Friday 29 November 2013

Runners and Riders

We were told yesterday in a typically-upbeat MoJ press release that were only 35 bidders wanting to go head-to-head next year to win a share of 'coveted' rehabilitation contracts across England and Wales.

Who are Chris Grayling's spin doctor's trying to kid using language like 'coveted'? Seeing as there's only 21 prime contracts, I don't call 35 bidders demonstrating a huge amount of interest in the whole omnishambles and it will be interesting to see just how many of the 35 runners drop out of the race before the winning post is even in sight.

I notice that a keen contributor to this blog has had a stab at compiling a list of the likely suspects, using a number of public information sources, nouse and revisions submitted by other readers. It would indeed be helpful to try and flush the blighters out at an early stage so that we can closely scrutinise their track records, together with what ever relevant experience they intend bringing to the rehabilitation party. 

Here's a first stab then at trying to compile a list of the 35 contenders for the 21 prime contracts. It's highly likely to be inaccurate and incomplete (I seem to have too many mutuals), so please feel free to suggest amendments, groupings, fancy trading names, etc etc:- 

1. Working Links
2. Interserve
3. Ingeus
4. G4S

5. Seetec
6. Employment and Skills Group 
7. Serco
8. EOS
9. Pertemps People Development Groups 
10. Newcastle College
11. The Rehab Group
12. Prospect Services 
13. Avanta 
14. Maximus
15. Sodexho
16. Capita
17. A4E
18. Homegroup
19. Atos
20. Mitie
21. Durham Tees Valley Mutual 
22. Kent, Surrey Sussex A4E mutual
23. Shaw Trust 
24. Geo/Delta York, Humberside, Lincolnshire mutual
25. Manchester Mutual
26. Innovo Lancashire, Cumbria, Manchester College Mutual 
27. West Yorkshire, Prospects mutual

28. Leicestershire, Stonham mutual
29. West Mercia, Warkwickshire, Stonham mutual
30. Merseyside mutual
31. Steria
32. St Giles
33. Nacro
34. Carillion
35. Babcock

36. Veolia
37. CRI - Crime Reduction Initiative

This is what shadow justice minister Jenny Chapman MP has to say on the Left Foot Forward website when asking:-

Would you hand supervision of offenders to companies with no experience of providing probation services?

Supervision of the majority of offenders in the community will be handed over to companies with no experience of providing probation services, some of which are themselves currently subject to criminal investigation for fraud.

 Probation reform needs to be piloted so that mistakes can be put right. But there has been no piloting, no evaluation and no effort to check if this actually works, how well it works, or how it could work better. Instead the justice secretary has given us a personal assurance that he just ‘believes’ this is the right way to go. 
Although the government insists that companies will be paid only for what works, the majority of the cost will be paid up front regardless of performance. The government still do not know how expensive the new arrangements will be. The Ministry of Justice is about to sign the tax payer up to contracts worth 450 million lasting seven to 10 years without trialling the new arrangements. This isn’t just irresponsible, it’s downright risky.
Reoffending rates in this country are too high, with 46 per cent of criminals reoffending after release; but those supervised by Probation officers have a much lower chance of reoffending. Probation is a tough job that prevents crime and protects the public.
The justice secretary assures the public that only low and medium risk offenders will be supervised by the new providers. What he knows but doesn’t say is that low and medium risk offenders include those who have committed burglary, violence against the person, sexual assault, domestic violence and more. This is a high risk strategy that the government’s own assessment predicts will result in a drop in performance.
The plans will see the service broken up. When risk quickly escalates the offender will have to be passed between providers. This creates unnecessary bureaucracy, delay and confusion at exactly the moment when an offender poses the highest risk of harm.
The secretary of state wants to complete the sale of Probation services by May 2015. He knows no new government would contemplate pursuing such a dangerous initiative.
This is not an informed practical deadline, but a political cut-off point. His timetable has been described by an ex-chief inspector of prisons as ‘bearing no relation to practical reality’, while the chairs of at least three Probation Trust Boards have written to the secretary of state individually to warn him that he must slow down or risk serious public protection failures.
Those implementing the reforms do not ‘just believe’.
The House of Lords voted to stop the justice’s secretary half-baked plans, and Labour MPs want to do the same when the Offender Rehabilitation Bill reaches committee stage today.
With proper piloting and a realistic timetable, in collaboration with experienced practitioners, we could devise a new probation system that would supervise all offenders well and cut crime as well as costs. The government is wrong to miss that opportunity.
It's also fascinating to hear that the government's u-turn on a u-turn in relation to plain cigarette packaging is because of a need to be guided by 'evidence-based research'. But the same logic does not apply to putting the public at risk with the TR omnishambles.
Meanwhile I notice tailgunner has helpfully provided another transmission over on the Napo forum pages:-

