Thursday 31 December 2015

Another Year

It's time to reflect on another year cataloguing the travails facing our once-proud profession. Having sailed past 3 million, even with readership falling steadily as many highly-experienced staff are forced out, it's interesting to note that as soon as something 'kicks-off', as with Working Links this week, the hit-rate returns to 4,000+ a day. What this says to me is that there remains a need for discourse and information-sharing especially as we enter the terminal phase where full implementation of TR begins to have the predicted result of widespread service collapse and eventual contract failure. 

As I write this there are rumours of other CRC's following South Yorkshire into 'special measures', some contract winners and possibly a loser considering legal action against the MoJ and all wondering how any money can be made from smaller than predicted 'throughput' and a shrunken but totally pissed-off workforce. In all this Grayling-created mess it's incredible but true that the MoJ architects of this whole omnishambles won a Civil Service award.

One thing seems pretty certain to me as we enter the New Year and that is Gove will have to do something and quite quickly because as all the other CRC's start ruthlessly following in Sodexo's footsteps in getting rid of staff, targets will be missed, audits will be failed and the whole lot will quickly fall over like a line of dominoes. What's needed is a fall guy; an explanation; someone or something to blame in order to move on, preferably in conjunction with a Brand New Idea. I'm sure they're working on it down at MoJ HQ. The question is, will it be better?    

In my view 2016 is going to decide whether Napo and the Probation Institute have a viable future or not. I'm clear in believing that both organisations ought to be at the heart of what probation should be about, but in the current shambolic TR world where both CRC's and a prison-dominated NOMS are intent on airbrushing the name out of existence, readers regularly voice their dismay with both. Napo, under deeply uninspiring central leadership, appear increasingly at odds with local activists and give every impression of just treading water and 'going through the motions'. 

The Institute on the other hand remains largely mute in the face of privateers going about their business of purging the Service of many experienced staff, whilst earning a fee from handing out Fellowships to the very same people. Despite all the reassuring words from much-respected individuals, readers appear resolute in calling it humbug and many would be happy for Napo to come off the fence and withdraw their obviously half-hearted support.

I wish I could be more upbeat about things, but in reality we all know it's just shit. But the show will go on for as long as it looks like there's a need and we prove beyond any doubt that TR was a huge mistake. As ever, the blog will only work if people contribute and supply me with those nuggets of information that make the thing worth reading. 

Here's to hoping that 'probation' gets treated better in 2016 and thanks for being part of something that's very important to me. Rest-assured I shall raise a glass to all colleagues and friends of probation later tonight. 

Happy New Year!    

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Working Links in the Spotlight 2

Again, many thanks to the colleague for forwarding the following which, although a long read, fills in some gaps as well as amply demonstrating some considerable effort being expended in making sure Working Links don't have an easy ride in the West Country.     

Branch report redundancies update 4

Including not a very Christmas message from Branch Chair & JNCC reps.

Date 22/12/15.
Dear Union members NAPO and Unison,

NPS CRC (the majority of this report is for the CRC)

Here is the situation so far, since reporting to members on the 1/12/15, we have also attached the letter of the 30th of November to Mr Wiseman. Both found their way onto popular blog media sites On Probation and Facebook! We realise that once sent, these reports cross the country and into the public domain as we all look for help and support.

Shortly, we will be looking to gather wider public opinion through direct discussions with newspapers, TV and radio to expose the local cuts that will generate deficiencies in all areas of public protection. It is our intention, with you, to disclose the deepening implications and risk to local communities. Already there are a number of predicted and emerging T.R. related SFOs. This trend is certain to continue, possibly more sharply as the incredible, unfair and appalling proposals from Working Links continue unchecked. Reducing staff will only reduce critical public safety.

Despite the calming language we have been hearing and reading, it is a simple truth that this employer, by way of its intentions to centralise services into hubs, will radically cut appropriate and proper offender management in the DDCCRC area. It will draw funds from our budgets and redirect the cash equivalent in resources to its own Working Links head office in Middlesbrough. Despite the denial of this from Mr. Wiseman, terming this as shared services. You decide.

NAPOs experience of the way Working Links has managed most aspects of engagement in consultation have, in our opinion, been poor. Ignoring many of the flaws in the way we are treated and engaged with, the biggest and clearest failure has to be the submitted HR1 form to the Business Innovation and Skills Department. It is attached to this report for your information. We are interested to hear your views on this incredible document. For the moment we have to look to ourselves locally, and we ask all members to inform Union Reps of any matters that contribute to the growing catalogue of risk escalation and failures of services, arising from the implications of the new working model. We encourage you to decide to what extent you are prepared to act to maintain appropriate resistance to what has effectively become the biggest threat to your employment, Working Links the contract bid holder. If you believe you will survive the current proposed cuts, it is certain a reduction in pay from altered jobs will follow. Having said that, we will be continuing to aggressively challenge the proposals by Working Links and to ensure all the appropriate risk assessments have been conducted and, where we discover any irregularity, these will be challenged.

New job role descriptions and variations to different contracts will certainly follow. It is unlikely Working Links will be looking to pay staff at the current appropriate rates for the job. What remains clear to Napo and for you as members, is that we must withdraw all goodwill immediately. This is not industrial action, but maintaining your working expectations is all you should do. Covering extra duties, additional support tasks and filling in wherever asked should be refused. Managers should also think carefully about what they ask staff to do under the current situation, where there are many gaps requiring staff support these should be fed back up the line and not be redistributed.

