Finally, news has come that a new Minister for Prison and Probation has been appointed. Napo would like to extend a warm welcome to Robert Buckland QC MP who is the MP for South Swindon. Prior to becoming a politician Robert practiced law in Wales. He specialised in Criminal law which will be welcome news to our members and therefore he has a good understanding of the role of probation and was a recorder in Crown Court before being made a QC in 2014.
On Monday 1st April, SRtRC returned to The Den for an educational event with Millwall FC. Millwall FC and Millwall Community Trust are long-term supporters of SRtRC and worked in partnership with the campaign to organise the event for young people from local schools.
The event enabled Year 5&6 pupils from local schools to take part in workshops that focussed on racism and stereotypes and hate crime. Thanks to the Trust, the young people were also able to take part in a fun football session on Millwall’s indoor pitch.
CRC reps, who attended a meeting on 1st May in parliament (ahead of the successful MPs Drop In event) received a briefing from Napo HQ on the 'future of Probation' as known pending a statement by Ministers and a formal response to the consultation. We had anticipated that a decision would have emerged by now but it is clear that more analysis is being undertaken and yesterday’s announcement that Rory Stewart has been promoted to the Cabinet has obviously also been a factor in the delay. We currently await news of his successor.
Great news! The Shrewsbury 24 Campaign has won a crucial victory in its long struggle to overturn the convictions of the building workers who were tried in 1973/74 for picketing during the national strike. On Tuesday 30 April 2019, halfway through the Judicial Review hearing in the Birmingham Administrative Court, the Criminal Cases Review Commission conceded the case. It agreed to reconsider the referral of the convictions of the pickets to the Court of Appeal.
Napo held a successful parliamentary drop-in event on Wednesday 1st May to brief MPs on the costs of TR and a split service and the need for a reunified probation service. CRC reps from across the country attended the event to deliver firsthand information on the local situation in MPs areas. A briefing pack, expanding on the 8 Reasons Campaign was available for MPs on the day.
Napo has been invited to take part in the Lib Dem Justice Team's consultation on a new policy for the party on the rehabiliation of offenders.
One of the government’s stated objectives of TR was to “open up the market” and to enhance the role of the third sector. This has not materialized, and the impact of TR has been to shut out many small third sector and private sector organisations: the partnership agencies essential to probation to enable a wide range of providers and services to be offered to clients.
TR was supposed to deliver end-to-end offender management - a worthy aim. As sited by HMI Probation “there is much more prospect of a relationship that is strong and fruitful if it is maintained with one probation worker over the period of supervision.”
Napo’s warnings of the dangers of “burnout” for NPS staff with only high-risk caseloads have sadly proved real.
Before the split, staff were more likely to have a balanced caseload that provided some light relief and assisted with risk management by keeping staff grounded. Working in one team, in one office, also enabled a sharing of work and caseloads and gave development opportunities.
The Probation Service lost a lot when it lost the Trusts; with their visible and accessible local leadership, personal autonomy and opportunities to try innovative practice and team working. Napo members feel this ethos has gone in the top-down structure of the NPS with its focus on uniformity against massive financial constraints.