The first thing to say is that Napo advice is NOT to not return EoI letters. Last week, Napo advised to wait for further advice which was issued yesterday - to be found elsewhere. In essence, the advice is to return the letters but at the same time a). Register a grievance on the basis that you're being asked to engage with a process that is not agreed in the NNC and which doesn't provide you with sufficient information to make an informed decision. And then b). Return said letter with a covering note that says it's done under duress - that you don't agree or accept the process and reserve your right to return to the matter in other fora. This is a bit like agreeing to an unacceptable variation to contract because you want to retain your job, but making it clear that you don't really agree with it and may take further action is respect of its unreasonableness. For automatic assignees, the advice is similar, if you don't like it, ask the basis on which the assignment has been made, consider a grievance, write explaining that you do not agree with the process and consider an appeal on the grounds provided.

Let's be honest, this is all aimed at slowing the process down and hopefully de-railing it. This may cause friction between staff and their employers, but let us all remember that we are being forced into this position by somebody up there who is mis-using the power at his disposal. So remember at whose doorstep responsibility for all this grief lies.

UNISON has advised its members essentially to do b) but not a). Nothing wrong with having slightly different tactics. The direction of travel is the same. To oppose and seek to scupper the whacky TR plan.

It would seem that at the Napo NEC yesterday there was firm resolve to continue the fight. It isn't possible to report the discussions in detail since walls have ears and websites have eyes on them - some perhaps to be found in Petty France. There might not be fighting on the beaches, but there will be stiff resistance in the streets of London, including PF, and right across the land. And why not? Probation has a proud history stretching back over more than a century. It has quietly and effectively been rehabilitating generations of individuals who have, through their offending, excluded themselves from law abiding communities. We have engineered reintegration, reduced exclusion and reduced re-offending. TR threatens the continuity of this mission. As such it both poses a risk to public protection as well as the very existence of a high performing public service.

It is to be hoped that WingCo G might one day be successfully re-integrated into the community. Sometimes individuals present particularly entrenched patterns of anti-social behaviour. The thing about Probation is that it never gives up on individuals however heinous their offending.   

Finally, I'm grateful for a reader pointing me in the direction of this cartoon that shows even the Americans are beginning to question what's happening.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Omnishambles Update 30

Four posts in a day is unprecedented and there is a real danger of us all suffering 'information overload' as this whole TR omnishambles begins to pick up speed. Hopefully we can stick to just the one today and it might as well start, as yesterday, with news from London. This is the latest typically forthright rallying call from Greater London Napo Chair, Pat Waterman:-


Who you gonna call..........your union or HR.

Attached below is a letter from Tom Rendon, National Chair, and Ian Lawrence, General Secretary, which was previously e-mailed to you all directly. This letter sets out why the unions registered a failure to agree at the meeting of the National Negotiating Council (NNC) on 20th November. 

Although in a formal sense the negotiations are between the trade unions and the Probation Association (which represents the employers) it has always been clear that the MOJ, in their determination to break up the trusts and privatise the probation service, were pulling the strings behind the scenes. 

At the meeting on the 20th, and on the previous one on the 11th November, it became increasingly clear that, rather than allowing negotiations to continue, the MOJ had every intention of simply imposing their will on the trusts. 

This is what we call BULLYING and, rather than stand up to it, there is every indication that at their meeting on Friday 29th November the Board of London Probation Trust will simply roll over and do what they are told. 

Attached below are three appendices. The first two documents give you advice on how to construct your grievance. The third document is advice to branch officials on registering a local dispute.

I fully expect that from next week members will start to receive either assignment letters or letters inviting expressions of interest. In accordance with national advice and guidance, you should lodge a grievance even if you think what you personally are being offered is the best of a bad job. 

You should follow this advice and lodge a grievance because, such is the MOJ’s determination to rush this transformation through, you are being asked to make a decision on the basis of inadequate and incomplete information. 

You will probably be asked to give your response within seven to fourteen days. You will probably still have unanswered questions and concerns that your HR advisor will be unable to answer.


Just because LPT has given up does not mean you have to. Take action and lodge a grievance. This is a collective action whose purpose is to highlight just how badly we are all being treated. So even if you are satisfied with your lot; even if you think you’ve done ok; even if you don’t care; lodge a grievance and show LPT what you think of their actions.

The advice attached on how to construct your individual grievance is helpful and I advise you to read it carefully. But it cannot be exhaustive so feel free to call or e-mail me if you need further advice. 

I don’t know exactly what further information Heather Munro intends to send to you on Friday afternoon. I can tell you that if any letters are sent out next week I shall be registering a local dispute. 

Up until now there have been cordial relations between the branch and senior management as they assured us they were doing everything they could to make their concerns about the risks associated with implementing this transformation known behind the scenes. But now, as seems likely, the board will be giving the go-ahead for their implementation. 

At the meeting I attended with Senior Management on Tuesday I was accused of getting agitated as the plans for sifting and sorting were unveiled. I told them that I was here representing over a thousand members who were, to put it mildly, not very happy and, if I sounded  disputatious, it was because we were now in dispute at a national level and probably, very soon, at a local level also. 

I urge you all to stand up for what you believe in. We are not commodities to be sifted, sorted, parcelled up and sold. 

Pat Waterman 
Branch Chair

Sticking with London and following on from the BBC's Newsnight investigation last week into the Serco Community Payback contract. here is the London Evening Standard reporting that Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee is launching an investigation into the claims made in the broadcast:-

Security firm Serco faces a fresh investigation today after claims that a “catalogue of problems” is dogging its contract managing parts of London’s Probation Service.
The powerful Public Accounts Committee will take a detailed look at Serco’s work after whistleblowers alleged serious failings.
Committee Chairwoman Margaret Hodge told the Standard she will also refer the matter to the National Audit Office, to investigate whether Serco is delivering a good deal for taxpayers.
It comes just days after plans to privatise three prisons were cancelled because Serco — the lead bidder —became embroiled in a separate investigation relating to accusations it over-charged the Government for the electronic tagging of criminals.
Ms Hodge said: “We are taking an ongoing look into all of the Ministry of Justice’s contracts and we will now be taking a closer more detailed look at this matter.  I will also refer it to the National Audit Office because the taxpayer needs to know it is getting value for money.”
Ms Hodge is taking action after receiving a letter from shadow justice secretary Sadiq Kahn. The Tooting Labour MP wrote: “In my dealings with probation staff across the city I have heard about problems with this contract.
“A growing catalogue of problems shows it is not delivering quite the value for money ... claimed by ministers.”
Serco and the London Probation Trust were awarded the £37million probation contract last year amid claims it would save £25million.
But concerns were raised after the BBC’s Newsnight broadcast whistleblowers’ claims that community sentence projects were not properly supervised — denied by Serco.

Yesterday saw the announcement of another marriage between a staff mutual called Delta and the GEO Group. I guess many of us will have seen prison vans labelled GeoAmey as this company has one of the prison escort contracts. In case you were wondering, yes the Amey bit comes from the former quarrying company Amey Roadstone who used to build motorways. Clearly nowadays anyone is qualified to run all kinds of services as it's the brave new world of 'no experience is necessary'. 

The parent company is based in the United States and can trace its roots back to Wackenhut Corrections Corporation and has quite a dodgy history of running penal institutions, as recorded here on wikipedia. 

The GEO Group UK Ltd and Delta Rehabilitation Ltd have today announced that they are to form a Joint Venture as a potential bidder for the Ministry of Justice's Transforming Rehabilitation competition in the York and North Yorkshire, Humberside and Lincolnshire region. Phil Watkins, GEO UK's Managing Director said:

"We are delighted to be working with a highly professional and dedicated staff mutual with a clear vision for reducing re-offending whilst at the same time maintaining the risk management skills required to keep the public safe".Richard Barker, Delta's Chairman, said:

"I'm delighted that we have secured a partner with the same drive, ambition and values as our own. GEO brings strong sector experience and a unique sets of competences. When put together with those of Delta and our local delivery partners we represent a very formidable proposition indeed".

Project Director Martin Gore paid tribute to the Staff Council and the Project Team for building the successful proposition so quickly:

"We have moved from the initial concept of a mutual in July to a fully developed Project Team and elected Staff Council with supporting Business Plans in four months. In addition, I would like to acknowledge the contribution and support of Cabinet Office Ambassadors and our local partners. Our bid will emphasise local provision, utlising the skills and knowledge of our staff and partners, together with those of the GEO Group, a major international company". 

It's reported that some 80% of probation staff voted in favour of the mutual and as you can see they have seemingly decided to form a Staff Council rather than stick with recognised trade unions in order to safeguard their terms and conditions. Good luck with that then especially as according to twitter traffic yesterday, 'the MoJ have told them they've won the contract'. I wonder if the other contenders know that?    

Not everyone is happy though and I thought it was worth highlighting this comment from yesterday:-

As for the mutual? Enthusiastic amateurs being dangled on the end of a line by canny business people in a bid to tug at heartstrings. They think that 6 months of rubbing shoulder pads with business consultants means they're ready for the dragon's den - they don't see that they're the sprats to catch the mackerel. Wouldn't buy anything from them - a bit like the door to door children operated by the modern day fagins; the kids earn about tuppence from a day's sales, whilst fagin sits at the end of the road watching from the leather interior of his brand new range rover. It was a sad experience, but made more so when seen in the context of working for the MoJ and their immoral backstabbing antics.

Finally, I'm told that this blog is read avidly down at MoJ/Noms HQ, so here's a piece flagged up by a reader yesterday from the Financial Times that seems to have a familiar ring to it and signals a lot more trouble lies ahead:-

Plans to offshore up to 1,000 civil servants’ jobs in a potential £2bn contract for back-office functions across Whitehall could spark an “exodus” of “demoralised” staff, a cabinet minister has warned. Steria, the French outsourcing company, has won the contract to provide procurement and finance across three departments – Work and Pensions, Environment, and Food and Rural Affairs – as well as the Environment Agency.

It took over 1,200 employees on November 1 and has agreed to delay any offshoring for the first six months. But it is understood that shifting jobs abroad will be a key part of the deal, which is aimed at shrinking central government and cutting costs. Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, has sent a letter to Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister in charge of the outsourcing, raising alarm over the deal.

“I am worried about the possible staff exodus and demotivation – and the risk to service even before the bidders have taken over,” he wrote.  

PS I see that tailgunner has just posted this on the Napo forum pages in relation to requesting a caseload printout prior to preparing a grievance:- 

Very good point. Worth doing - and then check all risk flags, tierings etc to ensure they are correct. Make a note for yourself where they appear to be wrong. Grist to the mill in an appeal. Perhaps also worth conferring with fellow members to see if their caseload details are accurate. Being able to demonstrate that any sifting has been done on inaccurate/inconsistent data will cause difficulties for appeals panels. One does not necessarily want to aggravate our direct employers but sadly that is the name of the game that is being foisted upon us all.
For those faced with the dilemma of trying to reconcile irreconcilable problems at appeal stage, I might suggest pushing the problem upstairs to HR Hubs. They are allegedly the specialists. Or, don't start the process until you are 100% certain that caseload data on 11th November was accurate.  

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Weather Report

Avid readers both here and over on the Napo forum webpages will be aware that our very own tailgunner has been on an arduous mission and some might have become concerned due to the length of radio silence. I'm happy to report that he - I know we are making assumptions here - is alive and well and reports as follows:-

The letter sent to Trusts by Michael Spurr on Friday 22nd was directed primarily at the registration of local disputes by both Napo (and now UNISON) and the issue of local consultations. Napo has issued further advice to branches on this subject today.

The issue of location is indeed likely to be critical in the mid to long term. The estate will doubtless be rationalised as new owners decide to find cheaper accommodation and there will be tensions around co-location between the NPS and CRCs (and indeed other parties such as the police). More immediately, there are a number of Probation occupied premises where there will be a lease break/ end date in 2014. So decisions will need to be made here as regards whether leases can be extended. If not, new accommodation will need to be sought, but by whom? It seems unlikely that new accommodation with co-location would be found since this would tie new owners into potentially long leases. So where staff occupy buildings where there is an impending lease break/end, searching questions need to be asked.

The MoJ are stating clearly that all Probation staff will remain in the LGPS after transfer to either the NPS or a CRC. TR FAQ 36 (issued by the MoJ on 13th November) states that staff will remain in their current schemes post-transfer. That isn't quite correct. The current intention is that all staff will be transferred to the same Local Government Pension Scheme - currently this is likely to be the Manchester Scheme. So, the intention is that membership in an LGPS is secure for existing staff but this is not a 'done deal' yet and if it is not signed off in time, there is little likelihood that April 1st will be a date that is met for the split of the staff into the NPS and the CRCs. It is worth recalling that the sale of UPW in London took three attempts ( over several years) before it was successfully completed, and it was the pensions issue that scuppered the first two attempts at sale.

