Sunday, 4 March 2018

Pick of the Week 45

I decided last week that, in order to prioritise my own health, I must stop straining to do a decent job for my community and my clients, and just do the basic minimum, which is of course to tick boxes and pound a keyboard entering repetitively, stuff into crumbly IT systems. Clock off when my hours are worked. No thinking. Keep client contact to absolute minimum. Then it hit me : what is in effect "working to rule" is what I am being instructed to do by HMPPS.

I agree. The work to rule is not doable without departing from every valuable aspect of the job. Proper resistance will require sacrifice and risk and uncertainty. And not many are prepared to go down that road.

Unless UK government (read taxpayer) is prepared to underwrite the liabilities (more than just their debt) of outsourcing giants, then the outsourcing game related to important public services is busted. I don't think the government can stitch together a rescue package as it would be political suicide. I think the banks are shy, the numbers don't add up, add in some economic and political uncertainty and hey presto, the magic outsourcing tree is not an attractive investment. Or do those that are still standing pick over the pieces and ask for a premium? The provision of important public services increasingly looks like market competition in extracting profit from the UK taxpayer, rather than anything remotely about delivering quality public services.

Probation will never fit into the civil service, the unyielding bureaucracy is stifling! The existing systems just don't get us and as we are just a tiny part of a massive organisation, no one cares! I'm an NPS PO and can sincerely say we are completely broken and not fit for purpose.

Don't see many colleagues feeling superior in my NPS office except for those usual suspects that have always been that way! A lot of us wish we had got sifted to CRC now because at least we might have got a chance to get out with a bit of a pay out! Of course it wouldn't be like that big fiddle the senior managers sorted for themselves, but in my area we are still hearing tales of managers getting much bigger severance packages than lower grades!

Of course they did - they were responsible for the sifting, for deciding who got what, who was eligible for the enhanced payout, for scheduling who could transfer where. How many ex-Trust staff were paid out under the enhanced scheme, then re-employed by either the CRC or NPS, while admin, PSO & PO staff were directed to the CRCs then cast adrift with a much-reduced pay-off - despite the MoJ handing over the fully costed EVR funds to the CRC, i.e. the £multi-million bung from the Modernisation Fund which the CRCs pocketed. They were only ever interested in themselves. Jim's blog-piece today refers to a highly relevant & oft-repeated mantra: "if you were crap with clients, you got promoted."

TR will probably be seen as the straw that broke the probation camels back, but despite the gold award thats much mentioned, I think it was already broken prior to privatisation and the split. I think it's right to say bringing everything into to the fold of the NPS is not the answer. NPS and CRC are two halves of the same problem. The past 20 years has seen so many changes, tweeks, and reforms to the probation services (probably more reforms then the welfare system), it's long lost its ethos. 
That in part is a consequence of being part of the civil service and being shaped by political ideology and dogma, rather then pragmatic and logical solutions to the problems your clients present you with. 

The focus of the service has been changed to a model of process and outcome, directed by political policy, and shifted away from a localised and community based support network. In short its an agency of state, directed by the state, and subject to whatever the political mood happens to be. It should in fact be a service rooted on academia and evidence based development. The only solution I can see for probation now, is not to focus on how to bring the two parts back together, but for someone to reinvent the wheel.

The establishment by Grayling of a central government controlled public sector Probation Service was a very odd aspect of TR and was a compromise position with NOMS who feared a backlash when private providers inevitably cocked up with a high risk, high profile case. It was also suspected by some political insiders to be the price of Labours support with the exception of Jezza and Johnny Mc who supported Napo - remember that many Labour MPs voted with the coalition for TR. Sadiq Khan Opposed TR publicly. 

The seriousness lameness of the NPS as a service was demonstrated by Sonia Crozier recently when things happen in the NPS you can just apologise on the beeb and still draw your salary each month, safe in the various layers of bureaucracy that enables third rate civil servants to carry on as no one really expects them to be better than useless. In the CRCs boards of directors are far more ruthless as MTCnovo directors and CEOs have found out, though the pay outs are better.

It is likely that the government will start making it possible for CRCs to start paying their staff more than NPS staff irrespective of performance because in the Tory deluded vision of the world the public sector cannot be seen as preferable to the innovative and effective private sector, otherwise they would place themselves in a self imploding ideological loop and disappear up their own bottoms, leaving behind nothing but a whiff of sulphur and a bionic badge.