We also saw the HR Director from BGSW who attend our JNCC on 16/12/15, and as far as we are aware they do not work for the DDCCRC. We have our own HR official, yet they included an external employee, telling us what is to happen to your jobs!

We learned in discussions with management, despite resistance to the obvious conclusions, they remained committed to Job Evaluation as the outcome of wage rates in the future. Also they would obviously engage consultations to vary roles that survive. This was not discussed in much greater detail at this stage.

We have also had sight of supporting evidence of this position from Wales Cymru copied to us on 15/12/15. We sense the management are trying to play down the implications of the changes. Further confusions reign in the release of information. Denice James JNCC Napo rep, exposed and challenged the content of documents not actually reflecting what was exchanged in the DDCCRC meeting. What is more obvious and likely, is a sense of one set of minutes fits all JNCCs across the three CRC’s and that is where we think the confusions arise. We have asked for separate and timely minutes to all meetings now and prior to any further meetings planned.

Existing Administrative FTE


Proposed Administrative FT

Hub Admin
Local Admin
Difference FTE


On the 16th of December we asked for the local breakdown of the regional full time equivalents to be dismissed and how these translated into the DDC area. There was some reluctance to answer, despite the fact it must have been known, we have since discovered that the above figures had already been released.

These wider regional collective figures were released on 15/12/15 by Mr Hindson in the combined CRCs meeting. The headline cuts are described as worst case scenario affecting the regional staff complement, keeping in mind cuts may not be equitably distributed as can be seen by the BGSW proposal for 34+.

Management want to reduce the current staff compliment of 1288 FTE, down to 704 FTE staff. This means a staggering 584 staff are to lose their jobs across the three CRC’s. You can see these cuts are disproportionate to each CRC. Please note the current position is to seek all voluntary applicants for redundancy but given the figures Napo and the management are clear, compulsory cuts are almost certain if they really want to achieve this staff reduction agenda. The reduction figures for administrative roles were NOT mentioned in the DDC JNCC on the 16th December, although we will be making the point that losing these valued staff with their experience will make it incredibly difficult to get their work covered. Even if that work is abandoned, the implications for changes to other staff roles should be obvious.

Napo’s letter to Mr Wiseman.

Regarding Napo’s branch letter to Mr Wiseman dated the 30th November ‘15. There was a small acknowledgement in an e -mail from Mr Wiseman having made the just ‘noted’ comment. However, we have pushed on with the serious issues and we have been promised answers to our questions from the lawyers. Who’s lawyers, CRC or Working Links? We wait to see. Napo would prefer to see these legal costs diverted into savings for jobs along with the £15.00 per person Christmas contribution that is continuing, rather awkwardly, to be available for substantive staff only. It is another morale sapping gross error of judgement by the Working Links senior management. We have made this point to them, our comments also being dismissed as ‘noted’. When our NAPO branch receives the promised written response we will publish and report on it.

What we are wanting before any further cuts are offered is the impact and equality assessments with the Health and Safety assurances. Assessments and risk analysis that should have been completed ahead of the proposals, having been developed this far. How genuine these reports will be is something that will face particular scrutiny. It was announced at the regional meeting on the 15th December that the CRCs for Working Links is linked with the company known as Innovation Wessex. This group will be undertaking all the checks and recording of the need to deliver assessments. Mr Hindson, Working Links director and a director on the DDCRC made it clear that independent reports will be impartial. Napo made the point that Innovation Wessex are commissioned by Working Links and DDCCRC and is paid by them. This group are in the main seconded or early voluntary redundant DDCRC staff, yet some of them have a new post with salary having just exited DDCCRC? Returning staff perhaps, could have been seconded to save money where their skills are required. Similar financial comfort for our members is not something we could hope for. There are further questions yet to be directed about the Innovation Wessex arrangements and what they cost? Possibly this structure could be axed instead of our jobs, making savings for all frontline staff! The input of Innovation Wessex does not stop there, we asked Management who would be conducting the impact assessments for the safety of the changes to probation services they were to make? They offered Innovation Wessex as the organisation that would certify and report the assessments, claiming their independence and objectivity. Management could not deny, however, on whose budget this group is being financed. Independent, really? You decide!

In researching previous practices of the Working Links group we found this interesting article

Investigation of South Wales contract, February 2007. Failings in relation to the control of this contract led to the DWP requesting that WL should repay around £45,000. After further examination and challenging these claims, and reconciling the amounts overpaid, ultimately some £32,000 was repaid to the DWP; and

Investigation of North Wales contract, August 2007. Malpractices identified in this contract included the inflation of claims and the falsification of records through the block signing of jobseekers’ signatures by some WL staff.

Plaid Cymru MP Hywel Williams MP said: “Any organisation which carries out systemic fraud to profit from exploiting easy targets is wholly unfit to run any legitimate and transparent operation. The coalition needs to review Working Links urgently in light of these allegations.”

A spokeswoman for Working Links said: “We have a zero-tolerance approach to fraud and rigorous processes in place to handle any suspected incidents of fraud or other misconduct. We firmly reject any assertion of widespread fraud within our business.

Yes, well of course they would have to say that. It does feel uncomfortable reading when we now consider what role this company has in deciding our futures.

The regional Napo & Unison Working Links meeting.

