Tuesday, 18 March 2014

A Fine Message From Pat Waterman

TO: NAPO Greater London Branch MEMBERS

Don’t mourn. Organise

On the eve of his execution in 1915, the Swedish-American trade union organiser Joe Hill had a surprisingly upbeat message to pass to Bill Haywood, a fellow Industrial Workers of the World activist: “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organise.”

Aside: - In Folk Music circles there is a famous song about Joe Hill - which has been featured at least once on the Folk Music aficionado - Mike Harding's (Of Rochdale Cowboy and Formerly the BBC 2 Radio Folk Music programme fame) - Internet radio show - 

I found a version here: - http://mhfs.podomatic.com/entry/2013-03-17T14_37_01-07_00 - Number 6 - 20 minutes 45 seconds from the start.

Back to the GL Bch Email: -

Having been subjected to sifting and sorting, case validation exercises, and now training in quite what nobody is really sure, many of you are being invited to parties to mourn the loss of your LDU.

LPT may be coming to an end but let me assure you that the fight being mounted by this union is far from over.

Your Chief Executive, having reported on her mad social whirl this past week, tells you that :

"now we have the serious business to attend to of ensuring the NPS and CRC can function effectively and that service users have a positive experience".

I advise you all to read the email from your National Chair and General Secretary, sent earlier today, and the email from Mike McClelland, National Official, detailing the discussions taking place between the unions and the MOJ. The message of this union to you all is clear.

The chances of the NPS and CRC functioning effectively are becoming more and more unlikely by the day.

As I have said on more than one occasion it will start to get really interesting as potential buyers start to look at the CRC’s and wonder quite what it is they might be buying. They will be looking for something that functions effectively and efficiently with a willing and compliant workforce.

Is that what we are?

At the SGM in Birmingham on 5th March our General Secretary announced further strike action from 12 noon on Monday 31st March and all day on Tuesday 1st April. I am writing to you all to ask you to support this action. The government’s plans cannot be implemented without our cooperation. They need our skills and expertise. We need to show them what we feel and strike action is one way of doing so.

Placards and leaflets will be available for distribution at the branch meeting this Friday 21st March. We will also be discussing how best to organise this action. We can build on our experience from our previous strike last November. Contacts with local papers and radio have already been made and should be quickly re-established. Please contact the branch officers for help, advice and support in organising local picket lines

Following the success of our “battle bus” last time we will be planning another one to travel round Central London on Tuesday afternoon. All are welcome but priority will be given to those who did not go on the bus last time. Please send your names to Mail London NAPO.

We will also be planning a march from BPR to the MOJ to give Chris Grayling a birthday surprise he will always remember.

So let us not mourn the loss of LPT but let us focus our energies on organising and defeating the government’s plans to destroy and privatise the probation service. Striking is one plank in our armoury. We need to make it successful to send a clear message to Mr Grayling.

Probation is not for sale

Pat Waterman Branch Chair

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Rambling Thoughts

This blog started as a rant about the way the government are dealing with me and my colleagues in Probation-land. More people have visited my blog than I imagined, and I keep bumping into people who have read a blog entry, and then made positive comment. The blog has helped me to come to terms with Transforming Rehabilitation, and given me stronger views which are opposed to the privatisation of public services. But the mystery of TR is still unexplained, and  it's  full impact upon probation colleagues is unexplainable - it does not add up, or make any sense.

I suppose I have got a policy of just having a go at the coalition government, who I see as fair game, and so unlikeable, rather than having a go at individuals. Also, I personally do have respect for my top managers in my trust, who I know don't like TR, and who have done their fair share of communicating to MP etc about their concerns. But TR is what it is, and we have been forced to move forward with it.

Today, I listened to the radio which was playing old extracts from Tony Benn speeches, and I agreed whole-heartedly with him, that government needs to be by the people and for the people. Rather than a government by the rich, for the rich. 

Like many of my colleagues, I was expecting the House of Lords outcome, but when it came I was still gutted, and left feeling deflated. Transforming Rehabilitation is now legally established and the split will go ahead. 

After the sale of the CRC's, if there is a sale, I expect to lose my job, as I believe that part of TR is about the government employing big business to make me redundant, in order to give my job to a lower paid worker. I could be wrong, because sometimes I am, but time will tell.

I must admit I struggle with the demands of both home and work together. My wife's early retirement due to Multiple Sclerosis, has increased my responsibilities at home, and Transforming Rehabilitation has increased my responsibilities at work. My own struggle with dyslexia has also made me fear that my own capabilities might not cope with the demands set before me. Maybe, I should not fear redundancy, as I have paid for my home, and love being there, but I do fear being cast aside, and having little hope for the future in regards to future employment.

