Thursday, 1 March 2018

CRCs 'Bailed Out'

Here's that Huffington Post article that's been mentioned a few times on here and it effectively confirms that the failing CRCs were indeed given a 'bung' last year. It's quite astonishing really - we all know our government routinely wastes money whilst insisting they are either saving it or spending it wisely - but here's an instance where they actually gave it away:-  

Ministers Handed Probation Companies £342m 'Bailout' - But Demanded No Extra Staff

Ministers gave private probation companies a £342m “bailout” and made no demand they hire extra staff, HuffPost UK can reveal. The extra cash was given to Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) last year amid soaring levels of reoffending as part of a shake-up of the 21 outsourced contracts. The money was aimed at “improving services” and can be slashed if firms fail to deliver, the Ministry of Justice has said.

But Labour and the probation union Napo said, with no money aimed at boosting manpower, the “bailout” money is “rewarding failure” and is simply “keeping CRCs afloat”. The cash boost for CRCs comes after Interserve Justice and MTCnovo threatened to pull out of Government contracts in March last year, citing unsustainable finances. Dame Glenys Stacey, the Chief Inspector of Probation has repeatedly warned CRCs are reducing staff “to below an acceptable level.”

In her annual report in December, Stacey said that at some CRCs “staff numbers have been pared down in repeated redundancy exercises, with those remaining carrying out exceptional caseloads.” 

A series of Parliamentary Questions by Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon has revealed the Government failed to demand extra staff as part of its CRC contract shake-up to “improve services”. Prisons Minister Rory Stewart admitted: “The changes we made to CRC contracts did not require the provision of additional services or staff.” The MoJ said CRCs “are falling short of our vision for a high-quality system” but said their contracts already require them to maintain staff at a “sufficient” level.

In a separate PQ, however, the MoJ admitted none of the contracts specify maintaining staff at any “particular level”.  Ministers have come under pressure to improve probation services, with the 21 CRCs mired in criticism since they took over from publicly-run probation trusts in 2015. The number of offenders on probation charged with murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious violent or sexual crimes has risen by more than 25% since the service was privatised.

A joint report of the prisons and probation inspectorates in June also gave a damning verdict on the CRCs’ Through the Gate (TTG) programme. It found 10% of long-term prisoners leave jail homeless and just two out of the 98 prisoners surveyed as part of the report were found accommodation before they were released - 10% of that number were back in jail within 12 weeks. The National Audit Office also found in November that CRCs are failing to meet even one-third of performance targets.

Ian Lawrence, general secretary of Napo, said: 

“It’s clear that the bailout for the CRCs is not about extra resourcing for staff but is all about keeping them afloat and persuading them not to hand the keys back to the Ministry of Justice. Napo members also report that the National Probation Service are ordering managers to purchase as many services as possible from CRC providers, throwing more taxpayers’ cash at these failing companies.”

Richard Burgon added: 

“After the collapse of Carillion, this is yet another example of how privatisation is part of a rigged system that may work for a small number of corporate shareholders but does not serve the general public very well. Vast sums of extra public money should not be being handed over to private probation companies when they are failing to meet basic performance targets. It’s an even greater scandal that the government has not taken even minimum steps to ensure that any additional funds go into improving staffing levels that could help keep the public safer. 

This case also lifts the lid on the complete lack of public accountability under privatisation. Despite relentless bad news coming out about the performance of private probation companies over the past year almost nothing has been done by the government to intervene to address this. It’s a complete dereliction of duty that the government has not once called on a private probation company to improve staffing levels and that probation contracts do not specify a bare minimum for staffing levels. The Tory government’s record has been one of rewarding failure in the probation service.”

The Government said it will hold CRCs to account for poor service delivery. A proportion of the CRCs’ income from Government is subject to achieving reductions in reoffending, it said.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “Contracts already require CRCs to have the necessary levels of staff, and we robustly hold these companies to account for the delivery of their contractual obligations. But as we have been clear, probation services are falling short of our vision for a high-quality system that reforms offenders and commands the confidence of courts. That is why we have changed CRC contracts to address the challenges CRCs are facing as a result of their financial situation, due to the reduction in the volumes of offenders referred to them.”


