Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A Tragic Waste

Firstly let me start by saying I am one of those that are usually a reader and not a speaker.... however, recent events have gotten under my skin so I feel I have no other choice but to be vocal about my feelings. I feel that I was shafted into the CRC and not sifted!! Then I feel I was shat on from a great height by my SPO and ACE telling me I had a future in the CRC and that my experience and knowledge were valued and that there was a place for me long term. It transpires however, that my CRC just needs me in the short term to keep the service going until they can replace me with unqualified staff.

The union UNISON have done nothing to protect me, instead they have ensured their own jobs in NPS and have now reduced my mileage allowance just as we in the CRC are supposed to be going mobile working!! Hence my decision to withdraw from the union and go it alone, why put my head above the parapet for them when they wont do it for me?

I am managing 'high risk' cases in the CRC because my SPO wont refer to NPS in case there is a financial penalty on refusal... laugh... I could cry!! I am a fully qualified PO, I am trained in risk assessment but my decisions are overrun by arseholes more concerned with keeping their jobs than with concern about public safety, what does that say? The whole TR agenda has been a shambles which is why I have rendered my resignation today as I can no longer be party to such a debacle.

Good luck to those of you who remain, just remember that the whole point of this job was to reach out to people and help them to recognise their risk and to self manage it, to reduce future risk of reoffending and of causing harm to others. The goal posts have moved, payment now is my manipulated results and I am relieved not to be a part of this fucked up process that will result in profit for private companies, but increased risk in our communities. Sleep well those of you that choose to stay. xx

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Pay and Expenses

BR83/2015 (N 13-2015)

Probation Branches
Probation Negotiating Committee
Cafcass SEC (for information only)
Officers, Officials & Staff (for info)


Despite every effort to maintain the earlier engagement with NOMS via the offices of ACAS, it is unfortunate that the NNC Employers have refused to continue our talks which were being held in an effort to resolve the outstanding Napo and Unison disputes over the 0% pay offer that was imposed without negotiation.

Unison members have taken industrial action this month and feedback suggests that a number of Napo members showed solidarity with their UNISON colleagues in a number of locations.

Napo and UNISON have been participating in these talks in good faith, but the NOMS officials representing the Employers Side were unwilling to continue the negotiations. The unions have tried to agree an agenda with the Employers that would have included discussion on the future of national collective bargaining, the potential reform of the pay and grading system, as well as trying to find a resolution to the 2014 pay dispute. 

Here are the key issues which we were prepared to discuss with the Employers:

  • Resolution of the 2014 NNC pay dispute.
  • All staff covered by the 2014/15 NNC pay settlement, including any outcome agreed via the ACAS talks, to receive appropriate payment, whether they are employed by the National Probation Service (NPS) or one of the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs)
  • All parties to the NNC commit to entering into talks in relation to reviewing the NNC pay and reward system as a matter of priority.
  • NNC pay bands need to be addressed as a priority in the review of the pay and reward system, in particular, the need to shorten pay bands in order to aid recruitment and retention and to address potential pay discrimination issues.
  • The harmonisation of key and still outstanding terms and conditions in both NPS and CRCs including Maternity pay, parental leave provision and the privilege day associated with the Queen’s Birthday, and the addressing of these as a matter of urgency.
  • In line with the NNC Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement, all parties to the NNC to work together to review the current national bargaining machinery
  • All parties to the NNC to discuss how the Probation Consultative Forum can be developed as a mechanism for discussion of professional standards, and associated matters, across the NPS and CRCs.
What next? 

NOMS has now dismissed ACAS and have indicated that they no longer wish to use them to seek to resolve the 2014/15 pay dispute. UNISON’s National Probation Committee is due to meet on 5 August to review their industrial action strategy and Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee meets again for a special meeting to discuss our future pay strategy early the following month. 

The frustration of Napo members for the interminable delays in making any progress on pay are well appreciated, but I hope that this update will provide some important context as to the reasons for this. 

The lack of respect for staff in the post-TR world, whether they are working in the NPS or a CRC, is all too apparent.

Yours sincerely

Ian Lawrence      
    Chris Winters          Yvonne Pattison 
General Secretary   National Co-Chair    National Co-Chair


31 July 2015
BR 84/2015


To: Branch Chairs, Vice Chairs, Secretaries and Convenors
NEC Co-Representatives
Probation Negotiating Committee
Family Court SEC (for information only)
Officers, Officials & Staff (for information)

Dear Colleague,


This circular explains why NOMS is intending to introduce new car mileage and subsistence arrangements with effect from 1 August. We also set out some of the background as to why this decision has been taken and our agreement that the policy will be taken to the National Negotiating Council NNC for endorsement and that further guidance will be issued including a Probation Instruction (PI).

Meanwhile we have attached the explanatory letters and appendices which NOMS have issued to managers about the intended changes. We are taking up the issues that members are already raising with NOMS senior management and we will issue more news as soon as we can.

Meanwhile the following response has been received from NOMS following our latest representations:

Dear Ian

I note the concerns being raised by NAPO members about the operative date and short notice in relation to the implementation of T&S. It was necessary to introduce the policy with effect from 1st August as NOMS has negotiated dispensation from HMRC in respect of potential outstanding tax liabilities affecting individual staff members which expires on 1st August. We will work with you to address the concerns being raised by NAPO members and provide further clarification where necessary. NOMS recognises that the policy whilst agreed by you in principle, will require endorsement by the Joint Secretaries and that urgent discussions will be taking place on the supporting NNC guidance and the Probation Instruction that it is intended will be issued as soon as possible.

It is anticipated that this process will be completed by the end of August. Detailed guidance and easy guides are being issued and published on EPIC ready for Monday and it would be helpful if you could sign post these in any communications you issue to members. The SSCL contact centre are trained to talk staff through the screens and this will be backed up by face to face training during September and October. I would encourage staff to start to use the system for any expenses incurred in August and staff may use the existing arrangements for mileage and subsistence claims relating to the July period.

Peter Firth

Deputy Director HR,
National Probation Service


NPS made a full and final offer on travel and subsistence to the trade unions on 26 June 2015. The offer had previously been under discussion through the National Negotiating Council (NNC) intermittently in 2014, but was never satisfactorily resolved in the expected timescale due to the pressures of the implementation of TR, and changes in NOMS senior personnel responsibilities. It was then considered by Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee and the National Executive Committee who agreed in principle that it represented the best outcome that could be achieved by negotiation.

Implicit in this decision was the expectation that the revised instructions would be issued via the National Negotiating Council machinery (NNC) and would be accompanied by an official Probation Instruction (PI). Neither of these actions has yet taken place. It was also hoped that the policy would apply to employees in the Community Rehabilitation Companies. This followed the employers recommendations in their report to the National Negotiating Council dated 15 December 2014 (which appears at the end of this memo). However, it was accepted by the Napo NEC that this might not happen automatically and that pressure would need to be applied to CRC employers to mirror the changes.

Following these discussions, and the NEC directive, Napo signalled its agreement in principle to the new car mileage and subsistence rates some time ago. This was on the basis that the accompanying instructions would provide easy to follow guidance to staff and managers about the changes. Sadly you will see from the official attachments (which were issued last week without Napo being afforded a final opportunity to consider them), that they are still unclear.

It has been agreed today that the trade unions will be given the opportunity to take part in urgent discussions about the NNC guidance and relevant Probation Instruction.

Members’ enquiries

Given the current (and especially heavy) pressures on the Chivalry Road team and the traditional difficulties associated with the summer holiday period, it would be greatly appreciated if detailed written questions that we appreciate are already emerging from concerned members could be channelled to Napo Head Office via your local NEC members or Branch representatives. We can consider these in advance of issuing further information.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Lawrence           Dean Rogers                          Chris Winters
General Secretary   Assistant General Secretary   National Co-Chair

ON 1 AUGUST 2015

The National Probation Service intend to implement a new car mileage allowance for NPS staff with effect from 1 August. The new policy automatically applies to NPS staff but Napo and Unison have indicated that we will be seeking to ensure that the policy is mirrored across the CRC environment.

