Saturday, 6 January 2018

What Do the CRCs Want?

Using the submissions to the Justice Committee, we could continue our series of 'The Academics Speak Out', but as has already been noted, as a group, they have been pretty consistent and rather good at roundly demolishing the case for TR since it was a gleam in Chris Grayling's eye. On a Saturday especially, what's the point in just dishing up more of the same when as we all know, 'one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome'. 

Instead, lets take a break from the 'sound, rational arguments' and have a look at the submissions from the CRCs and see what they want from Bob Neill's TR inquiry. Basically they all whinge, Working Links being the most vociferous in this regard, closely followed by MTCnovo who in true Canute-style just state categorically that "The principles of TR are sound." 

On this basis and without a hint of shame, the newcomers to probation go on to make a bold bid to take over NPS so that "TR reforms can be completed by moving to a unified and holistic approach to the delivery of probation services." Other than this, the CRCs position can be broadly summarised as wanting more money and more time:-

Working Links:-
"The Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have made very substantial losses on delivery of the contracts. Independent auditors EY, commissioned by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), have calculated these losses to March 2017. Losses will continue to increase substantially to the end of the contracts in 2022. These numbers are commercially sensitive, as you will appreciate, and we are seeking a meeting with the Chairman of the Committee to share the information in a private, confidential way to assure you on the validity of these points."
"The uncertainty around funding has been a significant challenge since the commencement of the TR contract in February 2015. The MoJ has sought to directly address these issues and we welcome the changes that have been made, but there is more to be done if they are to be effective."
"The next step in the TR reforms would be to complete what has been started and extend the outsourcing of probation to the NPS to avoid fragmentation of service, introduce innovation of service delivery, to realise efficiencies and introduce further transparency."
"We think that there are flaws within TR contracts that need to be addressed. We are keen to work closely with the MoJ to ensure that the necessary changes are made to ensure that TR is put on a long term and sustainable footing."
"Rushing to judge new complex operations without allowing time for the contracting arrangements to mature, or for providers to bed themselves in is, in our view, to expect the unachievable. Good providers will deliver good services."
"The Government introduced a change to the Payment Mechanism in July 2017 which marginally increased (+4%) funding levels from interim billing arrangements in place from January 2016. The funding level was still 9% lower than the levels at contract commencement in 2015. The increase in revenue has had limited impact in additional funding available for investing in service provision and the operating model has been reduced from the original ambition in line with the reduced income."
"CRC contracts would benefit from using the option to increase from 7 to 10 years to support further business stability and move to business as usual after what has been an intensive transformation."
"Broadly speaking, July’s settlement has allowed RRP to continue to provide services at pre-existing levels. It has not been sufficient to enable further investments. Without further funding for Intermediate Outcomes and TTG services RRP's contracts will become increasingly loss-making in the future with likely consequential impacts on service continuity and quality. These losses could rise substantially if issues with the Frequency PbR mechanism are not resolved."
"Our CRCs are in the early stages of their development and we would want to see sufficient time pass so that their innovation and impact can be measured."
"Due to the nature of the response please refer to the ‘Commercially Sensitive’ response paper." [we need more money]
"CRC’s were awarded contracts for 7 years with the possibility of a further 3 year extension. In view of the scale and complexity of the contracts it is difficult to see how Transforming Rehabilitation can be meaningfully evaluated prior to the end of the 7 year term."
Although not a player in the probation field yet, it hasn't stopped cheeky Serco from chipping in their thoughts on the whole TR omnishambles and this takes the biscuit I think:-

(c) What should be the Government’s priorities to improve work between departments on the delivery of services needed for effective rehabilitation? 
"One Government priority that is often overlooked should be to create a level playing field. Currently public sector organisations operate a culture, driven by the power of the trade unions, where there is a refusal to accept that poor performance should carry personal consequence. Failure is tolerated and then often accommodated as individuals who persistently under-perform are moved into other roles rather than exited. This creates an institutional inertia that pervades the entire public sector side of any operational relationship. On the private sector side, commercial organisations tend to trim resources to achieve the easiest outcomes. In this respect, Payment by Results (PbR) when combined with input-based KPIs is completely the wrong type of contractual mechanism to operate in the justice field. Government must understand the notion that people who work inside the criminal justice profession are vocation-driven, first and foremost – introduce mechanisms that reward vocation and the results could be staggering."
I haven't forgotten about Durham Tees Valley, but seeing as they are the only non-commercial CRC, I'll devote a blog post to them next week.


