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.
Aside from the fact that this is another pet project supported by Sam Gyimah, another Minister who seems to have a serious difficulty acknowledging the dismal performance of most private sector providers in probation, it is a move that many tell me will not end well especially if we see more incidents next year like those that saw two murders take place either in or just outside approved premises within a 12 month period.
No show at interviews
Yvonne Pattison and I have had cause to tell the NPS of our disgust that in some cases members have been left standing as a result of contractors not having turned up for some of the 1-1’s with staff.
In light of this, and the paucity of available and meaningful data (even for managers), we have said that unless there is some improvement to what has been a shoddy effort to say the least, then we cannot see how this transfer of engagements can be safely achieved by the intended date of 22nd January.
We are in direct contact with a number of members and are doing our best to obtain some clear facts about what is going on. NPS senior management say that the contractors have now been in touch with AP Managers to arrange meetings and offered their apologies for the confusion. Members who are still unhappy about their situation should contact us to let us know please: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
I am hoping for better clarity here to say the least, by the time we return from the Christmas break.
Government’s written statement on the Lammy Review
Earlier this week I undertook to provide more information on the Government’s response to the review into the treatment of and outcomes for BAME individuals in the justice system.
This was one aspect of Mr Lidington’s speech where I felt a genuine commitment from him to be seen to respond and try to put measures in train to start tackling some of the recommendations. As always, time will tell but below is the statement to Parliament that followed Monday’s address to REFORM.
The Government’s response to the Rt Hon David Lammy Review into treatment of, and outcomes for, BAME individuals in the Criminal Justice System
"In 2016 the Prime Minister asked the Right Honourable Member for Tottenham to chair ‘An Independent Review into the Treatment of, and Outcomes for, BAME Individuals in the CJS’. The Review made 35 recommendations for the Government to implement, and today the Government publishes its response.
The Government welcomes the impetus that the Lammy Review brings to the debate about ethnicity and race, and would like to thank the Honourable Member for Tottenham for his thorough and incisive research on the topic. We welcome the core principles detailed in the Review - transparency, fairness, and responsibility - as a framework on which policy and practice should stand.
In the response, we have clearly outlined the actions we have taken or will take in relation to each recommendation. We have also examined the review to find ideas that, while not being explicit recommendations, nevertheless warrant greater attention and action.
There are already a number of steps the Government has taken in line with the Review recommendations, announced at the publication of the Race Disparity Audit. We are already moving to publish more and better data, and will adopt a co-ordinated approach to improving data quality to determine where disparities occur and why. In addition, the Government has adopted the principle of “explain or change” to identify and objectively assess disparities, and then decide whether and how changes need to be applied. We feel this principle is particularly valuable in relation to smaller groups in the criminal justice system, such as Gypsies, Roma and Travellers, and BAME women.
On a small number of the recommendations we have indicated that we need to proceed with caution, if significant barriers exist that prevent us from implementing a recommendation as it stands. Where this is the case, we aim to be transparent about the reasons and open to change, as circumstances alter.
Beyond the Review’s recommendations, we will set up governance procedures to monitor our progress driven by a Race and Ethnicity Board of senior officials, chaired at the level of Director General within the MoJ. It will update the Criminal Justice Board, of which I am chair. The Race and Ethnicity Board will consider and agree the scope and timelines for the work needed to reduce race disparities. This will include timings for the actions set out in the Government’s response.
These governance structures will cover the agenda articulated by David Lammy, contribute to the wider work around tackling race disparities Government, and direct sustained effort to give this agenda the longevity it deserves."
Probation Journal now offers access to alerts
What I like about the PJ (as well as our highly valued relationship with the editorial team) is that their published material, whilst obviously geared towards practitioners, is always presented in a way that identifies the overarching issues be they about the actual impact on clients, public and staff in way that can be followed by a wider audience.
Not everyone has the time to read PJ from cover to cover although I would recommend you do so, but now we have been advised that Napo members can subscribe to an alerts system by using the following link.
A critical year ahead for Napo
Forgive me for stating the obvious but it will be; and our work during 2017 has put us in as good a position as we could have expected in positioning ourselves for the campaigning and negotiating work ahead of us over the coming 12 months.
The strong tailwind that we received from AGM 2017 has reinforced our efforts on a number of key issues such as pay: where we still await a definitive answer on whether there is more to be had from the discussions we have had with Michael Spurr and whether we can secure the breakthrough on longer term pay reform.
Whilst CAFCASS members have now accepted the pay award this year, they too will want to see meaningful responses from Ministers to the continuing workload issues and improvements to the existing pay mechanisms for staff.
In Northern Ireland our negotiators, assisted by the tremendous work of the Napo Branch Executive, continue to press for a sensible resolution to a potential dispute on supervision arrangements for certain clients where ore members have made it clear that they are prepared to be consulted on the next steps if it becomes necessary.
Similarly, my visits to Working Links Napo members in Devon and Bristol have shown that they too are prepared to consider moving forward to the next stage in our long running dispute and I will be picking up on my round of visits to our members in Wales in early January to hear their views as well.
Our work on the Justice Select Committee front has received a massive boost with the publication of HMI probation and National Audit Office reports that vindicate our campaigns and this year has been amongst the best that Napo has seen for TV and media coverage. Here we have shown that we are fully prepared to expose systemic failure where it is happening but are prepared to work with all employers to protect our members’ jobs and bring about improvements to service delivery.
In the NPS we are pressing management to sort out the dreadful mess they have presided over and the uncertainty that they have created on MFS payments and the well documented pay and pension shambles that was revealed in the summer. We face continual challenges over staffing and training but Napo is in there, working with HR and PQUIP project leaders, ready to play a positive part to secure improvements in these key areas.
The biggest challenge for us is increasing our membership density across all employers and implementing various aspects of our growth strategy. You can see more about my detailed views on this and other things, including my clear intention to help lead this union forward, in the interview I have just done for Napo Quarterly
Have a great winter holiday
Finally, I just want to close this year out by thanking all Napo members for their valued and loyal support and I hope that whether you have a faith or not, you take this opportunity for a well-earned break along with your loved ones.