Sonia Crozier's performance at the Justice Committee and in tv interview with Suzanne Reid (repeated tonight I think) was appalling on both occasions; very lacklustre at Justice Committee and like a terrified rabbit caught in glare of car headlights with Suzanne Reid. Bizarre to apologise for shortcomings of VL set-up when the main area of identified concern (the concept of "eligible" victims who are only ones offered opportunity to opt into VL contact) is not the creation or choice of Probation Service, but whatever MoJ/Noms/ CJS bods that devised that system. I thought the only issues Dame Glenys Stacey picked up on were poor style of letter writing and a gap in annual contact over a year or possibly two until resumed again. I understand the Inspector considered that the VLOs had gone over and above to try and get victim views prior to the OH.

Not much has changed from the 2014 implementation of Chris Grayling’s rehabilitation revolution to Sonia Crozier’s 2018 appalling probation apology on ITV. Since being forced into the NPS I’ve learnt 3 things during these 4 years of hell at work;

1. That the NPS and CRC’s are as bad as each other, two sides of the same dirty coin.
2. That being a third-rate ‘civil servant’ basically means taking it in the rear by the Ministry of Justice, and saying thank you when it hurts.
3. Probation doesn’t do any of what it says on the tin. If you are willing to lie about this to staff and clients alike, and if you are crap with clients, you get promoted.

Clearly we can’t go back as too much needs to be undone without causing another crash. The answer is devolve all responsibility of probation services to PCCs. The PCC is answerable to Parliament and their communities. They appoint a chief and the chief appoints the senior team. Local delivery of probation fit for their community. If your PCC hangs their political colours to a Tory mast. the community gets the service they voted for. No need for HMPPS, they can drop the silent ‘P’ and look after the prison estate which can be the civil servant club.

How to find the lost soul of NPS and CRC staff...... well go back to an obscure date in mid November 2013. Remember comrades, the arbitrary date set by MoJ. The musical chairs music stopped on that date. Whatever chair you sat on decided if you exit stage left or stage right. Nothing to do with the cream went to NPS and the rest went the other way. What ever cases you held determined the sift. Regardless of your previous experience and expertise, whether you were on long term sick or maternity leave, you had to fight for your spot... a few fights along the way, but you either got shafted royally or just plain-shafted dependant on your view point.

Now our Dame Glynis is a master of poking the stick at the CRCs, rightly so, we deserve it. But she is using an inspection model that is in direct contradiction to the CRC contracts. She criticises for not having rehabilitation measures in UPW, but HMPSS tell CRCs that it is a punitive sanction only and that’s what they must deliver. Chief cook and bottle washer Ian Mulholand of Interserve tells staff on his phone-in on 23 Jan, "we get paid for delivering the requirement as a punishment, no more than 2 acceptable absences in the life of the requirement. Return to court quickly with breach. That is what Interserve is paid for and that is what we will deliver, no if’s buts....."

The UPW requirement in all its guises has bedevilled Probation since 1972. No one really held Boards or Trusts to account for that failure, but now they beat us to death with that stick. 40 odd years of entrenched belief that it was not the front of house sentence it has now been elevated to. UPW the public and politicians get... programme and interventions don’t sell. Getafix was right when he said we are a monitoring and enforcement agency. That comment I suspect was levelled at both NPS and CRC. Good PO’s and PSOs went to the CRC. Both sides have bad ones as well so dial down the carping, let’s not engage in a pissing contest here. TR was bad for all. We are not civil servants nor privatised tick box merchants, we are practitioners of probation. Find the soul, it will take time but it’s there. Believe me, this madness will end and we need to be ready......


Concerning UPW, I agree that things are changing from Management. Spreadsheet after spreadsheet regarding absences, example 200 hours UPW, full time worker with occasional childcare, illness etc. Panic, more than 2 acceptable absences? What! Professional judgement... No Way! Not allowed! BREACH or take back to Court to extend quick. Panic stations! Ridiculous state of affairs, got to agree that UPW is to be seen as the punitive community alternative to prison just around the corner. Agree that the public and media would accept this.

