Tuesday 31 January 2017

Explains a Lot

Off piste, but I think a number of us suspected this:-

One of the nation’s top psychologists just broke one of his profession’s ethics rules to give President Donald Trump a professional diagnosis.

John D. Gartner, a psychotherapist who teaches at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, told US News that he believes Trump has “malignant narcissism,” which is incurable, and different from narcissistic personality disorder. Gartner violated the “Goldwater Rule” of the psychology profession, in which a diagnosis of a public figure without personally examining them, and without their consent, is considered unethical.

“Donald Trump is dangerously mentally ill and temperamentally incapable of being president,” Gartner said, citing his movements and behavior, pointing out the president’s tendency for grandiosity, sadism, aggressiveness, paranoia, and anti-social behavioral patterns.

“We’ve seen enough public behavior by Donald Trump now that we can make this diagnosis indisputably,” Gartner added.

Indeed, the diagnosis fits the bill of Psychology Today’s definition of malignant narcissism, which, when described, sounds like Donald Trump almost to the letter. Carrie Barron, M.D., who wrote the magazine’s blog on Malignant Narcissism, says the disorder “renders these individuals scary, dangerous, and ruthless.”

Malignant Narcissists will go to great lengths to achieve their aim. They can be intelligent, high functioning (hold an important job for example) soft-spoken, charming, tearful/seemingly emotional, gracious, well mannered, kind and have the ability to form relationships. They may lie, falsely accuse, dramatize, smear, cheat, steal, manipulate, accuse, blame or twist to get what they want and feel justified in doing so. Because they are entitled, egocentric and desperate, they do not experience it as wrong. They are determined to gratify their wishes and furious if thwarted. Their desire can be so consuming that there is little comprehension of, respect for or ability to empathize with the other. They lack guilt or remorse and tend to feel or pronounce that it is they who have been mistreated.
President Trump’s aides previously reported that their boss watches an excessive amount of television, mostly out of obsession for how he is perceived by the media. Salon’s Matthew Rosza compared the timestamps of Trump’s tweets about topics in the news and found that they coincided with the airing of various network news programs talking about those same subjects.

Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media.

Monday 30 January 2017

Sentencing Council Get Short Shrift

I like the way the Howard League doesn't mince its words. Here they are telling the Sentencing Council to 'go away and try again'.

The Howard League for Penal Reform’s response to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on breach guidelines 

We welcome the opportunity to respond to the Sentencing Council’s consultation on breach guidelines. 

About us 
Founded in 1866, the Howard League is the oldest penal reform charity in the world. We have some 12,000 members, including lawyers, politicians, business leaders, practitioners, prisoners and their families and top academics. The Howard League has consultative status with both the United Nations and the Council of Europe. It is an independent charity and accepts no grant funding from the UK government. 

The Howard League works for less crime, safer communities and fewer people in prison. We aim to achieve these objectives through conducting and commissioning research and investigations aimed at revealing underlying problems and discovering new solutions to issues of public concern. The Howard League’s objectives and principles underlie and inform the charity’s work. 

Since 2002 the Howard League has provided the only legal service dedicated to representing children and young people in custody. The Howard League provides administrative support to the All Party Parliamentary Group on women in the penal system.

We have drawn upon our lawyers’ experience in practice, our direct work with children and young adults, and our policy expertise in this response. 

The guidelines are punitive 
From the outset the whole tenor of the guidelines is punitive. The focus is on the level of sanctions imposed. It is not until page 10 of the guideline that it states that ‘the primary objective of the court is to achieve compliance with a community order’.

Throughout the guidelines, there is no consideration at all of the reasons why people are failing to comply with orders. People in the criminal justice system often have multiple and complex problems, including disabilities, mental health problems, homelessness, drug and alcohol issues and debt. Some will be the primary carers of children. Sentencers must enquire about an individual’s circumstances when assessing compliance. They should consider whether barriers to engagement with an order have been recognised by supervising officers and what steps have been taken to address any potential issues prior to the issue of breach proceedings. 

In Case Study A (p19) there appears to be no detailed investigation into D’s lack of compliance, when initial compliance with the order was good. It is not known whether D is the primary carer of his child or whether the best interests of the child have been considered. It is not known whether his childcare issues or his debt problems had been recognised or addressed by his supervisor. It is therefore disappointing that the penalty of custody in this instance is deemed appropriate. 

The guidelines do not consider external factors, such as the role of supervisory services including Community Rehabilitation Companies and the National Probation Service. There is a general duty upon probation and supervising services to understand the reasons for a lack of compliance and work with the person to achieve compliance. Yet the guidelines do not encourage sentencers to enquire about the actions that may or may not have been taken by supervisors to problem solve and encourage compliance. 

There is evidence to show that CRSs and the National Probation Service are failing in their duty to support people on orders and enable them to comply. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation found that since Transforming Rehabilitation was introduced, over two-thirds of prisoners had not received enough help pre-release in relation to accommodation, employment and finances. A report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation on the effectiveness of probation work in North London found poor levels of contact with too many service users and a lack of monitoring systems. Sentencers must consider the level of support that has been put in place to ensure compliance before determining the level of compliance. 

A lack of evidence 
The Sentencing Council states that is has consulted with professionals. There is no reference to consultation with people serving sentences in the criminal justice system. 

The Sentencing Council states it is issuing guidelines on breach to ‘ensure a consistent approach to sentencing breach of orders’. Yet on page seven of the draft consultation it states that ‘data was unavailable to ensure a thorough examination of sentencing practice for some of the breaches included’. The draft guidelines are being issued for consultation when the data is unavailable to show whether inconsistency is an issue. 

The Sentencing Council’s own resource assessment of the potential impact of breach guidelines for community orders, suspended sentence orders and post sentence supervision is limited. The Sentencing Council states ‘it is not known exactly how many breaches of these orders lead to a custodial sentence being activated, and if so, the length of the custodial sentence imposed’. 

The Sentencing Council has not published an equality impact assessment of the breach guidelines. 

Applicability of the guidelines 
There is a lack of clarity about the scope of the guidelines which ‘will apply to all offenders aged over 18, who are sentenced on or after the date that the guideline comes into force’. The Sentencing Council must clarify the position in respect of those aged 18 and over who have been re-sentenced for a conviction received whilst under the age of 18. In our opinion young people in this category should only be dealt with in accordance with the principles for children. 

Breach and the prison population 
The draft guidelines, with the emphasis on compliance rather than proportionality, are likely to encourage greater use of imprisonment when it is disproportionate and unnecessary.

Data from the Ministry of Justice shows that in the last 20 years the numbers of people in prison due to recall has increased by 4,300 per cent. The increased use of recall to prison for breach has been one of the main drivers to the prison population. Most recalls to prison are for technical breaches of licence conditions, not the commission of new crimes. 

The draft guidelines set a dangerous precedent as they state that sentencers should impose a custodial sentence ‘even when the original offence seriousness did not originally merit custody’. This contradicts one of the stated aims of the Sentencing Council to ensure that ‘all sentences are proportionate to the offence committed’. Use of prison should be a last resort, used for the most serious offences. The proposed guidelines are likely to lead to up-tariffing. 

If someone has committed a further crime then it should be investigated and prosecuted. A technical breach of a sentence should result in a swift but proportionate community response which considers the level of harm caused and the circumstances behind a lack of compliance. 

The guidelines, in failing to consider the factors relating to compliance, are likely to have a disproportionate impact on women, resulting in an increase in the use of custody for breach. Women are more likely to be convicted of non-violent offences. They are also more likely to be primary carers of children. 

The Corston Report emphasised that an excessive proportion of women were in custody for breaches. Baroness Corston recommended: Custodial sentences for women must be reserved for serious and violent offenders who pose a threat to the public; Community solutions for non-violent women offenders should be the norm; Community sentences must be designed to take account of women’s particular vulnerabilities and domestic and childcare commitments; The restrictions placed on sentencers around breaches of community orders must be made more flexible as a matter of urgency. The draft guidelines discourage sentencers to be flexible when considering breach and to only consider compliance. 

A report by the APPG on Women in the Penal System, published by the Howard League for Penal Reform, found that since TR was implemented in February 2015 there have been 797 recalls of women released from short sentences (Ministry of Justice 2016b). The vast majority will have been recalled to prison for 14 days. 

