Saturday, 10 February 2018

The Myth of TTG and PSS

Post-sentence supervision 

We looked at a small sample of post-sentence supervision cases. Overall, the quality of case management and consequent enforcement decision-making in the sample of post-sentence supervision was poor. We found that CRCs were struggling to provide adequate services for the range of complex needs of this group of individuals. In particular, responsible officers struggled to find ways to engage with them. Enforcement had the effect of compounding rather than lessening the sense of a revolving door between prison and the community.

The above is from the latest HMI report into Enforcement and Recall and I wasn't surprised that it highlighted that one of the factors involved was the "limited opportunities to engage with service users who were reluctant to be supervised."

As we have become all-too-well aware, the government's continued response to the growing probation TR omnishambles is to endlessly restate the mantra that "48,000 short-term prisoners are now being supervised", whereas of course before they were not. This was repeated only recently by Crispin Blunt and it will be recalled was Graying's main cover story for forcing through TR in the first place. 

In this latest report we have yet more evidence of how this is not happening and is in fact a lie. In the new age of fake news and 'alternative facts', lets nail this now - TTG and Post Sentence Supervision is a complete myth; a pipe-dream; a lie; a cruel con; a waste of time and utterly counter-productive. Here's a summary of the case and evidence:-

1) "Service users are reluctant to be supervised". Quite a lot of them are in fact mightily pissed-off and the refrain 'I've done my time' was always going to be the view of many short-term prisoners, and especially if they clearly have no need for 'help' or supervision.

2) "poor supervision is more likely to lead to reoffending and, for some, another round of imprisonment." The CRCs aren't interested in this group, don't make enough money from them and are thus most loathe to fork out for expensive voluntary groups and mentors.

3) "On 31 March 2017, 6,554 of 85,513 prison inmates were in prison because they had been recalled. While the number of recalls is now starting to fall, the last quarter of 2016/2017 saw 5,347 offenders recalled to prison. Of these, 2,085 (39%) were individuals who had been under probation supervision having served a sentence of less than 12 months." Recalls for this group have increased dramatically, thus proving it's utterly counter-productive and a major factor in adding to the increasing prison crisis. 

4) “If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.” Joint HMI report June 2017 and a situation confirmed by subsequent HMI reports, thus reducing the much-lauded TTG initiative to the status of urban myth.

5) "Offenders sentenced to less than 12 months also serve the second half in the community but are not actively supervised by Probation."  From the official MoJ 'sentences explained' website. At least it's an honest statement of the position and nails the myth about TTG and 'supervision' of the group "released with only £48 in their pocket."

When I joined I worked for something called the Probation and Aftercare Service - support and guidance for the under 12 month custody group was voluntary - on offer if required and requested. Now, how about that as a novel idea to try and help get us out of this bloody mess called TR and imposed upon us by a rabid, psychopathic ideologue?   


This from the Independent (not happy at all with terminology 'convicts'?):-

Private probation companies letting convicts commit more crime and allowing them to disappear, report finds

Private companies are failing to enforce the sentences handed down by courts, leaving convicts to commit more crime or simply disappear, a damning report has found. HM Inspectorate of Probation said firms commissioned in a 2014 overhaul of the service are “stretched beyond their capacity”.

Inspectors found that staff in community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) are not seeing the offenders they are supposed to supervise during community orders and suspended sentences often enough. They said the lack of proper engagement with convicts has led to poor decisions in managing violations, which can cause people to be sent back into overcrowded prisons.

In one case, a CRC officer made no contact with a 33-year-old pregnant woman due to be released on licence after being jailed for shoplifting. The person charged with meeting Lucia, a heroin and crack cocaine addict, was on long-term sick leave and no action was taken when she missed other appointments. CRC officers did not visit her home, even when a social worker reported Lucia was injecting heroin and taking other drugs, and she was eventually recalled to prison.

In another case, no plan was drawn up for a man given a suspended sentence for assault, and an appointment finally made after 10 weeks was cancelled because of staff sickness. The CRC eventually sent a letter to Michael’s address, but he no longer lived there. He then committed another attack on his former partner. He since claims to have left the country. In other incidents highlighted by the court, failures by CRCs allowed people to drop out of contact and disappear, including a homeless heroin addict with a “long history in the criminal justice system” who is now wanted for arrest.

In the 2016-17 financial year, almost 30,000 court orders were terminated through failure to comply, further offences being committed or other reasons. Convicts who were released but then recalled to prison for violations made up 6,554 out of 85,513 people imprisoned in England and Wales.

The report came less than two months after another assessment warned poor supervision by CRCs was putting the public at risk, with thousands of convicts monitored using phone calls. Inspectors concluded that the Government’s 2014 Transforming Rehabilitation programme had created a “two-tier” system that could worsen as loss-making CRCs cut 

staff and services.

Dame Glenys Stacey, HM Chief Inspector of Probation, warned that bad supervision leads to bad enforcement, as well as higher reoffending and returns to prison. “CRCs focused on contract compliance, but not seeing people often enough, or not engaging meaningfully with them, are inevitably behind the curve on enforcement,” she said. “Often, the level of disengagement or deterioration in the person’s behaviour were such that they could not be safely managed in the community. Recall was appropriate, even when the individual had committed a relatively minor further offence.” 

The report called on the Government to ensure probation services have the resources to supervise convicts with complex needs often including homelessness, substance misuse, poor health and limited employability. Inspectors said CRCs must effectively assess convicts in their charge and have purposeful face-to-face contact, while developing local partnerships. They found the National Probation Service (NPS), which remained under government control when the service was split four years ago, was still performing well.

The 21 CRCs provide probation services to low- and medium-risk offenders, while the NPS handle those deemed to be a high risk. Supervision covers around 268,000 offenders who are subject to community orders, suspended sentences and licence conditions, who may be put on rehabilitation programmes or electronically tagged. The number of people supervised has increased by a quarter since the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 extended monitoring to all adults sentenced to more than one day in prison.

Officers are required to judge convicts’ compliance and decide what to do if they violate orders, carefully balancing their prospects of rehabilitation with the need to protect the public.

The Howard League for Penal Reform said the number of people being recalled to prison had “spiralled out of control” following the part-privatisation of probation in England and Wales. Campaigners said the change had increased pressure on a prison system already struggling with overcrowding, a lack of resources and record levels of violence and self-harm.

Chief executive Frances Crook said: 

“This is the latest in a long line of critical inspection reports that show how private probation companies, which have already been propped up with extra taxpayers’ money, continue to fail the public. The Howard League is calling for contractors to be held to account. When a privatised probation service fails, people get hurt. It is time for the Government to end this dangerous experiment and recreate a single, successful, probation service using the best from the system we used to have.”
The Ministry of Justice said the report showed probation providers were recalling offenders to prison where necessary to keep the public protected. “We also welcome the inspectorate’s conclusion that the NPS, who supervise higher-risk offenders, are doing a good job to enforce sentences,” a spokesperson added.

“However, it is clear that CRCs must make improvements in this area, and we have already taken action – setting up an enforcement working group to bring providers together and drive forward necessary improvements. We will continue to monitor CRCs’ performance and will work closely to ensure they meet the high standards of probation services we expect.”


  1. I see the Chief Inspector has started a consultation on Probation Standards. Everyone but MoJ is on the case

  2. From F.T

    Interserve, the British outsourcing company, has presented a rescue plan to banks in an attempt to secure fresh funding, with fears over its future raised by the demise of rival contractor Carillion.

    Interserve, which cleans the London Underground and manages the Ministry of Defence’s estate in the UK, has already warned on profits and delayed a test on its banking debt covenants until the end of March. It has secured £180m of additional short-term funding until then.

    On Thursday, the company met with eight banks including Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, MUFG, Sabadell and HSBC to present a revised business plan and request fresh funding for the company. The proposals are under consideration but no decision has yet been reached. Interserve declined to comment.

    1. Attention has turned to Interserve following the collapse of its former rival Carillion, and in the wake of a profit warning that knocked nearly £1bn off Capita’s market value last week.

      Like many of its rivals, Interserve is involved in key parts of the government from providing welfare and work services for the Department for Work and Pensions, caretaking services for the Ministry of Defence estate as well as healthcare services for local authorities.

      The company, which employs around 80,000 staff worldwide, including on construction businesses in the Middle East, is already being monitored by the government, though the Cabinet Office has insisted it does not believe any of its “strategic suppliers” is in a comparable position to Carillion.

    2. Interserve was plunged into crisis last year after an expensive move into building incinerator plants that turn waste into energy. In September, the company admitted that annual profits were likely to halve because of a £195m loss on that contract. A second profit warning followed in October, when Interserve said it was in danger of breaching its financial covenants with lenders.

      Debbie White, the chief executive who joined from the catering company Sodexo in the autumn following the departure of longstanding chief executive Adrian Ringrose, has drafted in PwC to undertake a review of contracts and outlined a cost-cutting programme. It started a transformation plan in October, which it expects to result in £15m savings in 2018.

      The company is weighing the sale of businesses including RMD Kwikform, the building materials subsidiary, according to people familiar with the matter, although Ms White is understood to be keen to retain it if possible as one of its more profitable units.

      Consultants from Oliver Wyman are helping to set strategic objectives while EY is advising a syndicate of lenders that includes Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC and Santander

    3. The speed at which the company’s profits are falling and debts are rising has unnerved investors and triggered a collapse in the share price from a high 717p in 2014. It closed at 75.25p on Friday.

      Its debt stood at £513m at the end of 2017, up from £274m a year earlier. The company said last month that it expected 2018 operating profit to be ahead of market expectations and it remained in “constructive discussions” with its lenders over long-term funding.

      Along with other construction companies such as Carillion, Interserve had been shifting its focus to more profitable support services work, which accounts for more than 60 per cent of the business. This has included work on the government’s probation privatisation programme.

      In 2017, Interserve won 37 awards worth £394m, according to research by Tussell, a data company. The contracts included a new £227m deal to provide facilities management services to the DWP, announced a day after another profit warning in October


    1. MoJ let Carillion staff work in jails with no suicide training

      The government allowed staff from contractor Carillion to work in prisons without suicide prevention training, it has emerged.

      The Ministry of Justice did not specify the training when the firm's £75m-a-year prison contract began in 2015, the Prison Service said.

      The service was responding to a coroner's inquiries into an inmate's death at HMP Winchester in 2016. The death could have been prevented by trained staff, an inquest jury ruled.

      Sean Plumstead, 27, was found hanged in his cell at the Hampshire jail on 15 September 2016. The father-of-two had reportedly asked a Carillion staff member the best way to kill himself, but the agency worker did not take it seriously and failed to record or report it.

      The inquest jury said no action was taken because staff had "inadequate" suicide and self-harm (SASH) training.

      In a prevention of future deaths report, Hampshire Coroner Grahame Short said: "There is a risk... that there was and continues to be a gap in training which Carillion is either unaware of or unconcerned with." He said at least two agency workers were employed at HMP Winchester without the training required by the Prison Service.

      In a reply to the coroner on 9 January, Prison Service Chief Executive Michael Spurr said: "Suicide and self-harm prevention training was not specifically brought to the attention of Carillion when their contract began."

      Carillion said it had been "unaware" of the requirement for SASH training prior to the inquest.

      Solicitor Clair Hilder, who represented Mr Plumstead's family at the hearing, said the revelations showed "the shocking lack of priority given to self-harm and suicide prevention in prisons".

      The Ministry of Justice announced it would take over Carillion's prison work following the firm's collapse in January. The MoJ has not made further comment.

    2. Charges should be brought against Spurr for this. When there's no accountability, there's no need to be concerned about creating a mess.
      And his 20k should be forfeit.

  4. All that TR has achieved:

    1. increased the prison population
    2. reduced the professional probation population
    3. enhanced a handful of bank accounts
    4. er, that's it.

    It would be nice to add:

    5. brought about the downfall & total humiliation of Christopher Stephen Grayling following conviction for gross negligence whilst holding public office, and the seizure of all assets by a High Court Proceeds of Crime order.

    1. By coincidence I was reading this on 'publicspendforum' yesterday:

      For simplicity, we will call the supply-side organisation or individual who is organising the fraudulent activity "the fraudster."

      1. Eliminating or reducing competition

      Even before we get into what we tend to consider the procurement process (tenders, evaluation, supplier selection, negotiation), fraud can focus on simply eliminating or reducing competition and competitive pressure. Assuming an organisation stands to benefit from this, clearly that both increases their chance of winning the business, and may also enable the fraudster to achieve a return that is greater than they could under true open competition. Within this heading, we can define these fraud "species."

