Campaign growing in strength by the week
There has been lots of activity in branches and nationally since May 9th - the grim day when the intention to effectively dismantle and privatise the Probation service was finally announced. Members are urged to regularly check out Napo's regular campaign bulletins the General Secretary Blog and the website news postings. Everyone is working together locally, regionally and nationally to get the message across to politicians, the media, the public, and supporters in other agencies that they need to act now to save probation.
It's an Ideological struggle!
The TR plans are driven by ideology and not evidence, so perhaps we should not have been surprised that the overwhelming weight of opinion which opposes these changes, has been ignored. The Coalition Government are intent on pressing ahead at a breakneck speed, trying to impose irreversible changes upon Trusts, even before the Bill is through Parliament. This is an assault on Probation and our member's jobs but it will be public safety that will be the victim. This message is being taken directly to Labour Front bench politicians over the next two days and will be supplemented by The Justice in Meltdown summit at Westminster on Wednesday where Napo will be out in force alongside the other unions.
Today's press release to Branches gives notice that Napo's view is that the justice unions now need to formulate a co-ordinated plan for industrial action to protect probation and protect the public.
A full campaign blog update will appear later in the week. This will follow what has been an exceptionally busy period where Napo has featured prominently in the media following the governments response to the Transforming Rehabilitation consultation process.
Copies of recent Branch Circulars are available on the main website page and campaigning material is available in the campaign section or directly from Chivalry Road.
Media enquiries can be directed to Acting General Secretary Ian Lawrence on 07788 118005
Industrial action planning now under way
More news will be made available to activists and members in due course, but Napo has already started discussions with other unions within the Criminal Justice Sector to explore the options for co-ordinated industrial action in response to the Governments attacks on the probation, prison and court services and for Napo in particular, the issue of privatisation threats under the 'Transforming Rehabilitation' agenda. As always, Napo members will be fully consulted in advance of any future action.
Politicians start to wake up over probation sell off
Last week saw another major development in Napo's Campaign against the 'Transforming Rehabilitation' plans where a major Parliamentary debate about the Probation service took place on 13th March in the House of Commons.
If proof were needed that contacting your MP can make a difference to their understanding and in many cases, support for Napo's position, then this is borne out by the numerous high quality contributions appearing in 'Hansard' (the official record of Parliamentary debates). Arrangements will be made to reproduce the record of the debate to Napo branches but meanwhile it was highly encouraging to see a number of key issues raised by the parliamentarians which not only demonstrated their own personal commitment to the probation service and our members working within it, but their grasp of the issues that have appeared in Napo's extensive campaigning material (see campaign section on the website).
Napo wishes to thank the following MP's for directly using our material and campaigning points in their speeches where they demonstrated their vigorous opposition to the proposals from the Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling:
George Mudie (Labour, Leeds East)
Meg Hillier (Labour, Hackney South and Shoreditch)
David Blunkett (Labour, Sheffield and Brightside)
Kate Green (Labour, Stretford and Urmiston)
Nic Dakin (Labour, Scunthorpe)
Julie Elliot (Labour, Sunderland and Central)
Andy Sawford (Labour/Co-op, Corby)
Paul Bloomfield (Labour, Sheffield Central)
Wayne David (Labour, Caerphilly)
The Government position was defended by Priti Patel (Conservative, Witham) and the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Justice Jeremy Wright.
Probation Under Threat Special Bulletin 8 - Backbenchers rally to back probation
More details of what was said and by who, appears in the recently issued special campaign bulletin with a full report on the House of Commons debate secured by Leeds East MP, George Mudie. This makes edifying reading and the quality of contributions from a large number of backbench MPs shows that our material is getting out to them and they are taking notice. So please:
. circulate the bulletin as widely as possible
. thank all the members in your branch who have already been in touch with their MP, and
. urge those who have yet to contact their MP to do so as soon as possible. Briefing material can be downloaded from the Napo website http://www.napo.org.uk/about/probationunderthreat.cfm or contact Kath Falcon email@example.com
Napo Members can also download the special bulletin from the website or read the full Hansard transcript @ http://www.publications.parlia...001.htm#13031349000001 or from the Napo website.
