In the wake of yet another shocking SFO report yesterday and the subsequent media shitstorm, I think the time has come to say a few difficult and uncomfortable things, not least because many of us know there's undoubtedly more of the same to come. Yes of course it was predicted right from the beginning of the TR omnishambles and despicable destruction of a gold standard Probation Service for ideological reasons, but that's politics for you and in my view there is absolutely zero chance of any incoming Labour administration having a bloody clue what to do in order to sort things out.
Labour is frozen in the headlights, scared witless of anything at all that could possibly be construed as being unjustly portrayed as 'soft on criminals' in the Daily Mail and effectively means they come out with crap headline policies such as 'longer sentences for rapists'. Just like the Tories, but despite all the evidence and research, we are politically locked into building an ever larger prison estate to warehouse increasing numbers of men and for longer periods. If this is going to be the enduring political landscape, there isn't a cat in hell's chance of any meaningful 'rehabilitation' of people and probation will simply disappear within the appallingly dysfunctional and bullying HMPPS.
Probation has 'blood on its hands' it was reported yesterday in the Guardian and as a result there has been an understandable outpouring of anger on the 'secret' Facebook group at things being portrayed in this way when we all know the blame should reside with systemic and structural failures brought about by political decisions. Regular readers will be aware that I used to selectively quote from this 'secret' group in anonymised form, but this met with objection, so it remains hidden and unavailable to public and media view. How very convenient then for the politicians and senior management, but very inconvenient of course for some chance of fair reporting and sensible examination of the real underlying issues.
We've long said there is a serious probation leadership vacuum; someone or some agency that can effectively and authoritatively speak up both for the profession and its ethos. Events yesterday prove the vacuum still exists. Yes, this corner of the internet continues to serve some small attempt at an information and discussion platform gaining 3,000 'hits' as soon as news broke, well above the daily average, but it's scope and effectiveness is limited and inevitably waning.
Disillusionment amongst highly experienced staff is growing and they are exiting the Service on an increasingly daily basis, replaced with enthusiastic but inexperienced new recruits only to be thrown in to the frontline far too early in their career and extremely ill-equipped. They don't end up on here, perceived as it often is as the past and preserve of the disillusioned, disaffected and irrelevant. Suitable new candidates are chosen by HMPPS to front ever-more slick advertising campaigns to paint a rosy picture of an exciting and worthwhile career, but astonishingly sit alongside the reality of regular horror stories. Civil service control means silence of course on that matter from senior HMPPS management, but simultaneously staff are thrown under the bus as part of the SFO process.
I get to the point of this rant. Over the years I have been regularly approached by journalists and I have endeavoured to assist as much as I can, with very mixed results it has to be said. We all know the Civil Service code prohibits staff from talking to the media and there have been precious few examples of brave colleagues being prepared to undertake such an endeavour, even under cover, but what about if you've left the service, possibly recently, have strong views as to the state of play and what needs fixing. Would you be interested in helping the media understand what the real issues are and get an authoritative insight into the public domain? Confidentiality is of course offered and contact details are on the profile page.
If only violent offenders were subject to the same automatic police monitoring and unannonuced home visits, regardless of their risk level, like sex offenders are, then many of these things would be picked up. Why do SO get put on MAPPA and given an SHPO automatically, even if they are low risk, while a violent offender has to be assessed as high risk first? SO have a reoffending rate of just 3% but are treated as dangerous monsters, while real monsters like Bendall, Couzens, McSweeney and Carrick slip through the net.ReplyDelete
good stuff, jb. I hope someone takes up the offer. I'm too far removed from current practice to be of any use in that role.ReplyDelete
I find the tory claims about 'innocent until proven guilty' (johnson, zahawi, etc etc) laughable when, in the context of a SFO, frontline staff are often (if not always) suspended on full pay while their desks & case records are trawled through by very focused senior managers looking for the smoking gun that bears the appropriate fingerprints - usually anyone's but their own. It is not unheard of that records are changed or deleted to suit a particular agenda. I have seen it happen, I have produced printed paper copies to panels to prove it has happened, yet the senior managers involved were praised for their "diligence".
Does anyone stop to think how it makes staff feel when they are isolated at home for weeks or months, unsure of what will happen, often unable to discuss their plight with anyone who understands the situation - and certainly not anyone from their workplace.
While they wrestle with fears about their career, their future & their reputation, they also have to live with the fact that the person they were supervising has done something heinous and they didn't stop it happening... regardless as to whether it was in their gift to make any difference to events, e.g. recall, risk assessment, etc. Meantime the office gossip machine is in full swing.
SFOs are rarely the responsibility of any single worker from any one agency. Prisons, courts, probation, housing, health (incl mental health), social services, tagging companies - one, some or all are likely to have played a role in pushing a person closer to the threshold of desperation & helping create the circumstances for a serious offence. We know this. We deal with it all the time.