Probation under PCC’s would be just as bad. Terrible idea, PCC’s are a mixed bag we’d move from being aligned to prisons to being aligned to the police, frying pan to fire. HMIP is suspect too, employs ex-CRC chief officers and sessional work for the Tories. And don’t think managers didn’t fix the sifting in some places.

My point being they will never allow us to be stand alone. The PCC would appoint some form of probation board and separate out that responsibility from police. We work with police anyway but maintaining that separation of responsibility. We will never return to an advise, befriend and assist service. What we do is far too politicised now, and we need to be savvy. Get back to local delivery and local accountability.

On another note - LDU heads in the NPS are now throwing around the term ‘Responsible Officer’ like bags of sweets. You can tell they are desperate for staff to use the term RO as opposed to PO/OM and/or practitioner! Another MoJ directive they all dance to!

I always thought we should have gone on strike over the lack of investment in services which would rehabilitate those we work with rather than our own pay. There. It’s out now. That reluctance to ever invest properly time-wise or money wise or reputation-wise in promoting the chances and opportunities of those coming out of prison or those at risk of going there. Many were consistently excluded from the mainstream or vilified because of their background from toddlerhood. We should have struck over that continuing institutional failure to try to redress some of the imbalance in society as they have appeared before us, the shape of our ‘clientel’. Our skills with people would have been employed in persuading our service users to chance life as “winners”, to chance the changes required.

Solidarity is a great thing. Just a shame it's in short supply amongst the probation workforce - who moan and groan and fail to unite. I gather some 750 NPS members allowed their membership to lapse as a consequence of check-off and CRC has membership declined by some 20%. No wonder pay erodes - there is no negotiating muscle.

There will be a strike – but only in la-la land. There may be a vote for a work-to rule, that trusty road to nowhere, that has never achieved anything in the public services. You have to go back to the car industry in the 1970's to find work-to-rules having any impact through the withdrawal of overtime and slowing-down production lines. It's a bitter pill to swallow, but there is nothing to be done. The employers know the probation workforce is docile and lacks any solidarity.

How do you know they didn’t? Let’s focus on the here and now and support those who are negotiating. Napo will no doubt be balloting members to ratify pay offers soon. NPS will be left behind because let’s face it this government is never going to allow third rate civil servants to blow raspberries at the private sector. The more people who are in a union and active then the stronger our voice is to argue for a similar deal to colleagues in the CRCs. Lawrence is a bit naive to expect otherwise really. The fact is that no one anticipated how bad TR would be.

Working to rule is industrial action that falls short of strike action, but it still requires a ballot. Working to rule however does require those involved in such action to know just what those rules are. The difficulty of working to rule in probation is that there is no universal model to identify with. All CRCs work differently, and all differ from NPS practices.

Just back from a day at the coalface, I will catch the debate in a mo. Last hour or so of my working day in an interminable telephone call with SSCL which can be summarised as
"I am not getting paid this month?" 

"Machine says no"
"Can I speak to your manager?"
"Can I have her name?"
"No" followed by a chirpy email from on high inviting me to contribute to their "Great and Good" initiative, (eg suggestions box) as they want to know how best to harness and use the experience, commitment, perspective of staff blah blah. I had to sit on my hands to stop myself sending the expletive laden response that it was provoking.

No pay rise and not getting paid. Chuffing 'ell that is... Nope, can't find the words to successfully express what I want to say. I am sure you will sort the latter, I know I have had to previously, but the former might drag on a while longer I guess. Of course both have consequences potentially, bills unable to be met and, to put it bluntly, getting poorer. On a cheerier note, it could be worse. Yours in humour and sympathy.

I am surprised that there aren’t more comments regarding the ‘great and good ideas ‘ initiative. To publish this crass and ill thought out claptrap at the same time as stating that there is no money for your longest serving loyal employees shows how desperate the supposed leadership is. They ask how we can improve things with the courts, the public and all and sundry but have no concept of how disgraceful their conduct is towards what they used to say was their greatest asset, their staff. I have a whole host of ideas as to how we can improve service. Most of them consist of a wholesale change at the top.