This took place on the 15th December and we have referenced it already, this meeting was organised by Mike McClelland, National Napo Official. He managed to ensure Ian Lawrence the General Secretary’s attendance along with wider local NAPO reps from the three CRCs. There have been several sub local DDCRC meetings in between and from these, branch reps have concluded we have all been told different things at different times. Is this deliberate misinformation or are they just constantly confused by not treating the three CRCs separately? NAPO have concerns at the level of growing evidence for this. Helpfully Pen Gwilliam Napo Chair for the Wales CRC has also been recording their situation. Also attached is the Wales branch report for your information. You will read similar concern from our comrades in relation to the “working links way” of consultation, although we do not accept it can be regarded well.

The General Secretary made it clear if the South West NAPO/ Unison members were prepared to take part in industrial disruption, no matter what form this takes, then NAPO central will ensure the full support and protection for our members. Members should understand at this point, taking part in possible action or work to contract processes and strict job description adherence with appropriate workload observations, will deliver all that is required to Management. It will ensure they know clearly that their plans are most certainly unachievable, if the workforce do not support them, action is the only collective way we can ensure they get this message.

The regional meeting heard from Mr Hindson who was in a clear leader role. Mr Wiseman not so full of the usual script mode. That said, he made little contribution apart from supporting the other director.

Mr Hindson went on to make several apologies on the state of the current consultation relations so far. Not appearing to have any regrets it did not go unnoticed that the common link to the failing situation may well be the HR Director who works for BGSW, as both Mr Hinson and Mr Wiseman appear to seek approval from her. We heard the apologies and a commitment to do things better. With this admission now formal we could consider the failing consultation process and wonder are they going to take different advice? Whatever happens, this has all led to a deepening mistrust, as well as examples to evidence that the current talks do not actually constitute reasonable or proper consultation.

In order to protect our members as widely and effectively as possible the current arrangements give rise for the local branch Executive to consider the issues raised and the following passage gives examples of failing consultations and the risks to employers. It is worth reading keeping in mind if we get to a compulsory redundancy situation.

Unfair redundancy while fair and proper consultation is a necessary ingredient of a fair dismissal, whether the consultation is adequate in all the circumstances is a question of fact for the tribunal. However, some guidance as to what constitutes 'fair consultation' was provided in R v British Coal Corporation and Secretary of State for Trade and Industry ex parte Price and ors 1994 IRLR 72, Div Ct. Lord Justice Glidewell said that fair consultation means consultation when the proposals are still at the formative stage, adequate information, adequate time in which to respond, and conscientious consideration by an authority of the response. Putting it another way, Glidewell LJ stated that consultation 'involves giving the body consulted a fair and proper opportunity to understand fully the matters about which it is being consulted, and to express its views on those subjects, with the consultor thereafter considering those views properly and genuinely'. Although Glidewell LJ's comments were made in the context of the duty to consult collectively under S. 188 TULR(C)A, they have been applied by the EAT in Rowell v Hubbard Group Services Ltd 1995 IRLR 195, EAT, and Pinewood Repro Ltd t/a Countv Print v Page 2011 ICR 508, EAT, and by the Court of Session in King and ors v Eaton Ltd 1996 IRLR 199, Ct Sess (Inner House), all of which are unfair dismissal cases.

In the King case the Court of Session applied Glidewell LJ's definition of 'fair consultation' to the facts of the case before it and overturned a tribunal's finding that there had been proper consultation with the unions. The Court found that, although there had been several meetings with the unions over the redundancies, these had taken place after the employer had formulated its proposals. There Was no indication that the unions had had time to respond to the issues raised or that their views would have been considered. Nor had there been any specific reference at the meetings to the method of selection and this was a further Pointer to the fact that the consultation had been flawed. The Court ruled that the redundancy dismissals were unfair for lack of consultation and because the employer had not shown that its method of selection was fair. The question is always one of what is reasonable in the circumstances.

In a 8.14: small workplace fewer formalities may suffice. In Milne v Distillers Company (Cereals) Ltd EAT 692/87, for example, all but one of the staff were members of the General, Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union, with whom the employer had agreed the redundancy selection procedure. M challenged his dismissal for redundancy on the ground that, as a member of the Transport and General Workers' Union, his union had not been consulted. The EAT upheld a tribunal's rejection of the claim. Given the small size of the plant, the claimant must have been aware from an early stage of the redundancy situation. He had not asked his union to intervene and, moreover, had been individually consulted about his dismissal.

The situation the NAPO branch reps have faced is very similar to being presented a fait accompli. The argument on consultation will no doubt rumble on.

The single most important thing Mr Hindson revealed when questioned on local policy was to make no less than two acceptances that he would in the DDCCRC honour the agreed contractual rates of the full redundancy scheme which of course is welcome. What this means in reality is, that all staff, however they exit either voluntary or compulsorily, will get the enhanced rates of redundancy payments. He made a commitment to honour all the redundancy policies actually, but in that flash of concessions Mike McClelland pulls in the national agreements and was joined by Ian Lawrence General Secretary, who argued that the position is to harmonise the redundancies in Working Links to the most favourable terms. It was a great moment and something we will watch because since then we start to hear the word affordability slipping back. That means someone is going to lose out and that someone will not be our Union members!

The last two key points in this meeting, for me at least, was the bizarre discussion that attracted some misinformed support for keeping the figures confidential from members prior to Christmas. Of course I would have none of that and said so! Thanks to Ian Lawrence the General Secretary who listened, said little and then tweeted them the following morning.

Helen Coley JNCC Rep reminded the employers of the need to look carefully at the groups of staff they were proposing to cut and the demographic with a majority of women in roles that are irreplaceable. We wait to see that impact equality assessment.

Related matters in short

DDCRC continues ongoing recruitment although on temporary contracts against the threat of cuts, we are still not clear on their position?

