Wednesday, 9 August 2017

SFOs = Renationalise Probation

Today three unions call for probation to be renationalised as yet more Serious Further Offences come to light. Splitting the service in two was always going to be hugely risky. This is from Left Foot Forward:-

Failing privatised probation services must be nationalised, say unions

Firms are being bailed out with public money amid a rise in serious offenses under privatisation.

Unions have written to the government today to demand failing privatised probation services are brought back into public hands – after new figures show a rise in serious offenses under the outsourced bodies. In a letter to justice secretary David Lidington, UNISON, the National Association of Probation Officers and the GMB argue the outsourced probation services are not working, with the public having to bail out many of the failing firms.

It comes as the government continues to sit on a long-awaited review of the so-called community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) which now run most of the sector. Details of the public money spent on spent keeping CRCs solvent have still not been released. 21 of these CRCs were set up and awarded seven-year contracts worth a total of £3.7bn in 2014. Yet nearly all have reported they are already making a loss, leading many of them to be handed fresh handouts from the taxpayer.

New figures also show a rise in the number of people who commit serious crimes while already serving sentences outside prison, since the probation service ‘reforms’ were introduced three years ago. 517 reviews were triggered in England and Wales in 2016/17 after charges for murder and other offences including rape – a rise of nearly 100 since pre-privatisation 2013/14, according to the data released this month by justice minister Sam Gyimah.

Now the government are planning to outsource contracts for night-time supervision in probation hostels, which house some of the most dangerous people to be released from prison before they are allowed to live in the community. The public could be put at risk because private companies will employ poorly-trained staff and pay them low wages, say the three unions.

UNISON national officer Ben Priestley said:

“People are potentially being put at risk because private firms have not delivered on keeping the public safe. The justice secretary has admitted that privatisation isn’t working yet wants to continue this experiment through night-time supervision. What’s needed instead are properly trained public sector employees. That’s why the government must take back control of failing private probation services.”
Last month the Chief Inspector of Probation issued a damning report into Suffolk’s privatised probation service, run by French catering and privatisation firm Sodexo – in which she described the service as ‘nowhere near good enough’. Sodexo secured a seven year contract with zero competition, reported Private Eye.

NAPO general secretary Ian Lawrence added:

“Ministers were warned that privatisation would damage an award-winning service, and standards would deteriorate. This is now becoming reality and having a negative impact on public safety, staff well-being and the ability of people who have committed offences to turn their lives around. The government must now take urgent action, and these reforms should be subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.”
The move to outsource probation hostel security comes despite the government specifically establishing a government-run body to deal with high-risk offenders when former Justice Minister Chris Grayling privatised probation services in 2014 – presumably because private companies couldn’t be trusted to deal with them.


BBC website today:-

Women attacked in Kidderminster by rapist on licence

A convicted rapist attacked two women a month after being released from prison on licence. Ashley Shuck, 24, from Worcester, sexually assaulted the women, aged 28 and 77, in Kidderminster in June. His 77-year-old victim was forced to drive around for two hours after she was raped, police said. Shuck had been released on licence a month earlier after being convicted in 2012 of raping an 18-year-old woman. He was jailed for life and will serve a minimum of 10 and a half years.

A serious case review will be carried out and the case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. West Mercia Police said two women reported the attacks on 18 June. The force said Shuck's younger victim was sexually assaulted early that morning at her friend's home in the Worcestershire town. The other woman was raped at her home later that morning and forced to drive around the county afterwards.

Police said Shuck was first convicted of rape at Worcester Crown Court on 19 March 2012 and sentenced to eight years in prison on 19 September 2012. Assistant Chief Constable Richard Moore, of West Mercia Police, said:
 "Following his release from prison in May 2017, Ashley Shuck was managed through multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA). The Strategic Management Board for West Mercia MAPPA has now commissioned a mandatory multi-agency serious case review to examine the offender management of Ashley Shuck." 
Shuck, of Ombersley Road, was sentenced at Worcester Crown Court on Monday. He had previously admitted two counts of rape, two counts of sexual assault and one count of kidnap. He will be placed on the sex offenders register for life and has been made the subject of a lifetime Sexual Harm Prevention Order.


