Monday 31 July 2017

News From London Napo

London Napo Branch had their AGM recently and I understand it was not quorate. This will be of concern to many and to me only serves to highlight the pressing need for change and a reinvigoration of the union before it's too late. 

Ironically, one of the main items on the agenda was discussion of the paper 'Pride in Napo' which outlines just such a change programme that would see some of the proceeds from the Chivalry Road sale being used as part of an 'investment for growth' strategy. 

Sadly, such is the degree of dysfunctionality and morale that this could be in danger of suffering a still birth. I hope not because things can't go on as they are and it deserves careful consideration. Maybe an executive summary would help get the message across rather more quickly and stimulate some constructive debate? 

Dare I also suggest that there really isn't time or capacity for a self-indulgent internal wrangle over issues of 'cultural misappropriation' with the title when the very survival of the union is at stake? For heaven's sake, lets not get side-tracked down another side alley at this critical time. 

As always, thanks go to the branch member for sharing the following which contains important information that will of interest to many.        

Branch Meeting

1. Minutes of Branch Meeting held on Friday 26th May 2017.As the Branch meeting held on 26th May 2017 was inquorate, there are no Minutes.

2. Motions for National AGM

a) Ill Health Retirement

This AGM understands members going through various ill health retirement processes have experienced unacceptable delays and barriers. Many have to agree to leave their organisation without knowing what their pension payments will be. In some cases this process has taken a year which negatively impacts on final payments which are based on pay at time of leaving.

This AGM believes members who are already struggling with ill health should not have to be subject to further stress in this way. We believe the process needs to be reviewed urgently.

This AGM calls for ill health retirement policies to be reviewed and for NAPO to bring them to the agenda as part of national and local negotiations as a a priority.

b) Outside Contractors

Since privatisation Probation and Family Court Services are seeing more 'outsourcing' of HR services. The Shared Services in NPS are not fit for purpose. Occupational Health is also not delivering services in accordance with Organisational policies and timescales.

This AGM understands many members bringing grievances are being stymied by Organisational senior managers not having any control over 'so called' external agencies.

This AGM believes this is unacceptable and more needs to be done to ensure accountability.

This AGM calls on National NAPO to bring a test case to show the HMPPS and MoJ we have teeth and they are accountable to our members for the failings of their sub contractors.

c) Short Format Reports

This AGM has seen the lowering of standards regarding the quality and accuracy of Pre Sentence Reports since the push to on the day delivery.

This AGM believes report writers are being de skilled and placed in untenable situations when they have to produce reports without access to salient information. We also believe this devalues our professional reputation and places our staff and the public at risk.

This AGM calls for our National Officers and Officials to campaign vigorously for on the day reports to be reviewed and a return to quality and accuracy.


This AGM believes that language evolves and changes. The word PRIDE is now firmly associated with the LGBTIQ community and their campaigns.

This AGM feels that using the word PRIDE for a major NAPO restructuring process is regressive, confusing and divisive. NAPO is known for being in the front line supporting and fighting for Equality so using this title goes contrary to our core beliefs.

This AGM calls for National to rename this Campaign to reflect we are going forwards not backwards.

e) Outside work

The PI 38/2014 concerning Outside Activities, includes political campaigning and trade union activities. We have recently seen members subjected to disciplinary action under this PI which demonstrates enforcement is draconian. Many members are not aware of the existence of this PI or the existence of the Services declaration form.

We call on National to run an awareness raising campaign on how members can stay safe whilst undertaking Union and other work. 


NEC REPORT 22/06/17
London Branch NAPO.



( Urfan Amar) Added that the new location of NAPO HQ Falcon road received large numbers of positive comments namely around accessibility, it being a modern and comfortable place to hold the NEC. Only issues were audio regarding lack of working microphones.

3. MINUTES of NEC 29.11.16 & 6.6.17 (NEC49/16(a) & NEC28/17 and MATTERS ARISING

(All passed no issues).

Matters arising: Indicative ballot for industrial action. NEC will be supplied with an exact turn out of voters and a breakdown of which branches voted. Voting turnout was low 20% of membership. Officers group voted not to take industrial action 5/2. (Chris Pearson and Chas Berry voted for industrial action) although I was personally disappointed with this and the officers were challenged on this I believe the reasons why industrial action were not taken were valid reasons.

New (anti) Trade Union legislations requires a 50% turn out. We failed to even come close to the 50% threshold and this negatively impacted on the mandate.

Ian Lawrence also added that he has ran more ballots (both indicative and actual) than any other NAPO General Secretary in our history and is not shy to fight via industrial action, he felt now was not the time and that the pay campaign is likely to generate more enthusiasm and potential for industrial action.

4. CORRESPONDENCE (requiring NEC attention)

None raised at this time other than regarding the indicative ballot which are outlined briefly above.

5. DISPUTES (requiring NEC attention)

South Yorkshire is still in dispute with CRC regarding Sodexo Booths and workloads.
East Anglia is in disputes regarding workloads.
South West Midlands CRC dispute as they have requested an Equality Impact Assessment for the new ways of working.


Membership has grown but we are not healthy, I did not catch the full figures but can obtain this if needed. Same issue we have faced since privatisation for every new member we sign up, someone else resigns. Most reason for leaving NAPO are leaving the service.


a) Legal Assistance Appeals Panel
Any further nominations

(To hear any appeals against refusal of legal assistance by the General Secretary). Nominations will be invited to ensure a sufficient pool which reflects the diversity of Napo's membership. Nominees do not have to be NEC members).

b) Grievance and Disciplinary Panel
There are two remaining vacancies on the Panel

(To elect members from whom panels can be drawn to hear any grievances lodged by Napo staff and not resolved at earlier stages to the grievance procedure or disciplinary appeals. The agreed procedures require Napo to seek a gender balance on this panel. Nominees need to be NEC Branch Reps)

c) Employers' Sub-Committee
There is one vacancy remaining

(To elect members of the NEC to this committee which will also include the Chair and the second national officer acting as the employer representative on the JNC. There is also the facility for the General Secretary to be an ex-officio member. As previously agreed, in recognition of the high proportion of women employees at Napo office, two of the three NEC members should be women. A copy of NEC Members: Responsibilities as Employers (NEC33-2016) has been previously circulated. )

Jan Pill also added there are now 2 vacancies for Edridge Trustees. Katie Lomas stressed that although panels are short staffed they are fully functioning. These vacancies are still vacant.


Issued raised by the NEC on this were Diversity Black History Month, NAPO in discussion with ABPO (now known as RISE the BAME staff network) and will work together to have either a BHM display and speakers with a theme of the Black experience in the CJS. Katie Lomas added that all staff networks are across NPS/CRC and Rise.

In terms of recruitment NAPO has noted a rise in recruitment of Black females aged 26-34 years old. NEC members feel this is not reflected in their experience of new recruits, so NAPO will request hard data.

NPS can provide this data but shared services are in a mess, CRC should provide this data as well but have not been asked, Branches to request this at meetings. CRC is a private company but is still duty bound by the public sector equality duty.

Issues on H&S were raised in the report. For the NPS there is such a thing as sick leave excusals on shared services for work related stress.

There is no such remit in the policy for CRCs/Rise but staff should record staff stress via A&I forms, supervision meetings etc. and if they end up off work with work related stress there is an argument to have this under a work place injury and possible exclusion similarly to disability sickness.

Politically Tanya Bassett reported back that we are in no man’s land. Progress has been made with ITV Wales set to interview Ian Lawrence and some campaigns are going to come up which will create media interest. Our manifesto was taken by the Labour Party in its entirety and this is a massive achievement for NAPO. Summer recess kicks in on 23/07/17 which means progress we made will be put back due to election and summer recess. In September parliament opens for 2 weeks so this could be October. Tania Bassett was thanked by the NEC for explaining the difficult parliamentary time frames.

Ian Lawrence stated that he has been approached by media regarding workloads and staff sickness the CRC average is 25 days remember LPT average was 11. IL attended, spoke at and networked at the Public Policy Exchange (CJS) and held a platform with Jonathon Atkins and Norman Lamb (good contacts to have on side). IL also spoke with current justice minister David Linington, he added Liz Truss being moved was a loss as she was beginning to listen to the unions and all the work NAPO had achieved with her is now gone and they have to start from scratch again.

IL called on the minister to listen to staff and meet them rather than listening to civil servants who are also to blame for the mess of TR and the issues we currently face today. This did not go down too well with Michael Spurr. IL took issue with the open letter the justice minister had written which failed to mention probation and stated that they are too prison centric. IL raised that the bargaining machinery with the NPS was poor and that according to National Office of Statistics pay was decreased by 22% due to inflation. IL is working with Justice Minister and TB is working with shadow justice minister but she believes he may be moving posts.


This is a well written and detailed plan (albeit uncosted) that Dean Rogers has put together to use the reserve money from the sale of Chivalry Road to modernise NAPO. Due to the significance of this paper and the impact this could have (for better or for worse) on NAPO several things had to be agreed and discussed.

PLEASE NOTE: Closing date for NEC motions is 18th July 2017.

We voted to bring the September NEC forward to August 15th so any constitutional amendments can be passed.

(There were passionate speeches about moving the date to August high annual leave season) David Masterson asked that the debate on Pride be debated first then the vote for changing NEC date come second although this was seconded no one apart from London Branch voted in favour of this. It was explained to the NEC if we did not change the NEC date Deans PRIDE plan could not be acted upon until AGM 2018 which would be too late.

Issues raised by NEC regarding Pride were…

  • That NAPO does best when it is current and TR proved that we got 32,000 signatures and everyone worked together and started to become activist especially online. 
  • No matter how much you spend on IT people still won’t read their emails, too many emails are seen as junk mail and that PRIDE does not seem to focus on that. 
  • PRIDE is wrong that we are in the political spotlight NEC feels we are not, 
  • We need to be more niche as focus recruitment and support around probation staff in prisons/specialist roles. 
  • We should look at streamlining the journal to save money. 
As this paper talks about new job roles/functions the potential death of NAPO are NAPO employees being consulted properly and supported. (We were told that redundancies are a reserve that cannot be touched and there is no plans for redundancies at this stage).

Dean Rogers was challenged on the term PRIDE as this felt it could be seen as cultural appropriation. DR stated he is happy to reclaim the work PRIDE as it is a positive word that is in the English language but happy for others to think up a different word.

Concerns were raised about us being brought into another union, Katie Lomas stated that if this did happen we would lose our assets by being taken over from another union so PRIDE is a practical step forward what do we have to lose?

An email was read out from an NEC member who was unable to attend but that a union merger should be given the same detailed thought and discussion.

The NEC will not write a blank cheque for DR to spend on PRIDE.

My view is the ship is at risk of sinking, PRIDE is a positive move forward but that the NEC need to scrutinise everything and hold Dean to account and members need to scrutinise the NEC and hold us to account. If this goes wrong….

It was agreed to have subcommittee meeting to oversee PRIDE. Some controversy as some officials were against this idea but constitutionally we can do this and have done it. It will include 5 NEC members (for which I volunteered to sit on the panel but agreed if any NEC member who was not at that meeting would like to sit on this panel I would leave).

The officer’s report was voted for by the NEC. Please note this does not mean PRIDE was voted for what was in essence changing the infrastructure to allow it to be voted on at 2017 AGM by members.


Financial update
We are still at a deficit according to the report. We need to recruit recruit recruit.


a) Negotiating Committee:
b) Trade Union Organising:
c) Steering Committee:

AGM 2018 will be at Southport.

Votes from members regarding motions are very low and were low last AGM. This is bad for democracy Jan Pill has told us that motions this year will be voted on via survey monkey can branches please big this up and get votes up.

d) Campaigning Committee:
e) H&S Committee:

Sarah Friday reported back on NPS OMU prison model. She has escalated this to NPS H&S committee to explore who will have jurisdiction over staff in a custodial setting.


A motion was passed to reduce quoroacy of NEC from 2/3 to 15. This was passed. Again conerns were raised that this might be too South East focused etc but business is needed to be done this means 9 branches would need to attend and 6 officers to hit quoracy. London voted in favour of this motion as it means more NEC members are likely to attend if they think we will be quoroate and it will like AGM reduction get business done. The motion came from TUO committee.

None was raised.

13. DATE OF NEXT Meeting: Thursday 7th September 2017: PLEASE NOTE: Officers are recommending this to be brought forward to 15.8.17 – NEC members have recently been emailed to enquire if this date is possible. If so, the 7th September meeting would not take place.

Report by David Masterson NEC Rep CRC and Charron Culnane NEC Rep NPS. 23rd July 2017.

Sunday 30 July 2017

Pick Of The Week 26

This government systematically and swiftly wreck a proud and effective public service. We who fought it, are told to "get over it and move on", as we are clearly not coping with change and progress. Think of it as a bereavement process, they say, Yup, got that thank you, you patronising bastards. Denial, anger, depression, coping, recovery. Trouble is, on an almost daily basis the Government, the MoJ, the CRC owners, rarely miss an opportunity to insult their staff at every level, and pour salt in the wound. This takes the biscuit. It is not good for our health. 

Under the headline: overpaid suit gets paid bonus despite poor results (hardly news really) is the little issue of decision-making, leadership, choices. The inference is made that because Spurr had hit an efficiency target, there was little choice but pay him a bonus. Lower down there is an account of the MoJ making payments to staff against the rules, and this remaining in place. Despite my daily experience in NPS of there being apparently no scope for anyone at any level to make any choices or decisions, somebody somewhere chose to increase payments to prison staff. Someone, Richard Heaton?, chose to reward Spurr, and Spurr chose to accept it.

Frances Crook is right. Everyone else is held to account for failure, why aren't ministers? Indeed, that's actually where the buck should stop. Grayling was put in charge of the Justice system with a record of creating chaos whilst employment minister. After creating the total destruction of the CJS, not just Prison and Probation, but courts, legal aid, judicial review, employment tribunals, and many many other areas, he's moved on to Transport. Predictably, he's causing chaos there. Dodgy deals, requesting to address Parliament at 10pm on HS2, and again in the news today with the whole of the North of England disgusted and outraged with his decision to cancel electrification of railways, but plough ahead with his vanity projects for London.

