Our profession once more finds itself at a crossroads and with no effective voice. It should be noted that probation is of such little national interest that neither the Secretary of State nor Prison and Probation Minister are due to make an appearance at the Napo AGM, or the Tory Party conference in Manchester this week.
But with the rapidly approaching demise of the failed CRCs, most of their work and staff will shortly be disappearing behind an impenetrable wall of civil service bureaucracy and command and control management. Whilst NPS continues to struggle with both recruitment and retention of frontline staff and fails to understand the reasons, it doesn't stop management and the bureaucracy from churning out endless 'alphabet soup' initiatives such as this highlighted by a concerned reader:-
"NPS is also committed to ensuring that NPS court staff adequately consider mental health needs when supporting court sentencing, which includes recommending community sentences and/or MHTRs. NPS will also support the work of the MoJ, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), NHSE and Public Health England (PHE) who have developed a Community Sentence Treatment Requirement (CSTR) ‘protocol’ to increase the use of Community Sentences with treatment requirements, which includes increasing the use of MHTRs. The NHS has also committed to set aside increased funding for CSTRs through the Long Term Plan, and it is critical that NPS engage with partners as this process develops. Moreover, it is imperative that NPS works more closely with NHSE Liaison and Diversion providers to ensure that health staff may contribute information to support court sentencing and proposals for treatment requirements where possible."
But the Protocols describe the following procedure:
- Defendant pleads or is found guilty.
- Pre-Sentence Report is requested by the court and undertaken by the National Probation Service. Court will ordinarily require completion of report within four weeks.
- Report author, acting either at the explicit request of the court and/or, on the basis of professional judgement, assesses that the offender may benefit from the imposition of a MHTR and requests an assessment.
- Report author obtains consent of defendant to assessment and treatment; completes Referral Form outlining presenting issues and/or symptoms and forwards this by secure email to Community Mental Health Assessment and Recovery Team"
I think your post is representative of something more endemic, and worthy of another post. From the perspective of working in London NPS, there is a litany of "centralised" tools that, collectively, are leaving the staff in a sense of disarray. Nobody objects to getting feedback, encouragement, steers about their work, reflective discussion, or pointing out where things might be better - in fact most staff positively encourage this. However, when layer upon layer upon layer of initiatives are introduced without really questioning if the previous one added any value, problems occur.
Here are a few examples of what staff now do or are subjected to, which didn't exist some years ago, and yet the senior management say "Oh, but your workload measurement tool says you are on 100%"
- Data quality days
- Updating "HETE data", "risk registers", "MAPPA flags"
- Whole days spent auditing one case using a tool bizarrely named the "LIPAD"
- OASYS reviews every 4 months whether the case needs a review or not
- "lifer panels", "IPP panels"
- PD case discussions; PD case consultations
- Not only entering Delius contacts, but doing so using the CRISSA Format which takes double the amount of time per contact
- OASYS QA tools which go into a plethora of details of what needs to be in a "current situation", "offender comments box", "sources of information", "what will increase the motivation" boxes, upon boxes, upon boxes.
- Going to "risk is everybody's business" training which is like going to an induction on day 1 of your job
- Going to "safeguarding" training which is pitched at the level of a primary school child
- Entering NSI's which nobody quite understands and hopes we have done correctly - the latest now being for "maps for change"