  1. As you can see from the lack of comments, words fail us

  2. I lost a 25 year career I loved as a consequence of TR. It breaks my heart to see that the devastation I faced in my own life (reflected in the experiences of many others I know) was for this debacle. And we warned them again and again.

    I have to let it go as it eats me up otherwise.

    1. Yes for me it was like some kind of bereavement - the type you gave when a long term relationship ends. I’m still at work but every so often the injustice of it and how badly staff are being treated increases my stress levels

  3. "The Government said it will hold CRCs to account for poor service delivery."

    Except that it won't, and hasn't.

    The Modernisation Fund money (£80M?) was agreed & specifically issued to pay off unwanted staff, but ended up swelling the CRC coffers after a NOMS/MoJ u-turn on policy simply gave the money away with no conditions.

    Around 90% of the built-in 'penalties', i.e. withheld payments for failure to meet targets, have been handed out to CRCs IN ADDITION to the extra £340M bail out...

    ...which I suspect is considerably larger than the £340M figure, having looked at various convoluted, incomprehensible and hard-to-find notices on elusive EU business contract sites... and given that there's been a placid acceptance of the figure, rather than any robust denial.

    This is the price HMPPS (or NOMS as they still call themselves?!) are prepared to pay for policing the CRCs:

    2 Feb 2018 - 15789 - Service Manager - Thames Valley CRC Contract Management: Salary Minimum £39,892 - £51,753

    Nov 2017 - 14429 - Senior Area Contract Manager - CRC Contract Management Salary Minimum £58,891 - £70,672

    Wonder how many senior area managers and service managers there are per area? 21 areas, £1M in salaries etc per area? No wonder Spurr & co haven't enough money to pay NPS probation staff. Too busy feeding their own faces, marking their own homework & laughing their fucking socks off at the poor patsies facing disciplinary for SFOs.

    1. Ultimately it is HM Parliament that I hold responsible - there has been a bit of wind bagging complaints but no motions of censure on ministers or motions for legislation to rectify errors.

      Sadly the media are involved as well as we play the politics game, I just hope we really do get a Corbyn led Government but I am not sure they will be honest and truly radical about criminal justice judging by the very limited announcements so far.

      Plus (obviously) they will also have to sort out the Brexit omnishambles - which is probably even more critical because it determines UK trade and income, necessary so that our Government is able to fund necessary services, like health, education etc., etc. AND JUSTICE.

  4. I've been paying quite a lot of attention to Interserve lately, and I firmly believe that unless theres some sort of bailout by government they'll fold at the end of the month. The government have said they have contingency plans? How much did they cost to draw up? And just how much of Interserves share of the £342m will the government be able to recover if they do go belly up? Zilch!
    Yesterday it was announced that network rail got £181m government compansation for late trains, of which the effected passengers got £74m.
    Thats just a £107m bung for the rail company for failing to deliver. Maybe Grayling gets a bit of it?
    Wherever you look the government are throwing billions of pounds at private companies and getting practically no value whatsoever for it. Its a national scandal when considered against the rest of society. Public sector pay freeze, welfare cuts, schools, prisons, housing, food banks.
    They're starving the population to feed those that don't need it.
    Did you know your GP won't syringe your ears anymore? You have to go to spec savers and pay £35.
    The amount of money stolen from the public by this government and wasted on private enterprise is a crime. Should be treated as a crime, and ministers should be prosecuted.

    Frances Crook in todays Guardian


  5. TR, particularly, fragmentation of Probation, must look like a really silly idea in hindsight (as it was with foresight). Less attractive as a career , a poorer, less effective service and more obstacles, rather than less, to being adaptable to change. I echo those points made by others about really wanting to put the subject down for my own sanity but the recklessness of the changes, madness frankly, was and remains an injustice. I feel compelled to keep commenting about it as a result even though I sense I am whistling in the wind. Enough though I'm done.

  6. When i think back to the Trust days and the very difficult decisions that had to be made due to lack of funding. Consistently faced with downgrades as a way to protect staffing numbers etc. Had all this money been available then but it is apparent that a non governmental body is not viewed the same as a private company - private companies get as much cash from government as they desire, the Trusts got nothing.

