Tuesday 28 February 2017

News Roundup 9

Here we have what Napo thinks of the Prisons and Courts Bill. The press release:-

Prison reform will not work with a failing Probation Service

Today the Secretary of State for Justice will outline and present the Prison and Courts Bill in the House of Commons. The main theme of the Bill is a greater focus on rehabilitation and modernising the Courts to ensure victims are at the heart of the justice system. Despite this however, there is no mention of the Probation Service which is currently in chaos and failing to provide even the basic supervision of offenders in the community. Yesterday saw the publication of yet another damning report by Her Majesty's Inspection for Probation.

Dame Glenys Stacey said: "We advise government to consider whether, with changes to probation company contracts these orders can be made to work well, or whether it is time for a more fundamental rethink.”

This comment follows the inspection of the new community intervention Rehabilitation Activity Requirements introduced by the former Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, who promised a "rehabilitation revolution". The reality according to the inspector and Napo is that these orders are not being delivered and in many cases no work at all is being done with offenders to reduce their risk of re-offending. The report yesterday supports Napo's claims that Transforming Rehabilitation has not worked and has led to a much poorer level of service.

Ian Lawrence General Secretary for Napo said: "We have persistently advised the government that their reforms are failing. These plans were not evidence based and have led to chaos in the probation service with private providers failing to deliver on the most basic community supervision. Instead of innovation we are seeing less rehabilitation work with offenders. Job cuts and staff shortages have led to unmanageable workloads for our members. The Inspector has in a number of reports said that this is a direct risk to public safety and must be urgently addressed. No reforms to the prison system will work if there is not a fully functioning and effective Probation Service to supervise those being released."

The new orders introduced by Chris Grayling in 2014 were intended to play a significant part in reducing re-offending but according to HMI Probation and Napo less than ever is being done to rehabilitate those in the community.


Here's Rob Allen and his take on the changes announced to the Youth Justice Board:-

Youth Custody Changes : Progress or Retreat?

What’s to be made of the changes announced yesterday to the governance of youth justice in England and Wales? The stripping from the Youth Justice Board of its role in commissioning, purchasing and monitoring of detention facilities is not altogether a surprise. The YJB’s failure to prevent the deteriorating situation in Rainsbrook and Medway Secure Training Centres in 2015 may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. But the problem is more deep seated than that. The Youth Custody Improvement Board (whose report on the secure estate was also published yesterday) was “astonished” that after sixteen years at the helm, the YJB considers the current arrangements not fit for the purpose of caring for or rehabilitating children and young people. Liz Truss seems to agree so youth custody will in future be hitched to her wagon of prison reform with a Youth Custody Service set up as a distinct arm of the new HM Prison and Probation Service.

Back in 1996, Prison Inspector Sir David, now Lord Ramsbotham recommended that the Prison service should relinquish responsibility for all children under the age of 18, arguing that its priorities meant it could not be expected to provide the level of care, supervision and support required by teenagers. Instead of implementing the recommendation, the Labour government hoped the YJB could transform the way the service looked after young people. Thanks to substantial investment, particularly into education within Young Offender Institutions, there were initial improvements. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England, normally a stern critic of conditions for detained juveniles, concluded in 2002 that ‘results have been great, in some cases near miraculous’.

The improvements could not be sustained and despite substantial falls in the numbers in custody since 2008, Young Offender Institutions have struggled to provide safe decent environments let alone rehabilitative ones. Last year’s Inspectorate report on Wetherbyfound for example that “the core day was not designed to meet the needs of the population. Time out of cell was inconsistent and unpredictable, and there were frequent cancellations and regime restrictions. Exercise was limited to 30 minutes each day, weather permitting”. In truth, the levers available to the YJB have been limited and its influence over what happens in YOIs negligible compared to that of the Prison service.

So will the new Youth Custody Service fare any better in bringing about change? It’s certainly promising that a distinct cadre of specialist staff will be recruited and trained to work with young people. But they will need to be incentivised to stay in the sector. Historically, the prison service has not sufficiently recognised or rewarded work with young people despite its challenges and the skills required to do it well . There will need to be wider reforms; an agenda designed to make physical environments more suitable for teenagers and a review of the rules and procedures in YOIs most of which are primarily designed for adults. Achieving cultural change may be the hardest obstacle. When I was on the YJB, the POA objected for years to replacing traditional prison officer uniforms and were not exactly champions of a child centred approach.

Yet there were and no doubt are some excellent staff and good models of practice in the youth estate. When I left the YJB in 2006, I concluded that these could be very much more effective within an organisational ethos and structure dedicated to the secure care of young people. By that I meant a new service outside the prison system. We are not getting that, so the question is whether transformation can be driven from within it. I have my doubts.

Rob Allen


According to this, there's trouble at Interserve:-

Interserve shares lose a third as waste project costs rise

UK support services group increases provision on business turning rubbish into biogas. 
Shares in Interserve fell by almost a third on Monday after the British support services and construction company revealed it had sharply underestimated costs on its business that derives energy from waste.

Interserve, which employs 80,000 staff running businesses including probation services and healthcare at home, raised the provision on its failed waste division from £70m to £160m. Most of the charge is linked to a plant in Glasgow, which is designed to turn rubbish into biogas that will provide electricity to the National Grid. Interserve had been hired by Viridor, the waste collection company, to build the £154m plant but the project was hit by substantial delays and difficulties with subcontractors. Interserve was dismissed from the job last November. 

The company said previously that it would pull out of the waste-to-energy sector. That involved quitting another six waste-to-energy contracts with revenues worth more than £400m. Interserve said on Monday that it expected “a lengthy period of litigation” over its sacking from the Glasgow plant. It also warned it could be harder and take longer than expected to get money back from third parties as its main gasification subcontractor, Energos, was in administration. Some analysts doubted the updated provision was sufficient. 

Joe Brent, analyst at Liberum, said: “We can have no confidence the provision is adequate.” He added that Interserve “faces a whole range of trading challenges”. These include the increase in the national living wage, which could push up labour costs, and its domiciliary care business, which has been hit by cuts in local authority funding.


Finally, it looks like the Probation Institute is at last popping it's head above the parapet with something to say on at least one element of the TR omnishambles:-

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Monday 27 February 2017

Prisons and Courts Bill

Some would say neither historic nor landmark, but we'd better cover this from last week that will attempt to shift the blame for what goes on in our prisons to the Governor:- 

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss unveils landmark Prisons and Courts Bill

The Prisons and Courts Bill paves the way for the biggest overhaul of prisons in a generation and delivery of a world-class court system.
  • Historic Prisons and Courts Bill will transform the lives of offenders and put victims at the heart of the justice system, helping to create a safer and better society. 
  • New legislation underpins measures outlined in the ground-breaking Prison Safety and Reform White Paper, which will transform how our prisons operate.
  • Modernisation of our courts will improve access to justice, better protect the vulnerable and further enhance our status as a world-leading centre for dispute resolution.
Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss today (23 February 2017) unveiled the historic Prisons and Courts Bill, paving the way for the biggest overhaul of prisons in a generation and the delivery of a world-class court system.

