Further update for Napo members re Judicial Review

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We promised to provide further information to members as soon as we were able to following on from yesterday's news about the decision to discontinue the Judicial Review.
Firstly we can confirm that we will be convening a meeting of Napo Branch Chairs in London next Thursday 18th December (full information will follow by way of a separate circular).

The information vacuum

We appreciate the anger and frustration that some members have expressed.   We are seeking the Court’s confirmation on what we can disclose, but regrettably, we are still bound by the rules of the Court and the confidentiality restrictions that the Court has imposed on material documents.
At a hearing scheduled to take place this Friday we will be seeking our costs in this case, and permission to disclose to you details of the steps that Chris Grayling (SofS) says he will take to address our concerns. This means we are still not in a position fully to answer all of the understandable questions that members have raised with us.

We intend to provide members with as much detailed information as we can after the hearing on Friday, but meanwhile we hope that the following will be of assistance.

Why did we take the action that we did?

Napo is opposed to the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda and the destruction of our gold-standard probation service.  We have been doing all we can to stop the MOJ endangering our members’ safety through its mindless division of the service, making it harder for us to work together to protect the public.

Alongside the political campaign, we have gone to Court to try to get the SofS to say what safety testing he has undertaken, to force him to face up publicly to the dangers, and  so we could challenge him if he did not admit to them or say what he is going to do to stop them.   We hoped that if he had to admit publicly to the chaos and danger he had caused, even he might see sense and reverse the disastrous TR mess he has created.
Throughout the judicial review your Officers have sought legal opinion about our position, in light of the MOJ's responses at different stages. It is now public knowledge that Chris Grayling and his officials refused to reveal key information about the results of his safety testing processes (TG4 and TG5), which he argued must stay secret to avoid de-railing  sensitive commercial negotiations.   By going to Court, Napo got a court order which forced him to disclose the results of the testgates and other additional information.  Napo also sent evidence and examples from members to the SofS about how the dangers are playing out in practice, and he was asked questions in Parliament about why he had not responded.   On 1 December, the General Secretary sent him an 18-page letter of representations based on the testgates (a redacted version of which is available on the Napo website).  Grayling has had to read that letter and respond to Napo’s concerns.

Once we had seen the result of MOJ safety tests, the key areas on which our claim would have been based, centred on the ICT systems, Case Allocation and Staffing.

Napo's efforts have forced the concessions from the Minister that we told you about yesterday.  It is clear that the steps that he told the court he would take are a response by the MOJ to the 18 page letter from the General Secretary last Monday and the evidence we submitted to him on your behalf.
As has been the case on a regular basis over the last few weeks, the Officers have met with leading counsel to review the position.  Last Wednesday 3rd December the Officers unanimously decided to continue with the legal challenge.

It was agreed however, that the position would be reviewed with our counsel again on Monday 8th December once we had considered the decision of the Secretary of State as to whether to proceed, and the further MOJ evidence explaining his decision, which were served on us on the afternoon of Thursday 4th December.  Having spent the weekend analysing this response, we met again in conference on Monday when Napo’s lawyers were unequivocal that we had achieved all we could through the proceedings.

Chris Grayling’s assertion is that risks and weaknesses will be adequately addressed in the CRC’s and the NPS by the time the contracts become operational in February. We are not yet in a position to tell you what the MOJ has said it will do; we are not convinced it can do it.  But we will be holding the SofS to his promises, and demanding that CRC’s keep them too.
We will continue to demand transparency from the MOJ and bidders and monitor their progress.   The fight against TR is not over yet.
Ian Lawrence  General Secretary
Chris Winters  National Co-Chair
Yvonne Pattison  National Co-Chair
Dave Adams  National Vice Chair
Katie Lomas  National Vice Chair
Chas Berry  National Vice Chair
Keith Stokeld  National Treasurer
Jay Barlow  FCS National Vice Chair
Tuesday 9th December 2014