Monday, 10 June 2019

The MoJ Responds 2

Providers and Working Relationships 

We recommend that from 1 February 2019 the Ministry of Justice should publish information on probation supply chains for each CRC area and NPS region on a quarterly basis. This should include information on all sub-contractors (not just those in the voluntary sector) and the monetary value of the sub-contracts. (Paragraph 100) 

We do not accept this recommendation. Under Schedule 4 of the Amended and Restated Services Agreement we cannot publish information which has supplier information included, without their permission, as it is commercially sensitive. 

However, we are working with providers to seek agreement to publish sub-contractor lists on a quarterly basis and improve transparency in this respect. The Ministry will require agreement from both the Parent Organisations and Sub-Contractors themselves for this information to be published. 

We will monitor the health of CRC supply chains by requiring confirmation that payments due to supply chain partners are made in line with contractual obligations. 

We recommend that the Ministry of Justice should consider, in response to this Report, what benefits might be gained from reintroducing targets for each Community Rehabilitation Company on the proportion of its budget which should be spent on voluntary sector provision, and whether involving some of the smaller, more specialised voluntary sector organisations could be incentivised. (Paragraph 102) 

Given their shortened lifespan we do not intend to introduce new requirements or targets for Community Rehabilitation Companies. 

In future arrangements we want to see a much clearer role for a wide range of voluntary sector providers in probation delivery, including local and specialist services. Throughout the consultation we were told that we needed to consider how to create the right environment to enable these organisations to deliver resettlement and rehabilitation services. To make the most of the range of providers available, we believe that these interventions should be commissioned and delivered locally where possible. 

We have developed an approach to support the direct participation of smaller voluntary sector providers in the delivery of resettlement and rehabilitation activities. This will be through the procurement of a dynamic framework across England and Wales. The dynamic framework will operate as an open panel of suppliers, who can be admitted to the panel at any point during its lifetime subject to a qualification process (based on experience and capabilities). 

By 1 February 2019, the Ministry of Justice should review the ISPA, with a view to reducing its length and complexity. The Ministry should write to the Committee after that review to set out the changes that it has made. (Paragraph 106) 

We received significant feedback on the ISPA in the responses to the consultation and continue to review how we best ensure the contract meets the needs of the supply chain. The MoJ is committed to ensuring voluntary sector participation in procurement. 

We recommend that the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies should be required to provide the Ministry of Justice with workforce data on a quarterly basis. This should include information on the recruitment and retention rates for Probation Officers and other case managers by grade, and total workforce numbers by NPS area and CRC. This data should be published by the Ministry as part of its quarterly statistics. (Paragraph 116) 

As of October 2018, workforce data – including information on recruitment and retention – is collected from CRCs as well as the NPS. The CRC providers are the owners of this information, and given it is commercially sensitive, publication is not possible. 

However, the Ministry is utilising this information to support whole-system probation workforce planning and the design of future contracts. In addition, we are investigating whether this information can be shared publicly. 

We recommend that from 2019 all providers, both CRCs and the NPS, should be required to use the same, or a similar, staff survey each year. Results of those staff surveys should be published for the seven NPS areas and the 21 CRCs. (Paragraph 119). 

In future, all offender management will be delivered by NPS staff, who are civil servants. They will therefore be subject to the wider Government staff survey.

We recommend that the Ministry of Justice should publish a probation workforce strategy, which covers both staff working in the NPS and CRCs, in the next 12 months. As a minimum, the strategy should set out the Ministry’s expectations with regard to professional standards, training, maximum caseloads/workloads for probation staff. This strategy should be developed in consultation with the trade unions and HM Inspectorate of Probation. (Paragraph 126). 

We do not accept this recommendation. Rather, HMPPS is developing a wide-ranging HR programme as part of its professional recognition programme. We recognise that resource requirements to manage cases will vary. As a result, HMPPS is seeking to deploy a common tiering framework for offender management to enable comparisons of workload. Current workforce planning assumptions for offender management are for average caseloads to be below 60. This is in line with HM Inspectorate of Probation guidance, which states: “Aggregate caseloads of more than 60 cases would normally be considered difficult to supervise effectively.” 