The penalty level for ‘wilful and persistant’ non-compliance, namely the imposition of a custodial sentence for an offence which is not serious enough to merit custody, is in direct contradiction of the UN Rules for the treatment of women and non – custodial sentence for women offenders (the Bangkok Rules). Rule 64 states that custodial sentences are extrema ratio and should only be used when “the offence is serious or violent or the woman represents a continuing danger”.

The guidelines should be re-drafted to ensure sentencers adopt a critical approach when sentencing for breach. Consistency should be achieved through a process that promotes the use of community sentences. Sentencers must consider the reasons for a lack of compliance, including an individual’s personal circumstances and external factors. They must also consider what steps have been taken prior to breach proceedings to encourage compliance. 

I would be happy to meet with you to discuss any of these points further. 

Yours sincerely, 
Dr. Laura Janes Legal Director

Sunday 29 January 2017

That Transfer Agreement

Following on from the obvious mess Napo has got itself into regarding the National Negotiating Council (NNC), this from UNISON published in May 2014 might be worth reflecting on:-  


The Ministry of Justice has published the Staff Transfer Scheme which is the legal document by which your employment will be transferred from your current Probation Trust to either the NPS or the CRC. Its full title is ‘The Offender Management Act 2007 (Probation Services) Staff Transfer Scheme 2014’. UNISON has been closely involved in scrutinising the Scheme and we have taken legal advice on it to ensure that members’ interests are protected. We have also secured some positive changes in the Scheme to further protect your interests. But the Transfer Scheme is not a collective agreement and UNISON has not agreed the scheme, which remains the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice alone. 

The Transfer Scheme is required, so the Ministry of Justice states, because the transfer of probation staff is not a TUPE transfer, but an administrative transfer. This means that the TUPE regulations (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations), which would normally protect your terms and conditions on transfer, do not apply. So it has been necessary for the Secretary of State to draw up a Transfer Scheme to give you these same protections. The Transfer Scheme provides you with the following protections, which are in line with the National Negotiating Council (NNC) Staff Transfer and Protections

Agreement which UNISON members voted to accept earlier this year: 
  • Your Probation Trust contract of employment transfers to the NPS or a CRC, without change. 
  • Your terms and conditions, as set out in the NNC National Agreement on Pay and Conditions, will continue to apply in the NPS and CRCs 
  • All Trust liabilities and duties to staff, including liabilities arising from any claims against the Trust, transfer to either the NPS or the CRC 
  • Your continuity of employment is not broken by the transfer 
  • Staff who move voluntarily between CRCs or between the NPS and a CRC within 7 years of the original transfer date will retain their continuity of employment, and the employment rights that go with this (e.g. entitlement to annual leave/sick leave) 
  • Staff who move voluntarily between CRCs or between NPS and a CRC within 12 months of the original transfer date will retain their eligibility to remain in the local government pension schemes 
  • The existing probation trade unions will continue to be recognised by the NPS and CRCs 
  • Existing funding for trade union facility time, as well as any additional time necessary for dealing with the transfer, will continue to apply after the transfer 
  • Existing national collective agreements covering your terms and conditions will continue to apply following the transfer 
  • The National Negotiating Council negotiating machinery will continue to exist following the transfer in both NPS and the CRCs 
  • The National Negotiating Council job evaluation scheme will continue to apply after the transfer in both NPS and the CRCs 
  • Where CRCs decide to harmonise local terms and conditions – like car mileage allowances – they will have to do so to the most advantageous rate applying in the Trusts which are merging to form the CRC 
  • Any employee who loses pay as a direct result of the transfer will have their pay protected on a stand-still basis (i.e. no pay rises) for three years.

This is from a similar Napo document from December 2013:-

National Collective Bargaining

21.       It is agreed that the existing national collective bargaining arrangements will continue in the CRCs and NPS on 1 June 2014 by means of the Staff Transfer Scheme.  The NNC and SCCOG machinery will also continue to apply to new staff.
22.       The MoJ has confirmed that the sale of shares in the CRC to the new provider does not constitute a TUPE transfer of undertakings as there is no change of employer, merely a change of ownership of the shares in the employer company. Following the share sale, the employer will continue to be the CRC and the relationship between the employer, recognised trade unions and employees is unchanged.  Existing NNC and SCCOG National Agreements on Pay and Conditions of Service will therefore continue to be the terms and conditions for all staff.

Saturday 28 January 2017

MoJ Getting Rattled

It would appear from this paper that the MoJ is beginning to get rattled by recent SFO revelations and the risk that the public and press might begin to learn a bit more regarding the 'smoke and mirrors' reality of RAR days and 'supervision'. TR really has been an unmitigated disaster and someone needs to be held to account.

Legal Position & Practice Implications

1. Introduction

The introduction (ORA) of the Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR) had provided a great deal of sentencing flexibility as well as significant challenges in implementing a measure whose precise focus (in terms of the amount of days, the nature and intensity of interventions) was determined post-sentence. It has gained progressive traction with sentencers but continues to experience difficulties in relation to its practical application, particularly with respect to distinguishing between the requirement (RAR) and the court order, which then leads to a number of implications including its management on nDelius and accountability for the court order following the completion of the assigned activity days. This note provides legal clarity and confirms the policy position in relation to the NPS.

2. The Legal Framework

Section 15 of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 (ORA 2014) amends the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (CJA 2003) to create a new Rehabilitation Activity Requirement (RAR), for Community Orders and Suspended Sentence Orders. The RAR replaces existing activity and supervision requirements which are repealed.

From December 2013, when imposing a Community Order, the court has been required to include at least one requirement that serves as a punishment (or alternatively a fine). There is no equivalent statutory requirement in the Crime and Courts Act 2013 or the ORA 2014 that requires a rehabilitative element as part of every Community Order. There is therefore no duty on courts to include a RAR as part of every Community Order: the decision to include a RAR within a Community Order or Suspended Sentence Order is at the discretion of the court.

A RAR lasts the whole length of a Community Order and until the end of the suspension period for a Suspended Sentence Order. The court will set an end date for the Community Order and since the RAR does not require the court to indicate when the RAR activities will end, the end date of the Community Order will be the date by which the activities must be completed. In respect of a Suspended Sentence Order, the activities must be completed by the end of the suspension period.

PI 58/2014 provides the operational framework for dealing with the approach to assessment, imposition and management of the RAR. All Providers are required to comply with the PI. The NPS Policy and Contract Management are currently reviewing the conflicting understanding of the provision amongst some Providers and will reinforce the framework in the PI with them in due course.

3. Practice Implications

The confusion has arisen through the interpretation of the legal provisions, particularly the conflation of activity days with the length of the order. What this means in practice is that the completion of the activity days brings to a conclusion the constituent element (RAR) of the court order. As most of the activity days are likely to be short in length, it would lead to their quick completion, so if the order was for a period of 12 months and the RAR days (say 40) are completed in 3 months, it results in the RAR finishing with the order still having 9 months to run (so should not be shutdown on nDelius). The offender will remain liable to comply with the order during the outstanding 9 months.

One of the practice challenges is to determine the precise level of purposeful activity for the offender beyond the RAR days. In most cases this is likely to be difficult. However, the Provider remains vulnerable to the business risks (including SFOs and accountability to court if the offender re-offends and it transpires there has been no contact with him/her for a significant period of time) arising from the offender’s continued obligations to the court order until such time as the status of the order is resolved. Two issues follow from this:

1. Providers have to define (based on case complexity and risk) the nature of purposeful activity (which may in some cases involve just reporting periodically) and then instruct the relevant offenders to continue to attend. This would inevitably involve a wide range of considerations including impact on resources. This is for Providers to determine in each case. The NPS cases (those not suitable for 2 below) may be suitable for management in Supervision /Report Centres Centres (or other such designated structured supervision arrangements within each division)
2. Resolve the status of the court order through revocation (good progress, reflecting the overall progress in delivering the sentence plan objectives including impact on reducing risk levels. It would be based on OASys assessments/reviews/decision making evidenced and recorded in nDelius). This would once again involve a number of issues including credibility with sentencers and resource implications both for HMCTS and NPS (enforcement work).
4. Agreed NPS Position:

1. The approach set out in the paper should be adopted in relation to the NPS offender management work with immediate effect

2. We are currently expecting the release of findings of a National Review of RARs. This paper will be amended to reflect any learning from that

3. In relation to the CRC policy and practice, Contract Management are continuing their work to agree a position with CRCs, which would include taking a view on whether or not the CRCs would necessarily take the order back to court for revocation (good progress). Given this, the paper should not be discussed at interface meetings at this stage

4. All NPS divisions should begin to review the possible resource implications arising from the potentially significant increase in the volume of enforcement work to support any change in practice regarding revocations.