Being an ex-prisoner has never been an issue at work really, as the Probation Service employed me, in part, because of my history, at a time when the POP's teams were being created. One of my proudest achievements was to work beside police officers for near on ten years, and to be able to work together in a positive way. I still remember the way a bit of praise for progress made from a police officer, towards a client could help give a person real get up and go as they worked towards positive change. 

Things have moved on in Probation-land from when I could really get alongside clients by:  doing lots of home visits; playing badminton; going running, swimming and walking as part of an intense program. My wife then a PO, aways used to say that I had one of the best PSO jobs in the service, and she was right. 

Training was given to me in abundance, and I was one of the first PSO's to complete the NVQ. I remember that I was always asking for permission from my SPO to take training days, for which I was entitled. My SPO eventually said, "just take what you need, you don't have to ask for permission, I know that you wont take advantage", and I didn't, but I appreciated the trust which was extended to me. However, I then applied for the PO training, and passed the presentation with flying colours, but my achille's heal of putting thoughts into writing let me down, and I was told that the written exercise gave concerns about my ability to cope with the studies. I then completed two of the modules of the PO training with good passes, which to my mind proved that I could study at the level required, but alas, it was not enough to get me on the course, and I watched many of my PSO colleagues progress with their further development. 

So training days are over, and the task ahead, which is going to be a considerable one, I think,  will be just keeping  up with changes and the programs introduced by Transforming Rehabilitation. When the task is complete, I think that this will lead to my redundancy. Happen, I haven't got a very positive employment outlook, but this government has clouded over any positive outlook I have had (and I know I'm not alone in this).

I'm on leave from work now for the next two weeks, and have left my colleagues angry at the Celebration Of Achievement conference which has been set up by management. Many people in my office don't want to go, and there is talk of boycotting it. I personally don't have a problem with celebrating the many achievements of the Probation Service, and separating all that positive stuff from Transforming Rehabilitation.  However, I'm on leave so will not be attending.

Anyway, I've just read what I've written, and realised that I am a better writer, when I'm quoting other people, and I've got a bit of structure. But it is what it is, just like TR which is impacting so many public servants, in so many ways, and I've just ended up with a few rambling thoughts.

Friday, 7 March 2014

Quack Quack, Paddle Paddle, Strike Strike!

"The Ugly Duckling" is a literary fairy tale by Danish poet and author Hans Christian Anderson(1805 – 1875). The story tells of a little bird born in a barnyard who suffers abuse from the others around him until, much to his delight (and to the surprise of others), he matures into a beautiful swan, the most beautiful bird of all. The story is loved by many around the world as a tale about personal transformation for the better

My Probation colleagues could relate with this in regards to the plans of Transforming Rehabilitation because In original story the "ugly duckling" was really a cygnet but nobody realised, and although the Probation Trusts are a quality service which has served this nation well, the Moj and NOMS have failed to recognise this, and have abused staff and their service. Like the other ducklings in the story, the MoJ and NOMS have acted without good evidence and too little knowledge.

Now on that slant probation workers might be able relate with the story. 
However, Transforming Rehabilitation trainers in my Probation Trust have come up with an novel slant to the story. During a Transforming Rehabilitation briefing this week, an analogy was given of the journey staff will we make from Trusts to CRC/NPS over the period from April to June. The trainer painted the picture of a fast flowing river with two banks. The ugly ducklings leave one bank ( 1st April into shadow CRC/NPS) and paddle, paddle paddle to get to the other side. Some of the ducks will get to the other side easier than the others, we were told. But once they get to the other side (CRC/NPS June 1st) they will become like beautiful swans! To be fair the briefing was quite informative, but the analogy was difficult to relate with - and as a colleague remarked, "more like sinking ships than paddling ducklings!"
HMS Probation

Anyway, I reckon I might be a duckling with a paddling defect and stability problems. I left NAPO last month and rejoined this month. I wont go into the negatives, but the positive is that I needed to be part of the Strike action on the 31st March and 1st April, as I'm struggling to become a beautiful swan. I filled out the NAPO registration form: Have you been a member of NAPO previously - "Yes". When - "Last Month";o) Oh well! I'm still in the water of transforming rehabilitation and the privatisation of a quality Service which has served this nation well - Quack Quack, Paddle Paddle.

Or rather, Quack Quack, Paddle Paddle, Strike Strike!because Privatisation means:

1. Less Protection for the Public.

Privatisation mean Court cases being abandoned and criminals walking free due to cutbacks

Privatisation means Prisons being under staffed and prisoners coming out worse then they went in.

Privatisation means Probation Trusts are being sold off even though they have served this country well. Even though their record is first class in regards to public protection. Even though the experts have advised the Government against this.

The Daily Mirror previously reported, "Plans to sell off the Probation Service will put the public at “very high risk” of harm, a secret official report reveals.

The findings – previously leaked to the Sunday Mirror – say more criminals will reoffend if private firms and charities are put in charge of their rehabilitation.

