Friday 31 May 2019

Throw Baby Out With Bathwater?

I notice that Private Eye continues to take a keen interest in probation's plight and Facebook remains a lively platform for discussion. As previously, I've taken the liberty of lifting some of the FB content, but summarising the main themes together with direct quotes from those holding union positions.  

'It is not clear how the private contractors will behave in the next two years, knowing they are to be kicked out of a job...' What about the positive innovations?

It’s a challenge to move towards a new and improved joined up organisation whilst retaining the best of what’s available. It is hard to keep all the plates spinning and dance. I remember the SEEDS roll out in London was a casualty of TR and a lot of staff currently like innovations like OMNIA Jira etc there are good things like RJ that need to be retained. Hopefully retention of some advances can be achieved and some of the previous innovations revived like the Offender Engagement Programme that I thought was excellent.

I always like to give credit where credit is due even if I’m doing so I might take some flack but I’d rather stick to the truth. MTC has in retrospect proven themselves to be one of the more reasonable CRC owners to deal with who have always actively engaged with the unions from day one despite regular lineup changes. There have of course been mistakes made that have been picked up by inspections etc but when things haven’t gone as well as they would have liked they have at the very least acknowledged this and at best attempted to address matters working with the unions and engaging with staff. If they have sought advice I’ve always been willing to tell them honestly what I think - I’m not shy. There are some sensible and well motivated people involved at a senior management level who do not necessarily deserve to be labelled as negatively as they have been. Most have done what is in their gift or at least given reasons when they could not offer complete solutions. That said I will continue to hold them to account and they know that will be the case. There are always a handful of people in any organisation who will be disappointed with how they have conducted themselves at times. I think some people do need to reflect on their negative and dismissive portrayals of probation colleagues who currently work in different organisations and have been under different pressures.

My own experience tells me that when engagement and consultations have proceeded relatively smoothly with briefings and frank exchanges of views (OMNIA etc) and in accordance with our partnership agreement then there have been far fewer issues and vice versa. I’m hopeful we can move towards something that acknowledges the things achieved. David Raho

What about the view there were no positives?

I understand the sentiment ........ and agree in terms of whether probation should have been subjected to TR per se but ...... specifically referring to certain innovative and advanced developments that have been rolled out over the last year that have been generally well received by those working in MTC owned CRCs. Let’s try and think creatively about what we would like a new probation service to look like. Some developments do in some cases constitute a major investment of public money. Some of these initiatives were designed with considerable staff involvement to be used more widely than in a particular CRC and in the case of ICT developments in particular could be transferred and relatively easily scaled up nationally to considerably benefit a new organisation. It would be a backward step for the whole profession if the useful stuff was simply discarded or lost. It would however require decision makers to be committed to retaining the best elements of all organisations when making a new unified one. There is no such commitment at present but I and quite a few others would like to see one. Nothing is set in stone at the moment but we do have a direction of travel. We cannot necessarily go back to the way things were before TR so I hope we can fully use the current opportunity to create a better fully unified probation model from the best elements available that we can all be proud of identifying with and working for. David Raho.

In probation we've always complained about things. There were positives and negatives in the past and will be in the future. The Trusts were fantastic for innovation but many of the systems were stuck in the past. The split has been dreadful but we have to try and remain positive. 

Most stuff has appeared relatively recently which is not surprising as things take a long time to develop and the project development times probably predated the decision to end the contracts earlier. TVCRC piloted and had OMNIA before LCRC. OMNIA is good but not yet perfect but being able to make improvements locally helps. Although an improvement in terms of usability on nDelius for the majority of users I am yet to be convinced that it is AT user friendly until it has been independently assessed by a government recognised supported employment accrediting body and has other equalities assessments and certifications bearing in mind most of the stuff currently used would fail. David Raho.

Thursday 30 May 2019

The March of Alphabetism

Call it what you like, probation over recent years has always loved stringing letters together in a veritable alphabet soup of impenetrable acronyms or abbreviations. Of course it goes hand in hand with the march of bureaucratisation and a command and control ethos, so no surprise the trend flourishes under HMPPS control. In the latest edition of the Probation Institutes magazine [correction] I notice that EPF, yet another bloody process and form to fill in, is heralded as a great success:-       

Being conscious of the unconscious

Sonia Crozier, the Chief Probation Officer, talks about recognising unconscious bias, particularly following recommendations in the Lammy Review.

Probation practitioners on the front line are making important decisions on a daily basis – decisions which have real-life outcomes for our service users and the public. As Chief Probation Officer, I have always championed the use of professional judgment in our work, and taken all opportunities to promote it. We have an incredibly skilled workforce, and probation work should never be robotic. 

But with professional judgment comes responsibility, and decisions we make should always be informed, transparent and consistently factor in unconscious bias. This is particularly pertinent in the fast-paced environment of courts. In 2017, the Lammy Review put a spotlight on the role of Pre-Sentence Reports (PSRs) helping to scrutinise sentencing decisions and providing detailed information on the character of an offender. But the Lammy Review also highlighted the effects of unconscious bias, and how having less time to complete a PSR might exaggerate it. With that in mind, the Effective Proposal Framework (EPF) was designed in 2017. The EPF is a digital application which aids probation staff in court by providing an objective shortlist of interventions for an offender, checked against eligibility, which could be proposed. Its development was led by Roz Hamilton in the North-West NPS division and was rolled out nationwide in April 2018, following pilots in Manchester and Bury, and approval from the then Secretary of State, Liz Truss MP. 

The EPF does not replace professional judgment. Far from it; practitioners still need to interview defendants, do all the applicable checks and input profile data accurately. Rather, the EPF allows staff to be more efficient by refining a list of options and automatically making sure proposal criteria are met along sentencing guidelines and risk matrices. Ultimately, staff must use their own discretion in choosing a final proposal and can override the shortlist; it is just that the EPF makes sure we are doing this in a more efficient, accurate and consistent manner, mitigating against any unconscious bias. 

On that, I must emphasise the importance of consistency when thinking about bias. Since Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) placed court work under the one roof of the NPS, it is imperative that a standardised approach to rehabilitation is maintained so that, whether sentenced in Swansea or Newcastle, Ipswich or Carlisle, service users are always assessed within the same parameters. 

The EPF has also allowed practitioners to focus on targeted interventions, which is vital in deepening relationships with CRC colleagues, addressing a decline in community orders and giving effect to new policy and strategies, including the Women’s Strategy. The EPF has provided a re-fresh in our knowledge of interventions in each division, and the eligibility for these, by challenging us to think about what we are proposing. So, not only is the tool addressing unconscious bias, it is subtly helping us to individually uphold our main missions of rehabilitation and reducing risk and re-offending. 

And it is working! Analysis in the North West shows a positive trend on proposals since the EPF was introduced. Between April and June 2018, when compared to the same period in the previous year, the total proportion of custodial sentences decreased from 55% to 44%. Conversely, the proportion of community sentences rose from 47% to 56%, with accredited programme usage increasing by a third. Female offenders were already more likely, prior to rollout, to receive a community disposal than custody, but the rate decreased from 43% to 35%. Similarly, BAME offenders were more likely than the general population to receive custody, and although this remains the case, the proportion dropped from 57% to 52%.