Targeting offender model has still not been released although is promised. This should illustrate a jobs and locations list.

Mr Hindson also promised the Working Links full blueprint after Christmas, something that was denied us previously so some movement. This is to form part of the consultation information.

With regards the issue of the consultation period clock. There are rules that govern the dismissals notice periods and as yet we are not clear that the employer has engaged the issues properly. Why we need to be careful is the issue of protective awards, the reason being is because if the employer does not get what it wants via voluntary measures to reduce staffing, it will almost certainly try and quickly thereafter, make compulsory cuts. I suspect they will try and do this with minimum consultation time, claiming the clock is running and we are within the appropriate notified time periods. They would have known this as they had the figures but we only received these figures on the 15th December. Yes, it has been the Unions being kept in the dark .

Early retirement was also called for by NAPO and Unison, still we have had no definitive answer, but instead of compulsory redundancies they will almost certainly have to offer this. While we keep asking and they keep ignoring the point, that it will have to be opened to all grades of staff. You can see why the management would want to deny the option. We will keep it on the front burner for all those members who have reminded us of its importance.

NPS Information The NPS is not alone in their share of bad news. The forthcoming E3 proposals have opened up a whole new debate on who does what and a marked shift to reduce roles and diminish Probation Officers structures. The worst news is around the production of reports. The clear and open attempts to reduce the VLO roles has a national resistance movement building against the general swing to form a more controlled and subdued workforce. What is unhelpful has been the inability of Napo to secure local representation rights, which we should have, but are somehow stuck in the drama of being a split organisation. It is a year on and this is about as bad as we could have imagined, yet we all have some ideas we are not at the end of the road yet. In the NPS we have Jill Narin as the deputy chair and she has continued to work hard for members both at the consultative committee meetings and taking on the care for representing members. Well done and thanks to her for that. In relation to all general matters, we will continue to be here and remind all NAPO NPS members to get your electronic direct debit mandates sorted out for continuing in NAPO. The check off ends this month for NPS and it is important, especially with the onslaught of E3, that we are in place to help support and protect you from the excess desires of London control to take what is left from you disguised, in efficiency language. Keep in touch through Jill and write to us at anytime.

Chair’s Message.

It is a sad time for our members and I am sorry, we as a Union, remain split from the NPS. We are bigger in region by number and despite this we are just not able to diminish the threats to your role and jobs easily or quickly. You all know the political climate we are in. That said, we will do all we can to mitigate job losses to a minimum, or preferably with your help, none on compulsory terms. Still not my preferred position, as I would like to ensure a model that works and ensures your future, retaining all our key skills. The obvious thing is, the employers do not want to keep any non qualified skills as they clearly are able to change the culture by removing the people and changing the jobs. It is only PO grade that NAPO have been informed will not be cut under any circumstances. Ok, great news for some and yet this in itself is a message from management of more division towards its staff. This is not the place to argue the merits of role boundary but lets not ignore some of it, either.

The key skills of PSOs are from highly developed and costly training. This places many able to do multiples of roles within the CRC with some additional and appropriate training required around risk and its management and containment. I say this because we do not produce court reports anymore and under redundancies these issues will be tested no doubt. I thank all our branch members and especially branch activists who are holding things together. They know who they are. A special goodbye from the branch to a man who has done so much work and agitating behind the scenes and leaves us now but wants no fuss! To the JNCC Reps Helen Coley and Denice James who continue to work hard for you with Glo Curtis of Unison.

The national team in the form of Mike McClelland who I irritate regularly but respect him for he has many a class moment in this battle we are in and the General Secretary who will be committing further time to the region when he starts his busy every branch tour. We’ll keep you posted.


Into the New Year and through the break, I hope you find some time to forget the work issues and truly have a relaxing time. Whatever your plans we hope for your continued support so that next year we can restart the combat with more energy and effectively tackle the threat they pose to all staff communities and the wider public given the choices they have appeared to make.

Dino Peros - NAPO Branch Chair.

Helen Coley & Denice James - JNCC Rep

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Working Links in the Spotlight

Thanks are due to the colleague who kindly forwarded the following:-  

Transformation and integration programme: briefing following union meetings

We are continuing to speak to the unions about our proposals as we look to transform our business and want to ensure all of our people receive this information at the same time. As you are aware, we need to make up to 40% efficiency savings. This will come from:

  • An integrated business model across Working Links that is efficient, scalable and adaptable to change, whilst ensuring we are not working in silos.
  • A proposed Target Operating Model which sees a split between face to face customer focused activity, and non-face to face activity and operational support services.
  • An estates strategy which supports the proposed Target Operating Model, as well as co-location to maximise efficiencies.
  • New ways of working – including new processes, automation, a drive for consistency and self-service.
  • New technology – including a new IT system, infrastructure and better data and analytics.
Our transformation and integration programme continues to put our service users and customers at its core, to ensure we create a sustainable value service, and delivering a safe service and protecting the public continues to be our top priority.

This is a complex change programme that will last over a year and we are sharing information with you, and the unions, at the earliest opportunity to ensure proper and meaningful consultation, but that this is why we won’t always have full details with regards to people.

Our proposals have been developed with people from across the entire business. We’ve reviewed all business processes, systems, estates and so on. We’ve completed surveys, workshops and focus groups to ensure those people that are experts are involved in shaping our future business.