  7. That is one of the great injustices here. Forcing bright, capable people to engage in rank stupidity. Phone contact? Bloody ridiculous. RAR 'days' that can be 30 minutes long and can be effectively ignored? Bloody ridiculous. Groups with waiting lists so long that Orders end without the offender attending the programme? Bloody ridiculous. AND PAYING THEM EXTRA BECAUSE THEY ARE FAILING? Bloody ridiculoua. And at the core of this remain bright capable people. Lions led by donkeys? More like lions led by ameobas.

  8. Who deserves a payrise?

    1. MPs will get a 1.8% pay rise for 2018-19, taking their overall salary to £77,379 from 1 April, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority said.

      The salary for chairmen of Commons select committees will also increase by 1.8% to £15,509, which is added to their basic salary for being an MP.

      It is a bigger increase on the 1.4% pay rise MPs got last year.

      IPSA says it is in line with its policy of adjusting MPs' pay at the same rate as changes in the public sector wages.

      Members of the Scottish Parliament were given a 0.6% pay rise to £62,149 a year in December.

    2. And the lying, cheating thieving bastards' expenses have not reduced since 2009 - which was the pretext under which this Govt hiked MP salaries from £64k to £75k in one fell swoop, followed by two further annual increases (including 2017's 1.4%).

      We are ALL complete & utter mugs.

    3. Official statistics here - clearly I got carried away!



  9. I don't understand how private companies are receiving cash from the MOJ and utilising free charity resources. Money from EU, Lottery fund or central government being given to charities to prop up Interserve, Wonky Links et al. Isn't this double funding.

    1. Working links Toxicity rating Porton down laboratories and chemical research will have trouble rating this lot. Probably have a better chance with Sarin.

      Working links are money obsessed and their reputation is worthless than something nasty you might step in. Meanwhile colleagues and goodwill have evaporated going to NPS being replaced by agency and Social Workers on temporary don't care enough agency placement. It is a hell hole to do any real work and yet we all get the feeling that they will not be around much longer and definitely not a Cats chance in hell of another contract . We would all take a pay cut to help fund them to go and now MOJ are you listening?

  10. At that late stage in my working career most of which has been in the Probation Service, when its time to reflect. So proud of my work, and of what probation was. So incandescently angry about what has been done to it. What to do? Waspi'd to do 7 more years, which is going to take its toll whether I keep my head down and tick the damn boxes, or try and put up some sort of fight for the future of the profession.

  11. Much to my surprise the HMPPS intranet news currently leads with a piece canvassing ideas for making the NPS better. It had one of those tedious straplines which appear to be a feature of an increasingly vacuous world. I can’t recall what it was but I do recall sighing heavily.

    Not only is the HMPPS lacking talent but also appears unable to appreciate irony. For one thing the breathless news item was posted alongside Michael Spurs condescending tripe about our pay award. Further, is it wise to ask staff for “innovative suggestions” so soon after refusing a pay award. I presume it’s part of the soul destroying engagement agenda.

    So returning to point about an organisations ability to appreciate irony.

    1) Will the NPS be surprised if a number of suggestions are critical of the current structure?
    2) Have our Senior Leaders (Irony) run out of ideas? If so why are they still in post? Perhaps that could be my suggestion?
    3) Why do they continue to irritate me with tedious strap lines?
    4) How come there is no money for an NPS pay rise but there is for bunging the CRCs and for Michael Spurs annual bonus payments? I presume the relevant SPDR objective requires him to be totally fucking useless. Otherwise I can’t see how he can receive his payment.
    5) Are they so arrogant that they can’t see how this might get people’s backs up?

    Let’s face it since TR the NPS has brought us Delius, shared services, OH assist, failing IT infrastructure, Smart tool, telephone engagement opportunities, Equip, vetting, more bloody password protected applications, SOP, and more recently an RSR/CAS thing that didn’t work on two of the occasions it was rolled out. On top of that there are high numbers of outstanding UPW orders that have been incorrectly terminated. So perhaps it’s not surprising that irony fails to feature in the NPS. Maybe HMPPS really doesn’t know what to do next. Maybe they have finally acknowledged that there are no new ideas and what is claimed as innovation is merely a rehash of old ideas brushed down with an added strap line. Perhaps looking beyond this we can see an organisation finally acknowledging its own failures, for once accepting that Senior Leaders really are the useless tosspots that most of us thought they were. Or more likely it’s a sadly patronising attempt to engage with staff who if the truth be told would rather have a pay rise and simply wish that this shambles would just fizzle out.