This from a current job advert. I wonder if there's anyone getting overtime today?

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has embarked on an ambitious, high-profile programme of reform and we have a number of fantastic opportunities in our External Communications team for talented, hard-working communications professionals.

Our department is never far from the headlines and you will be joining a busy and friendly team to take responsibility for shaping stories and influencing them in print, broadcast and online news outlets.

This includes reforming prisons, probation and youth justice to improve public safety and reduce re-offending, and undertaking the biggest programme of courts reform anywhere in the world to renew public confidence in the justice system and better protect the vulnerable.

We need confident and dynamic individuals in roles across the office who will thrive on being at the forefront of the Justice Secretary’s key priorities, whether that’s briefing media to create the headlines or fire-fighting the occasional crisis story.

You would also contribute to our out-of-hours media service, for which overtime is paid.
It’s an exciting time to be part of the Ministry of Justice. If you have the skills to excel in a busy, fast-paced environment, this is the role for you.

Friday 27 January 2017

Napo Split

Further to Wednesday's blog post 'Latest From Napo 135', news reaches me of dissent amongst the top table:-

‘Minority’ Report – stand firm, appeasement will invite aggression!

At the Annual General Meeting in 2016 members voted overwhelmingly to campaign to defend national collective bargaining across probation. This was a clear message to the Officers and General Secretary to:

  • Cease any discussions then taking place to establish separate negotiating structures
  • To launch a campaign amongst members in support of the collective negotiation structure
It was predicted at the time that the NPS would soon give notice to withdraw from the National Negotiating Council (NNC). As you will be aware this was done before Christmas. One by one the CRC employers have followed suit since!

How should Napo respond?

Napo has always been a member led union and in order to test the strength of resolve to fight it was agreed to hold an indicative ballot. Whilst turnout wasn’t as high as some might have hoped, it was significant and emphatic:
  • almost 4 in 5 who participated said they would be prepared to take strike action to defend national collective bargaining, and
  • a staggering 9 out of 10 said they would vote for action short of a strike!
These results provide the union with significant leverage to seek to have the employers return to the national negotiating table. Rather than roll over and co-operate in the race to the bottom we believe there is another way.
  • Rally the members
  • Recruit more members
  • Show the employers we mean business by entering into dispute
Now is the time to stand firm

We have written this ‘minority report’ to counter the official bulletin sent out by Napo HQ which attaches our names to it and puts an unprincipled gloss over what was a contentious decision to go into local negotiations. There are seven people holding officers roles, two of whom are the Co-Chairs. When the decision about the next steps was finally taken two of us voted to continue to pursue a campaign opposing the demise of national collective bargaining.

You can now provide the bedrock to safeguard our terms and conditions for the future.

Insist our union opposes the race to the bottom:
  • Send messages opposing the appeasement strategy to the Chairs cwinters@napo.org.uk and ypattison@napo.org.uk
  • Produce a branch motion censuring the decision to enter local negotiations. 
Now is the time to let your union leaders, and employers, know that we’ve had enough and we aren’t going to take anymore!!

Chas Berry, National Vice Chair (Probation)
Chris Pearson, National Vice Chair (Finance)

SFO Lessons To Learn 2

The latest from Carl Eve of the Plymouth Herald:-

Victory for Tanis' mum as failings over her son's killer will be discussed in Parliament

Tanis Bhandari's mother has branded Government claims that her son's killer was being properly monitored "a joke" - as failings exposed by The Herald are to be heard in Parliament.

As The Herald revealed last month, killer Donald Pemberton could have been locked up for threatening people with meat cleavers two weeks before the murder if he had been properly supervised. Now the failures to keep tabs on Pemberton are being taken all the way to Parliament - after The Herald helped his grieving family expose a catalogue of errors by the authorities in the lead-up to the murder. And city chiefs are pushing to take the chilling case further, as Tanis' mother hit out at Ministry of Justice claims that Pemberton was supervised "at all times" after his earlier arrest.

The family of the Tamerton Foliot builder, brutally murdered in the early hours of New Year's Eve two years ago, were left reeling after being given access to two internal investigations by the privatised arm of the Probation Service and Devon and Cornwall Police. The reports revealed a catalogue of systemic failures, delays, computer inadequacies and human errors that have left them with more questions than answers.

The police investigation shockingly found "there was a chance" that Donald Pemberton – serving a life sentence for the joint murder of the 27-year-old on New Year's Day – "would not have been at liberty on that night" had key information been available to police and his probation officer after he was arrested for threatening a group of men with two meat cleavers two weeks earlier.

Worse, the police investigator found the circumstances which led to Tanis' death could be repeated, not just in Devon and Cornwall, but in any force area of the country due to omissions in the recording of licence conditions on the Police National Computer. The police's review of the matter concluded there was "every chance incidents similar to this case will recur" if no changes were made to current processes.

The probation report into the actions taken by the Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Probation Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) – run by Working Links – was carried out by staff from the Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire CRC – also run by Working Links. Tanis's family were informed they were only allowed to see a summary form of the Serious Further Offence review into decisions and actions taken in relation to the management of Pemberton. The four page report revealed that Pemberton's probation case manager was "newly appointed to the role of case manager". In addition, it revealed there was a delay in getting her onto a training programme for newly appointed case managers.

The police's internal investigation went further and revealed that the probation case manager was not informed of Pemberton's arrest on December 15, 2014 until eight days later, after a member of the Insight Mental Health Team contacted her Plymouth office. The report also found how three weeks earlier the same probation case manager had been told by a Doctor who had seen Pemberton that the 20-year-old was "paranoid and afraid of his father and was now keeping an axe under his bed". She called police to advise action under the Mental Health Act. However, after first calling 101, then 999, then 101 she was told he was "back at home and was no longer a risk".

On December 31, 2016 – and again on January 6, 2017 – The Herald asked the Ministry of Justice for comment on the police's findings, the implications for all police forces, prisons and the PNC Bureau at the Met Police, the "recommendations" put forward by the police and which organisation would take charge of the force's concern. On January 18, a Ministry of Justice spokesman replied: "Public protection is our absolute priority and at all times offenders were supervised according to their licence conditions.

"We have worked closely with the Police to rectify this situation and the Home Office and Ministry of Justice will continue to work together to further improve the process." The spokesman noted how during the period that "details were not being uploaded", prisons continued to manually notify local PNC bureaus and probation services when an offender had been released into their area on licence.

They said: "This issue only related to those offenders dealt with the Offender Rehabilitation Act who had been sentenced to less than 12 months. "As part of the MoJ's Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, offenders in prison for less than 12 months are now receiving support from the probation service for the very first time. "Under the provisions, prisons must provide information on offenders due to be released on a licence and on PSS [Post-Sentence Supervision] to local police forces, probation services and the centralised PNC bureau, run by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)."

In response, Andrea Sharpe, Tanis' mother, said: "They've got to be kidding. It's just a joke, isn't it? I'm so speechless to see what they've come out with. They've just churned out something they've already said before. I'm not filled with confidence that they are supervising offenders at all times, not at all. It's shoddy and it's scary because I'm surprised something else like this hasn't happened between then and now. Perhaps it has and we're not being told. I'm definitely not satisfied public protection is their priority. They've ignored the police's report completely. They would have to be a lot further to even start me down the road to being confident again."