The issue of continuity of service remains a very real and ongoing concern which has not been resolved. As it stands, continuity of service is guaranteed for all staff, even if they move from one employer to another for a period of up to 9 months beyond the point of share transfer (or perhaps 6 months depending on which bit of the imposed documentation you read). This represents a real detriment to all existing staff and is in breach of the principles of COSOP. What has however now been clarified is that staff will not lose continuity if they move from one role to another with the same employer.

There remains a significant lack of clarity over what it will mean for staff to become civil servants within the NPS - how existing Civil Service policies etc may be applied. Despite repeated requests for consultation over this critical issue at national level, so far it has not materialised. Without this information, again, staff are not well placed to make informed decisions about their future employment.

(Filed at 2.27 BST)

Weather Report for Wednesday 27th November (Filed at 3.07 BST)

Napo NEC meets today to review the position in the campaign to oppose the TR Programme.
The emerging picture is that some Trusts have already begun sending out automatic assignment letters and Expression of Interest letters. More will be acting on the MoJ requirement this week and some more are waiting to see how things develop. As reported before, there is significant preparatory work that should be done before letters are sent out and some Trusts are sensibly doing this in consultation with unions locally. Interestingly, reports suggest that an early keen and compliant Trust sent out automatic assignment letters even before last weeks negotiations, on the 20th, had been concluded. Some of these letters were wrong and had to be withdrawn and re-issued as we understand it. Also, the same Trust sent out EoI letters to other staff with next to no information to assist staff in making informed decisions about their future careers.

It is interesting to note that in the draft National Agreement on Staff Transfer ( the one that did not get agreed at the NNC on the 20th for reasons recorded elsewhere) there was the following clause - "The EoI form will be accompanied by a list of relevant posts available; number of posts available; a list of likely changes to location in the short to mid term ( e.g. A lease break); whether Non Police Personnel Vetting applies to specific NPS posts; information on how it is envisaged the relevant role may change in the future and a statement of the sifting criteria to be applied." This clause does not appear in the documentation imposed by the MoJ on the 13th November. Whilst this documentation was very hurriedly prepared, resulting in a number of conflicting and erroneous statements, this omission was evidently intentional. The information suggested in the above clause would have to be made available by the MoJ to Trusts and it would appear that most of it is not available. This will make it very difficult (make that impossible) for staff to make informed decisions.

Long Range Forecast

What is clear from Michael Spurr's letter to Trusts on 13th November is that there is an expectation at the MoJ that on 1st April Probation staff will continue to do exactly the same work, same caseload, same duties etc as they were doing on 31st March. Currently it would appear that caseloads will not be re-allocated until July 2014. This all notwithstanding the fact that on 1st April, staff will work for different organisations with discrete responsibilities and lines of accountability. It is understood that this arrangement will be facilitated by a Service Level Agreement between the NPS and the 21 CRCs. Details of this have yet to emerge.

Trusts will probably continue to exist in some shape or form post April 1st, if only to deal with 'winding up the business'. Staff will be sitting at the same desks doing the same work. they will work for different organisations - but all still in the public sector. Probably, email addresses, letterheads, signage and security passes will have been changed and hopefully there will be systems in place to enable everyone to be paid.

There will be a critical date sometime in early January by when the MoJ will have to decide whether they have a 'system-go' situation enabling them to issue Trusts with termination notices on their contracts to provide Probation Services. If they can't, who knows what will happen.

The staff assignment process is a part of the Human Resources workstream. There are many other workstreams which will need to be system ready by 1st April in order to enable the MoJ to press the button and issue notices to Trusts in January. Many rivers yet to cross for the TR Programme. It isn't a done deal yet.

Latest From Napo HQ 3

This is the second of three guidance documents referred to in the e-mail from Napo HQ yesterday and received this morning at 08:37:-

On Friday, 22nd November NOMS Chief Executive Michael Spurr wrote to all Trusts about the validity of a (local) trade dispute and the potential refusal on the part of local union branches to engage in consultations. Clearly the MoJ agenda, under instruction from the Secretary of State, is to drive ahead with the implementation of the assignment process. Equally clearly, our joint Union position is to seek to achieve the exact opposite. Thus there is unlikely to be much agreement between us.

