Monday, 13 November 2017

Let's Go Digital

I have mentioned before that the MoJ has a long-term plan to close all courts and as they continue in their quest to put justice into a virtual world, Penelope Gibbs of Transform Justice voices several concerns:- 

Click here to plead guilty - the latest on online courts

It has gone a bit quiet on the online criminal court front. The Queens' Speech in June announced a Courts Bill which would "enable those charged with some less serious criminal offences to opt to plead guilty, accept a conviction and pay a statutory fixed penalty online which will free up court time for more serious cases". But it is not clear when the Courts Bill will be tabled, or whether, as well as online criminal convictions, it will include previous proposals to introduce online pleas (admissions of guilt or innocence made on a computer/tablet/mobile phone).

But it's worth reviewing what is happening and some recent concerns expressed about digital reform. HMCTS has said it will "digitise the single justice process [where magistrates deal with low level offences on the papers in a closed court] in Lavender Hill for Transport for London fare evasion cases to include TV Licensing and DVLA cases enabling greater numbers of high-volume, low-level offences to be dealt with more efficiently", and they are improving their existing system for making online pleas for traffic offences. And for civil offences HMCTS have launched, or are about to launch online divorce, probate, civil money claims and social security appeals.

One of my greatest concerns is about the democratic accountability of these reforms. Most have not been subject to public consultation, and none to active parliamentary scrutiny. If legislation is necessary, I presume the government have used secondary legislation. HMCTS have made huge efforts to engage people they know or know of - to invite them to events, and set up online forums. But, in the end, this type of consultation is not transparent, and is not open to all. The beauty of public consultation is that anyone can respond. Often public responses are ignored (as in the recent consultation on criminal litigators' fees) but at least the questions are explored, and the analysis of responses published.

MPs and peers may not always be that thorough in scrutinising legislation (eg they missed the criminal courts charge) but, given the opportunity to do so, their scrutiny usually results in vastly improved legislation. The current revolutionary and costly digital court reform programme appears to be by-passing primary legislation altogether. And HMCTS are mostly communicating what they are doing, not asking experts and others whether the reform plan is a good idea. Because there is no parliamentary process, there is little media scrutiny and few outside the world of criminal law know what is going on.

I am not the only one with concerns. Dame Hazel Genn, one of the most admired legal academics in the country, gave a lecture on this subject recently. She mainly focused on civil justice but her concerns are applicable across jurisdictions. I can't do justice to this as yet unpublished lecture (see this storify for more) but would highlight her concerns about the way the digital court programme is being evaluated and researched:

"I am aware that HMCTS have been engaging in ‘user’ testing and that a group of advice organisations have been advising about how best to adapt processes to be accessible. Testing and development has to be a continuous and iterative process involving a wide range of potential claimants and defendants and those who advise. And the objective of testing and evaluation should go beyond usability, and address questions of perceptions of procedural fairness, comprehension of the significance of procedural steps, and substantive outcome".

I would add that it would be good if HMCTS could publish their research methodology, how it is being applied, the contracting process for researchers, and the outcomes of that research.

Dame Hazel also questions how the new digital and virtual processes will affect trust in the system: "the critical factor shaping popular legitimacy of the justice system is an evaluation of the fairness with which the courts exercise their authority. Being seen as fair involves transparency in procedures, conspicuous impartiality and consistency, explanation of rules and decisions, and the promotion of procedures that give parties a voice in the proceedings".

Malcolm Richardson, departing Chair of the Magistrates' Association, voiced similar misgivings this week in relation to online criminal convictions, which would see defendants convicted "without any judicial involvement at all. In our view, this would be a step too far. Our justice system requires verdicts and sentences to be given by an independent, impartial judiciary. How can we build society’s confidence in a justice system they can’t see?"

The senior judiciary, HMCTS and the Ministry of Justice are sincere in their wish to create a better justice system for users. But by prioritising convenience and ease of access, they may be jeopardising some of the fundamental principles of our justice system. I hope they are not, but the lack of democratic accountability and transparency surrounding the project means that it has not been subject to the rigorous challenge any reform programme needs.