Lords pitching in too
Baroness Howe tabled an oral question in the Lords on Thursday 21st March. Her question was on recall procedure if supervision of Medium and Low Risk offenders is outsourced. It is hoped to send the transcript out today or early next week.
By the way if you want to watch the video of the Westminster Hall Debate you can find it on the Parliament TV archive
Campaign material for branches to use including stickers, placards/posters and a short snappy leaflet to use with the public are currently being produced and will be available for branches to collect at the National Meeting for Napo Branch Chairs on the 26th March.
Labour front bench put under pressure
Acting General Secretary Ian Lawrence and AGS Harry Fletcher met with Labour's Shadow Justice team Sadiq Khan and Jenny Chapman recently to urge the main opposition party to develop and clarify their alternative plans for the probation service and spell out their stated opposition to the Grayling Proposals more clearly.
As is often the case with opposition politicians, it proved difficult to secure all that Napo would have wanted from Sadiq and Jenny, but we had a constructive exchange about our campaign objectives and Napo's alternative vision for bringing about a Rehabilitation Revolution.
For his part, Sadiq was able to stand by his recent statement on behalf of the Labour Party, opposing the introduction of payment by results when there is no empirical evidence to support its introduction into the probation service. It also became clear that Labour feels able to continue its opposition to the Grayling proposals but will have difficulty when (or if) contracts are signed for the provision of services with the Private Sector.
Jenny and Sadiq were reminded that Labour did not exactly fall over itself to turn the privatisation tide when they were in office, and that Napo members would expect to see something a little more robust by way of opposition over the coming months.
It was agreed to meet again once the Governments expected response to the consultative process is published sometime in May.
Meanwhile, Napo members can follow up Sadiq's latest Twitter posting about his meeting with Napo see @sadiqkhan.
Marginal MP's ...we are coming to visit you!
Next weeks meeting of Napo Branch Secretaries and Chairs will receive a full update on our various campaigning activities but it is clear that there is a need to step up our campaigning work on a Regional, as well as National basis.
Such activities will require co-ordination with other unions in the criminal justice system as we seek to spread the message about the 'CJS being in meltdown'. This will also form part of the build up to a planned parliamentary lobby and rally in early summer.
Meanwhile, early plans are being worked up to assist Napo Branches to create teams of members and activists to visit MP's in 'marginal Parliamentary seats' at their constituency surgeries, to let them know the full extent of the Grayling proposals, and how they will impact on community safety. Further thought is also being given to targeting Key Lib Dem members who hold front bench positions.
Justice Unions Parliamentary Group (JUPG)
Our work here is being brilliantly assisted by Simeon Andrews and Lori Malone from JUPG as well as John McDonnell (Labour) and Elfyn Llwyd (Plaid Cymru) who between them have helped table over 150 Parliamentary Questions which are keeping the Ministers Office and Noms Officials very busy right now!
It is very important that Napo Branches let us know of any contact and planned meetings with politicians across the spectrum. The JUPG can help to co-ordinate and follow up these opportunities and help Napo to spread the central campaign messages around Parliament.
Edited: 22/03/2013 at 04:07 PM by IanLawrence
Minister to face Justice Committee
Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling, is set to appear before the Parliamentary Select Justice Committee next Wednesday where he faces a grilling over his plans to sell off the Probation Service.
Harry Fletcher has been briefing MP's in advance of the hearing so that the right questions are raised with the Minister, who now has the task of considering the plethora of responses to the Transforming Rehabilitation plans that he announced on the 9th January. Meanwhile Napo has just issued it's response to the consultation see BR 26/2013.
A listening agenda?
Napo led the way during the probation unions latest meeting with Prisons and Rehabilitation Minister Jeremy Wright last week.
Lisa Robinson reports:
''I hope that the proposed Probation Sell Off becomes, for Ministers Chris Grayling and Jeremy Wright, what the English Baccalaureate was for Michael Gove: a U-turn. I hope too, that Jeremy Wright's apparent indecisiveness becomes a permanent decision to leave the job of Probation to those who do it best - Us.