I can appreciate that in an already pressurised court environment, asking our staff to complete another process is not preferable. To address this, the EPF team continues to make the tool as user friendly as possible, with several recent efficiency updates, and I am pleased these have been met with a positive reception. One practitioner recently told us that the EPF had helped him to influence the bench to keep an offender out of custody, by using information from the tool to present a more detailed PSR with a quick turnaround. 

Examples such as this show how the EPF can help us to increase sentencer confidence in probation: through providing detailed and specific proposals. More than ever, this is central. The Secretary of State, David Gauke, announced on 18 February 2019 his vision for a ‘smart’ justice system and the strong case to abolish ineffective prison sentences of six months or less, switching resources instead into probation. He emphasised the importance of a probation system which has the full confidence of courts and the public. Sentencer confidence will be at the heart of this and, as part of improving confidence, the NPS conducted the Sentencer Survey which provided valuable feedback on our court activity. The overarching sentiment is that sentencers, more than ever, appreciate the support we give them. Of course, there are some areas we can work on, particularly when it comes to the quality of our delivery in the courtroom, and this has informed the new Vision Statement that the National Court Strategy Group has developed (we plan to launch it later this year). It will provide NPS staff with a clear steer for the next two years to help them deliver high-quality court work and increase confidence. 

In a roundabout way, a key component of this will be the use of the EPF. Evidenced-based, consistent and detailed proposals should be central to our work. We can never be complacent when it comes to unconscious bias!

Sonia Crozier
Chief of Probation HMPPS

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Napo and Seetec

In what feels alarmingly like a re-run of the original TR process, unfortunately I suspect we are in for quite a number of fairly turgid posts over the coming months as we all try and get a grip on exactly what is being proposed under modified TR2. In this regard, Napo SSW seems to feature large, not least due to the efforts of their energetic Chair Dino Peros, together with the willingness of readers in that neck of the woods to share information. Here we have the latest info concerning Seetec CRCs, but I suspect will be of interest to other contract areas as well:-

Update for members in the Seetec owned CRCs - Joint Trade Union Bulletin

Unions make our anger about poor engagement very clear

Trade unions recently wrote to the KSS CRC Chief Executive Suki Binning. Here we set out our serious disappointment at the lack of tangible progress by SEETEC senior management following agreed actions from the earlier engagement meetings with the unions. The letters are attached to this joint bulletin and articulate the range of issues where we feel no progress has been made.


In these communications we have among other things been strongly critical of the disinformation that has been issued by some senior managers. Evidence reaching us suggests that it is being said that unions are preventing staff from getting a pay rise! This is a complete fabrication on the real picture which is that SEETEC have failed to undertake appropriate due diligence and have made an unacceptable pay offer which is both inadequate and lacks any acknowledgement of some key facts. Further news on pay will follow.

Engagement with unions

After some quite farcical events leading up to the cancellation of planned pay discussions which should have taken place on 23rd May, it has at last been possible to agree that talks on pay and the issues referenced above can now get underway on 6th and 7th June.

The unions have made it very clear that we have reluctantly made significant concessions (which have caused personal pressures on a number of our reps) to help accommodate these latest changes to scheduled talks. We now expect to see a reciprocal show of commitment from the KSS CRC Chief Executive.

As can be seen from the attached correspondence there are many areas where the level of engagement between KSS CRC/Seetec is no better than the last failing contractors Working Links. While there are many questions to be answered about exactly where all the money has gone to from their insidious and incompetent regime, it’s obviously not reached the pay packets of their former staff.

Our concerns about meaningful engagement and agreeing a programme where the unions can be treated as partners instead of a nuisance, is a situation that needs to be improved and fast. Meanwhile we are making preparations for a series of trade disputes with plans for supportive industrial action should they become necessary.

Future of Probation

All union members and prospective members will have welcomed the news of the Governments dramatic policy U-turn which will see 80% of offender management work move to 11 new NPS regions by the time that the current CRC providers are shown the door by April 2021 (latest) or sooner if there is a Labour Government in power.

While this is a victory for the probation unions it does not give us all that our members are demanding. We do not see any justification for retaining Intervention and Programme work in a so called ‘mixed-market’ and we will continue to demand:

  • The total reunification of all probation work to public control
  • The harmonisation of all staff on to NPS Pay rates before the ending of CRC contracts
Many as yet, unanswered questions

As members will know, the plan for OM work to transfer to Wales by December this year was announced well before the recent Government U-Turn.

This means it is imperative that the transition plan for Wales is the subject of national and local discussion to ensure a smooth transition. The unions are insisting that we be given access to the transitional board meetings between NPS and KSS CRC and that the overarching transfer arrangements for staff will be the subject of high level negotiations similar to those that resulted in the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement back in 2013.

The intended roadshows for KSS CRC staff about the transition plans will have no substance whatsoever without there first being a National agreement in place and we will suggest that SEETEC spend that money improving on their pay offer.

The change in policy for probation is welcome but it now means that we are in a further period of uncertainty as consideration is given to how OM work and staff are to be moved out from failing contractors by 2021.

One thing that has already been made clear to senior HMPPS and MOJ leaders is that whatever arrangements are reached on the selection criteria, the likes of SEETEC and other CRC providers must have no part in deciding who goes into the NPS and should merely do as they are instructed by their paymasters. We have suffered four and a half years of an irredeemably flawed Probation service in which all CRC Providers including KSS CRC in some aspects are implicated. Members in this or any other CRC would be well advised to trust the news coming from their trade unions as opposed to speculative comments from employers who may not even be around beyond 2020.

Join a union now!

If ever there were was a need to emphasis the importance of belonging to a trade union this joint bulletin spells it out very clearly! Transforming Rehabilitation and the disastrous impacts of part -privatisation have featured large in reports from the Justice Select Committee, the National Audit Office and Public Accounts Committee, as well as the Chief Inspector of Probation.

The unions are campaigning for:

Fair pay for all
The reunification of all probation work
An end to all privatisation
A moratorium on formal action against staff for failures not of their making
Restoration of local bargaining across KSS CRC
Immediate action to reduce workload pressures
Staff to be treated with dignity and respect.
Can you afford to leave the struggle to everyone else?

Letter from Napo
Letter from UNISON
Letter from GMB


For circulation all Napo Members 

Dear Napo Members, 

Please see the attached letter the General Secretary Ian Lawrence has written to the Seetec company representative. You will read the stark continuity of the Seetec position adopts not much difference from their predecessors Working Links. The facts are as the general secretary describes and who stands very tall today post yesterdays fantastic news. Let us not be complacent the fight to save interventions from the misery and ideological failings of profit from probation's services in Privatisation continues. It is NAPOs common purpose to see the end of the fundamentally wrong flawed and failed Privatisation activity for any offender services. The Intervention reunification arguments will continue as the Private companies now have to come to terms with the reality. Case management goes back to where it can be managed properly and put public protection as the priority before profits.