I've listened to the whole debate. Hats off to Ellie Reeves for getting this debate, hats off to the participants, especially Jenny Chapman's persistent and pointed remarks, which showed a depth of understanding lacking in many around her. Rory Stewart seems to be about half way through reading up his probation brief. He did that thing that ministers do of reciting his learning-to-date with trenchant authority but less underlying understanding. Plus a smattering of Tory-isms "back to basics", "innovation", tragically also trotting out a few Graylingisms "stubborn reoffending rates" "important role of charities". Oh, and TTG apparently crucial. He even remembered to appreciate the #hardworkingprobationstaff. 

Unbelievably depressing to hear him put up the "bedding in" defence and resolve to get the CRCs working properly as his solution. Revolving door of a conversation, Labour also seem to have fallen into an ideological mantra of private bad, public good, so solution is to take back the CRCs. The CRCs cannot go back, as where they came from doesn't exist any more. The situation in the CRCs is absolutely dire, but the situation in the NPS is pretty rubbish too. 

One point where there does seem to be some universal agreement: the third sector has been pushed out by the CRCs, to everyone's regret. Ministers on all sides pondering the difficulties of "scaling up" successful local third sector initiatives. Utterly misses the point! Seize the opportunities where they are, don't drown them with bureaucracy and centralised control. Preferably enable a strong unified probation service to work in partnership with local organisations at the scale they are operating in. First impressions, I will watch it again, especially Rory Stewart, first time I have heard him on topic.

After a day down't'pit with nowt to eat, you've done well to sit through the debate as well - and you make good points. There are too many lies to wade through and unravel in this TR bollox including the "stubbornly high reoffending rates", the "thousands of unsupervised, unseen prisoners" on the loose, the ignored & unloved voluntary sector...

I was a volunteer in the 1980's 'embedded within' a probation team to provide support for prisoners' families; and I also worked for NACRO for a while (NB: they weren't in bed with Sodexo at that time). I then became a Probation Services Assistant working with a caseload of Money Payment Supervision Orders & non-statutory cases i.e. those who had either finished their Orders/Licences or were released without Licence but wanted assistance, e.g. housing. 

So, before the 20th century was over, I ticked every box that 21st century Grayling wanted ticked, yet still the spiteful wretched creature - and those who aided & abetted his twisted gut ideology - insisted on destroying a profession, many careers, and inflicted untold misery upon many more human lives.

And you also illustrate the point Jenny Chapman was making: the profession needs to contain the opportunity for staff to start at the "low" end, and develop skills, confidence and maturity, some ending up at the "high" end. My caseload is now so densely high risk, and nearly all RSO's, that I occasionally catch myself thinking of those that raped adults as the "good guys". Draining.

The lack of any progress with pay reform is a farce especially when the senior civil servant authorised to sort it seemingly agrees that the current pay scales could give rise to discrimination. The Tribunal may soon be losing patience with no change (Mr C Heskett v Secretary of State for Justice)? I can't understand why the Probation unions aren't pursuing an equal pay claim? But perhaps they are part of the problem?

What the hell is a”NPS responsible officers”. Can these people not say PROBATION OFFICER!? PCC’s would be no different from private companies running probation.They're all about ‘revenue streams’ and all the separate parts will be hived off, buildings abandoned and we’ll have little back rooms in police stations where we’re slowly morphed into police cultures.

I have some misgivings re PCCs as well, though they may not be quite as clueless as the MoJ. I think the idea is that MoJ and PCCs run the whole lot together. Imagine the chaos. Still, perhaps the PCC and the MoJ would entertain each other. That would take a bit of pressure off the workers, leave them in peace to get on with the task in hand. But where do the CRCs come into this? Will it mean not just one or two masters, but three? Re the back room in police station, this would be a possible scenario were it not for the attack on police funding which has seen a number of police stations closing down. Perhaps the operations will take place in the local shopping malls instead.

I recently went to a training event. All the PSO's introduced themselves as Responsible Officers, all the PO's introduced themselves as Probation Officers.

My understanding is that the term 'responsible officers' was introduced in an effort to eliminate the distinction between POs and PSOs in order to allow the gradual disappearance of the professional status of POs. This would, in turn, make it possible for CRCs to do the job on the cheap without having to contend with the arguments around 'PSOs can't do this. PSOs can't do that'. If we are all ROs, gradually, everyone will become a PSO and the wage bills decrease leaving more for the profiteers.

