Monday, 27 November 2017

Divide and Rule

Seen on Facebook:-

Letter to my MP this afternoon for what it's worth after the shocking news that MoJ have pulled out of the pay negotiation citing that they have used what money was left to pay prison officers. The moral of the story is, it does not pay to just simply put your head down and just get on with it. We have been too tame and docile, time to start making our presence felt. The POA have shown the way. Action is needed now!!!

Dear Mr Xxxxxxxx

I am writing to you as Member of Parliament for my home area Xxxxxxxxxx. I have been informed by my union that MoJ have decided to freeze our pay once again while prison staff have been offered a 4 to 6% raise to address the immediate problems in the service. As you know we are now one service HMPPS. The probation service has the same pressures around recruitment and falling living standards. We have had a 8 years pay freeze and our pay band system has totally broken down with it currently taking over 30 years to reach the top of the pay scale.

We are generally a quiet work force and usually just get on with our work in the best possible way, despite the disaster of privatisation and the on going problems. Enough is a enough and all staff are very angry. We have been put through massive stress due to the reorganisation. We have very limited resources and everyone is working with unacceptable high case loads despite the important role we play in protecting the public. Nonetheless the government clearly do not value our role despite platitudes. Therefore it is unacceptable we have been treated as second class civil servants.

Please can you look in to this as a matter of urgency with the Secretary of State Mr Lidington and or the government?

I look forward to your response.

Xxxxx Xxxxxxxx
Probation Officer of 30 years standing.


What? I thought a deal was done and we were awaiting an announcement!?

We were and then we got that, playing us of against the POA.

It’s like a slap in the face after what we have had to put up with. I think the time has come for drastic action from us union members.

No doubt, after freezing our pay they will pay agency staff instead as they can't recruit anyone. Not cost effective. And why did MP's give themselves an 11% pay rise? Do they have no morals?

We have a number of agency staff in our office.

Not surprised people are going agency. The salary is not sustainable against the cost of living.

Yes they are on better hourly pay.

Regardless of which union we are in, we should Unite to make a stronger force to be reckoned with and take action. I’m prepared to do whatever it takes.

Dean Rogers Shocking though Spurr stealing probation's money to cover his overspending of every other budget is - it's worth noting it is the 2017-18 budget he's knicked. We continue to await news about pay reform monies - a key focus of our planned meeting with Ministers. What this reveals most clearly is worrying grab for probation from prison service. We are not one service and as chaos in SOP showed, the different pension schemes remain a huge barrier. This is a battle about pay but a war about the independence of probation.

It's also about money Dean

Dean Rogers Indeed - without doubt. I just wanted to point out the timing was confusing some. They have stolen the left overs from the 1% increment. We await news on pay reform. Very concerning they're seemingly trying to prioritise prisons over probation on pay though. Incredible arrogance.

Playing us off against each other.

That's giving them too much credit. They're in a panic and going from one crisis to another. Prison' s are their priority because it's their background and politicians worry about it more. But they should have learned by now probation will not be ignored.

Yes cos they are aware that the public know about prisons and not much about Probation. Action must be taken. I’ll do whatever it takes.

Yep, most of the public don't care about Probation; we're just seen as do gooders, sticking up for and providing for 'criminals' whereas prisons keep them locked up where many think they belong. So of course money will go to the prison side. A weak attempt to gain the confidence of the public.

I was expecting something like this. Government has yet to even notice Probation because we, particularly as individuals, keep too low a profile. Not enough of us join the unions. We hide what we do from others which means the public don't understand our role. When we do strike, most if us still go into work or just play catch-up the following day.

Probation needs some publicity, about what we do. We need to raise our public profile and get ourselves in the media.

I'm a bit shocked anyone's surprised. .....they know they can ignore us as the public don't know what we do and don't want to hear about it anyway. Also we don't kick up enough fuss. A handful of us might have the balls to leave, the rest of us will work ourselves into a stress related early grave. I have absolutely had enough of it.

I agree. Perhaps working to rule for all and strikes may demonstrate the important role probation plays in our society.

No parole reports for a month that should concentrate their mind.

No parole reports until they increase our wage!

Or refusing to supervise any one over 100% on WMT.

I might do that.

I am forever writing to my MP about probation. Fed up with it now. So demoralising.


  1. There was a poster last week on this blog who professed to be content with probation wages. I assume this view is not shared by the Napo leadership, though I think their approach is a bit lacklustre. How far do wages have to drop before Napo starts to regard them as the number one priority? As with the general secretary's speech at last week's conference, pay tends to be postscript, before urging staff to sign-up to Napo membership. If there are no signs that membership is making a difference, then why bother? The leadership says they have made their views known to Spurr in the strongest terms – he is now their emissary back to Minsters. Spurr is no more mindful of the interests of Napo members than a fox is of chickens. There is no fire in the belly of the leadership. I recall that when the general secretary was asked, by the Justice Select Committee, to state the average wage of probation staff, he hummed and hawed – he didn't know. Maybe that was indicative of how far pay has slipped down everyone's agenda.