We are working hard to recruit more probation officers. In 2018, 707 Probation Service Officers were appointed, some of whom will be training to become qualified probation officers. 

We also want to ensure that our staff’s professional service is supported by ongoing continuous professional development and recognition through an independent statutory register for probation professionals and intend to bring forward legislation when Parliamentary time allows to establish this. This will help ensure there is a shared identify and culture amongst all staff who will be in the NPS in the future. 

By 1 February 2019, the Ministry of Justice should ensure that security constraints and IT barriers which prevent data from being shared between organisations involved in managing an offender from the point of arrest, in prison and through to support in the community are proportionate. This should include identifying how the number of IT systems could be rationalised and/or linked so that the same data is not repeatedly inputted into different systems. (Paragraph 131) 

As outlined in the consultation, we recognise the importance of simplifying data access and improving data sharing. Action is already underway to facilitate better access to essential data for probation providers. 

Data sharing arrangements with other departments already exist, including with the Police, DWP, HMRC as well as between prison and probation services. Since January 2018, HMPPS has taken in-house the management of the prison case management system, Prison NOMIS, and the risk and needs assessment tool, OASys. This enables us to make changes and develop Application Programme Interfaces (APIs), which facilitate greater, faster and better data sharing internally and externally. This includes an interface to the MoJ analytics platform and performance platform. Work is also underway to migrate the probation case management system, National Delius, to a new cloud environment that is expected to reduce a number of the current access and related security constraints. This is due to be completed by the summer. 

As part of the development of the next generation of probation services, we plan to simplify data access and exchange across HMPPS digital services and deliver improvements to IT systems. We are working towards greater centralisation of data systems, in particular those relating to risk and needs assessments, and improved data sharing within HMPPS and with external partners. The HMPPS Digital and Technology Strategy is looking to address the current need for users to have access to multiple HMPPS systems and work towards establishing data services that provide the relevant information the user needs via a single interface.

(To be continued)


  1. June 2018 - JSC - "By 1 Feb 2019..."

    June 2019 - MoJ - "Piss off, JSC"

  2. Commercial sensitivity should not apply to privateers that take on public sector contracts.
    Unwilling to be transparent should mean no contract. No exception.


    1. The killing by violent men of two little children in Northamptonshire is shocking and distressing (Social services accused of failing toddlers murdered in their homes, 6 June). As Patrick Butler notes, the context for children’s services in the county was of disarray with great difficulty in recruiting and retaining social workers. Amid council funding cuts this is a national crisis. But Northamptonshire has been exceptional. The Conservative council has been in the vanguard of outsourcing services and intended to do so for its social services.

      Rather than focusing on frontline practice it has been distracted by concentrating on an ideologically driven commitment to distance itself from providing services. Unfortunately nothing has changed. The government is now requiring that the two councils to replace the county council should set up an independent company for children’s services. It will be costly, disruptive, time- and attention-consuming, and lead to greater complexity and confused accountability. For the next two years and beyond there will be continuing churn and chaos. What instead is needed is a concentration on building a stable workforce with managers focused on what is happening to children and families.

      Dr Ray Jones
      Emeritus professor of social work, Kingston University and St George’s, University of London

      Patrick Butler highlighted the “systemic weaknesses” of Northamptonshire social services. Citing as he does the chaos in Northamptonshire’s child protection services; a chronic shortage of experienced social workers in turn contributed to warning signs being missed. Between 2015 and 2016, 47 social work team managers were dismissed; not a cheap event but obviously one which the council decided was worth the cost.

      The 47 mangers included someone I was at college with in 1991. Initially an educational welfare officer, my friend, on qualifying, continued to work in the Northamptonshire area, becoming a competent team manager. It was a life-altering experience to be cast adrift in order to curtail budgets, an unbelievable waste of talent, years of experience (mentoring younger newly qualified social workers) and safeguarding gone at a stroke.