The Chief Executives letter states: “Having reviewed these documents and taken legal advice it is absolutely clear that the local disputes procedure remit is to consider any failure to agree on a matter subject to negotiation where a failure is registered in the JNCC.” It goes on later – “If a dispute is registered against your Trust, our position is that you have no choice but to reject it on the ground that it exceeds the remit of the dispute procedure which can only apply to matters which are subject to negotiation. We therefore do not consider that it is open to you to agree to institute the local dispute procedure.”

Napo refutes these assertions and in support of this position, we make the following points which you may wish to employ locally in your communications with your local employer.

1. In the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 at s244 there is a definition of a “trade dispute”s.244 (1) In this Part a “trade dispute” means a dispute between workers and their employer which relates wholly or mainly to one or more of the following— 
(a) terms and conditions of employment, or the physical conditions in which any workers are required to work; 
(b) N/A 
(c) allocation of work or the duties of employment between workers or groups of workers;
 (d) N/A
 (e) N/A
 (f) N/A
(g) machinery for negotiation or consultation, and other procedures, relating to any of the above matters, including the recognition by employers or employers’ associations of the right of a trade union to represent workers in such negotiation or consultation or in the carrying out of such procedures.

 (2) A dispute between a Minister of the Crown and any workers shall, notwithstanding that he is not the employer of those workers, be treated as a dispute between those workers and their employer if the dispute relates to matters which— 

(a) have been referred for consideration by a joint body on which, by virtue of provision made by or under any enactment, he is represented, or 

(b) cannot be settled without him exercising a power conferred on him by or under an enactment.It is Napo’s view that current local disputes satisfy these definitions – at Section 244.1 and that Section 244.2 (a) & (b) pertains.

2. Branches will have to refer to their own local JNCC constitutions as they may differ from the national NNC model constitution as found in Section B of the NNC Handbook. Thus the following advice may need to be tailored to reflect local constitutions.
The Terms of Reference in the NNC model constitution are as follows: 

(i) To consult on any matters concerning existing practices or proposed changes which affect the employees of the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Probation Board. [Trust]
(ii) To enter into negotiations in respect of those specific matters relating to the terms and conditions of employment of staff employed by the . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Probation Board. [Trust].  These are:

• conditions of service specifically left to the discretion of the probation board from the NNC as matters for local agreement;
`• procedure agreements including Discipline, Grievance, Capability, Collective Disputes, Facilities for Trade Union Officials and Representatives, Information Technology and any other local agreements and variations to the Trade Union Recognition Agreement itself;
• issues of collective concern involving matters of health and safety which are dealt with under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations or are referred by the local Safety Committee;
• issues of collective concern involving equal opportunities;
• matters referred to in Statute, Circulars, and National Probation Directorate / Government Department correspondence which specifically include Trade Union involvement;
• Other matters upon which all parties agree it would be appropriate and helpful to reach agreement

It is accepted that issues which may be subject to dispute must fall within the scope of (ii) above. Napo’s position is that they do for the following reasons:

 • issues of collective concern involving matters of health and safety which are dealt with under the Safety Representatives and Safety Committees Regulations or are referred by the local Safety Committee 

There can seldom have been, in the recent history of Probation, an exercise more likely to engender stress in the entire workforce (stress being an important H&S consideration). Moreover, what is being proposed is a fundamental change to the method of working - it could hardly be more fundamental, and as such it should have been the subject of a risk assessment under H&S Regulations.

• issues of collective concern involving equal opportunities;

What is being proposed (the split) clearly has equal opportunities issues attached to it.

• matters referred to in Statute, Circulars, and National Probation Directorate / Government Department correspondence which specifically include trade union involvement 

There can be little doubt that there should be and indeed is Trade Union involvement in these matters. We've just spent 3 months of intensive negotiations seeking to reach agreement over them nationally and then there is the requirement under COSOP for local consultation. The previous 28 day consultation is largely redundant since we are now operating to a different assignment model.

• Other matters upon which all parties agree it would be appropriate and helpful to reach agreement;

Napo was under the impression that everybody, including the MoJ agreed it would be helpful to reach agreement.

On the above basis, Napo maintains that matters under consideration fall within Section 4 (a) (ii) of the model LJNCC Constitution 

3. Health & Safety implications – Prior to implementation, it is Napo’s assertion that a risk assessment on the implications of the said implementation is required. It is likely that this should be prepared at a national level by the TR programme team but it will need to be shared locally with the unions by the employers with a view to addressing and minimising the risks to staff. 