    1. Thanks for that Netnipper! My usual policy is not to leap straight in with a response, but rather wait for others first. An exception today though I think as the nettle must be grasped in the interests of the very future of the union.

      The time has come for a change in leadership of the union and a constitutional requirement for an election next year will hopefully provide the necessary impetus for finding a new leader with fresh ideas and energy.

    2. Last time the nettle was grasped the membership were stung for a £125,000 sweetener to swell the coffers of the outgoing eejit... & we ended up with the current GS.

    3. I feel sorry for Ian. He's clearly on his own. No other organisation expects the CEO/GS to do everything. I see no evidence of Officers or Officials at that level bringing anything to the table.

    4. Yes I think your right Jim. Next year will see the Chairs end their term and hopefully some of the deadwood Vice chairs can be helped off the platform too. Wholly lacklustre performances from them. The Vice Chairs recently retired left us without any notable achievement and the rest of the sorry group shall be on their way just in time not to see their failures held to proper account. It is amazing one of the National chairs is on whole time release to napo as is one of the Vice chairs. Yet in order for them to retain two on full time facility all we see in NPS is the best that can be achieved and there is nothing we could do at this time. Rubbish. Inquorate NECs and many cancelled no accountability.
      Leadership of the union is manifestly held in the role of the officers group and any blame of directional failings belongs there. At their door they have openly colluded against Pay deals for all staff. Look at the secretive Job Evaluation great staff pay rewards give away. The vice Chairs support for E3 which has damaged many staff locations and respective job roles in work. Same Vice chair goes on assist wreck the VLO pay regarding campaign. If pay is an issue the Vice and Chairs all rolled over on any opportunity to protect staff and wage any rejection notices to the NPS. Their bigger failing was the looking the other way on the loss of national collective bargaining NNC terms aided and abetted by the Mr Rogers and Raho. What is this group about fifth columnists infiltrators they certainly do not know how to collaborate.
      Are daily so called workers who should be clear on the messaging and process to direct all the officials . It is widely hoped that we direct our union more appropriately in the future and we do need change of an officers group for a real dynamic leadership who understands what members want and should fight for. Any more of this sort and it is irrelevant who holds what job.

    5. I would like to know what they all do so that it's clear. I'm told by others that it's difficult to get hold of them but office staff are unfailingly helpful.

    6. Jim I did ask this already but the question may have been edited out? Do you have anyone in mind for your comment at 8:33?

    7. Not aware the question has already been asked and certainly not edited out.

      No is the answer, but personally I've been absolutely clear for some time that it has to be someone other than the present incumbent.

    8. 09:58 The loss of National Collective Terms and conditions was not aided and abetted by Dean Rogers and David Raho. They broke the news of the emperors clothes that all those directly involved already knew but members failed to realise. This was that the NPS had left the table and that the majority of CRC owners had either stopped attending or who no longer saw it as fit for purpose or agreed to be bound by its decisions. Blame Grayling or those responsible for the contracts or the NNC reps. Don’t shoot silly simplistic accusations at those who were honest enough to state what the realityreally is. It was Napos Probation Negotiating Committee that announced at the AGM before last that the NNC was finished as a negotiating body. Raho has never been a member of that committee or been an NNC rep but Read between the lines and was spot on as the NNC had already ended and no one was seriously interested in reviving it. What then needed to be negotiated were local agreements because unions need a means to talk to employers and we need to wake up and realise that there is now no national probation service. Not sure if the reps from the unions were turning up to the defunct NNC as UNISON and GMB had withdrawn from it as a waste of their time. Let us not be guilty of rewriting history.

    9. 10.58
      Are you talking about the period of time when Dean Rogers was running London branch and writing their branch reports?

    10. Recently met Vice Chair Katie Lomas at a public meeting. She was underwhelming and an insignificant part of a wider group. People have to be dynamic, intelligent and personable if they promote themselves as a leader. I'm afraid this vice chair has no obvious presence, which is consistent with the 2 Chairs who also keep a silent low profile. It wouldn't matter who the General Secretary is if they have no support team.

    11. Come come ! Come come! 10:58 You do not really expect anyone to fall for that do you. Raho aided and led by Rogers walked London to the exit door of national collective bargaining having used the largest branch memberships to wrong foot all of the union. They should both face a proper scrutiny process. They both must realise it sets a trend for all employers to attempt to follow and they set the downfall and weakening of napo in train. Again at the AGM last year they kept the momentum up by mis-managing an AGM motion on this issue. The point is the unions were all protected by a transfer agreement. We have a clear process to lodge disputes complaints and indeed legal challenges whereby agreements are breached. Why Rogers and raho failed in their duties and membership protections is a matter of real concern to many wondering what is NAPO doing when these two do not appear to know how to react and challenge appropriately.

    12. 08:53 you may not realise it but I understand that if the General Secretary were to lose next years election he will be entitled to significantly more than your figure on departure. That would be a clear waste of significant money. The current Secretary Ian Lawrence has done nothing wrong. He has worked his job description and been taking a lot of flack. Both here and in the field generally. He has struggled with competing tensions of the union divided by the officers group all NPS until now. PO centrism on the wrong issues when the government have spoken on professionalism as non issue. Dividing our grades and organisation ignoring ridiculous salaries scales and the dominance of minority membership of PO whilst the remaining membership get practically nothing. He is still there willing to fight on to see TR turn a corner. I think it would take a long time to replace a functioning GS from a new intake. There is certainly only a few pretenders that might come internally for a vote off but these are all shop display wannabes they may want to look good but have not the substance for the real and personal attacks and pressures this GS has faced. Better keep him in place and change the appalling performances of current officers. The failings are collective you cannot blame one individual that would be grossly unfair. It would be better to make him function better by proper supporting cast. The membership of his exec team for a start.

    13. "You may not realise it but I understand that if the General Secretary were to lose next years election he will be entitled to significantly more than your figure on departure."

      I think the membership are entitled to know the details so as to be able to make an informed decision.

    14. I believe the financial cost will be the same terms as the previous GS.
      The overwhelming cost for napo will be the replacement by a loser and we'll all find out too late!

    15. I think we need to be optimistic that the right candidate will emerge from a broad competitive process and thorough selection of candidates.

    16. Sounds promising and that you think there will be an external candidate. There's no one in the current mix better or more able than incumbent.

    17. On the salary being offered, there will be external candidates I'm sure.

    18. 11:24 your comment is both ill-informed and inaccurate. Raho/Rogers realised that the NNC had gone the way of the Dodo months before the penny finally dropped for the majority of members. The agreement with employers had no bite so new agreements needed to be formed otherwise no branch would have any negotiating machinery whatsoever. You make serious allegations that are entirely spurious based on previous inaccurate comments. In my experience Raho/Rogers have always acted transparently putting the issues to London Branch as they saw them and using democratic processes. They have always acted in good faith and have not misled or sought to mislead anyone. It sounds like you hold some kind of personal grudge and are trouble making having perhaps got wind of a Raho/Rogers GS/AGS leadership challenge and are clearly seeking to head this off by smearing both able candidates with false claims of treachery. All you will achieve by this is to allow less able stalking horse leadership bids to succeed and in so doing doom Napo to continued insignificance rather than putting a smart leadership team at the top table who might be able to make the reforms necessary to get something done.

    19. We see you have stuck to a script of Roger raho are doing thisngs properly. We do not agree. Simple facts are they had a protective document and that should have been the first position to argue for members protected entitlements. Not an immediate capitulation. If they run to an election as you seem to suggest then when did their alliance take this form and are they not the stalking horse to which you refer. We have no view or idea on any antipathy to any candidates. It might help if they declared they are not running, to stop fuelling these sorts of unhelpful exchanges and destabilisation of the NAPO leadership.

    20. Its extraordinary that some people are pisspoor at their job yet they remain in post, regardless of (& often oblivious to) the carnage they've created for others to clean up around them. Then, as & when its time to jump or be pushed, they get lottery funding-sized handouts.

      Meanwhile in both NPS & CRC the consequences of incompetence, indifference & collaboration mean hundreds of dedicated staff have lost their jobs, their entitlement to an enhanced redundancy & in some cases much more, e.g. their physical &/or mental health. And those remaining are feeling pretty fucked over as well.

      The GS, the Exec, the Officers Group - the whole lot should be thoroughly ashamed of their ineffectual selves. But they're not. Or they'd have walked already.

    21. I dont know why anyone thinks the GS or any of the Officers or Officials get hand-outs when their tenure expire. When the GS comes to the end of his contract next year thats it-there is no golden hand-shake. The previous GS wasnt for going so was "bought out" via a settlement otherwise the Union would have been dragged through potentially a couple of yrs going through disciplinary proceedings and him still being entitled to pay I understand and a temp GS in place whilst other suspended (ie the cheaper option). Officials woud only otherwise be entitled to redundancy payments if Union sought end to their contracts. Officers are paid for by their employers ie NPS or CRC. No extra payments at dnd of tenure.

