Monday, 19 March 2018

Napo Evidence Part Two


Eight employer groups currently hold contracts to run the 21 CRCs. These are Sodexo (6), Interserve (5), Working Links (3), RRP (2), MCT Novo (2), Seetec (1), People Plus (1) and ARCC (1). 

1. Sodexo 

Sodexo holds the contract for six CRCs: Northumbria; South Yorkshire; Cumbria & Lancashire; Essex; BeNCH (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, and Northamptonshire); and Norfolk & Suffolk. 

There are two management structures: Northumbria, South Yorkshire and Cumbria & Lancashire are managed by the Northern CEO; and Essex, BeNCH and Norfolk & Suffolk are managed by the Southern CEO. 

In 2015 Napo produced a critical analysis of the proposed Sodexo Operational model. This report gave a fair and balanced view of the proposed new approach and its focus on desistance. However, as reported by the HMIP the operating model has not been fully implemented across the Sodexo CRCs as the implementation depends on the IT enabled Operational Model Management System (OMS) and Justice Star being activated. Also, members report that the supply chain (2nd & 3rd Tier Providers) that should undertake significant work with clients hasn’t happened. 

A recent joint union survey shows that only 9% of respondents said that they were clear about how changes introduced by the employer would work in practice. In addition, an employer survey carried out across the six Sodexo owned CRCs gave similar results showing that staff are disillusioned. Only headline figures from this report have been shared with the unions but there is acknowledgement from the employer that more needs to be done to engage with staff. 

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%. 

CRC Employed staff FTE* Employed Staff FTE** Difference FTE % Change 

Northumbria                    316 155 161 51% 
BeNCH                            385 250 135 35% 
South Yorkshire               233 153 80 34% 
Cumbria and Lancashire 337 201 136 40% 
Essex                               279 167 112 41% 
Norfolk and Suffolk          190 130 60 32% 

* Staff in Post FTE figures CRC Workforce Information Summary Report: Quarter 3 2014/15 ** Staff in Post FTE Notified by the employer June 2017 

The reduction in staff and the failure to implement the new operating model has had a corresponding detrimental impact on workloads. This has had a massive impact on staff well-being and health and safety. Surveys have been carried out by Napo that show the stark position facing staff. A recent joint union survey carried out by Napo and UNISON showed that 85% of respondents said that they often or always have to work very intensively. 72% said that they often or always have to work very fast and 62% often or always have to neglect some tasks because they have too much to do. High workloads and stress caused to members have a direct consequence on the ability of the organisation to carry out its core function to protect the public and reduce reoffending. (The full findings from the survey can be made available to the Committee on request). 

Of particular concern is the use of “booths” as part of the Sodexo operating plan. The booths are “burger style” interview pens, Napo alongside its sister union has raised concerns about the use of booths in a probation setting from the start. The unions in all six Sodexo CRCs are currently in dispute with the employer on Health and Safety grounds about their use. Moreover, the unions have reported Sodexo to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) in order to address our concerns about the use of booths and a potential breach of the Data Protection Act. 

Overall the following the paragraph written by HMIP in their report on Cumbria & Lancashire CRC (October 2017) can be applied to all the Sodexo CRCs and sums up the current situation: “Poor working conditions in some offices and the open-plan booths we have found in Sodexo Owned CRCs elsewhere made things difficult for service users and staff alike. Also, the CRC’s supply chain of services –those support it commissions from the community organisations, in both the private and voluntary, third sectors - was too thin”.

2. Interserve 

There are five Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) owned by Interserve, Cheshire and Greater Manchester, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, HLNY (Humberside/Lincolnshire/North Yorkshire), Merseyside and West Yorkshire. The situation across these five CRCs is as follows: 

Experienced staff continue to leave the Interserve CRCs, some to do agency work (often in the NPS). The staff turnover rate is at 17%, which is very high (average rate is around 10%). The CRC cannot replace the staff it is losing fast enough and therefore it is using agency staff. Training new recruits is also proving a challenge. There are high levels of sickness absence due to workload stress which then impacts on the already high workloads of the remaining team members. 