He has the most appalling record and the most skewed moral compass of any minister to ever sit in office. And I've deliberately not mentioned his expenses. But that said, the disastrous changes he inflicted on the Justice system were voted in by the rest of the Tories, and some collective responsibility should be shouldered by them all. I am continually amazed and outraged that government are not being held to account for what I believe is fast becoming a humanitarian crisis in our prisons. 

HMP Hewell and Aylesbury have hit the headlines this week, but the MoJ are getting very good at suppressing news. Askham Grange, a woman's open prison also saw a major disturbance last week. Today HMP Bristol, and Holme House are headlined with staff poisoned by spice and dozens having to go off sick or hospital. That 5 1/2k of drugs were found in one place within the prison is almost anecdotal. 

Probation has also been destroyed, and I think it may be helpful to revisit Hansard and remind everyone of the retrofit that was being peddled at the time, and compare it with the actuality of the current state of the service. "it's not good enough to release prisoners with only £46 in their pocket" they argued, but that's really all you do get now, except your liability for court costs which puts you further in debt then your £46 starting point. No mentors? No housing? No assistance with addiction services because they don't want to touch you if you're on licence, and a merry go round of useless appointments so everyone can skim a few quid off whatever particular pot they happen to be feeding from. 

And salt in the wounds! The same private company that's managing your supervision and resettlement needs, are dealing with your benefit claim with a totally different remit and focus to what's wanted from the other side of the company. It's all f***ed, and the architects need to be made more accountable, and Grayling should be the first in the dock!

It's only a question of time before a prison officer is killed. What will be the governments response? Lessons learned, more to do, difficult times and we take these instances very seriously.

Leaves a lump in my throat when I read of the MoJ's concern for 'hard-working staff'. ('Hard-working' is such a favoured political phrase to describe those who are under-rewarded). The MoJ will be tough on rioters as if these outbreaks of disorder can be deterred without dealing with the well-established underlying causes. Pity that bonuses are not linked to good order and discipline.

The story will also out that Working Links are going under. When even their employability staff and of course previous director are abandoning ship that is a clue to what is coming. It cannot go on. Napo know it and CRC managers know it. There is nothing left. The MOJ have failed miserably and too ashamed to admit it. We are leaderless in the Working Links Wales and SW empire, have been for some time now. Only a few cockroaches scuttling about and eating the last remaining detritus. 

Our service users are similarly afflicted. Benefits pulled, mental health services down the drain, GP's refuse to see them, housing non existent, dead end exploitation for jobs...what a wonderful society this government have created when men choose to re-offend and go to prison rather than try to cope, homeless and destitute on the outside. No wonder crime rates are escalating when corrupt companies like Working Links are left holding some of the most vulnerable yet also risky individuals in the country. I don't know what the alternative is if we cannot re-unite as Napo have pointed out, but one day those of us at Working Links will arrive at work to find that Working Links have basically either folded completely or run off and left us to our fate. So we better get our heads together and figure out how the hell we are going to manage and who is going to oversee the mess and try to put it right.

I'm always cheered up by the term "leaderless", it makes me think we can now finally get down to business. No one standing in our way trying to trip us up with their irrelevant distractions . But yes, we do want to get paid.

That article made me laugh. Sadly if the Swindon Advertiser swallow their crap it is because they are not exactly investigative journalists! Working Links basically speak with forked tongue. They have zero integrity and remind me of those sad little vermin sales people who repeat their stock phrases and actually think we are fooled. They are repulsive hook-worms feeding on a starved intestine. When the last bit of food disappears out of the CRC arsehole they will shed away and be expelled and look for another host to parasitise! Vile, the lot of them.

I'm just worn out with it all. I surely cannot be the only one left in this boat can I? I have invested into this career path for 15 years now and have never seen it so bad. I am sick to the back teeth of political spin when all I want to do is help those that have offended in my community move on to better things - that is it. Somewhere this has all been lost in the corporate world we live in now where money means more. I'm desperate to leave, but I don't even have the energy to apply for new jobs as am so worn out dealing with politics, negativity with offenders and managers towing the party line. It's not what I joined for.

The Troubled Families Programme was we are told 100% successful. With no Troubled Families anymore and a record number of people in good stable employment, then crime must surely be falling, meaning fewer people being processed through the courts, a falling prison population, and fewer being made subject to probation orders and supervision. With record numbers of affordable housing being built, the number of homeless people are also far fewer. 

Where did it all go wrong? It all goes wrong when the politicians can't be truthful about the reality and spin everything for political advantage or ideological gain. It all goes wrong when the wealth of the nation is only measured in fiscal terms, and your ability to have a voice is more dependent on your bank balance then your right to free speech. Even last night Tornado Squads were sent to HMP Hewel to quell a disturbance. The prison service say that 'a small number of inmates were involved in causing trouble and the situation is now resolved'. But how serious was the disturbance really? It warranted the use of distraction grenades to bring it to an end! It all goes wrong when you cannot only not believe the rhetoric but you can't even believe the official data anymore.

Recent media and social media has a nostalgic edge, as posts and articles from three odd years ago, saying TR consequences would be crap, pop up between articles and inspection reports showing that they really are. Justice Select Committee have done hand-wringing but failed to publish an even superficial review. Unions - depleted in membership and clout - are working hard on damage limitation with staff pay and conditions. There isn't a real debate yet about what to propose next. I doubt that there would ever be much by way of acknowledgement of the catastrophe, or a willingness to change direction, from the current government, although there is room for manoeuvre now given their lack of majority. So I am interested in where we could go from here, what we should be proposing, and who we should be pressing the argument with.

When I joined this organisation over 10 years ago, I didn't sign up to being a political pawn. I genuinely wanted to steer vulnerable people away from offending behaviour for the good and benefit of my local community. Since joining this shower, I have continuously been pawned off the back of what is now more than ever political spin. I have been witness to offenders now being subjected to nothing more then the fat cats that is the private sector. I'm off from this shower, not what I signed up for and when I am gone, I will make it a life goal to expose this Government for what it is. Absolutely disgusted with how money and capitalisation / corporate greed comes before meeting the needs of vulnerable offenders who 9 times out of 10 have been dealt a bad hand in life. Shocking. Absolutely shocking that it has all come to this.

The question is not "where did it go wrong" but "what do we need to do to make it right".
It's all gone so drastically wrong that's it's insulting to all to even try and put spin on it.
Forget the blame game and trying to point the finger at who's responsible for the mess. That's just a matter of opinion in the end. What can't be argued is that everything really is a mess, and urgent action to clean up the mess is needed. The condition of the CJS is not just a crisis, it's become a national disaster. It's disgraceful and dangerous. No argument, no blame, just urgent action.

"The decision to announce the closure was taken in the context of prison population projections which indicated a fall this year. But instead of the decrease the population has increased significantly within the last two months, at the beginning of May the population was 85,129 but by the middle of this month, that number had increased to 85,994."