    22. 13:49 Plain wrong you don't have obvious access to the proper details so please try not to make these erroneous statements.

    23. 13:49 Seeing as you seem to know what the truth is, why not tell us all?

  2. View from the Govt benches re-prison works, Nov 2017:

    "Mr Philip Hollobone (Kettering) (Con)
    - But is it not the case that according to the Ministry of Justice’s own figures, there is a direct correlation between the length of a prison sentence and the likelihood of an offender reoffending? In other words, the longer that somebody spends in prison, the less likely it is that they are going to reoffend."

    1. There is a correlation, but it's in the realm of reductio ad adsurdum.

      Lifers have the lowest reconviction rates, so twenty-five years, say, for shoplifing would probably bring down rates of reconviction. And given that long sentences work and about one in four of the UK population has a criminal conviction of some kind, we will need lots of prisons. On the other hand, it's also the case that reconviction rates following fines and conditional discharges are lower than those for custodial penalties. But this line is unlikely to appeal to a certain kind of Tory.

      Much better to address the causes of crime. Research from across the shows that decreases in income inequality are associated with sizeable reductions in crime. Again, not a typical Tory soundbite.

    2. Its kind of quaint to still have explicit lock-em-up-&-throw-away-the-key politicians in the UK parliament.

  3. Extract from 2010 Guardian article about the PO role:

    "It is a thankless job, to a certain extent," she [Kelly Grice, PO] says, her hands composed neatly on the tabletop. "You don't do this for the money. You don't do it because it's a popular job and people will be impressed at parties. It's a job that you do because you enjoy having that contribution, I think." It is also, let none of us forget, a job that does need doing, even if many people would prefer to see offenders suffer rather than redeem themselves.

    "There has to be an alternative to prison," Grice says. "You can't just lock everybody up." Yet, having agreed to let some criminals out, the idea does persists that probation officers, bewitched by the offenders' charm, and their own ideals, are soft on them. And, as a young woman with a psychology degree who talks placidly about "challenges" and "making choices", Grice would no doubt slot neatly into the stereotype.

    "Yet, as she points out, helping released prisoners to build better lives is an essential part of protecting people from them. "A lot of the general public want people removed from the community," she says. "But making people feel not wanted is only going to escalate their risk. If they've got a job and good accommodation, then you've given them something that they don't want to lose … The public perception is that we're there to hold offenders' hands and look after them and make sure they get whatever they want, but it's not like that."

  4. Or this from BBC in 2006:

    Life as a probation officer

    The probation service has come under fire after a report found "collective failure" in the handling of two criminals who killed John Monckton. But what is it like working there?

    One senior probation officer who did not want to be named gives his personal impression of the job.

    He has worked in the service for more than 20 years and is based in a rural county in the south of England.

    Essentially the job involves two things.

    We write pre-sentence reports which advise courts on how they should sentence individuals. And we supervise people who are on court orders and people who are in prison.

    The courts don't always follow our proposals, but they do in about two-thirds of cases.

    We are under increasing pressure to write what are called fast-delivery reports which I'm rather uncomfortable about. A standard report takes six to eight hours to write, from the time you get the file to signing it off. But the fast reports are about 90 minutes.

    You need your interpersonal skills to make the job not dangerous.

    With supervision, there are requirements imposed on offenders such as keeping appointments and notifying a change of address. The purpose of supervision is to try to stop people from re-offending and reduce the risk to the public.

    It entails an ongoing process of assessing individuals, assessing risks that they pose in terms of harm to other people, harm to themselves, harm to staff and the risk of them getting into trouble again.

    It requires all your skills in working with people to divert them in different directions. As well as this one-to-one contact, we also run structured programmes for people who have got into trouble, such as courses for people convicted of drink-driving, where we give them information and try and make them think differently.

    The best practice is when you are allocated a prisoner and you see him periodically through his sentence - so when he comes out you are not confronted with someone you don't know. You have some sort of relationship with him.

    But this has happened less in recent years, for financial reasons, and there's deep concern about that.

    It's a difficult job because you never see your successes. They don't come back. You only see failures because they re-offend.

    But it's an interesting job - because people are interesting, even troubled people. And there's satisfaction you're doing good work with people sometimes.