Members won't be surprised at the continuing lack of detail and conviction in the coalition's Transforming Rehabilitation proposals. The Minister appears to be making plans despite the ongoing consultation exercise which involve sixteen 'lots', but also said they would not be set in stone. He also claimed that he could see the attraction of local commissioning and indicated that he would be open to approaches from Trusts to persuade him. Unfortunately Jeremy didn't seem keen to dwell on how the massive changes in IT would be achieved, nor on the fact that somehow the Probation Service has ended up getting blamed for the re-offending rates for groups that we have no statutory responsibility for.
The discussion in which Ian Lawrence made some excellent (and no holds barred) contributions on behalf of Napo, seemed to boil down to the issue of what to do with the group of clients who get sentenced to under twelve months in custody. We got the impression that if the trusts went to the Minister saying that they would take all 46,000 off his hands for no extra cost to the public purse, he might be tempted to walk away.
Because it seems to me that adding 46,000 to our annual caseload, but not increasing the pot of money that we already have, and hiding it behind a claim of 'transforming rehabilitation', is what this is all about.
800 hits for Napo
That was the figure for media pick up on last weeks brilliant expose of the risks posed by the Transforming Rehabilitation plans which featured in Napo's extensive press briefing. Napo branches did a great job in providing anonymised case studies which illustrated the grave dangers facing the public unless offenders are managed by qualified staff.
Minister Jeremy Wright described the report as 'scaremongering'. We call it reality.
Napo in touch with Justice Unions
Napo will be attending the next meeting of the Trade Union Co-Ordinating Group where we will be building our links with those unions who represent members in the justice sector. We will also be continuing our work via the TUC's Public Sector Liaison Group to seek the support of all affiliated unions for our campaign to save the probation service.
Social media has taken off in a big way way when it comes to campaigning and we have seen hundreds of examples of useful information from Napo members and our growing band of supporters being exchanged through Cyberspace over the last few weeks.
Try these links to get on board :
More campaign news to follow soon!
Edited: 23/02/2013 at 10:11 AM by IanLawrence
Campaign running at high speed
Apologies for the delay in the Napo Campaign Blog update. It is hoped to get this back on a regular footing so that Napo members can get a summary of the myriad of activities in which Napo centrally and our branch activists are involved. A full update of our campaign has just been issued to Branches by Harry Fletcher in BR 18/203 (link will appear on website in due course).
Over the last two weeks alone Napo has:
-Continued its work on our comprehensive response to the Government on their Transforming Rehabilitation plans
-Stepped up our highly successful press and media campaign which is continuing to attract interest from a number of sources including Private Eye, Sunday Mirror, Sun and Times as well as ITV.
-In Parliament we have now secured 119 signatures from MP's supportive of Napo's EDM (Early Day Motion) which calls on the Government not to privatise the Probation Service. This was helped by the 'Drop in Day' in January which saw a high number of MP's attend following the letters sent to them by Napo members. This will put heavy pressure on the Coalition to agree to a specific Probation debate in the House of Commons
-Provided a briefing to the Prime Ministers Private Secretary about the threats posed by Chris Graylings Transforming Rehabilitation agenda
-Successfully secured Opposition agreement to table amendments to the Crime and Courts Bill
-Tabled 50 Parliamentary questions and 18 Oral Questions specifically on Payment by Results (Pbr) with scores more in the pipeline
-Met with a group of Peers in the House of Lords to explore how they can add weight to the Napo campaign and also secure an early debate
-Put arrangements in train via the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group to meet with Opposition front benchers
-Identified key areas of the Transforming Rehabilitation plans which may be legally challengeable
-Explored links with the other justice unions such as PCS and the POA with a view to joined up local campaigning and ideas around an industrial strategy
-Held two meetings with the Probation Chiefs Association and Probation association to share ideas and identify common ground
-Agreed an initial joint campaign leaflet with the GMB and UNISON which has been distributed by our Officers and activists to visitors at the ongoing series of MoJ Consultative events scheduled for Birmingham, Cardiff, London and York, where Napo members' officers and officials have spoken out against the Grayling proposals.
