Monday, 23 October 2017

The 'Go-To' Place for Advice

Increasingly Facebook is becoming the place where probation staff are not just venting their frustrations, but also where professional issues are being discussed due to the increasing bureaucratisation and chaos prevalent everywhere in the workplace:-

Is anyone on here working in prison? How many of you feel forgotten, demoralised and disenfranchised? Anyone else think cOMiC is shambles, a waste of time and staffing? I'm working from a local cat B, ready to shelve my job at the drop of a hat. Half the OM's I contact don't even bother to reply. We are managed in person XXXXX by an SPO who also manages a XXXXXX prison. The list goes on. We can't write Oasys if the case is high risk and owned by the OM who half the time too busy to do so. Prison sucks.

It’s not that we don’t bother to reply it’s more like we are firefighting community cases.

I guessed as much. We have folk here for over a year, no sentence plan, going nowhere.

Yes I’m sure mine aren’t up to date. Many of us have been managing high workloads for over a year and although may have gone down a bit, we are having to deal with the accumulative affect of struggling for so long. Two days a week (I have a four day week) I’m at the PPO team - I love it there but recently they’ve become so much more chaotic that more time is spent on them.

Definitely fire-fighting. I hate not having the time to write/visit/sentence plan. I do always respond to colleagues within the prison though. Hope you & yours are keeping well.

You’ve managed to capture the reasons for OMiC in one post.

From the opposite perspective I have recently been tasked with trying to get over 100 cases of people in prison up to date with OASYS and sentence planning and have been shocked by the lack of response from staff in prison so I think there are issues both in and out of prison. I worked in a CAT B local for over 5 years and then got stuck following TR and eventually had to apply as an external candidate for a job with the service where I had worked for 15 years.

I work in am open prison it is extremely busy and our caseloads are high. Yes there are frustrations as anywhere I imagine but I am fortunate to work in a really good CPO team and a good wider OMU team. The support of my colleagues makes my job not just bearable but enjoyable too.

I always respond to my custody counterparts. Without you, arranging interviews and SPRs is impossible. A good relationship between OM and OS is vital. I don't agree with E3. I think a home probation officer is vital but a community OM can't do the job without a good OS. I value you.

What is OMiC?

Prisons:Written question - 3726

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, which prisons operate a personal officer programme.

Prison service orders do not require Governors to operate a personal officer programme and there is no central register of which establishments do operate one.

The review of Offender Management in Custody (OMiC) introduces a new role of key worker who will have a case load of approximately six prisoners, whom they will guide support and coach to help reduce the negative impact of imprisonment. Key work is similar but not the same as a personal officer scheme. Where personal officer schemes do currently exist they will be replaced by key workers.

The OMiC model is currently being rolled out in 10 pathfinder prisons and will be rolled out across the remaining closed prison estate by the end of March 2019.

Now I'm confused. I thought offender management in custody was about POs going into prison to manage their custody cases from the inside rather than the outside. But if that were the case I can't imagine it will be caseloads of around six! I think I must be mixing some things up. Can anyone help unravel my scramble?

Is anyone going to the 'Design' Check' for OMiC events that are running in November......??

Community is worse !!! Stay put.

I was posted January 2015. I will be near retirement before the powers that be get their act together.

I agree, community is worse, OM's seem to get it in the neck for everything, I spent my whole Saturday yesterday on the work laptop to meet never ending targets despite being off sick this week with a bad chest infection!!

OMG .. that is not good.

I'm having the exact opposite experience. Went into prison January & loving it - yes it has it's problems but had I not transferred - I'd have walked! The community is a shambles & my heart bleeds when I think of the turmoil our service is in... OMiC is kinda on the back burner - Northern Region has 70 vacancies for PO's - if they haven't enough for community - they ain't gonna be transferred into prison... Our uniformed OS's are almost permanently detailed onto the wings as a result of staff shortages so we try to help where we can. In general, at this time, PO's are having to hold all the Lifers & IPP's along with 4yrs+ recalls for Parole - it's mad but I think it's more manageable than community cases...


Anyone else in the NPS experiencing a big drive on making sure any missing data on Ndelius is completed? And back dating housing and ETE on every trigger point; (whatever that means)

Yes the back dating stuff has had to be done and updating all info in ndelius.

Yeah we got told by Friday. Well I'm only at work tomorrow and in meeting in morning. Been spending a lot of time trying to find accommodation for a vulnerable young man - a PPO currently in an AP. Aka my job.

Do your CA's not complete HETE data within your Teams??

Usually but it's the backdating. I'm talking of.

We have to do our own HETE stuff. At loads of different points. My induction checklist is 2 A4 sides long with things to do/remember.