Job cuts 

In total there has been a reduction of around 206 members of staff since February 2015. At the beginning of 2016 Interserve Justice announced a major restructure and re-organisation across their five CRCs. As a consequence the total number of Interserve staff reduced by 143.

Well reported financial problems in the Interserve parent company have led to it commencing consultation on merging corporate service functions across its three business units within the Interserve Citizen’s Services Division (which includes Interserve Justice). The company estimate this will lead to approximately 80 jobs being shed across the units. This will impact on CRC staff seconded to shared services. 

Additionally Interserve has announced that they are going to close the Fareham PSC (probation support centre). It is anticipated up to 10 CRC staff seconded to the Fareham office could be effected by the closure of the Fareham PSC as will a further 13 members of staff directly employed by Interserve. 

It will also mean Intervention Managers/SPOs in the CRCs taking on additional corporate service functions in addition to the HR responsibilities that have been added to their job descriptions. This in turn will impact on their pivotal role for the Interserve Justice Interchange flex team model to work. 


The reduction in the number of staff has been one of the issues that have led to very high workloads for the remaining staff. 

Results of a Joint Napo/UNISON Members Stress Survey carried out in March of this year showed that workloads, deadlines and work pressure are very significant issues for our members employed on the Interserve CRCs: 
  • 89% of respondents said that they often or always have to work very intensively 
  • 70% often or always has to neglect some tasks because they have too much to do. 
  • 61% often or always considered themselves to have unrealistic time pressures are hard to combine 
  • 47% considered that they were pressured to work long hours. 
  • 46% believed that they often or always have unachievable deadlines. 
(The full survey results can be made available to the Committee on request) 

Quality and performance 

The following Interserve CRCs have been partially inspected by the HMIP since the TR was implemented: 

HLNY CRC - on the whole this as a good report. The inspectorate noted that the problems caused by the TR programme in other areas had not impacted to the same extent, with “business as usual” and less obvious evidence of the “dissonance” they had seen elsewhere. However, this inspection was undertaken before Interserve’s ‘interchange model’ had been introduced. 

Cheshire and Greater Manchester - the report says that; ”Overall, the CRC had not protected those at risk of harm sufficiently” … “A notable number of inexperienced responsible officers reported that the level of training provided by the CRC was not sufficient to help them develop the required skills to complete high quality assessments and plans." 

Operating models 

The Interserve model included significant staffing cuts and the outsourcing of some probation services to Interserve’s Professional Service Centres (PSCs). The recently announced closure of the Fareham PSC calls this model into question. 

Ian Mullholland, Interserve Director of Justice wrote to CRC staff on 10 November explaining the operational reason for deciding to close the Fareham PSC: “The responsibility for managing the delivery of interventions in our Community Rehabilitation Companies is fragmented. Currently different job roles hold different parts of the process and there are areas of duplication and competing priorities. I listened to feedback from you, and it is clear that the model has reduced the level of CRC ownership over the delivery of interventions and the crucial job of aligning staff and resources”. 

"The vision for the PSC delivery of programmes was to create a central team to coordinate all service users, programme tutors and resources to maximise service user attendance and completion. This was dependent on establishing a new IT system, but – for a variety of reasons – we are unable to achieve this at this time." 

Another key aspect of the Interserve's Interchange model is the flex teams. Napo has questioned this operation model saying that in members’ view it places disproportionate pressures on PSO grade staff who have been directed to fulfil a dual role managing high caseloads and delivering Accredited Programmes. Role changes for PO grade staff have resulted in those affected exiting the organisation and PSOs managing cases that they are neither trained nor appropriately remunerated for. 


Interserve Justice ‘Interchange model’ is very reliant on new IT systems, which staff report frequently ‘go down’ leaving them unable to access Delius and OASys for long periods. This has an impact on meeting targets, risk and enforcement issues. 

3. Working Links 

Working Links owns BGSW (Bristol, Gloucester, Somerset and Wiltshire) CRC; Dorset, Devon and Cornwall CRC and Wales CRC. 

Unfortunately we must report that the Working Links Partnership under the ownership of Aurelius has been the subject of a dispute with recognised trade unions for some 20 months. 