  1. Probation Officer9 August 2017 at 18:46

    The private probation companies have just been propped up with £22million for doing less than nothing, and for providing a service 'worse than if they did not exist'. Since money grows on trees for the CRC bosses I doubt they'll be walking away from their contracts to enable renationalisation.

    1. Features in latest issue of Private Eye available today in the News section at the front of the paper.

    2. interserve are using their windfall to get more staff apparently 70 vacancies across the estate and from what I can gather they are mainly for practitioner roles. Sadly, i think the lengthy salary scales will put many off. Many band 3 in our office carrying at least 75 cases.

  2. No CRC is going to walk away, just as the MOJ will not admit that TR is a failure. Its a commercial 'stand-off'. The first party to blink has to compensate the other.

    1. I'm sure a case could be made for breach of contract by the MoJ for not delivering on stipulated services such as TTG or not actively supervising the under 12months cohort. Failure to deliver those aspects are just as important to renationalisation of the service as the rise in SFOs.
      Accepting responsibility for this enormous f*** up is the biggest barrier to renationalisation.

  3. Andrew Selous, 2 July 2015, Written Answers in Hansard:

    "Modernisation funding was allocated to the Ministry of Justice by HM Treasury in 2014/15 to bring about sustainable reductions in resource requirements across the Ministry. Some of this funding was made available for voluntary redundancies in Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). Of this, £16.4m was spent on voluntary exit packages in 2014/15 and the remainder was allocated to CRCs on a pro-rata basis, based on their size and estimated future staffing requirements.

    Each Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) is managed by a Contract Management Team (CMT), headed by a Senior Contract Manager and comprising staff with commercial, contract management and operational expertise to ensure a multi-disciplinary approach. The size of teams reflects the size of the contract being managed. While it is for CRC owners to implement and oversee redundancy schemes, CMTs are ensuring that CRC owners adhere to their contractual obligations in this area. CMTs are able to draw upon commercial, financial and legal expertise from within the wider Ministry in delivering this role."

    1. "CMTs are able to draw upon commercial, financial and legal expertise from within the wider Ministry in delivering this role."
      So the same legal eagles that represent the MoJ are on hand for CRCs to draw upon?
      Conflict resolution at its best!

  4. Completely agree 20:04 and what I find even more worrying is the Interswerve have the cleaning contracts within NPS hostel in Cheshire Gtr Manchester and Merseyside so are likely to try and make a killing from " night supervisor " contracts - really does make you feel I'll at the thought of the mess they are making of CGM CRC however they hold the monopoly of CRC contracts and construction news highlighted today how badly they were doing in construction so therefore will be focusing on their other businesses - scary indeed - even more scary is as Probation staff who are now Interswerve overlords are still banging the drums of how great they and their ideas are !!!!! Willing to shed personal and professional integrity in place of losing their bonuses !!

