Wednesday, 30 May 2018

General Secretary Election 10

I saw this desolate comment left last night and wondered how typical it is? 
Anonymous 29 May 2018 at 22:17
"Napo is non existent in Durham Tees Valley CRC, no communication at all from local Chair, no meetings, nothing. Forgotten members. Complete overhaul of Napo required."
There's now less than a week before Napo's NEC are due to interview both candidates for the post of General Secretary on 5th June, the closing date for Branches to submit nominations being noon Monday 4th June. 

By any stretch of the imagination it's all a ridiculously short timescale, the firing gun only having been triggered by email to Branches on 10th May. Over a period that includes not one, but two Bank Holidays, when many colleagues especially with young children take some annual leave, Branches are supposed to have organised meetings, discussed the merits of each candidate and if agreed, make a nomination. 

As usual with Napo, communication has not been a strong point as evidenced by the following exchanges on Facebook dating from Saturday 12th May, indeed the same day I fired the gun on the process with a blog post.      

12th May Facebook

I haven't received any information on the Napo general secretary elections. Should I have done and by what mechanism?

I’ve not either. I understood NEC have yet to interview both candidates at our next June NEC meeting.

Ah I didn’t know that.

It’s gone to branch chairs/convenors first. Got the email Thursday.

O interesting. Our convenor told us ages ago didnt need to send members stuff as "everything" would be sent out by Napo HQ individually to members. Met our NEC rep on TUC March yesterday & told me that it was next NEC when the candidates would be interviewed. We all get ballot slips eventually but hope we are not voting over summer which would be daft (holidays etc). As an aside...communicating news/what's going on and explaining process with rank and file seems to be a perpetual prob with Napo. I don't understand why when social media offers umpteen outlets! At times it's as if we are trying too hard to be "a magazine" with glossy pics' etc rather than just talk about core business and what the staff (Admin/Officers and Officials are actually doing on our behalf). Personally it's the latter I want as can get t'other elsewhere.

I think more info could be sent out but things have definitely improved. However certain things like this need to go to the branch exec first before members.

Katie Lomas. Branch officers have been sent info as there are things they need to do. NEC meet on 5th June and ballots go out to members shortly after that. If anyone has queries about the process contact your branch reps or link officer/official.

I get that Katie but it relies on Branch Officials communicating & as I said above when I queried Branch Chair re dearth of info was told it (all info) was sent out to individual members or to be found on website. We have had no Branch info since Xxxxxx stood down as Secretary last Sept and have since been told Branches no longer need Secretaries as info goes out to members.

Katie Lomas. Not quite as simple as that Xxxxxx, some stuff goes out direct - all members should get Friday news, plus other specific mailouts plus the blog - but where a branch exec needs to do stuff it goes to them...

Whatever is MEANT to happen I'm relaying what my Branch Chair and Convenor are saying happens and as I have said umpteen times now and am not going to repeat again after this, info has not been passed onto Branch members in Xxxxxxx since last Sept by our Branch Officers for the reasons given.

For what it's worth, I agree with Xxxxxxxx. I wasn't even aware there were going to be general secretary elections until reading a post on here that alluded to it. Perhaps this is not the forum for this discussion but I too feel I would like to know more about what's going on or being discussed.

Thanks Xxxxxxx! I suspect part of the problem is gulf between what is intended/planned centrally and what local officers understand/find feasible to achieve and meanwhile left in the dusk are common & garden members. I only found out about this FB page via references on Jim Brown's blog and then took ages to find a "sponsor" to allow me to join this group. If the Forum on Napo webpage had been developed well it could have facilitated these discussions between any member electing to join in and those Officers/Officials designated or choosing to link in plus there were trained moderators to ensure no abuse etc. As it stands this is a closed group I understand (thou what criteria for admission is I don't know) which is fine but there are a load of members still in the "dusk" or outside these forums of info exchange depending on ability of their Branch Officers to help keep them in the loop. Similarly we have a keen local NEC rep but [they are] one who doesn't use social media nor service emails. We no longer have branch meetings as could not sustain quoracy so members only know about Napo activity via what they find out from website should they bother to search that (still not the easiest to navigate and doesn't facilitate quick exchange info or quick answering of questions) or via emails from the centre......that leaves a lot of gaps!

