Thursday, 27 October 2016

The Inspector's Thoughts

Sentences, sentencing and probation in the new world 

Good afternoon and thank you so much for inviting me to address what I believe to be the first meeting of the Probation-Sentencer Liaison Network. It is a privilege to do so in this beautiful building, built in 1939 in the grand, neo-georgian style. 

Sentencers and probation professionals have worked together and alongside each other since time immemorial – or at least since 1876, when probation services first began. In that year, Hertfordshire printer Frederic Rainer, a volunteer with the Church of England Temperance Society wrote to the society of his concern about the lack of help for those who come before the courts, and he donated five shillings (25p) towards a fund for practical rescue work in the police courts. The Society responded by appointing two "missionaries" to Southwark court with the initial aim of "reclaiming drunkards". This formed the basis of the London Police Courts Mission, whose missionaries worked with magistrates to develop a system of releasing offenders on the condition that they kept in touch with the missionary and accepted guidance. 

Ten years later, The Probation of First Time Offenders Act allowed for courts around the country to follow the London example of appointing missionaries, but very few did so. The 1907 Probation of Offenders Act offered some encouragement, in that it gave the missionaries official status as "officers of the court", later known as probation officers, but government gradually became rather disaffected with these missionaries – seeing them as ‘often not well educated, and their temperence orientation - securing attendance to church and encouraging pledges to avoid alcohol - overshadowed proper probation work’. That said, it was not until 1938 and as this building was built, that the service was established on a proper footing as a professional, public service. So, our association is not so ancient, after all. As with this building, it is easy to assume it is older than it is. 

Enough of the past, as we are here to talk of the present and the way this established relationship works now, in what you have called the new world. Many of you will have much more everyday experience of this than me, and experience of many years, and so I hesitate to give my own views, and will happily stand corrected. What I do have to say is taken from my short experience so far as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation, and from the inspections we have undertaken during and since the implementation of the new delivery arrangements for probation services. 

We first inspected the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation in 2014 and produced our fifth and final TR implementation report in May this year. In each report we consider the relationship and working practices as between three key players – the NPS, the CRC and the court and its sentencers. Back in Autumn 2014 we found there were significant challenges in getting the court end processes working as they should. More positively, the quality of reports provided by the National Probation Service to courts supported sentencing proposals appropriately, but communications between the three key players were still developing. Arrangements have developed since then of course. Let me speak of court reports first of all, and then go on to communications between the three key players before touching, finally, on sentencing. 

Court reports 

In the last of our Transforming Rehabilitation implementation inspection reports in May this year, we found that courts reports varied in quality, with written reports generally much better than reports presented orally. 

Unsurprisingly, assessments were generally better for cases allocated to the National Probation Service than to the Community Rehabilitation Companies; these are the higher risk and Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement cases and were more likely to have been adjourned for a written report, allowing the author more time to gather information. 

In some cases the risk of serious harm presented by the offender was not fully assessed, sometimes because checks had not been made to find out whether there were concerns about child safeguarding or domestic abuse, or the results of such checks had not been received. Where information was missing at the point of sentence, this should have been recorded on the allocation documentation, but was often missing or not always read by the responsible officer to whom the case was subsequently assigned. In addition, in some cases there was no written record of the oral report which had been presented to the court. 

Some court staff had not received sufficient training, and lacked confidence in completing the necessary assessments. Some report writers did not know enough about the work offered by the local Community Rehabilitation Company, which made it difficult for them to propose interventions most likely to address the offender’s problems. Sometimes they proposed a rehabilitation activity requirement ‘to address offending behaviour’, rather than a more targeted proposal which would help the responsible officer assigned to the case quickly to plan the appropriate work. 

As you know, the new arrangements put an increased emphasis and dependency on the quality of court reporting, and this has been proving problematic, in part due to the demands of speedy justice. Oral reports are increasingly common, but a good system record and domestic abuse and child safeguarding checks are needed in all cases, so as to inform sentencing and enable Community Rehabilitation Companies to focus promptly and knowledgeably on the work needed to reduce reoffending. In addition, court staff need to be sufficiently aware of what Community Rehabilitation Companies can offer so as to advise the court appropriately in relation to rehabilitation activity requirements, a common feature of course of community sentences. 

Let me expand, and also give you an example of how these arrangements can work sufficiently well. Under the new probation service arrangements there is a fault line between the NPS and CRCs, with NPS staff preparing court reports that both sentencers and CRCs rely on. About a third of these are oral reports (to meet the needs of speedy justice). 

At the moment reports vary in quality, with written reports generally much better than reports presented orally. Sometimes checks are not made to find out whether there are concerns about child safeguarding or domestic abuse, or the results of such checks are not received in time. And sometimes those writing reports do not know enough about the work offered by the local CRC, making it difficult for them to propose interventions likely to address the offenders’ problems. 

Hats off then to the team in Hull, Humberside, where the Court administration staff initiate children's services and domestic abuse checks at the earliest opportunity and indeed when we inspected we found that on the overnight lists of those appearing in court the next day, they had already been marked with tiers, risk status and relevant information needed for court duty. This included information about domestic abuse and breach. 

We also observed discussions between the Court team and a range of people, including ushers, solicitors, and the CPS. The discussions included sharing information about individuals in the cells about whom the NPS had not been informed. Court staff were confident, known throughout the court and were knowledgeable and well regarded. They were approachable and they used their authority well, we thought. 

There was a good level of information provided by children services and the police, and the Court staff were proactive. So we saw telephone contact with DRR workers about the suitability of a DRR proposal for Crown Court. We also saw good use made of previous information known about offenders, and staff were astute in picking up where there were potential issues, including mental health concerns. 

In short, the staff had good processes, and had a really good understanding of them. They were well regarded and respected, they were thinking ahead, making the most of the good relationships they had established, and they were assiduous. They were well led. But of course, we will not find this everywhere. We are now inspecting probation services delivered by the NPS and CRCs in individual PCC areas, and let see what we have found in our two most recent inspections. 

In Derbyshire we found that overall, courts had well-established processes in place to enable the completion of quality reports, supported by full and accurate risk assessments. Court work had been prioritised within the NPS. The NPS team was seen as being well-organised and efficient in delivering work for the court. The magistrates and the Judge to whom we spoke were positive about the service received from probation staff at court. Magistrates considered that on the day reports were helpful, comprehensive and thorough. In the main, they felt confident about following the proposals in reports. They were routinely offered the full range of sentences including unpaid work, curfews and programmes. 

In our last adult probation services inspection in Kent, we found the NPS struggling in many respects but even so, Court reports were of a good standard overall. The reports we saw had proposals that focused on the right issues in four out of five cases. We thought that the overall assessment (at the point of allocation) in relation to reducing reoffending was sufficient in 73% of cases, and it was clear that those that worked in the court were thought to be delivering a high quality service. 

We will continue to look at the quality of court reports in every adult probation services inspection we do. We know there will be problems, and shortfalls in some areas and where we find that, we will make recommendations for improvement, but if our recent inspections are indicative then court work and court reports are improving. 

Of course, our recent inspections may not be indicative. We do want to know whether they do represent the position more widely, and before leaving court reporting and moving on to communications, I should say that to reassure ourselves and others, we are conducting a thematic inspection of court work, and court reporting. I am sure you will be interested in what we find, and in any recommendations we make. 


Let me turn now to communications between the three key players. By May this year, and in the last of out series of TR implementation reports, we found that those communications had improved. Certainly the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies were working and communicating better together than they were in the months immediately following implementation, although there is always room for improvement and of course there will be local variations.

So for example in our recent inspection of services for women who offend, published last month, we found Magistrates and District Judges were generally positive about their working relationships with the National Probation Service staff. They told us that they were normally able to obtain sufficient information from pre-sentence reports on women, to inform sentencing decisions. 

They commented, however, that reports were not usually female-specific and did not differentiate the needs of women from those of men. This mirrored our findings, in that we found that it was not always possible to tell the individual’s gender from reading the report. And sentencers lacked information about interventions specifically designed for women, in particular rehabilitation activity requirements and local support services. We found that concerning, of course, and I will come back to rehabilitation activity orders shortly.

Sentencers also felt they lacked information about outcomes for women, and the progress they were making following their court orders. They said they would welcome regular updates of aggregate information and trend data. Suggestions included regular newsletters, joint meetings, or informal feedback sessions. 

Despite these expressed concerns, in that inspection we found some excellent examples of good communications practice and in the time I have left today I will mention three in particular, as they relate not just to communications about women before the court. Rather, they are examples of how communications can work well more generally between the three key players (NPS, CRC and sentencers) and more widely. 

Probation Liaison Committee: Camden 

The Camden Probation Liaison Committee is attended by the District Judge and six magistrates, together with NPS senior managers. There are bi-monthly newsletters for magistrates, with updates on probation service matters. Good links exist between the legal team and probation staff. Within the court there is a community advice desk, with a debt clinic, housing advice and signposting to services. Early morning awareness-raising sessions were about to be introduced as we inspected, and this was welcomed by sentencers. 

Probation liaison meetings: Wrexham 

In Wrexham, probation/magistrates liaison meetings are held twice per year, covering a range of topics. Sentencers had a very clear understanding of the profile of women who offended in their area and the types of offences they committed, incidentally, and they also felt that good information was provided about voluntary sector services and also substance misuse services. A mental health worker was present when the court was sitting, and sentencers were able to consult with probation court duty staff if specific information about a case was required. 

Links with mental health services: Brighton and Bristol 

We have found strong links with mental health teams in both Brighton and Bristol. In Brighton, mental health workers together with police community liaison officers meet with service users where necessary, either in police custody or in the magistrates court. In Bristol, sentencers felt they received good and timely information from the mental health team. This gave them the confidence to consider recommendations for community sentences for women with complex mental health needs. 

We provide details of these examples in our Women’s thematic report, and hope that those involved in criminal justice find that they stimulate thought, and action where it is needed to improve communications.


Let me end by touching on sentencing, and one type of order in particular, as I was ask to speak about sentences, sentencing and probation in the new world. In this new world we have a new type of order, the Rehabilitation Activity Requirement order – in effect an umbrella order, with CRCs able to design and interventions to suit individuals sentenced to up to a specified number of RAR days. 

We are aware that sentencers’ confidence in these orders varies, most especially if you are not sure what interventions, what work will be undertaken with the offender, and whether or not that work is likely to be effective in reducing reoffending. We are interested in Rehabilitation Activity Requirement orders, and how they are working in practice, and indeed we have thematic inspection in hand. Field work is well underway, and we expect to publish our findings in the spring. 

And here we are doing something a little different. We will publish our report, yes, but we will also publish our view on what good RAR looks like. We will set out in a separate document what we expect to see, and what we judge is acceptable as CRCs implement RAR orders, so that all CRCs can see and refer to that, as they consider and evaluate their own practice. And over time, we hope that this will make it more likely that good RAR activity is delivered consistently, and consistently well so that sentencers can have more confidence in these orders. 


Probation started as a volunteer service with the initial aim of ‘reclaiming drunkards’. The service and our expectations of it have moved on. We now expect probation services to protect the public, ensure the sentence of the court is served, and to reduce reoffending. Probation work can get off to a good start if court reports are comprehensive and well prepared, so that sentencers can sentence confidently and appropriately. Communication between the key players before, during and after sentencing has a critical role to play. 

We will continue to inspect and report on probation services, and play our full part in both reporting good practice, and driving improvement where it is necessary in sentencing and probation in the brave new world. 

Thankyou. Thankyou for listening.

Dame Glenys Stacey 

Probation-Sentencer Liaison Network (PSLN) - The Probation Institute (PI) and Magistrates’ Association (MA) Middlesex University, 18 October 2016 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Prison News 4

This piece from the Guardian serves to highlight what happens when government ignores the warnings from people on the frontline:- 

We governors warned of the danger of more prison deaths, but no-one listened

The recent stabbing to death of Jamal Mahmoud, a prisoner at HMP Pentonville, shone a light into a dark world.

At our annual prison governors’ conference in Derby earlier this month, we took the unprecedented step of voting unanimously for an independent public inquiry into the extraordinary rise in violence and deaths in prisons since 2012, the year the Ministry of Justice cut budgets by 15.6%. This call was tragically prophetic because six days later, Mahmoud was killed.

Our condolences go to Mahmoud’s family and friends, but our thoughts are also with the staff involved. Most people do not appreciate how dedicated and professional most prison workers are, or what a devastating impact this incident will have on their morale.

For many prison governors involved in these types of incidents, it is the start of a long process of external scrutiny that will put them under intense, personal pressure over many months, if not years.

Should we have seen this coming? In short: yes.

In October 2015, I wrote that plans from the then justice secretary Michael Gove for rehabilitating prisoners through education was not a panacea while prisons continued to be starved of resources. Prisoners are not likely to focus on education if they are more concerned about being mugged on the way to the classroom.