This key piece of legislation will underpin measures in the recently published Prison Safety and Reform White Paper, and will help transform how our prisons are run. Prisons will punish people who break the law and give offenders the skills they need to turn their lives around, driving down the £15 billion annual cost to society of reoffending.

It sets in law for the first time that a key purpose of prisons is to reform offenders, as well as punish them for the crimes they have committed.

Victims and vulnerable witnesses are also central to the Prisons and Courts Bill, with a range of measures that will bolster their protection in court.

The government is giving courts the power to put an end to domestic violence victims being quizzed by their attackers in the family courts, calling time on what the Justice Secretary has described as a “humiliating and appalling” practice. This follows an urgent review she commissioned last month.

Car insurance premiums will also be cut by around £40 a year, with new fixed tariffs capping whiplash compensation pay-outs and a ban on claims without medical evidence, helping to crack down on the compensation culture epidemic.

Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:

"Prison is about punishing people who have committed heinous crimes, but it should be a place where offenders are given the opportunity to turn their lives around. I want our prisons to be places of discipline, hard work and self-improvement, where staff are empowered to get people off drugs, improve their English and maths and get a job on release. Our courts should be places where victims get the justice they deserve, and where our outstanding independent judiciary can flourish and focus on the cases that matter."
Changes announced today build on and underpin measures contained in the Prison Safety Reform White Paper, which highlights how the government will drive reform in our prisons.

Governors will take control of budgets for education, employment and health and they will be held to account for getting people off drugs, into jobs and learning English and maths. Data for league tables detailing how prisons are performing in these areas will be publicly available from October 2017.

Across the country, more than 2,000 new senior positions are being created for our valued and experienced officers to be promoted into. These posts, which include specialist mental health training, will have a salary of up to £30,000.

Prisons and Courts Bill measures relating to courts underline the government’s commitment to victims and the most vulnerable, as well as improving the system for those who use it every day. We are making our courts more open and modern to help cement our place as a world-leader.

Key measures within the legislation will make our courts swifter, more accessible and easier to use for everyone. They will be efficient and fit-for-purpose, with facilities across the entire estate that are modern, user-friendly, and work in favour of our dedicated judges and magistrates.

The use of virtual hearings will be extended, allowing victims to take part without running the risk of coming face-to-face with their assailant. Many hearings, such as bail applications, will be resolved via video or telephone conferencing, allowing justice to be delivered more swiftly.

Offenders charged with some less serious criminal offences, such as failure to produce a ticket for travel on a train, will be able to

  • plead guilty online
  • accept a conviction
  • be issued a penalty and
  • pay that penalty there and then.
And businesses will be able to recover money much more easily, with digital services that allow them to issue and pursue their cases quickly. This will give them vital confidence to do business here, and will enable our world leading justice system to remain the international destination of choice for dispute resolution.

Justice Minister Sir Oliver Heald said:

"Britain has the best justice system in the world, but it should also be the most modern, because we have a vision for a justice system that truly works for everyone. Victims and the most vulnerable are at the centre of our changes, which will help deliver swifter and more certain justice for all. We want courts that are efficient and fit-for-purpose, with facilities across the entire estate that are modern, user-friendly, and work in favour of our hard-working and dedicated judges and magistrates. The Prisons and Courts Bill underpins this vision – building on the good progress we have already made in improving the experience of all users and cementing our reputation for global legal excellence so we can go on attracting business to the United Kingdom."

This is what the RSA had to say about it:- 

In October last year, the RSA’s Future Prison Project stated that prisons’ ability to change people’s lives and keep prisoners, staff and communities safe has been undermined by short-term, reactive decision-making and over centralisation. We argued that tackling this would require political courage and a shared clear purpose to all those working and living in and around prisons.

Saying anything positive about prison reform may seem to run counter to what most of us read and watch every day; we face constant reminders of the risks facing many of the people who live and work inside our prisons. Despite these very real challenges, the Prisons and Courts Bill does signify a historical shift in thinking about the purpose of prisons and how they are run.

The RSA has long argued that putting a commitment to rehabilitation at the core of our prison system – on top of tackling over population and under resourcing – is the best way to tackle risk, reduce reoffending and protect community safety. By including a statutory duty in the Bill, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Liz Truss, has accepted the need for a fundamental shift in thinking about what prisons are for. While the precise impact of this will not be known for some time, as we have argued, such a focus should drive progress from how governors run their establishments, to how staff are trained and – ultimately – whether prisons become places where people can progress.

However stark things are, the new duty, alongside greater freedoms for governors and a stronger role for the prisons inspectorate and ombudsman should be welcomed. The latter raises an interesting question; if the Secretary of State now has a statutory duty to support rehabilitation, with the prisons inspectorate charged with assessing this, then surely there is a logical and ethical argument for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons to be appointed independently?

In the short term, the service is not just struggling to recruit new staff but also to retain existing officers. The current acute pressures facing many of those working and living in prisons will not change overnight; this is a problem that has been years in the making and some responsibility lies with all political parties for this. The reforms set out in the Bill and the wider changes being made that do not require statutory provision, could be quickly undermined should the worst happen in the coming weeks and months. However tempting it is for opposition parties to focus entirely on what has not been done – sentencing reform and population reduction, being the most obvious – they would be advised to look to their own history and support the longer term changes that are so desperately needed. 

The challenge for the Ministry of Justice and the new restructured NOMS (Her Majesty’s Prisons and Probation Service) will be to balance the need for frontline staff now, with a clearer idea about who these should be, how they should be supported and what they are charged with doing in this landscape. Together they will need to ensure that they enable prison governors to lead the way. This means striking the right balance between freedom and accountability, the right resources, structures and capabilities needed inside to create environments that support rehabilitation. Critically, this needs to be supported by an integrated approach when people are released. Tackling the current problems facing probation services, in particular, community rehabilitation companies will be critical to this.

Ultimately, rehabilitation is not a process; it is something that can or cannot emerge through providing people with the environments, opportunities and support to change.

With this in mind the RSA is helping to design and develop the New Futures Network. In the long term this aims to be a practical resource for prison leaders as they adapt to this new landscape. Rather than being a provider of services, or representing any particular group, the primary objective of the Network will be to help prisons and their partners to secure better rehabilitative outcomes for prisoners and their communities by:
  • Acting as an informed and honest broker between prisons and all potential partners, local and national, in the private, public and voluntary sector;
  • Driving new approaches to prison leadership and innovation;
  • Providing a bridge between practice development and policy; 
  • Improving the mechanisms for sharing evidence, experience and success across justice services.

Not surprisingly, the Prison Governors' Association is not too impressed:-  

The Prison Governors’ Association continues to welcome the investment the Justice Secretary is making in prisons and her commitment to prison reform. However, with the worst recorded figures on violence and deaths in prisons in modern times, security and safety must be this government’s paramount focus. Unless prisons are stabilised, these ambitious goals will be unobtainable. 

