With speculation rife over the weekend that the new Secretary of State has had enough of the prison safety situation and that changes may be likely at the top of HMPPS, I expect that it’s not just a number of football managers who face an uncertain future following the weekend results. It may be just rumours of course and its likely they will be denied by the MoJ but, as history shows, it’s unwise to welcome that 'we have every confidence' missive that usually presages a dismissal.
There has been significant feedback into Napo HQ and through members of the Probation Negotiating Committee (PNC) who met last week, about the shoddy and disrespectful response to the union’s claims on 2017-18 pay and longer-term probation pay reform. Indeed, I understand that a number of members have written directly to Michael Spurr to tell him in no uncertain terms just how unhappy they are not only with his of excuses, but its underlying sanctimonious tone.
The signs were clear at last year’s AGM in Nottingham that the political tides which have revealed the wreckage of privatisation were turning back in our favour. We heard keynote speeches from both ends of the political spectrum in the form of Shadow Justice lead Richard Burgon, and the Justice Committee Chair Bob Neil, both of whom pulled no punches in denigrating Chris Graylings dreadful social experiment.
Well a number of places actually, starting from a freezing Biggin Hill in Kent whilst awaiting the early morning pick up from Sky News for my 07:15 live interview in Millbank. Getting out of bed at unearthly hours for media appointments comes with the job so no complaints there, but it tests your organisational skills as well as working out what excuse to give the Dog as to why he won’t be taken out for a walk this particular morning.
Its hardly surprising that we have had a number of enquiries asking about the progress in our attempts to close off what has passed as “negotiations” on 2017/18 pay and where we are in making progress on a new pay structure.
We hope to issue something more substantive over the next week but broadly this is the position we have reached.
As promised and with massive thanks to Kath Falcon here at Falcon Road here is a summary of the key exchanges from last weeks hearing of the PAC which I mentioned in my last posting. This will provide Napo with substantial information to take forward in our continuing parliamentary and campaigning work with politicians as well as in our exchanges with the CRC owners.
Our comms team are in the process of carefully analysing this week’s oral evidence session of the Committee for Public Accounts (PAC). Here the cross-party committee gave Michael Spurr and MoJ Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton a torrid time as they called them to account following the report from the National Audit Office into the funding arrangements for the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies on the back of the £27m ‘bail out’ this year and the further £277m guarantee for the duration of the contracts.
That track by the legendary rock band Queen as in: ‘another one bites the dust’ is especially apposite in terms of this week’s announcement of a new Secretary of State for Justice. The cabinet shuffle, or shambles depending on your point of view, saw the elevation of David Gauke to replace David Lidington and take possession of what some might say is one of the two great ‘poisoned chalices’ (the other being Work and Pensions), becoming the fifth incumbent over a four year period.
Napo on his call list
The results of the Femicide Censusprovides a depressing narrative of the numbers of women (113 in 2016) who were killed by their partner or ex-partner. The report makes for shocking reading but is another addition to the litany of carnage that featured in previous reports indicating that over 900 women had died at the hands of men between 2009 and 2015.
I guess that very few people will be surprised to learn that the privatisation of part of the Approved Premises Waking Night Cover arrangements has hit on some problems. Napo has raised concerns with NPS project leads indicating that some members in scope for TUPE are reporting serious dissatisfaction at the lack of information they have been receiving about their future terms and conditions and whether Sodexo (yes them again) and OCS have actually got their act together after being awarded the North and South contracts.