4. Equality Impact -  Michael Spurr’s letter states: “ The letter (from Napo to its branches) also refers to an alleged failure to carry out an EIA.   As you are aware, a summary of the national level equality analysis undertaken by the Transforming Rehabilitation programme has been circulated to Trusts, with the intention of supporting Trusts to carry out local EIAs covering the implementation of the reforms.  Again this does not appear to fall within the remit of local JNC dispute procedures as it could only give rise to consultation rather than negotiation.   The concern raised in the letter is also premature as there is no indication that Trusts will not carry out EIA, indeed you have been encouraged to do so.  There is certainly no obligation to conduct these at a time scale directed or agreed with the unions, however  we would recommend that  the local EIA is completed as soon as is possible.”

Branches should insist that this work is undertaken, published and consulted upon in accordance with the Framework as issued, prior to implementation. We refute the assertion above with regard to time scale. All such analyses should be conducted in advance of any implementation so as to allow proper consideration of highlighted issues so that proper adjustment may be made.  Since this does fall within the remit of local JNCs (“issues of collective concern involving equal opportunities”), it is not just a matter for consultation.

5. ‘Measures’ issues: - Appendix A to the National Framework on Staff Transfer & Protections gives guidance on the handling of ‘Measures’. Whilst most of these are indeed matters for consultation only, there are elements contained therein which will require negotiation because they relate to terms and conditions. This fact further substantiates the assertion that there is a basis for dispute around issues for negotiation.

Michael Spurr’s letter also contains the following advice to trusts on the subject of local consultation:

Refusal to Engage in Local Consultations In relation to Trade Unions not co-operating with local consultations, if you as a Trust invite local consultation and invite dialogue and the unions don’t engage this doesn’t mean that there hasn’t been consultation on the part of the Trust.   Whilst you must continue to make all efforts to engage in meaningful consultation the responsibility to respond to the offer falls to Trades Unions and staff. Whilst it would be a great shame if local branch officials have been instructed not to be involved in local consultation such action on their part does not mean that you have to delay implementation. “

Branches will need to be mindful of this and consider their engagement carefully so as not to disadvantage our members. Branches should send two representatives to such consultation and report back to members. 
Tom Rendon                          Ian Lawrence
National Chair                        General Secretary

26th November 2013

PS - The third document 'How to construct your individual grievance against assignment - Napo advice' can be found on the Napo website - along with all the others. 

Latest From Napo HQ 2

This is the first of three guidance documents referred to in yesterday's e-mail from Napo HQ - all received this morning at 08:37


This information is not designed to be exhaustive.  Due to the varied number of roles in Probation and the diversity of the staff, we cannot cover every eventuality but we hope the following provides a useful guide to some of the issues you should consider when raising your grievance.  These are the questions we have been asking and which the MoJ have declined to answer.  As it looks increasingly likely that litigation will play a part in the near future, it is imperative that members raise their concerns formally at this stage.

There is no doubt that the MoJ and some Trusts will accuse Napo of scaremongering for even asking these questions.  That will simply be an indication of how distorted this process has become.  Ignore the criticism - you have the right to know about your future employment.  Document it.  Raise the grievance. Afford yourself maximum protection at work.

Practitioners in the National Probation Service

This section is also applicable to managers and administrators who work with practitioners.

A probation practitioner in the NPS will become a civil servant.  At present, the probation service retains its independence, we are not subject to ministerial directions.  For example, we are not instructed whether to support the release or otherwise of a prisoner because we make an independent professional assessment.  We risk losing that in the process of becoming agents of the Secretary of State.  Our concern is that we might come under pressure in a high profile case to make recommendations not for release or to recommend certain licence conditions.

Probation offers a varied career and moving into different roles over the span of your career is one way to manage the emotional demands of the job.  Our concern is that this will be lost in what appears to be a very narrowly defined series of practitioner roles in the NPS.  Having risk “oversight” but little control over cases in the CRC is fraught with difficulty.  Where are the lines of accountability?  Would there be lots of travel?  Who would attend oral hearings?  Solely case managing high risk offenders can be traumatic given the nature of some of the offences.  What support would be in place?

