Important not to see Carillion as some kind of exception that made critical mistakes. All corporations of this type are doing similar things. Very interesting to see mainstream media rallying around to support the activities and idea of multinational corporations as public service providers as if their annual bonuses depended on supporting them no matter what. The purpose of a corporation is to make profit.
I have no real problem with carefully outsourcing some services when this is to a not for profit organisation or a mutual that invests any surplus it might have back into itself in order to expand and to provide even better services. I have never supported the idea of profiting from the CJS in the form of shares and dividends as this leads to the creation of perverse incentives and the distortion of service delivery to meet targets rather than to benefit society.
When I joined Probation we were I think 80% Home Office 20% Local Authority and could plug in to all the benefits of both as local government officers. This was for many a very pleasant arrangement with both local and national oversight and accountability. We should not forget that the the Probation Trust organisations were progressive devolved government organisations with good potential despite Year on Year budget cuts and that the wisdom of reorganising Probation into pseudo public sector and contracted out or outsourced to private organisations (one staff mutual) was actually not only a step back but was anti-progressive and anti-innovation.
It is worth seriously thinking that if the bulk of Probation had been mutualised ie owned by and run by probation staff then things might be a lot better for everyone and we would have a lot more positive news rather than failure and job cuts. Perhaps there would be some interest in mutualising the lot. During TR there were bid attempts from mutuals but they were disadvantaged
The vast sums of money in guarantees and legal hurdles meant that many were compelled to hitch their waggon to bigger players who then called the shots. Russell Webster did some sterling work looking at mutuals
Unfortunately as predicted by some this has not worked out entirely well and for some proved to be extremely costly. The reckless gamble made by Grayling who apparently envisioned that the TR shakedown and sell off would bring in a diverse range of providers of Probation Services and that new players would bring new thinking, vision, opportunities and innovative approaches to bear on intractable problems that would excite and motivate staff and partners alike has not been realised and some say this was never the intention and that it was purely a smoke and mirrors ploy to ensure parliamentary acquiescence and pacify and divide opposition whilst manoeuvring the companies they wanted into running those services they want them to.
So what I am saying is there are other options other than on the one hand a Stalinist type centrally controlled NPS model (incidentally the very antithesis of the Tory ideal and therefore existing on borrowed time under the present administration) or on the other hand a loosely governed privatised free for all with largely clueless gung ho providers ruthlessly pursuing profit over everything else and who know they have the government over a barrel with a high level of confidence that they will be bailed out of their for profit schemes fail. Hence the fuss about Carillion because the government did not bail them out sending shockwaves through the privateer exec class flush with their Xmas bonuses who were no doubt relishing another year of tax payer fleecing in collusion with their friends in government.
Trusts and mutuals can and do work very well if the government of the day chooses to provide the environment to support them. The idea that the government would actually favour quality over cost cutting and privateering sounds pretty radical.
So I think we need to start looking forward towards next steps and start envisioning not how others think the Probation service should be like and how it should be run but what we think it should look like and how it should be run. Part of this is to divest ourselves of the negative baggage of TR and combat the damage and ugliness it has caused to us and our professional reputation and status.
Most probation staff value the skills and experience of their colleagues equally whatever organisation they were assigned to and so it is particularly galling for me to hear and witness that there is now an unwritten artificial hierarchy and division of probation staff that has been imposed and allowed to develop, encouraged aided and abetted by certain spin doctors who are not our friends, that peddles the myth that one staff group of equally experienced, capable and identically trained probation staff are now not as good or of a lower class than the other just because of who their employers are and what responsibilities happen to be assigned to them.
It is disappointing that intelligent grown up persons apparently believe this tribal myth of superiority and are buying into the baseless belief of brown eyes good blue eyes bad or vice versa (http://www.janeelliott.com) that runs counter to decades of established probation values and is a terribly divisive betrayal of all that is decent in the probation profession and what it stands for. Stop helping to peddle this divisive nonsense now and think instead of the positive ways we can unify and rebuild or profession together.
The involvement of multinational corporations in probation has damaged our reputation because of their way of doing things not ours.
Very good piece and I like your ideas! Don’t think it would tempt me to return to permanent work - I enjoy my current autonomy - but for the future of a service I committed to for many years and want to see it succeed - I would support any moves to help this happen!
I feel torn between a rock and a hard place. Since privatisation I've wanted all CRCs to fail and go bankrupt but seeing how shit roles down hill I'm worried if this did happen the CEOs would be fine and it would be the worker ants losing their income. Can such a mess ever be turned around?
Dean Rogers You're right to see there are no easy answers. There are alternative models and it is unlikely that all or most of the current owners will pitch up to renew their contracts so the State will probably have to look at a different model. Napo and others are already exploring options and promoting the debate with politicians, academics, etc (e.g. we are holding an event in the Welsh Assembly on this next month) and looking to include Members, victims and those with lived experience as ideas develop. It is important though that we hang all this on how important probation is and have a balanced, honest but positive message about how rewarding it can still be - if everyone thinks it's a basket case they'll never listen us.
But I bet the chief executives have got nice houses and good pensions out of it and so the general public suffer because the offenders aren’t getting there needs met, because over workers under staff and loss of mo jo. (Spirit). But those at the top are all right, so who cares. Sad times.
I just pray the pension pots haven't been dipped in to!!
Dean Rogers LGPS is secure. Only employer to significantly miss contributions since the split is the NPS...Napo spotted in and were on it quickly. New starters in the CRC are not in guaranteed schemes so less expensive for the employer and little incentive to skip payments. Carillion had contracts with very expensive historical schemes that were not being monitored by unions.
Yet another fuck up, that the taxpayer has to foot the bill...privatisation again not working despite the sweeteners at the bidding process....
Work is being taken from the NPS to give to the CRC's it's a crock of shit
David A Raho Many CRCs have carried out radical staffing cuts, office closures, and have high attrition rates of experienced staff at all grades. In certain cases CRCs are in the process of replacing POs with less expensive PSOs etc As a result in most cases they have effectively reduced their capacity to take on any new work and are struggling to do the work they have. What we would not want to see is for currently understaffed NPS community teams to be simply TUPE’d across to the CRC (the clue is in the title) companies and for remaining NPS staff (such as those working in prisons) to be absorbed into HMPPS in the process. The NPS was disappeared before and could easily be disappeared again. HMCTS would simply absorb current NPS court staff. These would be relatively easy solutions that the government could implement fairly rapidly. It is perhaps more strategically productive for our purposes to focus the debate on solutions that will bring us together. Spurr will wish to do his political masters bidding.
A diabolical combination - Spurr's disinformation and Grayling's kiss-of-death incompetence are the curse of Probation. Spurr's lack of principle is stupefying.