As everyone who has suffered the chaos that has befallen probation knows, the Through the Gate (TTG) scheme was heralded as the main driver for Transforming Rehabilitation by the former and unlamented Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling.

His oft repeated boast that his reforms would mean that prisoners on release should get more than £45 in their pocket has been bettered; in that now its £45 and a leaflet.

Given the millions of pounds of taxpayers money that was squandered on his vanity project this is hardly anything to shout about.

Below is an early Day motion that has been submitted by the Labour Party after we had briefed them on this week’s damning joint report by HM Inspectors of Prisons and Probation.

It about says it all.

Early Day Motion submitted to Parliament

That this House is concerned by the recent findings within the joint inspection by HM Inspectorate of Probation and HM Inspectorate of Prison regarding Through the Gate Resettlement Services; notes that Through the Gate resettlement services were introduced in 2015 to bridge the gap between prison and community; is concerned by the findings within the report which suggest that CRCs are making little difference to the prospects of prisoners due for release; notes that the report indicates that the primary focus of CRCs is to meet contractual arrangements instead of helping offenders within the service; further notes that inspectors found prisoners were no better served than 8 months ago noting that should Through the Gate services be removed tomorrow the impact on prisoners would be ‘negligible’; is concerned that Through the Gate services have never fully or successfully integrated into the prison system and that communications between all organisations responsible for carrying out Through the Gate services is almost non-existent; understands that a key role of Through the Gate services is to assist released prisoners in securing appropriate accommodation in time for their release; is aware that of the 98 cases observed by inspectors only two prisoners were found accommodation via Through the Gate services; is further aware of the consistent concerns raised by organisations during the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation programme and calls on the Government to urgently review the performance of CRCs and the NPS as well as the Transforming Rehabilitation programme

Another HMI Probation report – Courts in the spotlight

The third report in a week, this time looking at probation work in courts. Compared to earlier reports this is relatively positive in that it shows there has been some improvement in probation court work in the last year. However, it still raises concerns about how the probation service is functioning post-privatisation and that pre-sentence reports are not providing adequate risk assessments in many cases.

Our media release today  basically says that while Napo welcomes the reported signs of improvement it still doesn’t fully reflect the difficulties faced by members on the ground with many of you reporting the requirement to complete up to six reports a day and 80% of those being written in a short format or delivered verbally to the court. This leaves little or no time at all, for safeguarding checks for domestic violence and child protection.

We have already started to channel the findings to our various contacts in and outside of Parliament.

A chat with the new Secretary of State 

As is traditional upon their appointment, the new Secretary of State for Justice Telephones round the leads for the various HMPPS Unions to introduce themselves and this week I was happy to field the call from David Lydington on behalf of Napo/Unison and GMB.

These types of discussions are always a bit of a squeeze but the appearance of the report on TTG provided some additional material for me that probably was not on David’s original script.

A number of key issues were raised especially around the Probation System Review and the need for something to happen on Probation Pay and I intend to cover this in a bit more detail in the next edition of Napo’s online magazine NQ5 due out soon.

What I said to the Public Policy Exchange

A really good opportunity for Napo to get its messages across to opinion formers and CJS providers comes in the form of specialist seminars and conferences, and one such opportunity opened up this week following the invitation from the Public Policy Exchange. Among others present were Norman Lamb MP, and a one Jonathan Aitken former MP, and once a guest of Her Majesty’s prison, the latter who offered a particularly insightful view about prison reform and safety.

Here is what I said which helped to elicit an absorbing Q&A and I have subsequently heard, was well received by the audience.

Britain Still Needs A Pay Rise Public Rally – Monday 17 July 5:30 -7:00pm

Central London location (likely to be Parliament Square)

The new political realism that is signalling the end of neo-liberalism and the austerity agenda that has been part it, has clearly woken the TUC from its torpor and at long last we are seeing what could be the start of a proper combined pay campaign with the announcement of a public rally next month.

I am told that the aim of this event is to enhance the public profile of the TUC’s pay campaign, engage union members and build their awareness and capacity to campaign on the issue and to build on the strength of support shown for public services and fair pay for public sector workers during the general election campaign.

I hope that this rally which I have offered to speak at, will see a mobilisation of union members (including Napo members from across the 24 employers where we are represented) The TUC will be developing a common set of messages, materials and branding around the event, with a coordinated media strategy.

It is also intended to organise a parliamentary lobby of a targeted group of Conservative MPs which will take place earlier the same afternoon. It would be helpful if Napo members could let Tania Bassett  know if you might be able to take part in the lobby.

The list of Conservative MPs that we want to engage with appears below:

Target List of Conservative MPs



Size Majority

Royston Smith

Southampton Itchen


Zac Goldsmith

Richmond Park


Derek Thomas

St Ives


 Stephen Crabb

Preseli Pembrokeshire


Stuart Andrew



Jackie Doyle-Price



Amber Rudd

Hastings and Rye


Theresa Villiers

Chipping Barnet


Chloe Smith

Norwich North


Craig Whittaker

Calder Valley


Jack Brereton

Stoke on Trent South


Lucy Allan



Michael Ellis

Northampton North


Anna Soubry



Chris Green

Bolton West


Simon Clarke

Middlesbrough South & Cleveland east


Ben Bradley



Matthew Offord



Andrew Lewer

Northampton South


Andrew Stephenson



David Morris

Morecambe & Lunesdale


Justine Greening



George Eustice

Camborne & Redruth


Mike Freer

Finchley & Golders Green


Iain Stewart

Milton Keynes South


Bob Blackman

Harrow East


Mark Lancaster

Milton Keynes North


Richard Harrington



Ian Duncan smith

Chingford and Woodford Green


John Stevenson



Nicky Morgan



Robert Halfon



Margot James



Jeremy Lefroy



Ken Clarke



Bill Cash



Caroline Spelman



Philip Dunne



Jeremy Hunt

South West Surrey



Peoples Assembly Saturday 1st July Demo

If previous experience is anything to go by this demo next Saturday is going to be huge. It was one of the highlights of my career to speak in front of over 5000 people in Parliament Square at the rally a couple of years ago, so I am disappointed that leave commitments prevent me joining with Napo members this time round.

The march will assemble outside BBC Broadcasting House at 12:00 and one can only hope that the BBC will actually notice the fact this time.

Napo members attending might want to meet up on the steps of All Souls Church Langham Place.

Enjoy the day!

Bravery of the highest order

Last Monday’s despicable attack on Muslim worshippers in North London has been rightly condemned as being just as heinous as the other atrocities that have taken place recently. Albeit that the loss of life was not as big, it could easily have been worse, and again our thoughts go out to the victims and their families.

Once again we have witnessed incredible bravery in the face of terrorism, this time in the form of the intervention of Imam Mohammed Mahmoud to save the suspected perpetrator of the attack from the possibility of instantaneous retribution by an understandably furious crowd.

Imam Mahmoud showed selfless courage to intervene but additionally he visibly demonstrated his fundamental belief that all lives have value, when the assailant clearly thought otherwise.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog