In a week which again featured major disturbances in Prisons with any number of politicians belatedly recognising that there are simply too many people within them, it was a welcome surprise to see the media spotlight fall on the state of the Probation service for a change.
The renewed interest in the failures of Transforming Rehabilitation were sparked by the revelation that £22m has been handed over (with more expected to follow) by the MOJ to a number of the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies to keep their operations from going into total meltdown. Intriguingly, we still await news of how much taxpayers cash is going the way of Sodexo and I hope that our intrepid friends from Private Eye magazine will have completed their digging through the European Journals where details of the payments were published. Not that anyone might have noticed them in the first place were it not for the Parliamentary question raised by Liz Saville-Roberts MP which exposed this staggering arrangement.
All of this resulted in what was a bumper week for the Napo media team whose work behind the scenes with a number of journalists over recent weeks helped to secure some great opportunities to get our messages out live last Wednesday, firstly on BBC television where I appeared on Victoria Derbyshire live alongside former probation officer Bob Turney and a representative from Catch 22 see:
This was supplemented with a live radio interview on LBC which has also had good feedback from members and substantial coverage across social media.
Although I am unable to provide more details at the moment, we are also in discussions with production teams from two major media outlets whose interest in the post-TR landscape was fuelled by our involvement in recent regional coverage about probation on Channel 4, ITV Wales and BBC East. This has been intensified by news of the CRC bail out and the 24.6% rise in serious further offences across England and Wales which featured in our media release below:
This article below, which featured on the ‘Buzzfeed’ site, is especially interesting in the context of setting out the underlying societal problems which contribute to reoffending and which will be of little surprise to our practitioner members.
What last weeks media activities show is that if Napo are given the chance to speak up for our members, and highlight the uncomfortable issues on which politicians need to be held to account, we will take them head on; any time, any place and anywhere.
Britain (and Napo members) still need a pay rise - Parliamentary Lobby and Rally
I have now had confirmation of the date for the above event which was agreed at the recent meeting of the TUC General Council.
Date: Tuesday 17 October
Time: 4.30pm – 6pm for the rally (which follows a Parliamentary Lobby)
Venue: Parliament Square
The aim is to mobilise union members from across the public sector with speakers including union leaders and public service workers. The TUC are developing a common set of messages, materials and branding around the event, with a coordinated media strategy.
As always, the success of this event will depend on effective participation by unions and , as such, I would really appreciate your help with mobilising members to attend on Tuesday 17 October. I am told that the planned outdoor venue can accommodate a crowd of 5k
There will also be lobby of a targeted group of Conservative MPs to take place earlier the same afternoon from 2pm to 4pm. This will be a great opportunity to remind them of the drop in value of our members pay (21% in the probations service over the last 7 years), and the need to bring pay up to a level that recognises the dedication of our members and their work in assiting their client base in grossly underfunded circumstances.
It would be helpful if Napo branches could identify members who, as constituents, may be able to take part in the lobby of the targeted list of Conservative MPs, which will feature MP’s with small majorities as well as those who have recently made supportive statements in the media against the public sector pay cap. Time then for them to put money where their mouth is?
I will be in touch with more details shortly.
Managing Attendance - workshop launch finally agreed
In BR37/2017 we invited Napo branches to send a representative along to one of two workshops to be held at the UNISON centre in Euston, London on 23rd August. These have been designed to allow for some long overdue dialogue between managers and union reps about the interpretation of the deeply unpopular Attendance Management policy which, as everyone knows, was bounced on all of us by Ministers who were utterly clueless about the real world that they are supposedly presiding over.
The late notice for this event is due to the fact that we have only just been able to agree arrangements for travel with the NPS (details of claim codes to follow) but I have asked that reps who want to attend let Sarah Friday our lead Official on this issue, and myself know of your preferred attendance at the morning or afternoon session.
I look forward to seeing as many reps as possible on the day, and I am pressing for these events to be replicated elsewhere in recognition of the fact that they are being launched during the peak leave season, more news on this issue when it becomes available.