The volume and rate of the changes being introduced are a cause of serious concern to prison governors. Governors are being asked to sign up to agreements, which will become effective in just five weeks, with insufficient detail on what they will be held to account for. The risk is that the prison reform bill will become the prison blame bill – a mechanism by which Governors are criticised or removed from post for matters beyond their control. Assurances have been provided by the Justice Secretary that this will not happen but these assurances lack satisfactory detail. Prisons have had 500 prison governors and 7,000 officers stripped out in the last five years whilst the population has remained stubbornly high. A commitment to recruit 2,500 officers is welcomed but they are not in place now, and this is still significantly less than the number already lost. Also, there are no plans to replace the governors which have been lost during the same period. Consequently, the previous advice the PGA gave to our members not to sign the agreements until further discussions can take place still stands. 

The government’s inflexibility with regards to introducing league tables is also a concern. Despite warnings that they will not achieve anything other than to risk demoralising staff and of unfairly judging the senior management team the government is still going ahead. 

Making the rehabilitation of prisoners a mandatory requirement is not new. The prison service has for many years had as a core aim the rehabilitation of prisoners by helping them lead law abiding lives in custody and on release and metrics on which this is judged. Giving new powers to the chief inspector of prisons is welcomed provided it also holds the Ministry of Justice to account which controls the budgets governors are provided with, which have been reduced year on year. Governors cannot rehabilitate prisoners who are living and working in squalid conditions with insufficient staff and resources. 

The principles set out in the Prison Safety and Reform White Paper, which introduced more autonomy for governors remain, by and large, welcomed. However, unless the core issues of safety and violence are tackled first, these are unlikely to be achieved.

Sunday 26 February 2017

Pick of the Week 23

Okay, so now what? Sentencers in both court arenas ought to be kicking up a stink about this, but are quietly complying. Jezza Wright & Grayling seem to have been the perfect tag team when it comes to fucking things up.

Judges & magistrates - you have been hoodwinked, disarmed, humiliated & criticised during the last few years of (essentially) Tory "justice" policy. This RAR nonsense removed your access to intelligent pre-sentence information and thus left you sentencing blind & both arms tied behind your back. Alongside the equally stupid PSS the RAR has handed the power of the sentence to Grayling's chums in the private sector who, by running both community & custodial businesses, benefit all ways round. The NPS are allegedly the gatekeepers of this new procedure but, as far as I can tell, they don't have the staff - or the motivation to give a shit.

Once over you, as sentencers, could request a detailed assessment of the defendant such that the professional, independent informed view of a Probation Officer could be considered in the context of the adversarial (& thus unforgiving) opinions from prosecution & defence. That might also include a professional opinion from a relevant specialist. At least then, as sentencers, you were handing down a sentence based upon known information.

Now, it seems, you look at a series of tick boxes, ask a member of probation if the calculations are about right, get a nod of approval &, if I can directly quote a local court clerk who remains nameless, you "impose an order that requires someone to do stuff that has yet to be worked out, so when they come back here in breach we haven't a bloody clue what's happened."

The politicians have neutralised the judiciary. Just look at Truss's contemptuous silence when elements of the press were lambasting the judges & inciting hatred.

Sentencers, Rise Up and Be Heard!!!

It is depressing & heartbreaking when those you work alongside & trust turn out to be those who have undermined everything - more so when, after creating havoc, they disappear, pockets bulging. It turns all of history on its head & starts generating retrospective anxiety - for example, when you spoke with them at length about your fears for the service, or that meeting you had about court work, or the email you sent them about your workload capacity. They gave nothing away & more often than not agreed with you, but in fact they were constructing the wooden horse in the knowledge it would crush you but they didn't actually care about that because it suited their own agenda.

It's not news, nor is it rocket science. If one reduces or removes the ability to produce quality pre-sentence assessments then you lose the information previously available to sentencers. If at the same time one significantly changes the sentencing framework but fails to provide adequate guidance or infrastructure to support those implementing the changes, the system becomes untenable & impossible to operate or monitor.

It is an even more serious clusterfuck if the infrastructure (IT) was never fit for purpose in the first place, if the previously resilient organisational structure is dismantled at an unprecedented rate of knots and if people with no experience or knowledge of implementing rehabilitative interventions are given free rein. Jim had it on the nail aeons ago - Omnishambles.

In their haste to shed jobs and make money most CRCs have totally failed to plan or develop any delivery of RARs (or other aspects of the job to be honest). In a local CRC the grand plan is to move implementation of RARs from Responsible Officers (!) to the Intervention Team. Slight problem that they do not have enough staff in the Intervention Team to even run Accredited Programmes having got rid of so many staff. So Responsible Officers still continue to have to try to deliver the RARs. This, despite an ever growing caseload which a very out of touch senior management team decree will only be limited by infinity. Innovation my arse its a durcheinander (the German language always has a great word for such mayhem). 

As a taxpayer I want answers why an award winning service has been dismantled and destroyed by NOMS and this government. Also, why experienced and skilled practitioners have been allowed to leave when there are not currently enough staff to run a viable service?

A veritable dogs breakfast. The previous CEO of CGM and MCRC in late 2015 decided in her wisdom to set out the 60% figure, whether that was on NOMS advice or just an arbitrary figure she decided on, who knows? We were instructed to put in a 'professional judgement' entry towards the end of the order if we did not hit the 60% as to why they were not completed. The termination of the order and its satisfactory completion depended on it being classed as a successful order.

Now, 15 months later it transpires the 60% was wrong. Now we are being told that at ISP stage we are to make reference to the number of RAR days we are to use and how they are used. If I have someone on a SSO with an accredited programme, an UPW requirement to satisfy the punitive element, and then sprinkle in 20 RAR days and to top it off they are in F/T work.... By its very nature, the number of RAR days becomes just about redundant.

Since the Great Shafting of 2013 & subsequent threatening letter from Trust CEO ("my way or the highway, sunshine") I have been committed to pursuing the argument of constructive dismissal of Probation staff. Mr Hughes' words, published at the time I was being paid off, have made me quite upset.

1. I was employed as a Probation Officer by a specific employer and had continuous employment status as a PO for many, many years.
2. I was re-deployed against my expressed wishes, outwith TUPE regulations and on undisclosed data I was not allowed to challenge, and assigned to a pseudo-independent artificial organisation, created by the government solely for sale to the private sector - all in the hands of one man whose sole aim was to force through the sale as quickly as possible.
3. My one & only chance of appeal against this redeployment was dismissed without any further explanation or justification beyond an arbitrary comment about caseload snapshots on 11 Nov 2013.
4. I was sent a letter by my Trust CEO telling me that if I tried to appeal the sifting decision a second time it would be regarded as tendering my immediate resignation.
5. The organisation I was re-deployed to refused to consider my request for redundancy (made within the specified timescale) telling me I wasn't eligible...
6. ... they went on to place me at risk of redundancy 3 months later, but they refused to co-operate with the national terms & conditions agreed pre-sale and, by applying undue pressure upon staff, the organisation enforced a voluntary severance scheme to rid themselves of 35% of existing staff. After a painful fight, with no union support & under threats from bully managers, I felt I had no option but to leave.
7. A number of "privileged" individuals were not only deemed eligible for the enhanced redundancy package but were also subsequently re-employed by the new organisation.
8. I would suggest that the above represents a clear strategy to enforce changes to individuals' employment rights - outwith the TUPE framework - that couldn't otherwise be implemented & which led to inevitable loss of employment; an inevitability which was known in advance by virtue of the national agreement for job losses which the MoJ signed up to, i.e. the EVR scheme.
Hughes admits there was "the strategy of how we dealt with the unions, [and the] strategy of exactly how it would be implemented and when." A strategy of dismissal, constructive dismissal, to allow for the implementation of a single-minded political ideology, i.e. the sale of public services to the private sector.