      I agree with Patrick Butler’s analysis of the effect of the cuts and how in fact they have not saved money. Taxpayers, myself included, now have to foot the cost of prison sentences, raising the question “wouldn’t a compassionate society have insisted that prevention was a cost worthwhile?” Austerity is too expensive and as a society we should be ashamed that we continue to be inured to the costs that fall on the vulnerable in our society.

      Joan Anthony
      East Leake, Leicestershire


    1. Legal reforms will see judges urged to consider community sentences over prison sentences of 12 months or less for vulnerable women. About 90% of jailed women are given custodial sentence of less than a year.

      Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said extending the presumption against short sentences would mean more women would receive a community-based sentence. He added that many had experienced abuse, mental health and addiction problems.

      Mr Yousaf said:

      "By extending the presumption to 12 months or less we are asking judges to give serious consideration to community alternatives that prioritise rehabilitation. Many of the women currently serving prison sentences have complex needs that contribute to frequent offending. We should be helping them tackle those problems in the community so they can escape prison's revolving door, rather than taking away what stability they have in their home and family. More than two thirds of female prisoners are mothers and we must not underestimate the trauma to their children of seeing their parent go to jail."

      He added: "From stressful home and school moves, to poor academic performance and mental health risks, parental imprisonment can trigger lifelong issues. It may even make children more likely to be drawn into the criminal justice system as adults. We have an opportunity to change how we tackle the causes of offending behaviour and the positive ripple effect to our communities could be huge."

      The order will extend the current presumption - not a ban - against sentences of three months or less to 12 months or less. A report by the Scottish Prison Service found that about 60% of female prisoners reported four or more adverse childhood experiences, while about half reported being involved with problem drug-taking outside custody.

      Tom Halpin, chief executive of Sacro, which provides criminal justice services to help reduce offending in communities, said:

      "We already know short prison sentences are ineffective in rehabilitating people but the adverse effect on women particularly can be damaging - for them and their families. The reasons why women become involved in offending are complex and varied. These root causes often involve trauma and are best addressed by providing the appropriate support within the community where family relations can be maintained. We must not underestimate the effect on children of having a mother in prison."

      He added: "This experience is often extremely damaging on their development and life chances and can increase their chances of becoming involved in the criminal justice system later. Too often, women receive short sentences simply because of their inability to meet the requirements of the system rather than the harm they have caused. Sensible, robust and supportive community alternatives are so much more appropriate and effective in changing lives."

  4. "We have developed an approach to support the direct participation of smaller voluntary sector providers in the delivery of resettlement and rehabilitation activities. This will be through the procurement of a dynamic framework across England and Wales. The dynamic framework will operate as an open panel of suppliers, who can be admitted to the panel at any point during its lifetime subject to a qualification process (based on experience and capabilities). "
    WTF does that actually mean?
    The only response I can make is that anything "subject to a qualification process based on experience and capabilities" administered by MoJ is not going to be "dynamic". Jesus

  5. Justice minister to appear before select committee
    The justice select committee will be calling on justice minister Robert Buckland to appear in the hot seat on Wednesday.

    The minister will be tasked with answering questions on the government’s response to the JSC report and changes to the probation model recently announced.

    Amy Rees, Jim Barton, and Sonia Crozier will also face questioning.

    The Committee will also take evidence on the management and supervision of men convicted of sexual offences. This was the subject of a joint HM Inspector of Probation and HM Inspector of Prisons report in January 2019.

    Watch live on Wednesday at 10am

  6. Hi, I was wondering if you could please help me. My partner's currently on PSS for common assault towards me. His PSS ends in October. His parents are making it very difficult for us to have any kind of relationship and has blackmailed my partner saying that they will tell probation he's been staying in my home with our daughter (which is untrue). They've given him the ultimatum of he either leaves me and stays living with them in misery or they'll ring probation and telk them he's broke PSS which is untrue. I was just wondering what the procedures are with him changing address and living with me. I can't cope seeing him do miserable and hurting there. The plan is for him to move straight back after PSS. I know a lot of other couples have hAd their homes approved. Please help. I'm at my Witt's end and my partner is contemplating walking away from our relationship over this because he's so scared to go back. Please help!!!!