It's been said that CRCs have been reluctant to breach people because of fear of losing money because of the way they are paid. If that payment mechanism is altered (and I think it may have recently been changed), would that make CRCs more comfortable in instigating breach because they won't lose money? I'm just very curious as to why a predicted decline in prison population should actually turn out to be a significant increase. Could a change in payment mechanism for CRCs increase the pressure on the prison service?

You ask a good question that no-one seems to want to answer. The original blog post ended with three conflicting arguments about breach, i.e. the CRCs are deliberately refusing to breach, the NPS is frustrating their efforts, and the CRCs are not doing anything to prevent breaches:

"...there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that breaches are less likely to be enforced as a result of TR. It has been suggested to us that the way in which the contracts for CRCs have been designed has created perverse incentives to disengage with an offender if the breach process is triggered. Once an offender breaches their conditions, the MoJ issues a financial penalty on the CRC, as an offender is only eligible for PbR the first time they commence an eligible sentence, meaning that those who breach their sentence are no longer eligible for payment, regardless of the support the CRC may have already provided.

HM Inspectorate of Probation has found variability in enforcement processes across the CRCs, with some experiencing high rejection rates from the NPS for their breach recommendations. HMIP found that many recommendations were returned because of minor spelling and grammatical errors, and the NAO also identified an “inherent risk that offender managers may avoid ‘breaching’ offenders where this would affect CRC performance against targets for successful completion of orders if the court order is subsequently revoked”. A recent Justice Inspectorate report followed these earlier warnings, and stated “we were disappointed to find, in a third of cases where the individual was breached, insufficient effort was made by the CRC responsible officer to re-engage them and encourage their commitment to continued engagement”.

Then there's 12 months' post-sentence supervision, a ticket to ride the magic roundabout of eternal custody. That alone will have increased prison numbers significantly, making it easy for folks to nip in & out of prison on short sentences - couriers for drugs, weapons, 'phones; respite from loneliness, homelessness & hunger; or simply shelter for those with "untreatable" mental illnesses (e.g. personality disorders that community mental health teams won't touch).

There have been reports of staff being ordered to put entries on ndelius to indicate OASys assessments completed when they are not to 'meet targets' and avoid loss of capital. Please think carefully before you collude with this. All your assessments and records are classed as legal documents and can be scrutinised by inspectors or MoJ as well as in the case of an SFO. If you lie about the date you could be held to account, disciplined or even charged! Please report any such requests immediately to your union rep and include any written request. It appears that some such requests are coming from ACO level which is truly shocking as they are putting their staffs integrity and character at risk.

A blog of shame for the Ministry of Whateveritscalledthisweek. I, too, left and am having a decent enough time despite losing about £6K and 10 annual leave days a year. What I find distressing is that the conversations I have with colleagues still in Probation are generally taking the form of: 'it's really s***. I only have two years to go until I can retire so I think I can stick it out until then'.

During the 25 years I was with Probation, I was motivated and enthused by what we were doing and fully engaged in the industry surrounding community sentencing, offenders, courts etc etc. Now all I hear about is dissatisfaction, anger, frustration, lies, deception, corporate bullying, threats, misdirection, offenders being fobbed off with dumb initiatives like phone or SKYPE interviews, unqualified staff working with high risk offenders with poor supervision (I know of one sex offender specialist who has had ONE supervision session in nearly two YEARS). Unqualified people are now working with offenders who I was not allowed anywhere near until I had been qualified for a year. It's just a sad, sad thing to watch the ship I cruised the world in being run onto the rocks and left to rust and decay. Grayling's shame.

I left around ten years ago. Done a few jobs since in police, local authorities now work for a regulator (I enjoy doing different things). I have to say though when I worked in Probation there were some incredible practitioners who were absolutely inspirational (mean that genuinely). Something I have not found anywhere else so would agree about missing the colleagues. The service did not realise the quality of some of the people it had. Was a tragedy and should never have been allowed to happen.

Bob Neill chair of the justice select committee wrote in the Times the other day that urgent work is need to be done on legal aid, prison and probation. He expressed concern that the select committee was not yet operational, and with only 2 weeks between Parliament reforming and the conference season beginning it was unlikely that the issues needing addressing were unlikely to get the urgent attention required. It seems that the government are putting so much resources into suppressing information about the chaos in the criminal justice system, it hasn't the time to actually deal with the problems.

In today's Independent, there's a long article which claims Michael Gove was right, we need to stop sending people to prison that don't really pose a risk to society, and more community based sentences should be imposed, particularly for non violent offenders. I agree with that approach. Prison is the cause, and not the solution to many of problems within the world of criminal justice.

Think about your working day. Of all the actions you take or tasks you complete, haw many can you truly say were rehabilitative? What proportion of your day did those actions and tasks take up? WTF are we actually doing every day?

This must have the hallmarks of corruption written all over it. It is so obvious now, surely evidence presented which is what we have all said from the very beginning of this shambles is happening. What makes it worse is that more money is being thrown the privateers way. Surely, living in a democracy, this can be pursued.

If the MoJ are prepared to throw more money at the CRCs when they're not delivering things like TTG, I'm wondering what will be demanded when the TR contracts come up for renewal?

Similar to this scandal is the farce that is E3 agenda which is trying to shoehorn 60% of POs into the currently unsafe and dangerous prison estate. The stated aim is to make things better for prisoners, yet prison officers see us as a bunch of well paid admin designed to free up uniformed staff to get back on the wings. Despite the empty promises that no one is going to be directed into a prison, one ACE in the North has already suggested that 'operational need', will see a % of POs directed.....what's the betting Napo reps are amongst the first tranche....the CRCs have been royally shafted and the NPS is next...why else the fever pitch recruitment of PSOs? Keep a look for a regrading exercise in the near future so that previously High risk cases magically become medium risk overnight and so on...not sure what the answer is but would like to see Napo push a unification agenda as a starting point.

The emphasis on High ROSH being only cases POs should work with has long been a bug-bear of mine; complexity of need/concerns is more often what characterises most of my NPS caseload which does not always correlate with imminence of sig risk to others because of the safeguards established - one of which is PO supervision.I have concerns too re hoisting of staff into prison.

Has anyone benefited from the TR debacle?

- Antonia Romeo is a British civil servant. She is currently the Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Trade. She was recently British Consul-General in New York at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

- Dame Ursula Brennan - In 2012 she moved to run the Ministry of Justice, with responsibility for running the courts, tribunals and prisons in England and Wales, the administration of legal aid, probation and youth justice, and policy on human rights and data protection. Ursula retired from the Civil Service in 2015 and is a trustee of the National Theatre. She has an Honorary Doctorate from Kent and was made a DCB in the New Year’s Honours 2013.

The McDowells (ex-Probation Inspector & his Sodexo wife), the Bennetts (ex-CEO of KSS CRC & his CRC-monitor wife); & the Numb Grayling himself who appears to be made of magic teflon which doesn't allow ANY shit to stick, regardless of how much he generates. Also...

- The boss of private security firm G4S (Ashley Almanza) received a record £4.8m in pay and bonuses over the last year despite the firm being embroiled a string of scandals.

- Senior managers at a privately run children’s jail received bonuses this year despite the prison being taken out of their hands following allegations of abuse. The managers received performance-related pay awards in April, weeks after the chief inspector of prisons said that “managerial oversight failed to protect young people from harm at the jail”.

Meanwhile Spurr, Allars & friends continue to enjoy the fruits of corrupt self-serving government policy. The bonuses have been a feature during times of austerity. This from 2011:

- "I just thought you would all like to know that in the NOMS Report/Accounts 2010/2011 while we were all getting a pay freeze and effective pay cut. The NOMS Board were getting bonuses of £5000-15000"

And from Jan 2016:
- "a higher percentage of Ministry of Justice staff received bonuses last year compared with the year before – and the average size of bonuses was also up, according to figures released today."

So it looks like the Noms brigade have been pocketing large bonuses - potentially 6x £20k for Spurr alone - throughout the TR shitstorm whilst refusing pay reform for main grade staff.

Welcome to Tory Britain.

354 deaths in prison, up 38%
119 self-inflicted deaths up 32%
37,784 incidents of self harm, up 23%
18,510 recorded prisoner on prisoner assaults, up 28%
6,430 assaults on staff, up 40%.

Should be prosecution not bonuses.

The smoking ban worries me a lot as I don't think the unforeseen consequences that it will bring have really been considered if at all. Tobacco is the main currency in every prison in the land. What happens to the economy when the currency is removed? There will still be drugs, there will still be prisoners that want drugs. But no tobacco means alternative ways of payment will have to be found. More pressure on family, friends and visitors? 

There's always been ways of finding a bit of tobacco to make yourself self sufficient in prison, a bit of extra kit from the stores, a bit of extra snap from the kitchens etc etc. The removal of the standard currency hands the drug barons significantly more power, if not all the power, and that can't be a good thing. 

80% of prisoners smoke. I'm a long term smoker myself, and as anyone who's ever quit the habit, or taken a break from the evil weed will know, you feel more lively and energetic. Why would the authorities want to energise 80% more of the prison population when there's nowhere for that new found energy to be channelled into? I'd predict a significant raise in violence in the near future. 

And punishment will also be significantly changed. A couple of days in the 'block' always a deterrent for bad behaviour. Loss of gym, loss of association, and no smoking. But if you're not getting the gym and association anyway, and now smoking loss won't be a deterrent, I'd argue that being in the block is the most desirable place to be. No queueing in volatile locations such as dinner queues and kit exchange queues, doctor and governor at your door every day checking you're OK? The block has become the new penthouse within the prison system. It's not just the flash violence the introduction of the smoking ban will inevitably bring the MoJ need to worry about, there will also be much more longer term consequences attached that they should consider. 

Saturday 29 July 2017

How Is TTG Going?

As we all know, the main reason given for the imposition of TR was the scandalous release of prisoners serving 12 months or less 'with just £46 in their pocket'. It was a soundbite repeated by Chris Grayling ad nauseam as a way to get political support for the whole TR project. 

At last it would magically result in all prisoners being assisted into employment and education by the innovative and cash incentivised CRCs. For the group probation had 'ignored', the so-called 'Through the Gate' initiative would deliver both a reduction in reoffending and handsome rewards for the contractors through Payment by Results. What a wheeze - what was not to like? What could possibly go wrong?

It was all smoke and mirrors, of course. Pure fantasy, confirmed over and over again by numerous inspectorate reports, such as this 'An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Short-Term Prisoners' from October 2016 - in other words the famous 'just £46 pound in their pocket' group :-  
‘Through the Gate’ is a flagship policy of government, intended to bring about a step change in rehabilitation, and so reduce reoffending. New services have been rolled out in prisons to prepare prisoners for release and resettlement and increase their prospects of leading a better life. When the policy was introduced in spring 2015, post-release licence supervision and rehabilitation support was extended to those formerly ineligible (serving short sentences) so as to increase the impact on reoffending overall. 
In our fourth Transforming Rehabilitation report published in January 2016, we signalled our concern that Through the Gate expectations were not being given priority on the ground. Probation providers were focused on the more immediate demands of leading and managing wholesale change to the delivery model for all probation services. Now, more than six months hence we find little change and little delivered, albeit the reasons for that are more complex than those holding back improvement last year.
Newly formed Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) are responsible for Through the Gate provision, but are not sufficiently incentivised under their contract arrangements to give priority to this work. Payment is triggered by task completion rather than anything more meaningful. Additional financial rewards are far off and dependent on reoffending rates that are not altogether within the CRC’s gift. CRC total workloads (and therefore income) are less than anticipated when contracts were signed. As CRCs continue to develop and adjust their operating models accordingly, CRCs are hard-pressed and are generally giving priority to work that is rewarded with more immediate and more substantial payment. These detailed contractual arrangements must change and develop, for the government’s rehabilitation policies to be delivered well.
Last month another joint HMI report was published 'An Inspection of Through the Gate Resettlement Services for Prisoners Serving 12 Months or More' and the findings were utterly damning. This from the Guardian:-   

Privatised probation programme 'could be dropped with negligible impact'

A key part of the government’s probation privatisation reforms could be dropped tomorrow without any impact on the resettlement of prisoners, a joint report by the chief inspectors of probation and prisons has warned.

In what critics dubbed a “devastating report on a growing scandal” Dame Glenys Stacey, the chief inspector of probation, and Peter Clarke, the chief inspector of prisons, say that the work done by the 21 community rehabilitation companies in the government’s Through the Gate programme is having a negligible impact on reducing prisoner reoffending rates, two years after its introduction.

The chief inspectors say that too many prisoners have been released not knowing where they would sleep that night, that in too many cases prisoners’ risk to the public had been inadequately assessed before release, and despite much talk about the use of mentors, they could find only one prisoner out of a sample of 98 who had been mentored.

“None of the early hopes for Through the Gate have been realised,” they said. “The gap between aspiration and reality is so great, that we wonder whether there is any prospect that these services will deliver the desired impact on rates of reoffending.”

The chief inspectors’ report was based on visits to nine prisons where Through the Gate services were delivered by seven different rehabilitation companies in England and Wales and a detailed examination of the cases of 98 long-term prisoners. “The overall picture is bleak,” they conclude. “If Through the Gate services were removed tomorrow, in our view the impact on the resettlement of prisoners would be negligible.”

They said that CRC staff focused most of their efforts on producing written resettlement plans to meet contractual targets, while the needs of prisoners received much less attention. “Many have enduring problems including mental illness and addiction, and yet links between treatment in custody and in the community were not always easy. Indeed the whole transition is often fraught. Affordable accommodation is hard to source, and claims to state benefits take time to process, so some prisoners are released with nowhere to live, and like others, may face weeks without any income.”

The provision of post-release resettlement services was one of the key aims of the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation reforms which saw the part-privatisation of the probation service.

The inspectors say that while many CRCs have employed well-respected voluntary organisations to deliver resettlement services, their potential has not been realised as they have focused on completing delivery plans. The few examples of the promised innovation, they add, have been on a very small scale.