Notwithstanding Napo’s insistence that the policy be endorsed by the NNC, this briefing:

  • Summarises the proposed changes 
  • Provides some background to the changes 
  • Explains Napo’s position 
  • Provides guidance to members on what the policy says about appealing against any financial detriment. 

What are the proposed changes?

In summary, the changes are as follows: 

  • Replacement of the old former Probation Trust car mileage allowances with a single car mileage rate of 45p/mile 
  • One-off compensation payments to staff who suffer some detriment as a result of the introduction of the new car mileage allowance 
  • A £1,000 buy-out of the essential car user allowance for any member of NPS staff still in receipt of this allowance 
  • The introduction of new subsistence allowances
The full details of the new mileage rate and the compensation arrangements offered by NPS are set out at Appendix A of the guidance notes for managers. The details of the new subsistence allowances are set out in full later at Appendix B (Report to the National Negotiating Council) 15 December 2014

Why Harmonise NPS Travel and Subsistence?

NPS is a core civil service employer, so it is not surprising that it wishes to harmonise the varied travel and subsistence arrangements which ex-Probation Trust staff brought with them in the transfer. In particular, there are practical difficulties in managing the former Probation Trust travel and subsistence allowances via MOJ Shared Services, and reconciling NPS tax arrangements with these historical allowances. These harmonisation proposals are the first tranche of a much larger project to harmonise ex-Probation Trust terms and conditions to civil service/NOMS terms. NOMS has claimed that the new car mileage allowances have to be introduced on 1 August to save NPS staff from having to negotiate on personal tax liabilities directly with HMRC, we will be seeking to fully understand this requirement and ensure that it is properly explained to members.

Have any negotiations taken place on these changes?

Yes, the trade unions were involved in detailed negotiations over the proposed changes at the end of 2014. Napo and UNISON were not opposed to the principle of harmonisation, but as you would expect, our intention was to obtain the best possible deal for our members in relation to the proposals which, in some respects if they include the changes to subsistence rates, are likely to represent an improvement in the terms and conditions of some members, with protections for any staff who can evidence detriment as a result of implementation. However, the confusion already being caused by the covering guidance issued to managers has caused confusion amongst staff, especially those currently in receipt of local car parking reimbursement arrangements and we will be taking this issue up via the NNC.

What about the new subsistence rates?

The proposals to change car mileage allowances were originally due to have been accompanied by the replacement of the former Probation Trust system of subsistence allowances based on receipts with a new more favourable system which did not require staff to provide receipts for meals in order to claim allowances.

In summary the new subsistence rates for NPS staff are proposed as follows:

For information on what you are entitled to claim for see: Travel & Subsistence Policy ALLOWANCES


Bed & Breakfast Accommodation:
Inner London    
£115.00 including VAT
Outside London 
£70.00 including VAT
Other Location   
£70.00 including VAT

Additional Allowance (overnight subsistence – 24 hour rate) 
Incidental Travel Element minus £3.20

Day Subsistence
Over 5 hrs 
Over 10 hrs 
Over 12 hrs 

Residential Course Allowance £5.00

Lodging Allowance:
London/All Cases 
Up to £36.75
Elsewhere/All Cases 
Up to £33.20

Retention of Rooms Allowance: £7.00

Business Mileage:
All vehicles: 
45p Standard Rate
Up to 10000 miles 
26p Public Transport Rate
Over 10000 miles 
25p all rates

Motor cycle rate:
Up to 125cc: 

Pedal Cycle Rate
Pedal Cycle Rate: 

Our understanding is that these rates do not require the submission of receipts.

Napo’s position

Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee and National Executive Committee agreed in principle earlier this year to recommend the new mileage and subsistence proposals to members in NPS as the best that were achievable by negotiation. This was on the assumption that the final offer would:

  • contain both the car mileage and subsistence allowances 
  • be launched via the NNC machinery with covering instructions including a Probation Instruction (PI) Hopefully apply to both our members in the NPS and the CRCs, (where the NEC accepted that some pressure may need to be brought to bear in this · respect via the NNC). 
The negotiations on the travel and subsistence proposals concluded earlier this year, but then got overtaken by the 2014 pay dispute. NPS made a full and final offer on travel and subsistence to the unions on 26 June 2015, but unfortunately we were not consulted on the guidance that has been issued to managers.

What does the NNC Agreement on Staff Transfer and Protections say about this? 

Probation Trust staff transferred to the NPS on 1 June with their ex-Probation Trust terms and conditions intact. The NNC Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement states that employees in the transfer would be treated no less favourably than if TUPE applied. This means that your terms and conditions were protected at the point of transfer, but can be changed via negotiation following the transfer, i.e. with the agreement of staff via collective agreement.

The Staff Transfer and Protections agreement states explicitly at clause 15:

‘Staff who transfer to the NPS will do so on their existing terms and conditions. Any harmonisation of terms and conditions will be undertaken in accordance with national collective bargaining.’ Whilst we have sought to negotiate the new policies and believe that this is the best that can be achieved, the fact that they still have to be approved by the NNC and have been issued with instructions that do not contain the level of clarity that you would expect, has meant that Napo has had to insist on a further period of consultation about the contents of the further guidance that is clearly still needed.

Advice to Napo members

Within the existing guidance is information to staff who wish to challenge the imposition of the new car mileage rates on the basis that will suffer a detriment. It is expected that in such instances members should initially seek to use this mechanism whilst keeping their Napo representative copied in to developments.

Members are also asked to take the following aspects into account: 

  • the existing car mileage allowances are subject to taxation above 45p/mile 
  • NPS is offering compensation by way of a buy out for the essential car users allowance and this cannot be guaranteed into the future
  • NPS is offering some limited compensation to staff who stand to lose out as a result of moving to the new car mileage rates and similarly this cannot be guaranteed into the future 

Below is the information for managers that has been passed to us by NOMS.

To NPS Deputy Directors
NPS HR Business Partners
NPS Probation Trade Unions

cc Carol Carpenter
Colin Allars
Sarah Payne
Francis Stuart 
Peter Firth

27 July 2015

National Probation Service Travel & Subsistence Changes 

Over the past few months NOMS has been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Probation Trade Unions regarding moving from the former Probation Trust Travel and Subsistence arrangements onto the current NOMS Travel and Subsistence policy.

Agreement has now been reached and with effect from 1 August 2015 and all National Probation Service staff will move onto the NOMS Travel and Subsistence policy resulting in all former Trust arrangements for ceasing from that date.

The key changes for staff for managers and staff will be: 

  • Any claims submitted on the current forms – NPS001, NPS002, NPS 003, NPS004 and NPS005 will be accepted for any expenses incurred up to 31 July 2015. Claims for this period will be accepted on the forms until 21 August 2015. Any claims submitted after this date on paper claim forms will not be accepted as we want to encourage staff to use the system. 
  • All Travel and Subsistence claims for expenses incurred from the 1 August 2015 will need to be made on line using iExpenses on Phoenix. 
  • NOMS Travel and Subsistence rates will apply from the 1 August 2015 and these are included in the new NPS Probation Instruction, which will be available on EPIC.
  • Any staff who are on posting terms such as Additional Travelling Expenditure (ATE) / Displacement Allowance (DA), will be written to separately explaining how they need to claim and what the changes mean. 
A copy of the transitional arrangements is attached with this note and will be available on My Services from1 August 2015.


  • Aligning to NOMS rates opens up the opportunity to utilise the technology available to NOMS and a number of benefits to using the on line system become available. These include: 
  • Staff can self-certify up to £500 on non-taxable claims 
  • Line Managers do not have to authorise all claims and are only be required to authorise claims of over £500 or if it is a taxable claim 
  • Payment is normally received within 3 working days of the claim being received at SSCL assuming that it has been completed in line with guidance and policy. 
  • iExpenses meets HMRC requirements 
There are a number of ‘walkthroughs’ available on My Services that staff can use to familiarise themselves with the i-expenses part of the Phoenix Oracle system, which take you through processes in a step-by-step way.