The talks on the derisory Pay offer from seetec continue next week. I will keep you posted on how this goes. Ian's letter makes clear the fairly low ebb trade union relations are with the new contractor seetec as they fail to get a proper understanding on how to work productively with Trade Union relations or properly under the terms of meaningful discussions as the GS point out. 

I will post out the held over branch report shortly while we have been waiting for the reunification news. The SSW branch congratulate National Napo and all the unions and members for working through and winning part of this great outcome and important U turn on offender public protection services 

Dino Peros 
Napo SSW Branch Chair


Suki Binning, Chief Executive
Kent Surrey and Sussex CRC

12 May 2019

Dear Suki,

While I am writing this letter from the perspective of Napo, it will come as no surprise that the probation unions have serious concerns at the lack of tangible progress following the action points that were agreed between Seetec and KSS CRC senior leaders and the trade unions in Cardiff on 9th April 2019. My disappointment is profound, because despite some obvious difficulties, the meeting seemed to mark a significant step forward from the disrespectful treatment that we had become used to under the Working Links regime.

I have also expressed my concerns (as contained in the following narrative) with senior HMPPS leaders in the Probation Programme, in so far that the expected arrangements for engagement between KSS CRC and the unions is already failing to pass muster.

The unions are in receipt of your recent response to the joint pay claim, and I expect that a joint reply will reach you before our meeting to discuss this, on which we are currently trying to identify a date with Paul Giles.

Whilst I readily accept that there were a number of actions agreed upon at Cardiff and that some of these were bound to take longer than others, I must express Napo’s concern at the clear refusal (against a previously agreed action from the Cheltenham meeting) to release the 90-Day Transition Plan. Apart from a brief snapshot which was seriously short on detail, this has still to see the light of day since the Unions were first promised sight of it at the initial meeting. I was genuinely shocked to hear at Cardiff that this was not to be issued to us after all; this was an act of bad faith of the type that mirrored what we regularly encountered from the former employer.

The list below represents some examples of other actions that we had expected would have seen priority action by now. Especially as many of them have featured as legacy issues from the disputes with Working Links.


As I write, I have just received disturbing news suggesting that one of your managers has claimed during a recent staff ‘roadshow’ that secret meetings have taken place with Napo and management over an operational matter. Suffice to say I am investigating this reported incident and that the events described are a complete fabrication. Moreover, if I receive sufficient evidence to prove that the report of the manager’s comments is accurate then I will be taking the appropriate action.

I am well used to seeing off previously unsuccessful attempts by employers who have sought to discredit Napo with misinformation, and I sincerely hope that this is not another example of such reprehensible behaviour.

Of far more importance however, is the negative feedback from these ‘roadshow’ events that, as reported to me, have featured comments such as: ‘it’s the Unions who are standing in the way of your pay rise’.

This example and the stream of glossy corporate messages that are being regularly issued to staff in the face of the continuing operational issues that we have sought to raise and engage with you on, are being received with a combination of cynicism and sheer disbelief by staff. At best they appear as clumsy ill-conceived propaganda, and at worst they represent a colossal failure by senior management to recognise the difficulties being experienced by their workforce.

The above situation is compounded by the intention to issue a staff survey, which from the feedback reaching me will likely be a total waste of time and precious resources, let alone the questionable rationale underpinning the charitable donations ‘incentive’. I have seen so many employers over the years who believe that staff surveys will give them an entirely different perspective about what is actually happening on the ground, as they have mistakenly reached the conclusion that the unions are simply making up stories (we do not) or are just an irritant to be simply ignored (we are not).

As and when it becomes possible for the unions and your SLT to meet again, I would hope that it would be possible for you to prioritise that engagement as I have been doing. This will provide me with the confidence that your team will have the appropriate level of leadership in place to enable them to make decisions where necessary.

Operational Issues

When your SLT met with the unions to discuss the transition and operational plan for the former Wales, DDC and BSWG CRC’s there seemed to be a clear understanding of one another’s position moving forward. Notwithstanding the non-appearance of the 90-day plan, we did get some encouragement in respect of how we might iron out some areas of the previous dispute and we identified some key areas where work was needed to stabilise the organisation and to assist staff during this latest period of uncertainty.

Of course, there were some areas where there was a difference of opinion and no expectation from Napo that we could resolve all of the issues. Nevertheless, promises to revert on our request to be part of the Transition Board have failed to materialise, while further announcements are made directly to staff that make no mention of the positive agenda being proposed by the unions. I still await sight of the emerging transitional plan and the reasons why we have yet to be invited to the Board.

Much was made in Cardiff about going back to a traditional probation approach. This was obviously welcomed by Napo, but it was acknowledged that it will only happen with an increase in staffing an adherence to existing work measurement tools and a change to discredited and dangerous working practices implemented by the incompetent previous providers whose footprints SEETEC have inherited. This is why we suggested that local JNCC’s should be established pending consideration of the wider collective bargaining agenda. The outstanding issues over the delivery of intervention work which in some areas had seriously declined even before the collapse of Working Links, show no sign of improvement and also need to be a priority subject for discussion.

Another concern discussed in Cardiff was the status of the minimum contact specification regime where we had expected an early invitation to engage with you at regional JNCC level to monitor progress here. We still await tangible proposals and suggested dates for engagement.

In terms of the transition of OM work to Wales, I am pleased to say that engagement between the NPS, Dawn Blower and the union reps from Wales is starting to take shape. The introduction of Sara Robinson will hopefully assist in enabling a smooth transition, but again there needs to be a clarity of message here so that staff who are likely to be impacted can consider their personal circumstances and raise questions in advance of the intended transfer to the NPS which is only just over six months away.

At our last joint meeting, the issue of workloads was discussed at length. KSS CRC acknowledged that workloads are considerably higher in the former Working Links areas and that this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The unions proposed a moratorium for staff involved in formal processes such as absence management and capability as a result of workloads, especially in the former Devon Dorset and Cornwall CRC areas. Your SLT agreed to review all the cases, and institute group and individual stress assessments while you considered the union’s request. Since then I have seen no formal response or any such initiatives, but have learned (again by way of announcements at a ‘roadshow’ event) that our proposal has been rejected. This has caused serious anger amongst our members, especially in that area of your estate. I am due to address the Napo SSW Branch AGM next month and I am fully expecting that there will be a call for a member’s ballot for action over this issue.

Another key issue that was on the Cardiff agenda was that of estates. Your team acknowledged that some of the (now enlarged) KSS CRC estate is in urgent need of action for operational as well as health and safety reasons. Reps had identified key location issues and we expected an update from the employer so that joint engagement and inspections could take place. We still await news.

Further work is also required on the future collective bargaining arrangements that meet the needs of both parties whilst acknowledging a wide geographical area. It was agreed that pan-CRC JNC’s will need to be established for collective negotiating such as pay, but that more local forums are required to look at issues such as staffing and workloads.

Agreement has still to be reached on the harmonisation of KSS and Working Links policies and Napo has made our view clear; we stand by the terms of the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement and any attempt to depart from that are simply non-negotiable. I also stated that I believe this longer-term discussion will have to wait until we know what the future landscape is for probation going forwards; one that may look markedly different from that we are in now.

It may be that this letter elicits further views from colleagues in Napo’s sister unions on these issues and any others not covered here and I genuinely hope that we can start to see tangible signs of progress on the foregoing. As you would expect I am under some pressure to convene a trade union side meeting to explore the possible options around regional and or collective disputes if we cannot move forward.

After nearly four years of being in such a position with Working Links it is a scenario that we could all do without, and I hope that you will agree that our time and energy would be far better spent in meaningful engagement with a view to reaching agreement.

I look forward to your reply and a suggested programme that unions and the employer can jointly work towards achieving within the existing term of your contract.

Yours sincerely

General Secretary 

Tuesday 28 May 2019

A Matter of Principle

The battle for the future shape of probation is now well under way with more and more commentators making the case for a return to a stand-alone Probation Service free of the stultifying ethos of the Prison Service. The latest edition of the Probation Institute Journal sets out a number of principles that should be embraced:-  

Renationalising Probation?

Helen Schofield, Acting CEO of the Probation Institute, updates readers on recent discussions about the future of Probation.

A group of organisations have been working together in recent months to seek common ground on the future of Probation. Whilst not always in agreement we have found some strong initial principles and recognition of the more challenging issues. The importance of this work cannot be underestimated. No matter what the timescale for change it will be crucial that the organisations in the criminal justice system who care very much about the role and future of probation can speak with one voice on central concerns. 

We have published the Initial Principles and these are set out below. Since then discussions have enabled us to identify a set of further issues which will need considerable thought in informing the future. If there is a move to re-unite probation either completely or as in the proposed model for Wales (as anticipated in the Initial Principles) the model must look forward and address carefully many issues including the following: 

1. What is the core role? What is it that we want Probation to do going forward? 

2. The fusion of the Probation and Prison Services through NOMS and HMPPS needs review. This is clearly experienced as an uneven relationship and time needs to be taken to look at the benefits and disbenefits together with alternative models which locate probation more firmly in communities. 

3. The opportunities and risks entailed in GPS-enabled Electronic Monitoring, as a sentence of the court, must be grasped and addressed by Probation including the wider potential for supporting and enabling rehabilitation and protecting victims. 

4. Commissioning of voluntary sector work to enhance supervision in the community must be better resourced, more transparent and consistent, and taken forward through joint commissioning structures. 

5. Police and Crime Commissioners are very supportive and enabling in some areas, particularly with CRCs; their energy and potential role should be explored more fully and engaged more consistently. 

6. The active engagement of Health Trusts and Local Authorities in accepting responsibility for the mental and physical health, and housing of individuals who have committed offences in the community must be robustly re-enforced and re-imagined, and therefore requires review across government departments. 

7. There are a number of critical areas which will need careful attention in any reunification model including the current size of the workforce, roles and responsibilities of different grades, office accommodation and above all the dynamics of re-uniting a fractured workforce. 

8. There is important innovative practice in some CRCs which must be protected and either alternatively resourced or effectively integrated. 

The organisations working in collaboration are planning a Round Table Discussion with wider participation to look at these issues in detail. 

Probation Alliance Initial Position Statement on Principles for a Future Model for Probation

The following have been agreed as initial principles which should inform urgent discussions about a future model for the structure of probation services in England and Wales. 

1. Current Position 

  • Management of, and decision making in relation to the current position is creating serious risks to the public, to the confidence of sentencers, to the morale of the profession and to service users. These risks were set out in our original and follow-up letters to the Secretary of State. They have been clearly highlighted by the NAO report.
  • We will continue to press for a pause in the process and the transfer of Community Rehabilitation Companies to the original 21 companies wholly owned by the Secretary of State set up in public ownership in 2014 to facilitate this.
  • We have additional significant concerns about the speedy roll-out of the Offender Management In Custody programme. This is transforming the Probation landscape, creating new “facts on the ground” which may cut off options that could emerge from the current review which affords opportunities for new thinking.
2. Principles for Future Models 

  • The recreation of an independent professional leadership for Probation, for example, the re-establishment of Chief Probation Officer roles. 
  • The reunification of Probation.
  • A publically owned service with directly employed staff.
  • Governance of Probation should ensure both national and active local engagement.
  • Dedicated funding must remain the responsibility of central government and where devolved must be ring-fenced.
  • A future model must integrate provision of case management and the delivery of core interventions, like unpaid work and accredited programmes, under public ownership whilst encouraging the provision of rehabilitative services from other providers, particularly the voluntary sector.
  • A future model should ensure that generic services that are fundamental to rehabilitation – health, housing, education, social care - are co-ordinated across central and local government.
  • Evidence of best practice should inform future structures. This should involve looking at jurisdictions beyond England and Wales, including Scotland, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and the USA.
  • The case for looking more widely is strengthened when the future model of Probation is considered in the light of the Secretary of State’s ambition to abolish the use of short sentences.
  • A future model must ensure that use of technology both as a tool for assisting community supervision and as a recording/ case management system must be fully aligned with probation values and best practice and should support rather than supersede or impede face to face engagement.
  • A future model must ensure that Probation practitioners and leaders are appropriately trained. Professional development, qualifications and ethical standards should be overseen by an independent body.
3. Possible models 

  • We agree that we should continue discussion on further aspects of a future model.
  • There is broad agreement that in any future model, publicly owned and run Probation services should be part of a local joint commissioning structures.
  • The role of Police and Crime Commissioners and particularly Metropolitan Mayors should be recognised but there must be the same operational independence for chief probation officers as there is currently for chief constables and a clear separation between Police and those involved in the delivery of sentences.
  • Future models should address the interface with Youth Justice particularly around transition to adulthood.
Probation Institute 
Howard League for Penal Reform 
Centre for Crime and Justice Studies Centre for Justice Innovation 
BASW Criminal Justice England

Saturday 25 May 2019


As the world of probation once more finds itself plunged into uncertainty, it's probably as good a time as any for a moment of quiet reflection. In this regard, I notice Lord Ramsbotham opens his interim report People Are Not Things : The Return of Probation to the Public Sector with the following quotations:-

‘The mood and temper of the public, in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals, is one of the most unfailing tests of the civilisation of any country. A calm and dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused against the State, and even of convicted criminals against the State, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry all those who have paid their dues in the hard coinage of punishment, tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerative processes, and an unfaltering faith, that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man – these are the symbols which, in the treatment of crime and criminals, mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are the sign and proof of the living virtue in it’.

Winston Churchill, H of C debate on Prison Estimates, 20 July 1910

‘The essence of punishment is that it is the reaction of a community against a constituent member. The community has three interests to consider:

a. The maintenance of its own life and order, upon which the welfare of all its members depends.
b. The interests of the individual members generally.
c. The interests of the offending member.

Wrong is done if any of the three is neglected.

Archbishop William Temple, 1930

‘Probation is a thing so large in its conception, and so immensely potent in its effect on the hopes and happiness of thousands of human lives every year, that it is better not even to try to find words of commendation, which might be unworthy of their subject, but to be content to make the way clear for its advance, and let its deeds praise it’.

