Saturday 21 December 2013

Napo Christmas Message

This was received yesterday from Napo HQ:-

Dear All

As the year draws to a close and many of us enjoy a well-earned break from work, we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude and thanks to members.  2013 has been an exceptionally difficult year: always stressful and uncertain, sometimes completely horrendous, but the collective energy and drive of Napo members means we’ve got through it.

We started the year complaining (quite rightly) that not many people know about Probation.  They do now.  The debates in both Houses of Parliament, the Justice Select Committee, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, the media coverage, the signing of public petitions, the motions against TR passed in town halls, the parliamentary lobby, the roasting of government ministers on the news, uncovering of the ugly side of privatisation in London CP, the walk outs, the demos, the strike, we have pressed home our argument and raised our profile. 

Members have lobbied MPs with an energy and passion which has been constantly commented on in Parliament.  Every Liberal Democrat we spoke to had been lobbied in their constituencies and now TR is being discussed at their parliamentary meetings.  It’s working. Has it made a difference?  The short, but very big answer is YES.

We have just emailed about the Framework Agreement.  The government originally said  “no continuous service for your members”.  Knowing the strength of our membership, they capitulated when we demanded 7 years.  Voluntary redundancy- taken off the table on a ministerial whim- is now put firmly back in the agreement.  This doesn’t prohibit our vigorous campaign against TR or mean there aren’t further problems, but we couldn’t achieve that in negotiation without the confidence that members will stand up and take action. 

Of course, a few things have helped along the way.  G4S and Serco are no longer allowed to be main bidders for Probation work and this creates a massive dent in the government’s confidence that privatisation can just be rushed through.  In 2014 we must turn our attention to the other potential bidders.  Sodexo, Capita and many of the rest are just as bad. 

The staff assignment process is an awful experience for everyone although remember when they said this would all be done and dusted last August?  It’s still not over and members filing grievances are making themselves heard by all means available.  The framework agreement will protect all our members in the future (if we lose) and provide immediate relief to those in the gung ho Trusts.

There isn’t anyone who believes the timetable for TR is realistic and, as a wise chap once said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Then quit.  No use being a damn fool about it!” 

Given the time of year, we sent the Secretary of State a festive card with a peace dove on the front.  When we’ve completely defeated privatisation, we’ll still respect his belief in rehabilitation and wanting to assist the under 12 months.  As the experts in this work, we’d be more than happy to help.

Of course, Napo is not all about Probation in England and Wales.  We are also conscious that we have not been able to communicate as much as wanted to about probation issues in Northern Ireland and the efforts of our FCS members who have just rejected a pay offer from Cafcass. We will address this in the New Year and would like to thank members in these areas for their forbearance.

With very best wishes
From Tom, Ian and all at Napo HQ

As mentioned above, and in Michael Spurr's uplifting Christmas message yesterday, there has been agreement on various important TR Framework matters and more details can be viewed over on the new ProbationVoice blogsite:-

  NNC CIRCULAR No. 11/2013


We write to confirm that, following a period of intensive negotiations, it has been agreed that the National Agreement on Staff transfer and protections will now be tabled for ratification at a full meeting of the NNC/SCCOG in January 2014.

The Agreement includes an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme which will remain in operation until 31 March 2015, with the last day of service agreed to be no later than 31 March 2016. Additionally, the commercial contracts will specify that, other than where more beneficial terms exist, where voluntary redundancy is offered, these enhanced terms should apply to any member of staff employed by a Probation Trust on 31 March 2014.

Key provisions of the Agreement are:

     A guarantee of employment for all probation staff, employed by a Probation Trust at 31 March 2014, in either the NPS or appropriate CRC.

     No compulsory redundancy up until 1 June 2015

     Protection of continuity of employment for any member of staff transferring between NPS/CRC up to the point of share sale.

     Additional protection of continuity of employment for staff employed on the 31 March 2014 who transfer between CRCs or from the NPS to a CRC for a period of seven years post share sale, this to be specified in the commercial contract.

    Continuation of Trade Union Recognition.

         Continuation of National Collective Bargaining - national collective bargaining arrangements will be continued with the recognised trade unions.   These arrangements, which will replicate the existing NNC and SCCOG machinery appropriately reconstituted, will be recognised in formal Constitutions agreed by 31 March 2014.

         Maximising career development opportunities and interchange between the ​CRCs and NPS. An Interchange Agreement will be developed and jointly agreed by 31 March 2014.

The employers and the trade unions recognise that the past few months have been very unsettling for staff. The additional protections provided by key elements of the Agreement are designed to provide greater reassurance to staff about their future employment and terms and conditions.

This Agreement will be formally ratified at a full meeting of the NNC and SCCOG in January 2014.  In the meantime, the disputes at local level are suspended by the trade unions and will be withdrawn once the Agreement is ratified. 


  1. Close to the centre21 December 2013 at 08:50

    Anyone wanting to play political jenga? The way to remove the last few planks currently holding up the TR agenda is possibly as follows (or so I hear)
    "Prime minister, now that the risk register has identified several potential high risk situations whereby members of the public would be put at risk if the changes to the probation service go ahead will you give your unequivival support to the Justice secretary's reforms?"

  2. Well done NAPO et all for negotiating hard and getting enhanced redundancy terms for all grades of staff. However I still can't help thinking this concession (so easy for the Govt- all they have to do is chuck money at it), is a cynical attempt to placate the very real rage and disillusionment of probation employees by fobbing us off with money.