Guidance and Support 

A guide ‘How to Claim Expenses will be available to support staff using iExpenses and will be hosted on EPIC.

There will be a number of briefings throughout mid- September and October and these will be advertised shortly. The reason we have delayed them is due to annual leave during August where attendance is likely to be lower. The briefings will include:
  • Demonstrations covering how to claim expenses using iExpenses 
  • The transitional arrangements 
  • The key changes for staff 
  • The opportunity for staff to ask questions 
It would be helpful if the communication below could be cascaded within NPS Divisions to ensure as many staff as possible are made aware of the changes.

Benefits in Kind and P11Ds 

Many staff will be used to paying tax on expenses claimed for mileage in respect of the use of their personal vehicle when used for business travel. This has previously been paid via the issue of a P11D to staff affected.

It has been decided that, for mileage paid at rates in excess of HMRC’s advisory rates, that will attract a liability to tax, NOMS will pay tax due on behalf of individuals. The following points should be noted:

· Payment by NOMS on behalf of individuals will only relate to an individual’s liability for the financial year 2014/15, (and only from June 2014)
  • Payment by NOMS will only be made in respect of benefits from business travel in a personal vehicle
  • No P11D will be issued in respect of this benefit for the financial year 2014/15, (from June 2014)
It would be helpful if the details included in this note could be cascaded within NPS Divisions to ensure as many staff as possible are made aware of the changes.

NOMS HR Directorate Business & Programme Manager

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Sodexo Offer Consultation

Here's that joint union consultation document sent to all Sodexo CRC staff:-

JTU 20-2015
Via email:

Date: 28.7.15

To: Napo members in Sodexo CRCs

Dear Colleagues


Napo, UNISON and GMB-SCOOP have spent the last 7 weeks trying to negotiate a better redundancy deal with Sodexo on behalf of our members who are at risk of redundancy in the 6 Sodexo-owned CRCs. Despite our best efforts, the company confirmed on Friday 24 July that it would not improve its sub-standard severance package. This is a tremendous blow to all the hard working staff of the 6 CRCs who now face redundancy under totally unacceptable terms.

As well as trying to undercut the National Negotiating Council (NNC) enhanced voluntary redundancy (EVR) package by half, Sodexo showed themselves unable to come to the negotiating table to do business. They talked the talk, but failed miserably to walk the walk. Sodexo claims to be a company with high ethical principles, but these have not been in evidence here!

As a result, the three unions are now consulting all our members in the 6 Sodexo-owned CRCs on whether you wish to accept the sub-standard severance package, or whether you want to reject it and are prepared to take industrial action in order to seek to improve it. All three unions are recommending that you vote to reject and take industrial action.


Sodexo Severance Offer
2 weeks pay for each year of service up to a max of 30 weeks 

For staff over 55, either the voluntary severance package, or retirement with an unreduced pension

NNC EVR Agreement
4.5 weeks pay for each year of service up to a max of 67.5 weeks
For staff over 55, both the NNC voluntary redundancy package and immediate payment of an unreduced pension.


Here is a list of Sodexo’s shortcomings over your redundancy pay:

  • The NNC Staff Transfer and Protections Agreement states clearly that the NNC EVR package would be offered by CRCs for the duration of the CRC contract. This forms part of your contract of employment. 
  • Sodexo are using a get-out clause in their commercial contract with the MOJ to seek to undercut your contractual entitlement 
  • They also plan to side-step your contractual rights by forcing anyone who wants to take their sub-standard severance terms to sign away their employment rights through a compromise agreement 
  • We suspect that the MOJ may have colluded with the company during the contract negotiations to agree a bid which fell short of the price needed to fund your contractual redundancy pay rights. In effect this was to save the MOJ money! 
  • We have asked the new Justice Secretary Michael Gove to look into this as a matter of urgency.
  • Sodexo has claimed to the unions that it cannot afford to pay you your contractual rights (they are making too many of you redundant) and that existing staff numbers are a drain on the company’s earnings. 
  • But the company is not short of a bob or two. Sodexo Limited’s Accounts to 31 August 2014 show that the company’s sales in the UK have increased by 5.4% to £1,063 million and operating profit has increased by 12.9% to £39.6 million. 
  • Sodexo claims to be an ethical company. In its Statement of Ethical Principles, the company promises to: ‘...honour our contractual commitments and uphold both the letter and spirit of our business arrangements. This also means that we will treat our employees fairly...’
  • Napo, UNISON and GMB-SCOOP leave it up to members to decide whether Sodexo is living up to this claim!

In light of the above, all three unions are now consulting members on whether you wish to accept the Sodexo offer, or reject and indicate that you are willing to take industrial action in order to improve it. All three unions are recommending that you vote to reject and move to an industrial action ballot.

Please make sure that you participate in the consultation process to be run by your union. We will only make an impression on Sodexo if we get a high turn-out in the voting and a strong vote to reject.

Yours sincerely,

Ian Lawrence           
Ben Priestley       David Walton

General Secretary   National Officer    National Secretary
Napo                        UNISON              GMB/SCOOP

Friday, 31 July 2015

Latest From Napo 73

Here's the latest blog from Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence before he signs off for a couple of weeks. I don't know about you, but he sounds a tad defensive - I wonder why? I guess this is two fingers to the blog:-

"As I have consistently said since being elected as your General Secretary, one of my principal roles is to help to lead and direct the union, working alongside your National Officers and the Chivalry Road team within the accountability structures that are governed by our members."

Of course this bit begs the obvious question that the blog could be useful:-

"I often hear that one reason why people don’t use their ballot paper is because they don’t know the candidates. I always say: phone or email them and find out what they stand for."

I've heard certain candidates have been ignoring requests for information. Finally, I hear on the grapevine that members continue to leave in droves but:-

"we have issued an all members mail out this week which contains encouraging news about the status of our Direct Debit (DD) Campaign."

If you are Napo member in any of the six Sodexo owned CRC’s you should have by now had a circular from Napo, together with an indicative ballot paper that you can send freepost or by e-mail to Chivalry Road (sodexooffer@napo.org.uk)

As I have consistently said since being elected as your General Secretary, one of my principal roles is to help to lead and direct the union, working alongside your National Officers and the Chivalry Road team within the accountability structures that are governed by our members. The other is to follow the direction of our members in terms of the strategy and tactics that you want me to pursue on behalf of your interests.

The Sodexo (is it severance or is it redundancy?) debacle, together with the failure of the company to respond to repeated questions from us to clarify their shabby and disrespectful offer, means that we are now asking Sodexo CRC members to give us a clear steer on whether or not we should move to a formal ballot for industrial action.

Reports reaching me from workplace meetings that have been taking place this week are encouraging in terms of what members are saying about the issues and the positive response to Napo and Unisons efforts.

Napo has acted entirely properly in trying to engage with Sodexo and their CRC senior managers and its good news that members are aware of what we have been doing and are supporting it. One thing is very clear already and that’s the level of contempt for the parent company amongst the workforce.

If you are a Sodexo member then please make your voice heard. We at Chivalry Road are the few, but our members are the many and we simply can’t do it all ourselves.

National Officers

If you are a Napo member anywhere then you also have an opportunity to vote in the current elections for the two National Vice-Chair vacancies.

Anyone standing for elected office at whatever level is showing their willingness to be out there, wanting to do their best for members. If they are prepared to do that then I would hope that those same members will spend just a few minutes and do their best to take part in the ballot. I often hear that one reason why people don’t use their ballot paper is because they don’t know the candidates. I always say: phone or email them and find out what they stand for.