      Single tender - engineering a situation whereby only one organisation is invited to bid.

      Extending contracts - achieving a contract extension instead of a competitive process.

      Tailoring the specification - in order to favour a particular bidder who may then be the only supplier (or one of a few) who can meet the specification.

      Discouraging other bidders from competing - by bribing those other organisations, offering them other inducements, or indeed through threats.

      2. Biased supplier selection

      Once we get into the competitive process, there are further routes that the fraudster can take to subvert the fair and open process. They centre around making the supplier selection decision biased in some way towards a particular bidder or bidders. Here are the key areas:

      Inside information - enabling the preferred supplier to position their bid successfully by giving them information other bidders do not have.

      Design of the evaluation process - introducing an unfair bias or element of the process to favour one firm (the fraudster).

      Marking of bids – biased marking and evaluation of the tenders received to favour the fraudster.

      3. “Corrupt” contract negotiation and management

      This can be a subtle area for corruption. It usually involves collusion, with the buyer and supplier agreeing terms, conditions or payments that are not truly competitive and therefore provide some advantage to the fraudster. This can happen even if the supplier (fraudster) won the competition ‘fair and square,’ but it is more usually associated with fraud earlier in the process (e.g. the supplier selection was biased and then the fraudster is offered generous contract terms). Here are the key examples .

      Non competitive Ts and Cs – agreeing contractual arrangements that are not truly competitive or in the contracting authority’s interest; or ignoring contract terms in a manner that favours the fraudster.

      Contract change – once supply is under way, agreeing changes to the contract that again are not in the contracting authorities best interests

      Contract extension – either in scope, volume or time, again where this is against the best interests of the buyer.

      4. Over or false payment

      In these cases, basically the fraudster receives payment that does not genuinely reflect the actual goods or services provided. This can happen with the help of someone from within the contracting authority; or can be a ‘solo’ fraud committed by the external fraudster. This category probably we suspect accounts for the greatest number of frauds committed in the public contracting area. Types of fraud include the following:

      Over-billing quantity (against what was delivered ) – this includes invoicing for more than the actual amount provided, or for goods or services that were not provided at all.

      Over-charging - invoicing at prices higher than agreed in the contract.

      Over-buying – collusion between internal staff and fraudster leads to over-buying and invoicing of goods or services that were provided – but were not required.

      Fake invoices – invoices submitted from a fraudster that is not a supplier to the contracting authority at all.

      Payment diversion – legitimate payment is diverted to a non-legitimate recipient (the fraudster"

  5. Some good news for once about the prison system:

  6. On the face if it, if the government to celebrate the end of austerity gave everyone in the UK a chocolate cream cake, it would be seen as a really great goodwill gesture.
    But for those with diabetes, gluten intolerance or nut allergies it could be very harmful if not fatal.
    But thats exactly what they've done by bringing those sentenced to 12mths and under into probation supervision.
    I'd like to ask those who shout about how great it is that 40,000 short term sentencees are now subject to supervision , do you really think it's done more good then harm?
    I suggest that those 40,000 are mostly problematic offenders and their offending behaviour is rooted in alcohol and drug addictions and mental health and social problems.
    With the best will in the world, probation services are not the agency best suited to deal with those problems. With redundancies, short staffing and a high dependency on agency staff in CRCs its unlikely that offenders with particular offending patterns will be matched with the supervisor best suited to offer help and support.
    Add to that the fear of sanction and recall is a barrier for people seeking help. Even if the offender knows recall is unlikely, the fact that it's possible creates a significant barrier. It also forms a barrier seeking help from other agencies because you can never be sure what, when or with who your information may be shared.
    For many of those 40,000 that the MoJ boast about 'bringing into the fold', they've just created a revolving door with no exit.
    The question is, does TR do more harm then good?


  7. The following was submitted today on a blog post from last year and ended up in the spam filter:-

    This may seem an unusual question to ask as a long serving PO, but, what is the point of OASys?

