Friday, 19 January 2018

Latest From Napo 171

Here we have the latest blog post from the Napo General Secretary:-

PAC asks Spurr and Heaton: where’s the money gone?

Our comms team are in the process of carefully analysing this week’s oral evidence session of the Committee for Public Accounts (PAC). Here the cross-party committee gave Michael Spurr and MoJ Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton a torrid time as they called them to account following the report from the National Audit Office into the funding arrangements for the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies on the back of the £27m ‘bail out’ this year and the further £277m guarantee for the duration of the contracts.

Unfortunately the announcement below means I have to cut this posting short but I intend to publish a PAC ‘blog special’ early next week once I have also had a chance to view the proceedings. Suffice to say that some of the responses to the searching questions from the PAC range somewhere between robust, unbelievable and embarrassing but you can see for yourself here.


Burnley Probation Office closed due to Asbestos on Premises

I have just heard from Sonia Crozier that following an inspection by the MoJ, a decision has been made to immediately close the NPS Burnley Probation Office due to the presence of Asbestos on the premises.

I have advised the Napo Branch of this news and to offer such support as is necessary to members who will quite understandably be very concerned about this development.

I understand that urgent arrangements will be made to arrange health checks for staff and that contingency plans will be put in place to cover service provision going forward while a search for alternative accommodation commences.

It would be appreciated if any Napo members who have immediate issues that they feel should be addressed would contact their local Branch Rep who will if necessary liaise with Napo HQ.

Lies damn lies or actually just the wrong set of statistics?

It’s not been the best of weeks for the MoJ Mandarins what with the PAC grilling, HMP Nottingham in special measures and, unless I have got it wrong, a set of statistics on reoffending figures that look to be well out of date.

The publication timetable, suggests that we should have been seeing the interim reoffending figures for the measured cohort Jan17 to Mar17 and the one year reoffending figures for the measured cohort between the periods of Jan 16 to Mar16. Those published on Wednesday appear to cover the period for 2015.

Confusion reigns, but why should we be surprised?

SSCL back in the frame again

Just after being assured that the Shared Services division (who are responsible for ensuring that people actually receive the payments they are entitled to) we see evidence that despite the litany of Kafkaesque blunders that were exposed last summer, there are still systemic problems around their inability to determine the difference between contractual provisions and their capacity to make up rules and change contracts without consultation in ways that cannot be correct.

Dean Rogers has had cause to raise a number of issues yet again with SSCL high command who ought really to look very hard at themselves in light of previous failures and the way they have let down their hard working staff who are desperately trying to operate a clearly flawed system.

The latest farce is around the interpretation that sick pay entitlements for NPS staff are related solely to their length of service as civil servants. This is absolute nonsense and as far as we are concerned is in direct contravention of the provisions of the National Transfer Agreement and its protections for those staff who transferred into the NPS under its terms.

More news on the response from Pay and Reward will follow once it is available. Impacted members should meanwhile challenge the interpretation and retain all correspondence and exchanges and consult with their Branch rep who will if necessary liaise with Napo HQ.

More news soon.


A little late, but better that than never, thanks to the reader for forwarding the latest news concerning the Working Links CRCs:- 

CRC News

For Napo members working in the Working Links CRCs: Dorset, Devon & Cornwall CRC; Wales CRC and Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset & Wiltshire


The long running dispute between the probation unions and Aurelius/Working Links enters its 22nd month. Members’ meetings have been taking place across the Napo South West and Western Branches with more scheduled, and I also look forward to my visits to Swansea and Cardiff over the next week. 

Why we are in dispute 
Despite the continuing attempts by ACAS to intercede in this dispute, the parties remain a considerable distance apart over a number of unresolved issues. 

This dispute has been brought about by: 

  • The employer’s savage cuts programme; which has resulted in the loss of more than 50% of jobs across the 3 CRCs while the operational model is still unfit for purpose.
  • A failure to consult with the unions in accordance with national protocols especially over the terms and mechanism of the abysmally handled EVR scheme. 
  • Failure to engage properly over workloads and employee wellbeing using well established policies that will benefit the staff and the employer. 
  • Failure to engage and explain the operational model that we predicted would result in serious deficiencies in service delivery.