    1,190 senior probation officers
    4,980 probation officers
    6,089 probation service officers
    Average start salary £21,324 (+ Ldn weighting £3,420)
    175,000 offenders begin supervision annually
    The caseload on any given day is more than 200,000
    SOURCE: Nat Assoc of Probation Officers, Nat Probation Service.
    Figures cover England and Wales

    1. Ian, just to keep you in the picture, the figures above were from 2006 before Trusts or CRCs, etc. In November 2017 the salary range for PSOs is £22,039 to £27,373 on the NPS Pay Band 3. Salaries for qualified probation officers range from £29,038 to £36,084 (Band 4).
      Oh, and not everyone lives in London - even though it might seem like it.

    2. The majority of those working in London don’t live in it or come from London but London welcomes all even if they are not blessed to be Londoners. However because of the fact many probation workers in London are forced to commute (not all have the luxury that London CRC No2 Paul McDowell has of paid flights to and from Devon each week) the strongest argument for pay reform is to be made in London. Fail to win the London argument and you can forget about elsewhere and that fact won’t ever change. TBH London should be devolved from the rest of the UK because we are not like the rest of the UK and never have been. We voted to remain and have a Labour Mayor and can pay our way including for our justice services. We certainly do better financial management at MOPAC than the MOJ. Past decisions regarding probation pay always drag London down as the cost of living is a lot higher than in the sticks. Pay London more then you can argue your own wages up.

    3. 10:22 come off it the real figure there is the massive number of PSOs yet the whole of Napo dominated by PO pay. The biggest pay may be a percentage of higher wages but the majority members want an equal pay banding as PSOs do all the same work these days and wholly all the work now in CRCs. No need to be a PO any agency social worker will do.

    4. "PSOs do all the same work these days and wholly all the work now in CRCs. No need to be a PO any agency social worker will do."

      We seem to have attracted a troll.

    5. 11:19 forgetting your massive London weighting allowance and cheap regular fast London transport. Your properties are worth double anywhere in the country and more yet you want more for less. Sell up move out stop whining.

    6. 12:29 Jim sorry just an observation that the work has changed in the CRCs and emphasis. Your blog is titled divide and rule yet please don't claim posters are trolls because you may not like some opinions.

    7. There's a difference between reasoned analysis, inflammatory statements, sweeping generalisations and unsupported opinions.

    8. Oh really I had not read that in the posts it read to me like some half informed and half surmised information sharing. unless you mean this sort of personalising "but personally I've been absolutely clear for some time that it has to be someone other than the present incumbent." It is all about opinions Jim I read your blog because you provide for the bigger views and usually do not get drawn into sides. Clearly you have joined the commentary today and I respect your efforts. You are obviously well informed given the leads and head starts you provide readers. What is the real agenda for todays blog then. Is it Mr Rogers has been running a private or some members access information via face book . Is it an open page why is it not on the Napo website for linking members into read it. If refers to terms and pay why is not managed properly in a bulletin. Can this statement be really true as you have published ? "Dean Rogers Shocking though Spurr stealing probation's money to cover his overspending of every other budget is - it's worth noting it is the 2017-18 budget he's knicked." Nicked is spelt without a K by the way. Is Mr Spurr a thief or is this a mis-truth being written by Mr Rogers? Is it not an inflammatory statement, sweeping generalisation or unsupported opinion. Come on Jim respect you even though we wont agree some issues.

    9. The agenda today was the shocking state of affairs whereby the MoJ would appear to have decided to give money to prison officers rather than probation staff.

      As always, in a free-flowing blog, the agenda can change according to incoming comments and the issue of leadership has come up again. I'm reminding people that there will be an election for General Secretary next year and in my opinion there must be a new face.

      As always, opinion will divide as to the virtues or otherwise of the incumbent and a decision will be made by the members. In my view there must be a search, both internal and external, for suitable candidates and I might well offer an opnion when we know what the choice consists of.

    10. Thanks Jim fair comment and resect to you.

  5. From BBC website:-

    Electronic tag misuse inquiry leads to 29 people charged

    Two former staff at the Electronic Monitoring Service (EMS) are among 29 people charged after an inquiry into the misuse of tags fitted on offenders.

    It is alleged the employees took money to fit tags loosely so they could be removed. The tags help ensure curfews and court orders are obeyed. The police investigation began when an offender was arrested when they should have been under curfew. The two men are accused of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The investigation, called Operation Glen Falls, was centred on the east London borough of Newham and began in February this year. The former employees are Martin Crean, of Romford, east London, and Jason Gundry, of Barking, east London, both 46. The other 27, who are from either east London or Essex, are believed to be offenders who allegedly took advantage of the scam. All of them will appear at Thames Magistrates' Court next month.

    1. I wonder what the charge may be?
      But corrupt practice in my personal view is promoted by the economy we live in.
      Whether its police, prison officers, HDC operators or anyone else, low pay, frozen increments, and zero hours and deskilling, create the perfect cocktail for corupt practice.
      When you're struggling to pay the mortgage and other bills that keep you able to work, then a backhander becomes more and more difficult to refuse.