But what about the senior managers who have supposedly been directing operations, overseeing workloads, supervising staff?
What about the political 'masters' who have been pushing crowd-pleasing policy against the tide of reason?
What about the senior civil servants who have been willingly & eagerly dumping on staff 'down the foodchain'? Narcissistic egocentrics, members of the FDA (First Divison Association - speaks for itself really) with little or no relevant experience of frontline probation work who excel at playing politics & self-promotion, who spout pointless shit like "The executive directors and I will continue to challenge one another" & who claim "we are collectively making a commitment to prevent ourselves from starting new things that may be great ideas but will not help us achieve our delivery priorities."?
What about the most senior probation staff, including the Chief Probation Officer, who only seem to be awarded medals & bonuses & slip into cushy new jobs when the shit hits the fan, who never shoulder responsibility for anything except their self-proclaimed "excellence"?
And last but by no means least, what about the trail of destroyed lives, of broken families, of victims of vile & desperately awful crimes?
The current probation service (deliberately *not* capitalised) has been besmirched, dismantled & destroyed over the course of the last decade or so. To be precise, the vandalism started in earnest with the appointment of grayling on 6 September 2012, ably assisted by romeo & the right-wing noms/hmpps cabal who, with their prison service command & control mindset, simply couldn't wait to get their grubby hands on what they saw as the pinko softies who were "soft on crime".
It was their blinkered imposition of a vile political ideology & their personal greed that collectively crushed The Probation Service & turned it into the "not fit for purpose" statutory criminal justice service which, in its current HMPPS format, most certainly does have blood on its hands - literally & figuratively.
There is information out there to make links directly to TR. firstly more cases than predicted were allocated to NPS, leaving it under resourced and the CRCs offering ‘voluntary severance’ packages to reduce their staffing. Surely it can be seen that this meant more high risk cases existed at that point than predicted by the model on which TR was based? What then happened is to balance out (and preserve income stream for the privatised CRCs) more cases started to be allocated to CRCs, so what happened to risk assessment at that point? That’s where this whole sorry state we are in came to pass.ReplyDelete
Risk assessment &/or validation of risk assessment, e.g.increased/ or decreased risk, remained in the domain of NPS. Their refusal to accept cases where risks were raised meant cases were pushed back to CRCs at a lower level of assessment than was proposed by CRC staff.Delete
This blog has become the echo-chamber of the disgruntled, outdated, negative and unhelpful probation officers from a period where by all accounts (according to posts on here) all was rosey until Grayling and TR came along. Tories, Labour, CRC, blah blah blah - time to grow up and and and get out of the way so those who actually care about moving Probation forward positively can have their time. It’s easy to sit in the stalls and moan about how it was in the good old days but your not helping those who are still in the fight. Good people are turning into work each day to keep the public safe and yes it’s a hard and thankless task but they will come back tomorrow because they care about what they are doing now and not whingeing about the good old days or who vandalised probation from the safety of their armchairs. Probation are in the fight and it’s time to either step up and try and fix things or step aside and go get your cardigan, order a Guinness, and consign yourself to the group of people who will be forgotten about before you finish your first pint and rant.ReplyDelete
Do not think the commentary here is from mid generation staff. Sure some have had to retire early on the cheap. Do you not consider the days before grayling might have really been the better time. Do you not appreciate in our areas we had workload weightings that were followed. All cases in court had a 9 hours weighted psr . Yes on some areas weightings were better negotiated. Since the Napo clown has ransacked our term conditions agreed redundancies on mass sold out members and colluded with management they fear no reprisal. You may need your job love your work and role but it could be so much better easier and more meaningful to change offending behaviours . Not monitor until some of the cases hit the fan. Better still prevent the harm by fixing the underlying causation. Shout at the armchair brigade all you can. I agree with some of what you. Look at the Napo antagonists the retired members arm. A real bunch of misdirected misfits of the most foolish kind. I am being gentle. They need to do as you say . Shut up and leave it to the workers. Ok also though 1 or 2 of them have some idea. So do many others and it is broad church. The pi just the same full of old Napo colliders and poor chief officers looking for title and status. With that around old probation will remain doomed as they facilitated the destruction. Keep your spirit up that's good but direct it at the cronies they are in plain sight .Delete
1853 loud as you sound it might be prudent to read the history in this blog for the decade it's been running. You might learn some wisdom from the collated material this last true account of what happened to our profession. Any attacks on the archivist pages of the blog are misguided . Without this blog the amalgamation back would have been less likley. The future academic studied will struggle to find a more honest place for genuine material of those who cut away by Tory dogma. The cost of this has been those sfo victims . Their families The staff and country. The winners the privatisation directors the cops who retired a financial scandal that continues to increase the risk to the public. Until they pull proper probation out from under train where they pushed us for dead.Delete
Ignoring the lessons of the past is always a mistake in the long runDelete
“This blog has become the echo-chamber of the disgruntled, outdated, negative and unhelpful probation officers from a period where by all accounts (according to posts on here) all was rosey until Grayling and TR came along.”Delete
No you are incorrect. It is currently probation staff across grades (particularly practitioners band 3 and 4) that are vocally unhappy with pay, conditions and workload. This is the theme in many Probation offices and the staffing crisis is real. If you believe different then you are not a band 3 or 4 practitioner or you are a probation poster boy or girl telling lies about how “dynamic and exciting” the probation service is.
