Friday, 20 October 2017

A Possible Plan B?

A glance at Facebook provides some interesting news regarding a possible future direction for probation. The following dated 17th October on the TheyWorkForYou website:-

Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, whether he plans to devolve the operation of any probation functions in England and Wales to (a) local authorities or (b) police commissioners.
Sam Gyimah The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice
We are committed to improving the delivery of local criminal justice services, and are working with a range of stakeholders, including Police and Crime Commissioners, Local Authorities and other government departments, to do this.
We have agreed justice devolution deals with London and combined authorities in Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City region and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. We have a Memorandum of Understandingin place with Greater Manchester Combined Authority to support collaborative working, and are in discussion with other regions, including London, about further opportunities.

This in response from David A Raho:-

In a week where the sky turned orange and the government turned on itself over BREXIT it did not surprise me at all when the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice Sam Gyimah confirmed in response to a question by the impressively titled Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) in Parliament inquiring about whether the MoJ have made justice devolution deals. Well it turns out they have with London and combined authorities in Greater Manchester, the Liverpool City region and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Kind of odd if the government are committed to continuing with the current model???

This is of course no surprise to those of us who have been following justice devolution and watching it take form around the UK and slowly move from a thought experiment to serious consideration up the mainstream justice agenda as a practical alternative and possible solution to the state of things that the MoJ can only seem to throw more money at rather than grip firmly by the horns wrestle to the dirt and, as we sometimes say in Essex, 'sort it out big time'.

Justice devolution in a nutshell means that the responsibilities that currently reside with government centrally in respect of justice including probation are devolved to another authority closer to the people they serve. It is an idea that appears to enjoy a surprising amount of support across the political spectrum and also with a large range of organisations including both the NPS and CRCs who see the potential for greater stability and guaranteed resourcing without the bulk of the responsibility they currently hold. Thank goodness Grayling could never understand it as a concept otherwise he would no doubt have set out to destroy it.

Some pundits have seen this as one very possible means by which the government can reunite probation providers both private and public sector under one umbrella by stealth ie without losing too much political face or most importantly having to pay huge sums of money. Under a devolved structure CRCs can continue to be paid until their contracts expire and then whatever remains can be assimilated - they will of course take the cash. If plans also included an agreement regarding the proposed licence to practice this could effectively mean that all those practitioners currently providing probation services might eventually be simply brought back together to be part of the same organisation and employees would then technically be able to work in any part of the unified organisation or presumably by any other department in the local authority. This would probably have the added bonus of attracting our former colleagues back to probation again many of whom are now working in local authorities or enjoying early retirement.

It is worth remembering that the current policing plan in London (that has statutory status) indicates that it is the firm intention of the Mayors Office for Policing and Crimes (MOPAC) to take over the CRC contract in London when it comes to an end in 2021. As far as I am aware no one has queried this. The bigger ambition however is to have oversight of all justice services in London therefore it makes sense that any other probation services operating within the community in London - including those currently operated by the NPS - will come back together with their former CRC colleagues under the MOPAC umbrella this seems to be a foregone conclusion. 

Current plans do not include prisons in the capital but with policing probation and youth justice under MOPAC's control and the court system digitised (and therefore portable and transferable) it would be a relatively small step to bring prisons and courts in the capital under Mayoral control to create a potentially cheaper, integrated, and more efficient justice system. The governments headache regarding justice would ease almost instantly. The Mayors office after all has resources and fairly extensive powers in order to maintain law and order in the capital and has barely flexed its muscles in this regard with a weakened Tory government devoid of ideas or solutions across the river though it has been building up a fairly large probation contingent in County Hall to prepare the way to put its plans into action and is already technically itself a provider of probation services through its involvement in the tagging of offenders in the capital.

There is now a rapid decrease in mentioning the now 'assumed to have failed' CRC experiment (they are privy to the evaluation reports) from ministers and justice policy makers (even the Chair of the Justice Committee talks of Gove's reforming achievements in correcting Graylings gaffs rather than anything of worth the latter actually achieved) when talking knowledgeably about the direction of future justice solutions. To me at least this indicates that these organisations will probably not be included in the landscape of future probation service provision - whatever form that may eventually take - and receive little further consideration until they can be done away with.

Reading the tea-leaves my guess is that the future will probably be increasingly devolved and overseen by local authorities rather than central government MoJ HMPPS NPS and CRCs. Probation will return to being something that is performed/delivered locally with closer integration of services into the communities they serve hopefully with a politically independent institute type organisation looking after professional accreditation and a small central organisation that agrees national standards with input from research, unions, government and others hopefully future policy will be based on sound research findings, learning from other jurisdictions, expert advice, and properly reviewed evidence. The days of big centralised organisations and multinational corporation run companies and the artificially created justice market will hopefully fade into oblivion and the annals of irrelevance with only the occasional bad dream to remind probation folk of that sorry episode in their otherwise proud history of delivering rehabilitation in the community.

Now that might just be a transformation in rehabilitation that we might actually get excited about and feel is worth our support.

David A Raho


Continuing the theme of celestial bodies aligning, the government can no longer lay claim to crime falling. This from the Guardian yesterday:-

Police data shows crime rising at increasing rate in England and Wales

The rise in crime is accelerating, with the latest figures showing a 13% increase in all police-recorded offences across England and Wales, and even greater rises for violent offences including knife crime, sexual offences and violence against the person.

The crime figures show an underlying 8% rise in the murder rate, an increase of 46 victims, with 629 homicides recorded in the 12 months to June, excluding the 35 people killed in the London and Manchester terrorist attacks, and the 96 Hillsborough deaths in 1989, which were included in the headline figures. The acceleration from a 5% rise in the 12 months to June 2015, to 7% the following year, and 13% in the 12 months to June this year, together with even larger increases in violent crime, will sound alarm bells in Downing Street.