    When OASys was first rolled out, we were instructed to write short but relevant notes in 1-13 sections, document a short yet clear risk management plan and a short sentence plan; a document being instructed to be shared with partnership agencies. Even managing a high case load, producing meaningful (as far as was possible) OASys did not prevent me from doing my job as an Offender Manager.

    Roll forward to this week. Now, on average, completing a new ISP to meet the newly developed Quality Assurance Standards takes 10+ hours. A colleague said one recently took them over 12 hours. We both have many years service and know how to do an Oasys. This is proving to be the norm not the exception.

    Reviews to this new standard, Terminations to this new standard, all take our time away from seeing offenders (ex). Many OASys are being rolled back, rejected, no longer meeting this new super duper standard, with requests to do a better job again being the norm rather than the exception. No longer can we share them with partnership agencies. Just who the hell reads them?

    Add to the fact that each offender needs an ISP, numerous reviews, and a Termination review, all to meet this new, Quality Assurance Standard, and it begs the question, what are Oasys about.

    Sure, as Officers, we can spend all out days data inputting. But what about the offenders we supervise? How can it make sense that I have to allocate 10+ hours for an ISP, perhaps half that or more for a detailed review etc, and when you multiply these numbers by the 30-40 case loads, cases changing hands time and time again, then I and my colleagues have little or no time for anything else, let alone supporting, supervising and assisting those with are changed with managing.

    I am alone in questioning the validity of Oasys, or any computer task that means Officers have to spend 7.5 hours of an 8 hour day data inputting.

    How can we help offenders turn their lives around if we don't have time to spend with them? I do know this, 10 hours spent with an offender will have more results in helping that person turn their life around than the same amount of time spent on a computer.

    Anyone else agree with this, and if so, what can we do about it?

    1. Wouldn't happen to know how many, or what percentage of the 40,000 under 12mth offenders 'recruited' under TR would fall into, or are classified as prolific offenders?


    2. Agree totally as it’s not good for anybody’s health to be sat at a computer for this length of time. Cut backs and procedures without adequate training I.e. learn as you go results in mistakes which could leave the public at risk. Frustrating times for service users and staff alike. Pro social modelling is hard to deliver when you are treated in such way. Transparency doesn’t exist. As an employer you have a duty of health and safety to your employees. You are not only letting the public and service user down but your staff who are hard dedicated workers who want to do a good job and help service users turn their life around.

    3. I'd love a caseload of 35-40... Try double that!

  8. 90-100 is quite common, totally unrealistic, totally unsustainable.

    1. yes 84 cases crc for pso

    2. 78, CRC PO. Utterly unmanageable. I don't even recognise all the names



    1. If black-cab rapist John Worboys is released, he will be required to report to probation staff every week. The case for probation services that are well-resourced and properly run couldn’t be clearer.

      I’m a probation officer working in the National Probation Service (NPS) and I’m very concerned that high-risk offenders like Worboys are not being properly supervised or supported in their rehabilitation.

      I cannot comment on the Worboys release decision, the Parole Board makes those every day and is very experienced and thorough. But I can comment on the inadequate supervision he is likely to get.

      I’ve been in this job for more than a decade. Probation officers used to be able to take the time to understand the individual and be responsive to their needs. But in 2014, the probation service split in two, and the work has been draining and mentally exhausting ever since. Now, the NPS only works with the most dangerous offenders – those deemed high risk – the rest are supervised by private community rehabilitation companies (CRCs).

      Today the job is about fire-fighting, to get assessments done and targets hit. We just have to hope that nothing goes wrong.

      If my workload is anything to go by, Worboys’ supervision will be minimal. He will be on licence for at least 10 years – which in theory means that, if he puts a foot wrong, he’ll go straight back to prison – but how much rehabilitation will he get in that time?

      Of my 45 cases, roughly half of them are in the community and the majority of those should be seen weekly. I say “should” because I don’t manage to do that, and neither do my colleagues. Due to workloads we’ve been told to prioritise the most risky clients.
      My job's been called Mickey Mouse probation. I'm now inclined to agree.

      For example, if I have a high-risk domestic violence offender that has to complete specific one-to-one offence-focused work, I have to do that because it has been ordered by the court.

      But it feels rushed, I don’t really have the time, and for every minute I spend with them, I know I have to cut it from someone else’s supervision time. Home visits have taken a back seat as there simply isn’t the time.