Plymouth Moor View MP Johnny Mercer said he has met with the family of Tanis Bhandari and would raise their concerns about the probation and police reports at Parliament. He said: "This appears to be an unacceptable failure by police and probation authorities outside of Devon and Cornwall. "Their number one priority is the protection of the public from individuals like Pemberton. We have a brilliant police force in Plymouth; they can only continue to achieve the standard they do if they are supported properly by other police organisations outside Devon and Cornwall. I have met with the family of Tanis Bhandari to provide support and advice in their relations with government departments and agencies. I will continue to work with them in order to help deliver the answers they deserve. I will be raising this in Parliament at the earliest opportunity."

Councillor Philippa Davey, Labour councillor for the Stoke ward has recently lodged a motion at Plymouth City Council regarding concerns over the privatisation of the Probation Service and the findings of the Serious Further Offence review and the police's internal report.

The motion – entitled Protecting the Public – goes on to note deep concerns about the Ministry of Justice's lack of action and other agencies "to rectify a national issue regarding licences which is likely to lead to further offences being committed, which could be prevented". The motion hopes to see the Conservative/UKIP led council to urge local MPS and the Police and Crime Commissioner to lobby the government over these concerns.

Speaking to The Herald, she said: "Having managed high risk of harm offender services I was shocked to read Carl Eve's damning report on the sequence of events that led to Tanis Bhandari's brutal murder – events that I believe could, and should, have been avoided. "At numerous points, Donald Pemberton should have been identified as a high risk of harm to both the public and himself. What is even more concerning is that failure in the notification of licence conditions, lack of communication between key services and poor or non existent risk assessment will lead to further offences being committed. 
The fact that the 'dip sample' of PNC records showed a third had no record of their licence conditions on the system is a huge hole in the system."

"To read this is the same across all forces, is frankly terrifying. The whole criminal justice system is creaking at the seams, our MP's have ignored councillors concerns regarding probation, lack of funding for essential services and privatisation and it is the public who pay the ultimate price. Nothing will bring back Tanis, but we must do all we can to ensure his death is not in vain, that his family receive the answers they seek and deserve and that we work to ensure these failures do not happen again.  Some very simple measures could be taken to reduce the risks and I will be doing all I can to ensure this happens."

Andrea said she has been heartened by the response to a petition she launched just a few weeks ago urging the Home Secretary to release the full Serious Further Offence review. The 5,000 target was smashed and the number of people backing the family's plea continues to rise. She said: "We're overjoyed and overwhelmed by the support we have received and we've been urged to keep it open to increase the pressure."

"The next step is to write to the Secretary of State for Justice Liz Truss MP and make her aware of the petition and what we want and then, hopefully, Johnny Mercer will be able to arrange a meeting with Sam Gyimah [Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice] to present the petition. We have also made a Freedom of Information request to Liz Truss for the full Serious Further Offence report, but we've heard nothing back from her yet. We've also made a formal complaint to the police regarding why officers did not look at Pemberton's PNC report properly after his arrest on December 15 for the affray. Devon and Cornwall Police have said they have now referred our complaint to the Independent Police Complaints Commission."

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Latest From Napo 135

Defending National Collective Bargaining Issue 1 - Jan 2017


This bulletin is the first in a series of updates for Napo activists working in the National Probation Service, the Probation Service Northern Ireland, or a Community Rehabilitation Company. Please ensure that you take the time to read it and discuss it with members in your workplaces. It can also be referenced in your contact with non-members as part of Napo's recruitment campaign.

Industrial action options following the Indicative Ballot

We have now had the result of the indicative ballot that we issued in December as a follow up to the direction contained in the AGM resolution.

The Officer Group have agreed the recommendation from the General Secretary that it would not be in Napo’s tactical interests to publish the result since it would reveal much to the employer about the strength of feeling in particular areas.

That said, it is clear from the feedback that we have received and willingness to take industrial action from over 70% of those who returned their ballot, that a head of steam is starting to build up amongst members on their willingness to take action to defend National Collective Bargaining.

On that basis, the Officers have agreed that calling Industrial Action merely to try and restore the NNC machinery would not be in our members interests and that the energy needed would distract us from the likelihood of industrial action on other issues. For example, it is clear that Napo now needs to prepare for the possibility of major industrial campaigns on pay, where we expect to see National Collective Bargaining standards applied to all of our members across the NPS, PBNI and CRCs; and workloads, where it is evident that many members are facing huge difficulties. Indeed, we have today issued specific material on Workloads as per BR03/2017

We want to express our appreciation for the considerable efforts of our activists in helping to secure a reasonably respectable turnout in the indicative ballot. This was an important test of our member’s feelings about this key issue.

For some 12 months the established National Negotiating Council structure has been under threat as NOMS and CRC employers have signaled their intention to move to separate single table bargaining arrangements. Napo and the Probation unions have worked hard to prevent the demise of the NNC; but by last autumn it became obvious that this prospect would soon become a reality.

At Napo’s hugely successful AGM in Wales last year the conference sent out a clear response that Napo should launch a campaign to defend national collective bargaining.

The following motion was carried:

Defend national collective bargaining

The National Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections signed 28th January 2014 gives a specific undertaking to protect national collective bargaining. This is summarised in paragraph 21 where it states:

“It is agreed that the existing national collective bargaining arrangements will continue in the CRCs and NPS on 1 June 2014 by means of the Staff Transfer Scheme. The NNC and SCCOG machinery will also continue to apply to new staff.”
Post share sale a number of CRC owners are threatening to replace national collective bargaining with completely local arrangements. While a few staff may benefit from locally competitive local pay and conditions, in all likelihood this will result in a ‘race to the bottom’ in most areas. More importantly, it will torpedo Napo’s stated aim of achieving a nationally agreed, fair and equitable pay structure.

Officers and Officials are instructed to oppose any attempt to break up national collective bargaining and to launch a campaign amongst members in any CRC that threatens to withdraw from current NNC/SCCOG arrangements.

What has happened since then?

Soon after the AGM it became clear that NOMS intended to follow through with their policy to withdraw from the NNC and just before Christmas, Napo and the probation unions received formal notice to that effect. As we had predicted, this subsequently resulted in all CRCs also indicating their withdrawal from the NNC with effect from the end of January/early February. As you would expect there were a series of meetings with some especially heated exchanges with NOMS senior management as well as exchanges of correspondence.

Following an invitation from the Director of Probation, Napo and the probation unions are still engaged in talks with ACAS to consider how they might assist in establishing some transitional arrangements to ensure that employers recognise their obligations to abide by NNC legacy policies and the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement despite the end of the NNC in its present form. More news on this will be issued following the next scheduled meeting early next month.

What happens next?

The indicative ballot, whilst encouraging in many respects, indicates that we still have a considerable amount of work to do in order to build sufficient momentum for industrial action on a national basis.

This does not rule out the use of industrial action in CRC specific disputes or those that may emerge in the NPS, or PBNI. Should our members call for such ballots to be held then Napo will respond immediately.

The Officers have carefully considered the ballot result and have determined that in order to protect members from the possibility of being left out in the cold as local negotiating machinery is being developed (UNISON policy is contrary to that from our AGM) the following policy statement was agreed:

As the NNC will cease to exist from 31st January following the withdrawal from all the employers, we must allow negotiators to engage with employers to develop bargaining machinery. Any negotiating body constitutions should be ratified by the NEC and any agreements should be brought back to Officers and Officials to ensure consistency and adherence to national policy.

This effectively means that Napo activists working alongside your Link Officers and Officials should now seek to develop bargaining machinery specific to the relevant employer whilst making it absolutely clear that final assent to such arrangements will only secure Napo agreement if they are consistent with existing NNC policies and National agreements and standards.

We will be issuing information to individual members by mail-out to keep them informed, but CRC branch activists should engage with their National Link Officials to discuss the approach to be taken on pan-CRC negotiating machinery in light of the policy statement above.

Enquiries in respect of this bulletin should in the first instance be directed to your National Link Officer or Official who will if necessary liaise with Napo Head Office.

Finally our thanks to all of our activists for their continued support for Napo members in what is the most testing industrial landscape that this union has ever had to operate in.

Napo Officers Group:
Chris Winters, Yvonne Pattison, Katie Lomas, Chas Berry, Chris Pearson, Jay Barlow

Napo General Secretary
Ian Lawrence

Tuesday 24 January 2017

CRC Dispute Latest 20

Short Branch update 2017

Dear Members,

This is brief update to keep you informed as far as we can on the current issues. We are still holding on for the long awaited legal advisories that we have asked for as these will tie in directly to the next scheduled National Joint secretaries meeting around the middle of February.

