Different actors, same old script

Last weekend’s furore over the missing millions that Education Secretary Michael Gove is reputed to have shifted into supporting his Free Schools project at the expense of much needed state places, bears a striking similarity to the position adopted by Mr Grayling as he pursues his own personal hubris in the form of his TR agenda.

Whilst the issues are obviously massively different, the ideological drive demonstrated by both of these Secretaries of State to secure their objectives, irrespective of the cost to the taxpayer and the serious political fallout that accompanies such arrogance is absolutely staggering.

People ask me how it is that these two survivors are staying the course right through to the next election (but hopefully not beyond) and my straight answer is that they have more lives than a Siamese cat or it’s simply too late for David Cameron to do what he ought to have done a long time ago.

Always room for retired as well as new members

A really nice letter arrived the other week from recently retired Napo Kent member Alan Crocker, who tells me that he is continuing to support the campaign against TR on visits to his local library. Alan has asked that I flag up the importance of pressing the campaign with prospective MEP’s in the run up to the Euro elections and I am happy to do so.

Our retired members certainly have a role to play in the life of Napo and anyone who believes that they have particular skills to offer as well as any of their precious time might usefully make themselves known to their nearest Napo branch to see what might be possible. Contact us if needs be and we will gladly pass on your details

Meanwhile, the Napo Officers and Officials are looking to launch a fresh recruitment drive within the NPS and CRC’s to demonstrate that we remain the union of choice. Despite the tough times that our members are going through, we are confident that by any comparative analysis, Napo has shown itself to be ‘out there’ leading the way in this campaign and that we are still best equipped to help you deal with the problems that you are having and those that will inevitably occur down the line if share sales of the CRC’s become a reality. Our record in trying to assist members in need through our National Reps Panel system is unsurpassed.

Improving our communications

Welcome then to my maiden contribution to the new super duper Napo website. This week we will be issuing further campaign bulletins, parliamentary briefings and probably another ‘all member’s’ mail out. The new website should ensure quicker linkage to important and informative material and resources about TR and Napo in general, and we will be looking to populate the various sections more frequently. I hope that you like it and more importantly please check it out regularly to see what’s going on.

‘Testgate’ 4 - agreed by MoJ

As part of our continuing campaign to highlight the serious risks presented by the TR agenda you may be interested in the following exchanges with the MoJ. The key outcome is that the Ministry have agreed that further testing post 1st June up until the intended award of CRC contracts is necessary.

This would seem to tie in with the assurances that we received from the Treasury Solicitors in reply to our recent Pre Action Protocol letter, which said that the department will not proceed to this phase unless it is safe to do so.

Unfortunately, and as our members know only too well, it Is not ‘safe’ out there now; let alone after the staff split has occurred, and that has not stopped Grayling proceeding to the stage we are now at. We will again be spelling this out at a meeting with senior MoJ and Noms officials today. Be assured that we are getting this key message out to all MP’s on a weekly basis and briefing our contacts everywhere that we can. Bidders take note; you really don’t need this shambles. No wonder the Minister refuses to allow any results to be published.

To Amy Rees
MoJ Transforming Rehabilitation
By E-mail

8th May 2014

Dear Amy,

I would be grateful if I could have this statement read into the TRCF minutes this afternoon.

A hard copy will be sent to you in the post.

Yours sincerely


Ian Lawrence
General Secretary


We are grateful for the full and detailed response from the Treasury Solicitor dated 2nd May 2014 to Napo’s Pre Action Protocol letter dated 15th April. We note that the Ministry of Justice have confirmed expressly that they will “only move to the next stage of implementation when it is safe to do so”.

We understand from the Ministry of Justice that Test Gate 3 was scheduled for late April or early this month, to provide:-

An assessment of the Trusts’ implementation of the new operational processes;

Identify any areas where action or contingency plans are needed;

Give the Department an in-depth understanding of the risk profile; and

Provide an assessment of business readiness for 1 June 2014.

We ask for full details of the results of Test Gate 3, and confirmation from the Department as to whether or not they now consider that it is safe to move to implement the launch date on 1 June 2014. 

We also consider that it is evident that, particularly as there has been no pilot of the reforms, only once the split between the CRCs and NPS has occurred from 1 June 2014, will the reforms be capable of being properly tested.  We will be writing to the Ministry of Justice shortly with questions which we consider should, and can only, be answered by testing all processes in place after 1 June 2014.

We therefore ask for express confirmation that there will be, at least, a “Test Gate 4” conducted by the MOJ a reasonable time after the implementation date to assess the new processes in practice, and for evaluation of the further Test Gate before moving to the next stage of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme. Only in this way can the MOJ be able to satisfy itself that moving to the next stage of implementation would be safe to do so. 

We consider further that the evaluation of “Test Gate 4” will need to be completed before the current process with bidders is concluded, and before any preferred bidders are identified. This is necessary to avoid a serious risk of unrealistic bids being made and/or accepted, which would undermine the reliability of the global budget for the NPS and CRCs and therefore undermine budgeting for the NPS and risk the NPS being allocated insufficient funds to manage high risk offenders. 

Ian Lawrence
General Secretary

MOJ Reply

Ian Lawrence ,  eneral Secretary, NAPO

By email  
09 May 2014

Dear Ian

Transforming Rehabilitation: Implementation

Thank you for your letter regarding the Test Gate activities being undertaken by the Rehabilitation Programme. Test Gate 3, which was designed to elucidate the level of preparedness for implementing and stabilising the interim operating state from 01 June through to share sale. It was not about a decision as to whether or not to go ahead. We do not intend to publish the results of this Test Gate as it relates to the Programme's internal assurance activity, however the outcome of the Test Gate demonstrated that we remain on track to deliver the interim operating state and that no new issues have been identified that the programme is not already addressing.

 As part of our ongoing assurance activity, the Department is intending to undertake a Test Gate 4 following the transfer to the new working structures however the final arrangements for this Test Gate are still being considered as part of a wider review of our overall assurance activity in the period to share sale. I am grateful to you for taking time to set out your suggestions as to how the Programme might time and structure this activity and we will take these representations into consideration as we refine our plans for this next period of activity.

As requested in your letter, we will include your statement in the minutes of the Transforming Rehabilitation Consultative Forum on 08 May, and I am copying my response to members of the Forum by way of a reply.

Yours Sincerely,


Punishment without purpose

I am at sunny Southport right now having addressed the POA Annual Conference earlier on, where I brought our comrades up to date with our campaign. This included mentioning a key objective of maintaining regular contact between our practitioner experts and theirs over what TR will mean for the Prison and Probation interface and publishing information on a joint basis as often as we can.

Meanwhile, I publish a summary of an interesting briefing which was launched last week by the Prison Reform Trust:  Punishment without purpose: the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme and its impact on fairness, decency and rehabilitation behind bars

The report details how new mean and petty rules are affecting day to day life in prisons across England and Wales. Coinciding with swingeing budget cuts and staff shortages, IEP revisions are contributing to a developing sense of injustice and calling into question the legitimacy of prison regimes.

Letters and phone calls from prisoners to the PRT advice and information service regarding the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme have reportedly nearly trebled in the past year since the changes were first announced.

Prisoners report that the new scheme is limiting family contact and opportunities for education and learning - all factors which are vital to reduce people’s risk of reoffending. Concerns have been raised about mental health and wellbeing. The impact of the changes to the IEP scheme is being monitored by the Ministerial Board on Deaths in Custody.

In the wake of last weeks ‘Skull Cracker’ fiasco it’s depressing to see that the same old barriers exist.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog