unsupported recommendations for meaningless requirements that they contain are what lead to the ridiculous sentences.

    4. To answer 09:31 honestly, no one knows!! It's become such a moveable feast that the great and the good who are tasked to lead us through this mire are making policy on the hoof..CMCRC/MCRCs previous leader put an arbitrary figure of 60% on and then cascaded that down to us all.. That was then thrown into the bin as it was not agreed by the then NOMs.. but some are still sticking to it because no senior manager within the CRCs wants to make a decision and actually instruct us as to what the policy is... I suspect that there is no defined policy so they hide behind the ambiguity of it all.. All I can do is actually look at the actual order when it eventually lands. If I am lucky I will get one from a Crown Court that actually states 'up to 35 days' which tells me as a responsible officer that its my choice with an upper limit.
      Sadly, these are few and far between.. My advice , for what it is worth... deliver what you feel is best.. If the right RAR activity is not available according to your assessment, say so, evidence it in your notes that you do not have that available to you and deliver as best you can a 1-1 covering the areas you have identified.... You sometimes have to just cut through the noise and work with the (limited) tools available to you....

  2. So at the start of the contracts a brand new world of innovation was promised freeing the CRSs from the shackles of Delius and Oasys....hmmm Sodexo North West has now reverted to 'Practice standards' which is the old National Standards with a new lick of paint-this is because targets are not being met because officers are too busy negotiating road works etc to get to the location on time (which doesnt always happen)....this fall back position is essentially Sodexo saying "we have no new ideas after all and dont actually know how to manage offenders, you were"....the original omnishambles at the time of the split has nothing on the state of play at the moment

    1. It was to be a brand new world of innovation with CRC staff unshackled from the computer and finally free to focus on face to face contact with clients ..... Meanwhile in Manchester we are now issued with instructions to cancel all appointments and close offices to the public so that we can concentrate on collating and inputting data. And if we complain? Well we shouldn't be seeing all these clients face to face - it's not our job. We should be trying to ensure everything is done by other services - ideally other services that we don't have to pay anything for

    2. In the old trust days SFO investigations were carried out to look for evidence of systemic failure-now its all about 'individual responsibility' 09:48 is spot on with their assessment

    3. There's no hope at all if even the basics can't be met.

    4. REV DAVID FAREY: A sad indictment on our criminal justice system

      Some time ago we were contacted by the Restorative Justice Team as the culprit of a theft from our church, who was serving time wished to express his regret and sorrow for what he had done.

      The team was marvellous and the meeting was held and the person was extremely sorry for what he had done. What emerged was a sorry tale of tragedy and of a life going into meltdown to a large extent due to circumstances. Many prisoners I have met admit that they struggled in the outside world and turned to drink or drugs which got them into worse trouble. Support upon release is key. As a church we took an interest in our offender and tried to follow his journey to see what assistance could be given that might keep him from reoffending and rebuild his life. That’s when we hit the snags! Upon release we discovered that his documents had been destroyed and so all he had was a paper identification, which any half way decent accommodation in Brighton would not accept. He ended up sofa surfing and probably ended up sleeping rough. The result was absolutely predictable and he reoffended and ended up back in prison.

      We lost track of him then but I pursued the issue of him being released without proper ID. What I discovered horrified me. I was told that there is no regulation that requires an offender to have proper identification papers prior to release. Had such regulation existed our chap would have the proper paperwork, got decent accommodation and have had the support to give him at least a chance. He was scuppered before he began – thanks to the system!

      I contacted my MP who referred it to the Lord Chancellor. After six months an answer came which was complete balderdash! The fact it took that long is a sad indictment on our system and that it simply said how good the Restorative Justice system is was an insult. A second letter got an equally ridiculous reply without any real appreciation for what was being said. The MP and the Police and Crime Commissioner stood on the side lines and watched the interchange. I am deeply grieved by the injustice. Without a regulation requiring proper ID upon release has for at least one person led to a further crime with all the personal pain and expense to the public purse that it entails.

      I feel sadness both for our offender and how the system has treated him, but also for the failure of those in authority to pursue something which simple in essence could have all kinds of benefits. Lord help us!

    5. 12:03 you're absolutely right. Manchester CRC now responds to SFOs by suspending the 'responsible officer' and then devoting months to concocting a reason to claim that the individual has potentially bough the service into 'disrepute'. We can't work out whether our quisling management simply believe this to be the way to please our Interserve overlords or if they're just the kind of people who went into management for the opportunities to scapegoat,bully and abuse those with less power. if they were seriously concerned for what, if anything, remains of the organisation's 'reputation' they would resign. Then again, word from the courts, the NPS, and the police makes clear that it's way too late. CGM CRC's reputation locally is now generally that it long ago abandoned any pretence of providing a meaningful service, and that it's just a money grubbing operation profiting off the back of exploiting and abusing staff and client group alike.

    6. Surely it's the private companies themselves and their CRC management lackeys who have brought the services into disrepute? It's not the fault of practice staff that they cannot do the work of two people. When something inevitable goes wrong where is the scrutiny of the people and the organisations who have brought this about? when will they be held to account?

  3. Watched David Lidlington on Andrew Marr this morning, and was struck by the incencerity of his tone and responses to questions.
    I'll say what I have too, but I haven't a f****ng clue what to do really, was my take on his interview.
    225kgs of drugs seized in 12mths by the prison service. That would be a significant seizure by customs that would make front page news. But what percentage of the total amount of drugs being smuggled into prison does 225kgs represent? It's staggering really.
    He also pushed the rethoric of recruiting 2500 new prison officers to help solve the crisis. But that's only a third of the number that they've already laid off. But I wish the interviewer had pushed on retention level, as once he's recruited his 2500 new staff, he'll find the same number (if not more) will have left.
    Interestingly, many are going abroad.

    I think if I was a probation officer, or social worker, or anything else that could see me emigrate, and circumstances allowed, I'd take the plunge, and wave goodbye to Blighty too.


  4. There have been various rumours but does anyone here know for definite just how much Interserve CRC senior management have received in bonuses so far?

    1. That's £2.5Bn,

      So not only did the CRCs divi up the £80m "modernisation fund" (intended for staff via EVR

      What in the hell is going on. This makes the CRCs experiment more expenbsive than what was once the trusts. Less innovation no delivery shit service that has no one on any better terms and yet the unions want to help the crcs have this money. Where is the conditional process to earn the money on better staff care and still nothing. They close all offices rake in the profits and yet the massive crcs figures wont change a thing its just more profit going out faster than it comes in.

    2. I heard the chief got 50K. At least one person in Manchester CRC is happy. Fuck the rest of us who work in appauling conditions crammed together like chickens, waiting to be culled if we get an SFO. It would also seem that they want to get rid of anyone over 50 and costing them money.

    3. £50K?! Can this really be true? Is there any way to confirm this?

    4. £50k could get two prison officers.