L le Mesurier, A Handbook of Probation and Social Work for the Courts, 1935

‘Probation belongs at a local level and profit should not come into it. The satisfactions of the Probation Service are not financial ones, nor should they be; they are the rewards of dedication and service….the remedying of misfortune, which is what probation is about, has no more to do with profit than the remedying of disease’.

Alan Bennett, Foreword to The Golden Age of Probation, Roger Statham, 2014

‘Probation was respected by politicians, and the courts, as a humane and enterprising Service, prepared to embrace new methods and challenges. Often derided by those who talked tough, and advocated harsh prison sentences, it moved steadily to a more centralised position in the Criminal Justice System… Probation had its own distinctive character…it was one of hope and a realistic faith that, with tenacity, and in valuing the positive qualities of even the most apparently hardened offenders, we could influence for the good…. As with much else, the culture of public service has been sacrificed on the altar of privatisation’.

Sir Michael Day, former Chief Probation Officer and Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, 2018

Friday 24 May 2019

Problems at NPS

Whilst we are still absorbing the news regarding the reunification of probation, the most recent HMI report into NPS London should disabuse us all of the notion that it's only the CRCs that have been poorly-performing under TR. It's quite clear there are significant systemic problems with NPS generally. This from the press release:-  

London probation service makes progress in some areas but more must be done to support victims

Victims of sexual and violent crime are being let down by the capital’s probation service, according to a new report.

HM Inspectorate of Probation described work with victims delivered by the London division of the National Probation Service (NPS) as “wholly unsatisfactory”. In more than a fifth of inspected cases, victims of serious crime were not offered access to its Victim Contact Scheme. The statutory scheme provides victims with updates on the perpetrator’s sentence and gives them an opportunity to contribute their views on release plans.

Chief Inspector of Probation Dame Glenys Stacey said: 

“We have found work with victims to be good or outstanding in other NPS divisions, so we are disappointed to see this is not the case in London. Some victims are not being offered a service at all, while others are receiving a service that is simply not good enough. There has been significant media, parliamentary and public interest in the London division’s work with victims in the Worboys case. The Secretary of State for Justice asked me to conduct an urgent review into the division’s work with victims, and this was published last year. It is deeply concerning to see that some victims of serious crime are still being failed by the service.”

Senior leaders are aware of difficulties with the scheme and have drawn up an action plan. At the time of inspection, some actions had not been implemented and inspectors concluded the scheme was not functioning as it should.

HM Inspectorate of Probation has given the London division of the NPS an overall rating of ‘Requires improvement’ – the second lowest of four ratings. While improvement is still needed, inspectors acknowledge the division has strengths and has made progress since its last inspection in 2017.

The division supervises more than 17,000 offenders in 29 offices, 12 approved premises (formerly known as probation or bail hostels) and nine prisons across the capital. Inspectors found staff have a sound understanding of the individuals under their supervision, and the assessment and planning of cases is done to a good standard overall.

The quality of the London division’s work to support decision-making in courts was rated ‘Good’. Inspectors found timely and largely comprehensive reports to help magistrates and judges in their sentencing decisions.

The division provides a comprehensive range of services to support individuals to turn away from crime. Services for female offenders are much improved since the last inspection. Projects to combat knife crime and improve access to accommodation show early promise.

Inspectors noted that London is the only one of the seven NPS divisions across England and Wales to have a Serious Case Advisory Unit. The unit provides profiling, advice and guidance on the handling of cases involving extremism, hate crime, gangs and serious organised crime. The division also leads or contributes to innovative multi-agency projects that tackle offences such as stalking and drugs-related crime in the gay community.

Inspectors were, however, concerned about aspects of the division’s work to protect the public. In one in five inspected cases, the probation officer and supervised individual do not have regular enough contact to manage and minimise the risk of harm safely. More attention should also be given to protect children and actual or potential victims.

As with other NPS divisions, there are staff shortages and issues with the national facilities management contract.

Dame Glenys said: 

“At the time of inspection, the London division had more than 150 unfilled vacancies and relied heavily on agency and temporary staff. High levels of attrition mean some offices lack experienced staff and this knowledge gap could potentially have an impact on the quality of services. Staffing problems are further exacerbated by high absence levels, with more than 10 per cent of staff absent through sickness or maternity leave.

“As we have found elsewhere, the national facilities management contract is failing to make repairs in a timely way and there are often delays of several months. The neglect of basic maintenance is having a serious effect on this division. There are insecure doors and problems with operating CCTV; staff report feeling unsafe in some offices. The lack of upkeep resulted in the temporary closure of offices and the temporary loss of beds in the approved premises. We recommend the Ministry of Justice, which manages the contract, steps in.”

The Inspectorate’s report concludes with seven recommendations to help the division to focus on areas for improvement.


I notice David Raho, Chair of London Napo, had something typically sensible to say on Facebook:- 

This is just my own particular take but it is no secret that the NPS is just as dysfunctional and problematic in slightly different ways as some of the CRCs and rumours I heard that this report was going to be toned down or buried in the light of recent developments were perhaps just that.

What is happening in any part of probation in London is dear to my heart and I do feel for the hard working and dedicated staff in the NPS who will feel disappointed. In my view this report adds real weight to the argument that we should all be concentrating our efforts and aiming to establish a completely new service that is locally based, one step removed from central government, different from either the CRC or the NPSs current offerings, but nevertheless combining the best of both organisations in a much stronger probation amalgam whilst consigning the worst of TRs bureaucratic and corporate excesses to the bin.

Despite the consistent CRC bashing, that those staff sifted into privatised services on the flip of a coin have had to take on the chin collectively, there is nonetheless always something to learn from some of the innovations and technologies that have been introduced recently to help (not all). There are also some excellent initiatives driven by some really talented professionals, experts, and dedicated probation staff that should be developed and scaled up in a new probation service rather than stopped and discarded. I’m proud of some of the good stuff that has been developed in difficult circumstances and those who have fought hard to do it well.

Probation staff are after all probation staff and those who don’t know or have forgotten what that means may hopefully now be embarking on a steep learning curve. Traditionally probation staff are experienced seasoned professionals from a variety of backgrounds with strong beliefs and values, integrity, and a strong sense of purpose and are as a result a pretty darn resilient lot with a lot of skills and expertise they can use to achieve rehabilitation and reduce reoffending.

Genuine probation professionals have no time for elitist pretentiousness that has no place in probation and as for those who look down on others because of something they were told by a misinformed minister or in a recruitment pamphlet, inflated egos etc. - no time for that sort of clap trap at all. Genuine probation staff have high degrees of professional autonomy and have never really bought into and jumped on the whole managerialism bandwagon. They ideally like their managers to be senior practitioners who are experienced practical and willing to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in at the frontline to help out at a pinch. Lead from the front not the spreadsheet!!!

Despite any phoney organisational formations imposed upon us we are mostly all united as probation staff dumped on in different ways through no fault of our own and we now have a service to rebuild. Probation staff have always been first class innovators who have always had to use few resources to make good things happen. We know naff stuff when we see it and appreciate good stuff that gets the job done. It’s going to take time to rebuild and if this government doesn’t get it right first or even second time we’ll keep plugging away. One things for sure, the new journey is just beginning and we mustn’t leave matters to those who have failed, but rather seek to develop something that will work properly by freeing up those at the frontline to do their job in a way that values and supports them.