Pay update and Mileage and Subsistence

We have just issued Branch Briefing’s covering these issues (Pay: see BR /83/2015) and will be sending out more news for members over the next couple of weeks.

The Mileage and Subsistence policy will come into effect from 1st August but as it says in BR/84/2015 it needs endorsement from the NNC and some accompanying guidance for staff and a Probation Instruction which ideally ought to be written in a language that we might all understand.

When the NEC gave it’s ‘in principle’ agreement to the final negotiated position earlier this year, it didn’t expect that all members would be ecstatic about it, but considered it was the best that could be achieved by negotiation. Nor did they expect that it would have taken NOMS several months to launch the policy and then spring it on the unions so soon to August. That they did so without letting us have sight of the guidance that it has also issued to managers is sloppy to say the least; and we were as surprised as anyone about the August start date, which we are told is out of their hands because they wanted staff to see the potential tax implications around the HMRC dispensation rules. It would have been good to have known that earlier of course.

Nevertheless, we have secured a commitment that the policy will need NNC endorsement and amendments to the NNC handbook, and that we should conclude discussions on those aspects by the end of August. Meanwhile, members are asked to refer written enquiries to Napo via their NEC or Branch Representatives whilst we are thinner on the ground than usual due to summer leave commitments.

Check off news

Finally, (and before I check off for a couple of weeks - anything but leisurely - holiday with five of my seven grandchildren) we have issued an all members mail out this week which contains encouraging news about the status of our Direct Debit (DD) Campaign. Its good progress to date, but as you can see there is still hard work to be done.

By signing the mandate to make the switch across and encouraging others to do the same (even maybe by volunteering to be point of contact for the Branch), you will be sending out a loud and clear message to other members that Napo are here, and working hard for its members in the face of a relentless agenda, and that we intend to be around for a long time yet.

Enjoy the remainder of the summer.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Napo Elections

Never mind the Labour Party leader elections, there are posts up for grabs in Napo, so here's a look at who's standing and why. Interestingly, I don't see anyone who feels some reform might be necessary, let alone serious retrospection, but the statements just might stimulate a bit of a discussion. As before, there's an open offer to any candidate to write something on the blog, but history tells us not to hold our breath.  

Election of Probation Vice-Chair

Barry Adams 

Candidate's Branch: South Southwestern
Nominated by: South Southwestern
Grade: Probation Service Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male 

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I have held a number of Branch Executive posts most recently Vice Chair, and for a number of years NEC representative. I have completed the TUC representing Members stage 1 & 2, and more recently completed the Employment Law Certificate. I have served on Napo H&S Committee, Chair TUO, currently elected as a member of the Finance Sub Committee.

Section (b)

I am tenacious, passionate about our Trade Union and will provide full and transparent reporting to our NEC. I actively support our values of fairness, anti-discrimination practice. diversity and equality. We have professional dedicated Members within Cafcass, NPS and the CRC. We must keep foremost our commitment to equality and our minority colleagues need to be assured their voice will be heard and Napo will turn words into meaningful actions. Our key role is to protect the Public as we protect both our values and our Terms and Conditions of Service. We must work to retain and increase our membership and hold both politicians and Senior Management accountable for their actions. My commitment to our Members is to make our Union strong, to unite under our common values, to move forward with our National Representatives to maintain and to continue to provide advice guidance and first class representation. I am confident with your support we can once more be a strong accountable Union.

Chas Berry

Candidate's Branch: Kent Surrey and Sussex
Nominated by: Kent Surrey and Sussex, Essex
Grade: Probation Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I am currently National Vice-Chair (probation) following my election by the NEC in 2014, and l am link officer for the Midlands as well as for the professional and Campaign Committees.

I have been a Napo member since joining Kent probation as a TPO in 2OO7. I became a Kent Branch Executive Committee Member in 2010 and served on both the JNCC and the UGM from 2011 until the end of the Trust in 2014. l was Vice-Chair of Kent Napo in 2012 and Chair in 2013, attending the NEC as 2nd rep. During the early stages of the TR campaign I was elected to the National Industrial Action planning Group.

Prior to joining Kent Probation and Napo I was a civil servant in the DWP and member of the public and Commercial Services union (PCS). Over a 19 year career I held numerous posts as local rep, Branch Secretary, Branch and Area 'Whitley Rep' responsible for industrial relations across the DWP in the South East of England.

I was President of Medway Trades Council from 2O07 to 2014 and on the Steering Committee of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) from 2O14 to 2015.

Section (b)

The late Bob Crow once said, "if you fight, you may lose; but if you don't fight you will always lose". Napo's heroic campaign against TR was defeated, but I strongly believe we achieved more by fighting on all fronts than by opting for the 'damage limitation' strategy advocated by some other union leaders. Our combative approach held up Grayling for twelve months and won important protection for most staff at the point of transfer.

Of course, we now face the challenge of budget cuts in the NPS, redundancies in the CRCs and wholesale attacks on the union designed to restrict our ability to function. We can give in to this intimidation or we can dust ourselves down, secure our future strength in numbers through direct debit and re energise the membership to fight future battles.

The Government has a vicious agenda but it is numerically weak and can be defeated if we take joint action where it is in our common interests, such as in opposing the latest round of anti-union laws. lam a member of the Socialist Party and was one of over 600 candidates who stood for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) on 7th May. l see the struggle to defend our terms and conditions as members as inseparable from the struggle against austerity, for justice and for a fair society.

Charron Culnane

Candidate's Branch: Greater London
Nominated by: Greater London
Grade: Probation Officer
Race/Gender: Other Heritage background/Female

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I am a Probation officer sifted to the NPS and work in Camden and Islington. I entered the Probation Service in 2004 and joined Napo on my first day in the office. I became more actively involved when I was elected as Disabled Staff Liaison Rep for Greater London Branch (GLB). During this time I was responsible for campaigning and raising the profile of disabled staff to support their involvement in the Branch. I represented members as part of this role and was also involved in consultations and discussions with the (then) LPT Equalities Dept and the Assistive Technology Forum. I served 2 terms of office in this role.

I was elected as Anti-Racism Officer/Equal Rights Officer for GLB in 2011. I was also active in the National Disabled Staff Network (NDSN) as Regional co-ordinator for London.

National Posts: I served on the Equal Rights Committee for 5 years, 3 years as Chair or co-chair and I have been (Co) Lead Monitor at the last 4 AGMs. This year I was elected to Professional Committee and I also sit on Steering Committee.

Section (b)

As a disabled, non white, working class woman of a certain age I have experienced many forms of discrimination throughout my life. I have a proven history of challenging and fighting discrimination and oppression wherever I find it. The barriers I encounter give me strength, make me solution focused and a creative problem solver.

The fragmentation of the Probation Service following the TR process has seen Equalities slide down the agenda on both sides of the divide as other terms and conditions of employment and practice delivery have taken precedence. The split has also left Napo facing a future with difficult choices as our membership scatters across larger numbers of employers. This has been made more difficult with check-off. United we are strong, divided we become voices in the wilderness. If elected I will continue to work tirelessly to keep our Union strong and help build up our membership.

A vote for me will ensure that Equality remains on the agenda regarding professional and working practices and remains central to any changes to the way our Union works.

Richard Bach wrote "people need problems because of the gifts they bring". I believe inclusion begins at home. A vote for me could be a problem for 'big Napo' as changes will have to be made to our HQ and/or working practices as I currently cannot access Chivalry Road! Please vote for change.