I've spent hours on this vulnerable PPO trying to source, beg re accommodation. To me that's the vital part of what we do. We have had a list of all things to be done and POs are all over .. so I don't know where we are supposed to have time to do it all.

Not just NPS.... CRCs have had to do this too. On top of all else and no CAs to do it....! x

It's barmy.

What other missing data are you having to do?

I think that's it. TBH I am so busy I've not read emails in depth. We've also ARMs to do, e learning, research and print out evidence for appraisal, etc

Snap to all that apart from ARMs x

Sometimes I think I may have made the right decision to change career! I don’t miss the admin, but do miss the face to face work.

It's just feels like we are data entry people.

In CRC the same. Fancy them paying through the nose for a data entry person.

Yeah the Secretary of State has requested the statistics, hence the 3 line whip.

Has he now!! Just shows they don't have a clue.

HETE is massive in CRC and we have to do it ourselves at regular points and the dates have to be accurate or it's a missed target.

It's Barmy - what is more important that or seeing and doing stuff to support the people we work with.

Yes but offenders don't have to provide evidence so it's useless!!

I’m a CA and we’ve had to do all the backdating in Xxxxxxxxx with the OMs assisting as and when changes occur. Evidence is something that’s on the radar soon.

It's just crazy.

It’s taken us a long time but luckily we have a temp at the moment and he’s been on the case. We wouldn’t have been able to get it done alongside day to day stuff if we didn’t have him spending so much time doing it.

It’s one thing backdating information if it’s accurate, was gathered on time, and you’ve just not had time to enter it - though that rather defeats the object of the target and covers up the fact that these targets cannot all be met given how much work PO’s are doing. It’s quite another being pushed to invent data to make targets look like they are being met and to massage performance figures.

Exactly. And what's more important data stats or working with the people we supervise and spending time supporting them.

HETE data all done by Officers in Xxxxxxxxx. We had a visit from a chap from HMPPS a couple of months ago and I voiced my doubts over the usefulness of the data, quite forcefully and at great length. He told me HMPPS/ NOMS were as aware as I was that the data was statistically unsound and had suggested the folly be dropped but had been told to continue.

They think that's more important than preventing re-offending and actually helping people...what a mess we're in!

Such a shame that paperwork is more important than people these days.

It sounds like a combination of a difficult Sudoko and putting the right bins out on the right day. Brain numbing.

Micro management. Classic case where higher managers come back from their holidays refreshed. It'll wear off a bit towards Christmas.

Dreaded Hete!!! CRC too!!

Awful isn't it. And how is that going to reduce harm and offending?


A practice issue - any offender on an order (inc SSO) without any RAR requirements so no supervision - should they be seen or contacted on regular basis and/or if they refuse contact is this enforceable?

In orders under the new legislation supervision is implied to manage the order and can be enforced, see the guidance on the legislation for evidence.

If it's a stand alone SSO then no. If the SSO or CO has another req and is under the NPS, then they have an 'overseeing officer' and the guideline here in the Xxxxx is see them at the beginning to try and ascertain if there are any issues which need looking at. If not, then only if they breach.

We use RAR days for additional appts with other agencies, supervision is the community order and they are seen for the length of that.

I think if stand alone SSO then no but if there are other requirements then the order is supervised and this is enforceable, the frequency of reporting is based on risk, if high risk it's weekly (at least) until risk reduces, is medium risk still based on 16 weekly appointments and then monthly? Then low for monthly/every 6 months? This is based on NPS experience. I'm off on maternity so not sure if this is still relevant?

I think it's clear that each area and cluster has its own views!

I had a man on a C/O with UPW and a programme. He completed the UPW and then the programme days were deleted at court as he couldn't attend due to work pattern but I've been advised I still need to see him until the end of the order under the 'implied supervision'.

Where does this leave us legally - if the offender refuses contact do we breach and would the courts accept the breach?

I believe breach would be enforceable due to the wording of the law around court orders.

If you can prove he needs to be seen, has criminogenic needs which he's refusing to acknowledge etc etc then yes.

Do people agree these RAR days are rubbish!!

None of it makes sense. It was rushed through by Grayling and its obvious in its failings. PSS is ridiculous and again, areas and clusters use it completely differently.

Is there a source where we can check this - not internet as we don't have access!

I was lost at RAR! So pleased I'm retired too, although it took me a long time to adjust from the constant treadmill of Probation. So what is RAR????

Stand alone SSO you can not. If it CO with UPW only the CO expires once UPW hours are complete

Stand alone UPW or stand alone curfew - no supervision otherwise we see the participant - RAR days we use for offence focused work/workshops.

"How times have changed. Using Facebook to check enforcement. So pleased I've retired."