-Provided a speaker in the form of Ian Lawrence to Capita's high profile Reforming Probation Conference. Ian joined with Sebert Cox PA Chair and Liz Calderbank HM Inspectorate for Probation in a wide ranging panel discussion about the future of Probation (further appearances will also be made by Ian as a keynote speaker at similar events over the next two months).
-Identified and targeted scores of MP's via 'Twitter' especially Lib Dems and those in marginal constituencies to take an interest in our campaign.
-Secured a place for Ian Lawrence on the guardian Public Leaders On-line debate on the future shape of Probation (between 12 and 2:00 Friday 8th February)
-Encouraged members and their families and friends to sign the e-petition accessible via the Napo campaign website
-Seen the National Executive Committee (NEC) endorse the campaign strategy and authorise planning for Industrial Action ideally in concert with other unions in the Criminal Justice system.
Hats off to Surrey and Sussex!
Local Napo activists across England and Wales have already excelled themselves in terms of involvement in the campaign. This has been achieved by way of excellent media coverage, written contributions, arranging to speak with Ministers during their visits to Trusts, leafleting the public and lobbying the MoJ events.
This week saw the transmission of BBC One's 'Out of Jail and On the Street' documentary, which featured a number of Napo members going about the seemingly thankless task of public protection /offender management in a way which did great credit to the Probation service as a whole. Anyone who doubts the value of what Probation is about (Ministers please take note) could do a lot worse than spend an hour watching the truth.
Taking the campaign forward
As you would expect, all of this has kept the Napo Officers and Officials and Staff at Chivalry Road fully stretched; but we realise there is still much to do. We also welcome the massive interest in the campaign that has appeared in the social media from organisations and individuals via mediums such as Facebook, Twitter and independent campaign websites and we are continually exploring how to respond and exploit the opportunities that these mediums can sometimes offer.
This is why the Napo Officers have set up a co-ordinating campaign sub group which will link in to the NEC Campaign Committee and Napo's Communications Group. It is vital that all elements of the campaign are monitored and reviewed so that we can maximise our resources and pick up on major political and media opportunities even more effectively than we have done up to now.
More news will appear on the Campaign Blog as soon as it is available. But remember - this struggle has a long way to go and we cannot always do things as quickly as we would all want. But the collective determination already being shown by Napo members' is a massive plus for our campaign now, and into the future.
Edited: 08/02/2013 at 11:09 AM by IanLawrence
Napo campaign intensifies - sign up to the e-petition!
Napo's campaign to highlight the threat posed by the Governments Transforming Rehabilitation Agenda is increasing in speed and intensity as we look forward to the MP 'drop in day' at the House of Commons tomorrow.
Sign up to oppose probation privatisation
One of the many ways in which Napo members, friends and family can help the campaign is to use the Government E -petition 'Do not privatise the Probation Service'. Using your private e-mail address, simply click on to:
and follow the simple instructions. Help us get to that magic 100,000 subscribers (now standing at 12,000 in the first week)
It is clear that at least one very senior Government Minister would prefer not to meet the probation unions as he has seemingly declined the opportunity to meet with a variety of staff and union reps as he seeks to justify the Transforming Rehabilitation Agenda with a 'stage managed' visit to an office somewhere in the West Midlands later this week (we understand its Coventry btw).
Other Ministers and Officials will be visiting a number of Probation Trusts across England and Wales over the next few weeks (see earlier posts for details) and Napo branches should have been contacted by your Link Officers to see what can be done to ensure that you get a chance to share your views with the visitors.
MoJ Consultation events - New date announced in London: 8th February 2013
Meanwhile Napo members are also gearing up for the upcoming Transforming Rehabilitation consultative events as posted in the blog below.
Following pressure from Napo the Moj have now agreed to run a second of these events in London owing to the massive demand for places. If you have not booked yet then please try and do so using the instructions below.
More Campaign materials including the superb Napo briefing packs that will be used at the 'drop in session' will be available soon.
Ministers and senior Civil Servants to visit Probation Trusts - How about a welcome party?
We have just learned that as part of their fact finding mission following last weeks Transforming Rehabilitation Agenda, the Secretary of State Chris Grayling, Prisons and Rehabilitation Minister Jeremy Wright and the Director General of the MoJ Antonia Romeo, are due to visit a number of probation trusts.