Election of Probation Vice-Chair (Finance)

Mona Lim 

Candidate's Branch: South Southwestern
Nominated by: South Southwestern
Grade: Probation Service Officer
Race/Gender: Chinese/Female 

Candidate's Statement 

Section (a)

I have been a Napo activist for nine years and have been involved in campaigning issues. Relevant Experience:-

  • LAGIP Conference, 2006 
  • Women in Napo Conference, 2006  
  • TUC Women's Conference as Acting National Link Officer, 2008, 2009 
  • Acting National Treasurer, 2008-2009 
  • Equal Rights Officer, 2008-2009 
  • Anti-Racism Officer, 2009, 2010 
  • Branch Treasurer, 2010, 2011 
  • Branch Vice-Chair (Temporary), 2014 
  • Branch Treasurer, 2014, 2015 
  • National NEC Co-Rep, 2014, 2015
  • Reps support learning and assisting work. 
Education and Training:- 
  • GFTU and certified TUC education in equal rights and representation. 
  • Work experience in accountancy and taxation 
  • Degree in law.
Section (b)

I have proven experience and knowledge of branch financial affairs, having reviewed and prepared financial statements for many years. My activism includes:-

  • attendance at National AGM 
  • delivered National Treasurer's Report at AGM 
  • actively engaged on staff sub-committee panel. 
Contributed to Napo's modernising agenda, therefore I can take up the finance role immediately and work to protect Napo from its current financial risks.

I want to ensure Napo survives, defeats its latest ordeal, make sure unions have a life and future under the Conservative agenda.

Speaking as a female, minority group member, underrepresented within the NPS and CRC structures, and higher union positions, this is a tough role which needs someone who can make difficult decisions. I want to encourage other minority members within Napo to stay in the fight together.

I want to protect jobs in the face of severe cuts, making sure there is full integration of our membership in Cafcass, far flung branches and co-terminus groups are secured in funding.

Maintaining professional qualified assessments for offenders, safeguarding for vulnerable people, ensuring child protection and family court services are not neglected. All branches remaining united. This is our strength! Napo, the only union that puts survival and professional delivery of the job at the core of our work.

I want to contribute to this cause on members' behalf.

As your Vice-Chair, I will ensure there are sufficient funds to protect our members' interests, investing our reserves wisely for all contingencies.

Chris Pearson

Candidate's Branch: Essex
Nominated by: Essex, Kent Surrey and Sussex, Staffordshire and West Midlands
Grade: Senior Probation Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male 

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

Probation worker since 2002
Napo member since 2002

Positions Held within Napo

  • National Chair (lnterim) 
  • Local workplace organiser 
  • Branch Vice-Chair 
  • JNCC member 
  • NEC member 
  • National Negotiating Committee member 
  • Member National Workloads working party 
  • Member NEC reform working Party
I have also held the following posts:
  • Chair of primary and secondary school governing bodies 
  • Leader of a large local authority 
  • Secretary of a local Shelter group 
  • Governor of local adult community college 
  • Local Councillor 
I have worked in the private and voluntary sectors as well as the public sector. Trade unionist all my adult working life. 

Section (b)

Our Union has been struggling against the most serious threat from a government that appears hell-bent on putting the public at risk as they drive ever onwards with their 'public sector bad, private sector good' mantra.

As national Chair last year I was proud to take the fight against privatisation to the limit. Unfortunately, our small union wasn't able to take on the might of a government determined to push through TR no matter the cost. Now more than ever you need a union to promote your interests in the most difficult of circumstances, defend public safety and secure jobs.

This isn't an easy time for Napo: organisationally, politically and financially. This government has made clear its intention to assault unions through limitation of facility time and removal of check-off for subscriptions. l believe it is essential the union has a Vice-Chair (finance) who:
  • understands finances
  • will properly account to the NEC for all expenditure
  • has experience of managing budgets up to £millions
  • will ensure comprehensive and fit for purpose financial regulations
  • and will focus expenditure on protecting members' futures 
I joined Napo just weeks after starting in probation, have held local branch positions and was a member of the NEC for many years. When the need arose last year l stepped up to take on the role of Chair to steer the union at a critical time. 

Our union needs strong leadership across the Officer group at this time. I offer such leadership, with experience of managing large finances.

Keith Stokeld

Candidate's Branch: Staffordshire and West Midlands
Nominated by: Durham Tees Valley, Family Court Section, Thames Valley
Grade: Probation Officer
Race/Gender: White/Male 

Candidate's Statement
Section (a)

I have been a Napo member for 25 years and worked in a variety of Probation roles including in the community and institutions.

Throughout my career in the Criminal Justice System I have worked in London, the North East and after leaving my post as a Court officer I moved to NPS in Birmingham.

After becoming active as branch chair I served on a number of National Committees before being elected as National Treasurer. Previously I was National link officer with the Midlands and Thames Valley regions and link officer on the editorial board for the Probation Journal.

In addition to chairing the Union Learn Steering Group I have acted as chair at the National Reps Panel and form part of the Staff JNC.

I was interim director of the Probation Institute during its formation.

Section (b)

Throughout my tenure as National Treasurer I have been privileged to work on behalf of the Union in respect of a brief designed to retain Napo's financially viability.

The challenge has been to achieve more than can be acknowledged on the simplistic basis of a balance sheet. I have strived to include our union's values which do not have a price tag and answered for these when called to account.

Being accountable has informed the decisions I have taken and shaped my drive to temper my passion for progress with pragmatism.

Napo faces a number of challenges and in consultation I have sought to ensure these can be met through some bold decisions in preparation for the future.

These changes will make Napo viable as we face the threats of the last administration and its legacy into the coming years. I am focused on retaining our income and by using my time to ensure Napo is best placed to achieve a balanced programme.

Having gained experience from my time as National Treasurer I wish to use my skills to fulfil the post of vice chair to ensure Napo functions as a Union for members in Probation and Cafcass.

My appetite for the post has increased following my success in developing members' service in securing Napo's access to a Credit Union. By balancing my Probation work with the vice chair's post I will continue to strive to retain members confidence to fulfil my role as an officer of the union

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Guest Blog 43

Reform is a right wing think tank that specializes in pushing the case for the privatization of the public sector. Of all its monies 70% comes from companies and 30% from the general public. Reform’s donors include corporate giants such as the General Healthcare Group, BMI Healthcare and BUPA Healthcare, all of whom would benefit from the selling off of public run services. The head of Reform (Nick Seddon) was also Head of Communications at Circle partnerships which describes itself as 'Europe’s largest healthcare partnership’ and is one of the great beneficiaries of the privatisation of the NHS. 

In 20012 the company took over Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust the first time that an NHS hospital was handed over to the private sector. Seddon has written articles that call for the sacking of 150,000 NHS workers, real term cuts to the NHS budget and charges for GP visits. He has also called for healthcare to be 'largely funded by the government but organised outside the government' by insurance companies and other organisations.

Early in 2013 Reform published research endorsing the privatisation of Britain’s prisons, a policy from which even the Conservative-led government had been edging away. The report was widely cited in the British Media; the BBC flattered it by describing it as ‘thought provoking’. But what was not mentioned was Reform’s substantial funding from security firms G4S, SERCO and Sodexo – companies that were already running 14 prisons and stood to benefit from further privatisation. In 2012 alone Reform received £24,500 from G4S and £7,500 from SERCO.

In 2013 Seddon left Reform to become Cameron’s new health advisor!!!

Madson Pirie, a free market fundamentalist, and his outriders, the followers of Hayek, have not just moved mainstream - they are the mainstream. They have made ideas that were once considered ludicrous, absurd and whacky become the new common sense. They have shifted the ‘Overton Window.’ What was once whacky becomes normal and even moderate. Thatcher did not dare threaten the privatisation of the NHS but eventually after years of Thatcherism and then son of Thatcher ‘Blairism’, this was turned into a theoretical and actual reality by the last coalition government no less. They have laid the foundations of right wing radical ideas and then popularised them, with their friend Murdoch, to a mass audience. The national political conversation is kept relentlessly on the terms favourable to those with wealth and power. The Private Sector is good the Public Sector is bad – ‘four legs good two legs bad!’ (Orwell)

Tax credits could be seen as a state subsidy to private companies that pay low wages and they are now being reduced; housing benefits go to greedy Tory landlords. Douglas Carswell, the UKIP MP, refers to an oligarchy of corporate cronyism that the traditional shire Tories find revolting. The state therefore is the backbone of scrounging corporate capitalism, subsidising wages, bailing out banks and paying for private sector profit making organisations to terrify benefit recipients. 

