Parliamentary Bulletins

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Published March 2016

Ministry of Justice Changes to Pre-Sentence Reports

The MOJ recently published a Probation Instruction on Determining Pre-Sentence Reports following a consultation period with the Unions. Napo submitted a detailed response (extracts from the response are attached in Appendix 1) via our professional committee which consists of probation practitioner members from all grades of staff. court reports are completed by the National Probation Service for all cases.

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Published 2 February 2016

Job Cuts in Community Rehabilitation Companies

Sodexo:

Sodexo own 6 of the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s) in England and Wales, Northumbria, Cumbria & Lancashire, Essex, South Yorkshire, East Anglia and Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire Cambridgeshire & Hertfordshire. Last year Sodexo announced 600 redundancies across all 6 CRC’s. The unions have managed to reduce this number to 450 but this is still a significant loss of staff who have already shown extreme resilience to the changes they have faced in the last 18 months.  

On top of the proposed job cuts proposed by Sodexo Napo has also taken issue with their proposed estates strategy. Sodexo had proposed open plan offices for staff to work with offenders. At Napo’s AGM in October 2015, Napo passed an emergency motion demanding that Sodexo halt their estate strategy. The motion highlighted a number of serious concerns about the design layouts of the offices, the associated health and safety risks posed to both members and clients and the inappropriateness of using open plan offices and “interview booths” within the context of probation work, as it compromises the confidentiality of clients attending interviews.

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Published 2 February 2016

HMIP – Probation Inspection Report January 2015

Transforming Rehabilitation – Early implementation 4

On 15th January 2015 HMIP for Probation published a report looking at the arrangements for the supervision of offenders post privatisation. The report specifically focuses on systems and processes which underpin the quality of service and impact on rehabilitation. This is the forth report since the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation.

Of note, Paul Wilson, Interim Chief Inspector writes in his introduction that the report does not include Through the Gate resettlement services. The implementation of this service has been slow in both prisons and the community and the disjointed provision currently available is a:

“long way from the seamless Through The Gate service so essential to the challenge of reducing high re-offending rates for this group”.

This is a real concern for Napo as Through the Gate resettlement services were a fundamental part of the government plans to “reform” probation services through privatisation and are a key aspect of the private contracts mobilised 1st February 2014.

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Bulletin 1 - Published 7th May 2014

Why is splitting Probation dangerous for users, staff and the public

From 1st June this will change. NOMS is dissolving Trusts and splitting delivery ...Napo is not alone in having grave concerns about the splitting of this work and the handing over of 70% of services...Splitting service delivery is potentially disastrous and will impact on public safety and public confidence in Probation, as well as on staff and users. The real difficulties are already surfacing as Trust's prepare for the split - dividing staff, increasing bureaucracy, and making risk management more complex and controversial. Indications are that it is also proving to be more expensive then NOMS stated, and Napo fears that if CRCs are sold-off then NOMS will not have the capacity to safely manage further budget constraints. Inevitably they will need to focus upon finding savings in the area they most directly control - meaning disproportionate future cuts in the NPS managing high risk offenders.

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Bulletin 2 - Published 14th May 2014

Transforming Rehabilitation: Staffing Crisis

Since the implementation of the Coalition’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme, Napo is being inundated with information from members regarding staffing issues and workloads. Members describe the service being “in chaos and on its knees”. This bulletin highlights some of the examples we’ve been given regarding staffing and workloads which raise serious concerns about the ability of the Probation Service to function in the short and long term.

We would urge parliamentarians to rigorously scrutinise the process of privatising the Probation Service, as we believe its inability to run effectively will seriously compromise public protection.

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Bulletin 3 - Published 21st May 2014

Public Accounts Committee says don't sell probation until it's safe

On 20th May the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published its scrutiny report into NOMS’ Transforming Rehabilitation agenda and their planned privatisation of the Probation Service. The PAC make seven key observations or recommendations and insist the programme remains under close scrutiny to maintain public protection and value for money to the taxpayer. Critically the PAC say NOMS must report back explaining how it has tested the programme’s readiness to sell off and why they think it is safe to do so before any sale of the  21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCS). Napo fully support the PAC and want parliamentarians help to ensure NOMS meet the PAC’s recommendations.

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Bulletin 4 - Published 28th May 2014

35 Probation Trusts Close – New Organisations Are not Business Ready or Safe!

All 35 Probation Trusts across England and Wales close on 31st May to be replaced by the National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) on 1st June; but neither of the new organisations is business ready. Napo has been collating evidence over the last few weeks of the impact of Transforming Rehabilitation on staff welfare, service delivery and public risk, and it is clear that to close the Trusts on 31st May is simply dangerous.