We are now starting to develop our vision of the ‘to be’ and have further information on how this could impact people as we may need to consider operating with a reduced FTE across the CRCs. More detail on this will be shared with the unions this week and we are also looking at how we can reduce fixed-term and agency workers. YTD we have also seen a reduction in our employability workforce of 38%.

We still need to look further at our estates strategy, IT strategy and the wider HR picture in order to see how we reduce the gap between our operating model and affordability and will be continuing to consult with the unions in order to reach final numbers on our FTE requirements.

As this is such a complex programme we’re looking to implement our plans in a number of phases.

We propose that the first phase of implementation will focus on moving operational support services to Operational Hubs, as per our proposed Target Operating Model, such as administrative duties. The proposed locations for our Operational Hubs are:
  • Cardiff 
  • Swansea 
  • Plymouth 
  • Bristol 
  • Middlesbrough
  • North Wales and Scotland (smaller sub hubs) 
Our target is that phase 1 will be completed by mid-February 2015.

We have identified what activities we wish to move to an Operational Hub environment, without the need yet for the implementation of the new IT system with regards to operational support activity. This will be a transitional phase to take us in the direction of travel towards our ‘to be’ vision and we are working on a proposed rollout plan. This plan will ensure we support all of our people through this change. 

For phase one, we now have some views on how this will impact people. For administrative roles we need to consider operating with 146.7 FTE, which is a reduction of 62.5 FTE. This reduction number is to be / end stage and we propose no compulsory redundancies as part of phase 1. This reduction number is also based on our expectation that individuals will be willing to move locations. Shortly we will be opening up a Voluntary Redundancy scheme to administrators to accommodate those administrators who do not wish to move locations and to reduce the need for any compulsory redundancies in the longer-term within this group. Those people that are eligible will receive more information about the process this week. We will also be introducing a new role of Service Delivery Manager in each Operational Hub and will begin recruitment for this in the next week.

As we continue to develop our proposals, and consult with the unions, we will keep you updated.


JTU 30-15

Paul Hindson, Managing Director UK Justice, Working Links
(By Email)

21st December 2015

Dear Paul,

Napo and UNISON representatives met with yourself and representatives of the three CRC employers (DDC, Wales and BGSW) on Tuesday 15th December to discuss the way forwards in respect of consultations, negotiations and information giving in respect of the recent Working Links pronouncement across all three CRCs regarding staffing cuts.

We undertook to write to you outlining the information that we expected to receive at the outset of consultations in respect of potential redundancies. This we will do, but in the meantime we have been dismayed and indeed angered by the release, not 24 hours later, of a Senior Leaders Team Briefing which has been sent to all staff in DDC and BGSW. We do not believe it has been sent to staff in Wales, although we understand that senior and probably middle managers are aware of it – and may be sharing it with their admin. staff. This Briefing outlines Phase One of a programme in respect of administrative roles and we will return to the detail of this Briefing below.

Before doing that however, we would like to rehearse the conversation that we had on Tuesday regarding the dissemination of bad news just before Christmas. We thought we had agreed that this was not a sensible way forwards and yet here we are, less than 24 hours after our meeting with just such a message being sent out to administrative grades of staff who are now left with the uncertainty and anxiety about their future livelihoods over the Christmas period.

We are grateful for your attempts at clarification, received by email, but we still feel it necessary to write to you in respect of this communication to staff.

We would have to say that this is one of the most unhelpful, ill-timed and insensitive documents that we have had the displeasure of reading in many weeks.

Let us take you through it, section by section, with what we shall politely call our critical analysis.

The title: "Transformation and integration programme: briefing following Union meetings". I refer you to our opening comments above.

Efficiency savings - a series of bullet points. To put it bluntly, the efficiency savings are being found not through any of these bullet points but very simply by your plans (admittedly a worst case scenario) of shedding up to 584 FTE posts. In reality that could mean upwards of 600 staff losing their livelihoods.

" ensure we create a sustainable value service ...etc" . It is difficult to envisage how any comparable service to your service users and customers is going to be provided at all with a workforce that is nearly halved. We remain to be convinced that this is in any way possible and quite clearly we will need serious discussions about manageable workloads, founded in an agreed workload measurement and management system. The figure contained in this paper of a reduction of 62.5 FTEs across all admin staff in the three CRCs, even added to losses anticipated in Corporate Support, must logically point to further losses across front line and managerial grades well in excess of 400 posts.

"Our proposals have been developed with people from across the entire business" & "YTD we have also seen a reduction in our employability workforce of 38%" These two observations give the lie to the fact that this programme of staffing reductions within the CRCs is not about the CRCs per se but more broadly about the business of Working Links as a wider entity. Whilst it is sad to learn that 38% of the employability workforce have also lost their livelihoods this year to date (which we assume is what the unhelpful abbreviation means), this has nothing to do with CRCs which are stand-alone companies - or at least it shouldn't have. The finances and the future of the CRCs are being linked inextricably with the finances and future of Working Links in a way that is neither acceptable nor appropriate. Cuts to CRCs with the consequent impact on public protection should not be made in order to assist what might be an ailing parent organisation. We clearly recall that in the preparatory work for TR, we were time and again re-assured by MoJ representatives that CRCs would remain independent entities/stand-alone companies. Here it is also worth observing that these companies must also be capable of maintaining their operational capacity in the event that ownership changes hands. These proposals do not lend themselves to such a scenario.

" ...focus on moving operational support services to Operational Hubs ...." Then a list of hubs including Middlesborough and Scotland. Really? Some operational support services are going to be located in Middlesborough and/or Scotland?