So far there have been nine HMI Probation reports about TR covering seven geographical areas plus an early overview & a look at TTG.

All seem to have suffered from the same fate, i.e. they identify significant failings but (as identified by others) are coated with a thick rose-tinted sickly-sweet sauce which negates any sense of urgency, concern or outrage.

These reports are expensive to produce. They involve many hours of travel & subsistence of HMI staff; and many hours of preparation, shredding & data inputting by the inspected area. But however costly, what is their value? And what is their purpose? Just taking examples from the blog above I find myself utterly bemused. Firstly, what I assume are three definitive tasks for probation service providers:

"The CRC had not made a sufficient contribution to protecting those at risk of harm."
"The CRC was not sufficiently effective in delivering interventions to reduce reoffending."
"The CRC should also improve the effectiveness of the management of unpaid work."

Yet this is followed by "Overall, inspectors found the quality of the Cheshire and Greater Manchester’s CRC’s work was mixed." Surely the CRC's failure to effectively provide or manage three core tasks cannot lead HMI Probation to offer such a saccharin overview?

The CRC providers have been given red carpet treatment from the start - they've been handed vast sums of public money as sweeteners, they've been gifted experienced staff and the Govt are protecting them as far as they dare. So how can they ALL be failing to provide core services yet ALL continue merrily on their way? Presumably hoying all the expensive frontline staff overboard helps. Presumably cashing in the assets and replacing them with the cheapest possible alternatives helps. Presumably having malleable chums in convenient, lofty places helps.

Yesterday it was asked if anyone could confirm that, as promised, TR has brought us:

1. fewer people in prisons? No. In fact Truss wants more locked away.
2. lower reoffending rates? No. See HMIProbation reports.
3. substantial £public savings? No. In fact its cost tens of £millions more from the public purse, including an estimated £80M cash handout to the 21 CRCs, £12M in selected prison officer pay rises, etc.
4. an open market not cornered by big players? No.
5. retention of the skills & expertise of probation professionals? No. Most have either been pushed or have jumped.
6. national transfer framework built on fair processes & protection for staff? No. Utterly skewed, totally unfair with widespread concerns that the union were either utterly hoodwinked (?) or somehow complicit (!).
7. no different systems for NPS & CRC? Who knows?
8. co~location of agencies? No.
9. a simple process? Certainly not.
Isn't that enough of a pre-meditated disaster to make anyone sick?

Why high sick rates? Here's a few possible reasons!!

* high case loads
* high number of RAR days imposed by the court's with little community based resource to refer people into resulting in front line staff completing the work (RAR days were again supposed to free up staff as offenders were supposed to attend with partnership agencies, however most of these were culled way before we were with massive finances/funding cuts)
* mindless procedures to follow
* useless IT systems
* hot desking (staff having to pack up equipment at the end of everyday and put together every morning) not being allowed to personalise desks resulting in staff feeling disjointed and disaffected/not belonging - this also has the opposite effect of productivity
* being moved into new offices that are not fit for purpose (no initial security, health and fire safety are massive issues, interview rooms offer no privacy with paper thin walls, but the higher powers that be feel that because the buildings look pretty, all's well with the world
* all case managers being pressured to be group facilitators which is in the new job descriptions for staff owned by Interserve Justice - group tutors being forced to case manage - these decisions are due to the Interchange model, you know, the one that's struggling to be embedded!!
* staff being managed by IM's that have no Probation Officer qualification or case management experience
* staff constantly being reminded how we need to meet all the service level measures and if we don't, how much money we will loose
I'm sure others will be able to fill in the gaps!!

I'm NPS, just had a weeks leave and don't think I can face going back tomorrow. Been struggling on since the split at 130% workload with no prospect of any let up. I'm completely burnt out and can't think straight anymore. No hope of redundancy and not in a position to just walk. It's a nightmare.

Same here. NPS is a horrible place to work and like everybody else in my office, I put up with it as I have no choice. We don't do "good core work" as there's no resources. What we do have is high caseloads, treated like crap by managers, no respect from anyone. I read a senior management email today instructing how a Delius contact record should be done, because that more important than all the staff that are stressed, bullied and off sick. I'm unwell but not off sick as the new sicknesss policy doesn't allow me to!!

Where does this notion that CGM, or indeed any Interserve CRC is applying an 'Innovative way of working' come from? They can't seriously be talking about the so-called 'Interchange' model? Cobbling together a couple of random lines from the Good Lives model with a rephrased 'Simple Wikipedia' outline of Desistance Theory, and particularly when you've apparently not really understood either, does not make a 'model' for working with the troubled, alienated, largely destitute and disenfranchised Probation clientele - even if you do give the 'model' and it's supposed 'modules' (each element has a name but no content to speak of) otherwise meaningless names that sound a bit like 'Interserve'. 

The 'Interchange Model' has no more meaning than the farcical statement of 'Vision and values' that Interserve seems so unaccountably proud of. 'Do the right thing'? Pull the other one! And as for 'Bring better to life'? What does that even mean?? Interserve CRC staff CAN'T apply the 'Interchange' model because there's nothing to apply.

Just One of the many reasons I chose to retire early (former SPO/IM). The promises of the Interchange model would bring, including new ways of working and innovation, were not backed by the resources, time and commitment required to allow staff to understand and apply. Focus was on targets linked to cash and NOT ON IMPROVING PRACTICE AND PROTECTING THE PUBLIC by working effectively with service users. I am waiting now for the new dawn of NOTHING WORKS, which if you ask me and from what I can see and hear, is not far away.

Frontline staff are the ONLY reason this shambles is held together. I value my job but despise everything around it, the destruction of the service, the crap IT, the bollocks and bullshit, the shabby treatment of staff, the ignorant management, the stupid newsletters by email that don't even open, the scary personal emails that say "we've noticed that you haven't clicked on (some bloody headache of a system) for a while..." Talk about Big Brother... Could you all just F OFF I'm trying to work.

Frontline staff, the easy target as always. In our team we had 6 cases allocated in one week with less than 1 day notice of release from custody, that's obviously plenty of time to follow procedures! It's a disgrace and if it wasn't for the dedication of frontline staff, believe me, things would be a lot worse

So, in summary, on a blurry Sunday morning, can we therefore confirm that, as promised in the hallowed halls of parliament & democracy, TR has brought us:

1. fewer people in prisons?
2. lower reoffending rates?
3. substantial £public savings?
4. an open market not cornered by big players?
5. retention of the skills & expertise of probation professionals?
6. national transfer framework built on fair processes & protection for staff?
7. no different systems for NPS & CRC?
8. co~location of agencies?
9. a simple process?