So let’s draw a line under poor reports like this one that we knew was coming and get back to basics. We know we can do better once fully back together. More people at the frontline, lower caseloads, an emphasis on spending time getting to know clients and their networks to reduce risk rather than relying on computers, ticking boxes, and hiding behind directives and meaningless tools. Real probation work has always involved establishing strong professional relationships and changing lives by doing probation work we know works. Let’s make it happen together.

David Raho

In answer to a question about continuity of service and protection of members if it's a TUPE transfer, he went on:-

It’ll probably be a TUPE transfer. Of course that was one of the first questions asked however there is a big chunk of work to do. As far as I am concerned the MoJ have made an initial move but what they have proposed is unlikely to be the final outcome and may actually be very far from the final outcome if I have anything to do with it. For instance, few in the CRC will want to be subject to the stultifying pseudo civil servant nonsense that comes with being subject to the civil service code without all the benefits (such as earlier retirement, non contribution pension ability to transfer seamlessly to other civil service jobs etc) of being a genuine civil servant currently endured by NPS staff - lest we forget Grayling shafted everyone. This is for some TR all over again and will need some careful negotiation- once bitten twice shy. They are already registering a wave of dissatisfaction from frontline staff. What we face are political and ideological barriers being smartly justified by MoJ spin.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Napo at Work in the South West 23

Blog Preamble

Since the MoJ announcement last week regarding reunification, it's rapidly become apparent that we have once more descended into a fog of confusion, misinformation, mistrust and misunderstanding. Somewhat alarmingly, it's already beginning to look and feel like a re-run of TR. 

Just like the first time around, we all have a choice, either remain passive and await information and instruction from official sources, or by individual effort and action share information, news, thoughts and expertise as a way of trying to 'own' this fucking mess, as opposed to just being somewhat of a helpless bystander in something that acutely affects everyone in the profession. 

Whilst ever it is possible, this platform will remain as a means by which all those who care for 'probation' as a worthwhile endeavour can share information for mutual benefit and the protection of a vital public service. However, it can only be as good as the information it garners and therefore the onus falls primarily on you, the reader. Which leads nicely into warmly thanking the individuals who regularly forward news from Napo at work in the South West with not one, but two branch communications that discuss matters that will be of relevance to staff in all CRCs. (It would be useful if someone could kindly forward the employers Q and A referred to in the second report - thanks). 


Branch information important 16 5 19

Dear Napo Members

Good news !!! Its is official. The Government has finally, after much pressure, including the NAO, HMIP, and several evidence inquiries have relented and managed to accept the “U” turn on their appalling damaging and flawed probation revolution.

Sadly only part of the Service in case management is to be taken into the NPS. It is reported that CP and programmes interventions will likely be retendered into another privatised fiasco. I won’t spell out what a waste of an opportunity that will be when their chance to repair public services to what they were is now. However, if taking back case management reduces the risk of the increase in murders and domestic violence then there can be no argument to these ends.

Despite the latest management information from Seetec who quite obviously do not appear to have any grasp of the politics surrounding the scandalous approach to privatised probation they actually think expansion was a good idea in February! Really? The past few weeks of these drip fed weekly propaganda bulletins were so off the mark they are not worth challenging. Many of us already knew this news was coming and it is well overdue. In relation to Seetec most likely not wanting to generate any fears, they appear to believe it themselves. The reality is the bulk of the operating contracts value will now plummet. Finally to end by spring 2021. Whatever tendering that takes in the future, the reliance on their development unit will not convince anyone case management is better in private control. Whatever generates this sort of thinking does make me ask some questions about the experience and knowledge base. Arguing against the intelligence of the national information reports and audits the HMIP inspections all pointed to the very real car crash TR has been. The double speak we have been subjected locally has no further place in DDC. Colleagues should look forwards to restoring their public sector status.

Most likely April 2021 is a new vesting day that terms and conditions as well as staffing arrangements will take priority in the form of national collective bargaining and your national terms. While NPS may not be the best home for probation given what we have experienced from their ways. NPS developed and too often avoid or bend any policy colluding with privatised HR services. Marginally better than the private companies.

What is of paramount importance is to ensure all staff are transferred wherever there is inclusion for the appropriate roles and all grades that deliver case management. All parts of the split services are understaffed and the NPS need skills held in the CRC. All POs will certainly need a lot of information as things develop and the NAPO branch AGM is to be held on the 27th June in Plymouth make sure as many of you attend this important meeting which will have the general secretary speaking on all developments with a lively Q and A with our link official. Book your diaries now. Locally and with the link official Napo will be organising all grade meetings as we discover the renationalised process to be agreed.

In all cases enjoy this major news Napo will continue the campaign call to ensure CP and programmes are returned to public services because we all realise there will not be a valuable contract to anyone who is serious about delivering the best services. Taking a Profit from probation in case they have not understood the NAO report simply does not work.

Celebrate this news and look out for national Napo bulletins coming out today.

If you are reading this and not in a union Join Napo today. This news makes fairly clear all staff should think carefully on the next 20 months.


Dino Peros 

Napo SSW Branch Chair


Branch information 2 important 21 May 2019 

Dear Napo members, 

Apologies for yet another fast-moving branch update but in some regards it is important to keep as many issues in context wherever we can. 

20 5 19 saw the release of Seetec’s amalgamated type of Q and A similarly fashioned from the MOJ release. At no point have we in NAPO been consulted or seen any canvassing of members or staff for the questions posed and we presume this is the Seetec company’s view. Therefore it is probably more about how they want you to see the situation developing and most importantly perhaps try to keep some control over the next few months as we all await the blueprint to be produced for any new transfer arrangements for staff to NPS. There is no obvious expectation that outsourcing of case management will continue beyond the announcement. 

Given the confirmation that MOJ only passed this situation to Seetec with just a day’s notice, incredible as it sounds they then silenced contractors before the public announcement. It sort of says it all really. They have effectively been told their contractual period is to end yet cannot say or do anything about it. As Chair of the Napo SSW branch I have not been able to appreciate how this is any sort of a surprise when the contract terminated 2 years early had already been announced a while back. Unless, private companies just appear to bank on the current TR fiasco being blindly continued. Not to mention here in the real world of reporting from the PAC report the NAO report and the HMIP final inspection report all culminating in the publication of the MOJ results of the September 2018 survey. Interested parties have overwhelmingly influenced the range of directions from the publication some four months later than expected. This final piece of the jigsaw makes it obvious all current wisdom could not condone the continuation of case management in private control. The idea that it could continue post all the official condemnation to date coupled with the factual evidence base with the conclusions we have seen. It is incomprehensible that some would think otherwise. 

There remains some nonsense or fantasy which is not an effective public protection position, seeking to encourage a belief that things could be better in private hands. The comprehensive evidence is a resounding rejection of such a position and yet it does not appear to registered properly or seem understood by the current Seetec contract holder. 