Target date for phase 1 to be completed is mid-February 2015 (!). One assumes this should be 2016 but even so, we would remind you of the Management of Change Protocol which incorporates a six week period of reflection. Thus, if any compulsory redundancies were on the cards, then this process would need to be triggered about now to meet a mid-February target. We appreciate you don't know if this is going to prove necessary yet but again, we have discussed the various stages of consultation required, and information required as a part of this process. Equally, as we discussed on Tuesday last, it is our view that to expect staff to make fundamental decisions about their own futures in the absence of any real information is unreasonable.

Identification of an Operational Hub environment as a transitional phase. We'd have to say that this paragraph didn't really make a whole lot of sense. We can make an observation here though. There is no reference whatsoever in this paper to assistance that might be given to staff to re-locate their workplace - assistance that is contractual under Section A of the NNC Handbook - and here it is worth making it absolutely clear that we would not accept that any such relocations were being made voluntarily. This rolls into the following paragraph. Here again you suggest that you "propose no compulsory redundancies as part of phase 1" That must surely be more of a hope than a proposal on your part given the scale of changes proposed in terms of work location. Indeed this final substantive paragraph goes on to muddy the waters in regard to the need for any compulsory redundancies in the longer-term.

A final point on this last substantive paragraph - at the same time as placing most admin staff at risk of losing their employment, or having to relocate their workplace, you announce that you are recruiting new Service Delivery Managers. This is unacceptable - at the very least, we would have expected this initiative, if progressed at all, to be ring-fenced to existing admin. staff - but no such assurance is given in this document.

Again we must emphasise that good communications should be both dated and they should make it clear where they have come from – i.e. who wrote/issued them.

So to sum up, admin staff in at least two CRCs are notified, two weeks before Christmas that their world is going to be turned upside down within less than two months and the EVR scheme is likely to be opened to these staff members the very week before Christmas. In our view the proposals for administrative staff are unworkable and should be subject to further consultation with the unions before being progressed in any shape or form. The briefing issued to staff last Wednesday should be withdrawn with an explanation (and an apology) that it was issued in error and that there will be further consultation over it.

Yours sincerely


Napo National Official   UNISON Regional Officer

c.c. John Wiseman
Liz Rijnenberg
Probation Joint Secretaries
Ian Poree
Napo/UNISON members in affected CRCs
Napo/UNISON local officials
Napo National Officers & Officials

Monday 28 December 2015

Comment Value Hierarchy

The following pinched from world-famous London blogger Diamond Geezer
ON TOPIC1a) Comment expanding on the theme of the post
1b) Comment developing the theme of the post
1c) Comment agreeing with the theme of the post
1d) Comment disagreeing with the theme of the post
1e) Comment giving an example on the theme of the post
1f) Comment recounting a personal experience directly relevant to the theme of the post
1g) Comment filling a gap left by the post
1h) Comment following on from other comments on the post
VEERING2a) Comment veering fractionally off-topic
2b) Comment veering more blatantly off-topic
2c) Comment telling some personal anecdote only vaguely related to the post
2d) Comment picking up on a tangential part of the post and going on about that
2e) Comment picking up on one tiny part of the post and relating a personal experience at great length 
2f) Comment ranting generally around the theme of the post
2g) Comment accidentally posted twice
2h) Comment apologising for accidentally posting twice
PEDANTIC3a) Comment pointing out a factual error in the post
3b) Comment quibbling with the central theme of the post
3c) Comment pointing out a slight exception to something in the post
3d) Comment picking holes in one tiny unimportant part of the post
3e) Comment picking holes in another person's comment
3f) Comment pointing out an 'error' which is actually correct
OFF-TOPIC4a) Comment accidentally posted to the wrong post
4b) Comment apologising for being off-topic but...
4c) Comment recognising it's off-topic but...
4d) Comment failing to notice it's off-topic
4e) Comment responding to other off-topic comments
4f) Comment reigniting some off-topic thread which might otherwise have died
4g) Comment careering off down some conversational cul-de-sac with no relevance to the original post whatsoever
UNNECESSARY5a) Comment about an old post, but added to the latest post in case nobody notices
5b) Comment pointing out a news article they think nobody else has seen
5c) Comment pointing out a news article everybody’s already seen
5d) Personal message that would have been better sent as an email
UNWELCOME6a) Comment from someone wishing I’d written about something else
6b) Comment from someone wishing I’d written about anything else
6c) Comment postulating what today's post should have been about instead
6d) Comment from someone who wants their time back
6e) Snarky comment taking a dig at the blogger rather than the post
7b) Spam
7c) Personal insult
7d) Not getting any comments

Thursday 24 December 2015

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Latest From Napo 89


Another testing year ahead but Napo will be there for our members

The last 12 months for our members whether in Cafcass, PBNI, NPS or one of the 21 CRC's has been one of the toughest years that you and your trade union has faced in living memory.

The systemic assault on public service provision by the last two Governments’ has seen some disastrous decisions take place and the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda (despite the courageous campaign waged by our members), has surely been the worst example.

Since then, our members have done their best to try and make the system work, simply because they care about what happens to clients and their communities if standards of supervision and intervention are allowed to slip; all because of an ideological and politically expedient reform of a great public institution.

In the NPS we see massive workloads and staff shortages in many areas, despite having been told that sufficient provision would be in place to cope with the impact of the staff split. Our work on the E3 project is a classic case of trying to build the operational system that should have been there in the first place.