All court orders since the introduction of the 2003 CJA referred to the “superving officer” and did not say PO or PSO. The 2014 Act refers to the “Responsible Officer”. Whoever manages the case (and in this day and age that can change very quickly) is the defacto RO. Whatever chair you occupy, be it PO/PSO, case manager or senior case manager is irrelevant in the eyes of the law.

Re PCC’s; I have in previous posts, advocated they are the best on offer of a pretty bad bunch, but I am from Liverpool and we are (except for Southport which is on the periphery of Merseyside), a Tory free zone and will be for generations to come. We would be happy to declare UDI if we could.....

This issue about partnership working versus one agency being swallowed up by another: to have an impact in a partnership situation probation would need to be conscious of its own identity and promote this in such practical ways and with such distinctive outcomes that its value would be recognised and respected by its partners. But if probation staff have allowed themselves to be bullied and pushed about for years then that strong sense of identity and practice will not come to the fore and they will be swallowed up. In my experience Police officers have been known to be happy to work constructively with probation staff and because of interaction with probation, some have come to recognise the person behind the offence, the value of rehabilitation and the skill required in working together with your service user to that end. But for this to happen probation staff have to be sure about their own value and so do their managers.

Partnership working is vital to probation and to rehabilitation as a whole. But I think the partnerships should be between agencies that have an equal status and their own particular identity. For example the creation of NOMS saw a probation service heavily influenced and shaped by a prison service approach to rehabilitation. I don't want to say that different agencies shouldn't adapt or adopt best practices from partner agencies, but that all agencies should not be independent in its own ideology and working practices. With that said, I'm unsure about devolving criminal justice issues to local PCCs. I think firstly that such a request is not founded in improving justice services, but more focused on downloading local funding.

Secondly, I worry about where it might lead. Some PCCs are involved in really progressive attitudes and approaches on drug use, yet other regions are imposing huge fines on the homeless for sleeping in doorways. Devolving justice matters to PCCs will surely create an Americanised model where the 'sheriff' of the region has the freedom to decide what way the law should be applied and what punishment any infringement should attract. Devolving justice services would create far too many regional differences.

I've worked (and still do) with and alongside the Police for over 10 years. They are most definitely NOT the people/organisation we want running Probation! If not for the fact I'm on my phone and don't have my specs' I'd spell out in great detail as to why. However, nest feathering, nepotism, institutional racist and sexism and a inability to heed advice from those below them are only a few of the many, many, many reasons as to why I think this.

I completely agree and I too have worked very closely with the police who at the drop off a hat want people recalled even when there's insufficient evidence to do so - they have a completely different ethos than Probation.

Sorry but there are a lot of excellent Police Officer’s out there who are experts when it comes to crime. Really doesn’t sit right with me these kind of remarks. There are arguments as to why Police should not run Probation but let’s drop the claims of superiority. Clients wouldn’t share anything if they felt the Police could access the lot. The only country that has the Police run Probation is the USA and Probation is a pure enforcement service out there. Yes there are some police who are not very good but that is true of many jobs out there including probation.

PCC’s and police culture taking over probation a huge mistake, probably worse than the years of servitude to prisons and NOMS. I once met a decent police officer in 1997 before I joined probation. Working in probation I’ve met a total of one decent police officer. Apart from these two, not saying all the rest are c*nts, racist, corrupt, arrogant know-it-all’s, but most are. I encourage PROBATION OFFICERS to amend letter formats and introduce themselves at meetings, parole hearings, to state this. We worked hard for this title, not Offender Manager, Responsible Officer, or Case Manager.

If our Jim had big balls he’d start a [campaign] for everyone to put their Probation Officer title and qualification in email signatures. Test this blogs influence and see how the MoJ likes that.

Does anyone know what Probation stands for anymore? Seriously what is it? You better spell it out soon or your fossils will be the subject of a niche and limited history club. Who are your leaders? Collectively where are they leading you? Is Probation just a sign above the door? What does it mean? That others are imagining Probation here or there, making claim to it, seems to suggest you are truly adrift. Come on, shake yourselves out of your slumber, time is not your friend.