    1. It's probably just a daft idea, I haven't the benefits of the good education or the good pay that the govenment mandarins that drive the machinery of state enjoy, but if you're looking for solutions to fix a broken system, wouldn't it be a good idea to look back to when the system worked well, identify why it worked well then, and what changes were made to make it fall apart?


    Sodexo and OCS are FM contractors, but as part of their FM contracts to provide cleaning and catering in APs, they are also going to run DWNC in APs.
    UNISON has campaigned against this dangerous privatisation since it was first proposed three years ago. We believe that the MOJ breached EU procurement legislation in allowing residential services into a facilities management contract, but MOJ Ministers refused to answer our questions on the legal process.
    This issue has not gone away and we continue to campaign on this.

    The NPS realised in January that neither Sodexo, nor OCS, was ready to take over the DWNC contract on the original ‘go live’ date of 22 January. As a result the start date was put back to 1 March, mainly to allow the 1-2-1 meetings to take place between the company and the NPS staff due to transfer to the private companies.

    The NPS has confirmed that the contract is going to start on 1 March even though Sodexo and OCS are not able to staff up all the APs on this date!!

    The NPS is going to cover for them. This is obviously how privatisation works these days.
    UNISON has written to the Secretary of State for Justice and to Sonia Crozier to ask that the contracts are deferred again, on health and safety grounds. Our pleas have been ignored. NPS cannot say it was not warned.


    Sodexo and OCS have confirmed that they will recognise UNISON for the purposes of collective bargaining for TUPE transferees going forward. So UNISON will continue to look after your interests and represent you after you have transferred to Sodexo, or OCS. All of your contractual terms and conditions transfer unchanged to Sodexo, or OCS. Your pension remains unchanged. If you are in the Local Government Pension Scheme , this will continue. There is no requirement for you to sign any new contract with Sodexo, or OCS.
    Do not sign any document you are given by Sodexo, or OCS, without first taking advice from UNISON. Your hours of work are protected. You can-not be required to work more hours than you do at present. You can agree to work additional hours/overtime, but this is your choice.
    If your contract states that you only work at one AP, you cannot be required to work at any other AP (unless you agree).

    Sodexo and OCS cannot change any of your terms and conditions without your agreement, or the agreement of UNISON on your behalf. If you have any questions on what Sodexo or OCS ask you to do after the transfer, please speak to your local UNISON representative in the first instance.

    to be continued…..

  13. part 2


    UNISON asked for the start date for the privatised DWNC contracts to be deferred again post1 March.
    This is because there is little evidence that the contractual requirements around the recruitment, shadow shifts and vetting of the privatised Residential Assistants, (who will work alongside a single NPS member of staff on every night shift), are anywhere close to being put in place in time for 1 March.
    On the face of it, the Justice Secretary and HMPPS don’t care and are going ahead regardless. This is a major safe-guarding risk for AP staff, AP residents and communities, and we have warned both Ministers and Sonia Crozier about the dangers of going ahead unprepared.
    As we know, this is a government which cannot admit it has got things wrong.

    The MOJ contract for the private DWNC requires that the following are put in place before any private residential assistant can work a shift alongside an NPS employee:

    *All private Residential Assistants must be SIA licensed.
    *All personnel will have to display their SIA licence in a card holder on a lanyard at all times whilst on duty.
    *The private Residential Assistant must be recruited only for work in APs (i.e. they cannot have been recruited for general security work for Sodexo/OCS anywhere else).
    *The private Residential Assistant must be interviewed for the job in the actual AP in which he/she is due to work.
    *The NPS AP manager in every AP has the right to attend each interview for private residential assistants, and will have the right to veto any appointment by Sodexo/OCS.
    *As part of the appointment process the private Residential Assistant must provide an enhanced CRB check, proof of right to work in the UK, a verified employment history and satisfactory references.
    *This will include a Security Guard Licence and Public Space Surveillance (operation of CCTV).
    *If at any time Key Holding is required, this SIA licence will also be required.