Following the last set of talks brokered by ACAS in the summer, it became clear that there was little appetite amongst senior management to engage properly with the unions. This followed an impasse over a proposed Memorandum of Agreement on Unpaid Work Services which it had been hoped would result in a settlement on this important issue, giving both sides some confidence that we could make progress on other areas of the dispute.

Instead, the response to our request for details on the recovery plan bearing in mind highly critical HMI Probation reports was unacceptable and totally disrespectful of staff. 

You deserve a decent pay rise! 
The astonishing revelation that Working Links/Aurelius have been paid additional funding by the MoJ of £4.2 million for this financial year (part of a four year package reportedly worth £277 million to shore up the 21 CRCs in England and Wales) has caused understandable anger among many members who are struggling to pay their bills. 

In light of this we are demanding that a ‘no strings’ meeting take place with the employer to discuss the scope for a pay award that recognises the huge efforts of staff to keep the Working Links CRCs afloat. This is in the face of successive reports from Dame Glenys Stacey highlighting operational failings around standards of supervision, and ‘Through the Gate’ support which have also attracted some highly negative media coverage. 

We want meaningful dialogue and transparency 
Let me be clear, the unions would rather not be in this dispute and would much prefer regular dialogue in an atmosphere where the views of members and their commitment to assisting clients are treated with the respect that they deserve. 

Unfortunately this will require a change in approach from an employer who seems to think that trade union members are irrelevant, instead of understanding that staff can offer valuable solutions to the chaos that is all too typical of the Working Links operation. 

Napo pressing your case in Parliament 
You may have seen from my previous reports and weekly blog posts that the details of this settlement were not brought before Parliament. I have brought this to the attention of the Justice Select Committee who are investigating the dreadful TR programme, and to the Public Accounts Committee, where I have also highlighted the fact that this employer is amongst those with the worst track record on effective interventions and public safety considerations as recently evidenced in the BBC Panorama programme to which I contributed. 

I am also in regular contact with the Labour Party leadership on their future plans for Probation 

Indicative ballots - your chance to direct the dispute 
We need to get a better understanding of what our loyal Napo members think about the situation I have described, and your willingness to move to the next stage of this long running and unnecessary dispute. Napo and Unison are therefore planning to hold a series of consultative ballots for our members across the three Working Links CRCs. More details of these will follow soon. 

We need union members to make a clear statement in these ballots by voting ‘Yes’ to the relevant questions. 

Meanwhile, I am speaking at the following meetings in Wales: Swansea 1:00 on 17th January; Cardiff 1:00 Wednesday 24th January and in Plymouth on 22nd January. I look forward to seeing as many of our members there as possible and maybe you can encourage non-member colleagues to come too as they will be very welcome. 

Please contact your local Napo CRC reps to find out more about the dispute and upcoming meetings as these are arranged. Wales CRC: Pen Gwilliam, Ian Jones, Migden-Sue Roberts and Lisa Robinson BGSW CRC: Ceris Handley DDC CRC: Dino Peros and Denice James You can also contact me in total confidence at or on my twitter account: @ilawrenceL 

Regards Ian Lawrence 

Napo members standing together in UNITY in defence of your jobs, fair pay and safer communities.


  1. Spur obviously a liar beyond his comfort zone. Only 1 mutual but eluded the actual . It will catch up with him soon enough. Scandalous

  2. Spurr & co are simply not fit for purpose.

    NOMS never has been, if the purpose is the effective management of the whole range of prison & probation services.

    If, however, I've misunderstood the 'purpose' & its actually about building a new & powerful fiefdom within the civil service - well, bonuses all round!!

    Heaton points the finger at Spurr. Spurr points the finger at Minister directives. The Minister is nowhere to be seen.

    Spurr will have to go - with a gong & a secure pension of eye watering proportions. He'll soon be snapped up by Interserve or Capita or Wackenhut... Heaton will move along the corridor to sell a different brand of snake-oil. But their replacements need to be from another culture, not just the next generation of well-groomed bullies.