The Police service operate on a top down command and control basis. Constable does exactly what the sergeant says, the sergeant does exactly what the inspector says and so on up the chain of command. There is no opportunity for rational discussion, challenge to a particular stance or even point out blatant sexism, homophobia, racism or other unsavoury traits. Anyone who "splits" on a fellow policeman had better beware - it just isn't done. Given this scenario it is impossible to see how any Probation staff could work within a police environment as the two are totally incompatible. The police say their job is to catch criminals and send them to prison, whereas Probation's job is to "mollycoddle" clients and do everything they can to keep them out of prison. Not the basis for any sort of marriage.

Anyone who has ever had an OASys report done on them knows full well that as a tool for calculating risk it's a load of absolute cobblers. It's not helped by the fact that probation officers fail every single day to accurately record information about the client in their records as they are legally obligated to under the Data Protection Act 1998. They fail to check that the information 3rd parties give them is accurate as they are legally obligated to which skews what OASys spews out even further. A result is only as good as the information put into the assessment notwithstanding the effectiveness of the actual tool in the first place.

And as for actual risk, well considering every human on the planet is capable of murder in the right set of circumstances, it's actually impossible to predict the risk of anyone committing a crime. Some people you think will, won't and others who have but never been caught will continue to do so and those who have never committed an arrest worthy crime suddenly will. It all depends on what happens to that person on any given day and none of know when we get up in the morning what the day will bring.

I was voluntarily involved in the genesis of OASys (I know!! but I thought a single assessment tool was a good idea in principle) & whilst it was a fascinating exercise to begin with I was variously horrified, dismayed & angered by the arrogance of the lead psychologist who had a very clear Home Office agenda within rigid parameters. I had a similar experience when being introduced to Thornton's RM2000 in that the lead clinician would not entertain any discussion of exceptions. In both cases my frustrations were subordinate to the tsunami of nausea generated by the fawning & fanboy/fangirl responses of colleagues; & management in particular.

Context - a single assessment tool being a good idea in principle as opposed to each probation area having their own homegrown version, which was problematic &/or confusing when cases were being transferred. Points made [above] are valid & were among the issues & concerns dismissed or ignored when they were raised with lead clinicians.

“Risk management” justifies “enforcement” and is the biggest lie probation officers delude themselves in to believing! For the new breed PO’s (those that don’t know or don’t care what probation really is because it ceased having any meaningful purpose some years ago) “risk management” and “public protection” makes them feel purposeful and important.

I have frequently asked the service users I worked with if they thought they were dangerous, what kind of dangers they posed, to whom, and what tends to trigger the behaviours which pose risks to others. Within a good working relationship those kinds of conversations beat 1000 oasys’es. I ask the same questions of myself. Driving is where I’m risky.


  1. There's an odd twist happening with the Interserve saga. They have until the 30th of this month to pull a rabbit from the hat, but against the odds they may have a lifeline.


    1. The financial crash in 2008 was surely about big finance over extending themselves, taking positions and risks. For which, we have spent a decade and by the time it is done a generation or more paying for. Now we have a situation with Carrillion where similar short - sightedness has meant we are paying again. Interserve are now faced with banks offloading their liabilities, hedge funds taking a position against the company and one hedge fund seeing an opportunity and buying up debt at 50p in the pound and mounting a rescue plan presumably with returns identified in time. The government will ultimately underwrite public service provision of Probation and other services if needs, one way or another. My question, is this really the foundation on which important public services and public finances can be placed under, at the mercy of those operating in the shadows?

    2. A Scottish multi-millionaire who made his fortune as a dealmaker in the pub industry is spearheading an unlikely rescue bid for troubled outsourcer Interserve.

      Alan McIntosh is the serial investor behind Emerald Investment Partners, a private equity vehicle emerging as a key player in the FTSE 250 contractor’s refinancing discussions. He is said to be worth more than £100m.

      Emerald has spent tens of millions of pounds scooping up Interserve’s debt in the secondary market. Existing lenders including Barclays and Lloyds have been selling down their positions for as little as 50p in the pound, keen to reduce their exposure to the outsourcing sector after Carillion’s implosion.

      Mr McIntosh’s firm has pledged to back the refinancing, handing Interserve a massive boost in the negotiations. It is estimated that Emerald, which has offices in both London and Dublin, may now own as much as a third of Interserve’s loans, making it one of the largest lenders. It has been quietly amassing its holding since the start of the year, and bought another slice of debt as recently as last week.