Lets give them a warm Napo welcome!
Link Officers and Officials are liaising with the relevant Napo branches to explore the scope for local media and public demo opportunities to coincide with these visits.
Visits table (nb confirm accuracy with Trusts)
21/1 Wales Antonia Romeo
24/1 West Mercia JW
28/1 Northumbria SoS
31/1 Devon & Cornwall SoS
1/2 Kent JW
1/2 London JW
19/2 West Yorkshire JW
This is another chance to show the politicians what our members think about their plans which threaten the very fabric of the probation service and thousands of your jobs.
Remember Napo members and activists can access a range of material via the campaign section of the Napo website
Transforming Rehabilitation MOJ Consultative Events - Time to register!
Napo members and activists are urgently encouraged to try and register for the consultative events that have been set up by the MOJ to obtain 'stakeholder feedback' on the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda.
How to apply
Find the link:
Then go to Transforming Rehabilitation link and it should open the information page as shown below:
Timings and venues
Thursday 31 January, 12:00 - 16:00
Botanical Gardens, Westbourne Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 3TR
Tuesday 5 February, 12:00 - 16:00
Millennium Stadium, Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1NS
Monday 11 February, 12:00 - 16:00
Hilton Hotel, 1 Tower Street, York, YO1 9WD
Thursday 14 February, 12:00 - 16:00
Mary Ward House, 5-7 Tavistock Place, London, WC1H 9SN
Once there you will see registration options for these via 'Eventbrite' and you will be invited to apply for a ticket. You can also open an account and if possible download the mobile app to your phone.
We suggest that to try and maximise our opportunities to get as many Napo members as possible to each event then Branch activists should register as a staff member of their particular Probation Trust using their generic grade, as we understand that there may be some form of automatic vetting process which would limit the number of 'Napo specific' applications to each event.
Please let your link Officers and Officials know if you manage to get registered.
Positive Feedback for Campaign
Following last weeks Ministerial announcements on the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda, many Napo members have been in touch with Chivalry Road to say how pleased they were to see such a robust response from their union by way of our written material and extensive media coverage.
We have also seen some excellent responses from a number of Napo branch activists who were also clearly busy giving interviews to their local press and radio.
Get writing please!
Napo has organised a 'drop in session' on January 23rd at the House of Commons where will be inviting MP's to hear about the very real threat to the Probation Service. Remember that many constituencies are 'marginal' which in simple terms means that all sitting MP's within them are vulnerable at the next general election where the privatisation of more public services is likely to be a major issue.
By writing to your MP and copying them into the detailed material contained in the Campaign Section of the website, you can help maintain pressure on your elected representatives to take a stand against the potential decimation of the service and the ludicrously unrealistic timetable for the governments plans.
More news will follow as soon as it is available. Meanwhile please ensure that you encourage your colleagues to regularly visit the website to keep track of the campaign.
TRANSFORMING REHABILITATION - INNOVATION OR A SHAMBLES JUST WAITING TO HAPPEN?
On Wednesday, the Justice Secretary announced further wide ranging plans to reform the Probation Service. Napo remains firmly opposed to these overwhelmingly detrimental proposals. These could see up to 70% of Probation Service core work and thousands of your jobs, in the hands of private sector and other suppliers by spring 2015.
You bid if you want to
The Government has tried to sweeten this bitter pill by dangling the proposition that huge numbers of probation staff will suddenly develop latent entrepreneurial skills and bid for parcels of work by way of 'mutualisation'. The suggestion is that 'would be mutual's' will be led into a 'speed dating' process with potential financiers which throws up some quite bizarre analogies. Many members have already contacted us to say that this is a con-trick waiting to happen, in that there is next to no likelihood of sufficient 'social capital' being made available to mutual providers. This would then leave them with no option but to work hand in glove with the likes of Serco, Sodexho, Group 4 and all the other usual suspects. Moreover the "Transforming Rehabilitation" consultative paper raises significant concerns about the detrimental, if not fatal, effect that these plans will have on managing risk and protecting the public.