The genesis of the dispute was the decision to reduce staffing provision by some 50% in the first year of the contract and the failure of the provider to recognise the terms of the Staff Transfer and Protection Agreement and a lack of serious engagement with the unions on collective bargaining issues. 

Despite the best efforts of senior ACAS officials and highly experienced trade union negotiators talks to resolve the outstanding issues in respect of the operational model across the three CRC contracts in Devon Dorset and Cornwall, Bristol Gloucester Somerset and Wiltshire and Wales are at something of an impasse. 

Meanwhile, Napo has had no option but to respond to the considerable media interest that has highlighted the failings of Working Links in the supervision of clients and management of resources. This has followed two seriously critical HMIP reports in Gwent and Gloucester, one Serious Further Offence resulting in the murder of a young person by a perpetrator who had missed several appointments, and another being the subject of a current court case, the use of a public library to interview probation clients (where children were nearby), and a well-documented case of substandard supervision of a client undertaking unpaid work due to insufficient staffing resources being available to maintain appropriate standards. 

Indeed, Napo are receiving regular reports of problems in relation to the organisation and delivery of Community Payback along with excessive workloads and extraordinary levels of staff sickness. 

We have told Ministers and HMPPS contract managers that unless this this provider can urgently demonstrate an ability to deliver against contract and engage with its staff in a dignified way, then consideration must be given to removing them from the three contracts that they are responsible for. 

4. RRP (Reducing Re-offending Partnership) 

RRP (Reducing Reoffending Partnership) owns two CRCs, Staffordshire West Midlands (SWM) and Derby, Leicestershire, Nottingham and Rutland (DLNR). The organisation is made up of a private employment company Ingeus, a private employment company with current DWP contracts, St Giles Trust, a criminal justice charity and CGL, formerly CRI a substance misuse provider. Ingeus is the leading partner in this organisation. 

In 2016 the organisation embarked on a staff reduction programme that saw 77 posts being made redundant. There were concerns at the time raised by Napo that these cuts were disproportionately impacting on DLNR as they had the least favourable redundancy policy. Since making these cuts there has been some recognition that the staff reductions were too large and RRP has since had to recruit in the DLNR area. 

The cuts have had a sizeable impact on the organisation’s ability to maintain standards. The HMIP report on Staffordshire and Stoke in January 2017 highlighted this issue stating that workloads were very high. On average staff in Stoke hold 90-100 cases each. 100% of administrators were made redundant in Staffordshire as RRP moved to a central hub model of case administration across the organisation. This has caused significant issue for frontline staff. 

Napo is carrying out a workload survey in RRP. (Final results for the survey can be made available to the committee on request). Initial findings show that: 
  • 91% of staff said they are consistently overworked. 
  • 79% said that workloads impact on public protection 
  • 73% said workloads impact on safeguarding issues 
  • 77% said that workloads adversely affect their ability to reduce re-offending 
RRP are currently going through a second wave of redundancies, this time within corporate services as opposed to frontline staff. They state that despite receiving additional money from the Ministry of Justice in the summer there are still significant shortfalls in their finances. As such they are reducing corporate services to avoid having to make further cuts to the frontline. There are currently 50 posts at risk of redundancy, although it is hoped this can be reduced to 30 if internal opportunities are utilised. 

A further exercise to reduce costs is being carried out with RRP’s estates. They are in the process of closing down all of the probation offices in the Black Country with the exception of Wolverhampton. Napo is deeply concerned about the impact this will have on staff due to travelling, especially those with caring responsibilities or disabilities. More worrying is the impact this will have on service users who will be expected to make much longer journeys in order to comply with their order. 

5. MCT Novo 

MCT Novo owns London CRC and Thames Valley CRC. There is an on-going re-inspection of MTC Novo and the NPS performance in the London area, following the hugely critical inspection of part of the London CRC area in 2016. 

Before the contract sale significant operational challenges, especially around staff recruitment had been identified across London. These have been embedded and amplified by the split, on-going pay freeze and inflexibility in the probation pay system; and by the impact upon morale of working within a service in crisis. Sickness absence rates and turnover have, we believe increased since the split, although hard data on this is rarely shared with unions. 