      Before the probation service split, pre-sentence reports were a vital first assessment of a client in terms of their risk of harm, how motivated they were and how much they understood their offending.

      Now we give a verbal report on the day of sentence after a half-hour interview. Having the time to do a full report – with longer interviews and more than one if necessary – is very rare. We also don’t have the time to get valuable information from other agencies the offender has had contact with, such as the police or children’s services.

      I interview prisoners by video link, they attend court by video link, I attend parole hearings by video link. It won’t be long before you can take a case from arrest to end of sentence and they never have any real contact with a person. That’s how people slip through the cracks.

      Many of my colleagues are looking for work elsewhere. Things aren’t sustainable as they are, with staff shortages, heavy caseloads and an ICT system that is not fit for purpose. Imagine having all that work to do, reports to write, assessments to complete, and then the system goes down and you lose all of it.

      The justice system has lost its way. It is in meltdown: from police cuts, to prison violence and now the probation service in chaos.

  10. Probation Officer10 February 2018 at 20:24

    The probation service is in meltdown: how will Worboys be supervised?

    “I cannot comment on the Worboys release decision, the Parole Board makes those every day and is very experienced and thorough.”

    Erm.. no it is not. The parole board is full of incompetents. If you attend enough hearings you’ll find what a mixed bag the PB is. The decision to release was fuelled by the governments pressure to release IPP prisoners. If you’ve been around long enough you’ll know the PB bows to political pressure.

    “If my workload is anything to go by, Worboys’ supervision will be minimal.”

    100% spot on.

    “It won’t be long before you can take a case from arrest to end of sentence and they never have any real contact with a person.”

    It’s already happening mate, in the NPS and CRC’s.

    “Many of my colleagues are looking for work elsewhere. Things aren’t sustainable as they are, with staff shortages, heavy caseloads and an ICT system that is not fit for purpose.”

    100% spot on.

    “The justice system has lost its way. It is in meltdown: from police cuts, to prison violence and now the probation service in chaos.”

    The probation service has been in chaos since 2014.

    1. “Many of my colleagues are looking for work elsewhere.”

      Most of mine are long gone. Most probation offices these days are propped up by a handful of work-shy temps and a few bushy-tailed trainees.

  11. Probation Officer10 February 2018 at 20:40

    The comments are the best. Sadly, due to the government pillage of Probation the country are justified to think like this. I don’t think probation managers/directors do much to change this view, but then their heads are wedged up Theresa May’s backside.

    “Lets get rid of this nonsense once and for all about serving your debt to society. Its baloney , as far as we are concerned [society] they can incarcerate the bleeders forever, and then some. Its just an excuse since Dogooderitus was levered into the rules, to make renunciation look like altruism. Half the scum out on license do a runner, the other half do a recidivistic rebound. Some criminals can be rehabilitated, the ones that cannot are simply lied about.Lets be brutally honest the prison system like the NHS is so cash starved, the things that should be done, according to the rules [In a locked drawer] cannot even remotely be adhered to. As for Warboys, people like him, who should have an indeterminate sentence are still on a review list and slither circumstantially to the top of an arbitrary release list [ Along with Atilla the Hun, & the beast from the blue lagoon]. They have an interview with a prison psychiatrist [The ones whose flunked grades make them suitable for the job] And if the subject has" X" years of "service"and passes the "Suitable lies" criteria, they are deemed suitable for release. The antiquated shit hole of course is glad of the resultant space his exit provides. Justice & the public good come way down the list.“

  12. Don't dis Atilla the Hun. Only in the West is he viewed as a villain! Stop criminalising Atilla the Great.

  13. Not just PSS, also Community and Suspended sentences not being supervised for months on end by CRC. Pre TR the Mags used to scrutinise engagement with community penalties - not any more. Have they too been told they cannot hinder in court the commercial practice of CRCs?

  14. In London CRC all PSS are assessed as low risk and supervised by Penrose.

    A “light touch” we’re told to call it.

    Say no more!

    1. Are they serious! Assessing all PSS as low risk is a criminal act in itself! Ludicrous. Whoever made this decision needs to be hauled before the courts to explain their decision making process and risk management. Ok, some or many could be low risk but definitely not all. What about the DV cases..?