The performance of the CRCs raises questions about whether they will qualify for any payments under the payment-by-results mechanism in their contracts when the first reoffending data becomes available in October.

Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, described it as a “devastating report on a growing scandal” adding: 

“One of the first challenges for the new government is to sort out this mess. The break-up of the public probation service, with a large part of it handed to private companies, was supposed to turn lives around, reduce reoffending and make us all safer. Instead, successive inspection reports have shown that the risk to the public has increased, and now we learn that Through the Gate services are so useless that they could stop tomorrow and we would not notice the difference. People who are trying to lead crime-free lives are being let down.”

Labour’s shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, added that the report’s central conclusion pointed to “a complete failure of the Tories’ reckless part-privatisation of probation. Public safety is being put at risk because ex-offenders aren’t getting the support, supervision and rehabilitation they need,” he said.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: 

“We will take all necessary action to make sure the probation system is reducing reoffending and preventing future victims. We have undertaken an overarching review of probation, looking at the standards we set for providers and how we hold them to account. Additionally, we have made changes to how community rehabilitation companies are paid so they can focus on activities that will help cut crime. As part of part of the probation review, we have been looking at Through the Gate services and will be publishing our findings in due course.”


As confirmed recently, the special pleading by the CRCs for more money or they would 'walk away' from their contracts was successful and they were collectively 'bunged' an extra £20million as a result.* It won't make the slightest difference of course because the whole concept of TR, TTG and CRCs is just so much fantasy, founded on zero evidence and unlikely to ever be anything other than SNAFU. 

*Incidentally, it's interesting to note that the CRCs have the MoJ over the proverbial barrel because even if they walked away, the MoJ is committed to paying them for the whole 7 year contract period, even if they fail to deliver for any reason. Brilliant contract drafting and a lasting Grayling legacy.   

Friday 28 July 2017

News Roundup 12

The news about employment tribunal fees means yet another reversal of a flawed Chris Grayling policy. This from the BBC website:-  

Employment tribunal fees unlawful, Supreme Court rules

Fees for those bringing employment tribunal claims have been ruled unlawful, and the government will now have to repay up to £32m to claimants. The government introduced fees of up to £1,200 in 2013, which it said would cut the number of malicious and weak cases. Government statistics showed 79% fewer cases were brought over three years - trade union Unison said the fees prevented workers accessing justice. The government said it would take steps to stop charging and refund payments.

The Supreme Court ruled the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees. Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "The government has been acting unlawfully, and has been proved wrong - not just on simple economics, but on constitutional law and basic fairness too."

He added: "These unfair fees have let law-breaking bosses off the hook these past four years, and left badly treated staff with no choice but to put up or shut up. We'll never know how many people missed out because they couldn't afford the expense of fees."

Proper access to justice

The government had already made a voluntary commitment to reimburse all fees if it was found they acted unlawfully. Fees have raised about £32m since being introduced. Justice minister Dominic Raab said the government would cease taking fees for employment tribunals "immediately" and begin the process of reimbursing claimants, dating back to 2013. He said: "We respect the judgement and we are going to take it fully on board and we are going to comply with it." It would fall to the taxpayer to pick up the bill, he said.

"The tricky, the difficult, the fluid balancing act that we've got is we want to make sure there's proper access to justice, we want to make sure frivolous or spurious claims don't clog up the tribunal and at the same time we've got to make sure we've got the right way to fund it.," he said.

Fees ranged between £390 and £1,200. Discrimination cases cost more for claimants because of the complexity and time hearings took. The Supreme Court found this was indirectly discriminatory because a higher proportion of women would bring discrimination cases.

Cases sent to employment tribunals

It also said that some people would not bring cases to employment tribunals because paying the fees would render any financial reward pointless. The court's summary added claimants in low or middle income household could not afford the fees "without sacrificing ordinary and reasonable expenditure for substantial periods of time".

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said it was a "massive win" for workers. "Too many low-paid workers couldn't afford to uphold their rights at work, even when they've faced harassment or have been sacked unfairly," she said.

The decision was welcomed by employment lawyer Karen Jackson, who said: "I don't know an employment lawyer who didn't think it was wrong to have fees. "We all felt that morally it was the wrong thing to do as a barrier to justice."


The Daily Mirror succinctly catalogues the Grayling legacy:-

The full list of Tory Chris Grayling's failures as Justice Secretary

Eight of the Tory minister's reforms from his three years as Justice Secretary have either been scrapped or overturned by a court

Tory minister Chris Grayling was dealt another embarrassing blow today, when the Supreme Court ruled his unfair tribunal fees were illegal. And it's far from the only failure from his three years as Justice Secretary. By our count, eight of the major reforms to prisons and the justice system he introduced while he was in the job have either been overturned by a court or dropped by the party. And there's potentially a ninth on the way.

Here's a full list of Chris Grayling's failures.

1. Banning books for prisoners
He spent £72,000 defending a High Court challenge to his ban on family members sending books to prisoners.

2. Criminal court charges
The Tories scrapped ‘unfair’ criminal court charges of up to £1,000 which critics said would make innocent people plead guilty, after more than 50 magistrates quit in disgust.

3. Saudi prison training contract
He masterminded an ill-fated £5.9m deal with Saudi Arabia to run a training programme for prisons, which was dropped after public outcry.

4. Prisoner tagging scheme
A £23 million prisoner tagging scheme he unveiled was also axed, after the firm he awarded the contract to failed to deliver on the hardware.

5. Legal aid for domestic violence victims
New rules demanding victims of domestic violence must provide proof the abuse was recent before claiming legal aid were branded “invalid” by the court of appeal.

6. Legal aid for prisoners
Cuts to legal aid for existing prisoners were ruled “unlawful and unfair”.

7. Privatising prisons
Plans to privatise three prisons were dropped within months of being announced, in the fallout from the electronic tagging scandal.

8. Tribunal fees
Today's ruling ridiculed the government’s misunderstanding of “elementary economics, and plain common sense”, when it claimed higher fees would mean increased demand."

In their judgement, they ruled the fees had a "deterrent effect upon discrimination claims, among others” and put off more genuine cases than so-called ‘vexatious’ claims the government claimed the fees were supposed to deter. The government now has to pay back about £27 million in unlawful fees.

...and here's another one that could be on the way.

9. Probation service privatisation
A report by the chief inspectors of probation and prisons published last month said his botched privatisation of the probation service could be dropped “with negligible impact.”


The latest prison statistics regarding prison safety rather shockingly put into context the recent news regarding Michael Spurr's £20,000 bonus. This from Frances Crook of the Howard Legue:-

Prison assaults and self-injury incidents soar to record highs

The number of assaults and incidents of self-injury in prisons in England and Wales have risen to record highs, figures seen by the Howard League for Penal Reform reveal today (Thursday 27 July).

Official statistics, published by the Ministry of Justice, show that 26,643 assault incidents were recorded in the 12 months to the end of March 2017 – a 20 per cent increase on the previous year. Assaults on staff rose by 32 per cent.