NB I have written a summary of progress on online criminal court processes - if I have got anything wrong do let me know.

Penelope Gibbs


Online criminal court 

The government is keen to replace postal and physical justice with online justice.  They are creating online justice processes in the civil and criminal spheres.

Already it is possible to both plead guilty and be convicted of a motoring offence online.  If you are convicted of speeding or another minor traffic offence, you are encouraged to go online and, if you plead guilty, to pay the penalty and receive the conviction online.  If you plead not guilty, you go to trial in the magistrates’ court in the normal way.

The abandoned Prisons and Courts bill suggested an expansion of this system to more crimes, to be agreed under secondary legislation.  This proposal was in the Queens speech in June 2017 as part of a new, slimmed down, Courts Bill.

There is no research on the success or otherwise of the existing online criminal court, nor on the single justice procedure in the magistrates’ court.  This procedure means that many non imprisonable offences, where the defendant pleads guilty, are dealt with by a magistrate sitting alone in a closed court.  He/she deals with each case administratively (on the papers) aided by a legal adviser.

What the government is proposing 
The government would like to replace the single justice procedure with a wholly online system for those who plead guilty. “Around half of all cases heard in magistrates’ courts in England and Wales are summary-only, non imprisonable offences where there is no identifiable victim and could potentially be tried under this procedure”.  If primary legislation is passed, the government has committed to getting agreement to particular offences going online via an “affirmative procedure” ie secondary legislation.  The offences which were previously suggested were: failure to produce a ticket for travel on tram/train and fishing with an unlicensed rod and line.

Under the online system, those who are charged with the offence will be offered the opportunity to go online, to see the evidence against them, plead guilty, be convicted and pay a standard penalty.  Those who don’t want to use the online procedure, but still plead guilty, will go through the existing single justice procedure (SJP).  The offences so far proposed are non-recordable offences. These are not entered on the police national computer (so do not appear on a DBS check) - but offenders are subject to the rehabilitation of offenders act, which necessitates declaration of the criminal conviction to employers for a certain period.

How might the new process affect vulnerable people
There is no published research on the vulnerability of those who use the current online court for driving offences so we don’t know whether they find it easy or difficult to participate.  HMCTS is committed to providing assistance to those users who find it hard to use digital services.  They will provide telephone, webchat, face to face and paper help to those who seek it. They will not provide legal advice, but defendants are free to use a lawyer if they wish.

In their response to their consultation the Ministry of Justice gave an example of the help they could offer someone who had received online notice of their prosecution:

“User 2 has received an offence notice. It states he may respond online and refers him to a website to do this. The user owns a tablet but only uses this to communicate with friends and family on Skype. He is anxious about completing the form alone and feels he will make mistakes. He therefore calls the Customer Service Centre and speaks to an advisor. The advisor identifies that the user owns suitable technology so offers to talk him through the online process over the phone. The user is talked through the process online, told how to view all evidence and case papers in the case, and how to enter any pleas or move onto the next stage of the process. The adviser does not give legal advice, advice on the merits of the case or which plea to enter. As with the current position, advice of that nature would be available from a legal professional”.

Concerns remain as to how someone who has a hidden disability, or someone who has English as a second language will cope. Many people may have no knowledge of the criminal justice system before they come to fill in the online form. Yet admission of guilt may involve a considerable final financial penalty.

The potential human rights challenges posed by the online court have been analysed by Sebastian Walker in a recent article. Mr Walker suggests that the online court process may not necessitate personalised legal advice ie a lawyer “but more detail is necessary as to what steps will be taken to ensure that an accused receives sufficient, and effective, legal advice. Will the constituent elements of the individual offence, and any defences, be properly explained to them? And will the long term legal implications of a criminal record? The only information that it was clear from the Prison and Courts Bill an accused will have before they plead is the penalties they will consent to”.