    All new private Residential Assistants will be required to work a minimum of three probationary ‘shadow’ shifts, alongside an experienced member of Sodexo/OCS staff, before undertaking his/her own shift. This means that for three night shifts, two Sodexo staff will have to work alongside the NPS DWNC member of staff to deliver the ‘shadow shifts’.

    to be continued…..

  14. part 3

    It is not acceptable for the NPS DWNC employee, or the AP Manager, to supervise the trainee private residential assistant on these ‘shadow shifts’, this must be done by an ‘experienced’ member of Sodexo or OCS staff.
    These training shifts will be at the expense of Sodexo/OCS.

    NPS reserves the right to request the replacement of any private Residential Assistant should they fail to meet the standard required in the contract and the terms agreed as part of the interview process between the parties.

    Approved Premises Managers will be responsible for arranging a site-specific building induction with each private Residential Assistant new to that AP which will include health and safety, use of panic alarms and action to alarm activations, fire and emergency evacuation procedure and other aspects of the local business.

    It will be clear to most AP members that the above conditions are unlikely to be delivered in most APs in what is left of February.
    All of the above requirements are necessary for public protection and for the health and safety of AP residents and staff.

    UNISON will not be prepared to accept any departure from these safety provisions. If you believe that any of these provisions is being flouted, please contact your UNISON representative immediately.

    UNISON has written to each Divisional Head of Public Protection to ask about what plans are being put in place in each AP to deliver all of the above requirements prior to any private Residential Assistants being employed, and to seek the necessary reassurances regarding the health, safety and welfare of our AP members.

    At least one Head of Public Protection has written back to admit that the safeguards will not be in place on 1 March in his Division. This is on the record.

    KEEP A LOG OF THINGS THAT GO WRONG as UNISON is putting a national appeal together, which we are entitled to do under the National Negotiating Council Job Evaluation Scheme.

    However, there is a REAL DANGER that the NPS will ask Sodexo and OCS to back fill the vacant NPS Residential Worker posts!!!!!!!!, as there is the facility in the small print of the DWNC contract to ask the private companies to provide cover during the day.
    The thin end of the wedge if ever there was one! If you find Sodexo or OCS staff filling in on day shifts, please let UNISON know.

    In all probability, HMPPS really wants to privatise the entire AP function and could be tempted to exploit its recruitment crisis in APs to bring this in through the back door. UNISON will fight this all the way.
    HMPPS to account on any problems that arise because the health, safety and wellbeing of our members, residents and communities is at risk and UNISON is not prepared to stand by and allow this.

    More information on where to send your logs will be sent out soon.

    to be continued…..

  15. part 4


    UNISON has discovered that the NPS is struggling to recruit its own AP Residential Workers in at least two Divisions:
    South West and London.

    There are at least 20 AP residential worker vacancies in each Division. This is hardly surprising as NPS cut the salary for
    AP Residential Workers from a Band 3 to a Band 2 as part of its E3 cost cutting measures.
    Once applicants find out just how demanding a role the Residential Worker job is, they are less keen to join.

    UNISON appealed against the down-banding in 2016, but NPS forced it through, not thinking ahead to the problems that this would lead to in recruitment.

    UNISON is therefore calling on NPS to review the salary of NPS Residential Workers again in 2018, and we will be asking for AP members’ assistance in this.

    UNISON asks all AP members to start keeping a written log of any problems and deficiencies which you witness from 1 March in the running of the privatised DWNC contracts.
    We will ask you to submit these logs to us on a monthly basis.

    It is really important that we hold the private companies to account!!!!!!


    Next time you're supervising somebody's release from HMP and back into the community, perhaps after they have served a long sentence for what was a particularly nasty offence. There are recorded concerns and evidence of potential harm and you feel it would benefit all if there was a period of enhanced supervision during that early period of release......Well sorry to inform you but the AP system has turned to shit and soon will have a staffing model directly imported and inspired by such luminaries as G4S and their running of Brook House.