ATOS (with a £500 million ‘scrounge’ off the taxpayer) means testing the disabled who are ‘bullied off benefits’ many of whom appeal successfully (over 50%) and many others who committed suicide. ATOS simply walked off the job retaining its profits. SERCO (Group 4? – what’s the difference they are all Tory shareholders) and the Olympics – original contract £7.3m then stretching to £60m (G4S) then couldn’t do the task it had been paid to leading to three and a half thousand tax payer paid soldiers being drafted in to finish the job. 

A4E in 2004 was paid £200m of tax payers money – all its income coming from the public purse - a total scrounger - terrorising people back to work. The Chief exec had £8.6m in stocks and shares, £365k per year in salary and was renting out her 20 bed mansion to her own organisation (conflict of interest?) whilst abusing, insulting and sending people to work at Poundland for free and making lots of other workfare people go to companies with close ties to the Tory Party, acquiring no skills in the process, but providing free servile labour. And the Mandatory Work Activity Scheme leading to no work later on; in fact less work than those who obtained work whilst on benefit

G4S, SERCO and Sodexo get over half their income from the state – 3 huge scroungers! (£4 billion to SERCO, G4S, Atos and Capita alone). The National Audit Office says that of £178 billion of public funds, over half is earmarked for the private sector. Even police services (and probation) have and are being taken over. Care in the Community opened up massive contracts to private care homes, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI)  swindle will cost future generations up to £301 billion and £20 billion of £95 billion of existing NHS monies are ready for the big P!

Nigel Lawson once said that the NHS was the nearest thing that the English had to a religion! Codex cleaners are earning half the wages they had 20 years ago - insidious - cleaner on 18 hours leaves and is replaced by one on 16 hours doing the same work or perhaps more! NHS is now contracting out the actual commissioning! Privatising the commissioning so that they can give it to themselves! Recently Surrey contracted out £500m, Peterborough £1.1 billion, much of the work going to Tory donors and as one Dr (Chand would you believe) said ‘If it does not generate profit it does not wish to know..............there is now cherry picking of elective surgery.........2 tier service’

These are the real scroungers sponging off society taking vast sums of tax payers money, producing reduced and poorer services, reducing codes and conditions of service and generating millions and billions to their shareholders (who are these we might ask? The haves and the have yachts?) whilst refusing to pay their proper taxes themselves. There is a programme on TV called Benefits Street but as yet no programme called ‘Tax Dodger St’ or ‘Off Shore Account St!’ Lastly, what about the Serious Fraud Office launching an enquiry into G4S and Serco after they allegedly over charged the tax payer for tens of millions of pounds of tagging that never took place?

I have seen a general election that was won outright, surprisingly, by the Tory Party that now has a working majority of 12 seats. The election exposed a democratic system that is anachronistic and unrepresentative given that UKIP had nearly 4 million votes and got 1 seat, the Greens over a million and 1 seat and the SNP got 57 seats for 1.5 million votes. If you look at the majorities of the Tories 12 most marginal seats, you will see that they have in fact a working majority of 1250 votes from all 12 combined! In certain countries people would be taking up arms at such unrepresentative injustice. 

Nonetheless, despite this lack of democracy the ‘winning party’ is embarking on a scorched earth policy of replacing the entire public sector with the private sector over the next 5 years and during the last 5 years the gap between rich and poor has widened on historically unprecedented levels; one million people attended food banks last year whilst 1000 people currently own £520 billion between them. George Osborne announced the other day that we will now be able to sell our houses for a million pounds without paying a penny of inheritance tax and in the same breath he is removing child benefits for every child after 2 and has announced cuts to the welfare bill of £12 billion pounds. You could almost see him taking it from one poor pocket and stuffing it into a rich one!

So it would be nice to think that the new Criminal Justice Companies would be ethically inclined in the delivery of its criminal justice service without a pre-occupation with making profits at all costs. A service that would look to diverting people wherever possible away from the criminal justice system and one that would shield the service users from the harsh judicial excesses that are possible under the 2003 CJA and now the 2014 ORA Act. A service that uses new technology appropriately and sparingly to deliver justice and evidence based interventions that work in reducing crime and the number of victims within society. Also a service that respects the high quality of its existing staff that will also seek to maintain its standards and conditions of service in order to attract personnel of similar quality and ability in the future.

But there is also the possibility during the next 5 years that we will get massive judicial inflation - selling goods (Court Orders and TAGs etc) that nobody needs to generate profits from people who do not need to go on orders or be Tagged; a large rise in the prison population as sentencers can now get prison plus supervision (something suggested in New Labour legislation in 2003 but not affordable – remember custody plus?); ‘sharper axes for lower taxes’ ie reduction of codes and conditions of service, replacement of staff with personnel that do more for less and possibly with reduced or no qualifications ‘better for less’; the blurring of the distinctions between the professional and other workers and what work can and cannot be done with and by whom (PSOs become DV experts in an afternoon?); the achievement of a manipulated key Performance Indicator (KPI) rather than the delivery of a professional service. 

Lastly, an organisation that leaves a criminal justice detritus, that is unreformable, to rot, whilst simultaneously cherry picking and making claims of success following interventions with a population of net-widened entrants who should never have been intervened with in the first place!

So 150,000 NHS workers - how many Probation Officers I wonder? Apart from that, everything is hunky dory! You can only say it as you see it. 


Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Latest From Napo 72

This posted yesterday by General Secretary Ian Lawrence on the Napo website:-

A senior manager slams Sodexo

As the unions finalise our plans to consult members in the Sodexo CRC's over the severance offer, here is a message passed to me by a colleague from a senior manager who understandably wants their identity protected.

There are occasions when the addition of a commentary would be counter intuitive. This is one of them.

"I know you and your colleagues are managing the current negotiations with Sodexo/MoJ/NOMS re EVR and do not underestimate the challenges you are facing in any way - but I just wanted to put a human take on the impact on my staff of Sodexo’s approach to “reductions/efficiencies”. .

Firstly staff feel completely betrayed and let down by Sodexo and the CEO – in my area staff cannot understand why in the other 5 Sodexo CRCs there are still some staff who have been given the EVR scheme on last year’s terms, are still working in the CRC and have had contracts extended to 2016. It appears they have the best of both worlds.

The “oversupply” terminology being used by CEOs (i.e. Sodexo) makes people feel like commodities such as kettles, or cups/plates – my staff are none of the above.

Secondly staff believe that Sodexo is trying to get rid of people on the cheap and through the backdoor via this new “voluntary severance” package – significant concerns relate to the fact that the CEO at a recent meeting could not answer questions posed regarding the difference between VS and VR e.g. impact on benefits, taxation, credits etc. Staff are totally confused and don’t know what is their best option – they also do not know where they will be based as the estates strategy is behind schedule.

Thirdly, staff are upset that there is very little recognition of the “personal impact” of Sodexo’s approach – there is nothing on the table as to what will be made available to people to move on, get new jobs, deal with current personal impact etc - staff cannot understand why such support has not been made available before now.

A local story – there is a PO who has been placed “at risk” and works p/t, but today was doing work on their day off to support a recall application – somewhere in this adversarial environment the professionalism and commitment of staff is not appreciated or recognised.

I just want to conclude by saying I have a wonderful staff group in my location , of whom I am extremely proud , who go way beyond the call of duty for me all the time and who are committed to rehabilitation, public protection, community safety and restorative justice agendas.

I wish Sodexo could understand and recognise this – and begin to recognise what they are at risk of losing."

Saturday, 25 July 2015


Can't we just sack this Ian lawrence or better yet, just cancel your membership. Like anything, if you don't like the service, then stop paying. Would you go back to a restaurant every month to buy food you don't like? No, so why pay subs as it's clear NAPO doesn't work for you. Napo, like Sodexo, serves for the interests of the few. 70k a year. I bet he is laughing his ass to the bank every month. I'd love to know what expense claims he is making for all of these meetings with Sodexo chiefs. Freedom of information request anyone?