Saturday 25 February 2017

RARs - A History Lesson Part Two

Because I think the subject is so important in helping to understand why we are where we are, hopefully with your indulgence, I'm going to stick with it just a bit longer. The claimed architects for RARs won prestigious Butler Trust awards:-


AWARD WINNERS 2013-14: Mark and Liz from West Yorkshire Probation, and Janet from the Court Service, receive their Award for developing and implementing the Dynamic Change Model of offender management. The evidence-based model, under which sentence planning is postponed until after disposal, saved almost £1M in its first year, and has contributed to significant reductions in adjournments, breaches and re-offending. Their approach is now being rolled out nationally. 


[Liz Mills gives her account of the work for which she won her Award]

I won my Butler Trust Award for introducing an innovative approach called the ‘Dynamic Change Model’ (DCM) across West Yorkshire Probation Trust. DCM was developed in partnership with Her Majesties Court Service (HMCS) and enables practitioners to work collaboratively with offenders to develop a sentence plan and respond more easily to change. The model has produced excellent results including fewer adjournments at court, a reduced number of breaches and improved re-offending rates.

Prior to January 2012 the detailed content of a sentence plan for those offenders subject to a community order was determined by Magistrates and Judges at the point of sentence informed by proposals in a pre-sentence report. Sometimes this resulted in the right interventions for the offender however, increasingly this was not the case which was largely a result of three issues:
  • A desire to produce more reports on the day of sentence within a short time frame to avoid adjournments and delays in sentencing. This meant that the report writer often had only a very short period of time to interview the offender and make decisions about the right proposals based on the 12 requirements then available as part of a Community Order.
  • A increasing range of programmes and specified activities had been developed to address various aspects of offending behaviour each with its own targeting and assessment requirements, for example for those with an alcohol problem options could include alcohol treatment, Stop Binge Drinking specified activity, Addressing Substance Related Offending (ASRO) and Control of Violence for Angry Compulsive Drinkers (COVAID) accredited programmes. Selection of the right intervention within tight time constraints was becoming increasingly complex.
  • The attitude of some offenders pre-sentence can sometimes result in a lack of openness about the true motives for their behaviour or minimisation, for example in cases of domestic abuse or sexual offending.
As a consequence some offenders would be sentenced to court-ordered, named interventions that post sentence it became apparent were not the most suitable to address their particular offending related needs. This would mean either a requirement to return them to court or individuals undertaking interventions that were not the most appropriate for them. A practitioner made a comment about how helpful it would be if they could decide the content of rehabilitative interventions post sentence. It was from this that the idea of DCM was developed.

A first step was to establish the legal basis of any change and this was confirmed with the Board Secretary (a qualified solicitor), Director of Operations and myself. Rehabilitative interventions would be delivered through the existing activity requirement legislation but the specification would be the requirement to report to a named officer, named place, on a number of days and to comply with instructions rather than to specify a named activity. This would give practitioners the flexibility to determine the content of the intervention post sentence during the induction phase. The next step was to obtain agreement with the court service and this was achieved through an initial approach with local judges who agreed the legal basis and who were content to give probation practitioners professional discretion. Discussion with HMCS followed and although there was some initial reservation that magistrates may be seen to be relinquishing some ‘power’ in determining the sentence a focus upon joint outcomes and benefits i.e. more on the day reports and fewer adjournments and breaches achieved a positive outcome.

As a result DCM was launched across West Yorkshire on 1st January 2012 as a joint initiative with West Yorkshire courts.

In terms of preparing practitioners for the change I was responsible for project managing the introduction and I established a small cross-functional group to lead the implementation. This included:
  • Preparing a business case for strategic leaders
  • Agreeing a vision for practitioners to demonstrate the benefits in terms of best practice
  • Developing a SMARTA (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely and anti-discriminatory) action plan
  • Developing a training plan for Legal Advisors and probation staff
  • Designing a communication strategy which included material for key stakeholders, including internal and external partners
  • Agreeing an evaluation review with the Trusts research department
The model was reviewed 6 months and 12 months following the launch and findings included estimated savings of £860,000 in the first year through fewer court adjournments of 7% and a fall in the breach rate from 25% to 8.3%. There was also high levels of sentence satisfaction and positive feedback from offenders.

West Yorkshire Probation Trust was eager to share the learning from DCM with other probation trusts and interested parties and we held two open days for external partners and other interested parties to discuss out experience of implementation, what worked well and what, with hindsight we could have done better. Practitioners shared their experiences and the findings from the initial evaluations were shared.


[The following article appeared in issue 6 of the Butler Trust’s magazine, Inspire]

The Dynamic Change Model (DCM) was developed by West Yorkshire Probation Trust in partnership with the West Yorkshire Courts Service. An evidence-based approach to reducing reoffending, it was set up by Mark Siddall and Liz Mills for probation in liaison with Janet Carter for the Courts Service, and has already delivered reductions in court time and costs alongside reoffending rates.

Implemented in January 2012, the model changes the timing of an offender’s assessment so that in-depth assessments are conducted post sentence, allowing more time to go into detail and decide on the most appropriate interventions to address issues underlying the offence.

Mark had the initial idea and worked with Liz to develop the concept into something that would work in reality, persuading senior managers at the Trust and contacts at the Courts Service that it was a good strategy. Liz chaired the implementation team and sat on a number of working groups to ensure an effective transition between the concept on paper and roll-out across the service.

‘Because I believe that good assessment is the foundation of good practice, I was looking for a new approach to assessment,’ Mark tells Inspire. ‘I thought we were already pretty good at assessment but I wanted to become even better, so I asked some people to consider some potential models, and we tossed some ideas around. Undertaking a detailed assessment after sentence was one proposal that we worked on over a few months, and we developed it into the Dynamic Change Model.’

Research had shown that some offenders were being given group interventions that failed to address their offending behaviour, while others were either unsuitable for group work or agreeing to attend groups and then not turning up. DCM, however, used existing legislation that allows a court to make a generic activity requirement, and then conducted a detailed risk, needs and strengths analysis jointly with the offender to form an individual sentencing plan – an approach that means offenders ‘own’ their plans and are fully aware of why all the elements have been included. ‘The genesis of it was a desire to have the best possible way of doing good assessments that we could,’ says Mark. ‘We knew if we got that, our practice would be great as well.’

Mark and Liz approached Janet who helped to liaise with senior judges and magistrates to secure their buy-in. ‘I did have a strategy to get people onside, but the key issue was to focus on the benefits,’ says Mark. ‘In terms of who I would sell the benefits to, I was very clear that I was going to start with the judges – because of their status – and they saw the benefits pretty immediately. I’d spent quite a lot of time gaining their confidence in us as an organisation they could trust, because one of the cornerstones of this approach is that it transfers a lot of responsibility and authority from the sentencer to the probation trust, and I knew that we had to come across as trustworthy.’

Having secured their confidence, the strategy was to focus on selling the benefits rather than any questions of threat to their power and authority, he explains. ‘I told them that they would have more successful sentences, fewer breaches and that we would reduce reoffending. Once I’d got the judges, that was an important selling point with the magistrates, but again it was the same approach – it’s not important about who does what, just look at the benefits. That took the emotion out of it as well – the focus was on the outcomes.’