Thanks to the reader for pointing out the omission of People Plus. Their submission was the shortest by far, just four paragraphs asking for more money:-
"As with all other CRCs, we have worked closely with the Ministry of Justice to find a solution to these issues culminating in a variation to all CRC contracts in July 2017.

Whilst this change has brought about greater financial certainty and stability, challenges still remain with the payment mechanism. We are committed to working with the Ministry of Justice to respond to those challenges and welcome their commitment to continue the work started under the probation system review."


  1. I'd dearly love to hear Chair of the JSC tell Serco to "go fuck yourself with a dirty stick." It is beyond belief that those words come from a company which has admitted stealing £millions of public money over the tagging farce; no doubt only a tiny fraction of what they have actually nicked from the public purse across their vast portfolio of govt contracts.

    But in the context of the CRC submissions above its evident the private sector definition of "performance" is how far you can capitalise on a contract, by fair means or foul, i.e. steal as much as you can as quickly as you can, bury it in the accounts so no-one will ever find it and we'll pay you huge bonuses as a reward. If you get caught we'll sneak you out the back door in a limo; if you squeal, we'll smear you in offal & throw you naked to the sharks.

    1. I suppose Serco take the biscuit for chutzpah. Reminds me of the joke about a defendant who had murdered his parents asking the judge to show mercy because he was an orphan. So Serco has the nerve to slander the probation service for 'institutional inertia', blaming powerful (if only) trade unions. This must be the same service that was performing well before Grayling's blitzkrieg. When you have offshore lawyers doubting Serco's business fitness, why would anyone think that Serco are worth listening to?

      'An offshore law firm regarded Serco, a company that runs sensitive government services in Australia and the UK, as a “high-risk” client, expressing concern about its “history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging”, the Paradise Papers reveal'

    2. An offshore law firm regarded Serco, a company that runs sensitive government services in Australia and the UK, as a “high-risk” client, expressing concern about its “history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging”, the Paradise Papers reveal.

      Chief among the law firm’s concerns about Serco were allegations of fraud, the cover-up of the abuse of detainees, and the mishandling of radioactive waste.

      The concerns are outlined in the Paradise Papers, based on millions of documents from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, which were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with partners including the Guardian.

      They have prompted Serco’s critics to question the appropriateness of having the company provide critical services on behalf of the Australian and UK governments.

      Serco runs 11 of Australia’s onshore immigration detention centres, including on Christmas Island, and is regularly contracted for defence projects.

      It has been asked to provide 250 staff to Australia’s troubled phone support system for welfare recipients, and will build and run the country’s largest private prison, in Grafton, New South Wales. Elsewhere, it runs private prisons in Western Australia and Queensland, provides non-clinical services in hospitals and is building Australia’s next Antarctic discovery vessel, or icebreaker, which it will go on to operate.

      The company was founded in the UK, where it is based, and had revenues of £3bn last year. In Britain, it operates six adult prisons and the Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre, helps manage healthcare facilities and provides critical support services to the military.

      Serco first approached Appleby through a London law firm on 1 September 2015, asking for help to “establish a subsidiary in Mauritius to acquire 49% of a company in Abu Dhabi”.

      It would later use the Mauritius company solely to facilitate part of a major sale of its business interests in the Middle East and India.

    3. Serco has flatly denied that the structure was used to help it avoid tax, and the Guardian is not suggesting the company acted unlawfully in any way.

      The request prompted a flurry of activity within the Appleby compliance arm. The team began running its standard checks on the risks Serco could pose as a client.

      The results were less than convincing. Appleby’s compliance team found what they described as a “history of blunders and controversies surrounding many of its contracts”, including through its involvement in Obamacare and the running of prisons in Australia and New Zealand.

      “It has a history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging,” a senior Appleby compliance officer wrote.

      At the time, the company was under investigation by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office for billing the government for the electronic monitoring of criminals who were either still behind bars or dead. It paid back £68.5m to the government over the scandal, but was later cleared of fraud.