Mr Walker highlights concerns that vulnerable people may not understand the implications of a decision to plead guilty and that the lower penalties offered through using the online system may offer an “improper incentive” to plead guilty.  The Bill suggested that those who went through the online process would be offered an opportunity to have their conviction reviewed. This is welcome given it has previously been difficult to overturn a conviction following a guilty plea.  But as Mr Walker points out “if it becomes a substantial hassle to appeal a conviction or penalty there is a significant chance that for the vulnerable such safeguards will simply not be effective”.  The case of Robert Rowland Illustrates how an educated man of means can end up pleading guilty to a crime they did not commit. Mr Rowland got on his usual bus to discover that he had forgotten his wallet. The bus driver, who recognised him, said he could travel for free.  A few minutes later an inspector got on the bus and accused Mr Rowland of evading his fare. Despite having a good excuse, Mr Rowland was prosecuted for fare evasion, and received instructions by post on how to plead guilty. Mr Rowland thought the easiest and quickest thing to do was to admit guilt by post. It was only when he received a bill for £750 that he realised his mistake and successfully appealed the conviction.  

It is perfectly possible to persuade someone of perpetrating a crime they did not commit. The incentive to plead guilty via the online court will be strong. And even for those who do admit their guilt, the online court will offer limited possibilities for mitigating the sentence.  Defendants will be asked to enter any mitigating circumstances in an online box but, in the absence of legal advice, they may not know what is relevant. 

The future for the online criminal court 
Proposals for expanding online criminal convictions will be tabled as part of the new Courts Bill.  More detail will be available at this point. Meanwhile HMCTS are working on converting from paper to online the forms which people have to fill in if their case is going through the single justice procedure.

Automatic online pleas 
There is no provision currently to plead guilty or not guilty online, or in writing, for most offences. But the government proposed in the Prisons and Courts Bill that defendants would be able to plead online for any offence, at any age from ten upwards.

What was being proposed 
The bill proposed that every person charged should be offered (in reality probably encouraged) to indicate their plea in writing, by which they meant online. No offender can plead until they are formally charged, but the bill suggested that police officers, civilian staff working for the police, the court or a prosecutor should explain to those who are charged that they will be able to indicate their plea online and how to do so. 

The assumption behind the proposal is that the plea hearing in the magistrates’ or crown court is a purely administrative hearing, that people know whether they are guilty or not, and that no debate, discussion or legal advice is usually necessary. 

However research suggests that entering a plea is a complex decision which is, or should be, subject to advocacy in the courtroom. Transform Justice’s research on unrepresented defendants in the criminal courts, suggested that entering a plea was one of times where those without a lawyer were most disadvantaged. Unrepresented defendants did not understand when they had a viable defence and should plead not guilty, but also pleaded guilty when the evidence against them was overwhelming, thus losing credit for an early guilty plea. 

The other risk in putting pleas online is that the ability to challenge the charge is eliminated or delayed. The Leveson report emphasises the problem of people being wrongly charged (either over or under charged) and of the inefficiencies this causes – particularly if a charge is downgraded on the day of trial leading to the defendant pleading guilty. Sir Brian wrote: 

“any failure to charge appropriately has a considerable impact throughout the life of that case... For example, in the first quarter of 2014, 15% of all ‘cracked’ trials in the Crown Court were due to guilty pleas entered to alternative new charges offered by the prosecution for the first time on the day fixed for trial. A further 4% of cracked trials were primarily due to late guilty pleas being entered to new charges, previously being rejected by the prosecution... In such cases, although there will have been room for different decisions to be made prior to the date of trial, the seed for potential waste has been sown from the outset and could have been avoided had the initial charging decision been appropriate”. 

It seems likely that vulnerable defendants may be particularly disadvantaged by online pleas. They may be more liable to influence and pressure to plead guilty whether from police or peers and less able to understand the implications of pleading guilty, particularly in the absence of legal advice. 