This May, I wrote in response to Gove’s address to prison governors, where he stated just how terrible the figures for deaths in custody and violence are, (for example, there were 100 self-inflicted deaths in custody, up from 79 the year before) and said that only when prisons are places of calm stability would we be able to make the difference we need to. Our association would agree, but every key indicator tells us that prisons are anything but calm places and the future looks very bleak.

In July, Mahmoud was sentenced to six-and-a-half years for his part in hiding a loaded machine gun and ammunition in a garden in north London and was already serving a five-and-a-half year term for robbery.

If, as Gove stated, the principal purpose of prison is rehabilitation, Mahmoud was an example of someone we desperately needed to rehabilitate. But that cannot be achieved when violence and intimidation are a normal part of prison life.

In May, Gove called for prison governors to lead with “moral purpose not manuals and rulebooks”. While recognising the economic climate, we in the Prison Governors Association (PGA) urge the government to do the same. Investing in prisons will mean fewer victims of violence, as well as long-term economic savings.

Liz Truss, the current justice secretary, told the PGA that safety is at the top of her agenda and we believe her. However, this needs to be backed up with more than the £14m she promised earlier this month, which will only pay for 400 extra officers in just 10 prisons.

Eoin McLennan-Murray, a former president of the PGA, said in February 2014 that staff shortages and increasing numbers of incidents were creating a “perfect storm” that would destabilise prisons.

That storm has arrived. It’s about time the government listened to the concerns that prison governors have raised. Ministers cannot declare that governors should be empowered to lead our prisons but then fail to respond when they identify significant flaws. If there is still a reluctance to listen to the plethora of warnings governors are giving, then ministers must take notice of the hard statistics.

John Attard, National officer, Prison Governors Association

Monday, 24 October 2016

A Prison Blueprint

A Matter of Conviction: a blueprint for community-based rehabilitative prisons

In January 2016, the RSA and Transition Spaces embarked on the Future Prison project, which set out to explore how prisons in England and Wales could better support rehabilitation. Our final report sets out a blueprint for a community-based rehabilitative prison and a policy framework to support such models.

Download the full report — A Matter of Conviction (PDF, 5 MB)

  • The potential impact that prisons could have on reducing reoffending and community safety has been undermined by a lack of consistent political leadership and clear purpose.
  • This has led to reactive policy, episodic change, and an over-centralised system which has disempowered the workforce and undermined public confidence.
  • The government’s commitment to prison reform is welcome and must be underpinned by a long-term vision of reform capable of securing cross-party consensus and mobilising public support.

The Ministry of Justice should publish a 2017–2020 National Rehabilitation Strategy.

This should focus on reducing risk and strengthening rehabilitation, prioritise integration between prisons and probation and have the explicit support of other departments, including the Treasury, the Department of Health, the Home Office, the Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions. The strategy should seek to drive long-term system change and prioritise the following 10 key changes:

1. Create a Rehabilitation Requirement — The government’s white paper should include a rehabilitation requirement for prisons and probation. This should be a legal duty and require prisons and probation to track individual and institutional progress in relation to rehabilitation.

2. Return frontline staffing to 2010 levels — As a foundation of reform, additional investment is urgently needed to reduce security and safety risks and to protect prisoners and frontline workers.

3. A 2020 Rehabilitative Workforce Plan — Linked to new recruitment, this should develop a new training offer, skills strategy and career paths for prison officers and focus on developing a rehabilitative workforce with transferable skills across prisons and probation.

4. A Centre of Prisons Excellence — Delivered through an ambitious model for the current training centre, Newbold Revel, this should learn from the College of Policing and consideration should be given to a centre working across prisons and probation.

5. An arms-length, more independent NOMS — NOMS should become a smaller arms-length function with greater independence from the Ministry of Justice. This would focus on resilience issues such as population management, the high-security estate and particular security issues.

6. An enhanced and more Integrated Prison and Probation Inspection Regime — This should include making the prisons inspectorate compliant with the obligations from OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture), which should be put on a statutory footing. The inspectorates should develop consistency on assessing rehabilitative outcomes such as education, employment and family relationships and introduce outcomes on leadership and management. A review of Independent Monitoring Boards (IMBs) should be undertaken to explore the potential of developing their role to track inspection recommendations.

7. Creation of Local Prison Boards — In developing greater autonomy, stability and ensuring safety and risk are managed, the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) should hand over prison funding to local boards and prison governors with some key obligations that ensure that the national resilience work and population flow is mandated. Local prison boards would oversee long-term strategy and should aim to increase governors’ tenure as appropriate. Such a move would retain the national prison service but enable greater local control, including the development of special purpose vehicles to drive innovation and integration, and secure additional funding from private/corporate/charitable partnerships. The local prison board could include representation from a major employer in the area, health providers and commissioners, prisoners’ families, the local authority economic development lead, a housing provider, NGO consortia, Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), the local FE and university, the National Probation Service (NPS), the area criminal justice board lead and a member of the prison’s rehabilitative council.

8. New devolved powers for governors and PCCs — In giving governors greater freedoms and introducing more local autonomy, the government should adopt a staged process of devolution with a focus on expanding the remit of Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) and ensuring that scrutiny arrangements are in place to take on wider responsibilities and risk. In the interim, Regional Rehabilitation Boards would be responsible for developing Regional Rehabilitation Strategies 2017–2020 in line with the national strategy and vision of the new Rehabilitation Requirement.

9. Integration of Health Services — In addition to involving Public Health England and the NHS in developing more devolved arrangements, the government should ensure that Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNA) provide clear statutory guidance on people on licence in the community, and those in custody, and that Health and Wellbeing Boards be instructed to include prisoner populations explicitly in their priorities.

10 Designing in Rehabilitation — The government’s prison building programme should be informed by first principles and by evidence of what supports rehabilitation, including size, locality, available networks and employment.

A Matter of Conviction argues that this model will ultimately serve to create a self-improving, more cost effective and innovative system.

Download the full report — A Matter of Conviction (PDF, 5 MB)

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Yet Another Million

The timing is not ideal as I'm still on holiday and trying not to spend too long on the laptop, but the counter indicates that this blog will quite shortly pass another significant milestone with a further million hits recorded. 

I seem to recall that on previous occasions it has been known for the odd celebratory glass or two to be consumed, but to be honest that's not likely given the continued daily cataloguing of the steady decline of a once proud profession. So many great, dedicated and skilled people forced out of a vital job, undertaken in the public service, but still sadly little understood.  