The Probation Association report claims Justice Minister Chris Grayling’s privatisation, being rushed through before 2015, will result in “poorer outcomes for victims, communities and offenders” and an overall “higher risk to the public”.

2. Less Money for the Public.

Privatisation means more Fats Cats and they don't come cheap with their wage rises, bonuses and "greed is good" mantra!

Privatisation means Corporation overcharging the Public Purse by over £24 million, and now the Serious Fraud Office are in investigating this loss.

Privatisation means Corporations being able to evade tax on their earnings with more loss from the public purse.

Privatisation has meant gas, water, electricity and rail has prices have continued to rise and Government seems powerless to act.

3. Less Democracy for the Public.

Privatisation means Companies being Accountable to Shareholders rather than the general public.
We are all aware of the saying, “The tail wagging the dog” and I think that we are becoming more and more aware that the big Corporations are now wagging this Government.
Privatisation is moving away from the Government being run by the people, for the people.

Privatisation means that the Public has less voice, less input  and less democracy.  

Privatisation means selling out to global companies and we are becoming like tenants in our own country.

4. Less Workers for our Communities.

The Government has previously spoken about Probation’s privatisation as being a Evolution, which has been worked on for a long time.

But make no mistake it’s a Revolution to British workers, who have give good service to this country, who are being undermined, or dispensed with.

Jane Street and associate director in the NHS said that “Privatisation means the same staff do the same job for less money, through an expensive process. Wasteful and unnecessary”

All this will  simply allow for the Rich to get Richer and the Government to get more donations from grateful corporations who receive contracts! 

So, Quack Quack, Paddle Paddle, Strike Strike - The barristers/solicitors - criminal bar took to the streets and had their say last week about criminal justice reforms, and at the end of the month Probation Officers will have the same opportunity! Chris Grayling's plans for the criminal justice may be a transformation, but to workers and experts alike, it's certainly not a beautiful one, or even a positive one!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Putting down Roots

Yesterday I collected a palm tree I had purchased on Ebay very cheaply (not my daughter on the right). The previous owner told me that the tree had gone from pillar to post, as he had moved house numerous times and its current environment was no longer supporting it, due to an exposed coastal climate and because it needed to be planted in the ground, and not a barrel. He told me that he paid £360 for the plant 10 years ago.

People becoming uprooted.

The mission of planting the above got me thinking while I was digging a big hole about how I had once uprooted myself within the community, having spent most of my teens and earlier twenties in children's home, detention centre, borstals and prisons. At this time most people I knew was involved in criminal behaviour and for me it was a cycle of in and out of institutions, and living with no fixed address and moving from pillar to post. 

Then instead of going back to prison, Leeds Crown Court surprised me by sending me to Cardigan House Probation Hostel, which became a turning point for me. I didn't like living in Leeds at first, but coming to the end of myself, and with  support and assistance I began to take positive moves away from the situation I was in. There in that hostel a PO and PSO duo (Dave & Lynne) were both challenging and inspiring. Since then I have always wanted to work in a Probation hostel, but sadly all my attempts have failed.

Probation has a large army of life-changers and inspiring people such as Georgina - the following lady:

Added assistance came to me from many people over the years, such as a married couple, both ex-police officers, who gave me a place in their home for over a year while I was working towards going to college. 

Margaret Thatcher said back in the 1980's, "I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There's no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation."

I would say that some people need welfare, support and assistance, and are not in a position to do their duty and meet their obligations without other's working on their behalf. I would say that it is the governments job to work on behalf of everybody, and not just the privileged few!

Probation work needed.

All I can say is there was considerable work involved in getting my palm tree into a place where it can put down roots and hopefully thrive. 

We are all individuals, which make up society and I believe that government should not wash its hands of those who have been cast adrift, with no stake, and who have become refugees from mainstream society. 

As Jim Brown says Probation "clients are not widgets and cannot be processed as such. There isn't a day that goes by that doesn't see the government making the process of rehabilitation that much more difficult for probation clients. Many have serious health problems, but Atos assessments pronounce them fit for work. A lot lead chaotic lives due to mental health issues or drug and alcohol dependency and often miss appointments. They get sanctioned by Job Centre Plus and have no money. They become homeless quickly due to rent arrears brought on by the bedroom tax or any number of other new taxes being dreamt up by Chris Grayling."

We need democracy. We need a government of the people, for the people, and by the people.

It's no good saying look after yourselves and meet your obligations. Some People need support and assistance. Some people are uprooted and can't meet their obligations and duties without appropriate interventions. I'm proud that I have now worked in my Probation Trust for nearly 15 years, and I meet many people who I have been privileged to support and assist with putting down roots.

Since the 1980's the Probation Service has gradually been uprooted itself, with dictates and under resourcing by successive governments, and increased governmental controls have pushed less meaningful contact with those people who need support. 