What sort of initial reaction was there from probation staff themselves, however? ‘The majority, intellectually, could see the benefits but emotionally were a bit concerned about the extent of the change involved, because it was utterly revolutionary. I had a number of staff say, “we really support the principle – it’s a great idea – but we’re just tired of change”.’

He also had to put in a good deal of work with the Ministry of Justice to persuade them that not only could his team deliver the new way of working but that it was legal, he says. ‘A lot of the senior legal people in the MoJ were very sceptical so we produced an absolutely rock-solid case, and once we’d got the backing of the judges – we spent an evening sitting with them going through various bits of legislation line by line – we could say to the MoJ, “the judges are fine with it, and if they’re fine with it that means it’s legal”. And in over two years we’ve not had the slightest sniff of any legal challenge.’

With the legal situation clarified, the next step was to train operational staff in the new approach, and convince them that DCM didn’t just represent change for it’s own sake. More than 20 new guidelines, manuals and other documents were developed, and 25 briefings were held for court and probation staff. Liz also produced postcards, leaflets and other resources to make sure staff had all the information they needed, and used feedback from a range of stakeholders – including offenders – to ensure the information was up to date. Meanwhile, Janet led the roll-out through the courts service, developing and delivering training for legal advisers and getting new magistrates up to speed with the approach.

DCM assessments use a ‘good lives wheel’ to engage the offender, asking them to evaluate their view of themselves in a number of categories – the more problematic the issue, the closer it’s placed to the hub of the wheel, giving the offender a clear understanding of why specific interventions are important. There’s also a group supervision approach, Action for Change, which encourages offenders to focus on their future and work with other members of the group to help achieve their goals.

So what sort of reaction has there been from the offenders themselves? ‘We’re an organisation that seeks out a lot of feedback from offenders,’ says Mark. ‘We’ve got various forums where we meet, and they take part in our recruitment selection processes for staff, so we get lots of feedback. We involved them in the piloting before we went live, and made some amendments in response to that. They’re really positive about the level of involvement and engagement they’ve got, they like the highly individualised approach as well, and we’ve absolutely slashed our breach rates, which speaks for itself. It’s been incredibly positive feedback – they just say that it’s so much more meaningful for them.’

The reoffending rate for West Yorkshire for October 2011 to September 2012 was, at 9.64 per cent, nearly 10 per cent lower than the predicted figure, with 450 fewer court adjournments, and the new approach also saved the probation trust £860,000 during its first year. ‘DCM has delivered everything it promised,’ said chair of the West Yorkshire Probation Trust board Stan Hardy. ‘The success and benefits are thanks to the careful planning and hard work of Mark, Liz and Janet’, while chief executive Sue Hall said their efforts had turned ‘an excellent idea into a workable reality’.

DCM has also been cited as ‘an excellent example of innovative practice helping to cut crime’ in a 2013 report from the Centre for Justice Innovation and the New Economics Foundation. The government’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, however, has meant that some plans have had to be changed.

‘We had plans to extend the model, and we will do that once the dust has settled,’ says Mark. ‘Some new legislation coming out builds on the Dynamic Change Model, and we have got an understanding from the Ministry of Justice that DCM will continue in West Yorkshire irrespective of the Transforming Rehabilitation changes, because they’ve seen that it’s effective and it’s cost effective. Because we’re the only organisation that’s actually implemented this, I imagine that we may have a role in advising or assisting other trusts in trying to get it rolled out and how they should engage with their sentencers, who are critical players, obviously. So there’s been a pause, but we’ll build the momentum up in the coming months.’

Winning the award has been ‘tremendous’, he says. ‘I know that the Butler Trust is very prestigious, and obviously probation is at a time of major, major change so it’s just great to have this validation of our work. It’s a real boost that something we’ve done has been recognised and hopefully will continue. It’s a real fillip.’


There were some great headlines. This on the Centre for justice Innovation website:- 

Probation innovation praised for cutting region’s crime rate

09th September 2013 Originally published in The Yorkshire Post

A NEW way of managing offenders in West Yorkshire has been hailed as an example of “innovative” practice which cuts crime. A report has highlighted the approach the probation service and the courts have taken in Yorkshire, which has reduced court delays and led to fewer breaches of sentences.

Courts normally expect assessments by the probation service to be delivered before sentence is passed, but in West Yorkshire, officers prepare detailed reports after sentencing. This, the report says, “not only helps courts conclude cases more quickly, but also gives probation time to do its assessment properly”.

The assessments, which work out what activities the offender must take part in, everything from education to one-to-one work, are done with the offenders’ full involvement. It has resulted in positive reviews from courts, staff and offenders, fewer breaches of sentences and 2,162 fewer adjournments over 10 months compared to the previous year.

The report, Better Courts, authored by Phil Bowen, Director of the Centre for Justice Innovation and Stephen Whitehead, of the New Economics Foundation, says some courts are coming up with their own improvements, but they are “still too few and far between”, and encounter obstacles when they try to make changes.

Mr Bowen said: “The criminal courts of England and Wales have many strengths but are under increasing pressure to reduce their cost. In this drive for efficiency, we believe the Government is in danger of forgetting the valuable role courts can play in reducing crime. This report sets out practical steps that courts can take to reduce crime, using existing resources and building on current practice.”

West Yorkshire Probation Trust has more than 11,000 offenders on its books, with around half on community orders, meaning the whole sentence is carried out in the community.

Director of Operations Mark Siddall said: “We have been delighted to work with West Yorkshire Courts to develop and implement Post Sentence Assessment to continue our innovative approach to cutting crime. The most recent Ministry of Justice statistics show that West Yorkshire’s reoffending rate is 11.23 per cent lower than the predicted rate. This is double the national fall in reoffending.”


But according to this comment left yesterday, there might have been early signs that Post Sentence Assessment and RARs were not the universal panacea after all:-
"A number of contributors have enquired about PSA effectiveness. I made some investigations of the two year re offending outcomes at the time, monitored by WY research staff and was advised that the details were supressed by MS due to the rather concerning situation (in his view) that PSA made no difference at all to effective supervision of service users!"

It was of course the introduction of OASys that virtually doubled the time it took to write a PSR, and I'm pretty sure Sue Hall had a close involvement in it's development, but apparently admitted at a staff conference she hadn't a clue how long it took to fill in. No wonder then that West Yorkshire unashamedly began to pitch PSA and RARs as a way of doing away with PSRs:-

Thursday 8 March Welcome to PCA 2012 Conference and PCA Update 
Sue Hall, PCA Chair

Leading and shaping the future of probation: presentation links

10.15 – 11.15 Parallel sessions: Innovation in probation
Post sentence assessment – a move away from PSRs Mark Siddall & Liz Mills (West Yorkshire PT

(That's enough on RARs - Ed)

Friday 24 February 2017

RARs - A History Lesson

I was particularly struck by the following paragraph from the HMI thematic report into RARs:- 

"In Huddersfield the CRC had inherited a practice from the former Probation Trust where a unique arrangement with the local courts anticipated a similar arrangement to the RAR, where accredited programmes were ordered using a generic programme requirement and the Trust determined which programme would be delivered following a post-sentence assessment. There was now no clear plan or policy about whether accredited programmes were delivered under a RAR or accredited programme requirement. As a result, the CRC had been delivering accredited programmes using RARs, but their intention was to make sure as many as possible were delivered through accredited programme requirements in order to maximise income."

