Today’s big story on sentencing reform, and the return of the Tories favourite old pre-election mantra of ‘lock em up and throw away the key,’ is symptomatic of the failure by successive Governments to properly understand the need for a balanced approach to prisons and rehabilitation.
The overwhelming response from Napo members attending at the many Branch meetings I have had the pleasure of visiting, was to welcome the Government rethink on Probation but where they also raised two key questions.
The first being: ‘what will be the operative date for CRC Staff on which they will be deemed to be in scope for transfer along with their work to the NPS? The second: ‘will there be harmonisation of pay, terms and conditions for all staff across Probation before the end of the current CRC contracts?
Given the hundreds of positive messages that are coming into Napo HQ and via social media it is clear that Thursday 16th May 2019 will be seen as one of the most pivotal days in Napo’s long and proud history.
Napo, the trade union and professional association for probation staff is today celebrating a major turning point in its campaign to restore Probation to public sector ownership as the Secretary of State for Justice David Gauke, announces a fundamental change in government policy.
In terms of media coverage, the lead stories on BBC and Sky news on Saturday following Rory Stewart's suggestion that under six-month sentences could be a thing of the past, was a huge boost for our campaigns.
If you celebrated Christmas but were not on duty over the festive period, the first Monday of the "New Year" brings that traditional challenge in the form of all those unopened mince pies, cakes and chocolates that your colleagues have thoughtfully deposited in the tearoom. They of course having confidently embarked on their personal weight loss campaigns that, in most cases, will be in total shreds by the end of the month just as you predicted.
I have just signed off the last of the letters which I have been sending out to CRC Chief Executives over the last few days. These will be published to members early in the new year. These essentially remind them that the NPS pay settlement needs to be matched in real terms by them as employers and includes the clear directive from our AGM in October to urge them to join with Napo in jointly lobbying the MoJ to adjust the current contracts to enable pay parity with staff working for the NPS.
News reaches me of a pay award to Cafcass staff. Ordinarily, and especially on top of Christmas, that might bring a bit of festive cheer. Unfortunately, Cafcass neglected to inform anyone of the decision to implement the remit they were given by the Minister, which has gone down as badly as a mouldy mince pie with their staff.
Feedback here indicates that people are livid about this situation as well as the paltry nature of the award. That nobody could even pick up a phone and at least give us the bad news directly is extraordinary.
Its hardly surprising that the NPS pay out has caused some predictable resentment among our members in the CRC estate.
In my letter to the Secretary of State David Gauke - CLICK HERE - which picked up on the mandate given to us by the AGM in Southport, I made it very clear that the NPS pay modernisation deal must be replicated and spelt out very clearly why we are campaigning to achieve pay parity between NPS and CRC staff.
The Government's campaign to convince the public that this is the best deal on offer intensifies. No, not Brexit this time, but the increasingly desperate attempt to justify the policy to merely repeat the mistakes of the past four and a half years and rebadge another selling out of Probation.
I am not sure just how many civil servants are engaged in formulating and publishing this material but last week we received yet another of those GOV.UK bulletins containing a compendium of documents which attempted to explain the inexplicable.