I'm not sure its fair to hold Napo HQ responsible for what your branch officers aren’t doing or how they have miscommunicated stuff. No one has ever said branches don’t need to communicate certain things to their members so no idea where that idea has come from in your branch. It doesn’t make sense anyway as the exec need to discuss certain things first. The more actively involved people are in their branch the stronger they are!

I'm not blaming HQ I'm making the point that info that it's assumed goes out via Branch Officers from HQ doesn't in our area. Of course it's great when members are active and attend meetings etc but that doesn't happen everywhere and certainly isn't happening in my area and 3 people on Exec being only ones who did meet isn't enough to function as a Branch. Help from members and from HQ was requested last Sept. I'm not going to repeat myself any further.

I had no idea Ian was leaving!! Surely that is an important piece of information!!

Katie Lomas. Our General Secretary is an elected post and served a 5 year term so is up for election every 5 years.

Thanks Katie but I do remember being made aware of this in past years so it was a bit of a shock to see this suddenly appear! No apparent notice given (that I have received) that the term is up!

Katie Lomas.  An advert went out on our website and press, your NEC rep should have reported back to branch members that it was happening as it was discussed at length at last NEC. Ian has been mentioning it regularly since last AGM when he announced he would be re-standing. Branches have been informed this week, get in touch with you local branch officers to find out how they are dealing with it as each branch is different.

As a further example of not knowing key info...I learnt via trawling through Jim Brown blog posts that Katie is now apparently Co-chair with Chris. Is that true? If so what happened to Yvonne and presumably this is again info that was sent out via Branch Chair or Convenors or NEC?? Or is it that whomever made the post on JB's Blog had wrong end of the stick? Actually on re-reading Jim's blog I am maligning the integrity of his info as he's posted a document which ends 

"Please note that the nomination forms must be returned to Napo by noon on Monday 4th June 2018 – please follow the instructions on the form.

Yours sincerely


So what's happened here then?

Katie Lomas. Must be a typo Xxxxxx! No one has changed roles as far as I am aware!


For those willing to look, there are surely many telling indicators of systemic communication and organisational failures in the above exchanges, but the bit that really resonates with me is this:-
"We all get ballot slips eventually but hope we are not voting over summer which would be daft (holidays etc)."
Well, it is indeed anticipated that ballot papers are sent out to members shortly after the NEC meeting on 5th June, unless that is, some common sense prevails. Readers will recall from the blog post on 19th May that London Branch were able to discuss the matter at their scheduled meeting on Friday 18th May and were so unhappy with the process that the decision was made to demand more time and opportunity to learn more about the candidates:-
Emergency Motion
This Branch requests that the NEC make arrangements as a matter of urgency, such that all members have the opportunity to ask questions of both General Secretary candidates prior to the Election. If this is not achievable by the election deadline, this motion moves that the deadline be extended.
Proposer: Napo London Branch
It will be interesting to see if the NEC get the message and have the bottle to get a grip on things because unless there's some concrete demonstration of direction and leadership from Napo's supposed governing body, we are indeed all doomed.


  1. Who is Katie Lomas and why is she the go-to person on this issue?

    1. She happens to be a member of this closed Facebook group and responds to queries raised by others. How the FB group started I don't know but think it was linked to fjght against TR split and has just continued rather like Jim's blog

  2. Napo was broken when they let Ledger play with it. They paid him to go away & leave it alone, & no-one has bothered to repair it since.

  3. I have been a member of three unions over my working life, NAPO being one. It seems to me that everything is being conducted behind a veil of secrecy, to the point of paranoia.
    An NEC rep told me that they had to agree to a confidentiality clause that forbids them from repeating any business outside the NEC meetings!
    It seems you also have to apply to belong to the closed Facebook page.
    What is going on and why won't they tell us, the members?

    1. This blogs author has always been cagey about where the Facebook posts come from. I still dnt know the name of the FB group referenced or how to get in it.

  4. Ive heard our current General Secretary Ian Lawrence has gone abroad on holiday - priorities! He isn't prepared to show any more commitment for his exorbitant £75,000 salary than he ever has. I am disgusted I have contributed my union subs towards this abuse for the last 5 years. A new leader is necessary for our credibility and survival as a Union. All of the Officer group, including the Assistant General Secretary posts need assessment, never mind the pay increases they are demanding! I hope Mike Rolfe standards and integrity are above these abuses of privilege

    1. Just seen on IL's Twitter feed so clearly not on holiday at the moment - fake news?

      "On way back from meeting with #Napo South Yorkshire members in Sheffield today. Visor was top of the agenda, privileged to hear from hard working and very concerned people who feel they have not been supported by senior HMPPS. Excellent input from Napo Vice-Chair Katie Lomas."