Sadly we are there because of the total and constant failing of Working Links to really want to engage properly on the staffing workloads arrangements. Deliver any appropriate input to working on a fair and equitable workload weighting agreement, or to provide all staff and the unions with genuine risk assessments under occupational health and safety legislation. Despite their obscure and poorly researched avoidance response we have little positive to report on the current position.

In that process however, NAPO UNISON are also waiting on the formal and legal advice for the health and safety failures that Working Links continue to require from their agents and management. Napo will not be party to ignoring their legal obligations and will enforce those issues. We continue to challenge the already failing position they have advanced. Many of you will recall we have called for equality impact assessments on staffing who both remain and were previously claimed to be at risk because of the WL appalling calculations on reducing so many staff.

Here we are a long way down the road and many staff who are feeling like they are stuck in roles and not provided a genuine or fair equal exit route. Certainly nothing similar to likes of others who were previously favoured by rank or role. The hostile tactic of severance which many staff surprisingly appeared happy to take and with huge personal losses to themselves. This situation only contributes to the bulging and greed driven pocket of the Working Links money absorption policy. By that there were no staff awarded their entitlements to pensions. Working Links choosing to make flat and disadvantageous incentives to the already depressed and weary. OK enough of that we now have what we predicted a core of some harder line staff who were neither able to get out or indeed could afford to, with such a poor prospect facing them who are now going to be subsumed into the new staffing to continuity. Oh really!

With that they will not have any recognised workloads agreement, no health and safety assessments on buildings locations and travel. Workload weighting for new tasks! Nothing from IT and assistive user technology arrangements or union consultation. Locally or nationally. Napo members are already reporting a continued onslaught at the attempts to vary their jobs and as yet zero consultation or proper protections in place. All side stepped and avoided in any documents and proper responses from the Working Links Spin cycle.

You all get the picture NAPO e mail is busy and we continue to issue the same advice as we wait patiently for the Working links wheels to fall off. Today gives us another a prime example of the over energetic hurry to collapse the IT system and yet they now report they are still without the important permission's to do so. Is this more about losing IT on costs and making that extra lolly in profits than actually making sure things are well understood? Who knows at this moment only we continue to challenge the mess on your behalf.

There are too many examples coming through that illustrate the unfair practices of Working Links towards the diverse nature and needs of our staff across a range of protected characteristics. Also the change in locations and flat rejections to honour staff terms and protections. are all on costs to lowest paid employees. I want to know what chunk of public funding is finding its way into the board members of Working Links its time we made those inquiries. It is all set for more dispute as the issues take hold and more staff develop the confidence and start to reject the Working Links way and the constant "our people " rubbish. If that were the case treat our people our members properly and honour their terms comes echoing to my mind which has been expressed to me a whole lot of late, from many and very angry members.

Unpaid work at the forefront for the moment as these staff have the most depressing attacks on their roles and safe working practices. Vans groups sizes and pick up, all under the spotlight for a major issue and dispute. We are proud of our members holding the line there and we continue with the authorities shortly to bring some much needed direction and correcting to this situation. In the meantime we assert there has still been no risk assessments to health and safety to their proposed planned changes to unpaid work. There cannot be any reasonable why not? We speculate that if they had done so properly they could not operate such a drastic cut in operations. Well you will all realise what that means.

Currently we are yet to see how the shiny new laptop roll out will impact on your current jobs and to what extent the management try and vary your roles without agreement. If you are in doubt contact the branch. Continue to press home the need to have representation an the need to consult properly on the issues and ensure you get everything in writing. As their changes start to drive home a more aggressive direct we can then take stock of the protections and process we engage to represent you.

This branch update was meant to be a sad recognition that today we are planned to come off the previous and last ties to the public service IT system. That gave us an additional sense of identity as was public sector workers. Instead we have that bleak orange facing new screen of the take over and less of a light touch contract management that they tried to dupe many of us to believe. Well here we are a couple of days reprieve but whatever happens on the other side of the migration Napo will continue to get our message out there to you. If necessary open a new access point for all members through Napos national network. That said, I could not believe they would openly cut our all members information route while they still hold section 188 compulsory redundancy notices despite so many of our staff leaving shortly. Good luck to many of them our Napo members.

In saying goodbye we also loose our very well respected and ex Napo Branch Chair of Dorset. No doubt fed up and angered by the situation we all face. Another PO lost to the region and another mark on the spiral downwards of quality but there we are. Sadly our long served colleague Debbie Holmes will be leaving Napo ranks and the former great probation. Having served many years in a union role and a great supporter of equality fairness and practices. I will just say a simple thanks to Debbie here for now, but will mark her leaving for a new role properly in the next branch report. Thanks Deb.

Members thanks to all as we continue to fight to ensure your protections and restitution of your terms as we continue in the current dispute over health safety and your future securities. We will update you on the ACAS feud and virtual farce shortly.

Dino Peros SSW Branch Chair
JNCC Napo Rep

Monday 23 January 2017

IT Fixed?

Whilst we still seem to be treading water, it gives me time to delve back into the archives of posts that never quite made it to publication for various reasons. Way back in October, during a short sojourn in France, I suffered an internet failure and a whole raft of stuff I'd prepared got left sitting on the laptop, like this one about IT. I guess everything's ok now though, right?

We all know IT in probation is crap, Sonia Crozier confirmed that only last week when speaking at Napo's AGM in Cardiff.    

This from Government Computing April 2016:-

NAO warns over ICT and data at heart of probation reforms

The National Audit Office (NAO) has raised concerns over the case management systems at the heart of the "Transforming Rehabilitation" probation reforms. It has also highlighted limitations around data quality and availability and outlined fears over the impact on the technology investment going into community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) amid a general decline in the number of cases going through the justice system.

In its study, which examines whether the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) are managing reforms in a way that will improve the value for money of probation services, the NAO says the performance of CRCs and the National Probation Service (NPS) remains unclear given limitations around data quality and availability.

The NAO report says that data on reoffending will not emerge until late 2017, allowing a year after supervision for offenders to reoffend, and a further six months for offences to be proven in court. In assessing performance by the NPS, the report points out that performance of the seven NPS regions should be monitored monthly through 25 service levels that track offender management from the start of the sentence. NOMS considers that robust data is available for only 18 of these 25 service levels with the NPS performing at or above target levels in seven of these.

However, the report says, NPS managers expressed limited confidence in some of the data due to quality issues caused by laborious and dated case and offender management systems. Although each region has put data quality managers in place, another concern is a reduction in analytical support teams since the separation into CRCs and the NPS.

The report also says that the various ICT systems used in probation casework create severe inefficiencies. New tools used by the NPS for assessing and allocating offenders are "cumbersome" and require "repeated data re-entry", the report says.

Although all CRCs are planned to replace existing ICT systems once they could develop new case management and assessment systems, NOMS suffered delays in developing and implementing the interface required for CRCs to share data on offenders. The interface was due to be delivered in June 2015, but was delayed because of other priorities and increased scope.

Currently, the NAO said, the MoJ was advising that the interface or 'gateway' had been developed and was awaiting joint testing with CRCs' systems. In summary, the NAO said that it had observed "severe inefficiency" arising from the various ICT systems used.

For example:

- Staff attributed several hours per week of lost working time to nDelius, the main probation case management system. Some considered nDelius had been unfit for purpose as a case management tool even before it was laden with additional performance management and contract management functions during the reforms. NPS is making minor changes to the system on an ongoing basis.

-nDelius is not intuitive to use and requires multiple steps for even simple actions. Most staff also complained of losing work they had entered and periods of system unavailability. Staff reported receiving limited training on the system.

- the 'risk of serious recidivism' tool (RSR) used to assess offender risk is unable to pull information from other systems, requiring manual re-entry. Staff complained about the time required to complete the tool and considered that it should not be compulsory for evidently high-risk cases. However, changes in national guidance have removed the requirement to complete the RSR at the pre-sentence stage in all cases. NOMS also found extensive miscalculation and misreporting of results.