  5. F.T

    UK outsourcer Interserve has warned of continuing challenging conditions for its industry as it revealed a sharp fall in underlying pre-tax profits. However, the company, whose contracts range from managing the Salisbury Plain military training base, to operating schools and colleges, said that good trading in its international construction unit would enable it to meet full-year revenue guidance. Underlying pre-tax profit fell to £36.5m in the six months to June from £55.2m in the same period last year, amid what the group described as “challenging market conditions [and] regulatory and political changes”. The UK outsourcing industry has suffered from a slowdown in new contracts as civil servants remain distracted by the ramifications of the Brexit vote. A “hiatus in UK government procurement around the 2016 EU referendum” and this year’s general election had affected business, Interserve said, although it added that contract tenders that had stalled were now starting to be concluded. The company, which pays a large proportion of its 50,000 workers by the hour, said earnings in its UK support services business were hit by increases to the National Minimum Wage and changes to holiday pay rules that force employers to factor in commission income alongside base salaries. “We remain cautious about the UK outsourcing sector generally,” wrote analysts at stockbroker Liberum in a note on Interserve’s half-year results. Interserve is the latest British outsourcer to strike a cautious note about market conditions. Serco, the FTSE 250 support services business, said last week that several of its markets had become “markedly more unstable” in the face of growing political uncertainty. Mitie Group, which manages immigration detention centres for the UK government and provides receptionists and cleaners for offices, reported a full-year loss in June after a string of profit warnings and a slowdown in contract awards in the wake of the Brexit vote. Government contractor Carillion is also grappling with rising borrowings and weakening profits, prompting concerns it will need to conduct a debt-for-equity swap or launch a rights issue. Interserve was announcing half-year earnings weeks before senior Sodexo executive Debbie White takes over from Adrian Ringrose as the group’s chief executive. Mr Ringrose, who has been at the helm of Interserve since 2003, announced his departure last December. Interserve’s half-year revenues remained broadly flat at £1.6bn. The group’s statutory earnings rose to £24.9m from a £33.8m loss the year before, due to higher exceptional costs last year. Net debt will rise to £475m-£500m by the end of the year from £388m currently, the group said. Its share price was broadly flat at 225p on Wednesday.

  6. 'The group’s statutory earnings rose to £24.9m from a £33.8m loss the year before' - but meanwhile Interserve CRCs are so criminally under resourced that most staff would struggle to name half of the practically double the safe maximum case loads they are holding, let alone carry out any meaningful work with them. In Manchester the focus is solely the cash linked targets. The effectiveness of the work is neither here nor there as the job is now solely a matter of guaranteeing revenue for the company, with reducing reoffending and protecting the public no longer part of the picture.

  7. Interesting comments from ex-MP & ex-bank economist Jim O'Neil on WorldAtOne today ~13mins onwards regarding perverse incentives for big business management teams to manipulate share prices so they can capitalise on the bonus structures, e.g. companies can artificially inflate share dividends by buying their own shares back, which reduces the numbers of shares & thus inflates the value of the remaining shares awarded as bonuses to senior managers. No increase in business activity, employment or productivity... just shitloads more money for the manipulative, lying greedy bastards and misleading data for the stockmarkets, which dictate the who/where/when of global financial ebb & flow.

    "Net debt will rise to £475m-£500m by the end of the year..." In less than 6 months they'll have accrued a further £200m debts to be £Half-a-Billion in debt (to who?), yet they're deemed fit & proper to continue to trade!??
    And the UK taxpayer has been duped into handing over some £11m a week for 7 years to these financial fuckwits who own the CRCs.

    1. And the UK tax payer pays the court costs when the government dosent want us to know how much were paying for shite outsourced services. No doubt the same process will apply to stop any reports on TR.

  8. November 2012:
    "A man who broke down in tears during a robbery on a Cumbria shoe repair shop has been jailed for five years. Sean Morrin, 28, had been on a four-day drinking binge when he tried to raid Timpson's in King Street, Whitehaven."

    August 2017:
    "Sean Morrin, 32, of Nelson Street, Maryport, has been charged with murder and has been remanded in police custody to appear before Workington Magistrates' Court tomorrow."

    Presumably an offence committed whilst on licence? So yet another SFO?

    1. Where does the shit fly this time? NPS northwest? Or Sodexo?

    2. After a bit of snooping it seems this one slipped by without too much noise...

      May 2016
      "Thugs who attacked three men in a drink-fuelled frenzy have been jailed... Patrickson, 21, of Lindisfarne Street, off London Road, Carlisle, was also jailed for 20 months."

      April 2017:
      "Patrickson, 22, who admitted murder, must serve at least 18 years in jail. The court heard a detailed account of the events on Saturday, January 7, when Mr McMullen was brutally killed at his home in Workington."

      NPS or Sodexo?