  5. Even if he might be abroad he is probably still working on his e mail and twitter stuff. A beer round the pool with his computer is of these days.

    I think the salary is in excess of 80k plus pension which is on top but worth it ?

  6. How is it that the pay is so high when we have lost so many members over the last few years? Surely there must be fewer responsibilities.

  7. AI, the GIG Ecconomy, the Internet, the takeover of public services by private organisations and Union busting legislation by government have all served to radically change the workplace.
    The Unions just haven't responded as they should have to those changes. Indeed some have just absorbed those changes with little protest and have organised themselves (as charities have also done) to mirror the business lmodel structures of big corporations.
    They've become hirerarcal and the prestige that affords some is in some cases more important to protect then fighting the issues that effect those you represent.
    Interesting article just popped up on BBC news.

    The number of strikes in the UK last year was the lowest recorded to date, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

    There were 79 stoppages in 2017, the lowest figures since records began in 1891.

    The number of workers involved in labour disputes also fell to an all-time low of 33,000.

    Nearly 70% of the working days lost were in the transport and storage sector.

    Public transport, and in particular rail services, accounted for most of the strikes.

    Last year railway firms were hit by disputes over proposed changes to the role of train conductors.

    However, out of the total 79 stoppages last year, 39 were over pay.

    There were 276,000 working days lost due to strike action, giving 2017 the sixth lowest annual total.

    ONS senior statistician David Freeman said: "While the number of days lost wasn't quite a record low, it has significantly reduced since the early 1990s.

    "This is a stark contrast to the levels seen when the miners went on strike in the 1970s and 1980s, and the even greater levels of industrial action in the 1910s and 1920s."


  8. Dear Getafix

    This is a genuine question. I am not a troll.
    Please could you explain the relevance of your points to this particular blog? I ask because I want to know what I have missed.

    1. I'll leap in here and say it's relevant to the theme of unions and how they have or have not adapted to change - very relevant where Napo is concerned - but even so there is a long-established tradition of people introducing new threads on this blog if felt relevant or of immediate interest.

    2. The relevance is 14.16 what is the General Secretary doing to deserve a £75,000 salary (minimum. We have had no pay rise for 9 years

    3. Annon @ 14:16.

      Thankyou for your question, and my reply is pretty much as Jim has said. I would add however, that I think that whoever NAPO elect as GS is somewhat irrelevant to the overall picture. Sure, some will make more noise then others, but I take the view that their primary role will be to act with regard to the safeguarding and protection of the Union itself EVEN when that conflicts with the needs of its membership.
      It's my personal view that paying the GS of any Union £80pa plus expenses and benefits is a conflict of interest to Trade Unionism itself.
      Unions of all colour have been under attack for a long time, and adapted rather then resisted and as a consequence have been a part of their own demise and falling membership.
      There first concern is for their own survival in the modern world of work, what their membership needs is secondary.
      Maybe no one will agree with my point of view, or maybe Mr. Lawrence or Mr. Rolfe would like to comment and argue differently?
      It's not the figure head that matters, you can put that on any ship. It's the lives and wellbeing of the crew that sail the ship that's important.


    4. Getafix put the daily mail down and develop a mature and wider reasoned understanding of why pay is scaled.The candidates are only applying because of the salary you could not expect your amount of crap for tuppence a week and the pleasure of serving the ungrateful the unable the inept the incompetent and the sheer number of dishonest and manipulative members and some staff alike. No pay no way.

    5. The post was off topic and why defend it JB are you geafix in disguise. Keep it relevant all this nonsense and chums brigade.

    6. It wasn't off topic mate - simple as.

  9. Dear Getafix

    Thank you for your response. I agree with your analysis.
    I wasn't trying to stifle debate or criticise.
    I now understand your motivation in posting your earlier blog.

