Just when you thought the probation crisis had reached a nadir comes news that two CRC owners have decided to make further cuts to staffing in a desperate attempt they tell us to keep their front line operations afloat.
Interserve, following another profits warning to investors and a share price that plummeted by 50% has announced that they are going to close the Fareham PSC (probation support centre). It is anticipated up to 10 CRC staff seconded to the Fareham office could be effected by the closure of the Fareham PSC as will a further 13 members of staff directly employed by Interserve.
National Official Sarah Friday reporting to this week’s Napo Officers and Officials meeting said that the unions were told that it will also mean Intervention Managers/SPOs in the CRCs taking on additional corporate service functions in addition to the HR responsibilities that have been added to their job descriptions. This in turn will impact on their pivotal role for the Interserve Justice Interchange flex team model to work.
In the West and East Midlands the Reducing Reoffending Partnership (RRP) are currently going through a second wave of redundancies, this time within corporate services as opposed to frontline staff. They state that despite receiving additional money from the Ministry of Justice in the summer, there are still significant shortfalls in their finances. As such they are reducing corporate services to avoid having to make further cuts to the frontline. There are currently 50 posts at risk of redundancy, although it is hoped this can be reduced to 30 if internal opportunities are utilised.
A further exercise to reduce costs is being carried out with RRP’s estates. They are in the process of closing down all of the probation offices in the Black Country with the exception of Wolverhampton. National Official Tania Bassett has told RRP that Napo is deeply concerned about the impact this will have on staff due to travelling, especially those with caring responsibilities or disabilities. More worrying is the impact this will have on service users who will be expected to make much longer journeys in order to comply with their order.
These are but two more examples of the disastrous impact of TR on what was once an award winning service. Many CRCs are holed so far below the waterline that no amount of taxpayers cash will save them from sinking later if not sooner.
In other areas such as the CRCs operated by Working Links we are seeing significant numbers of experienced Probation Officers jumping back to the not exactly green and grassy pastures of the NPS telling reps that they have had enough of the incompetent regime that is presiding over community safety.
Napo submits its evidence to the Justice Select Committee
Sorry, but Parliamentary protocols prevent us from providing you with sight of this until the Committee give their permission, but take it from me it’s a high quality offering that reflects the massive amount of work that your employees and Officers are putting in to help hold the MoJ and CRCs feet to the fire.
Not that it is all negative; as we have suggested steps that can be taken to restore morale to staff, embed ‘good practice’ benchmarks and how a licence to practice is a ‘must do’, along with creating greater transparency and accountability by involving Police and Crime Commissioners and metro-Mayors to monitor performance.
The submission is supported by detailed appendices that provide a withering critique of the post-TR landscape and where we make it clear that failing contractors should be shown the door marked exit.
Westminster Family Justice Debate
This week saw an important Westminster debate on Family Justice and I have published the link to the record of proceedings as pressure grows on Ministers to get cracking with reform and show the required political courage to initiate changes that will find cross party support.
Forum Conference next Friday 24th November
Really looking forward to my speech to next Friday’s Forum conference to be held at the NUT, Hamilton House, Mabledon Place Kings Cross, London WC1H 9BD. Registration opens at 10:00am and the conference formally starts at 10:30am.
Professional training in a changing landscape is the theme, and I have been asked to make a keynote address. Here I will be sharing my thoughts on the steps that Napo needs to take to bring about a greater focus on training and development among NPS and CRC providers and how this sits with Napo’s own strategy for growth and my intention to see our practitioner members paid a proper rate for the job (a key trade union objective that is often forgotten in the world of corporate speak that is regularly spewed out from the MoJ and politicians). Even more reason why our members, whatever job they hold within the justice system, should be afforded the respect and dignity that they deserve.
More news next week, telling it like it is.