It isn't the case that this blog influenced amalgamation. That decision was purely commercial. Too much money was being spent. So it was bought back into house and money was saved. If it had saved money then it would still be in the private sector. Indeed the original plan was to outsource the whole of the Probation service. The decisions around TR were actually facilitated by staff as those seniors and government knew that PO's did not value CP and they were right. Tom Rendon colluded with the Chief Officer on the promise of an ACO post and didn't oppose the outsourcing of London CP this then left the door open for the rest. As they said at the time " If this doesn't happen-nothing can happen " The lessons to be learned haven't been as Probation does not value all its constituents parts. Grayling didn't push for TR because he thought it was a good idea. He did so because he hated the Probation service. It really was that simple and all of those lamenting the past, helped him.Delete
Haha, all of Napo, Unison and GMB Scoop collude with Probation senior management and HMPPS. Why do you think the London GMB Scoop rep was just awarded an MBE for his work supporting SLT!!!!Delete
Inspectorate reports and the number of sfos might suggest that those steering the probation ship into the 21st century are not making a very good job of it!Delete
isn't the case that this blog influenced amalgamation."Delete
I see this is a wind up. The blog was instrumental in getting many things done. I know some key facts. Napo took daily barometer readings of the mood of the contributions. All crcs did at their time as they got concerned on public cooperate image. Senior management gold team took soundings and have considered this blog difficult as it creates national awareness to issues. Amalgamation wes partly COVID timing and not money. The money into private companies is Tory dogma. The real killer was the rate card was fiasco. Nps had no staff and rich CRC staff were costly and contracts were failing to deliver . Nothing to do with the contract managers as they were all incompetant and had no sanction. Instead they authorised more cash for failing. It was so badly managed and organised it had to come back. By the way this blog did more to deliver that as it's campaign was grass roots real and the contributions on here was a wave of anger generated at the leadership to get it done . This blog .
Well speaking as one of those Cardigan wearers who will be forgotten. You crack on, and when you have done 30 years and been put out to grass because your mental health cannot stand the heat any more. I hope that you find an equally empathic person to discount your lifes work as well. Good luck to you.Delete
There is light at the end of the tunnel Jim. If somebody can head the two London PDUs with the worst HMIP results, spend their last years as ‘Head of PDU without PDU”, AND STILL receive an MBE, there’s hope for us all.ReplyDelete
“William Jones. Lately National Officer for the GMB Senior and Chief Officers of Probation Trade Union. For Public Service.”
Meanwhile in the Probation National Security Division PP and SPP roles have moved up a pay band in secret and the whole Division is run by heads who are clueless and can't even run departments to work in the same way. Bullying is going on all the time but ignored by the RPD. Still to hear people survey results and actions from last year...ReplyDelete
So we now have Probation Officers being paid at Band 4 and Band 5. This is a major union issue as the pay bands should be the same. Pity our unions are shite.Delete
Not unusual vlos in most areas paid level 4 as a specialised role. After Lawrence got his orders from management they Napo I mean agreed a to evaluate us to level 3. Down went our pay . Not the po though as they kept 4 for the same job arguing they do it better. Total bullshit. Lawrence needs to cleared off as he does nothing a union leader should. Just self interest.Delete
No that was different. The VLO is a band 3 Pso role but was paid at band 4 for existing band 4 POs. This was reduced to band 3 regardless of existing grade as the VLO role is a band 3 role.Delete
This new issue raised is if POs are being paid at band 5 for providing a band 4 PO role but in the National security division. I can only think there is little info on this if decided on shady ground to pull POs away from sentence management to prop up and justify this new “division”.
It would be like paying OMiC POs at band 5 for the same band 4 PO job description. Should be challenged by unions.