The blog started as a modest attempt at improving public understanding of a largely hidden and secretive agency of the state, but it's ended up cataloguing its demise instead. We've still not reached the end game and the omnishambles will undoubtedly continue to worsen.

If you've stuck with me thus far, I thank you warmly for your company, erudition and largely good humour. The blog has always felt like an extended family and of course that's what many of us fondly remember from probation days gone. If you can, please keep sharing information, because all the key probation stakeholders absolutely hate us doing that, but I guess that's precisely why so many readers keep coming back. 

Here's to the next chapter then and maybe another million.        

Guest Blog 61

The Joys of Learning the E3 Way

How many of you will remember attending interesting and stimulating training sessions, which in some cases, changed the way we worked together and with clients; and in some cases, changed how we viewed the world of Criminal Justice. A fond memory is that of the 'M62 Club' or more correctly known as the Forensic Psychiatric Interest Group. 

I learned so much and networked with other professionals across psychiatric provision and the secure hospitals, from Leeds to Manchester, Prestwich and Liverpool. Those were the days of enlightenment. However, now as a member of the Civil Service, I find myself wondering what in-service training and development is all about?

Now, bear in mind that we are discouraged from visiting prisons, even when just down the road, or doing any unnecessary journeys in our cars, due to the cost implications, I was completely thrown by the distances I may have to travel in order to complete mandatory training.

Much of this training starts with a boring and tedious on line interactive test, following the completion of a work book. Mandatory training in Adult/Child Safeguarding, and Domestic Abuse are then scored, and once passed, you need to secure a place in a classroom, presumably to build on what appears to be very basic theories and principles.

We seem to be receiving continuous requests by e-mail to complete this learning; and due to warnings that we are being watched, to see how many of us are actually accessing equip and other Civil Service sites, I decided I needed to give it a whirl. So a group of us, one of whom had successfully negotiated their way through the Civil Service site, onto the 'catalogue' we searched for a vacancy on the 2 day course. 

We work in a Northern Town so we deliberately looked for venues within our reach, ie within a 100 mile radius given it is a journey to be made on two consecutive days. The nearest, was 50 miles away, but it was full; and when we reviewed all available northern venues, they were all full. The available dates, up until January 2017, were all between 200 - 400 miles round trip, not in my opinion suitable to join, without the need for an overnight stay.

Now, don't get me wrong, I appreciate the need to keep up to speed with events, theories and practice, and to be accountable for my own learning, practice and responsibilities. However, I question the wisdom and the ethics of a system of personal development, which seemingly inefficiently runs at the expense of front line work - the bread and butter, our raison d'etre' including face to face people work, engaging with clients, their families and their communities.


An example of the daily nonsense within NPS:-

National Delius Release 3.1 Training


Colleagues; NPS ICT Training Specialist supported teleconference briefings to support Release 3.1 have commenced.

Briefing Schedule

Briefings via telephone conferences have been scheduled to take place from the 2nd through to the 16th September 2016. The following training sessions are available to book onto Nationwide:

Region Type Times

All NPS Divisions from 01.09.16 Telephone Conference/Presentation 09:30-10:30
Telephone Conference/Presentation 11:00-12:00
Telephone Conference/Presentation 15:00-16:00

On Line Self Learning

Additionally I am pleased to announce that if you are unable to join any of the above an alternative is now available via an on-line ‘self learning’ interactive powerpoint presentation, which can be used on your own to familiarise yourself with the changes.

How do I book onto the Training?

Telephone Conference Bookings should be made by Line Managers using Phoenix via OLM (Oracle Learning Management). 
Information on booking is detailed below. On-line ‘Self Learning’ can be accessed by selecting “NDelius R3.1” and clicking on the following link: 

Information for Managers:

1. Log into Phoenix
2. Select Manager Self Service
3. Select the relevant staff member to be booked onto the training
4. Select Manage Learner Action
5. Click on Catalogue in the top right
6. Select National Probation Service (NPS)
7. Select Local Training (and not National Training)
8. Select Next Page until you find NPS (Local) – Local Staff Development
9. Select NPS (Local) – Local Staff Development and select either:

NPS (Local) – Local Staff Development – Briefing (These are for teleconferences)

10. Click on the relevant Course (eg MSS NPS IT – NDelius Rel 3.1 TeleConf)
11. Click Enrol on the right next to the course chosen
12. Click Review
13. Click Submit

Further details on accessing and using OLM can be found on My Services

What happens next?

Those members of staff that have enrolled on a supported teleconference, Joining Instructions will be sent to you prior to the telephone conference training which will include the following:

Details of conference call number for Tele-conferencing training;
How to Join and Rules of Tele-conferencing;
Quick tips on how to View/Print and follow a powerpoint presentation.

For further advice or assistance - Contact your Divisional NPS ICT Training Specialist(s) at: ICT.Training[your division]

Saturday, 22 October 2016


This comment piece from the Guardian is yet more evidence of a system in crisis, largely as a result of politicians of both the left and right having used the criminal justice system as a political football for decades. Now it's all going wrong, they have no answers and whereas the probation service would at one time been part of a solution, daily we see that falling apart as the Grayling TR omnishambles approaches its end game.

This killing in Pentonville lifts the lid on the crisis in our prisons

Murder behind bars – it’s a story that was already written. In fact I could’ve written most of this article months before Tuesday afternoon, when a 21-year-old father lost his life. All that needed to be filled out were the particulars – the names of the prison, the victims and the assailants. The victim was Jamal Mahmoud, who was, according to his friends, not as bad as his conviction for firearms offences suggests. The location: G wing in HMP Pentonville, known as the Gaza Strip among inmates.

To be honest I wouldn’t have been surprised if this had happened while I was locked up in Pentonville in 2011. I saw some nasty stuff, including an east v south London gang fight between 30 people. Occasionally there was blood, or “claret”, splattered on the wall. A guy had boiling water poured over him. But I’m even less surprised that there is bloodshed now because prison standards have slipped since then. They will slip still further unless drastic efforts are made by politicians to challenge the two-dimensional fallacies spread by those who’ve never experienced life behind the wall. We can’t begin to address the problems in our prisons until we have a realistic sense of what they are like.

There is violence, but it is important to understand that life behind bars is nothing like Hollywood’s bloodbath portrayal. On my release, my mind was damaged, but my body was unscarred, principally because I was not involved in the areas that cause the majority of violent incidents – drugs, gangs and severe mental health issues. From the little we know, at least some of these may have played a part in this week’s killing.

The continuing tragedy is that our prisons need not be like this. Gangs are manageable when you retain experienced staff, but we’ve seen valuable personnel demoralised and replaced by lower-paid equivalents in a short-sighted attempt to save money. The older officers I saw knew who was in which gang, and had a chance of keeping things in check.

But when you have a 21-year-old inexperienced prison officer from the provinces trying to cope with inner-city gang feuds, who can be surprised that things go wrong. The drug problem is also preventable with front-end investment. Think rigorous checks on staff and visitors, sniffer dogs, nets that stop drones and packages full of heroin being thrown over the fence. But in the absence of that, one failure begets others. Failure to tackle drugs leads to exacerbated gang problems. The drugs and gangs are interlinked and both cause violence.

The prevalence of drugs also results in countless people being released with addiction problems that they didn’t have when they entered the system. Each day, on leaving my cell, I saw people sprinkling heroin into roll-up cigarettes.

And then there’s mental health. If we lock up people with a clear need for psychiatric care for 23 hours a day, the result is surely predictable. I would hear people wailing and kicking their doors until 5am. One guy would spend each night screaming “ET take me home”.

So much could change if we were more clear sighted. With a relatively small amount of money well spent, the prison system could exponentially reduce all of the causes of violence.

What’s happening in our prisons is less the biblical battle of good and evil that is commonly portrayed, more a matrix of complexities both good and bad. Liberals argue that prisoners are victims of the system; reflexive rightwingers say criminals are completely capable of making decisions and should therefore suffer harsh consequences. Both are right and wrong.

Both fall victim to the lure of easy answers, when the real solutions – with potential for rehabilitation and the prospect of alternative constructive punishments – require time and concentration.

We need a clear-headed conversation that involves inmates and moves away from the old muddled narratives. We have seen this week what happens in prisons when they are starved of resources and run on the basis of politics and prejudice. No one is reformed, no one is protected, no one wins.

Carl Cattermole

Friday, 21 October 2016

Latest From Napo 121

From the General Secretary's latest blog post:- 

Justice Select Committee hear from the MoJ permanent under secretary

As I said last week, events in Probation are getting a pretty good airing within Parliament and occasionally outside as well (see BBC story below).

Last week saw the Justice Select Committee invite MoJ Permanent Secretary Richard Heaton to talk them through his departmental accounts for the previous year and the relevant link (below) to the hearing that took place on 13th Oct and the reference to TR, starts at approximately 10.50am. Interesting stuff where, in the face of a robust grilling about Chris Graylings flagship policy, Richard sounded far from convinced about the tangible outcomes of the programme. Mention is made of re-engineering the CRC contracts and its useful to note that the CRC providers are currently locked in negotiations with NOMS as part of the important Probation Systems Review that I have written about previously, with the outcomes due to be reported to Ministers at the end of the month.

It’s now inescapably clear that despite whatever spin the CRC owners put on it, their empires are failing not just because they aren't getting as much business as expected but also because they are not performing well with suspect operating models resulting in many of them getting consistently fined via service credits.


For several months now the Probation unions have been involved in a dispute with Working Links (now owned by Aurelius) across their three CRC’s.

After several meetings and a determination from the NNC Joint Secretaries which urged the parties to seek assistance from ACAS, it was really useful this morning for the unions to spend some time presenting our issues to the ACAS conciliators.

It would have been great if the employer/owners had pitched up as well, as all of us there in Central London had expected, but for reasons as yet unknown this did not happen. I am sure there is a logical explanation and hopefully we can get all the parties around the table very soon.

It can only be hoped that Working Links/Aurelius are taking stock of the heaps of criticism coming the way of CRC contractors before they stumble on and make irreversible staff cuts that we have told ACAS are not only simply unreasonable but also constitute a risk to staff, clients and the public.

SFO’s – so why do they happen?

Speaking of Working Links, I was intrigued to catch sight of a recent copy of their staff newsletter ‘Justice News’ where, following a number of SFO’s that have occurred under their watch, the company claim that their figures are below the national average. It also explains the commendable steps that they are taking to analyse the facts that have emerged. What most of us will have a difficulty comprehending however is a statement which says: ‘Our experience over the past two years is that more (SFO’S) tend to occur in the summer, for reasons we don’t yet understand- or maybe it’s just coincidence.’

The answer may lie in the fact that summer brings an increase in the transient population across Britain and a correlation in the movement of offenders. Given this obvious fact it is important that providers of probation services (whoever they are) have sufficient skilled practitioners in place with adequate access to relevant data in locations that are fit for the crucial purpose of being able to actually interview people. It might also help if recalls were the norm rather than the exception

Another salient lesson to support this not especially surprising notion, is provided in the excellent Radio 4 Broadcast ‘File on 4’ which provides a pretty damning picture of TR overall, especially in the areas of services for Women and Through the Gate.

In one of the featured case studies, which makes for some very uncomfortable listening, we hear how the perpetrator (who has since confessed) to the murder of a young man, missed 8 appointments in the lead up to the tragedy.

It’s also worrying to hear how the authorities at MOJ central and the CRC’s are reportedly running for the covers when pressed to release information which the families of victims understandably feel they are entitled to.

These are among the many issues that I hope to bring before the Justice Select Committee when I appear before them next month. Meanwhile, my thanks to the Napo members who took part in the programme and our communications team here who helped direct the BBC to all the right places.

News Roundup 6

Three stories worthy of note. This from Civil Service World website:-

Louise Casey: I did not ask DCLG to sit on critical Troubled Families report

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has denied suppressing the findings of a highly critical independent report into its flagship "Troubled Families" programme, as the scheme's former chief Louise Casey hit out at "unedifying" attacks on its work.

The Troubled Families programme was launched by ministers in 2012 before being granted a £900m extension last year, and sees central government give councils up to £4,000 to identify and "turn around" families with entrenched social problems including unemployment, domestic abuse and truancy. The families then receive a dedicated social worker to coordinate public service support to tackle their problems.

But a report published this week by the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) – which was commissioned by DCLG in 2014 – called into question the success of the scheme, saying it could find “no significant or systematic impact” that could be directly attributed to the multi-agency programme.

Appearing before the Public Accounts Committee, DCLG permanent secretary Melanie Dawes rejected suggestions that the department had tried to "sit on" findings it disagreed with, as Dame Louise Casey – who led the first incarnation of the programme – hit out at the NIESR for the way it had presented its own study.

Part of DCLG's analysis was leaked to the BBC earlier this year, prompting questions from MPs on the committee about why the department had taken so long to publish its full study.

Dawes insisted that, although the NIESR's research had been ready in August, it was one part of a wider evaluation exercise commissioned by the department which had not been ready for publication until the "synthesis report" uploaded to GOV.UK this week.

"I don't know what copy the BBC had, of course," she said. "It was a leaked document. What I can say is that the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) bit of the evaluation was finalised at the end of August – that forms part of the overall evaluation. It was big and complex and it did take longer than we expected" – DCLG perm sec Melanie Dawes

Seeking to justify the delays, Dawes said the NIESR's part of the evaluation was based on a "very complicated and quite kind of experimental national data evaluation", and said interim findings from the team had raised concerns in the department that there were "very many data issues" with its initial work.

As a result, Dawes said, officials had "challenged the fundamental basis" of some of the NIESR's analysis, and had called in an academic from the University of Cambridge to review the think tank's findings.

But PAC chair Meg Hillier said it was "extraordinary" that a report initially expected in early 2014 had only been published two-and-a-half years later – and just 48 hours before the hearing by MPs. She asked Dawes what DCLG had been "trying to hide" through the protracted publication process.

The DCLG perm sec replied: "We weren't hiding anything. And, in fact, I should say I think the evaluation is very ambitious – the department invested in a way that no other social programme has invested in evaluation.

Casey, who is now leading a review into opportunity and integration for the government, said there was "no way on god's earth" that it would be helpful for the department to suppress findings. But she attacked the NIESR for publishing its analysis separately of the department's wider report, a move she said had led the media to focus only on its negative findings. "The frustration is that it is one part of a much bigger story," she said.

The NIESR's report found that outcomes for families in the programme were almost identical to those who were not given special treatment, with 45% still claiming jobless benefits a year-and-a-half later, and anti-social behaviour, criminal offences, and truancy levels no lower than for those in the programme.

But while Casey said she did not dispute the central findings of the NIESR's study, she said the negative elements of its work appeared to have been "quite deliberately" emphasised.

"I've got nothing to lose in a scenario like this," she said. "I think lots of comment made by those closely involved with the evaluation – who have been leading on the press in the last few days – has been unedifying. They didn't wait until the rest of the evaluation was out. I'm sure they feel suppressed but that simply isn't true."

Asked by PAC chair Hillier whether she was "unhappy" with the way the NIESR had conducted themselves, Casey replied: "I am, I'll be honest about it. I don't want to make it a personal thing, because actually I accept that this – within the strictures of this one piece of work, it doesn't prove what I hoped it would prove. But did I ask the department to sit on it? No I didn't. I think it's better to have that stuff out and washed out in the public domain so you can have a discourse about it. My frustration, if I'm honest, is that we haven't had a chance to set the record straight."

The former Troubled Families chief said "no one" would dispute "the fact that 116,000 [families] had problems and now have less of those problems". But were you to have read some of the publicity in the last few days and indeed what's been put out by this organisation you would think 'oh, the whole programme's useless'," she said.

Writing on Twitter during Casey's evidence, NIESR fellow Jonathan Portes said his organisation's press release promoting its findings had "simply reproduced" the executive summary of a report signed off by DCLG itself.


This from the BBC website:-

Prison reforms 'simply not achievable' amid 'loss of control'

The government's ambitious prison reform plans are "simply not achievable", the former chief inspector of prisons has warned. Giving a lecture in London, Prof Nick Hardwick said rising suicides, assaults and murders in jails were proof of the "loss of control". His comments come days after a prisoner was stabbed to death and two others injured in London's Pentonville prison.

The government says it will set out prison safety and reform plans soon. It has already announced an extra £10m to be spent on prison safety, and 400 extra staff are due to be deployed by March next year.

In his speech, Prof Hardwick - chief inspector of prisons from 2010-16 - said homicide in prison had previously been rare at between one and three a year, but had risen to seven in 2015 and five so far this year. "I don't believe this recent increase is a coincidence," he said.

"It is the most extreme example of the decline in safety that I... have been warning about for years." Given the loss of control, "ambitious plans to improve rehabilitation and education or tackle extremism are simply not achievable", he said.

"I see no sign that the number of homicides, self-inflicted deaths, self-harm incidents and assaults will not continue to rise. Politicians, policy-makers and senior managers need to think through very, very carefully and honestly the consequences of further deterioration and how this might end up," he added.

He went on to say that the Prison Governors Association's call for an inquiry into the state of jails in England and Wales was "the last thing we need", as it would take years before any action was taken. Instead, he said safety in prisons would only improve if there was "a very substantial increase in staffing levels".

Prof Hardwick became chair of the Parole Board in March this year, and was the first chair of the Independent Police Complaints Commission from 2003 to 2010.


This from the Guardian:-

How management consultants are cashing in on austerity

Since 2010, when the coalition embarked on austerity, one profession has turned cuts to the public sector into a business opportunity: management consultants. How did they get the gig? Are they doing essential work for beleaguered services or are they charlatans with a PowerPoint presentation?

You might ask why Whitehall and councils can’t make these decisions for themselves, but the severity of the cuts has meant that the people who normally make the cuts have themselves been cut. An entire strata of bureaucracy has disappeared, and management consultants have filled the hole. They advise on decisions that will profoundly alter the shape of public services in Britain, and so how they make these judgments is crucially important.

David Craig, a former management consultant with 30 years’ experience, explains that their aggressive business plan involves a problem-finding strategy. “What you’re looking for is something that gives a big emotional shock to the client. We want to take them to what we call the ‘valley of death’.”

The “valley of death” is the apocalypse scenario, telling the troubled organisation that if they don’t do something huge and expensive to change quickly, it’s going to fail, fast.

Very few organisations need a complete overhaul; they need sensible tweaks. But this, Craig says, doesn’t sound dramatic. That’s why you hear consultants refer continuously to “transformation programmes”.

“Once we’ve taken them into the valley of death, it’s time for salvation. Now we go to the sunny uplands: it’s bad, it’s really bad, but working together we can save the situation. It’ll only cost you two or three million, or maybe you need to buy a computer system for another 50 million.”

This strategy of finding things to fix once you’ve got your foot in the door is known in the trade as “land and expand”. “You start to uncover issues in an organisation and put them under pressure,” says John Bennett, a former management consultant to the public sector. But is this cynical or just good business?

In Wales, PricewaterhouseCoopers rolled out a template called an “operating model assessment” across numerous councils, pocketing more than £5m. But this initial work, Bennett says, was to land bigger money with something called a “risk and reward” contract. Instead of accepting a fee upfront, the consultancy firm takes a percentage on any savings it can find. The more cuts that are made, the more money it takes.

One council in south Wales entered into a “risk and reward” contract that reportedly netted PwC 16% profits on all cuts made. This might seem outrageous, but it’s a neat solution to a tricky situation. Councils accused of hiring expensive consultants can use a contract that avoids upfront money. And consultants have a stake in working hard to find new savings rather than rolling out a template.

PwC says: “It is important that our work delivers a tangible return on taxpayers’ investment. Our fees are often – and increasingly – dependent on the performance of our services, whereby we are only paid in full if we deliver the full benefits agreed.”

But is it morally right that management consultants are making a profit from cuts to public services? “I think it’s absolutely right that they should be rewarded for achieving what the public sector wants to achieve,” says Alan Leaman, chief executive of the Management Consultancies Association.

Anthony Hunt, the leader of another Welsh council, Torfaen, says that if the advice leads to some services being protected, then it’s a price worth paying. The danger comes when “strategic partnerships” with consultants create a dependency on consultants.

Consultants have been at the heart of government since the late 60s. Under Harold Wilson’s technocratic revolution, the civil service wasn’t trusted to deliver radical reform. The then minister of technology, Tony Benn, believed outside experts were the only way to make change happen. And so the allure of the “expert” was cemented in the minds of politicians of all political persuasions, and parts of Whitehall’s civil service were sidelined.

Some accountants and IT managers turned consultants, became outsourcing suppliers, running everything from prisons to road maintenance. They had figured out that actually running a contract worth billions was more lucrative than advising on who should run it, for mere millions.

McKinsey & Company has advised and restructured everyone from the White House to General Motors since the 1920s. But it has also been entangled in Enron and John Major’s privatisation of Britain’s railways. Firms such as McKinsey have been at the heart of government for so long, they arguably now provide the continuity and in-house knowledge the civil service once did, so the question is: what’s the problem?

The answer might be lack of transparency, which creates suspicion, even if it may be unfounded. There are good consultants out there, doing valuable work helping public services in critical condition stay alive. Their work is focused and necessary but here’s the key thing: they walk away when the job is done. It’s just the other kind we should worry about.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

CRC Dispute - Latest 8

Working Links Response sent to Napo members in the Souh West yesterday:- 

18th October 2016

Dear Francis,

Thank you for your letter. Whilst we would have preferred to maintain the dialogue with the unions, we realise that is not possible at the moment because the local union representatives are not attending meetings. Therefore we welcome the suggestion of a meeting with ACAS even though it comes at quite an early point in the current procedures. We are keen to do anything to move things forward.

We are therefore available on the following dates for the meeting at ACAS that you propose:

21 October at any time
31 October after 1pm if the meeting is in Euston
4 November at any time

We would also like to add that we are unable to stop any processes while this dialogue takes place, including our current Voluntary Severance process. Our employees are keen to understand their position and to ensure that they have the ability to plan for the future. As Christmas approaches us we do not want them to suffer uncertainty as a result of any further delay. To that end, we hope that you will be able to meet us on any of the dates proposed above and in the meantime will continue working toward a position of clarity with volunteers as previously indicated.

We will deal with the substantive issues set out in your letter during our meeting at ACAS and we very much hope that we will be able to move forward.

We look forward to receiving your dates and to arranging a time to meet.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Hindson
Managing Director Justice WL CRC

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

CRC Dispute - Latest 7

Here we have a joint statement from Napo, Unison and GMB:-

For distribution to all trade union members across the three Working Links owned Community Rehabilitation Companies

No to Job Cuts...yes to fair play for staff.. Probation trade unions standing up for you!

18 October 2016

DISPUTE LATEST - ACAS asked to intervene

Last week saw the issue of an interim determination by the National Negotiating Council Joint Secretaries following the oral and written evidence that was presented to them by the parties to the dispute at a meeting held on 5th October.

The Joint Secretaries observations (attached) raise some serious questions about the underlying aspects of the dispute and recognise the fact that industrial relations have reached an impasse. It is therefore no surprise that a key recommendation in the determination is that the parties agree to urgently meet with the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) to explore whether a resolution of the dispute can be reached.

At the time of writing we understand that a senior ACAS Conciliator has been assigned to the case and that attempts are underway to contact all parties to see if an initial meeting can be convened later this week to map out a series of further meetings where the parties can attempt to find common ground.

What this dispute is about

Whilst the probation unions are fully prepared to enter discussions that can be brokered by ACAS, we thought it would be helpful to again spell out to our members (and prospective members) why we have had to lodge a formal dispute with the three CRC employers concerned.

Job cuts and voluntary redundancy: The unions have made it clear that we oppose the concept of further staff reductions as we remain unconvinced that they are justified. The unions are also concerned that the operational model Working Links are trying to construct is unproven and represents a risk to the safety of staff, clients and the public.

Nevertheless, the probation unions have made it repeatedly clear, despite the employers intention to press ahead with their staff reduction programme, we are insisting that the option of enhanced voluntary redundancy must be promoted across all three CRCs in order to see what impact this might have on staff currently in post. We have also urged Working Links to instruct their CRC's to seek serious expressions of interest from all staff for EVR so that some informed modelling could be undertaken whilst issues about future WAV volumes and funding are confirmed between the CRC owners and NOMS.

Pay up on EVR: as we have consistently pointed out, without the above steps being taken the unions cannot be seriously expected to countenance a reduction in EVR terms when some staff have already been awarded full packages.

The replacement of the EVR scheme for an inferior voluntary severance scheme is also unacceptable because:

  • Under the terms of the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement, we do not consider that the employer has demonstrated fair and equal treatment of all staff.
  • The employers have not engaged in transparent, equitable and straightforward processes relating to re-organisation.
  • That they have not ensured that unions are properly consulted with and kept informed of plans to reduce the workforce to a so called end state by 31st March which is essentially the locus of this dispute.
  • The existing redundancy policy within DDC CRC does not allow for a variation of the terms for voluntary redundancy and we expect this to be the benchmark across the whole of the Working Links CRC estate. We have offered the support of our local reps in working to a harmonised redundancy policy and this remains on the table. Instead we are now seeing arbitrary attempts to force through changes in each CRC's policies while a dispute is in existence.
  • It is the fault of the contractor that they have failed to adequately take account of their obligation to understand and recognise the express terms and conditions of their potential workforce that were made known to them in the pre-share sale process.
  • The employers continuing refusal to withdraw the Section 188 notices which we believe will allow CRC employers to rely on in future as justification for commencing a formal period of consultation over compulsory redundancy.
  • The failure by the employer to agree to any moratorium or period of reflection to reconsider the current staff reduction proposals in light of the Probation System Review.
  • The lack of additional funding from Aurelius the new owners of Working Links whilst the possibility of new ventures are promoted amongst staff in fear of their livelihoods. We again reiterate our request to meet with members of the Aurelius senior management team so that we can be convinced about the availability of funding to avoid unnecessary job cuts.
Join a trade union now!

The dispute between the Working Links/Aurelius CRCs and the probation unions is about protecting jobs and public safety and ensuring that if some jobs have to be lost then individuals are entitled to the same compensation as already paid to other staff. This, and many more reasons, illustrate why it is more important than ever that staff across the three CRC's belong to a trade union.

More news will be issued to members at the earliest opportunity but the above statement has been issued by the probation trade unions to confirm our position as a response to misleading announcements issued by senior Working Links management.


National Negotiating Council for the Probation Service
Standing Committee for Chief Officer Grades

Employers’ Side Secretary: Francis Stuart 

6th Floor 
Clive House
70 Petty France
London SW1P 3LW

Trade Union Side Secretary: Ian Lawrence
4 Chivalry Road
London SW11 1HT

SCCOG/GMB Joint Secretary: David Walton

14 October 2016

Paul Hindson Working Links
Dianne Powell HR Director Working Links
Dino Peros Napo
Denice James Napo
Pen Gwilliam Napo
Ceris Handley Napo
Rob Robbins UNISON
Glyn Jones UNISON

By e-mail

Dear Colleagues

Dispute between Working Links CRC’s and Probation Trade Unions

Thank you for making the time to meet with the Joint Secretaries on the 5th October to discuss the above dispute and/or making written submissions to us.

We have now had an opportunity to consider the various representations and would wish to make an interim determination as follows.


The Joint Secretaries are aware that the Probation trade unions registered a dispute with Working Links on 28TH June 2016.

This followed months of discussions at Joint Unions and Management level and a number of JNCC’s within the three Community Rehabilitation Companies concerned namely:

  • Devon Dorset and Cornwall
  • Bristol. Gloucester , Somerset and Wiltshire
  • Wales
All three CRC’s were recently acquired by Aurelius but, as far as we can ascertain, continue to be managed by Working Links.

The issues that have given rise to the dispute appear to centre on three key areas. Firstly, the intention of the CRC employers to reduce the staffing profile across the three CRC’s by around 38%, the terms for Voluntary Severance now on offer in place of the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy scheme made available to some existing and former staff, and the level of consultation afforded to the trade unions by the employer under the terms as contained in the National Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement. Whilst we understand that there has been protracted dialogue between the parties, the Joint Secretaries are concerned that it has taken so long for an approach to be made for our intervention. This has limited the scope for us to intercede as constructively as we would have wished especially given the deterioration in relations between the parties.

Interim determination

1. Given the nature of the exchanges with the parties, the Joint Secretaries are seeking clarification of some issues with the NOMS Commercial Directorate (who were unable to attend the JS meeting.

2. It is abundantly clear that despite the efforts of all parties and for any number of reasons, industrial relations are at an impasse and would benefit from the urgent intervention of a third party in the form of the Arbitration and Conciliation Advisory Service (ACAS). Given that this possibility has been put to the parties who have signalled their readiness to engage in this process, the Joint Secretaries would recommend Mr John Woods be contacted in order to facilitate matters.

If this route is followed we invite the respective parties to provide a progress report to us by 3rd November for our further consideration.

3. Whilst there are clearly major points of disagreement between the parties the Joint Secretaries believe that all parties appeared to be genuinely committed to reaching an agreed position if at all possible. The Joint Secretaries would therefore recommend that the CRC employers make reasonable and structured additional facility time available (and workload relief) to enable local Napo, Unison and GMB representatives to take part in these further talks and subsequent engagement between the parties with the position being reviewed at the end of March. If ACAS intervention is agreed we strongly recommend that talks are convened with the utmost urgency with the parties acknowledging that these may need to take place within an intensive timetable.

4. The Joint Secretaries have examined the written exchanges between the parties and the oral representations that were made to us, and would recommend that the following key issues should be factored in to ensure a fully informed process. We commend the fact that there is an existing ‘issues log’ which tracks the key aspects at large in the dispute. This should be updated where appropriate and reissued to all parties (including ACAS, if the parties agree to use this approach) no later than 7 days from the date of this letter to assist the dialogue. The parties may also bring such additional documentation as they see as relevant to the attention of ACAS.

- The rationale for the proposed job reductions and their connection with the current operational model and the implications of any potential contractual changes that may follow as a result of the Probation Systems Review;

- Full and open dialogue over the issue of client and staff and public safety in terms of the Operational Model.

- The rationale as to why the Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme that has already been made available to a number of employees in the three CRC’s concerned is no longer available, and the implications of the recent offer by the employers across each of the three CRC’s of an alternative Voluntary Severance scheme on lesser terms;

- In this respect the Joint Secretaries believe it would assist the discussions if the employers’ refrain from committing agreement to any of the existing applications for Voluntary Severance until further dialogue has taken place as suggested.

- Consideration of the potential equality and demographic outcomes of planned staff reductions by whatever route, especially in relation to the gender aspects.

- Clarification of the exact terms of any early retirement scheme that may be offered.

- Clarification of the status of the Section 188 notices that were served on the trade unions which are clearly a major point of contention within the dispute

- How the parties may put in place a structured and formalised joint approach to avoiding compulsory redundancies by considering invoking the existing redundancy policies and the Management of Change protocols contained therein We note that the employer in the DDC CRC has recently signalled an intention to review the existing compulsory redundancy policy. We also note that the trade unions are unwilling to engage in this discussion whilst a dispute exists, this is an unhelpful situation and the Joint Secretaries suggest that in accordance with our suggestion at paragraph 2 above, that this additional impasse be factored into third party discussions.

- How the parties may be able to facilitate a resumption of local JNCC’s and the Joint Union and Management Forum

We are hopeful that the foregoing represents a constructive agenda which will facilitate the forthcoming dialogue. We wish the parties well in the deliberations to come and remain available to assist if necessary.

Yours sincerely

Francis Stuart
Ian Lawrence
David Walton

NNC/SCCOG Joint Secretaries

Cc Ben Priestley, UNISON
John Woods ACAS
Natalie Sands NOMS Contract Directorate