    1. I agree - it is not enough - probation is a life long career, continuity needs to be as long as that!

      Andrew Hatton

  3. The workload of probation officers has increased 10 fold over the years.
    Firstly with the introduction of 50% custody/50% licence for under 4 years. All those were incorporated into existing probation service. Then the 50% custody/50% licence was extended and also incorporated into the probation service.
    The private sector wasn't required then and probation still remained an award winning service of excellence.
    If the 12mth and under group require to be incorporated into probation work then it will be. There is still no need for the private sector involvement.
    The question posed by close to the centre above should be asked. Cameron would be very foolish indeed to give TR his personal assurance.

  4. Just noticed this little gem. It would seem that Serco still have friends at the MoJ.

    Serco Group PLC said it has won a GBP120 million contract expansion with the UK government to build and operate an extension to a private men's prison, HMP Thameside. The good news for Serco came just one day after the outsourcing company was told to repay GBP68.5 million for charging errors it made on a criminal-tagging contract. Serco said the contract will run over a 22-year period, with GBP36 million to be earned for an 18-month construction phase that has already begun.The contract extension builds on Serco's original GBP415 million, 26.5 year operating contract signed with the UK's Ministry of Justice in July 2010.

  5. I've been assigned to CRC. I won't be going back from maternity leave till the middle of May, so not sure how that will work. Also I'm planning on going back part time when I do and not sure whether they will let me do that but I will be applying anyway. Feel utterly fed up as I feel that is effectively my probation career down the pan.

  6. My take on it is as follows:

    The Government has finally realised that, due to the lack of evidence of its effectiveness, the G4s, Serco pull-out, the lack of alternative credible bidders and opposition of PCCs etc, TR is dead in the water. In order to manage their eixt from the process without it looking as if they have done a u-turn because of union pressure, they are giving the unions what they want in order to make the disputes'go away', thereby leaving them looking like their decision to pull back from the bidding process is a consequence of THEIR decision making, not of their realisation that it is and always has been, folly. They can give the unions what they want because, in reality, it will never matter because no-one will be transferred to a CRC, no-one will be made redundant and share sale dates will never happen.

  7. Graylings concessions to NAPO are a classic negotiating move, initially push further then you can go, frighten the work force, intimidate the trade unions looking for splits, if full on strategy starts to fail, wait for a convenient timing opportunity ti make some conciliatory noise, open and leave the negotiation doorGraylings concessions to NAPO are a classic negotiating move, initially push further then you can go, frighten the work force, intimidate the trade unions looking for potential splits, if full on strategy starts to fail, make some conciliatory noises, open the negotiation door and leave it a jar, wait for a convenient timing opportunity (usually if hit with bad news, i.e. SFO issues re G4s and Serco). Agree concessions which still allow you to proceed with imposing the basic principles of your ideas (TR), then once basic principles have been conceded and implemented, weed out the resistance, and return when time is right to achieve ultimate goal which is to smash the probation service totally. The tories are cynical, calculating bastards who are not to be trusted at all . Mark my words this is not the end....

  8. Today this blog has seen some understandable expressions of anger , which I do not question at all. However some of the language has descended into terms like 'weasel' 'bastard'. etc. I do not think that this is a true reflection of the professional basis of our objections to this TR operation, and it gives the MoJ fuel to use in objecting to what they might allege are a paucity of evidential argument.
    I would offer a respectful call for us to do what I was always taught when giving evidence-to let the opposition have to object to what we say, rather than how we say it. We are probation officers. That is something of which we can be immensely proud. We know how to use facts and evidence in the teeth of empty denial laden, blame shifting, minimising nonsense until the truth prevails. Let's shout, but lets not descend to merely swearing and name calling.

    Thank you for listening. Let us be angry. But let us be dignified in the right way.

    1. Yes, most unusually, the language has been a little unrestrained of late, no doubt reflecting the depth of feeling by many colleagues facing great uncertainty just before Christmas.

      Thanks for bringing the matter up and I'm sure normal civility will resume in due course, but I don't think there's any great harm in the MoJ being made aware in no uncertain terms as to the extent of outrage and betrayal being felt by many.

      We've been pretty good at arguing our case, and I'm sure we will continue to do so, but clearly emotions are running high at the way a proud and honourable profession is being treated.

      If you don't treat people with respect, it should not be that surprising if it gets a reaction.

  9. Apologies to all probation staff who may have been offended by my use of the phrase "The tories are cynical, calculating b*******s who are not to be trusted at all" but replacing b******s with people /party just doesn't seem to transmit the depth of negative emotions, feelings and upset that TR has caused probation staff. So whilst this is a genuine apology I do think it is sometimes good, in a controlled and thoughtful way to shout and scream and let people know you are a human being with feelings who has been hurt. Probation people are good people who have been hurt and I for one will shout and scream about this fact. Peace, love, unity and respect to all probation staff and their many many supporters

    1. Nicely put keista22! Thanks for that. Cheers, Jim

    2. Keista22, I entirely agree, I raised the issue earlier. It is kind and decent of you to apologise, but I have not a shred of issue with staff emotions running as they do, and I utterly and totally echo your sentiments. I was not offended, I was a PO for two decades, I have been told to **** off and to stick my ****ing report up my **** on more than one occasion. That is because my "****ing report" contained evidential hard truths that the client didn't want brought to the Court's attention! I even had a defence team threaten me with the Court of Appeal alleging my report resulted in a paedophile receiving a longer sentence than he would if they had managed to sweep a few things under the carpet, but is was just a matter of telling the truth in a way that couldn't be ignored. My feeling is that when I let my terminology slip the danger is that I can unintentionally let the argument slip too. So please, please, carry on ventilating you opinions!

      I was issuing a rallying call for us all to stick to incontrovertible facts rather than veer off even ever so slightly. The Risk Register is an example of this. Let's keep hammering on the nail until we drive it home!