- the Offender Assessment System (OASys), for assessing the risks and needs of an offender, requires manual re-entry of information already entered in nDelius and RSR, increasing error rates and diverting staff from productive work; and

- the case allocation system (CAS), which is completed by the NPS on all cases to document allocation decisions, is in part paper-based and also requires staff to re-enter data that are already in other systems. Work to improve its functionality is due to be implemented later in 2016.

The NAO added that to increase efficiency and productivity, most CRCs are installing their own case management systems and ICT infrastructure. The NPS expects to continue with the existing systems for the foreseeable future, it added.

In its report, the NAO also made a point that the contracts signed with the new owners of community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) commit them to achieving economies and efficiencies sufficient to fund the costs of expanded services.

Each transformation programme depends on significant privately financed investment, mainly in the first two years of the seven-year contracts in several areas, including wholesale replacement of inefficient technology developed and used by probation trusts, particularly systems for offender case management and consolidating the separate back-offices run by probation trusts.

However, the NAO said, its fieldwork at four CRCs had identified various effects of uncertainty over future costs and income, including reduced clarity over the timing or level of investment, particularly on ICT and estates transformation.

CRCs now face commercial and contractual pressures to deliver the changes. But the extent and pace of CRCs' transformation plans have become more uncertain because their case volumes are much lower than planned during bidding. Volumes are down between 6% and 36% against the mid-point agreed in the contracts, with one of the reasons for reduced volumes being a general decline in the number of cases going through the justice system, particularly owing to the reduction in crime.

The NAO concluded, "The ministry has successfully restructured the probation landscape, avoiding major disruptions in service during a difficult transition period. But this is only the beginning. If the ministry is to stabilise, and improve, the performance of CRCs and the NPS it needs to continue to address operational problems, such as underlying capacity issues, weaknesses in ICT systems and performance data, and improve working relationships between NPS and CRC staff - some of which are unsurprising given the scale of reforms."

Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier added, "There can be no room for error in the Ministry of Justice's plans to transform rehabilitation. The cost of reoffending to society and the public purse is too great. The scale and pace of reform are all very challenging. We will have to wait and see if the department has created the right incentives for the system to work as a whole to reduce reoffending rates. From the NAO's analysis, I am concerned that some of the persistent weaknesses around IT systems and capacity issues put real reform at risk."


This from Government Computing September 2016:- 

PAC: probation service ICT is “inefficient, unreliable and hard to use”

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has warned of the impact poor ICT systems have had on efforts by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to transform probation services. In 2014, the PAC said it reported on the changes underway to probation services in England and Wales, outlining several risks and challenges. Now, two years on, it has warned that there is still no clear picture of how the new system is performing in important areas of the reforms.

In addition, the “failure to deal with ICT problems” coupled with “serious uncertainty over the impact on providers of lower than expected business volumes” have also undermined the pace of change, the parliamentary watchdog said.

In 2012, the MoJ said it would deliver a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ by reforming probation services. Subsequently in June 2014, it split 35 probation trusts into a public sector National Probation Service (NPS) as well as 21 new community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). The NPS advises courts on sentencing all offenders and manages those individuals presenting higher risks of serious harm or with prior history of domestic violence and sexual offences, while CRCs supervise offenders presenting low- and medium-risk of harm.

The CRCs were in public ownership until February 2015 and then transferred to eight mainly private sector providers working under contract to the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

However, the ability of the CRCs to transform their businesses is being undermined by delays in resolving commercial negotiations. The new owners of the CRCs were chosen on the basis that they would invest in and transform these businesses, with promised innovations including new “one-stop” service centres and the use of ICT systems to free up probation staff time to interact more effectively with offenders. But the transformation has been slower than expected due to difficulties connecting the CRCs to ICT systems within NOMS coupled with lower volumes of business than originally estimated.

The PAC went further in its criticism of probation service ICT systems, describing them as “inefficient, unreliable and hard to use.” The report maintained that successful probation services depend on effective joint-working across various partners, supported by “well-functioning ICT systems”.

But it said, “Probation ICT systems have long been unfit for purpose, which hinders collaboration and frustrates staff who already work under pressure. We were told that the nDelius case management system used by NOMS had to be stripped back so it could be operated by CRCs and NPS regions nationwide as a single system. As a result, this reduced the usability of nDelius and NPS staff regularly raise ICT issues with senior leaders in NOMS.

“Improving nDelius is a priority for NOMS and is particularly important for the NPS who will continue to use the system for the foreseeable future.”

“Most CRCs are installing their own case management systems and ICT infrastructure to increase efficiency and productivity. For this to happen, CRCs needed the ministry to provide a “strategic partner gateway” to link NOMS and CRC systems. The ministry initially planned to deliver this gateway in the summer of 2015 but this was delayed by other priorities and subsequently by increased scope. Though the gateway is now in place, the delay has impacted some CRCs’ ability to transform their ICT systems at the pace they had planned. As a result, the ministry has had to pay a total of £23.1m to 17 CRCs.

The PAC concluded, “In a service that relies on successful joint working between multiple partners, it is essential that ICT supports, rather than frustrates, effective and efficient collaboration. This is far from the case for probation.

“Systems are still fragile and precarious, not least the ICT infrastructure and NOMS’ nDelius case management system, which puts added pressure on already hard pressed staff. The nDelius case management system had to be stripped back so it could be operated nationwide and improvements to its usability were deferred. There have also been delays in providing CRCs with a gateway into NOMS ICT systems.

“The ministry has paid £23m compensation to CRCs as a result. It is crucial that nDelius, the gateway and wider ICT systems are fully functional as soon as possible otherwise NOMS risk further demoralising essential staff and delaying planned service transformation.”

The PAC recommended that NOMS should “without delay” meet its commitments to improve the usability of nDelius and to implement a fully functional and reliable link between NOMS and CRC systems by the end of 2016.

PAC chair Meg Hillier said: "There is a real danger the Ministry of Justice has bitten off more than it can chew. It set out with some fervour a programme of reforms not just to rehabilitation but also to the courts and prison systems. Ambition is one thing but, as our committee continues to document across government, delivering positive results for taxpayers and society in general is quite another.

“Reintegrating offenders with the community is vitally important yet the quality of arrangements to support this is patchy. There is also a continued failure to provide hard-pressed probation staff with adequate computer systems. None of this paints a picture of probation working effectively towards the goal of reduced reoffending.The ministry must not allow other projects to distract it from the task at hand during what is a critical stage of rehabilitation reform and we urge it to act on the recommendations set out in our report."


Seen on Facebook:-

If MoJ ministers were not briefed truthfully by their senior civil servants at the MoJ and NOMS then that is a very serious matter that should be investigated. If ministers knew and withheld this vital information likely to make TR practically unworkable from parliament then this is scandalous and may well require investigation in the public interest. If bidders were not informed about the extent of known and anticipated ICT problems that were highly likely to severely impact on the successful roll out of their operating models and hamper their ability to meet targets and eventually cream off a surplus then they could presumably sue the MoJ. At the very least the problems should be fixed for them at the governments expense and generous compensation paid to all probation service providers and their employees who have suffered as a consequence. Furthermore, probation providers should not be subjected to financial pressures based on performance as the funding provider effectively nobbled them before they took their first steps. £23m for everyone's trouble and aggravation is frankly a derisory sum.

Saturday 21 January 2017

Latest From Napo 134

Here we have the latest blog post from Napo General Secretary, Ian Lawrence:-

Napo Launches our new recruitment campaign

‘What’s Napo doing about it?’

It’s about the most repeated, and certainly not unreasonable, question that you and the team here at Falcon Road hear from members. Given the daily challenges that you face at the workplace, be it as a result of staff reductions on the one hand or the implementation of plain daft policies such as the Attendance Management regime that I covered last week on the other; many members expect us to have all the answers or at least be posing the right questions.

None of this is just specific to Napo of course; it’s what any member of any trade union is entitled to ask. The democratic structures that Napo has in place allow the opportunity for our members, through their representatives, to hold the leadership to account for every decision we take and every penny that we spend of your hard earned subscriptions.

Unfortunately, such a relationship, while absolutely critical to what we do and how we go about it, cannot be seen in isolation from one inalienable fact. Unless we have sufficient numbers of members in place we are sometimes limited in delivering the type of response to your employer in the way that you and we would like.