      Interserve is one of the biggest private contractors, providing security, probation, healthcare and construction services. It employs 80,000 people, including 25,000 in the UK, and also cleans the London Underground and manages army barracks. The company’s stock market value has plunged more than 75pc since issuing a profit warning in September. Another followed in October and it also warned it could breach loan conditions. Lenders stepped in with £180m of short-term funding that runs out at the end of this month.

      Debbie White, its new boss, has just weeks to convince lenders to back a long-term refinancing that would secure Interserve’s future.

      Carillion’s collapse threatened to deal a severe blow to Interserve’s hopes, spooking some of its banks, who lost hundreds of millions when its rival went under. Carillion called in the liquidators the day before Interserve submitted a formal refinancing proposal to a syndicate of eight lenders.

      Mr McIntosh made his name as one of the founders of Punch Taverns, setting up the pubs giant in 1997 and serving as its finance director until it floated on the stock market in 2002. He was also co-founder of Spirit Group and the Wellington Pub Company, before setting up Emerald in 2012.

      Interserve’s survival would deal a blow to a gang of hedge funds that have waged multi-million pound bets on it following Carillion on to the scrap-heap. Four hedge funds have upped their stakes in recent weeks, betting that its share price will fall even further, despite already trailing at all-time lows. Interserve now has a stock market value of just £80m, after its shares sunk another 15pc last week.

      “We are very supportive of Interserve’s refinancing, of management, and their strategy. This is not another Carillion,” Emerald’s chairman Neil Hyman told The Telegraph.

    3. As these multinationals are all limited companies, with limited liability, the risks they take are at everyone else's expense.


    5. From Interserve letter to JSC dated 31/1/18

      Dear Mr Neill,
      Further to the Justice Committee hearing into Transforming Rehabilitation on 30th January 2018, I wanted to write to you in order to clarify one specific point put forward by your witness Ian Lawrence of NAPO. Naturally, as the parent company of Purple Futures, we followed the session with interest.
      In reply to a question by your colleague Gavin Newlands MP about the different functions of the NPS and CRCs, Mr Lawrence stated that CRCs are “in a very bad place” and that when “you look at people like Interserve who only a few months ago were boasting that they were in a good place and have now had two or three profit warnings in recent times. You have a mini Carillion developing here.”
      It is important to note that Interserve is in a stable position, indeed the Cabinet Office stated on 17th January 2018 that it continues to “monitor the financial health of all of our strategic suppliers, including Interserve. We are in regular discussions with all these companies regarding their financial position. We do not believe that any of our strategic suppliers are in a comparable position to Carillion.”
      Nevertheless, given some of the financial challenges we have experienced in recent months, the Cabinet Office are of course following our progress closely and in turn, we are keeping them fully appraised of our progress, as would be expected. However, we are not currently on any specific ‘watch list’.
      As a result of the action we have taken in recent months the business is stabilising. We are confident that our work to stabilise the business further will provide a sound foundation to continue to serve our service users effectively and underpin our future.
      The utmost priority to us is that we continue to deliver a good level of service: we are continuing to recruit probation officers and PSOs, and we always put the quality of service and public protection first. We would, of course, be happy to evidence our ongoing performance, recruitment of front line staff and professional training to the committee, should you wish.

  2. Black cab rapist John Worboys is lined up for two bodyguards and protection costing £300,000 a year.Worboys, 60, could be released after a hearing later in March and probation service officials are assuming he will be freed - despite public outrage.

    Worboys, Britain's most prolific sex offender, is thought to have attacked more than 100 women in total using a rape kit of spiked champagne.
    One of his victims told The Mirror: "Worboys' release is a betrayal and an insult to his victims, who all suffered horrendous attacks.

    "We still live with what he has done to us but the government will pay hundreds of thousands to protect him. How is that justice?"

    Worboys has two properties – one in London and one in Poole, Dorset – but probation chiefs have had to find him a place in a specialist bail hostel.

    A source said the Probation Service plan is to place Worboys outside London, where many of his victims live, have him live under strict conditions and with guards to protect his safety.
    The source added: "The threat to his safety is so real that two members of staff will monitor him 24/7. This will come at great expense and could cost up to £300,000 a year.