The mention of practice in Huddersfield jogged my memory and sent me rushing to the archives and to a document kindly sent to me by a reader some time ago. When the History of the Great TR Omnishambles comes to be written, lets never forget the part played by one Mark Siddall of West Yorkshire Probation Service who had a 'good idea'. 

No doubt in anticipated furtherance of his own career as anything else, and under the enthusiastic leadership of Sue Hall, he pushed what he thought was a brilliant wheeze and RARs were born, with the aspiration of WYPS earning a bob or two by franchising the idea out to other service's.

Here he is in rather self-congratulatory mode, spelling it out to staff and sentencers, and in the process, rather neatly laying one of the key foundation stones for probation's demise under TR. Of course, it was an absolute gift to the politicians who beat a path to Yorkshire, and the MoJ, who pounced on it immediately, and the rest is history, as they say:-  

All Change: an innovative approach to sentencing

1 January 2012 marks a significant date for criminal justice in West Yorkshire. It represents the start of an innovative approach to sentencing and the delivery of sentences that is unique to the area. Following agreement from senior Judges and with the Courts Service, the new approach will deliver reduced reoffending, more successful completions of court sentences, more same-day reports, fewer adjournments and fewer breaches. The benefits are compelling.

How will it work?  

Where courts are considering a Community Order as the most appropriate sentence (and where standalone unpaid work or curfew is not under consideration), sentencers will impose a Community Order with an Activity Requirement at one of three levels of intensity. The level of intensity will be set by the court, and will no doubt relate to the level of offence seriousness and punishment required.

This generic Activity Requirement replaces the current framework of 12 individual requirements that can be included as part of a Community Order. It is entirely aligned with research evidence that confirms that the closer the fit between the delivery of a sentence and an individual's specific circumstances, the better the outcome. Ingredients in the new Activity Requirement will include all the existing options West Yorkshire Probation currently delivers as accredited programmes and specified activities, plus new activities as they are developed in response to changing needs.

Post sentence, Probation staff will conduct a detailed assessment of offending-related factors and will determine the most effective means of addressing these, up to the maximum intensity level specified by the court, and will select the particular activities that most closely fit that individual's offending behaviour. In essence, it is no different from Probation Orders imposed for most of the last hundred years, where the court determined the length of the order and the Probation Officer decided how best to supervise the offender.

Referring to the table, where a court imposes an Activity Requirement of medium intensity, for example, the Probation practitioner will conduct a thorough individual assessment to determine how best to fill the 30 days of activity, according to the specific issues that need to be addressed by the particular offender.

The Activity Requirement, which will be imposed under section 201 (1) (a) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, ensures a flexible response to changes in circumstances. For example, where it becomes evident some days or weeks after sentence that a domestic abuse intervention is more appropriate than one to address anger management, Probation staff can make the necessary arrangements swiftly without the need to return to court. The new framework provides a much better vehicle to respond to the complex and fast-changing nature of some offenders' circumstances.

The main issue for a court that is considering imposing a community order will be to determine which of the three intensity levels is most appropriate, therefore the majority of reports can be provided on the same day and adjournments for reports will be substantially reduced. 

Courts will still be able to impose separate Drug Rehabilitation Requirements or Alcohol Treatment Requirements if they think that these are appropriate. There will also be separate arrangements for Intensive Community Order cases and reports for such cases will continue to be in the Standard Delivery Report format. 

We are working closely with the Courts Service to prepare briefing materials for sentencers. The new framework will be simpler than previous arrangements and will remove those factors that can distort the pre-sentence assessment process e.g. defendants concealing significant information pre-sentence, or, at the other extreme, defendants making unrealistic commitments that they are unable or unwilling to to meet once the sentence has been decided.

People respond differently to change, and these changes may evoke varied responses. But in today's climate, remaining exactly as we are is not a viable option. So, where West Yorkshire Probation can make improvements, we will. It is important to keep our eyes on our ultimate ambition: reduced reoffending, fewer victims, more completed sentences, more same-day reports, fewer adjournments and fewer breaches. In short, greater effectiveness and greater efficiency. 

Mark Siddall, Director of Operations    


I've written about this before and it was discussed at some length:- 

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Post Sentence Assessment - Trojan Horse?

Yet again this blog throws up a fascinating discussion, this time on the West Yorkshire initiative called 'Post Sentence Assessment'. I first heard about this in 2012 and started to write about it, but it ended up languishing in a long-forgotten corner of the laptop, until today that is. This is what I was going to say about it back then:-

I was recently alerted to some discussion on the NAPO forum pages concerning an interesting sentencing initiative 'Post Sentence Assessment' up there in West Yorkshire. I'm told that the recent NAPO conference in York was treated to a workshop by their Director of Operations Mark Siddall who made a fleeting appearance at the tail end and thus was sadly unable to take a more active part in proceedings.

It seems that during a somewhat pedestrian powerpoint presentation he was nevertheless able to offer some fascinating insights into how he took on both the senior judges of Leeds and Bradford in a 'he who dares wins' encounter over dinner. Referring to 'eye watering' exchanges with the judges, he apparently quoted 'chapter and verse' when they suggested that what was being proposed might not be legal. If true, a particularly risky strategy at the best of times I would have thought. He reported that both the Ministry of Justice and NOMS had concerns also, but the scheme has been running since January and of course if it delivers as promised, shall we say it does nicely accord with government policy, whether it's strictly legal or not.

Well of course things have moved on considerably and clearly West Yorkshire felt they'd struck gold because I'm told they tried to sell their brilliant idea to other bemused Trusts, but with no success. By the way, even though Mark Siddall seems to be very happy taking all the credit for the wheeze, I'm also told that it wasn't his brainwave at all, but rather that of Sarah Jarvis who left for pastures new over the Pennines shortly afterwards.

Interestingly, another source tells me that when Jeremy Wright paid a visit to West Yorkshire he latched onto PSA straight away and could immediately see how it could be a key part of the TR omnishambles. So, well done West Yorks!

Anyway, I'm not going to say much more on a subject I know little about and will let the comment thread from yesterday take up the story:-

I'd just like to make a mention of what someone put as a comment on yesterday's blog. It is regarding West Yorkshire's Post Sentence Assessment. What I understand there is that instead of having a year's Supervision Requirement, say, they are proposing something like a 20 day Specified Activity Requirement and expecting offenders to attend 20 times within the 12 months of the Community Order.

The problem I have heard, loud and clear, is that most of these Orders are ended without the Days actually being completed. Indeed many Orders have very few 'Days' completed because people don't get on programmes or groups and aren't seen when they are on waiting lists, or just aren't suitable for working in groups, or don't turn up. An FOI request would be interesting to help clarify the evidence, but I hear that senior managers have as much as admitted this and blamed front line staff.

The problem for any privateers if working this way would be if they then tried to close the case on NDelius at the 12 month mark and took payment, they would be open to claims of fraud in the same way that Serco are now on tagging contracts. In fact, I think the way that PSA is structured makes this almost inevitable. If West Yorkshire's way becomes a cornerstone of TR through the creation of Rehabilitation Activity Requirements the future is perilous for private companies. Much better for them to have Supervision and Programme Requirements.