The quarterly crime figures also highlight for the first time 711 deaths or serious injuries caused by illegal driving, a 6% rise on the previous year. But it is the accelerating increases in the volume of violent crime reported to police that will most alarm the public and politicians.

The ONS said the underlying rise in the homicide rate followed a general upward trend in recent years and contrasted with the downward trend over the previous decade. The headline figure of 664 homicides for the 12 months to June shows a fall of 2% on the previous year’s total of 679.

The increasingly violent nature of England and Wales is underlined by double-digit increases in types of violent crime that, although low in volume, cause significant harm and alarm. They include a 27% rise in gun crime to 6,696 offences, a 26% increase in knife crime to 36,998 offences, robberies up 25% to 64,499, sexual offences up 19% to 129,700, and stalking and harassment up 36% to 243,086 reported incidents.

The overall category of violence against the person, which includes homicide, death or serious injury caused by illegal driving, violence with injury, violence without injury, and stalking and harassment, rose 19% to 1,229,260 reported incidents. There were also double-digit increases in domestic violence and public order offences. Some categories of police-recorded crime fell in the past year, including drug offences, down 9% to 132,935, and non-domestic burglary.

The largest increases in violent crime were reported by South Yorkshire police, up 49% to 31,838 offences, Durham constabulary (up 48% to 16,532 offences), Greater Manchester police (up 46% to 76,404 offences) and Northumbria police (up 39% to 35,458 offences).

But it will cause increasing political alarm that large-volume offences such as burglary and car crime, which had been falling over the previous two decades, are rising. Domestic burglary is up 21% to 235,335, while thefts are up 11% to 1.9m.

The Home Office data shows there were more than 8,000 allegations of rape reported to police that were not officially recorded as rapes. There were 52,406 allegations initially classified as rapes in the 12 months to March, of which 41,159 were subsequently officially recorded, leaving 8,624 cases that were not pursued. Of the remaining 2,623, 1,746 were “cancelled” due to additional “verifiable information” that indicated a rape did not take place, the crime had already been recorded or it had been recorded in error, while 877 allegations were transferred to other forces to consider.


  1. Given that they are private companies and hold a vast amount of domestic abuse cases, does anyone know of any CRCs that contribute towards the cost of MARACs?

  2. A Tory Govt (& yep, that includes Blue Labour) will NEVER admit they are wrong, in the wrong or heading in the wrong direction - even when driving into oncomng traffic on a motorway.

    Grayling, Wright, Cameron & Osbourne fucked us over - with the willing helping hands of the civil servants now languishing in luxury as reward for their complicity.

    The financial cost of the centralist NOMS/TR debacle over the last 20 years has been a scandal in its own right, let alone the social impact of pisspoor justice policies which have seen prison populations expand to new record highs, reoffending rates increase & the numbers of deaths in custody accelerate.

    The killing-off of the Probation Service was a premeditated act of social engineering, an Agatha Christie-esque murder expedited initially by stealth (remove social work value, Howard; introduce enforcement, Boateng), accelerated by the imposition of Trusts, the '07Act then Grayling brazenly finishes the job by bludgeoning the now weak & feeble Probation Service to death with a blunt instrument.

    And No-one will ever be held accountable for this crime.

  3. Trump, the abusive hatemonger over-the-water, is now tweeting that the rising UK crime figures are due to Muslim terrorism!!
    Let's see if his UK girlfriend will hold his hand on this one!

  4. Police are having to cut back drastically now. Devolve probation to be part of that? How would that work. We need funding and investment

  5. £513m for a partial p-nomis; £444m for an incomplete Libra; £889 million forecast probation costs for 2015-16; £3.7bn contract value for CRCs; £277 million further funding for CRCs in 2017; close to £2m for Justice Minister salaries 2010-2017 & various expense claims (but not including ministerial security, vehicles, etc); £80m Modernisation Fund monies; £1.1m loss by MoJ's pathetic attempt at a 'commercial enterprise'.

    So that's about £5bn of public money thrown away. This doesn't include the costs associated with NOMS, moving to Trusts, the work to 'prepare' for TR, the 'rebranding' to HMPPS, the costs of failed recruitment & appointments (Maiden, McDowell, etc).

    And as they open yet another bottle of £60 Burgundy or Chablis the arrogant, self-satisfied parasitic worms have the effrontery to impose 'austerity'; to tell us 'we're all in it together', to cut NHS/healthcare, social services, teaching, firefighting & police jobs. To impose Universal Credit, etc etc etc.

    I really hope there is a God; and that s/he condemns them all to burn in their own hell... for the rest of time. The damage they have inflicted upon many, many thousands of decent people deserves nothing less.

  6. Service users are getting such a raw deal. I am ashamed sometimes.We try to do our best in my shrinking team but we can't manage their needs and expectations. They are turned away now when they come in with a crisis or just needing support because some days there are hardly any staff and they have caseload to see and being bullied by targets. That isn't right. We always had time for people before TR. That could be a suicidal service user or maybe they fear they are going to re-offend but they get turned away by staff who are close to breaking point and have no more to give..burned out! Shameful. I am ashamed to be part of it now and taking action to get out. I won't end up as a robot, ticking boxes and being emotionally distant. No wonder crime is rising. Service users need a proper relationship and support to make any real positive many desperate people now facing tax credits nightmare and homelessness. Coming out of prison further brutalised. Makes me want to cry some days..what an uncaring society we have become.