      With regard to London, it won't be to long before it can't be serviced at all. Social workers, police officers, nurses, prison officers bus and train drivers just will be priced out of the labour market. Soon it will cost you to work in London, and all but the very well off won't be able to afford it.


    2. A bit like this from the Independent 2015:-

      Serious corruption has happened in our justice system - and the penalties could stand to be harsher

      Pacing the bleak corridors of Southwark Crown Court one day, waiting for a trial to resume, I came across an extraordinary sight. At the end of a corridor were as many as 100 people, chatting, bickering, jostling for space. The vast majority were Asians, and most were men in their twenties. I asked one of them what was going on. Driving, he said. It’s about driving. When I asked why there were so many, he asked in return: Have you heard of Munir Patel?

      This was nearly two years ago. Yesterday, in Court 10 in that same building, the final chapter of this case was written, when the last three individuals were sentenced. In all, 30 people have been tried and 23 convicted as a result of a four-year Metropolitan Police investigation.

      It all began when Munir Patel, a young-ish clerk working at Redbridge Magistrates’ Court in east London, was caught by The Sun newspaper in a good old-fashioned “sting” – no illegal phone hacks, pure public interest. Patel subsequently became the first person in England to be prosecuted under the then new Bribery Act. He pleaded guilty. That was in 2011.

      What might have looked like the end of the case, however, was another beginning, for it takes two to make a corrupt deal. And if Patel was taking the money – to the tune, so his trial heard, of at least £100,000 – others had to be giving it. All the subsequent cases, including the hearing I had chanced upon, concerned those accused of giving bribes or of acting as intermediaries, sometimes both.

      Patel had been using his position as front-desk clerk and his knowledge of the system to make people’s driving penalties – points, fines, disqualifications – “disappear”. He used various methods to get cases consigned to something called an “unscheduled” list, which was supposed to be reviewed periodically, but actually wasn’t. The result was that these cases vanished into a black hole, and the errant drivers – uninsured speed merchants among them – were able to remain on the road with clean licences.

    3. And noted in today's Guardian.

    4. Dubious forensic evidence? That's what happens when we sell off public services

      The mass review of 10,000 criminal cases because of concerns over forensic evidence is shocking – it’s the biggest recall of samples in British criminal justice history. But it comes as little surprise to our union.

      Forensic data handled by Randox Testing’s laboratory in Manchester is being questioned as it may have been manipulated.

      The implications of this mass recall are wide-ranging. The data in question includes evidence used in sex cases, violent crimes, driving cases and unexplained deaths across England and Wales.

      This is about public trust in the criminal justice system. Without confidence in forensics – the fundamental evidence prosecutors rely on – convictions are open to serious scrutiny. The potential human impact could be devastating, both for victims and for people who are wrongly convicted.

      Since 2010, when proposals to close the Forensic Science Service – the publicly owned organisation that provided forensic analysis to the police – were first floated, professionals working in forensics, including many members of our union, have warned that it could lead to miscarriages of justice.

      Prospect members were shocked by the closure of the service. There were huge concerns about the wider implications, including the loss of experienced forensic scientists, the loss of impartiality of forensic evidence – and concerns that the private market lacked the capacity to deal with demand. The latest developments highlight what all those issues mean in reality.

      There is clear evidence elsewhere that the private market isn’t working. The UK’s largest provider of forensics, LGC, recently sold its forensics security division to European company Eurofins, and there are rumours of other providers also looking to get out of the industry.

      Prospect has consistently warned that the pressure to provide services and deliver profit is a hard balance to strike. Forensics requires maintaining high levels of control, which is expensive. Individual private companies dealing with commercial demands can lose sight of why they are doing this work: they are delivering an essential part of the criminal justice system.

      There are already more reports emerging of child protection and family cases being affected by potential forensic manipulation.

      As well as the truly scary implications for individuals in the criminal justice system, this is one of the clearest examples of the damage of privatising public services. Rather than overlooking this and taking it as an isolated incident, the government must pay attention. This is a symptom of a sustained attack on public services.

    5. A very long read, but a clear demonstration of why the private sector has no place in delivering public services, the power and influence private companies have over government, and why the government need to protect public services from private enterprise.

    6. Grenfell: Union 'shocked' by Sky News findings

      The Fire Brigades Union is calling for commercial interests to be removed from fire safety regulation in the wake of a Sky News investigation into the use of plastic insulation in Britain's buildings.

      FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said he was shocked by the findings and insisted private profit should have no role in public safety.