Ursula Brennan, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice, told the Public Accounts Committee that Transforming Rehabilitation and the closures of Trusts would only happen if it was “business ready” which was highlighted in the PAC report – “We therefore welcome the Ministry’s commitment to only proceed at each stage of the programme if it is satisfied it is safe to do so and that value for money will not be jeopardised.”

However, our information from probation staff across England and Wales indicates that it is not safe to proceed and does not represent value for money.

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Bulletin 5 - Published 5th June 2014

Probation Staffing Crisis Continues at Massive Cost to Tax Payers and Staff

This week saw the end of the 35 Probation Trusts in England and Wales and the start of a new organisation the National Probation Service and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies; but both organisations still lack the staff to fill the vacancies and allocate cases to ensure safe supervision of offenders in all risk categories (500 vacancies across England and Wales according to an FOI submitted by the Labour party).  So desperate is the Ministry of Justice to find new staff that they issued an advert in this week’s Guardian.  The advert is calling for Probation Officers from Australia and New Zealand currently living in the UK to apply for temporary jobs in the two organisations. They are offering a significantly higher hourly rate than existing staff.

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Bulletin 6 - Published 11th June 2014

TR – Computer Chaos and Reduction in Service Delivery

Despite the announcement from the MOJ that the IT update for the National Probation Service and the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies went well last week, Napo is being inundated with emails from concerned members that there have been a significant number of issues with the IT. NDelius, the IT system that allows staff to record all contact with offenders and produce reports, was updated last week in readiness for the new organisations to come into place. The system was down for up to four days in some areas while this took place, leading to a backlog of records to be imported. Now the overall system is up and running there are still a number of residual issues:

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Bulletin 7 - Published 25th June 2014

Transforming Rehabilitation - Court Chaos, Excessive Workloads and Unanswered Questions

Since 1 June, which saw the implementation of the National Probation Service (NPS) and 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC’s), there has been a significant drop in service delivery to the Courts. Poor IT systems, lack of access to offender records and staff shortages have led to serious delays and frustrations for probation staff, Magistrates and the Judiciary. Napo has received the following information that we believe should be addressed as a matter of urgency by the Ministry of Justice and the Government should halt its plans on TR until the basic infrastructure is in place.

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Bulletin 8 - Published 2nd July 2014

Probation bidders - where is the competition?

30th June was the deadline for those interested in buying the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies to submit their bids. Napo is aware that at a number of bidders have pulled out of the process citing financial and operational risks as the main reason. Napo is concerned that this means the majority of bidders for 70% of the Probation Service are not third sector or voluntary organisations, as the Secretary of State had hoped; but in fact large international conglomerates that have little or no experience of working in Probation or have worrying track records both here and abroad.

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Bulletin 9 - Published 11th July 2014

Workloads hit crisis point in Probation

Since the 1st June Napo as gathered considerable evidence that the probation service is in chaos as a direct result of the Secretary of State’s rushed plans to split the service ready to sell off 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) by October this year. Despite public announcements by the Ministry of Justice and the Secretary of State that these are simply teething problems following the reorganisation, Napo firmly believes that the evidence provided by our members indicates that the service is at crisis point in both organisations.

There is now a high risk of harm to the public with staff trying to cope with unmanageable workloads and a significant cost to the taxpayer.

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Bulletin 10 - Published 17th July 2014

MoJ in denial about TR chaos and staff concerns

On 4th July 2014 Napo the three Probation unions wrote the Chief Executive of the National Offender Management Service, Michael Spurr, raising our concerns about the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation.

The letter focussed on:

  • Continuing risk of harm to staff and members of the public as a result of excessive workloads, inappropriate allocation of cases to staff and the flawed new Risk of Recidivism Tool (RSR Tool).
  • The emotional breakdown and high sickness rates being suffered by staff who have been left in chaos by the rushed split of the probation service.
  • Non allocation of cases due to staff shortages and IT failures.

On 9th July Michael Spurr responded to the letter with the following comments in relation to the points raised.

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Bulletin 11 - Published 27th August

The de-professionalising of the 107 year old probation service

The Probation Service was founded in 1907 to help rehabilitate offenders in the community and assist them in making changes to their life. Since then the Service has significantly developed both in terms of its evidence based practice, doing what works to reduce re-offending and developing the professionalism of its staff. To qualify as a probation officers you must complete a degree which specifically focuses on working with offenders to reduce crime and to protect the public along with in house training that takes a total of two years to complete. It is for this reason the Probation Service of England and Wales is revered around the world as the most successful model to reduce re-offending, protect the public and rehabilitate offenders. In 2011 it was awarded the European Gold Award for Excellence, one accolade normally reserved for the private sector; and by 2013 all 35 Probation Trusts were given a performance level of good or excellent.

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