David Scott, the former chair of the Probation Chiefs Association in 2009 said, "The emasculation of the Probation Service over the past ten years has been accompanied by political apathy and public indifference. At the beginning of this Millennium there was much talk of giving Probation a national voice and a strengthened role in the Criminal Justice System. At the end of the decade, Probation has been pushed from pillar to post. Far from having a national voice, the organisation, which at any one time supervises 200,000 plus offenders in the community, is not even represented in its own right in key national decision-making fora but subsumed within a vast Prison Service dominated bureaucracy. A national asset is being squandered".

The asset has been squandered and successive governments have gradually put the Probation Service  on a  Restraining Order in regards to the service needed. Now the current state of affairs is that the Probation Trusts are to be, in the words of a comment made on my blog, "pulled up by the roots and chucked aside" by this Government. 

Putting down Roots.

In a way, I was like my palm tree, uprooted and with stunted foilage, which required work to get it planted in a place where it can put down roots and flourish. My wife says it wasn't "love at first sight" but "plastic black bag at first sight" - as I walked into college for 4 year course with all my possessions, shortly after failing my English o'level.

I am thankful and proud for being able to have an input in the work of probation, but I'm even more thankful for the output of the Probation Service in general.

It is very sad to see the demolition of yet another public service. A public service which is needed, for supporting and assisting people who have been uprooted and who have no stake in society, as well as for it's public protection work. Some people do need meaningful work, in regards to public protection work and in supporting people to put down roots, so that they can come to a place where they are able to undertake their duties and obligations as citizens within society.

William Buck sums things up well when he  says “We're essentially seeing people forced into refugee status. The experts say the major thing in preventing recidivism is to allow offenders to rebuild their lives, put down roots. But because of feel-good, poorly-thought-out, knee-jerk reactions by politicians, the effect is to increase recidivism.”

Phew! Operation Palm tree is now behind me, and it is now planted in my garden, after struggling and digging to get the hole big enough for it's base. My family laugh, and some of my colleagues too, as I have names for my plants, and my new and tallest palm is called, "Georgina".  But alas, would you believe it, I too find myself on a Restraining Order ;o) My wife has said that there are to be no more Palm Tree's in our Garden. Wife's not fair;o)

Monday, 17 February 2014

CRC - Taken for a ride?


THERE’S a ride at Blackpool called the Big One which after a slow start hurls you around in every possible direction at a breakneck speed. Eventually you end up back where you started, but with your hair still standing on end.

It was Joe Kuipers who got me thinking about a roller coaster ride yesterday when he tweeted,  "A two year roller coaster ahead?" in regards to the twists, turns and dips of privatisation. 

Unfortunately, the analogy eventually breaks down because I think it unlikely that we will ever get back to where we started. I would be surprised, and very pleased, if Sadiq Khan ever gets his hands on any unsigned TR contracts in 2015.

Indeed, Probation workers  have been taken on a ride, and the privatising of the Probation Trusts has been a dark and scary hair raising experience with plenty of dips, turns and twists. 

So, brace yourself, it looks like the ride is set to continue, and in South Yorkshire we have the following self descriptions of nine bidders who are invited to tender their CRC bids for August 2014. 

The Goverment hope to award contracts to the successful bidders by December 2014, for a possible delivery date of April 2015. 

1) CRR Partnership is a joint venture between Carillion, Reed in Partnership and the Rehabilitation for Addicted Prisoners Trust (RAPt). Together we bring combined strengths and experience to the Home Affairs and Justice market, along with a shared vision and a commitment to improving our society, reducing crime and making communities safer. We do this by breaking the cycle of offending and giving offenders the opportunity, confidence and ability to make positive and long term changes to their lives.

All three partners have extensive experience of helping offenders turn their lives around, achieve personal satisfaction and contribute fully towards society.

As a partnership we have considerable experience of building sustainable supply chains, transferring of staff, mobilisation of large scale, multi-site operations, management of payment-by-results contracts, risk management and the development of innovative end-to-end integrated solutions.

Transforming Rehabilitation

Transforming Rehabilitation is the Government’s project for the most radical overhaul of the probation service in its 106 year history. The Ministry of Justice plans to retain the supervision of high-risk offenders within the public sector, and commission work with low and medium risk offenders to the private and voluntary sectors. The Government intends that new providers will be delivering rehabilitation services from April 2015.

We are excited at the opportunity that Transforming Rehabilitation gives us to bring our combined expertise together to reduce re-offending.

2) A4e we’re committed to tackling the underlying causes of crime and offending, and to giving offenders and ex-offenders a ‘second chance’. To achieve this, we deliver programmes that help those being released from prison or serving a sentence in the community. Programmes that deal with the root causes of their offending, so they can live a crime free life and make a positive contribution to society.