Competition for the London contract was sparse. We believe only two companies remained as bidders when the contract was let and that MTC Novo had not been expecting to win the London contract. Their operating model was, we believe designed for Thames Valley and applied to London. This involved grouping provision into specialist teams (or cohorts) – e.g. all women offenders managed by the same teams across the contract area; likewise with young males, etc. Although there are workload pressures in the Thames Valley CRC (partly due to recruitment and retention challenges common across the public sector in the area as evidenced by the NPS having to make additional payment to recruit in the Reading and Oxford areas) which we feel are impacting upon the quality of service delivery the is seemingly providing a reasonably stable service. 

However, the cohort model was disastrous in London. Logistically it was never going to work, giving rise to huge variations in caseloads and pressures on staff. As documented in the 2016 HMIP Inspector’s report, this led to corners being cut, record keeping falling dangerously behind and an increase in risk to the public. 

The London CRC is working, increasingly in partnership with staff, to recognise and address the weaknesses but the next HMIP Inspection report will inform the Committee on the scale of progress and the continuing challenges for MTC Novo in London. 

One particularly illustrative case study of the weaknesses in TR delivery and on-going management compared to the aspiration of TR can be seen in the Rise Mutual. This spun out of the TR programme, supported and encouraged by the MoJ, aiming to deliver accredited programmes in innovative and effective ways. Due to the weaknesses in the contract forecasting the expected cases didn’t materialize. This was no different to the rest of the London CRC contract, but the MoJ has now given up on Rise and agreed that MTC Novo (despite limited evidence of expertise and proven performance in accredited programmes or generally), can take over this work with over 80% of Rise CIC members being in scope to transfer to the London CRC. It appears that Rise had successfully won other contracts in competition with MTC Novo in local authorities and prisons and it is for debate if MTC Novo’s motives for taking on this work include driving out a competitor. What is without doubt is that the CRC are in effect the commissioning body now, and as such is monopoly provider/commissioner. This does not look like a sensible model for ensuring public money is spent efficiently.

6. Seetec 

Kent, Surrey, Sussex (KSS) CRC is owned by Seetec. 

On the whole there have been fewer problems in this area than in the other CRCs. A HMIP inspection carried out in October 2016 found that “Kent is doing some excellent work but, the National Probation Service (NPS), who manage higher-risk offenders, is struggling due to staff shortages.. This is in contrast with other areas in England and Wales, where inspectors have so far found the NPS to be generally delivering good work while CRCs are still embedding large-scale organisational change”. 

The inspectors reported that “CRC had adopted a straightforward way of working and had implemented it confidently and quickly. It was committed to involving people fully in planning their own route away from crime, which was impressive. Staff morale was good, with leaders enjoying the confidence of their staff”. 

Napo does however know that the CRC is experiencing now continuing recruitment difficulties and is in competition with the NPS for experienced staff. There are also problems with high workloads as reported by members in the Napo workload and stress survey undertaken in March 2017. 

HMIP did also note however that: “There was certainly more for the CRC to do so that offenders could do unpaid work in the community, and to make sure enough staff were sufficiently well trained so as to be able to do their jobs well and recommended that the CRC took steps to reduce the rate at which people were “stood down”. 

7. People Plus 

Warwickshire West Mercia Community Rehabilitation Company (WWM CRC) is owned by People Plus, a subsidiary company of Staff Line a large private recruitment company that has had DWP contracts. 

Previously Warwickshire and West Mercia were two separate Trusts although there were plans to merge the two areas before TR to align with the increasingly merging police forces. 

Prior to TR both Trusts were rated as being in the top five performing Trusts with the lowest reoffending rates in the country. It is a very rural area which brings with it additional challenges. West Mercia was a flagship Trust for its innovative use of partnership agencies and new ways of working such as care farms and its partnership with Willowdene, a unique intervention. 

Since TR WWM CRC has maintained some of its partnership contracts with Willowdene and YSS. However, due to ongoing financial difficulties these contracts are now being reviewed and reduced as cost saving exercise. 