The Secretary of State says that the public sector is to retain responsibility for public protection extending across all cases but without holding the management of these, yet nothing that has been written or said by the politicians explains exactly how this will work. The document promotes effective partnership working between providers and the public sector, yet it is obvious to anyone that information exchange will be fraught with difficulties and that service user's will all too easily fall through the system during the ensuing chaos that will emerge between separate and distinct organisations. Napo believes that consistent management and responsibility for public protection can only be achieved if all case management remains with the public sector.
Ideology first - professionalism last
Like many other parts of the public sector, probation has suffered from years if not decades of constant change imposed by governments of different hues based on the latest "current thinking". A situation also compounded by the incessant meddling and incompetence of NOMS (the future of which is noticeably absent from the consultation document). NAPO remains firmly opposed to the idea that profit should be made from justice in such a wholesale way as is proposed. The Probation Service has only recently received 'gold standard' status for delivery and local innovation yet the 'Transforming Rehabilitation' model appears to undermine or potentially destroy all of this excellent work on the high altar of ideology.
This is a great pity because few would disagree with the notion (posited by Napo over many years), that more should be done with (and for) prisoners serving less than 12 months; and that mentoring, possibly involving ex-offenders, and more focus on "life management" and personal relationships as opposed to simply supervising people, seems like a positive development. It is dismaying however to see that the Justice Secretary uses the high re-offending rates of this group as a reason for dismantling the Probation Service, since our members do not have statutory responsibility for them! Even more curious is that the Justice Secretary should seek to introduce such a change so soon after having taken 'Custody Plus' off the statute book!
Napo would like to believe that the extension of supervision and increase in workloads brought about by this new constituency of service users will bring much needed resources into the equation. But it is clear from the Coalition Government's track record of wanting 'more from less' that our members will be expected to introduce it on the back of lower wages, worse conditions of service and poorer pensions for those staff who transfer to a new employer. NAPO will steadfastly resist any such moves.
On a positive note, NAPO obviously supports further professionalisation of the Probation Service. We welcome the proposals for giving more discretion to professionals on the front line, together with more cohesive training and a new professional body or institute.
On 'Payment by Results' (PbR) we remain deeply sceptical. The MoJ does at least appear to be listening over the use of a binary measure for PbR but ultimately the use of this incentive in its current form is unlikely ever to translate into the complex world of criminal justice, though even here there may be other avenues to explore if there is a willingness by Ministers to listen. The Justice Secretary is only beginning to understand the dynamic nature of risk but it's a well known fact that most serious further offences emanate from apparently low risk offenders. The only truly safe route is to leave all case management where it should be - with the public sector.
Timescale very doubtful
We have already told ministers that the time frame for these momentous changes is quite unrealistic and that the lack of clarity about how the delivery model will be structured and the future of Trusts are also of major concern. This is why Napo is somewhat bemused at the unqualified welcome that a minority of Chief Executives have already given to these proposals. Napo will continue to press these issues through our highly successful Parliamentary campaigning.
It's not a done deal...but the Napo campaign needs you!
As Napo begins to expose the holes in the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda, and notwithstanding our criticism of these plans, your union will engage with the government over the future of Probation. But we will fight fiercely to protect the employment, pay and conditions of our members as they seek to provide an excellent public Probation Service that will change the lives of service users, reduce re-offending and make for safer communities. And one final thought.... perhaps the MoJ might do well to consider moving away from focusing on the centralised management of offenders via NOMS, towards giving victims a greater stake in the justice system. The omission by Government of the need to develop restorative justice is nothing short of shameful.
As part of our growing campaign Napo will be strengthening the developing partnership between the Probation Association and the Probation Chiefs Association, where we will be trying to find common ground wherever possible. But the key element in the fight to defend your jobs also requires our members' involvement. This means contacting your MP using the material that we have recently issued and doing everything possible to spread the word about the dangers in the Governments plans, and encouraging non-members to join Napo and help us negotiate from a position of greater strength.
The Government will try to convince you that their plans are set in stone and that change of this magnitude is inevitable. We say: don't be fooled by the rhetoric; this fight is not of our choosing but it still has a long way to go.
More Napo Campaign Blogs will follow and will include a commentary on this week's announcements of Prison closures
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