      The deaths of 71 people in Grenfell Tower were a defining tragedy in 21st century Britain. That so many people could lose their lives in one block of newly renovated council flats shocked the entire country - shock that turned to anger when it became clear that the fire had spread up a thick layer of external plastic foam insulation covered in plastic-filled panels.

      The disaster was also a wake-up call; a deadly warning that something has to be seriously wrong with fire safety regulation and enforcement in Britain. If so many people could die in Grenfell Tower, how can anyone be certain that their own home, school, hospital or workplace is safe?

      Our investigation, conducted over the past four months and published on Monday, has attempted to answer that question, and exposed the disturbing issues that left Mr Wrack so horrified.

      Even before the first bodies had been removed from Grenfell Tower, senior figures in the fire safety sector began revealing a number of uncomfortable truths: they knew plastic insulation was storing up problems; they had suspected a disaster would happen; and many of them had been telling the Government for years that the building regulation and control system was not fit for purpose.

      And some went further; claiming that elements of the plastics industry were not only helping to write the rules that require more insulation to be fitted to buildings, but were also trying to silence people who questioned whether plastic insulation was safe.

      Time after time we were told the plastic insulation industry was highly litigious, that speaking out about its fire safety was impossible, and that while the story should be told, no-one would go on camera. Eventually we found a former government scientist who agreed to talk, on condition of anonymity, about the pressures he faced. He said threats to sue him had made him unwell.

      "If you've got no [legal] insurance you lose your house," he said. "It was a worrying time and they were quite famous for it - people knew this was the way they reacted." He says he doesn't think the work he did was influenced by the threats, but they had an effect: "I think perhaps more than anything else other people were silenced - by saying 'Oh, you'd better not say anything about that, look what happened to him,'" he told us.

  6. Profit warnings, redundancies, fiscal commitments not met, share prices plunging, bail out by government for justice services.
    Deeply worrying times for Interserve?
    Well not really. Not really at all.

    1. Interserve has won a place on major highway and infrastructure frameworks in Manchester and across the Yorkshire and Humber Region.

      The framework lots to which Interserve is appointed have a potential value in excess of £500 million.

      These public sector frameworks provide opportunities to deliver projects for local authorities and other public sector bodies within the North West and Yorkshire.

      Procured by Manchester City Council, the new flagship framework for the North West will run for four years and cover work for clients across Greater Manchester and the wider region, and will comprise highways works, infrastructure and civil engineering projects.

      Appointment on the Manchester framework follows on from Interserve winning places on the four-year YORcivil2 Frameworks, which cover a wide range of infrastructure projects including highways, structures and flood alleviation works for local authorities and other regionally based public sector bodies.

  7. Right now, I feel like I have had enough. Underpaid and undervalued by senior management, qualified as a PO for 16 years, but will be another 12 till I hit the top of the pay scale (which can't be right)

    None of the IT works properly, currently at over 150% of capacity and raising as I get more allocations, in a crumbling building with stained walls.

    Just something from on high to say "yes, we appreciate you" would be welcome. Anything.

  8. 18.09 I know just how you feel. Squalid offices, undervalued and impossible to do a decent job anymore. What has happened to CRC upper management? Are they in hiding or taken hostage by the owners? Never hear a peek out of them. The only positive comments I get these days are from service users but expect those to dry up as workload increases. Still..not long before it folds and see what plan b is then. What is the unions stance on that? What happens when CRC's start to fold?

  9. I’ve had enough. I left a good job private sector to join Probation that seemed to offer an interesting and worthwhile career. Since The split I was sorted into the CRC and it is extremely badly run compared to private companies I have worked for. They certainly wouldn’t make the top 1000 employers. The fact is I don’t know anyone who would choose to work for a CRC whatever the money. Working for this lot is damaging my career.

    1. They're reinventing probation at the moment. Someone has realised that just inputting data and signing off on outcomes dosent actually achieve anything except for statistics and downtrodden and frustrated employees.

    2. "Vulnerable Wigan people who fall foul of the law were being guaranteed “the right support, in the right place, at the right time,” under a new service launched today.

      At set points within the criminal justice system – police custody, court, or preparing for release – detainees will be assessed by liaison and diversion staff, and ones affected by mental ill health, homelessness or learning disabilities, will be helped to access support as soon as possible. Greater Manchester is leading the way in this field, and is the only UK area providing a fully integrated health and diversion service.

      Commissioned by Greater Manchester’s Combined Authority and Health and Social Care Partnership, it aims to divert vulnerable people away from the criminal justice system and into the hands of services better able to tackle the causes of their behaviour.