It is appreciated that many staff are speculating on the mixed views about the wider staffing situation questioning whether “is this really re-nationalisation or something sort of but not really”? The bottom line is, it is too early to speculate beyond what has been stated to be the MOJ plan. The notice of intention to end the privatised delivery of case management is a great outcome long overdue. It does not go far enough. We want to see all probation work back into public services. It will make sense that there will need to be a transfer process and new arrangements. When the national Unions are convened there will be no doubt full scale consultations on that process for agreement will take place. That said the timescales are not fixed points. We all know of the previous transfer fiasco periods slipped and were then hurried into being. There are many newer staff since that time and arrangements will have to cater for legacy protected staff and recent CRC contracted employees who are also subject to entitlements under existing collective agreements. 

Spring in the public services is the end of March and the notion nothing will change in the next two years is almost laughable. As a bare minimum there will be notice periods for change to staff contracts with ongoing consultations and arrangements for staff selections and a criterion for such transfers. I doubt Seetec really expect staff our members to believe this will happen post their contract period having ended. Seetec suggest they will be seeking to continue a competitive bid and the of prospect might see another new employer wandering around offices doing an inventory. Further, the idea of the range of different posts being divided across employers is not clear how this will be developed. Save to say we continue to hold better protective terms and conditions in DDC than many areas and we will be ensuring all the agreements are properly complied with subject to any unilateral national collective agreements taking precedence. 

Unfortunately, there will likely continue to be a range contractor led responses to such MOJ bulletins and from this point going forward NAPO locally are acutely aware of the bulk of staff desire is to get back into the public or the civil services. Seen as a better place to be appointed than any form of the continued and flawed privatisation contractors, it has to be understood the mixed economy on probation services remains damaged and is limping with the promise of more contracts, yet nothing can be guaranteed. There may be the intention now but a change in government fortunes will break the cycle. Working Links was supported in and never had the required money in the first place sold out to Aurelius and in no time left to operate probation case management. Look what happened - the single worst ever HMIP report on record. The CPO gone, the contractor gone and yet staff continue to suffer carrying extreme workloads due to the complete and continued failure of the leadership which remain wed-locked to a failed model. Sadly to date continued by Seetec. 

Finally, the Seetec Q and A issued 20 5 19 does not answer many questions in depth and leaves way too much in the we don’t know category of answer box. In that sense a little more patience would help us all reduce the over speculations and whatever it takes the Unions will continue the campaign for complete reunification of probation services to protect interventions from the discontinuation of the privatised fiasco. 

If your reading this and not a member of NAPO then join the branch now www Napo membership follow the links. Our next meeting is the AGM and Paul Sabulis Branch secretary will be posting out the list of members discussion topics shortly and with details during this challenging time. 

Dino Peros 
Napo SSW Branch Chair

Tuesday 21 May 2019

The Reality

I'm guessing there's been a certain air of smugness around MoJ HQ since last Thursday. Ok there was the expected media storm regarding u-turns and the tacit acceptance that TR had been a failure, but the ire was directed at Grayling (no love lost there) and the media had free reign in promulgating a disingenuous re-nationalisation message. In short the MoJ have taken a short-lived media 'hit', fostered a misleading message (well done guys) and the political masters can still keep delivering a huge chunk of privatisation, oh screened of course with a bit of a charity/third sector fig leaf.   

Whilst lauded as a 'victory' in certain quarters, rather wiser counsel have always recognised that this was only ever going to be a first step towards the ambitious aim of full reintegration under public control and independence from HM Prison Service. Without doubt it can be regarded as a pragmatic first step, not requiring legislation, but Tories don't change their spots easily and there's still the promise of lots of gravy to go round for their privateer chums. This from yesterday seems to summarise the position:-   

Eleven HMPPS-controlled NPS supremos handing out £3.6bn of public money to, predominantly, privateers who will be providing a range of offender management services. Is this very different from HMPPS handing out £bns of public money to, predominantly, privateers who have been providing a range of unprofessional, poor-quality, unsafe offender management services? Napo, Unison, GMB - either (1) you're so unbelievably stupid that you've been taken to the cleaners once again or (2) you're complicit with this government's agenda.

Clearly the real battle for the heart and soul of probation will have to wait for another day and almost certainly a General Election and the hope of a Labour Administration committed to putting humpty dumpty back together again. As we know, Lord Ramsbotham has been beavering away with his inquiry for the Labour Party, but last weeks news has rather taken the wind out of his sails and I'm not aware how widely his Interim Report has been circulated or indeed if there's been any public launch. The Guardian has certainly seen it though judging by this editorial from last week:-

Ministers ought to take up the approach set out by Lord Ramsbotham, the former chief inspector of prisons, who has produced an excellent roadmap for the Labour party. The crossbench peer correctly insists that probation should not have been centralised as a societal curative service. Instead it belongs at a local level and ought to be re-established in the communities it serves. His idea is to help offenders find a direction and purpose in their lives in the neighbourhoods they live in. This would bring the probation service into closer contact with other arms of the state such as the NHS. It could be directly responsive to concerns about crime in their communities. The private sector’s role, if any, could be then confined to limited tasks commissioned by the new probation authorities.     

So, whilst we've all been distracted with fighting, and winning the battle of TR and TR2, the somewhat-tarnished MoJ Contracts Team have been quietly working-up plan B and plans for commissioning brand new contracts for UPW and Programmes. It's all ready to roll with 'stakeholder' events arranged for later this month. The details will undoubtedly require close scrutiny given the department's track record with other contracts.


At this point it's probably worth trying to recap where things are and in this regard I notice that Russell Webster published just such a succinct roundup yesterday:- 

What are the MoJ’s plans for probation?

When the Justice Secretary announced the format of the new probation system last Thursday (16 May 2019), the MoJ also published its response to the consultation it issued back in last July.

The consultation process has been rather strange. The consultation document, entitled “Strengthening Probation, Building Confidence”, maintained that the government intended to keep the same format of Transforming Rehabilitation with the public sector National Probation Service servicing the courts and managing high risk offenders with the private Community Rehabilitation Companies managing low and medium risk offenders. The main change was the planned reduction in the number of CRCs from 21 to 11, aligned with new NPS divisions.

In the end, Ministers bowed to pressure from the sector (and a succession of critical reports by the Probation Inspectorate, National Audit Office and others) and decided to return all offender management to the NPS.

The announcement did not give much further detail other than:
  • The 11 new CRCs will now be known as “innovation partners” and will be directly responsible for providing unpaid work and accredited programmes.
  • The NPS will be required to buy all interventions from the market including “resettlment and rehabilitative services”
  • Private and voluntary sector organisations will need to register on a dynamic purchasing framework (similar to that used for the recent re-procurement of prison education) in order to provide services to offenders.
  • The total annual budget for unpaid work, accredited programmes and these rehabilitative and resettlement services will be up to £280 million per year.
However, it is clear that there remain many details to be worked out. No new operating model was published and the MoJ has provided only a little additional information about what happens next:
  • A period of market and stakeholder engagement.
  • A commercial competition later this year for providers to bid to provide rehabilitative services.
  • Three launch events to discuss the reforms in more depth at the end of May.
I have read the consultation response to find whether there are any more clues to the MoJ’s plans.