No no all areas had the national job evaluation agreement. Vlo pay was mixed based on local area agreements . In my area our Napo reps not unison got the vlo job evaluation panels to level 4 from day 1. Several years later the same rep wiped the management out in a hearing to try and reduce our grade. It was well attended . A marvel to watch. There are some rare stars . National Napo has subsequently sold us out. Which is why I am not in Napo any longer.Delete
Yes because the VLO was a band 3 PSO role. It was only paid at band 4 because POs applied for it and were paid at band 4. Pso’s then started getting paid at band 4 too. That’s why they evaluated it and agreed it’s a band 3 job. Itd be like POs applying for CA roles and being paid at band 4, then other CAs expecting to be paid at band 4 too when all should be band 2. Banding has always been a problem. I remember when business and officers managers were paid at band 5 and senior administrators started demanding to be paid at band 4. They were quickly reduced to band 4 which should have really been band 3. For what POs do they should really be paid at band 5 and if this is happening in the security division then unions should push for it to be across the board.Delete
I was on evaluation panel in my area, all the VLO post holders were previously PSO grade, outcome of evaluation was Band 4, honestly evaluated with outcome paid for years to the VLOs. I believe their pay protection following the downgrade to Band 3 nationally ended in 2022.Delete
Oh no still wrong a proper job evaluation evaluation rates tasks over structured responsibilities job knowledge and requirements. It takes account of skill and requirements. Talking like a set grade is based on job tile illustrates our disunited approach sees us broke. Napo sent an all po team to national evaluation who were all ignorant of objective pay for responsibilities and did your line. Pso 3 po 4 . Also we must all stick to oppressing other staff. Because pos are superior so must have more pay. Completely off the understanding of evaluation and detailed job assesment. Then comment like that putting down specialised role required staff. No wonder pos have been reduced to administrators no assesment skills required.Delete
Yes well I recall a day there were no vlo roles. When in the main pso took this role up the pay was the highest rate a pso could get. Sure if evaluated properly it gave them a 4 grade but the jealous in fight saw national po Napo knock them down . Contrary to union values and no doubt ordered by the lap dog lawro. Too much groaning about lower pay staff if you actually knew to close the gap from behind argues pos should move up but too short sighted.Delete
Local evaluation can be overly generous. The VLO role is a band 3 job. No way on par with a PO role. This is agreed nationally.Delete
You don't get it. Jr is not a comparison it pay for rated work knowledge in specialised are. Po work is worth what it is in defined are. The skills to do different tasks can still be rated at same levels if the task require certain aspects in the rated scheme. Clearly po cannot understand being a po had certain tasks. Being a manager unqualified telling pos what do rates more highly than a qualified po because non qualified has key responsibilities. Got nothing to with the belief you rate yourself too highly or believe po work is more clever. You fail to appreciate emotional demands and the work with victims is not po work but matches highly in the rated scheme. Cry out all you like but your clearly not familiar with the assesment process. This kind of thinking is why the po structure is fractured and now droned to oasys to do the thinking for pos. Vlos of course still have to work with incredible damaged victims carefully you won't appreciate the skills required as you have one agenda to other down for the wrong reason. Broaden your knowledge.Delete
Not likely a good vlo assesment will make level 4 but the job required responsibilities would not lift anyone to level 5. So no the scheme is well constructed and assessment should be with trained panelists not pre determined ignorance.Delete
Thanks go to those readers who have recently made contact - I will be getting in touch shortly.ReplyDelete
"Regular rea lders will be aware that I used to selectively quote from this 'secret' group in anonymised form, but this met with objection, so it remains hidden and unavailable to public and media view"- no actually, from memory I objected to you publishing a message with my name or other identifying details on it. I also think, as you have access to the scathingly referred to 'secret group ' it would be easy to approach people and ask if you can quote them. If it is anonymous I can't imagine anyone would mind.ReplyDelete
Reunification: the operation was a success but the patient is dead.....ReplyDelete
Pretty much sums it up.
Good luck with that one...ReplyDelete
"Causley admitted he had lost contact with his probation officers and failed to stay at his approved accommodation, something he put down to a "silly mistake".
The Parole Board said it recognised Causley was a "self-confessed liar" but found he was at "low risk of further offending".
He had initially evaded justice for the best part of a decade and was only exposed when he made a botched attempt to fake his own death as part of an elaborate insurance fraud.
Causley has repeatedly changed his account of what happened to his wife, most recently pleading his innocence and claiming his role was limited to disposing of her body on a bonfire in his garden.
The MoJ confirmed it had decided not to challenge the decision."
Not sure I'd be happy recommending release for someone so committed to hiding or amending the truth at every opportunity... but presumably Raab is used to being around folk behaving like that every minute of every day, so its all perfectly normal; just a "silly mistake", a careless but harmless error, nothing to worry about...
More civil servants intended to lodge complaints against Dominic Raab over his behaviour but allegedly pulled out for fear of being identified.
Senior lawyer Adam Tolley KC is investigating a number of complaints about the deputy PM's behaviour.
But the BBC understands a number of civil servants who had intended to lodge formal complaints did not.