Providing the means to, and encouraging, defendants to plead online may lead to more defendants representing themselves (either just at that stage or throughout the process), since the process of “doing it yourself” may appear easy. The criminal justice system is complex and its sanctions are life changing. Particularly for serious offences, defendants should be not be entering a plea unrepresented.  For all offences, vulnerable defendants should be entering their plea without professional legal advice.

Criminal Records  
One of the challenges of any online criminal system for defendants is that the implications of pleading guilty can go way beyond paying a fine or similar. If the offences which go through the online court or single justice procedure are not recorded on the Police National Computer (as seems likely) they will not be revealed in DBS checks, but these offences may need to be declared for months/years after conviction depending on the rehabilitation period. 

All offences recorded on the PNC can potentially come up on DBS checks.  Anyone who wants to apply for a range of jobs from traffic warden to childminder needs to get a DBS check.  So an online plea of guilty is likely to have serious implications for employment prospects. This means that the online plea app needs to explain in quite a lot of detail what a criminal record is and its ramifications.

Online criminal processes offer convenience for defendants. The online criminal court and the digitisation of the single justice procedure offer those who are used to using apps and computers the opportunity to enter information much more quickly and easily.  The government has given assurances that those who do not have access to the web, will be able to use paper or face to face procedures. 

Online pleas will also be convenient for those online. As soon as formally charged, someone will be able to get on their smartphone to say whether they are guilty or not guilty. This will save them going to court for the plea hearing.  Going to court often involves missing work or having to find childcare. So for some, particularly those who are certain whether what they want to plead, online pleas offer great advantages. But for vulnerable people who don’t understand the law, or whether they have a viable defence, there are risks they will guilty when they are not and vice versa.

Penelope Gibbs


This current advert gives a flavour of the language and where things are going in this brave new world:-

Band A Head of Data Innovation In The Data Driven Department and Culture Change Directorate (Ref: 14328) Ministry of Justice

Job description Overview
We are looking for an exceptional candidate who cares about making a difference and can apply their previous experience such as business analysis, product management, and consultancy, in order to drive better outcomes for the staff and offenders in the prison and probation system, their families and their communities.

This is a permanent appointment for a Band A in the Data Driven Department and Culture Change Directorate within the Ministry of Justice. The post holder will report to the Deputy Director for Data Driven Department and Culture Change – Prisons and Probation. Petty France, London. Interviews are likely to take place early December 2017.

Background – the Data Driven Department and Culture Change Directorate
We are seeking to recruit an exceptional individual to join the Data Driven Department and Culture Change Directorate. The MoJ is undertaking an exciting shift to be data-driven across all decisions, and at all levels, and this charge calls for a new culture. A special team has been created to move swiftly in this space. Specifically, we are charged with:

  • creating a culture in which our people are empowered with the right data and information to make excellent decisions; and 
  • putting evidence at the heart of our justice system, using cutting edge tools, techniques, and collaboration to drive excellence. 
We are seeking people to join this initiative who are passionate about making a difference, highly curious, focused on high quality results and timely delivery, finisher-completers, able to work and get along with people from all backgrounds, and unreasonably positive.

About the MoJ
The Ministry of Justice is one of the largest government departments, employing around 76,000 people, with a budget of approximately £7.4 billion. Each year millions of people use our services across the UK, including courts, tribunals and prisons in England and Wales. A functional justice system is at the heart of a functional society and our work spans criminal, civil and family justice, democracy and rights. As of this year, the Ministry of Justice has launched a 10-year vision and strategy, with safety and reform at its heart, and the opportunity to fundamentally re-think the way we improve lives and communities through our work. The MoJ Strategy has 4 pillars: 1) A prison and probation service that reforms offenders; 2) A modern courts and justice system; 3) A Global Britain that promotes the rule of law; and 4) A transformed department.

In short, the Ministry of Justice is undertaking one of the most exciting and entrepreneurial challenges in the world: transforming itself to be a system that delivers meaningful reform for offenders, delivers justice more swiftly and accurately than anywhere else in the world, and utilises data and insight to operate more efficiently and effectively than has ever been possible.

Why work for the Ministry of Justice?

  • Purpose – do work that matters; collaborate with people and be at the centre of system-wide transformation; get exposed to the front lines and see what we are doing in action 
  • Autonomy – focus on getting things done and achieving goals, and bring your whole self and your talent set to work; experience autonomy over how, when, and where you do your work 
  • Mastery – further your skills and develop new ones in an environment that challenges us to be exceptional in specific technical skills, in change programming and project delivery, in stakeholder management, in marketing and communications, and a range of other areas, including those specific to your role; career pathways following work on this innovative team are diverse 
  • Learning and innovation – be exposed to and help bring in cutting edge tools, techniques, and ways of working, as well as ideas, collaborators, and technologies from around the world 
Key skills/experiences we are seeking for the role:
The holder of this post will be passionate about making a difference for the staff and people in custody in the prison and probation system. They will be someone who values people highly and makes consistent efforts to understand the views, ideas, processes, systems and frustrations of the people we are supporting. The post holder will harness the best of digital ways of working to bring people together to create new and innovative systems and processes, driven by user need and developed in a highly iterative way. They will not be afraid to try things out early and fail fast.

Specifically, this person will take a lead role in designing, developing, and implementing systems and processes to capture, integrate and distribute information in our prison and probation system. The post holder will bring together data to create the ‘through-line’ needed to understand an individual’s journey in our system and to implement effective and efficient decisions and interventions as a result, toward real-world outcomes.

This person must function as an integrator between business needs and technology solutions and help create sustainable products and services. They must identify data needs and pathways; define systems strategies; develop system requirements; design, prototype, and test technology solutions; and support system implementation. They will need to define data governance, perform data profiling and recommend data cleansing exercises. As relevant, they will need to both help implement and oversee or help coordinate such activities. The post holder will be responsible for putting in place best practices for data quality management; designing database queries, triggers, procedures, functions, and packages for reporting and data analytics; defining business and technical requirements; and quality assurance.

The post holder should be extremely comfortable with data visualisation and interactive dashboards, such as Tableau, Qlikview, and Microsoft products. Moreover, they should be adept at developing tools with the end user at the centre of the process and an instinctive ability to measure success based on user engagement.

This work requires close partnerships and collaboration between analytical, digital, policy and operational colleagues. This person must also be skilled at presenting their vision visually with impact, and excellent at delivering their message verbally, achieving credibility with senior teams right up to the level of the Ministry’s Executive Committee.

The post holder will also understand human decision making, how we can support, anchor and nudge decision makers. They will be highly resilient and will be able to maintain enthusiasm and generate momentum in the face of a shifting landscape and priorities.

The work may include: 

  • Creating a shared organisational understanding of the offender data we do/should/could collect, how to manage it and how to utilise it in order to drive improved outcomes 
  • Addressing issues where data are not collected digitally, are collected in multiple places, are not collected at all, or do not connect to other data sets
  • Identifying concrete financial and resource implications of the way we can and could/should collect and use data, and acting accordingly; drafting lightweight business cases to clearly identify the problem, articulate the solution, and drive action 
  • Creating and implementing strategic frameworks to prove value early and implement a test-and-learn model, while working toward a big hairy audacious goal 
  • Creating a shared organisational understanding of the key decision makers in the prison and probation system, the decisions they take and the impact of those decisions on our outcomes; leverage that insight to build or advance products and services accordingly 
  • Linking data sets to build the full picture of an individual’s journey through our system 
  • Delivering a world-class set of products or services that 1) provides basic information to staff at the right time, in the right format and 2) contributes to our big hairy audacious goals of rehabilitating people in our care 
  • Leveraging internal and external resources in the most efficient and effective manner to deliver outcomes; building relationships and networks to draw on and maximise knowledge and best practice 
  • Understanding what motivates and drives the people in our system to make decisions and ensuring that we are employing the right levers and accountability to get the outcomes we need 
  • Managing multi-disciplinary teams to create decision-support tools 
The ideal candidate:
  • Thinks and operates like a product manager - loving product development and innovative products 
  • Brings a business analysist skillset to bear on the data, problems, systems and processes in prisons and probation 
  • Has a strong track record in working with data and data systems, per the above 
  • Enjoys and values data and is adept at working with data and with analytical experts 
  • Is already highly digitally aware or is willing to get up to speed quickly in understanding the potential of digital ways of working (customer centricity, agile methodology, pretotyping and lean development, automation, etc.) 
  • Understands and values very highly the users in our system and works hard to deliver quantified value for them 
  • Is goal oriented, with a track record of achieving goals in ambiguous environments 
  • Is a self-starter: someone who takes a vision and goals and makes them reality 
  • Has a demonstrated track record of managing complex and diverse stakeholder relationships 
  • Is able to influence a range of people without direct control or a managerial relationship 
  • Is able to quickly become expert in the delivery systems in prisons and probation and to adopt a strategic and innovative approach to continuous improvement in those systems 
  • Understands how to motivate diverse teams from different types of organisations and collaborate to achieve shared outcomes 
  • Understands the value of evidence and is able to get up to speed quickly on the evidence underpinning the prison and probation delivery environments 
Our team is innovative and fast-moving, while being highly collaborative and focused on supporting others to do their best work. We ask “how” and not “whether.” We focus on outcomes over process, and we get things done. We change our approach as needed if we see a better way through. We look for do-ers, positive thinkers, and team members that people want to work with and be around.

Visits to prison and probation areas 1-2 days, approximately 3 times a month, will be required. More may be required at different points in the year, in line with objectives.

We'll assess you against these competencies during the selection process:

Seeing the big picture
Changing and improving
Collaborating and partnering
Achieving commercial outcomes
Delivering at pace


  1. Pretotyping - "Simply put, pretotyping is the art and science of faking it before making it."

    Sounds about right for this pack of tossers! Sadly that only seem able to fake it; there's no evidence of them making anything but an utter ballsup.

  2. "Delivering a world-class set of products or services that 1) provides basic information to staff at the right time, in the right format and 2) contributes to our big hairy audacious goals of rehabilitating people in our care"

    Big hairy audacious goals??

  3. "contributes to our big hairy audacious goals of rehabilitating people in our care"

    It's a cracker isn't it?!

  4. "They will not be afraid to try things out early and fail fast."

    TR in a nutshell.

  5. This could've been witten by Interserves Ian Mulholland in fact it could be an advert for a new overlord for Interserve - there's a lot of " could/ should / would " involved in this job , not to mention "nudging " " leverage " and " vision visually " - they obviously need a proof reader Lol

  6. "Purpose – do work that matters"

  7. "bring your whole self... to work"


  8. My personal favourite:

    "Identifying concrete"

  9. As the main objections to digital justice relate to the position of the vulnerable and disadvantaged, I cannot see how digital would be any worse than the fast track, tick box processes it's intended to replace.

  10. It's not where it starts, but where it ends up that's troubling.
    "For burglary please select a defence from box A".
    "For theft please select a defence from the list provided in box B".
    "For all other offences please press C".
    And of course pop ups in real time from payday lenders because they know just how much you need to pay your fine.
    No one a few years ago would have ever thought probation services would or could be privatised. Could that be the future of digital court services? Interserve family courts? Working links magistrate services Ltd.? G4s Royal courts of justice?
    I find it all really disturbing. Will Sky be able to buy the rights to screen live trials on TV? If they're digital then they could be timed to coincide with prime time viewing.
    The lids been opened on this, but where it might go is pretty scarey.
    If anyone's got a spare £100,and can go to Edinburgh tonight, interested in digital justice, then this might be the gig for you.


    1. This event will analyse the benefits and challenges of improving access to digital technologies in prison. As society becomes increasingly reliant on digital technology it is important for policy makers and stakeholders in the prison sector to assess how prisons will adapt to an ever changing world.

      We will look into how improving digital access in prisons provides the opportunity to make lasting effects on reducing reoffending rates by helping to maintain strong family relationships; building essential digital skills and creating positive social networks.

      The conference will be a platform for those working within the prison and third sector, policy advisors, academics and government officials to discuss the many ways in which digital technology can improve the lives of those affected by imprisonment and the services working with them.
      With contributions from those enaging with the prison sector as educators, employers, digital experts and as previous offenders this conference will explore the opportunities digital technology provides as well as key challenges policy makers face in digitalising the sector.

      Does digital technology have the power to reduce recidivism, improve wellbeing in prisons and make prisoner management easier? Join us to debate and be inspired by the changes digital technology can make.

      Speakers include:
      Kenyatta Leal, Manager of Campus Services, RocketSpace & Founder, The Last Mile
      Professor Nancy Loucks, Chief Executive, Families Outside
      Katharine Brash, Director, Learning and Skills (SPS), Fife College
      Pete White, Chief Executive, Positive Prison? Positive Futures
      Gary Dawson, MAP Co – Ordinator, SHMU
      Dr. Dominic Pearson, Senior Lecturer, University of Portsmouth
      Michael Taylor, Founder, Code 4000
      Neil Barnby, Classroom Facilitator, HMP Humber, Code 4000
      Helen Chamier - Tripp, Service Development Manager, Apex Scotland
      Bill Fitzpatrick, Operations Director, Community Justice Scotland
      James Levy, Managing Director, Socrates 360

    2. Really?

      "The Last Mile", "Code4000" & "Socrates360"?

      Aren't these all failed B-Movies?

  11. There is not limit to dystopian possibilities which could be applied to almost any human invention. We live in a digital age - you are only reading this because we do - and I think we need to keep a sense of proportion and not always see the worst in new developments. I'd rather do many things online than join queues, etc.

    1. There's an interesting debate there.
      Do we fear new digital developments, or the people that have those developments at their disposal?

    2. Living in a digital age dosent necessarily justify its application universally into social arenas where human issues are best catered for by human beings.
      It's important that digital technology is part of our educational system, but having digital schools, where teachers could enter the classroom electronically would I feel bring serious concern.
      Digital technology is part of modern day society, but it shouldn't replace thousands of years of human development and interaction at the stroke of a ministers pen.

  12. Please excuse this language but its a load of bollocks.
    The role should be for a Chief Technology Officer. Justice should sort out the basics first, understand the data flows and requirements. When developing technology you start with a solid base structure (like the foundations of a house). You can then build the fancy stuff if you want to run the risk of not being future proofed etc.
    This sort of role is for someone who can talk the same language as the senior CS', promise them all sorts of rubbish but actually deliver nothing.

  13. Redundancies at Interserve. They say they're particularly weighed down by employment costs, notably in their justice services.

    1. They've just been given £millions in sweeteners!
      Just what the f*** more do they want? Or maybe they've just handed over those £millions to shareholders?

    2. Sam Gyimah replying to Liz SavileRoberts' question about CRC funding:

      "Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) received additional funding which totalled £37.15m in the 2016/17 financial year. These payments were made for a variety of reasons and cannot be broken down by CRC because the information is commercially sensitive. Furthermore, agreements were made with CRCs on a case-by-case basis to enable them to re-invest contractual deductions in key areas of the business and improve services.
      We have made changes to how CRCs are paid for future years so they can focus on activities that best rehabilitate offenders and keep society safe. This additional investment will see projected payments to providers being no higher than originally budgeted for at the time of the reforms."

      No doubt JB will be able to offer more info on this, but it looks like the CRCs are getting additional £m's in sweeteners AND keeping any financial penalties imposed for poor performance.