This was noticed and commented on by HMIP when they carried out their recent inspection. Despite these proving to be effective interventions for reducing reoffending there is not the money to support them. 

This is in part due to the flawed payment mechanism which does not recognise these unique interventions in terms of cash payment. WWM CRC is a good example of how TR has in fact stifled innovation, new ways of working and increasing other providers as oppose to increasing it as was originally hoped for with the ideology behind the reform programme.

In 2016 WWM CRC made frontline staff redundancies of approximately 10%. Whilst this has not had a detrimental impact on caseloads it has had a negative impact on an already demoralised workforce. The recent HMIP report was quite poor for the area. Whilst acknowledging that they are maintaining their contract performance it criticised the quality of work being delivered. It is therefore of great concern that in just three years two highly performing trusts could be reduced to being near the bottom of the performance table. 

This is also reflected in the recently published reoffending rates. WWM CRC is the only CRC that is definitely facing a financial penalty as reoffending rates have significantly increased since contracts began. That is not to say the area has seen an increase in crime but that prior to TR both Trusts were reducing reoffending so effectively, their bench mark was considerably higher than other areas. In truth they had to perform better than good to reap any reward for their efforts. 

This highlights not only that performance has dropped in the area but that the MoJ’s own measurement tool is deeply skewed and does not reflect accurately the real picture of reoffending rates. The CRC is now taking steps to address these issues and is working with unions to understand how things can be improved. However, trust is extremely low between the two parties.

8. ARCC 

Durham Tees Valley (DTV) CRC is owned by a not for profit consortium called ARCC. 

Since Transforming Rehabilitation the CRC has faced substantial financial pressures and embarked upon a massive reorganisation, this has resulted in disruption to service delivery and had a detrimental impact on staff morale. These changes were introduced without full and proper consultation with the unions. This resulted in Napo together with our sister union registering a dispute on the failure to follow the recognised and established consultation process. In addition, the Service Delivery Model adopted by DTV CRC incorporates “agile working” and delivery through “community hubs” the unions have raised serious concerns on health and safety grounds for both staff and members of the public using those community venues.


  1. So at least 967 jobs explicitly identified as lost by design due to TR.

    HM Tory Gov encouraged, agreed to & paid for these job losses, which were covertly written into the bids for the CRC contracts & subsequently covered by an additional handout of taxpayer money via the Modernisation Fund. About £16m was used for redundancies; the bulk of this money, estimated at£64m, was pocketed by the CRC owners and NOT passed on to staff, nor was it recovered by HMGov, with Andrew Selous confirming in Hansard the CRCs were permitted to keep the cash for themselves.

    JSC - please can you ask how & why this was regarded as acceptable & approved by parliament.

    1. Job cut create a false economy.
      This snippet from the Times, (pay wall).

      Millions of pounds are being spent by the justice ministry on hotels for prison officers drafted into jails at risk of disturbances because of staff shortages.

      A total of £7 million was spent over the past five years with almost £1 million more on rail fares for hundreds of officers. Under a scheme known as detached duty, prison officers can be sent from their home prison to other jails where there are too few staff on the wings, resulting in restricted regimes being imposed on inmates.

      Annual spending on providing hotel accommodation for officers on detached duty has risen more than fivefold since 2013 as the prisons have suffered losses in staff, overcrowding and rising violence.

      Glyn Travis, assistant general secretary of the Prison Officers’…

  2. Yaay!! Yet another opportunity for some bullshit from my favourite fuckwit Minister, Selous:

    * 8 June 2015: As part of the arrangements for the transfer of services from probation trusts to Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s), an enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme was put in place, in line with the terms of the National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections agreed with the probation Trade Unions, and funded by monies from the Modernisation Fund to support a sustainable reduction in resource requirements. An initial wave of redundancies was made in advance of the letting of the contracts for the CRCs, and the remaining monies were transferred to the CRCs on a pro rata basis to be used for the same purpose. While we have no plans to reclaim any monies allocated to CRCs from the Modernisation Fund, we have robust contract management arrangements in place to ensure that they are used for the purposes for which they were provided. Contract management teams are in place in each Contract Package Area to oversee each CRC operation.