      Serco, it was noted, was part of a consortium the UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation had accused of breaching its responsibilities for the handling of radioactive waste. It had also presented false data to the NHS 252 times, was accused of fraudulent record keeping and had allegedly manipulated results when it failed to meet targets, the compliance team warned.

      “The company is alleged to have covered up the sexual abuse of immigrants in Yarl’s Wood removal centre,” the compliance officer wrote.

      The compliance team’s final view was that caution ought to be exercised against taking on Serco. But, if it decided to push ahead, Appleby must ensure there was a “legitimate rationale” for Serco’s operations in Mauritius. The company generated income in Baghdad, Namibia and the Philippines, and its transactions should be closely monitored, Appleby’s compliance team said.

      “There is a lot of bad publicity related to this group that increases the exposure to risk. Although a listed company, the world check hit [results from a global business intelligence database] and controversial issues surrounding Serco cannot be disregarded,” the compliance officer wrote.

      “We need to consider whether we would be in a position to manage these risks. If this business is to be accepted, it will be very important to ensure that there is a documented sound and legitimate rationale for what they are doing and why they are doing it in Mauritius, and also how the risks would be mitigated.”

      The risks were not enough to dissuade the law firm from agreeing to take on Serco.

      A Serco spokesman said it was “hardly a secret” that the company encountered challenges in 2013. Those challenges prompted a major programme of corporate renewal, he said.

      “The success of this programme is evidenced by the fact that governments in the US, UK and Australia have all awarded and renewed major contracts with Serco to manage highly sensitive public services,” the spokesman said.

      At the time it approached Appleby, Serco was keen to stop providing outsourcing services to private businesses, and instead focus its efforts on the public sector. The restructure was designed to exit a loss-making and non-core part of Serco’s business.

    4. Before the DWPs jobcentre Workprogramme, Serco used to run FND Flexible New Deal (where they facilitated nothing)
      They robbed millions from the taxpayer
      (and that was under fhoney new labour btw)

    5. Blue Labour are not innocent; they set everything up - and I don't doubt Blair, Brown, Darling, Straw et al probably have significant shareholdings in Serco, G4S, Capita, etc, etc.

  2. Jim, be nice to DTV. I work for them and whilst there are some 'issues' it's not a bad place overall.

    1. Not all would agree with you

  3. 09:10 That's the general plan. Lets hope the submission lives up to expectations. We don't hear much from that neck of the woods, so any info would be helpful.

  4. It seems almost incomprehensible that a company with zero understanding of criminal justice system has the audacity to suggest taking over NPS or was that some kind if sick joke? Do they read the probation inspectorate reports? They must be as dysfunctional as Donald Trump to voice such beliefs. As for the remarks about public sector!! Again, read to inspectorate reports comparing NPS and also Youth Offending Service performance over CRC and it tells you everything you need to know..the latter in particular standing out as doing well and making good progress. It just goes to show in what low regard they consider government bodies such as probation inspectorate and that they cannot be trusted. As you say it is shocking to see the statements of the likes of working links whinging about lack of funds when staff continue to leave in droves, offenders being interviewed in libraries and basically whole WL 3 areas are on their knees.

  5. @Jim Brown

    We're a not for profit company so have no real reason to rip the taxpayer off.
    By and large there is a good management structure.
    People do actually feel valued by managers.
    Excellent camaraderie.
    Aside from the Delius Bridge we have a good IT structure and access to IT.
    Diversity is recognised.
    We have a good rapport with the majority of our service users.
    We've maintained good links with partner agencies, and forged new ones.
    Good communication.
    Good career progression.
    New roles (we've taken on ex service users).
    Excellent volunteer opportunities.
    Flexible working.

    Bad points.
    A lot of hubs complain about the lack of privacy...I agree.
    There is a focus on KPI's.
    Not enough training opportunities (I mean actual training rather than completing some questions after watching a video on our laptops).

    I'm hoping some of my DTV colleagues will add to the list.

    FWIW, I'm a PO and not a manager.

    1. Sorry but which organisation are you talking about? I assume it is not working links because if it is I doubt your views are shared with any other PO's! Mind you , there are very few left now! Also doubt your views would be shared by the service users either so assume you are talking about another ' not for profit company' ( loud cough ) Who might that be?