Serious assaults, including those requiring medical attention at hospital, have almost trebled in four years. There were 3,606 such incidents recorded during the 12 months to the end of March 2017 – a 22 per cent increase on the previous year. Prisons recorded 40,414 self-injury incidents during the 12 months to the end of March 2017 – a 17 per cent rise from the previous year. This is the fifth successive quarter when incidents of self-injury have reached their highest-ever level.

The figures show that 316 people died in prisons during the 12 months to the end of June 2017, slightly down from 322 during the previous year. They included 97 people who lost their lives through suicide – 91 in men’s prisons and six in women’s prisons. This is a slight fall from the previous year, when 107 people lost their lives through suicide.

Annual performance rankings show that the number of prisons with the lowest possible rating has risen from six to 10. The lowest-ranked prisons – Bedford, Birmingham, Bristol, Brixton, Guys Marsh, Hindley, Liverpool, Pentonville, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs – are all rated as performing at a level that causes “serious concern”. The statistics come a week after Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons reported that the state was failing in its duty to people in prison.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: “The rising tide of violence and human misery gets higher and higher as chronic overcrowding and staff shortages continue to drive the prison system into chaos. How many people have to die before action is taken?

“The new Secretary of State for Justice must act now to stop the death toll. The first step to recovery is to recognise that there is a problem. The second step is to do something about the problem. By taking bold but sensible steps to reduce the prison population, we can save lives and prevent more people being swept away into deeper currents of crime and despair.”


Finally, I see Private Eye has picked up on the MoJ sneakily paying the CRCs more money for their failure to deliver on the probation contracts:- 

Thursday 27 July 2017

Whatever Happened to....?

Regular readers and the whole profession will be acutely aware of the very painful process we've all been through over the last few years as a result of TR. Hundreds of highly experienced staff have had their careers trashed and been forced out of a job they once loved.  

Read and weep for our once Gold Standard profession so thoroughly smashed by Chris Grayling and his former Liberal Democrat coalition cronies such as Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes. This seen on Facebook:-

Asked by one of our followers who is reconsidering their career choice....

I'm finding that all jobs I think I might be able to do want either a recent graduate or someone with experience. I can't afford to retrain or take a massive drop in pay (although I am willing to take a considerable drop just to get out). I would really love to know what ex-POs and PSOs do now and how they got out?


Joined the YOS x

Moved into social work.

Teaching Assistant

Can I ask did you need to retrain for this. I'm very interested in being a teaching assistant. Been a qualified PO for 15 years.

I'm a TA as well and didn't need to train to get a job, just some volunteering. However the money's is sooooo bad I'm not sure it's the right thing! I'm struggling and I was a CA (temp PSO), so it's about 3 times less for you! It's a great job though, if you can afford to do it for practically nothing..

An ex PO I worked with went into planning department for council

Family Liason Officer or Educational Welfare Officer other options

I'm not sure EWOs exist everywhere anymore.

I am a trainer in social work and criminal justice settings.

Luckily I did my social work MSc and escaped - have taken a slight pay cut but it's a million times better.

I think the key is thinking about what transferable skills you have. Most people that work in probation have excellent analytical and risk assessment skills. I'm still working as a part time PO, but have other roles as a children's home independent visitor and also a mental health hospital manager, sitting on mental health panels. Good to have a look around these types of roles as our skills are welcome and relevant x

Join the civil service...the real civil service. Always have roles coming up to move into. Your experiences and skills can be used in stress free roles.

Heading for social work myself. Crunched the numbers with my wife and we can make it work. As for experience, there are lots of mentoring and support roles in social care, education etc, some of which are paid, that provide great experience. The skills are transferable.

You will be amazing at that! But a loss to the service x

Was a PSO. Went to work in mental health which is an underpaid profession sadly. As such took a hit on my salary just to get out. However, I'm looking to move to civil service for more security. HMRC pay well for HEO grade and for some generic roles which don't want job specific knowledge but just transferable skills. The downside is I've been waiting for 6 months for a start date after being successful at interview. It is difficult because, especially when ur at the top of ur grade, probation works like golden handcuffs.

I was lucky. I got out when the CRC had just taken over and were offering redundancies or early retirement. Luckily, I was old enough, so opted for early retirement with a decent pension. I hope you find something else for your future emplyment.

Took my work pension at 60, topped up with money from part time cleaning, until I retire the day after tomorrow!

I've found my training and experience in Probation to be a massive asset in working in Youth Offending. I've not long recruited a former PO to a Team Leader post too.

I was lucky. I went to live in France. I run gîtes. But mostly I am enjoying the southern French weather. Best thing I ever did. I walked away from a pension and a salary but saved my sanity.

Sounds awesome

That's always been a dream of mine. Can one make a living out of gites. Is it not a saturated market?

In the south of France there are absolutely loads of tourists. You can't fail to make money if you've got really nice gites, a good view, a pool..the weather is brilliant and there is lots to see and do!

Do you need any staff...?

Not yet....but who knows..would love one day to do yoga retreats.

I'm an ex PO and now work part time in Tescos, full time foster carer and part time dog sitter! So much happier!!!!

Several of my PO friends left & got jobs as investigators for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Another is a University lecturer. Our skills & knowledge are highly transferrable.

Don't you need a PhD to be a lecturer?

She has a masters degree & studying for a PhD whilst teaching.

Jumped ship to become a CQC inspector 18 months ago. Did GP inspections for a bit, before a space came up on the health & justice team. The majority of inspections I'm involved in are with HMI Prisons, plus some other interesting stuff - today I'm doing a presentation to HMI Probation about a joint thematic inspection we've just completed. Agree with the above - inspection and investigation work suits our skill set very well. Talking to people, making judgements, and writing reports... ideal!

Ex PO, now run a Supported Volunteering project, mentoring adults with LDs/MH or other issues into volunteering. Massive pay cut but now get tax credits which I didn't before so it just about works out. Plus there is no stress!!!

Ex SPO. I was assigned to CRC so left before the French caterers took over.I went to Adult Social Care and did lots of training. Was a senior prac and acting team leader. My partner said that I would come home tired but not unhappy and stressed as before. Now retired but will look at part time work when I have caught up with my sleep. As everyone has said we have transferable skills and it has been interesting to see where former colleagues have ended up.

Was a PSO but left before the takeover happened, was on the prolific offender team and found it incredibly frustrating, haven't worked in paid employment for four years now but just sort of thinking I might like a bit of a wage...steering clear of the stress of working with offenders though.

I now work as a psychotherapist - I have a private practice, I have a part time job working with those with sexual convictions who are victims/survivors too and also do some lecturing.

How to get out? Sounds like you're in prison. The grass is not always greener on the otherside. Just don't believe the hype don't get stressed about nothing you can't change, take the money, get a hobby, enjoy life, I also personally enjoy challenging the changes with the senior management by email. CRC's will never work it is just a way of reducing costs of probation, like the new one for decreasing redundancy enhanced pay from 3.46 to 1.2 at SWM, looks like another round of redundancies coming around!. Under TUPE regulations I wonder if its legal as it has been custom and practice to give it.

Retired from a secondment to the MOJ

Ex PSO, currently working as a locum PSO but start my new job soon as a Safeguarding head at a school. I have also worked as a Women's Support Worker.