    1. The best advice I can give is for him to be open and honest about the situation with his OM. They may be able to speak to you and make a decision about him moving. But remember that your local Social Services department might want to open an assessment of whether there is any risk to your daughter. It isn't an easy process but it is possible, if it's agreed that it's the best option.

  7. Paragraph 131 - it systems. Why the hell is seetec still bringing in mysis. We are told its because that's what they won the contract on. The contracts failed so there should be an argument for us all working the same it system and the one we know.


      The costs of the utter failure that was cnomis.

    2. "Since January 2018, HMPPS has taken in-house the management of the prison case management system, Prison NOMIS, and the risk and needs assessment tool, OASys. This enables us to make changes and develop Application Programme Interfaces (APIs), which facilitate greater, faster and better data sharing internally and externally."

      Oh really???

      C-NOMIS is a singular example of comprehensively poor project management, and roll out of the re-scoped programme has only just begun. The C-NOMIS project, initially envisaged by the Home Office for delivery in January 2008 for £234 million, was stopped in August 2007 because costs had trebled. The NOMIS programme was revised and scaled back to three offender databases for £513 million, for delivery by 2011.
      The original cost estimate rose from £234 million in 2005 to £690 million in July 2007. NOMS agreed that, with hindsight, there had been a gross underestimate of costs and that the original cost estimates were badly prepared. Overall, the financial impact of the C-NOMIS failures, from the delays and re-scoping of the programme, is at least £41 million. NOMS did not seek to excuse the unnecessary expense...
      At 3.17 of the NAO report it states that “At the end of October 2007, £161 million had been spent on theproject overall”. EDS was paid £87 million of the £161 million sunk costs. The remainder was spent on a combination ofpayments to other suppliers and NOMS costs. 22 May 2009

      By Leo King October 7, 2011
      Computerworld UK

      The government is seeking an IT supplier for up to £300 million worth of work at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Noms agency.

      Noms, the National Offender Management Service, covers 131 prisons and the MoJ headquarters, but probation services will not be included in the deal.

      Noms is moving to a new Future ICT Sourcing model by 2015, in which it will have department-wide contracts for service integration, end-user computing, networks, hosting, and application maintenance and development.

      Under the new three-year deal being sought to cover this transition period, the supplier chosen will provide hardware, software, network services, hosting and service management for 50,000 staff. There will also be two optional one year extensions to the work.

      Suppliers have until 7 November to indicate their interest in bidding.

      In July, the parliamentary Justice Committee issued a strongly-worded report stating that “box ticking” dominated practice at Noms, drawing attention to excessive bureaucracy on the OASys offender management system. Noms needed a major restructure, it said.

      Three years ago, the department abandoned the C-NOMIS project for creating a national offender management system, after costs trebled to £700 million.

      And from a 2011 FoI request:

      1. I would like to request a list of all organisations that have agreements to access P-NOMIS or LIDS, together with a summary of the business case that supports such access, and whether they obtain access with or without the payment of a fee.

      The following organisations have access to PNOMIS or LIDS:-

      UK Police Forces
      UK Border Agency
      Probation Trusts
      Department for Work and Pensions
      Criminal Appeals Office
      Home Office
      Her Majesty's Court Services

      The following companies have access to PNOMIS or LIDS :-

      The business cases are not readily available without incurring disproportionate Cost.

      No fees are charged to organisations or companies to access PNOMIS or LIDS

    3. How many information-sharing systems do we need?


      The full NAO report from March 2009

    5. "The Comptroller and Auditor General's Report on the National Offender Management Information System (NOMIS) makes depressing reading. We have taken evidence on cases of poor decision taking and weak project management on many occasions. The same lessons have still not been learnt, making the management by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) of C-NOMIS a prime example of how not to develop a project."
      Public Accounts Committee 2009


    States PbR is hampered by a lack of available data, so the extent of 'parking' & 'cherry-picking' can't be identified.