    2. It refers to Durham Tees Valley CRC

    3. Thanks Jim. Maybe they should take over some of the other CRC's then. Just remember folks one good example or maybe a few out of 22!

    4. There's talk of DTV bidding for Northumbria (Sodexo) when the contracts are due for renewal.

    5. I heard that too. I bet Sodexo staff will be happy, from what I've heard it's not all fun and games in Northumbria CRC.

  6. All these companies have a tarnished reputation, not just in the UK, but at an international level.
    Failure, human rights abuses, ripping governments off all over the world. I think whatever submissions they make to the JSC, they should be compared alongside their international record.
    MTCNovo for example...


    1. Don't know who you are getafix but I do applaud you for your services to the blog. I do hope you are making good use of your knowledge and talent in terms of keeping abreast of latest developments. May be worth your writing an article for the media or even being interviewed. They can keep anonymous if you would prefer. The Guardian or Independent may be interested. Jim would likely be able to pass on contact names there if you were interested. I think they are keen to hear from service users perspective how TR has impacted now that offenders have become a 'comodity' to be bought and sold! Just a thought.

    2. 15th March 2016:-

      As head of the Department of Corrections in Washington State, Bernie Warner oversaw the accidental early release of 3,200 prisoners. Having left that job, he became the vice president of corrections at US firm Management and Training Corporation (MTC), a US private prison operator that has been hit by numerous riots and scandals. And now, thanks to the government's privatization of probation, Bernie and MTC are bringing their stellar record to the UK.

      Last year, the Conservative government handed probation services—which manage ex-prisoners on release from prison, trying to guide them away from crime—to private companies. MTC are running two of the biggest new "Community Rehabilitation Companies" in London and the Thames Valley. All but the most violent ex-prisoners in London are being managed by MTC and their partners, operating under the name MTCNovo. The MTCNovo website doesn't say who is in charge, but company records obtained by VICE show that Bernie Warner is one of the American directors of UK based MTCNovo, and has been since last December.

  7. You going to do a Worboys post Jim?

    1. I reckon there is a blatant reason he is considered to be no longer a risk to women. One possibility is that he could be terminally ill. If they were allowed to give some very basic information to public regarding their decision then it may re-assure the public. Courts ( apart from youth) are open to public and press so why not limited info from parole panel?

    2. Anon 12:17 Warboys was covered a bit on yesterday's blog and TBH I don't want to get too bogged down on distractions from the work in hand re TR. Having said that, the case has so many alarming aspects and is all over the media that I guess we should. Then there's the recall of Venables, fresh charges and recent 26 year tariff for Theodore Johnson....

    3. They actually did the right thing.
      If you want to get outraged anyone then do it against the CPS who cocked up the charges and original judge who cocked up the sentence.
      If they were to try him again the sentence will have to take into account the previous cocks ups yes?
      and it wont be pretty cus it has and will continue to undermine confidence

  8. If Donald Trump is, as he tweeted today ' a stable genius' then TR is a fucking miracle and I am eating my hat! : ) #TR miracle beats Einstein @ mc2.

    1. If Working Links were running your campaign, do you think you could be elected to run a fish n chip shop let alone be the leader of the free world. NO?
      Face it he IS a genius , I get it and you and many others like you never will.
      Perhaps you would prefer an establishment cardboard cut out republican or a corrupt democrat? Bernie even had it rigged against him bu his own party!!!
      Research Whitewater fully them get back to be.
      What CRCs need IS a Trump to kick your asses
      especially yours.

  9. There is no such thing as a privatised company running Probation. What we really have now is the continuance of probation with half of the work chopped out to a management structure who are there to sack cut and waste away all what was great. They cost more in the mid term to run public services but actually they wont be around for the long terms. If they were to be for sure they are just parasites sucking of the public accounts and making blood money for a nothing contribution. Now if you asked me what I want from CRCs is for them to Fu** OFF

    1. Cabinet reshuffle Monday and Tuesday.
      Any bets on Grayling moving to the MoJ?

  10. Dont forget Warwickshire & West Mercia CRC, People Plus or have they not submitted anything into the justice select committee?

    1. More accidents waiting to happen here with Sodexo getting contracts for providing waking night cover in Probation Hostels ;

    2. Jobs monitoring dangerous criminals, including murderers and rapists, after they leave prison are being privatised by the Government, The Independent can reveal.