Ex PSO, now an Atttendance Officer for a group of secondary schools. Lots of transferable skills and term time, money not bad either!

Social Work Tutor with the OU.

Went into adult social care.

Don't you need PhD to be a university lecturer or at least be working towards one? That's my understanding. .could be an expensive way out of probation!

My advice...get out of field teams and into specialisms...prison secondments are far more interesting and less stressful, plus no pay cut or loss of terms and conditions as in some of the career changes mentioned here! You keep your PO qualifications useful and relevant too and continue working with offenders, or whatever the term is at the moment! Best thing I did.

Things may well have changed in the decade plus since I did a prison secondment, but they were a much easier environment to work in as a male.

So many just seem to go into agency work. Not a leap forward for me, though it may suit some.

Another benefit of prisons - secondments have been abolished so you can stay longer! I've been in what was meant to be a 2 year prison secondment for nearly 5 years now! I've loved it. I'd definitely recommend it over community. Just be warned that it's all changing with new OM in custody model soon - who knows whether for better or worse. And it's been announced prison posts will be for 5 years max (so I need to start planning my next steps soon!)

Not heard prison posts are for 5 years max!! I know people who have stayed in prisons much longer than that! Where was that announced? OM model has been delayed in my area numerous times and no sign of that happening for at least 18 months. They are recruiting more PO's in prisons not letting people go. I think different areas clearly have different policies to prison job's...I am in West Yorkshire and we've had no announcement about a 5 year maximum stay at all!

Yes they are because they are so stressed until they can find something else.

I left a year ago as a PO and now work for the Catholic Church as a safeguarding coordinator. Better pay, less hours, less stress and I feel more values. Miss the colleagues though!

So you not need a social worker qualifications for safeguarding roles?

Not for these roles, just safeguarding related experience.

I left going on four years ago after 15 years of being a PO, firstly working for my husband as a Quality Manager, before taking parental leave. We have since emigrated to Iceland and will be running an organic fruit and vegetable farm from this summer. I haven't transferred my skills in any appreciable way and basically married well which allowed me to walk away from the Service.

I was a PSO and then went on to work for St Giles Trust helping ex offenders in the community and then trained as a trainer/assessor and have never looked back.

PO to YOT team leader. Don't under estimate transferable skills. You end up so accustomed to just getting on with the job, you forget how skilled you are.

Ditto. People seem to be leaving in droves!

Thanks for this post. I've been thinking for some time that my future career may lie outside of probation, but have been worried that our skills and qualifications are too specific and tie me to this job. Reassuring to hear that other people have made a success of moving on! :) x

Come join DWP with me much less stress then prison and probation x

I still enjoy the prisons side, but I know probation will move me on at some point soon & there's a lot of changes atm too. I'm considering doing a youth offending secondment for a bit! Aww so glad you're enjoying your new role. Less stress sounds lovely :) x

I use to do the youth offending panels as a volunteer and used to enjoy it.

That's encouraging! I'm going along to shadow someone for a day and see what it's all about x

I left and have gone into community safety for a local authority. There's no stress, it's very varied and I'm still able to use my Criminal Justice experience.

Worked in the CJS for 22 years 15 as a PSO...left 18 months ago and moved into the private care sector ....never ever EVER looked back. It wasn't until I was away from the probation service did I fully understand how draining and demoralising it was and what effect it had on my overall wellbeing.. I took a pay cut but was worth every penny!

I'm part time agency and have worked with other agency staff who have been trying to branch out of probation - it would be great if all this advice could be co ordinated!!

Is nobody interested in the clerical staff? It's had a big impact on us too!

I love our admin ladies and would be lost without their compassion and skills x

Thanks. All admin staff have been taken out of the field teams and sent to work in one big building. Very sad.

God that's awful - I'm so sorry they've done that  X

I moved sideways - from PSO into a Youth Offending Team and am now a Senior Early Help Worker. All my skills from Probation transferred and I still get to work with offenders sometimes too, so the knowledge is still good to go. In my new role, I get to work with families experiencing difficulties BEFORE statutory authorities become involved and I love every minute of it (although the stress is still there sometimes ;) )

I moved to become a CJ Recovery Worker. It is very stressful and I am finding it hard. Looking for something new...

Same as me xx

I left youth offending two years ago and now use my decision making and report writing skills to adjudicate on student appeals and complaints in a university. I've found that the higher education sector recognises transferable skills and has more opportunities for professional growth and development

I did the Social Work MA course (22 months long) which I got a full bursary for. I also managed to do some project work and report writing on the side (when not in course placements) and managed surprisingly well on a financial level. I'd been worried about that aspect esp as I have 2 small children to support, but it was okay all in all. I'm now a qualified Social Worker in Adult Care. The course was challenging at times but I'm very pleased I made the jump. I couldn't tolerate what was happening in the Probation Service or for me, and felt that I had to get out. I applied for several jobs prior to committing to the course, but found I just wasn't getting short listed with just my Probation Qual ;( ... Retraining felt like a no brainer in the end and I'm glad I was courageous enough to do it. I got my S/W role in the Trust that I completed my final course placement in. Most of the folk I trained with got jobs in LA S/W within 1 month of qualifying. Good luck in your bid to 'get out'. I'd recommend an element of risk taking if you're really unhappy ..

I became a PO in 1988 and gained experience in different areas inc 14 years in programmes. I left in late 2015. I have found it impossible to get permanent work and have kept busy with voluntary work. I do have a job now but is an eight month job running a programme for offenders supervised by YOTs re drug, alcohol and risky behaviour. Is very hard out there and I have not found that my skills are recognized in general. I also have two training qualifications and a Life Coach qualification. I miss group work in Probation a lot - a great job, when fully staffed and a great team but PO s are not wanted in CRCs.

I would agree with that.  I think it depends whereabouts in the country you are as to the availability of jobs, but there isn't a great deal out there in the North East. I think you can always pick up short term agency contracts though, and where there's a will, there's a way. I wanted out so badly that I'd have left and taken my chances had I been unsuccessful at securing a place on the S/W MA. Guess ability to do that depends also on your financial circs though. I was lucky in that my husband has always been our main wage earner (a situation I'm totally happy with) and my hours were only part-time in Probation after having my children. I'm also not a materialistic person so didn't mind 'cutting the cloth' so to speak.

PSO with the now totally redundant CJ NVQ. Left 4yrs ago to escape privatisation chaos. CARATS worker - awful company but loved the job, but left after 3m. Briefly PSO temped. Now settled in substance misuse - initially with large recently name changed charity, which wasn't a great experience. Since been taken over by larger security company, which has been better managed than expected. 4yrs on and I'm still several grand short of earning what I was as a PSO & I miss the holiday entitlement and sick leave (esp as someone with chronic illness).

Found it hard to find new career due to lack of degree & so many places now want specific qualifications. However I've just been through recruitment for civil service apprenticeship & due to start later in the year. Can't wait to be back in the public sector.

I miss my probation job every day. I needed to leave for my health/sanity, I think. But I still regret it.