  3. MoJ evidence to JSC contains carefully concealed jokes, e.g.

    "35. We have been clear that probation needs to work better, and we are examining further action we might take to improve performance. As part of this work we are establishing a ‘whole system improvement’ programme to focus on the interfaces between provider organisations and how we work together to deliver improved probation services. This is a collaborative activity, coordinated by HMPPS but driven by provider organisations, with each playing an equal part in the programme."

  4. NAPO evidence to JSC carefully omits important details, e.g.

    "Sodexo was the first of the new privatised companies to announce staff reductions. This huge organizational change process caused massive disruption to service delivery. FTE staff in post across the CRCs has fallen between 51% and 32%."

    Sadly no reference is made to this employer's failure to honour the agreed EVR scheme when making 'staffing adjustments' (the terminology used by Heaton&Spurr at their recent PAC appearance).

    1. Yes what really means is the the Pac was misled ti real lost total of millions because the staff never had their true termination agreements.

  5. There is no health check that I know of that can detect asbestos-related diseases early. It seems amazing that given all the H&S legislation that it's only just been discovered. I don't know how long the affected offices have been in use, but if it's a long time then previous building users need to be made aware.

  6. Laughing so much with irony overload having read Amey's health and safety comittment on their web site. Brilliant to know they have a zero tolerance to accidents and breaches of health and safety towards their staff and clients. I'm sure the inmates and staff will be very re-assured to hear that as they pick the cockroaches out of their food or crush them underfoot at HMP Liverpool. Seems like cockroaches are the only ones doing well and booming since this outsourcing craze went viral. Cockroaches and company executives are pretty much the same thing anyway!

  7. A week review in LondonCRC:

    A quiet day. No new directives issued. A real sense of staff morale and motivation at an all time low, following on from last weeks grenade of new ways of working.

    An eerie silence around desks. Phones not ringing. Service Users not attending. The hum of the printer working overtime, warning letters galore.

    MTCNovo, London CRC - this is success, right? Closure of local offices, cramming in CRC Teams under one roof. It’s not about service user engagement anymore, is it?

    No laptop connection. RAS key for mi-fi also down. A full working day lost. Calls made to IT. Issue logged at 9.30am. Finally resolved and able to log in and see the build up of emails at 4.12pm.

    Raised with management the knock on effect this will have in my week.

    ‘Unless you have no access on your laptop for three consecutive days, it is not classed as an acceptable reason for any performance failures’.

    4.25pm, deep breath. Laptop shut down. Speechless at how managements attitude has changed so drastically. A display of complete disdain for the regular barriers put in our way. Home time.

    Supervision day. I used to look forward to supervision. A chance to reflect. Receive constructive feedback - both positive and negative - on my practice. An opportunity to discuss a case (or cases) of particular concern. A time to consider opportunities for personal development and training needs.

    Now, a form is completed prior to meeting with your SPO. A form to document targets - Standing Agenda, SPO with OM 121. After battling though 9 sections with numerous sub headings incorporated, a small box asks, How’s it going?

    Late night reporting. Good to see 4/5 attend for their appointments. I was forgetting what it was like to step in a room with a service user. To engage and try to support positive change.

    Interesting to observe numerous colleagues. Well into a 12 hour day. Not a single word spoken for over an hour. Just the sound of keyboards. It seems, even with management long gone from the office, the fear remains. Targets must be met. We are but robots.

    Quiet day. Breaches to be completed.

    Hearing colleagues now discuss how they are fearful of being placed on PIP. Laptops being taken home so some can work through the night to try and keep on top of their ever increasing caseloads.

    Also, interesting to hear colleagues talk of the current LondonCRC Overtime project running on Saturdays. Over 800 cases with no assessment in orders. OASys assessments now being completed without any knowledge of the case or service user.

    Those partaking in this are given 2 hours to complete a full assessment. Expectation is to complete 3 full OASys assessments.

    I assume this is all part of the ‘focus on quality’ management keep talking about?