      Controversial facilities management contracts are being used to pass some roles currently inside the National Probation Service (NPS) to contractors such as Sodexo and OCS.

      They include staff who monitor high-risk convicts overnight at more than 100 hostels across England and Wales.

      Critics argue that employees taken on by private companies do not have the experience and training needed for the vital role.

      “I’d give it a year and something serious will happen with all the new inexperienced staff being taken on,” a source told The Independent.

      A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) consultation document said “double waking night cover” roles were being contracted out to standardise practice across the country.

      “An NPS review concluded that rather than a mixed approach across divisions, one consistent national approach would provide a more consistent, efficient and effective service,” it said.

      “Options for one consistent approach were developed and considered, including contracting out the night residential assistant service, which was agreed would be the best way forward.”

      Documents seen by The Independent said the new MoJ management contract allows the work to be privatised and transferred to what it calls “external service partners”.

      The consultation is due to run until 15 January, but the jobs are already set to be transferred just seven days later.

      Sodexo appears to have prepared for the influx of work by advertising for residential assistant posts at probation hostels in locations including Leicester, Worcester, Manchester, Liverpool and Wrexham.

      Full-time jobs to start later this month will be paid an annual salary of £19,760, with knowledge of offending, mental health, substance abuse, risk management, probation and the criminal justice system listed as “desirable”, rather than mandatory.

      The description says workers will need to provide 24-hour cover including security and monitoring services, supporting to reduce convicts’ risk of reoffending, breaching their licence conditions or court orders.

      ​Sodexo says applicants must also “assist in the supervision of residents, maintaining discipline”, contribute to risk management and work out of hours on waking night duty and the weekends alongside NPS staff.

      Ben Priestley, a national officer at Unison, said the union was concerned the change would “put residents, staff and communities in danger”.

      “It’s a job that requires significant skills and significant training and our members’ concern is that on the salaries they are willing to pay, private contractors will employ individuals with a low skill set without the commitment to working in this, which is meant to be a therapeutic environment to help these individuals adjust to society after lengthy periods in prison,” he told The Independent. “It is not a bog standard security guard role.”

      The location of “approved premises” are not made public over security concerns but the facilities house more than 2,200 men and women across the country, with a budget of £49.5m for 2017/18.

      They are staffed 24 hours a day and enforce controls including curfews, check-ins, drug and alcohol testing and room searching.

      Around 90 per cent of residents are judged to pose a “high risk of serious harm” after serving lengthy jail sentences for crimes including murder, sex offences and terrorism.

      Staff are tasked with helping residents re-adjust to society, as well as keeping hostels secure and conducting risk assessments to protect the public.

    3. There have been several murders at the facilities, with a 44-year-old man killed by a fellow resident at a hostel in Derby in August.

      Probation officers are concerned that more violence will occur if the standards of current NPS staff are not maintained.

      Unison said members in the probation service had already raised concerns about a limited number of contracted night staff when a new push for privatisation was launched in 2014.

      “The NPS claimed outsourcing had worked but all the evidence from our members is that it wasn’t the case,” Mr Priestley said.

      “Members have had real concerns about the quality of staff that have come in when private contractors have been used, the training of those staff, the understanding they have around the sensitivities of working in that environment and just the simple problems of getting staff to turn up and work at the right time on the right shift with the right skills, attitudes and application.”

    4. As ever, its a done deal. Some areas have been using private sector 'security' staff in APs for years. Still, Sodexo will no doubt be pleased as it should free-up more NPS staff to concentrate on improving the quality of their "pre-sentence advice" [see 07:15]

  11. This is a peach from Sodexo (it aint our fault, its the crappy, failing NPS shafting us):

    "The reduced ability for the National Probation Service to provide quality pre- sentence advice to magistrates has led to a further lack of confidence in the CJS as a whole but also changes in sentencing behaviour, short periods in custody and standalone Community Orders for punishment only."

  12. Working Links:-LOL

    "The Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) have made very substantial losses on delivery of the contracts.

    Losses will continue to increase substantially to the end of the contracts in 2022.

    These numbers are commercially sensitive,

    we are seeking a meeting with the Chairman of the Committee to share the information in a private (BRIBING), confidential way

    What a bunch of cretins WLinks are, they really dont know their ass from their elbow