The consultation

There were 476 responses to the consultation, 44% of them from probation professionals, 17% from voluntary sector organisations and 8% from judges and magistrates. Here is how the MoJ has addressed some of respondents’ concerns.

A clearer role for the voluntary sector

The MoJ says that “interventions should be commissioned and delivered locally where possible” and that it wants to see a clearer role for a “wide range of voluntary sector providers”. The MoJ intends to achieve this via a dynamic framework which will operate as an open panel of suppliers, who can be admitted to the panel at any point during its lifetime subject to a qualification process (based on experience and capabilities). Eligible panel members will be invited to participate in mini-competitions for the services required which will be run by the regional directors of the eleven areas (see map below) on either a regional or local level.


Under the current system, CRCs are responsible for preparing all prisoners for release. However, this is set to change:

Consistent with our broader approach to offender management we intend that in future the responsibilities for assessing offenders’ needs; identifying the services required; and coordinating delivery of these services will in future be provided through the NPS; with a much clearer role for private and voluntary sector providers in delivering those interventions and services.

Whether regional directors will commission in-prison resettlement services on a prison-by-prison basis or home area basis is unclear, nor how resettlement will fit with the Offender Management in Custody (OMiC) scheme currently rolled out within the prison service. As far as I can see, there is no indication as to whether the MoJ plans to change (or abolish) the post sentence supervision arrangements which brought another 40,000 short term prisoners under the supervision of the probation service and has contributed to a big increase in the numbers recalled to prison.

Cross-sector commissioning

The MoJ says it intends to use the new regional structures to “test innovative forms of commissioning to focus on cross-cutting social outcomes that are key to reducing reoffending” — presumably offender accommodation in particular. It intends to ringfence funding within the overall probation budget with the aim of attracting match funding from other government departments or commissioning bodies including social finance providers and Social Impact Bonds. 

Rebuilding the probation profession

The consultation responses quotes from Chief Probation Inspector Dame Glenys Stacey who has emphasised the damage to the professional identity of probation staff from the way that TR was implemented, particularly for those working in CRCs. She has advocated an evidence-based probation service delivered by professional staff who are constantly developing their skills.

The MoJ says it intends to further this objective by bringing forward “legislation to implement a statutory professional regulatory framework across the probation system with continual professional development standards and a practise and ethical framework for designated roles. By implementing this framework, we aim to ensure that staff who are suitably qualified are supported in gaining the tools and opportunities for a long and effective career.”

You can keep up with the market engagement events and next steps in the probation redesign process on the MoJ probation consultation website.

Russell Webster

Monday 20 May 2019

Latest From Napo 188

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

"Irredeemably flawed" - but probation is repairable

Given the hundreds of positive messages that are coming into Napo HQ and via social media it is clear that Thursday 16th May 2019 will be seen as one of the most pivotal days in Napo’s long and proud history.


The climb down from the rubble of Chris Graylings catastrophic Transforming Rehabilitation programme is certainly up there with any recent union victory in the campaign against the privatisation of vital public services. I hope by now that every Napo member will have acknowledged the fact that while this is a significant turnaround, it is one that is still qualified. Yet such a scenario was not even on the cards before the turn of the year, where we established real traction with Rory Stewart and David Gauke on our future vision for probation. From there we have worked long and hard to try and persuade said Ministers to move to complete reunification, but that was always likely to be a political step too far for them as they and their Cabinet colleagues continue to breathe life into their flagging ‘‘mixed market” monster no matter what the cost. I nevertheless commend them both for taking this considerable step forward.

Seizing the day

Our preparation in advance of the embargoed news from the MoJ, led to us dominating the media arena from 6am through to 6pm. It entailed swinging into immediate action to get our media releases out to all the right people on Wednesday, and saw some of us operating into the small hours of Thursday morning so that we were primed and ready to engage with the many media opportunities that broke at first light. This work reflects great credit on National Chair Katie Lomas, our media lead Tania Basset and the communications team here at Napo HQ.

It meant that many members woke up to see Napo offering our immediate perspective on the news of the decision to transfer the supervision of clients to the NPS by the time that the CRC owners are out of their current contracts.

Just as importantly, we were able to talk about the reasons why TR has failed, its impact on the lives and wellbeing of our members as well as clients and victims, and how it’s not been the fault of our members that reoffending rates have remained so stubbornly high. All this and more, whilst referencing the gratuitous self-aggrandisement of the wretched Grayling and his capacity to screw up on everything that he has ever allegedly been in control of.

So where next?

We are already making arrangements to create communications structures that will provide updates to members on the likely shape of the transition programme for the movement of Offender Management work from the CRCs and the terms of the staff transfers. Obviously, we have made it clear that we expect those impacted by the government decision to move immediately to NPS pay rates.

There is a lot of work ahead of us, and there are many still to be answered questions that we will now be consulting on with senior MoJ and HMPPS leaders. Meanwhile we must ensure that the plans for Wales are sufficiently robust to enable the scheduled transfer of CRC staff into the NPS by this December.

As well as these priorities, it is imperative that we pick up on the offer of engagement from Director General Amy Rees on the professional development and regulatory body issues as well as continuing to press for the abolition of short-term prison sentences. We also need to engage with our sister unions and the POA on the future of the Offender Management in Custody model.

It is a huge agenda for Napo and that’s just in terms of the implications from the big decision yesterday. We will not forget our CRC members

Our members in the CRCs will undoubtedly be looking to us for further support and guidance, and you will have it; you will want us to intensify our fight to see you receive the same pay as your NPS colleagues and for Intervention and Programme work to also return to state control and we will do just that.

Elsewhere in Napo, in Northern Ireland we have the double problem of a stagnant public service pay situation and threats to existing terms and conditions. Yesterday, and again following substantial input by Napo, we saw dramatic developments around the call for an inquiry into CAFCASS after a major report by the former Head of the Family Courts Sir James Mumby. These are also important priorities along with many others.

What you can do to help

Napo has worked long and hard to help achieve this victory but the struggle is far from over.

Huge political developments such as this do not happen very often. They serve to demonstrate the value of trade unions to speak up when others seek to denigrate or ignore us, to maintain faith in a so-called lost cause and continue to fight back with tenacity and belief; and to show ourselves to millions of people in a highly professional and focused manner through the media whenever we get the opportunity.

Many of you have sent me personal messages to say how proud you are of Napo and I absolutely reciprocate your often quite moving tributes; I feel highly privileged to do this job working with you as well as for you.

In order for us to build our collective strength, now is as good a time as any for Napo members to open up conversations with workplace colleagues about why trade union membership is so vital, and explain what Napo has achieved in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. You may want to know that even as I write, I am receiving encouraging reports of staff wanting to join or return to Napo.

Finally, anyone currently paying their subscriptions via their employer by ‘Check Off’ are reminded that its cheaper to pay by Direct Debit and very simple to make the change by clicking here. Once you change to DD you must advise your payroll so that they cease to make deductions.

Look out for more news via our usual postings and HQ blogs; meanwhile do enjoy the moment and the weekend!

Ian Lawrence