      So not only did the UK Govt give the CRCs £m's of public money to put hundreds out of work, they are now rewarding the CRCs with public money for failing to meet their contractual obligations.

      This Govt are clearly desperate to make TR appear to be viable AT ANY COST to the public purse, or to public safety.

      The lying cheating fuckers in Govt (& their weasly collaborators) got rid of hundreds of decent hardworking professionals in order to line the pockets of their lying cheating chums who bought the CRCs for £1 each; vile, immoral parasites who are brazenly asset-stripping the nation with this Govt's blessing.

    3. Interserve to axe around 200 jobs

      Interserve said cost pressures and operational delivery issues continued to impact the performance of the construction arm while employment costs continue to weigh down the support services division, notably in justice, and a “cost base which has not been flexible enough”.

      Interserve also added a further £35 million provision on Energy from Waste contracts for a recycling and renewable energy centre in Glasgow in the first half, on top of £160 million already provided and up from £70 million originally allocated for the project.

      An Interserve spokesperson told Construction Enquirer: “Since October this year, we have been reviewing our business strategy and performance to create a stronger platform for Interserve’s future profitable growth.

      “In the short term, we are reducing the overall costs within the business, and this will unfortunately have a direct impact on some of our people with possible job losses.”

  14. Shropshire probation service need to improve, as seen on 'keep probation public' facebook site. Not sure if they mean NPS or CRC as couldn't be bothered to read the rest. Let's face it, would be easier to list the CRC areas that DON'T need to improve! ):

  15. Another telling answer from Sam Gyimah, in answer to a question about CRC staffing levels:

    "The Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) contracts do not specify that CRCs must maintain staffing numbers at a particular level. However, the contracts do contain robust provisions requiring each CRC to ensure that it employs a sufficient level of competent and appropriately trained staff. We continue to closely monitor this as part of our contract management and assurance process."

  16. To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many staff worked in the (a) public and (b) private probation sector (i) in each year since 2010 and (ii) on the latest date for which figures are available.

    Answered by: Mr Sam Gyimah Answered on: 03 November 2017
    From 1 April 2010 until 31 May 2014, provision was by 34 probation trusts in England and the Wales Probation Trust. The following table provides figures (full-time equivalents) for staff-in-post in probation trusts as at 30 June in each year from 2010 to 2013:
    2010. 19,335
    2011. 18,466
    2012. 17,881
    2013. 16,297

    From 1 June 2014, probation services were provided by the National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). At that point, both the NPS and the CRCs were in the public sector. Staff-in-post figures (full-time equivalents) for 30 June 2014 are shown in the following table:
    National Probation Service - 8300
    Community Rehabilitation Companies - 8331

    On 1 February 2015, the CRCs became private sector organisations, the NPS remaining within the public sector. Staff-in-post figures (full-time equivalents) as at 30 June 2014 for the NPS in the years 2015-17 are shown in the following table:

    Year. Staff-in-post
    2015. 8,861
    2016. 8,756
    2017. 8,758

    30 June 2017 is the latest date for which figures are available. Workforce figures as at 30 September are due to be published in November.
    Figures for the Community Rehabilitation Companies following their move to the private sector are not collected by the Ministry of Justice but contracts with CRCs require each CRC to ensure that it employs a sufficient level of staff, and that its workforce is competent and adequately trained. We closely monitor and robustly manage providers to make sure they fulfil their contractual commitments to reduce re-offending, protect the public and provide value for money to the taxpayer.

    1. I'll wager there's nothing like 8,331 CRC staff in Nov2017, but we'll never know because its another dirty little secret the MoJ & CRCs are hiding from the public, i.e. the very same public who are picking up the tab for this commercially sensitive extortion racket.

  17. There's alsö an answer relating to recall figures but its in table format & I can't (be bothered to) copy&paste on this tiny machine. The figures show a significant year-on-year increase in recalls