    "He will also be the subject of the strictest licence conditions."

  3. Times today - any kind person willing to post content due to paywall?

    Prison Service boss Michael Spurr faces axe over safety crisis

    The head of the Prison Service faces being sacked as members of a parliamentary watchdog responsible for scrutinising jail conditions reveal his position is “hanging by a thread”.

    Michael Spurr was criticised for his “lack of leadership” by the justice select committee after last week’s murder of Khader Ahmed Saleh, a drug dealer, at Wormwood Scrubs prison, west London.

    Spurr was warned last September by Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, that Wormwood Scrubs was “still not safe enough, with high levels of often serious violence”. Last month Spurr admitted a “personal failing” over the state of a prison in Liverpool.

    Khader Ahmed Saleh was murdered inside Wormwood Scrubs last week Khader Ahmed Saleh was murdered inside Wormwood Scrubs last week.

    Spurr was warned last September by Peter Clarke, chief inspector of prisons, that Wormwood Scrubs was “still not safe enough, with high levels of often serious violence”. Last month Spurr admitted a “personal failing” over the state of a prison in Liverpool.

    It is understood that Rory Stewart, the prisons minister, is “deeply unimpressed” by Spurr’s lack of grip. A Tory MP on the committee, Alex…

    1. A Tory MP on the committee, Alex Chalk, said: “His authority is hanging by a thread.”
      The Ministry of Justice said: “We are realistic about the challenges . . . faced by prisons and know that change will not happen overnight.”

    2. Spurr bleating at the JSC

      Chair: The factual basis is that Liverpool declined from the 2013 inspection to the 2015 inspection, and then it further declined from 2015 to 2017.

      Michael Spurr: That is true of the service overall really, if you look at that period. The service’s performance by 2012-13 was pretty strong. It coincides with a major period of change across the service. It coincides with a period when we have had to reduce costs substantially, with a 24% reduction in our budget. It coincides with significant changes across the way we deliver services, both in prisons and in probation, with the transforming rehabilitation reforms as well. None of that excuses the issues with basic cleanliness and decency in the prison. I accept that, but it is a context that you need to understand.

  4. They've been at it for years, helping themselves year in-year out. This from 2011, after Wheatley left & walked across the street to G4S with wheelbarrow full of taxpayer cash:

    Obscene: Prison managers are pocketing huge bonuses as officers endure a two year pay freeze
    Pay lock down: Prison managers are pocketing huge bonuses as officers endure a two year pay freeze
    The Prison Service’s senior managers are pocketing ‘obscene’ bonuses of up to £15,000 a year at a time when Britain’s jails have been criticised for being overcrowded and unsafe.
    Latest accounts filed by the National Offender Management Service show that the service’s top officials have received the bonus payments for the past two years in addition to salaries of between £115,000 and £165,000.
    The revelations have infuriated prison officers, many of whom are enduring a two-year pay freeze while coping with a record jail population –inflated by more than 2,000 arrests during and after the recent riots.
    Steve Gillan, general secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association, said last night: ‘Our members will be outraged that the service’s directors and senior managers are receiving these obscene bonuses at the same time as prison officers and related grades earning more than £21,000 are on a pay freeze for two years.
    ‘A £15,000 bonus is more than the basic pay of a new-grade prison officer.’

    Spurr's salary is now in excess of £180,000, with annual bonuses topping £20,000. But I don't see him having to cope with a 7 year pay freeze, let alone a 24% reduction in his salary.

  5. Spurr's remuneration since being in post at NOMS/HMPPS, per annual reports.

    Salary: £140,000-145,000
    Bonus: £ 5,000- 10,000
    Total in the range £145,000-155,000

    Salary £140,000-145,000
    No Bonus

    Total £180,000-185,000 (inc £38k pension benefits)

    Total £140,000-145,000

    Salary increased +3.5%: now £145,000-150,000
    Total £165,000-170,000 (inc £22k pension benefits)

    Total £180,000-185,000 (inc £37k pension benefits)

    Salary: £145,000-150,000
    Bonuses: £15,000-20,000
    Pension related benefits - £25,000
    Total in the range £185,000-190,000