We believe that every prisoner or offender should be engaged in work-focused activities. To give them the chance to build the practical and vocational skills they need to survive in the labour market. And we’ve helped tens of thousands of people with a criminal record to develop skills and qualifications while either in prison, serving a community sentence, or on Unpaid Work/ Community Payback.

We also deliver through-the-gate and resettlement support to people leaving custody. This includes helping offenders get free, independent advice on debt issues through our national Money Advice Service. And we help them find work through contracts like the Work Programme – where individuals can sign-up for employment support before being released. We’ve also provided specialist support to former substance misusers and the homeless, through initiatives such as progress2work.

Today we employ over 1,000 people working in prisons across England, and we’re the largest private provider of the Offender Learning and Skills Service (OLASS).

Probation Futures

Over the last six months, A4e has been working with the Innovation Unit on a co-design project to explore how we might fundamentally rethink probation. We have worked with a wide range of stakeholder groups, including Probation professionals, academics, policy makers, service users and the police to gather insight and perspectives on the role and purpose of Probation.

3) Interserve is working to create safer communities, prevent future victims of crime and support hard-to-reach members of society.

We work closely with public authorities across Justice and Home Office departments towards a shared objective: to improve the way services are delivered and achieve the best possible value for public money. Together, we are redesigning services and investing in Britain's justice infrastructure.

Our involvement also means we embrace the voluntary sector, which provides vital front-line support to victims, ex-offenders and some of society's most vulnerable people. Based on the principles of our Charity Charter, we are establishing lasting partnerships with charities and not-for-profit organisations. This harnesses crucial skills and knowledge to create more effective and cost-efficient justice services.

Our team of senior justice professionals is renowned for its calibre and vast experience. Their fresh thinking distinguishes our approach to:
The design, construction and operation of secure environments, custodial facilities, courts and immigration centres
Strategic support services for the Home Office and Metropolitan Police Service
The redesign of crucial rehabilitative and pathway services.

In many cases, Interserve works on a payment by results basis. This demonstrates our commitment to delivering truly measurable outcomes and better value across the justice sector.

4) Sodexo Justice Services (formerly “Kalyx”) has been running justice services which change lives for the better since 1993. We do this in over 120 sites across the world, including the total operation of 4 prisons in the UK. We have a reputation for delivering excellent, ethical, innovative and rehabilitative services, which provide comprehensive solutions to address our clients’ requirements. Delivering wider services
As part of a wider global outsourcing specialist we are equipped to deliver a range of diverse services, including not only prison and probation work, but in addition broader support and core services across the justice and home affairs sphere – be it food services, hard facilities management, custody, case management or more.
Delivering better for less. In future we welcome building upon existing relationships and strengthening partnerships with government to deliver better for less in policing, courts and other operations within home affairs and justice.

5) MTC Amey is a joint venture between the Management & Training Corporation (MTC) and Amey. We believe that we bring something fresh to the social justice market in terms of our vision, corporate and social values and proven success in delivering the best solutions for our customers.

Our approach to Transforming Rehabilitation. Our vision is to provide every service user with the opportunity to improve their lives and effect a successful integration into their local communities. To do this, we will:

Set the highest standards and expectations in everything that we do

Bring genuine innovation and do things differently to achieve a positive breakthrough in performance and results

Deliver rehabilitation programmes that have been proven to deliver a step change in reoffending

Work collaboratively with strategic partners to protect local communities and strengthen the crucial pathways and networks needed to break the cycle of offending and re-offending
Build excellent relationships with key stakeholders and delivery partners in the Voluntary & Community Sector (VCS) in order to understand and deliver what will make a difference
Develop a modern, progressive and values-led culture where every team member is a catalyst for change

We have a clear vision about what is required to transform rehabilitation. We recognise that every Contract Package Area (CPA) is different; and that tackling reoffending is complex due to the diverse needs of the offender population.

MTC Amey will therefore ensure our approach is flexible to reflect this whilst ensuring risks are managed effectively. We will build on the best and most innovative practice that currently exists and work with organisations that are leading their field and making the biggest difference to people’s lives.

Delivery of services will be localised as MTC Amey believe the importance of local knowledge and expertise cannot be overstated. We believe that where possible local supply partnerships should take a lead role when it comes to local service delivery and MTC Amey will facilitate this process.

We are keen to engage with potential Tier 2 and Tier 3 providers to help establish our partnership network. We want to listen and then jointly develop our solutions so they meet the specific needs of each locality.

6) EOS provides, as part of the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) Welfare to Work programme, services designed to return the longer term unemployed back into sustainable employment. This encompasses the Youth Contract Wage Incentive Scheme aimed at creating work opportunities for 18-24 year olds and Support for Families to overcome any issues families and lone parents may have that could be a barrier to finding work.

Welfare to Work

The Work Programme is part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), and delivered by EOS on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions is part of the government’s wider Welfare to Work initiative that seeks to reduce benefit dependency by addressing broader social issues and break the cycles of long-term joblessness. EOS through its employment centres in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country provides practical training for many job functions and tailored support to help unemployed people back into sustainable employment.