At the time of writing we await the results of the indicative ballot that we have been running on the need to defend collective bargaining following the intention of the NPS and now nearly every CRC, to withdraw from the National Negotiating Council. This type of exercise tells us much about how members feel about issues of this type or conversely, whether members simply do not see it as their priority. Either way, the union will have to analyse the result and consider how we proceed, and either way it’s also a fact that the decision will find favour with some of our members and not so with others.

Time to rebuild

The point to all this is that we need to rebuild our membership base so that we can increase the amount of resourcing and campaigning that is needed to try and address the issues around your pay, terms and conditions and future employment prospects. That is why the Officers and Napo employees along with the National Executive Committee, have endorsed Napo’s operational plan which sets out our work for the coming months (NEC01/2017) and why we are soon to launch our recruitment strategy to which a great deal of planning and innovative thought has been invested.

We have written out as the first step in Napo’s drive to take Napo ‘out to the membership’, a programme of “Napo Roadshows”. The purpose of the Napo Roadshow will be to share with Branches Napo’s key priorities for 2017 and key actions we hope to achieve over the coming 12 months as detailed in the annual operational plan. These events will be an opportunity to help explain how we can work together with members to deliver a successful Workload Campaign as well as other national campaigns such as Pay. In addition, we will look at how these campaigns can help build a better and stronger Napo through local recruitment initiatives and get feedback from members and we aim to programme in the roadshows during the next 6 months (between Feb and July).

All of this builds on the energy that was apparent at the last AGM in Wales and the last meeting of your National Executive Committee. Members can help us by attending these events and engaging with non-members about the importance of being a member of a trade union and that Napo should be that union of choice wherever you work.

Much more next week


Napo's Objectives 2017

Objective 1: Promoting and protecting members' interests

Securing the promotion and protection of members’ interests at work. This objective includes the maintenance of Cafcass as a public sector service and campaign for the reinstatement of a national, amalgamated public Probation Service, with job security, decent and fair pay, pensions and conditions with national collective bargaining, fair and measurable workloads, equality, health and safety and representation. Ensuring the best use of Napo’s income via sound financial planning and regular monitoring of budgets.


  • Pursue equal pay issues as part of the 2016/17 Pay Claim (AGM Resolution 3) 
  • Secure national agreement with employers on a fair and uniform method of applying obligations for time off for trade union duties and ‘facility time’ across all areas (AGM Resolution 12) 
  • Oppose any attempt to break up national collective bargaining and launch a campaign amongst members in any CRC that threatens to withdraw from current NNC/SCCOG arrangements (AGM Resolution 15) 
  • Pursue a pay settlement in line with the union’s negotiating objectives 
  • Oppose the Children and Social Work Bill (AGM Resolution 8) 
Probation and Cafcass
  • Monitor Napo’s new Members’ Services package provided by Parliament Hill 
  • Revisit Napo’s funding to the Edridge Fund (AGM Resolution 1) 
Health and Safety
  • Highlight the issues of the menopause for women in the workplace; promote sickness absence procedures which can take account of menopause related sickness absence; encourage openness and discussion amongst women members; promote training/awareness raising about menopause within probation and Cafcass (AGM Resolution 9) 
  • Join the European wide campaign against the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) free trade treaty (AGM Resolution 10) 
  • Develop guidance for members advising on their rights and responsibilities if / when lone working (AGM Resolution 11) 
Objective 2: Formulating Professional, Training and Developmental Policies

Promoting the best professional policies, training and development, and qualifications in Probation and Cafcass, based on anti-discriminatory practice and a fundamental commitment to diversity. Providing advice and guidance to members and ensuring regular monitoring and evaluation of policy and practice. Promoting the professional association aspect of Napo.

  • Resist the proposed changes put forward through the Effectiveness, Efficiency and Excellence (E3) Programme for Probation Officers seconded into YOTs (AGM Resolution 14) 
  • Reassert the importance of high quality pre-sentence assessment as critical to sentencing and the safe allocation of cases (AGM Resolution 17) 
  • Continue to provide responses to NOMS’ draft Probation Instructions 
  • Correct the unfair termination process by the Probation Qualifications Advisory Board (PQAB) (AGM Resolution 13) 
  • Continue to support the work of the Union Learning project in Wales. 
Objective 3: Campaigning and Communicating

Maintaining Napo’s high profile in successfully campaigning, promoting and communicating Napo’s policies and values. Organise the re-instatement of a national, amalgamated public Probation service and keep Cafcass as a public service, both with sufficient resources to guarantee jobs and service delivery. To work with unions, relevant organisations, MPs, Assembly Members, peers, parliamentary groups and others as appropriate in relation to wider public service campaigns.

  • Join the ‘Together for Children’ Campaign to oppose the Children and Social Work Bill and to campaign with the Parliamentary Family Justice Committee to highlight the dangers inherent in this proposed Bill (AGM Resolution 8) 
  • Continue to expose the disastrous consequences of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme (AGM Resolution 4) 
  • Gather examples and widely publicise examples of deterioration in gathering, assessing and sharing information essential to risk management and safeguarding (AGM Resolution 16) 
  • Continue to campaign for the abolition of the Sodexo Booths (AGM Resolution 2) 
  • Continue to develop a unifying workloads campaign strategy, with the pursuit of accurate workload timings and development of a workload measurement tool that accurately reflects the work (AGM Resolution 5) 
  • Support the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, in any campaign which includes the re-instatement of a national, amalgamated public Probation service (AGM Resolution 6) 
  • Continue joint campaigning with other unions, including the TUC, GFTU and TUCG 
  • Continue the fight against the political threat posed by fascist and far right groups 
  • Continue to produce and revise the Napo Quarterly magazine, including widening use of the online Napo News site 
  • Provide regular briefings and statements to parliamentarians and the print and broadcast media; send regular e-bulletins to branches on campaigning issues 
  • Support and promote the Probation and Family Court Journals, and occasional monographs and improve accessibility 
  • Continued use of improved Napo website as a primary interface with members, utilise learning and development components, interactive elements such as the forums and continue to increase the use of new technology like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (NapoTV) 
Objective 4: Building a strong, accessible and inclusive union

Prioritising the organising and recruitment strategy to provide growth in membership representative of all staff in Probation and Cafcass. Promoting structural reform that improves efficiency, democracy and accessibility. Providing trade union education and lifelong learning which empowers members and engenders union activity and organising specialist conferences for members.

Implementing and reviewing progress in relation to policy and action to combat racism, homophobia and heterosexism, sexism, transphobia, ageism, oppression based on religion/beliefs and promoting the social model of disability to combat oppression and discrimination. Promoting full equality and opportunity for all members. Ensuring that Probation employers and Cafcass keep equality and diversity at the heart of their structures promoting best practice and policy.

Trade Union Organisation
  • Reform the functioning of the National Executive Committee (AGM Resolution 18) 
  • Amend the constitution and application process to permit agency staff to be full members of the union (Constitutional Amendment 1) 
  • Amend the constitution to change the quoracy for general meetings (Constitutional Amendment 2) 
  • Maintain and support the National Representation Panel and organise a recruitment process when necessary 
Equal Rights
  • Develop a campaign around hidden disabilities (AGM Resolution 7) 
  • Continue to develop the Napo Black Network and maintain close working relationship with remaining staff associations ABPO and NAAPS and build links with the newly developed NOMS’ staff networks 
  • Plan the next WiN conference 
  • Continue with monitoring statistics of speakers at the AGM 
Training Courses, Seminars, Conferences and Events
  • Organise AGM in Nottingham – 13 and 14 October 2017 
  • Provide a full range of trade union education/health and safety/union learning/equality and diversity courses which include accredited training 
  • Organise specialist/professional conferences and seminars (eg Family Court, The Forum, Managers) for members in Probation and Cafcass taking account of any review of current arrangements and financial savings 
  • Enable representation at TUC Congress and the TUC equality conferences 
  • Ensure that all events are accessible to all members to enable them to be representative of the diversity of membership 
Objective 5: Acting as an effective and responsible employer
committed to equal opportunities

Ensuring the maintenance of an efficient and modern Napo head office by promoting equality and trust and supporting and developing staff. Acting as a good equal opportunities employer committed to consultation, negotiation and collective bargaining, valuing diversity and the contribution of staff. Ensuring that the recruitment and selection of staff is based on these same principles.

