I don’t suppose for one minute that any of our members will have been surprised to see the statements of intent from the Ministers with responsibility for probation that were issued on Wednesday evening.
Timing is always important but so is quality; and it was clear from the traffic appearing on social media such as ‘Twitter’ and the enquiries that followed my media release yesterday that the open letter from David Lidington and the written Commons statement from Sam Gyimah, were widely being seen as deeply disappointing as well as contradictory in one important respect.
Personally, I have no difficulty understanding why they both wanted to tell the world that more taxpayers money has been thrown at CRC Contracts to enable them to keep their heads above water, but perhaps they should really have stopped there rather than offer the suggestion that the current operational difficulties were ‘unforeseeable’ which was tantamount to taking not just one biscuit but several packets of them.
Let’s face it; this is a glaring example of how the pressure to say something to defend an uncomfortable position merely served to highlight the extent of the problems.
I have had the opportunity to speak over the phone to both Ministers over the last few weeks. They were receptive to what I had to say and we have been promised meetings with them. I have also undertaken to write to them about the state of probation and once I have done so and received a reply I will of course publish the exchanges.
Meanwhile, I have seen that Bob Neill MP has been reappointed as Chair of the Justice Select Committee and I will also be in touch with him to rearrange the appointment that was unfortunately cancelled on account of the general election. I am hopeful that the Committee will press on with considering the need for an enquiry into Transforming Rehabilitation that we have been pressing for.
Napo members in the media
Two recent programmes on probation have appeared: ITV Wales http://www.itv.com/walesprogrammes/wales-this-week scroll down page to the ‘ Why was my son murdered?’ feature and BBC East http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08xcnwd/sunday-politics-east-16072017 (starts at about 41:41) the latter featuring Heidi Allen MP Conservative Cambridge and Sandy Martin MP Labour Ipswich.
Here serious questions have been raised about service standards offered by CRC providers Working Links and Sodexo. I was able to assist the producers in both cases and get a brief slot on both. More important were the anonymised contributions from members and former probation staff about the issues that were featured.
Appreciation to all those who took part in the programmes, and whilst I hope there will be no attempt by employers to investigate who said what and to whom, I will need to be notified immediately if this should happen.
Best use of Cafcass Practitioners time
Just a heads up to say that a meeting is due to take place with Cafcass Chief Anthony Douglas next week to discuss the new guidelines on reporting that have been issued to practitioners.
FCS members should look out for a report of the outcomes.
Napo’s future: have you some good ideas to share?
Last week I mentioned the work that is currently underway to look at how Napo can grow and make the necessary changes to prepare itself for the huge challenges ahead of us. At the last NEC meeting it was suggested that we should open up a direct route for individual members who have something useful to say and we have now created the following e-mail conduit:
Nothing you say will be published anywhere without your permission and I will personally ensure that all contributors will get a reply.
Can you assist with some important research?
We have been contacted by Sebastian Carro who is an MSc Candidate in Occupational Psychology at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Sebastian is currently conducting extensive research into the general employment relations climate across the UK and is particularly interested in exploring the business attitudes that paved the way for the dreadful Trade Union Act 2016.
I have been asked if I would publicise the link to the survey that Sebastian is running as part of his research project and encourage our members to consider participating
The link to the survey is:
Many thanks to any members who decide to take part.