The Youth Contract helps 18-24 year olds into sustainable work whilst offering prospective employers the chance to create new vacancies with financial support from the Wage Incentive Scheme designed to reduce employee set-up costs when expanding their businesses.

Support for Families is a programme part funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and designed to help families and lone parents overcome the problems of long-term unemployment or the return to work after a prolonged absence, and to identify and address domestic and social issues that might otherwise be a barrier to finding work. EOS delivers this programme in conjunction with specialist training providers and local councils in its contract areas.

7) Prospects plays a vital role in helping to reduce reoffending as a one of the largest providers of multi-disciplinary careers information services in the community and in custody.

We are one of the largest providers of custodial careers information and advice in the UK, delivering the National Careers Service In Custody to offenders in prisons across Greater London (including the new Thameside Prison) and in Yorkshire and the Humber. Our work covers all types of custodial establishments and security categories, including a privately-run prison in Doncaster and young offenders institutions in both regions. 

Last year, Prospects helped more than 9,000 individuals access 15,000 career advice sessions and held over 1,400 “induction” sessions for offenders in London 

Prospects in custody services increase opportunities for offenders, helping them to access support and tackle their barriers to employment, working closely with many other agencies, the voluntary sector and Jobcentre Plus. 

Our team of expert advisers support offenders though to resettlement. We help offenders to assess their skills, identify learning and employment needs and set medium and long-term career goals to plan for the future and improve their job prospects. 

Offenders are supported by Prospects National Careers Service advisers on release and we work extensively across the country to prevent young people entering the Criminal Justice System through our targeted and youth support services. 

In Gloucestershire we deliver youth support services, including the Youth Offending Service (YOS) on behalf of Gloucestershire County Council, working with the police, local community safety partnerships and other agencies to prevent young people from getting involved with crime and anti-social behaviour. 

‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ – the government intends to reform and restructure probation services and change arrangements for dealing with offenders. Prospects is intending to bid for contracts to provide probation services under this new regime and is interested in hearing from potential future partners.

8) GEO is an experienced provider of a range of community-based services to manage offenders and immigration cases, including:

Electronic monitoring

GEO's wholly-owned subsidiary, BI Incorporation, has been providing Electronic Monitoring of offenders for 35 years in the United States. Using cutting-edge technology we are able to give courts, probation and immigration enforcement confidence that their offenders are complying with the requirements of any bail or release conditions and are appropriately supervised in the community.

People management
Our business is all about managing people, many of whom come from difficult backgrounds, have committed offences or face uncertain futures. Our unique style of working with them helps them to face their problems, plan to make a positive contribution to society, and to have hope. By building trust, we are able to increase compliance.

9) Rehabilitation CompanyCatch 22 Ltd; Turning Point; Williams Lea (division of DHL)

The Big One Terror Crash on 11th August 2009

Warning! Could the CJS Roller Coaster take the whole nation for a very scary ride?

A warning sign comes from the USA, who are a few twists, turns and dips ahead of us, in regards to the future of outsourcing the Criminal Justice System:

  • "thousands of young men and women unjustly punished and penalized in the name of corporate profit" ...read more - http://t.co/24oyjraZMQ

After Plenty of Twists, turns and dips could profit become more important than people:

  • "Every year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers".....read more - http://t.co/aUNOqfz8X7

Indeed, Brace yourself there are real dangers with the Privatisation of the Probation System:

Monday, 10 February 2014

CRC - The Challenge Ahead

Click Image for source of information.
Yesterday, I completed a challenge walk with 14 other participants. Fifteen and a half miles from Hathasage over to Bakewell.  The reason why it was such a challenge was because of the conditions, and the furthest distance I have covered in recent months was a journey of four miles. The rhythm of walking, running and swimming seems to have escaped me ever since my wife was retired on ill-health from my Probation Trust, which I suppose left us both adjusting to another challenge. Anyway, the paths were quagmires or streams, the streams were rivers, and the rivers were raging torrents. My wife's newly installed wet room proved to be a great end to the challenge, while warming up under a hot shower, I discovered a handy little shelf for my bottle of lager. 
The last leg at Great Shackleton Wood and the landmark of an old watermill  of yesterday's world.
I am now adjusting myself to the challenge of working in a Community Rehabilitation Company and with the new Offender Rehabilitation Bill which on the positive side should give plenty of extra work, but on the negative side will leave behind the landmark of a quality public service. 

My previous highly rated Senior Probation Officer is now the chief of the new Community Rehabilitation Company in my area, and has told me that she intends to make a go of things. I was able to suggest that she provide as much information for staff regarding the Community Rehabilitation Company, as soon as possible. 