Prior to the implementation of TR, Napo warned what would happen. Following the 400 plus jobs that were shed by Sodexo across its CRC estate, after they cynically avoided their moral responsibility to pay EVR, we now see that the MoJ have placed remedial measures on one of their CRC's due to poor performance. Napo members working within the Working Links owned CRC’s now face another unwelcome challenge with the announcement of a staggering 584 job cuts across their areas. As you would expect, Napo opposes these proposals, but we will also be demanding answers from Ministers as to how they believe such reductions can be justified or safe.

Just as worrying, are the increasing numbers of incidents of further harm which appear to indicate that the wheels are starting to come off the TR bandwagon, despite the propaganda being issued by some of the CRC owners.

In Probation Northern Ireland, members face massive uncertainty with the seemingly endless deliberations between the PBNI Board, the Justice Department and Stormont over the cuts that it is claimed are needed to the operating budget. Napo has pledged to do all it can to try and influence the outcome and to help ensure that community safety and rehabilitation are given the priority they deserve.

In the Family Court Section, we are in as good a position as we have been for some time in terms of Napo posts on the CAFCASS representational structures now having been filled and some already impressive planning on how the section can recruit more Napo members. The work that has taken place between Napo and CAFCASS Senior Management to improve the industrial relations climate is starting to make a difference, but we need more strength in numbers in order to capitalise on this and force the pace on the perennial problem of workloads and a lack of resources.

Pay next year

All of the above has been difficult enough without the continuation of the Government pay freeze which, once increases in National Insurance come into effect next April, will mean that many members will have seen an overall reduction in their earnings. Napo is determined to do all that it can to try and make a breakthrough on pay next year as we press politicians to understand that not only are our members underpaid in comparison to their Civil Service counterparts, but the work that you do and the responsibilities that you bear, mean that you should be treated as a special case. If there is an opportunity for Napo to be part of a wider campaign through the Trades Union Congress on public service pay, we must be part of it.

NQ (Napo Quarterly) First Edition Available Online NOW!

Given the myriad changes that Napo and its members have been through and the complex issues affecting you all, it is felt that Napo News no longer met the needs of members in terms of keeping them up to date on key vocational issues and in a way that provides a fuller analysis.

Over the last few months the communications team of Tania Bassett and Kath Falcon have developed a new quarterly magazine. The larger publication of around 24 pages allows for more detailed articles to be published and also includes a new guest writer section to provide a wider perspective on both justice and trade union issues. We are also adopting a more interactive approach to enable members and branches to submit their own articles and news updates. We hope you enjoy the first edition and welcome any feedback that members may have. NQ can be accessed by using the following link:

Ensuring that your membership of Napo continues

We know that your Napo membership is important to you and we don't want it to lapse. We also want you to take advantage of the new lower subscription rates from January 2016 (which are only available if you pay by direct debit). Make the switch to direct debit NOW easily and quickly using this LINK. You will need your bank sort code and account number to do this as well as your membership number which is at the top of this message. One final point, do please remember that anyone trying to switch to DD using the gsi system will probably encounter problems, so it is recommended that you undertake this from your personal computers, I-pad or a smartphone

In the New Year, Napo will be launching an engagement exercise to reach out to as many of our members and potential members as possible, to explain the work we have been undertaking on your behalf and our agenda to work in partnership with our members to progress the vocational issues that matter to you.

Meanwhile, and on behalf of the Napo Officers and Chivalry Road Staff, we wish all our members and their families’ seasonal greetings and hope that 2016 brings better news.

Ian Lawrence          Chris Winters        Yvonne Pattison
General Secretary  National Co-Chair  National Co-Chair

23rd December 2015


Latest blog from Napo General Secretary:-

Will 2016 be the start of the wheels coming off?

News of an appalling case of self-harm which took place at a Bristol Court last week made the local media, and obviously does not make for pleasant reading. Yet it doesn't tell half the story of an incident which is especially notable, firstly because of the obvious lack of communication between the NPS and the Working Links owned CRC who had been supervising the client, but because many members have already been in touch to say that we will see plenty more occurrences as the predictions we made before the catastrophic share sale are now starting to unravel.

Of course it’s not just cases of harm that are the principal concern. More and more reports are coming in from worried members that the reputation of particular CRC’s is being given a priority over both public safety and compliance. We are investigating these and will get the facts out to our media connections once they are available. We are also chasing down some leaked information that remedial measures may also have been placed (or about to be placed) on other CRC’s in addition to South Yorkshire. We will keep you posted.

Whilst we are fully entitled to do the: 'We told you so routine', we are well known for having a bit more about us than that, especially as our members have been pulling out all the stops to ensure that they continue to do what they always have done, which is managing service users in the most effective way whilst having to cope with the organisational shambles that is still all too evident within the NPS (see previous HMI Probation Reports). This has been the driver for the E3 programme, and a cost cutting mentality that is embedding itself within the CRC environment. I have already lost count of the numbers of the wider CRC hierarchy who have trotted out excuses to me about how the misrepresentation or absence of critical data in what was supposed to be a ground breaking tendering process (yes, the one which saw the MoJ procurement gurus even get nominated for a national award) has caused them to press the panic button.

Since that particular farce was played out, we have seen Sodexo and Working Links make the first moves in terms of the dreadful job cuts that have been implemented by the former and announced by the latter.

This has started to attract the attention of Politicians and the media over the last few days (which we have already started to follow up) and here is a letter from Leanne Wood who many of you will know was a Napo member before becoming leader of Plaid Cymru.

Letter to Welsh Assembly

Serious questions need asking, so let me have them?
Napo and the other Probation Unions have already asked for a meeting with the Secretary of State where we will be asking some serious questions about the current position and Mr Gove’s views on the likelihood that other CRC’s will follow the job cuts agenda and how this is at all sustainable in terms of public safety.

To borrow a tactic employed by Jeremy Corbyn, I am now inviting our members to send me their specific questions which they would like me to directly put to the Justice Ministers. They obviously cannot include expletives and if you want to anonymise them then fine, but I guarantee they will go into the briefing that we will be putting together beforehand.

Speaking of Ministers

We must also be due a meeting with Caroline Dinenage, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Women, Equalities and Family Justice, to see what she makes of CAFCASS since her elevation to high office. I will be consulting with FCS Vice-Chair Jay Barlow to get this arranged as soon as possible and will keep members posted.

Meanwhile here is a link to the speech that the Minister gave at an event held by Relate to launch their report looking into family justice reform ‘Breaking up is Hard to Do’.

Yes, it’s finally Xmas and you could not make this up

I am receiving reports that most CRC's are finishing at 3:00 on Xmas Eve but many NPS members are being told they will have to stay till 5:00 because they're now civil servants. Although there are some regional variations on the theme, the problem in those locations where the CRC fronts the reception is that the doors will most likely be locked, thus keeping NPS staff who have also worked their shirts off and given untold (but clearly unreciprocated) goodwill to their employers, sat at their desks till the close.

Napo will be there

Have a happy festive break, (whatever your faith, or not) and lets all hope for a peaceful and successful 2016. As we have said in the members e-mail that we have sent out earlier today, Napo will be there for you as always, standing up for the professions that our members work in, calling politicians and employers to account and speaking out against injustice and discrimination.

Crime Bulletin

A Copper’s Christmas

And now for something just a little bit different…

…A retelling of the Christmas story using detail drawn from a little known historical source – the Daily Crime Bulletin of the Bethlehem Police Department (known by all as the ‘BPD’ – and by some as the ‘Thin Beige Line’).

Published daily by the local Constabulary, the Bulletin offers a fascinating insight into the work of a hitherto unheralded group of women and men – whilst shining new light on an old tale.


Bethlehem Police Department
Daily Crime Bulletin
(Date obscured)

Late Turn – Briefing for Operation Census

– Substantial number of migrants arriving at border during past week;
– Limited community tension reported – no incidents of note;
– Large crowds expected in Bethlehem this evening;
– No intelligence re: pre-planned disorder;
– Terrorism Threat Level remains at ‘Severe’;
– 12 officers on duty;
– Roads Policing Chariot in for repairs – no replacement available.

Start of shift;
2 PCs to fixed post at main Town Checkpoint;
2 PCs to ongoing crime scene at Caesar’s Nightclub;
2 PCs to constant watch in the cells;
Remaining officers out on foot.

Routine patrols – High Street.
Town Centre crowded but peaceful.

Call to Civil Dispute in the foyer of the Judea Travelodge.
Apparent misunderstanding regarding double booking of two suites.
Situation deteriorated as it became apparent that there are no other rooms available – anywhere in the neighbourhood.
Suspects became violent. Two arrests. Now lodging with us overnight.

Suspect detained for Theft of Wine from the Bethlehem Brasserie.
Evidence consumed prior to police arrival.
Suspect unfit for interview until tomorrow morning.

Reports of possible UFO sighting.
Claims of a bright light – moving East to West at height of several thousand feet.
Area Search No Trace.
Possible Nuisance Call.

Multiple calls to disturbance on hillside a mile outside town.
Reports of strobe lighting and loud music.
Initial suspicions of an illegal rave in progress.
On arrival, met by gang of Shepherds and a large quantity of sheep. Shepherds claiming to been visited by angels.
Despite lengthy enquiries and thorough searches, no sound system or lighting equipment found – and no evidence of alcohol or illegal substances. Not even a spliff.
Initially threatened Shepherds with arrest for wasting police time – but settled for a Verbal Warning when they explained that they were leaving anyway.
Last seen running towards Bethlehem Town Centre.

Call from Judea Border Patrol.
They have stopped a group of Travellers who claim to have come from ‘afar’.
Have yet to establish where this is.
The three who appear to be in charge are well dressed and claim to know something about the earlier UFO report.
Search of luggage has revealed a quantity of gold and a container filled with an aromatic and suspicious looking resin.
Enquiries ongoing.

Update from Border Patrol.
Travellers able to prove ownership of gold – and the resin turns out to be something called Myrrh. Checks confirm this isn’t a Controlled Drug.
Allowed on their way.

Call to believed Child Protection case.
Reports of newborn baby being cared for in wholly unsuitable circumstances – apparently in a stable, surrounded by livestock and with no heating or running water.
Unmarried teenage mother with no obvious means of support aside from someone claiming – without documentation – to be her ‘betrothed’.
On arrival, found earlier group of Shepherds in street outside.
Initially threatened them with arrest for Obstructing Police – then saw expression on their faces.
Decided to see for myself what was going on.

Ma’am, I’ve walked this beat for more than 20 years and I’ve seen most things that this line of work puts your way – but I have no words to describe what I saw last night.

No arrests necessary. No explanation adequate. But everything is different now.

By the time you read this, I’ll have finished my shift. If you have any questions about this report, you’ll find me back at the stable door.

If I may Ma’am – and if you have time – you really ought to come and see for yourself.

Bulletin ends.


Here’s to a little peace on earth.
Happy Christmas.

(Re-published from policecommander blog