In my mind, any such contracted PSA system in private hands would lead to high levels of media scrutiny, reputational damage and possible criminal investigation. Let's face it, we can't currently end 200 hours of UPW when only 130 had been completed. To claim the 200 hours would be fraud, so the future of contracts looks very troubled indeed if government and companies go down this route.

But if WY aren't completing Orders, shouldn't we know how much or how many are being completed? This would give a baseline of what existing staff can provide and give contractors an idea of how much performance they would need to add to meet their contracts? Am I missing something here? Sounds like an FOI request to me.

You need to read up on the Rehabilitation Activity Requirement in the Offender Rehabilitation Bill. In effect this signals the end of court imposed specified activities, giving all the discretion to the CRC provider to determine the programme of supervision.

A successful completion will be getting to the end of the order, not completing the actual number of days which are simply set as a maximum. This does not affect unpaid work or treatment requirements. This is supposed to free up the new providers to do what works for rehabilitation.

The WY PSA model, was I think, an early attempt to shape CRC work. Community Orders for whatever period may have 15 activity days, 30, 50 or 60. Nothing in between. It is true that Supervision as a Requirement, is not actively sought in the majority of cases, generally reserved for Sexual Offenders and DV cases; who continue to get fairly long periods on a Community Order, coupled with interventions such as NSOG (60) or Building Better Relationships (50) both High Activity Requirements, or Safer Relationships (30).

The low/med risk cases complete their activity days, based on Post Sentence Assessment and may include; 8 x OB groupwork sessions (Action for Change) 2 x Victim Awareness Module, 6 x ETE sessions, 10 x sessions with a drug/alcohol support group/intervention, or Hate Crime Module, Drink Driving Group etc etc. I'm sure you get the idea. Once the sessions/activity days are complete you can terminate the case - it is done, as there is no supervision activity to continue for the full 12 months. SSSO, Curfews, AC's and UPW can stand alone.

There are however serious administration issues associated with the PSA which WY are trying to get sorted. The original idea was to reduce the number of 1-1 supervision orders, that is for sure. However, to monitor the system, you need to record, contacts etc under the right line in NDelius and this is easier said than done. You need a procedure, that everyone buys into and fully understands; and it assumes other partner organisations etc will give you information re: attendance etc.

A major problem of PSA, from my perspective is that there are not enough activities running in order to get clients through their court orders, quickly, whilst motivation remains high and if there is no supervision, you lose people. Long, very long waiting lists for Sex Offender Treatment, for instance means that more of what would be group work or interventions work, is having to be done by OM's and in my view being put onto 'pathways' to treatment, which are driven by numbers, as opposed to the appropriateness of the clients passage into treatment. For example, rather than do a core programme, OM's do the initial 4 sessions and the men, as they are men, are fast tracked into Better Lives, or Relapse Prevention, whatever you want to call it.

It is/was a brave attempt to focus attention, provide a wide variety of interventions and to retain the respect of the judiciary, but just because they have done away with National Standards in favour of professional judgement and desistence, the staff resources to run programmes, groups etc are just not there.

WYT are getting tough on staff, printing off charts to demonstrate failings in recording etc which may reflect badly on PSA, but in reality, the performance charts are artificial, as the monitoring system makes no allowances for things we cannot actually achieve, with the best will in the world and so all it does is demoralise staff.

Now if you fling all this into the mix of Crams to delius, new templates for everything, r-OASys, all of which are still throwing up all kinds of glitches, and TR on top....I am surprised WY staff have battled on, or maybe we are just ahead of the game, and things can hardly get any worse.

You put in a lot of detail in there, and I kind of followed it (some of it), and thanks for trying to explain it. But doesn't all the evidence suggest that it is one to one work and relationships that makes the difference? Not groups, activities and blunt interventions? That is my experience and I think it's the message of desistance research. Sounds like you are trying to get square pegs in round holes...that surely is a very expensive route to failure. Maybe a Freedom of Information request might prove or disprove that?.

Sounds reminiscent of a work fare type scenario whereby a schedule of tasks was presented to the claimant by the PbR agency to facilitate eligibility for benefits. The catch? It was never achievable. Not meeting the criteria led to sanction, whereas anyone claiming to have completed all the tasks was sanctioned (& in some cases referred for prosecution) for fraud. The financial benefit to the agency was its success in detecting fraudulent claims, a prized criteria worth more than being successful with the client.

The wiles of the cash hungry are beyond our wildest imaginations. And even holier-than-thou MPs like Blunkett take the shilling.

Maybe we pay a retainer to our most innovative clients in return for ideas as to how to maximise profit in the shark infested world of dodgy business?

I started the thread re WYPT and 'PSA'. I am guessing that anon at 20:57 is currently employed by the same Trust . .too much inside information to be an outsider. My aim was not to educate re 'Activity Requirements' . . you'll all get that soon enough! but more to highlight the extent to which senior management has colluded with MOJ in the whole process of TR.

Vast resources, both staff and finance, have been pumped into making sure PSA is up and running. Alongside this similar resources have been used to make a 'Mutual' bid for the CRC. 'PSA' had been in the planning for months before roll out and needed the authority from Judges in the WY area. Similarly specialist 'low risk' teams were created and PSO's were recruited on temporary contracts specifically to manage low risk service - users.

I sat in a briefing with Mark Siddall (ops director) as far back as Jan 2012 when he was actively promoting PSA/Activity Req's as the future . . .we would be experts in delivery....we should be careful as to whom we shared our knowledge . . .we would be needed to deliver the model to other areas . . .and yes . . .we would be able to sell our expertise.

I'm now getting to my point! How did he know all this so long ago? Given that this whole thing was his baby, recognition at Buck Palace etc; why, just when he could bathe in all its glory, does he decide to take early retirement? Why did Sue Hall accept a senior position with CRC only to pull out days later ?

Something doesn't add up. People know more than they are telling. Please will at least one CEO or the like, spill the beans. It will inevitably "come out in the wash" but timing could be crucial.

Just to finish . . .all this gratis TR preparation work in W.Yorks was done with the full knowledge of both NAPO and Unison. I was sat next to my Union rep in the very briefing I refer to above!

I read about WYPT with interest but can't help feeling you should be looking to Durham and Teesside Trust for the forerunner for the CRC model. All offenders complete the 10 session (but could take up to 16 with reviews) Citizenship Programme with the OM either PO or PSO grade dependent on ROH. They then pass onto a CSS officer (not Tier 4, MAPPA, CP or DV cases) who is a PSO grade and can hold 100 cases, there are examples of this. Supervision can then include using bulk reporting centres staffed by volunteers (yes truly).

I bet the MOJ have watched this model with interest. I hear practitioners were very concerned about the Citizenship Programme but it was imposed with a very tight fist by the exec team. No-one gets to know their offenders they are simply processed and then move on. When their Chief Exec also became Cumbria's Chief he tried to impose this model on them but as he was less influential there - not having appointed the exec team himself - it did not happen. This model has been running in Durham for three years so there is a lot of data on it available.