It's an emotional experience to be on the last leg, and at the end of an era. As I said previously I am very thankful for being able to have had an input within a national landmark such as the Probation Service, but for personal reasons I am even more thankful for the output of the Probation Service in general. 

I can't agree with the idea of the privatisation of the Probation Trusts for reasons expressed in previous blogs, but I now have to prepare myself for the course this government has taken, and for my place in an eventual privatised company.

One consolation I have is that whatever happens, I reckon I will be with good colleagues, my new Chief Officer included.

Assistant Chief Officer, Marilyn Harrison seems to have the same view as me when she says, "I have elected the CRC whilst I don't believe in splitting Offender management. I do believe in the staff that will come with me".

The following phrase has been important to me, from around the time I was a criminal who had a personal  "Damascus Road" experience, over thirty years ago now in Cardigan House Probation Hostel - it's the phrase, "All's well that ends well".  
I know the phrase is the title of a Shakespearean play, but for me it speaks of a hoped for end time, while in the midst of difficult times.

Recently, I did a training course entitled, "Preparing for Change" which was provided by my Probation Trust which helped to remind me of what's important in my life, and that there is more to me than my employment.

Now one thing is for sure, I don't like this government, or agree with it's policies.

  • If the government demolishes a quality part of my history, I'm still going to aim for "All's Well That End's Well". 
  • If I'm going to be made redundant as soon as my Community Rehabilitation Company is purchased by the cheapest bidder,  I'm still aiming for "All's Well That Ends Well". 
  • If the conditions of my employment are whittled away, I'm still aiming for "All's Well That Ends Well".  
  • If profit takes precedent over people, I'm still aiming for "All's Well That End's Well". 
In my book, "All's Well That Ends Well" just means sticking to the road I've chosen as a person. I've always given my best in Probation and will do the same in my Community Rehabilitation CompanyTransforming Rehabilitation may not end well, but that is outside my sphere of influence.

As somebody rightly said, Transforming Rehabilitation is an "Unwelcome Choice", and I have now chosen to accept the challenge ahead, of working in my Community Rehabilitation Company, and I will do my best from the outset, even in choppy waters!
When the waters get choppy, keep swimming!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Lord Beecham: Carrying on regardless: ePolitix.com

5th February 2014

Shadow Justice Minister Lord Beecham has major concerns about Government proposals affecting prisons and the probation service. These will be raised in a Lords debate this week.

In the past few years, Bills have often come to the Lords poorly drafted and frequently with but cursory examination, to the extent that they reach us in part sight unseen by MPs. The Coalition has pressed on with legislation paying scant attention to the views of, for example the Joint Committee on Human Rights or Draft Bill or Select Committees in the Commons, designed to provide a measure of pre-legislative scrutiny.

We have had examples of ‘pre-legislative implementation’ – a phrase I coined in relation to what happened under the Public Bodies Bill, where the abolition of Regional Development Agencies was proposed. Ministers gave repeated assurances that there would be consultation and that each case would be considered on its merits. Even so, they pressed ahead as if the Bill had been enacted, and effectively stripped the RDAs of their staff budget and assets without any consultation long before Royal Assent.

Similarly, the Constitution Committee criticised the Coalition over the proposed abolition of the Youth Justice Board and the Office of the Chief Coroner; and the Health and Social Care Bill aroused similar concerns. But the most worrying and immediate example of pre-emption (the topic of a debate in the Lords on Thursday afternoon) is currently in process. It concerns the future of something with a critical impact on public safety and the lives of those for whom it is responsible, namely the award winning Probation Service.

The government has set its stall on privatising 70% of this service, without properly piloting how the new system would work. Indeed, it cancelled the only pilot involving a probation trust, dealing with offenders with non-custodial sentences, and is reliant on the flimsy evidence of early reports from two very different schemes in Doncaster and Peterborough prisons.

There is huge concern about the risk to the public of outfits like G4S, Serco and other organisations who purport to be able to deliver almost any public service without prior experience. This is particularly acute as offenders move between risk categories. A binary system is clearly unsatisfactory.

Last year, Crossbencher Lord Ramsbotham, a former Chief Inspector of Prisons, and I moved amendments to the Offender Rehabilitation Bill, without which the matter would never even have been discussed. Ministers clearly wished to avoid including their proposals in their legislation, knowing the opposition it would face, and pressed on with the reorganisation and fragmentation of the service. Even after the House of Lords had heavily backed our amendment and defeated the government, they carried on regardless.

They continue to do so now, even though their timetable has slipped beyond the recklessly adopted target date of, appropriately enough, April 1st; and under the cover of a misrepresentation of which the Lord Chancellor should be ashamed. Chris Grayling makes much of the reoffending rate of prisoners released after serving short sentences, as if this was something for which the Probation Service is responsible, when he must know it is not.