  1. Stand alone UPW,With a CO, when the UPW is completed the requirement is terminated however the CO continues. Supervision after the termination of UPW is just around the corner even though there has been no supervision during the UPW period. How can then they be breached if the Court Order does not reflect this specifically.

  2. I can't help thinking the ball is in our managers' court. It must be their turn to tell those above that all those things that are being demanded can't be done. And that the powers that be must decide what they want done. The answer cannot be 'everything '. But then even if the powers that be agree that not everything can be done they will chose the useless bits so we still can't do our work properly. Then how about all of us together just working our hours? No, same thing will happen. We will be input data clerks at the cost of a high hourly rate + fall- guy when an important person gets robbed or murdered. I do think we are done now.

  3. In parts it reads like an agony aunt column. At one time support/guidance could be sought within probation offices, as there were experienced officers who could share their knowledge and offer advice. Now it seems the apprentice must go to social media. There is little point in seeking advice on practice issues from managers as they are not hands on anymore - furthermore, they don't like to leave their fingerprints on any decision that could backfire on them. Yes, corporate probation has been at pains to devolve responsibilities to those on the frontline while taking away those discretionary powers that once enabled staff to exercise professional autonomy. The Facebook entries are hand signals that probation staff are drowning, not waving.

  4. Often we ask the question 'where did it all go wrong?'

    I remain incensed by the political, institutional & professional vandalism being expedited by incompetent egocentric numbskulls masquerading as Ministers of State who think they know better than anyone else, that they have invented fire and who undoubtedly make personal gain from the whole fucking charade - at public expense!

    I find myself reading many historical documents & today I found these excerpts from the Guardian obituary (14/8/02) for Sir Graham Smith:

    "He faced a daunting task when he moved to the Home Office shortly before the appointment of Michael Howard as home secretary in 1993. There was a dramatic change in policy - while prison had been seen as a last resort, it was now claimed that "prison works". It began to look as if probation was moving back-stage: the national training scheme for probation officers was scrapped, the probation budget was cut, and, with the proposals in the 1995 green paper, Strengthening Punishment In The Community, some began to fear that the very future of the service as an independent agency within the criminal justice system might be at risk."

    And just to rub salt into the wound:

    "Of all the initiatives and developments he inspired, the one which probably gave him most satisfaction lay in the area of pre-trial services and bail information schemes."


    "In his last annual report, he wrote: 'One thing is certain - there cannot be a successful criminal justice system without an effective probation service.' "

    * Graham William Smith, probation officer, born August 15 1939; died August 11 2002.

  5. Here's an interesting document by Martin Gosling from June 2009:

    "For two decades the Probation Service of England and Wales has been subject to continual change. The nomenclature, systems of operating and fundamental structure of the Service have, unlike those of any other element of the criminal justice system, been repeatedly revised, adjusted and amended."

    "The primary aim of the probation process was to encourage and assist the offender to make the adjustments necessary to avoid re-offending and crucial to this was the development of an interpersonal relationship between the probationer and the officer."

    " The Probation Service narrowly avoided being re-branded as the National Community Punishment and Rehabilitation Service. Only the intervention of Sir Graham Smith, the Chief Inspector of Probation, persuaded the Home Secretary of the day, Jack Straw, to forgo the change which, Sir Graham believed, would bring ridicule upon the Service."

    "In April 2001, the Government created the National Probation Service."

    "The Carter Report and the Birth of NOMS

    It seems barely credible that a report written by someone with no practical experience of the world of criminal justice (although its author had been a non-executive member of the Prisons Board) and which was subject to no significant consultation, or Parliamentary scrutiny, should have been swallowed whole."

    "This arrangement [i.e. NOMS] is bound to lead to the predominance of the Prison Service command and control model of management and will, quite inappropriately, extinguish the significantly different probation ethos."

  6. Out of Jail: Free to Offend Again?
    This Weds

    An investigation into the government's reforms of the probation service, which many critics say are putting the public at risk as well as failing offenders themselves.

    Reporter Daniel Foggo meets two women whose sons were murdered by offenders on probation following the reforms, which saw part of the service privatised. They believe that failures in supervision contributed to their sons' deaths.

    The programme also reveals evidence that offenders being supervised by one private company have missed thousands of appointments and no action was taken.

  7. I'm so glad I left. I was sick of working in a job where I was just wasting my time. Not the useful career I joined 20 years ago. NPS is f**ked.

  8. Saw this in the twittersphere & thought it would sit nicely alongside TR, Spurr, CRCs, ex-Chiefs, Antonia Romeo, etc, etc.

    "The civil servant responsible for increasing the state pension age to 67 is retiring at 61 with a £1.8 million pension pot. He will receive £85,000 a year and a lump sum of £245,000
    He's the secretary for the Department for Works and Pensions

    His name :Sir Robert Devereux"