Victim Liaison Officers will move into the NPS and they are currently paid at different pay bands because of differences in the Trusts.  What will happen next? Programme tutors delivering Sex Offender Treatment Programmes are in the same boat and there is no information on whether pay will be harmonised.

Some generic manager grades are paid at different bands given the nature of the role, particularly AP Managers.  What happens next?

Practitioners in the Community Rehabilitation Companies

This section is also applicable to managers and administrators who work with practitioners.

A probation practitioner in the CRC will become a private or third sector employee.  There is less certainty about the professional values of these potential organisations that will bid and less information about how they are run.  You may have reservations about how they approach work with offenders.  What are their values?  Have they got experience?  Doing our work for a company with no track record in dealing with offending behaviour is being sold as ‘innovative’ but our concern is that this would be an added pressure with complex, emotional work being reduced to unit costs.  You might like the idea of working for a mutual but would get out quickly if it was A4E or Sodexo, particularly with their track record. There is also no guarantee that Mutuals will remain financially viable. 

Practitioners in a CRC may no longer be carrying out risk assessments (when there has been a change in risk) nor will they provide advice on release, recall and sentencing.  There will be no work with high risk offenders which will reduce the potential for career development.  We are concerned that after an initial period, all of these jobs risk being downgraded in terms of pay band  to the less generous conditions. 

Programme tutors can be on different pay bands because of the differences between trusts.  There is no information on future plans.  Those tutors delivering domestic violence programmes have been seen as on a par with SOTP tutors - will this change?  What happens to members who deliver both?

Staff in the Community Rehabilitation Companies

The CRC will be subject to price competitive tendering and the cheapest bid will win.  This will probably mean office closures and less staff, yet the workload will increase because of the supervision of the Under-12 months custodial community (if the Offender Rehabilitation Bill is enacted).

There are no certainties about who these organisations will be, and even less security about who will win the competition.  Therein lies the grievance (see below for individualised impact).  You could be happy with the Prime Contractor but less happy with a sub-contractor for whom you are chosen/assigned to work for. If you are transferred twice, you would not necessarily retain all your existing terms and conditions because no assurances (especially continuity of service) have been guaranteed.  You might be unhappy with the Prime and want to seek reassurances about your future.  This has been made impossible because you can only lodge an appeal against a vague entity called a CRC - not an actual employer. 

Given the mix of organisations in the CRC (primes and sub-contractors) there may be opportunities to work for different organisations but there is no guarantee of continuous service.  That means you could lose all the benefits you have accrued over your previous employment.

Organisations such as Serco, G4S, Catch 22 and Sodexo have Uniform policies.  Will there be uniforms?  What will be the impact on the work and risk of safety given that uniforms are associated with control rather than care.

Staff in the National Probation Service

You will be subject to Acts of Parliament that may severely restrict your choices.  For example, the Business Appointment Rules mean that you are barred from working for a company (for a period of time) to who you might share information which gives them a commercial advantage.  We have been unable to get further information about this despite requests.  Members are entitled to know the answer.

Staff with Protected Characteristics and other vulnerable staff.

We know that people with protected characteristics are particularly vulnerable in the workplace and often apply to work for organisations which have a good record of staff care.  To make a choice now or to be assigned without any information is putting these individuals at risk.  A description of your own circumstances here will be essential in raising concerns with your employers.  Do the new organisations have proper maternity provision?  What about childcare?  Dependent carers?  Does the organisation have a diversity strategy?  Who will provide AT equipment and ongoing support?  What happens to reasonable adjustments?  Have you had a stress/health and safety risk assessment - will it be honoured?  Have the potential bidding companies got a track record of discriminatory behaviour?  Would you feel safe?

Pension entitlements and Staff who are over 50

Napo has repeatedly requested assurances on future pension provision and entitlement post the proposed CRC share sale. Despite these requests, no assurances have been given for current members of the LGPS or new starters.

This will have an impact on all staff, but will have a disproportionate impact on those who are over 50 but not yet 55. This is because any potential Voluntary Redundancy scheme is only being offered until 2015 (note this has still to be confirmed).


The above indicates the importance of Napo members registering a grievance should your Trust ask you to respond to any formal notification regarding your future role. Please note that Napo advises you to sign the letter which seeks to assign you to the NPS or a CRC or which asks you for an expression of interest. Failure to do so may place your future employment at risk, however, we advise that you submit your grievance using these and the additional guidance notes at the same time.

Tom Rendon                                    Ian Lawrence
National Chair                                  General Secretary

26th November 2013