Using all resources, including information databases and technology, finance and membership services, in the most effective way in support of Napo’s objectives.
  • Sale of Chivalry Road (Napo head office) and complete the move to 160 Falcon Road 
  • Follow up on actions identified from the Napo staff Training Programme in identified sub groups: Premises, ICT, ADR, Skills Audit and Stress Audit 
  • Review and develop a new Annual Development Review (ADR) process and identified training (as identified in the training programme and for the sub group to take forward)
  • Hold monthly staff meetings, monthly administrator, bi-monthly Officers’ and Officials’ and weekly administrator workloads meetings 
  • Maintain involvement of union shops in employment related issues 
  • Continue the review and update of all Red Book policies 
  • Provide equality and diversity, ADR (under review), Health & Safety, Dignity at Work, and Recruitment & Selection training to all staff as required 
  • Continue working to (currently under review) financial procedures to ensure sound financial planning and regular monitoring of budgets 
  • Continue to update the membership system and data 
  • Look at new ways of holding meetings via Skype

Friday 20 January 2017

A Whole System Approach

As we still seem to be treading water, lets take a look at a report that was published in December from the Institute for Public Policy Research, 'the UK's leading progressive thinktank':-


The system for offender management in England and Wales is in need of serious reform. In their current configuration, offender management services – that is, prisons and probation – are overly centralised, complex, and disjointed. Adult reoffending rates remain stubbornly high. Local areas have few incentives to invest in efforts to reduce reoffending. And there is little continuity between provision in custody and provision in the community. The recent ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ agenda has exacerbated these problems by introducing a new layer of complexity – in the form of community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) – onto an already fragmented system. 

In order to address these challenges, this report sets out a vision of a whole-system approach to offender management, where powers, resources, and decisions are transferred to the local level. In the long term, we argue that city region mayors – or outside of city regions police and crime commissioners (PCCs) – should have responsibility over probation services and custody budgets for short-sentence, young, and women offenders.1 In this parliament, given that CRC contracts are now ‘locked in’ until beyond 2020, there is less scope for radical reform. Where there is appetite, however, local areas should be able to bid for controls over custody budgets (for certain cohorts), commissioning of ‘secure schools’, and further co-commissioning powers. 

This programme of reform would create incentives for local areas to invest in preventative services and alternatives to custody, facilitate closer partnership working between agencies, and provide greater scope for innovative ways of reducing reoffending.


• Recent years have seen limited progress in offender outcomes. Adult offending rates remain high, particularly for those on short sentences. Magistrates have little confidence in alternatives to custody and the proportion of sentences served in custody (for indictable offences) has risen. Many prisons are over-capacity. In the short term, further cuts to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) budget are set to place greater pressure on the system. 

• The evidence suggests that a range of factors contribute to reductions in reoffending. First, it is important to have practical support designed to help ex-offenders find employment, support family life, secure accommodation and deal with specific issues – such as substance misuse and mental health problems. Second, the evidence suggests that practical support for ex-offenders needs to be combined with a personal relationship that instils hope and a motivation to change. 

• Context and environment are also important factors that can contribute to reducing reoffending. Inventive policies can ‘design out’ the risk of offences taking place by changing the environment in which crimes are committed. 

• Police activity itself can reduce reoffending through diversionary programmes – such as the introduction of ‘neighbourhood justice panels’, a form of Restorative Justice where low-level offenders meet face-to-face with victims and other members of the community to address problem behaviour. 

• Many of the policy levers for reducing reoffending lie at the local level – including housing and homelessness support, substance misuse and mental health provision, and the Troubled Families programmes. 

• The current system of offender management is highly fragmented, involving a range of structures with overlapping geographical jurisdictions. This makes it harder for the system to work as a cohesive whole and creates a number of ‘handover’ points, where service users are passed between different agencies. 

• The system is also highly centralised. While local areas control many of the policy levers, there is little incentive for them to invest in services to reduce reoffending, because they do not control their own custody budgets and therefore do not gain financially from fewer people going to prison. There are limited opportunities for local areas to innovate and tailor services to their own needs. 

• Finally, offender management provision is currently disjointed, with different organisations working in siloes. The ideal of ‘through-the-gate’ provision for offenders as they leave custody and enter the community is still not realised in practice. 

• The government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ reforms have compounded some of these problems. The reforms create a two-stream probation system which comprises the National Probation Service (NPS), responsible for high-risk offenders, and 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs), responsible for low- and medium risk offenders. This has added a further level of complexity onto the probation system, with additional handover points between the NPS and CRCs. The introduction of CRCs – which are nationally commissioned and mostly run by large private firms – has also impeded local partnership work and innovation.


• In order to address these challenges, central and local government need to pursue a whole-system approach to offender management. This requires a holistic understanding of the offender management and wider criminal justice system, involving prevention and early intervention services; programmes aimed at diverting low-level offenders away from the criminal justice system; credible alternatives to custody; sentencing reform to reduce time spent in prison and encourage alternative sentences; ‘through-the-gate’ provision from within custody and into the community; and bespoke rehabilitation services for ex-offenders. 

• In the long term, this vision should be delivered by granting city region mayors (including the Mayor of London) responsibility for probation services for low-, medium- and high-risk offenders in their regions. Outside of city regions, responsibility for probation would fall to the PCC. City region mayors or PCCs would commission probation services in their region and would thereby be able to coordinate probation with other key services in the local area. 

• At the same time, responsibility for the budget for prison places for young, female, and short-sentence offenders would also be devolved to the local level. This would incentivise city region mayors and PCCs to invest in efforts to reduce reoffending. 

• Finally, responsibility for the commissioning of youth custody would also fall to city region mayors and PCCs. YOIs would be broken up into smaller custodial units that prioritise education and operate as ‘secure schools’. City region mayors or PCCs would then be free to directly commission custodial places at ‘secure schools’. 

• In the short term, reform is constrained by the agreement of CRC contracts, which last for seven years. However, some policy changes are still possible. Custody budgets for young, female and short-sentence offenders can be devolved now, depending on local buy-in. Where CRC contracts are failing, they can be renegotiated to encourage greater innovation; and, if they have to be terminated, there is scope to pilot the devolution of probation responsibilities to local areas. As part of future devolution deals, we argue for the introduction of local justice and rehabilitation boards, involving CRCs and local representatives, in order to jointly commission services. 

• Where there is appetite, further responsibilities for youth custody and women offenders could be devolved. In particular, the Mayor of London is well-placed to deliver the Taylor review’s vision by commissioning places at a new selection of ‘secure schools’ in the Greater London area. Finally, some of the savings from the closure of HMP Holloway should be transferred to the Mayor of London in order to set up a North London women’s centre and pilot a whole-system approach to women offenders in London, based on the model used in Manchester.



This report sets out a framework for a whole-system approach to offender management. The current approach to prisons and probation is poorly integrated, overly centralised, and ineffective at reducing reoffending. The Transforming Rehabilitation reforms, in spite of positive intentions, have further undermined local innovation and joined-up practice. Our proposals are for a devolved and integrated system of offender management, which takes a bespoke focus on the individual needs of offenders, properly aligns financial incentives to invest in rehabilitation, and involves close partnership working at the local level. 

Our ideas are divided into long-term and short-term recommendations. In the short term, CRC contracts make it difficult to fully develop a devolved approach to offender management. But there is still scope to devolve custody budgets for certain cohorts of offenders where there is local appetite, support the co-commissioning of services, and take further steps to devolve parts of the youth justice system, particularly in London. 

In the long term, freed from the constraints of CRC contracts, there is the opportunity for a much more ambitious programme of reform, which largely devolves responsibility for probation services, custody budgets and the commissioning of ‘secure schools’ to the local level. This will enable and incentivise local actors to invest in services to rehabilitate ex-offenders, divert people away from the criminal justice system, and provide credible alternatives to custody. Over time, our proposals are designed to create a ‘virtuous circle’ of reduced reoffending, falling demand on the prison system, and greater opportunities to reinvest in offender management services.