    * 15 June 2015: Under the enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme opened in advance of the transition of the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to new providers, probation staff were able to apply for voluntary redundancy on the basis that they would leave the service by 31 March 2016. The total cost of these redundancies was £16.4m. All remaining Modernisation Fund monies were awarded to CRCs. Redundancy funding was allocated pro-rata to CRCs based on their size and estimated future staffing requirements.

    As stated in my answer to questions 900, 898, 902 and 901, we have no plans to reclaim any monies allocated to CRCs from the Modernisation Fund; and consequently there have been no discussions with CRCs about this. Contract Management Teams are embedded in each CRC, closely monitoring how all monies are used and robust processes are in place to ensure all expenditure is correctly spent.

    * 2 July 2015: Modernisation funding was allocated to the Ministry of Justice by HM Treasury in 2014/15 to bring about sustainable reductions in resource requirements across the Ministry. Some of this funding was made available for voluntary redundancies in Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs). Of this, £16.4m was spent on voluntary exit packages in 2014/15 and the remainder was allocated to CRCs on a pro-rata basis, based on their size and estimated future staffing requirements.

    Each Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) is managed by a Contract Management Team (CMT), headed by a Senior Contract Manager and comprising staff with commercial, contract management and operational expertise to ensure a multi-disciplinary approach. The size of teams reflects the size of the contract being managed. While it is for CRC owners to implement and oversee redundancy schemes, CMTs are ensuring that CRC owners adhere to their contractual obligations in this area. CMTs are able to draw upon commercial, financial and legal expertise from within the wider Ministry in delivering this role.

    1. Some key phrases of note:

      8/6/15 - "an enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme was put in place... and funded by monies from the Modernisation Fund to support a sustainable reduction in resource requirements."

      8/6/15 - "An initial wave of redundancies was made in advance of the letting of the contracts for the CRCs, and the remaining monies were transferred to the CRCs on a pro rata basis to be used for the same purpose."

      15/6/15 - "The total cost of these redundancies was £16.4m. All remaining Modernisation Fund monies were awarded to CRCs."

      2/7/15 - "Modernisation funding was allocated to the Ministry of Justice by HM Treasury in 2014/15 to bring about sustainable reductions in resource requirements across the Ministry."

      2/7/15 - "Some of this funding was made available for voluntary redundancies in Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs)... and the remainder was allocated to CRCs..."

      Note the subtle changes to wording as time progresses from "to be used for the same purpose" to "All remaining Modernisation Fund monies were awarded to CRCs."

      Also, it is explicitly clear from Selous' words that massive staff reductions were intentional & planned for right from the start - contrary to any of Grayling's assurances given in HoC:

      Grayling, HoC, 9 Jan 2013 (presumably just after submitting a funding request to Francis Maude's Cabinet Office): "I do not expect this to lead to wholesale redundancies in the probation service. It certainly means a new world for many people in the probation service in being part of the new organisations, new social enterprises and new consortia that will deliver the services. Yes, of course there will be some changes, but this does not involve, suddenly and instantly, mass redundancies in the probation service—that would not be right."

      And in case you didn't get it first time:

      "... we have no plans to reclaim any monies allocated to CRCs from the Modernisation Fund; and consequently there have been no discussions with CRCs about this."

    2. Wonder if this line of financial detail on page 140, Cabinet Office Annual Report 2014/15, is the relevant entry?

      Resource grants to private sector - £102,323,000

    3. Richard Johnson, Buying Performance Quality, 2014, describing how Grayling & co performed a 'workaround' to expedite TR:

      "Grayling, however, has waved his magic wand and made this problem go away for his ‘rehabilitation revolution’. The new CRCs are not being transferred to incoming contractors – they are being sold for £1. Because this is simply, therefore, a change of the shareholder, TUPE does not apply.

      Additionally, all historic pension liability is to remain with the Ministry of Justice. The ongoing cost of pension contributions becomes the responsibility of the new shareholder/owner, but at a reduced rate. Some redundancies will be made prior to the sale of the CRC and then, in the first year, the cost of further redundancies will, at least in part, be covered by the Ministry."

  3. the proceeding is currently in private - and the blog won't accept comments