All in all, this is the latest example of a government treating Parliament with contempt. If the Coalition gets its way on this issue it will be signing a blank cheque in its own favour, enabling it to act first, and legislate, afterwards.

Jeremy Beecham is Shadow Justice Minister in the House of Lords

Lord Beecham: Carrying on regardless: ePolitix.com

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Dire Straits

Jim Brown wrote yesterday in regard to the need for more communication from NAPO in the On Probation Blog:


Battling for Survival is right, and last night I was listening to "Dire Straits" which in my opinion is exactly where Probation is at.

Brothers In Arms
"These mist covered mountains 
Are a home now for me 
But my home is the lowlands 
And always will be"

Today I was struck by the following two comments from On Probation Blog from, "Brother's [and sisters] In Arms", as it were, which I salute, but we all know that the tireless work of union representatives, and excellent messages that come from the Jim Brown's, Joe Kuipers, Pat Watermans, Andrew Hattons, etc etc etc, are not enough in themselves, we need words and plans from the Commander-In--Chief to get members mobilised on their vote for action.

NAPO continues to work hard in an environment that changes by the week at the direction of Grayling. Union IS a democracy Government in power is not ( this one is despotic) . By the time any new ( ridiculous) proposal has been thumped down from on high then discussed with membership, it is too late because it was then withdrawn or changed. Blame Grayling and his deliberate manipulation of a loyal workforce and their good nature. The one reasonable criticism is that a NAPO official with no experience in media was appointed to such a vital role at this critical time. This was a significant error. But, where we are is that no union is this country with the current legislation could have defeated this. Not every employee is unionised, not every union member realised the threat this was from the outset and responded, not every union member could be bothered to do something and yes a lot of people left it all the the local branch officials and Chivalry Road. You could argue that this was because we are all so busy when we are at work with the mess that is Delius and trying to fit some time with our clients around this crap IT system, that saturation point was reached. Then there is the poor support from Unison, decisive strike action would have been so powerful but well, it is too late now. Save your anger for Grayling and this government, the lib dems could have saved public probation but they chose not do. Funny how any sense of social justice flees in the face of power at any cost, isn't it? So, who is to blame? GRAYLING, weak and collusive probation senior leadership in every Trust and every single one of us who did not do all they could to oppose this. IT IS NOT TOO LATE ! It is all to play for because now THEY NEED US and WE WILL NOT DELIVER. The power is now in our hands and THIS WILL NOT WORK. Turn on the union? No JOIN the UNION.

Grayling has a bigger project - it is about creating a smaller state and there is a coterie in or close to the heart of Government driving this through. Grayling is one of the architects, as is Gove and I think they are also building on the work of some in the last Labour Government like Lord Reid, now at G4S.

My MP, Priti Patel is working from the backbenches. They seem to be driving through their reform agenda as ruthlessly as folk like Aneurin Bevan drove the Labour nationalizing reforms did in the 1945 Government but not as openly. They realise that this maybe their only chance before the 2015 general election and they have found some dupes like Lord McNally to help them. I am not sure about Cameron and Clegg but we seem stuck with it now.

However, it is not too late to save localized unified probation service(s) but an absolute refusal to collude is vital. I personally would not work in any way for either a CRC or NPS & would do an alternative lowly paid job if that was the only alternative. However, I am retired and so not so challenged as others are. I remember with shame that I colluded with the dreaded 1991 CJA rather than leave probation again - I had tried (for a few months) a locum Social Services job and it did not give me the autonomy that being a probation officer then did and the support staff were very limited and weak, unlike in probation.

Napo's HQ is stretched and weakened as a consequence of the energy & money needed to clear up the disasters that came because there was not enough membership control of what was going on centrally. It seems that many fail to understand that Napo is US not THEM - I guess they grew up in the age of consumerism, rather than having a sense of shared responsibility for ALL that happens in the public sphere of life in the UK! We need to remember that we have never had a fully functioning democracy that takes its authority from the collective voice of all people - we are subjects - maybe not exactly of the sovereign but of the government(s) our UK system throws up. I envy those in Northern Ireland, Scotland and even Wales who have more autonomy, but equally more individual responsibility for their governance, both locally and nationally, than us in England.

Localised unified probation will only be saved by focused opposition; otherwise the best we can hope for is a chance to reinstate it after TR crashes - as it will. Those who think they know best seem to be ignorant of the way criminal justice and particularly the courts and prisons actually work. Though, it maybe that we risk the courts losing their independence; maybe the celebrations around the anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta in 2015 will bolster the importance of judicial independence?

The Man's Too Strong

"And I can still hear his laughter 
And I can still hear his song 
The man's too big 
The man's too strong"

While listening to this song I thought about a soldier who was just trying to get along, and now he's been overwhelmed by the enemy and as he sits he is in effect writing his final memoirs. 

And again, without clear guidance from NAPO and a Plan of action the "Man Is Too Strong"