    Anon 14.16

  10. We might as well cover this statement just issued:-

    On 28th May Channel 4 aired the programme 24 Hours in Police Custody. In the programme the identity of an offender was disclosed as Joanne McCarthy, formerly known as Joanne McGovern and said that she was a former Probation Officer. This statement is untrue. Joanne McCarthy was in fact a former social worker who worked within the Youth Justice Team. In 2013 she was struck off due to an inappropriate relationship with a client.

    Napo has been made aware that as a result of the programme, members in Luton and The Four Shires Branch have received a backlash via Twitter as well as reputational damage to the NPS and the role of the probation officer. Napo has taken direct action to ensure that this story is corrected in all publications.

    The Mirror has now amended its editorial, Bedfordshire Police are in contact with Napo to correct their twitter feed and we are awaiting a response from Channel 4. Although efforts have been made to contact HMPPS to get a statement issued, as yet we have had no response but will continue to pressure them.

    Napo believes it is vital for us to stand up for professional standards and we will continue to do so. It is also important that HMPPS as an employer supports its staff.

    1. This is the rubbish we get from Napo aka Crappo. As if the “reputational damage to the NPS and the role of probation officer” hadn’t already been damaged beyond repair by the NPS and Ministry of Justice itself. It wasn’t “vital for Napo to stand up for professional standards” against TR, privatisation, E3, OMiC, Vetting, etc, but it’s vital to take action against a few tweets!

    2. ... and wow, probation officers having relationships with offenders .. that would be so unheard of !


      Probation worker tells inquest she had secret affair with Samurai sword killer Daniel Leather

      Probation officer 'had affair with convicted murderer'

      Probation officer jailed after falling in love with a prolific drug-addict burglar - and even protecting him from police after another break-in

    3. Affairs with offenders very common place a few years back along.

    4. It's never been that common, this story is from 2015 and we covered it at the time.

  11. Inside line from former Prison Officer (not my good self), Mike Rolfe highly principled and never backs down, prepared to give it all and not be cowed by anyone. NAPO has been a malleable union over the years and I think this has reflected its members desire to work collaboratively and find compromise in the general interest. Being a former Probation Officer I wonder if we are truly suited to a Mike Rolfe or someone who will reflect our own malleability, a strength normally but badly bruised by TR ideologues.

    1. “highly principled and never backs down, prepared to give it all and not be cowed by anyone“ is exactly what Napo needs. It’s what it’s needed for many a year.

  12. I just checked the Napo forum for the first time in about 3 years and saw this..

    “Racism still rife in Probation
    Post a reply
    2 posts • Page 1 of 1
    Racism still rife in Probation
    Postby Pulp fiction » Mon Dec 11, 2017 6:23 pm
    I have been in the service for almost 30 years. And even after all the training, policies, diversity teams, the implementation of the McPherson report, and Mubarak Enquiry findings and recommendations. I still sit in an open plan office in a city office and get called a ‘P’ word, i should have been a taxi driver, and all ‘p’s’ look th same and I apparently stink of curry, I hear negative extremely racist comments towards black staff and offenders also, and after Brexit the comments got even worse. My colleagues sit around hearing all that’s said yet not a single person challenges these behaviours.

    Management won’t do anything unless it’s submitted officially, which would ultimately result in an entire team of 20 NPS staff being disciplined, which they won’t do as morales already at rock bottom. And by me doing this will Defo make me fit in better won’t it. And who will they believe 20 white staff or the one Asian staff member.

    It’s sadly got to a stage that after all these years of challenging oppression of all types. I’ve lost the will to go on. I’m scared of going into work and am resigning within the next few weeks, as it’s got to me. There’s no support there’s a lot of collusion and the policies aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

    What has the service learnt.... nothing.

    The system continues to fail us, and sadly after 30 years racism has beaten me.”


    1. “Napo believes it is vital for us to stand up for professional standards and we will continue to do so. It is also important that HMPPS as an employer supports its staff.”

      .. really?

    2. I am truly shocked by your experience. My own experience was of making minor faux Pas such as referring to 'chinese whispers' and being asked to be mindful of diversity. That you are routinely subject to the 'P' word is not a Probation culture I recognise. I hope it does not reflect a dumbing down of Probation and is a local abberation. Either way, whilst I understand your urge to resign, I wonder if there is some support and advice available to you that might provide you with some options to condider.

  13. do a blog on racism, I could add a couple of things i witnessed and heard at a CRC

    1. Do one yourself then - Jim's email address is easy to find on here.