      Available to both adult and young offenders, the integrated service aims to support people affected by physical and mental ill health, learning disabilities, debt, homelessness, drug addiction, and PTSD. Providing the detainee has given them consent, staff screen and assess them, sharing relevant information with criminal justice agencies to inform charging and sentencing decisions. They are also helped to access appropriate services, such as mental and physical health care, social care, substance misuse services and safeguarding support.

      Baroness Beverley Hughes, deputy mayor for policing and crime, said: “While keeping the public safe is the number one priority, it’s clear that a custody cell or prison is not always the right place for vulnerable people, such as veterans, homeless people, or people with learning disabilities. The criminal justice system doesn’t solve their problems and doesn’t put a stop their behaviour. Too often their actions are directly linked to problems in other areas of their life – a disruption in taking prescribed medication, problems managing debt, alcohol addiction, housing problems. These are the issues that need resolving.”

      Funny, that. Clearly what I used to do never happened and I am living in a permanent fantasy fugue state... as is Baroness Beverley, who worked as a Probation Officer in Merseyside from 1971–6.

    3. I suppose you would against anyone thinking of joining the probation service's new training programme, the PQiP? I was thinking of applying, but now I'm not so sure. I assumed the trainees would be working for the NPS, where I thought the conditions would be better than with a CRC, but I don't know if in reality new hires would be farmed out to the CRCs. The whole thing looks like a sinking ship

  10. We are all mugs! WTF are we doing? Working ourselves to death to please the slave masters. Start standing up for ourselves. Refuse to do over yiur hours, miss targets in order to see offenders, complain about poor working conditions, refuse to supervise offenders in booths. Be bolshy and a thorn in their sides because they sure as hell don't give a shite about us. What's the worst thing that can happen? They can't sack us all as they have hardly anyone left anyway. Take out grievances and join a union. Don't stand beneath the crumbling wall trying to hold it up. It is futile. Work to rule. Let it fail. It's inevitable now in most areas. Or leave and do something else. Or leave and do agency work..more control.Fuck em!

    1. Anon 19:32 They deserve to be F"""ked.

      I note how NPS are commenting today as their wages are effected. They never normally comment nothing to moan about, at least they still have a voice and an office, on the flip side CRC staff are treated like shit and seem like the ones fighting for the Service, its a shame they didn't have the same amount of anger at the splitting of the Service, things could have been different.

  11. I agree 19.32. But what I have found when I tentatively stick my neck out is insufficient supports from my colleagues. People are scared and they have forgotten or don't appreciate the power of united action

    1. I do agree but have noticed that when one person speaks out it can inspire others to do the same. That said, I will soon depart as you get weary of it over time.I just want to do what I trained do do..I didn't sign up to be a number crunching private sector stooge..manipulating stats whilst ignoring the people we are supposed to be helping ie. Offenders and their potential victims..It is broken and I don't want to be part of it anymore..majority of my colleagues are looking to get out asap. If there is an SFO on your watch they will hang you out to dry..they do not deserve our loyalty ( private owners ) so time to move on..Don't think they will reward you for being a yes person either..they won't. They will milk you dry and move on and send you to the knackers yard when you are exhausted..Be warned!

  12. Speaking of SFO's how many DV cases and MAPPA cases are being held by CP Case Managers with no supervision whatsoever. It beggars belief.

  13. There are offenders getting minimal supervision even waiting for BBR. If there are no staff left that is inevitable. Know of many but nothing is done about it! Still waiting for the inspectors to turn up so I can pin them in a corner, tell the line manager to leave and spill the beans. I will not hold back to save someones skin and keep them creaming off the profits.

  14. 20:18 I guess it's true to say that NPS are lucky enough to have an office.You're very much mistaken if you think we have a voice. 150 - 175 on the workload management tool, endless parole reports, oral hearings and ARMS assessments, I could go on .... I have the greatest respect for my friends and colleagues that landed up allocated to the CRC, it never was and isn't them and us as far as I'm concerned. We're all in it together.

  15. They will never be short of Pquippers, not when they can leave Uni with no life experience often,and earn nearly 30K within 15 months off the bat.Just 3 k less than I with 12 years post qualification experience. My wife is a nurse and when she qualified she had to be on probation for 2 years at a measly 20k.After 2 years they paid her full whack.Should do the same with newly qualifieds if you ask me and reward the long stayers.

  16. Problem is, those with a Criminology degree.Probation is the go to job for the money initially. More than all the other CJS jobs to begin with.But then twenty years plus to get the top whack,as opposed to the Police which can be done in 5-7 years.

  17. SFO enquiries should not be done im house. This is scandalous. How many cover ups have their been?.They need to be done by an independant body with no link to CRC or NPS. Shocking that this is being allowed. Do the victims / their families know?