Ian Lawrence is again as most of the time bloody wrong. You should tell every member to hold tight don't apply for any Sodexo offer. Make them make us redundant and you set the funds free to take each or all cases to court. You apologise for ex CPOs what a daft thing to do. They do not pay your salary so you don't feel sorry for the enemy. They are the lick spittle group getting paid handsomely. When is you 5 years up? Anyone could better than your attempts to play a bit too fast and loose.

NEC, read this and get a grip on the free hand of this top table outfit they know nothing demonstrated by the way this is managed. Anyone who works in this field should not be writing out how they did or didn't negotiate properly. What did he expect? They are not going to roll over and play tickle my tummy. Ian Lawrence learn to swim or get back to the shallow end.

Ian Lawrence has proved he cannot tread water, let alone swim, completely out of his depth from start to finish.

All this anti Ian Lawrence stuff again and again - always from anonymous people - seems to me most are trolls - the volume of negativity which is pretty meaningless and I suspect is aimed at further lowering the morale of folk who are under attack and feeling vulnerable.

It makes no sense - surely probation and social work folk know better than to keep on rubbishing people who they want to achieve better things - that is totally un probation and un social worker like - why would they lose all professional sense when they write (anonymously) in social media?

You will know as well as anyone out here in anonymous-land that we need a scapegoat. IL is paid at least £70k a year, his pitch was that he was a union man. Many members clearly don't feel they've had a fair representation from this self-proclaimed professional. Numerous mistakes, errors of judgement, poor performance have been highlighted. A recent appearance of his at a meeting with senior CRC managers was described to me as "cringe worthy" & "benign". His blogs have been self serving & smug whilst members see their careers disappearing at a rate of knots.

People are ANGRY. IL is the Napo figurehead. It ain't rocket science.

You were lucky, you received effective representation from a particularly well informed & proactive rep. You have praised R before on here, & rightly so. I had piss poor representation from a local rep who was in pocket of management & received no support from IL or national union when it was brought to their attention. I previously withdrew my subs when a colleague was maliciously accused of behaviour which was totally unfounded & for which they were suspended & then found innocent but... the malicious accuser received an ex gratia payment of mortgage-clearing proportions.

Todgergate didn't help Napo's credibility.

I'm no fan of mindless abuse but I understand the vitriol aimed at Napo HQ & at IL. Some of it is mine. He's paid & paid well to do a job. This is an independent blogsite, not napo-land. Jim looks after his blog, is particularly liberal & has a keen eye for the troll.

I'm about to lose my job in a CRC. You have made many helpful contributions which I have variously enjoyed & appreciated, but your career ain't on the line this time. Napo & IL have a lot to answer for, and they have a duty to provide those answers.

In discussing the performance of Napo and issues of accountability, it's inevitable that mention is made of the general secretary. I agree he should not be personally abused or scapegoated for the failure of the unions in probation to stop TR or secure an impregnable framework agreement. The unions, with the odd exception in some sectors, are weak across the economy. This reflects the success of neo-liberalism, not the uselessness of trade unions.

Replacing IL would not revive the fortunes of Napo and to think otherwise is a triumph of hope over experience. It is arguable whether the union leadership could have done more to raise the consciousness of its members to the dangers of TR and the necessity of solidarity in opposition to the threats posed. But, unfortunately, the solidarity, as demonstrated in turnout in ballots and support on the ground for industrial action, was not there.

Intuitively it was tempting to think that a workforce within a politicised justice system, would have been politically savvy and smart enough to see solidarity as being in their self-interest. But it would seem that the workforce was atomised and unable to collectively see what was in front of its nose. It is impossible for any trade union leader to lead when so few are prepared to follow. If you believe in 'The Great Man Theory', then IL should go, but if you take the view that it's the wider social trends and conditions that enable leaders to make an impact, then no leader without supporting structures can achieve anything. The failure of Napo is a shared failure.

He is a public figure, the self proclaimed tough leader who says a lot about 'not on my watch'. Sadly it's all happened on his watch and his alone. It is his responsibility and at his pay grade to ensure the best advice and hardest risk warnings are properly orchestrated and warned to all NAPO members. Clear instruction to deliver action when required and why they needed to do it, no question. He did not and it fell apart. He did do a lot of fudging and JR shuffle lost and misled members on who won. Did not tell us the costs but AGM will out and the list goes on. Publish his success record against the negatives on this blog and there may be a debate. At this time however, he is a membership losing GS. It would be cheaper to see him go and stem the membership resignations as he puts the union at risk by staying. It is his ego that will keep him banging in the rhetoric, but in reality he must realise if the AGM start up and get angry and rightly so, the buck stops at his door.

I speak to many people who are of the opinion that he should not be in role now, if he is able to survive. Lets hope not for the good of NAPO members who are left. It is time to recognise we need a new direction or we are finished. He has said as much in his submissions to the NEC about selling Napo into a co-union merger. He did not go to members for permission on that either. Instead he flannels it through the non listening NEC in that 'what you want me to do' auto suggestion con the audience mode he uses. He says that is accountable. Wise up members.

Yea I get the feeling Jim and his disciples are anti Napo. Maybe they missed out on a shot at the big time and now use this forum to vent at what is wrong instead of suggesting what is right. On the flip side though, Jim et al are somewhat correct in wanting to hold Napo to account as they have let some members down badly. Not all, but some.


I've said it numerous times before and say it yet again - I'm not anti Napo, but I can't abide bullshit and bollocks. In the five years this blog has been running, there have been some regular themes in the 1438 published posts. If I key in the word 'dysfunctional' - not operating normally or properly' - I find it cropping-up in 39 posts, all about Napo. Take this for example from 2014:-

Yes a very good point and just another illustration sadly of the utter dysfunctionality of Napo at the top. A very unwise move politically in the middle of this struggle to add to all the other very unwise moves by other people at the top in Napo.

BUT we are where we are as they say and bad as it is we have to try and get the good ship Napo, holed and rudderless as it is, patched up and back steaming full ahead in the right direction. This can happen by the membership making their voices clear in a variety of ways, including this blog.

Things have improved - the information flow, for example by direct emails to members has vastly improved. After much prevarication, things are at last moving on Judicial Review, although it may be too late.

There's no doubt the Chair has made some unwise decisions, but while he remains Chair I think he must be supported and encouraged to make the right decisions, especially in getting a grip on the activities of the paid staff at Chivalry Road, exercise some firm leadership and make the most of Grayling's current difficulties. There's plenty of time for recriminations further down the line, starting at the AGM I suppose.

It's a bloody mess - but it's been a mess at the top in Napo for so many years it's almost like situation normal. The breakout of free speech just might improve things. Observant readers may have noticed that I've made mention of a dysfunctionality of leadership at the top of Napo several times. To put it bluntly, I think there are considerable tensions between Chair and General Secretary that require resolving. The AGM is a few months off yet, but it's absolutely vital we get firm leadership now and an action plan that can maximise on Grayling's current difficulties and especially with bidders getting cold feet for TR. 

What might an emergency 'Action Plan' consist of? 
  • Retain Harry Fletcher's services until October at least 
  • Employ an ethical PR company to assist Tania Bassett 
  • Recruit one or two front-line practitioners for media appearances 
  • Broaden the Campaign Committee membership 
  • Encourage as much dialogue as possible on new media platforms 
  • Keep the membership fully informed and engaged


As far as I'm aware, nothing happened. 

The blog continues to be both read avidly by Napo HQ, but at one of the same time studiously ignored publicly. Quite idiotic, but I've given up being bothered because the membership read it anyway. 

