It’s been another useful week for Napo in terms of media coverage and a busier than usual one for me, as we have picked up substantial interest around the issue of Victim Impact Statements and Payment by Results (PbR).
The live interviews on Tuesday with Radio 4 and NW today TV following Judge Graham Whites offline, (but overheard on the video feed) comments about VIS 'making no difference' after a parole board hearing he was presiding over, were not easy assignments. Unfortunately, the Manchester bomb hoax swept everything off the afternoon and evening schedules just as I was having my make up applied and the media were getting interested in the wider aspects of the debate around rehabilitation. Nevertheless, it was a necessary intervention by us on an issue that I know is highly emotive, obviously to victims families but also our own members working in victim liaison who, I know, have a difficult balance to make in terms of advising and assisting victim’s families in what can seem to many of the public to be a pointless part of the parole board process.
Judge White will not be enjoying his ‘Gordon Brown’ moment, but even if he actually believes in what he said, it doesn’t mean his analysis is correct. His views are at odds with those I have received from many practitioners who are doing their best to contribute to a parole system that is trying to handle 11,00 extra cases while our members face the shambles caused by TR.
PbR Results - it’s how you spin them
I had a feeling in my bones that Ministers would try and sneak the HMP reoffending pilot figures under the radar with the usual euphoric claims of success, which is why we issued a pre-emptive press release in advance of the almost unintelligible statistics being published. This took the wind out of the MoJ’s sails as Ministers declined to take part in Radio 5 lives’ debate on the subject today where I joined with Lord Ramsbotham and David Hutchinson from Social Finance in a robust exchange. This was introduced by Victoria Derbyshire replaying Jeremy Wright’s priceless ‘Paxman moment’ earlier this year when she berated him for claiming success on figures he had not even seen.
I have to say it did not get any better for Ministers, as even the champion of the PbR scheme seriously distanced himself from committing to future involvement in PbR if it gets rolled out across CRC’s. Thanks again to the eloquent and knowledgeable contribution from Lord Ramsbotham which was in nice contrast to my contribution, which I am told was robust and to the point about why this whole PbR idea is doomed to fail under TR.
Testgate 4 to be launched
More signs of panic as the MoJ formally announce their intention to undertake a further testing process of TR. This hasn’t happened by itself and follows the tenacious efforts that we have put in to press Ministers to have a good look at the chaos they have created and take stock of what the experts (that’s you) are telling them about TR not being safe.
Good news, but not good enough however, as we will be demanding input and access to this exercise so that we can see what is being tested and what the outcomes are. Given the refusal to publish the results of Testgates 1,2 and 3, I am not holding my breath that this new test will amount to anything more than a cynical con-trick designed to get Mr Grayling off the hook.
CRC Chiefs give Noms top shop some uncomfortable messages
Good to hear that this week’s gathering of CRC Chiefs set out some strong messages to Messrs. Spurr and Allars about the current operational state of organised chaos. If this is a sign that we will see a bit more backbone from senior leaders who, with a few honourable exceptions, didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory in a previous life when we all needed them to speak out, then I am sure we will all welcome it.
Bidding process a shambles as further evaluation stage announced
More good but predictable news that the so called bidding process is to have a further evaluation stage introduced, speaks volumes of the shambles it is in, and is clearly a sop to those bidders who have been complaining about the commercial and operational difficulties they faced in pulling a tender together. It also raises another embarrassing question which is: why is another assessment stage deemed necessary if everything is so hunky dory, and after the all the blatant spoon feeding and coaching of would be CRC contractors that the taxpayer has paid for?
Parliamentary Lobby 3rd September
Details of this event have been published for some time now, and it’s a great opportunity to turn up the heat on politicians as they readjust after their demanding summer break. The best people to tell them how it is out there in TR world is you; that’s why we need you there in your droves to join with Unison and GMB members and make it an event to remember which might help us tip the balance as this coalition struggle on so many fronts.
Candidates deserve your attention
Finally on a different subject, the elections for National Officers and the NEC Black Representatives are now underway. The candidates will be helping to run this union for the next two years and have set out their priorities for you to make a judgment on. So please take a few minutes to locate your ballot papers and take part in the election?
The blog will return on or around 20th August, meanwhile please look out for all member mail outs and further campaign bulletins and enjoy the remainder of the summer!