Unhappiness with the 'top table' is a very regular theme and here is a roundup of comments regarding Napo from May this year. I decided not to publish them at the time because the PO in me is always hoping for change, but it hasn't. In fact things are getting much worse with, I'm told, 70 members a month leaving. I would never advocate such a move because it's far more important to stay and have a voice both in elections and at the AGM. So, somewhat belatedly, as the AGM approaches once more and with elections ongoing, here's what was concerning readers just before the general election:-     

Ian Lawrence is a f*cking snake. "If some losses are unavoidable". As ever it's capitulation all the way while expecting us to be dumb enough to swallow the same old empty bullshit posturing. Why haven't we sacked him? F*ck you Lawrence.

I think NAPO are keen to wind the union up and doing everything in there power to cock things up.

I hold the full members of Napo responsible for not using their constitution to control the way their officers and employees work.

Napo centrally, still do not understand or use social media advantageously, by commentating on some developments as they happen and so to gain greater active support. That is the way the child sex abuse campaigners are working and folk like those at the Howard League led by Frances Crook, some former MPs as well. Even Russell Webster works like that, although as he continues, like the London CRC to block me on Twitter I wonder what his real motives are and in whose employ he is in.

You're wrong. 3 brave NEC reps tried to hold the errant joint chairs to account but were suspended. They were blotted out of events colluded with by the rest of their weak NEC colleagues. They had drama and as it in yet the NEC allowed the worst. No chance of getting membership in control.

Opposition is inevitable - but ultimately the totality of the membership 'owns' Napo. As for suspensions/dismissals I think there is a right of appeal ultimately to a general meeting - BUT - folk need to first have a sense of being responsible for the union(s) rather than as the Thatcher generation, may feel - customers - it is unlikely to change overnight but can happen.

Thank you. We really need those who have tried to stand up to Napo HQ in the past to get together and let us know what has been going on. Members are going to find it difficult to stand up to the General Secretary and others if we don't know what we're up against. Personally, I have heard and experienced enough to know I don't trust Napo HQ but we need to build up a picture of where it is going wrong so we can decide what action is to be taken.

Indeed, but I have zero faith in members being able to use existing structures and procedures. The problems are endemic and structural and despite everything that has gone on over the last few years, there has not been the slightest sign that a bit of soul-searching and internal re-organisation is necessary. Given this, I can see no alternative but a campaign to unseat the General Secretary.

I'm with you. Members will need evidence of how things have been mishandled. Anyone willing to speak out will give us a starting point.

I am sick of those criticising Ian Lawrence. It's not him who's weak. It's us.

He is responsible for everything since his election he gets paid a lot more than you and I. At his level he won't take responsibility for anything. He has the skill of repeating himself all over the place with nothing new. It is a shame he inherited much more of a basket of problems than he could deal with. Ledger issues and 2 shop display model only joint chairs. One who fell off the perch with a publicised Court appearance although cleared had to go just in time. The other turned out to be a disguised collapsible prop neither with adequate experience or knowledge for the tasks in hand. The prop resigns amidst a number of his own scandals, blames everyone else but does not tell us the truth or the extent of the issues underlying his resignation. He had applied for ACE CRC mind, so with that judgement, workers were already defeated. Sadly they are to blame, we only had to vote for them and seal this fate. They need to be sorry, Napo members made the wrong choices.

Ian Lawrence was democratically elected to represent the people but the people (some) turn on him at every opportunity.#fickle

Not everyone who voted in the General Secretary election voted for IL, and just because he is in post does not mean we should uncritically accept how he is functioning in role. Just as we hold politicians to account, (also democratically elected) so we are within our rights as NAPO members to hold IL to account. It is not a question of being 'fickle'. 

I agree with above and the election percentage turn out was appalling. Hardly a majority of members for proper mandate. What do you expect us all to do stand and applaud what is happening to us? This is being done off the back of Mr Lawrence's agreement. No sign of never retreat nor surrender. There has been huge unprecedented disturbance with a chair resigning citing differences and still we have no real understanding of why. Not all of us are so accepting.

Yesterday someone mentioned that 3 NEC Reps holding the joint chairs to account were suspended. How can members find out more about this?

By asking your Branch NEC rep! Some reps were suspended temporarily for sharing confidential NEC correspondence regarding Napo staff to people who were not NEC reps and some who were not Napo members (probably in error when sending emails on to large number of people). NEC reps have as part of their role, responsibility on behalf of members to act as employers of Napo HQ staff which means they are privy to confidential info on occasion.

Ask the 3 that were suspended the truth not more of this subterfuge. They reasonably wanted to share with NEC reps a QA position of the chairs on Ledgergate payoff. The chairs in fear of their obvious failures, responded by suspensions. Don't believe anything but those victimised by their union.


These fractious discussions about the Napo leadership have a tendency to end up with blaming the membership in one way or the other:- 

If Napo have been on holiday for years...so have the majority of its members. If Napo is weak that reflects its weak-willed members, the majority of whom never bothered to express their will through ballots. A union like the RMT regularly gets turnouts of 60-70%, Napo barely manages 40% and in electing its GS did not even manage 20%.

It may have been a different TR storyline if there had been some resounding support for the union through the ballot box. No surprise that Napo was perceived to have a weak mandate by the MoJ and the CRCs who are out to smash collective bargaining and spurn collective agreements.

Interesting to see the breakdown of the Sodexo workforce cuts; the re-badging of roles – Authorised Officers completes the divorce from any professional identity. The big cuts to programme facilitators, who just a few years ago, were in the vanguard of reducing offending, are becoming 'also rans'. Probation during the New Labour years was a massive job creation programme in itself as numbers swelled, role boundaries blurred and managerialism marginalised professionalism and new money flowed into union coffers.

Post split I do not know how exactly how many members Napo has in each sector but dealing with the CRCs across the country is going to stretch resources. I do not see a future for the unions in the CRCs as real players. I don't think it will be long before we start to hear of staff councils and other ploys designed to end any semblance of national collective bargaining. Before the ink has dried, Sodexo have shown their indifference to the flagship collective agreement, such is their determination to manage without hindrance from the unions – who they know are weak and thus, in the absence of collective protections, they will knock individual workers into whatever shape takes their fancy.

Will Napo have the resources to maintain a presence in the CRCs or would it be strategically wiser for a smaller Napo to focus on its NPS members?

Sound but sad analysis. As a former local rep I, along with my union colleagues at the time, tried to warn and prepare people collectively and individually for what we saw coming. Anyone reading about EVR at the time could see it was earmarked for a select few and no one else. Staff were up against a silent union and employer conspiracy with neither side wanting a staff exodus ahead of schedule. A schedule in the interests of future CRC owners. What did us local reps do? Took our own advice and planned our exit strategies and left to do other things. I did not want to leave the job I had done for decades but better to leave on your own terms and in your own time. What Grayling and NOMS have done to the Probation Service is an act of sheer ideological vandalism.

What does ideological vandalism mean Jim? Idiotic terminology from the above is laughable. Surely TR is more than ideological at this stage?

It means significant job losses for experienced, long serving & committed staff who have spent many years busting their bits in order to help ameliorate the damage & consequences of bullies, liars & cheats - and the service they work for has been handed on a gilt edged plate to bullies, liars & cheats. That's the ideological vandalism.


In the end though, isn't it about leadership? 

Leadership has been described as "a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task". 

Stop Press

And so it goes on. We need a debate:-

I don't think the anti-Lawrence trolls have any credible argument here. The vitriol reserved for him is denied Ben Priestley and the GMB/SCOOP guys who were all present at the same negotiations. Anyone who has read up on SODALLOFYOU knows they have a well established anti-union ethos. Local Chairs, who were consulted throughout, were asked what the mood on the ground was. The negotiators are informed by that and not by the anonymous ranting that goes on here.

If you are negotiating with someone who ignores agreements, pushes the boundaries of legal process and is willing to disenfranchise it's entire workforce, you have a problem that all the table thumping in the world cannot address. IL is not perfect but he most certainly is NOT the problem here.