Monday, 30 November 2015

New Look London CRC

Message from our Chief Executive Officer

Welcome to the first edition of London Community Rehabilitation Company’s (CRC) partnership newsletter, designed to keep you up-to-date on our latest news and provide insights into our approach to offender rehabilitation. 

As you are aware, ownership of London CRC transferred to MTCnovo on 1 February 2015. Since then, my senior managers and I have worked closely with MTCnovo colleagues to develop plans to transform the way probation services are delivered in London. This has focused on developing: 
  • A Through the Gate service to support offenders leaving custody 
  • An Offender Cohort Model to enhance the quality of offender engagement 
  • New approaches and opportunities to work jointly with partner organisations such as yours to reduce reoffending. 
You can read more about these changes in the following pages. 

Also in this newsletter, gain an insight into two new directorates we are launching to support our new ways of working and to free up offender managers to spend more time face-to-face with their offenders. See pages five to seven for an insight into the Operations Directorate and the Rehabilitation, Partnerships and Stakeholders Directorate, plus profiles of new Deputy Directors Donna Charles Vincent and Iain Anderson. We also cover some recent Community Payback projects and a story about the positive impact a Restorative Justice intervention had on a victim of crime.

I will be leaving London CRC and Helga Swidenbank will replace me as Probation Director from 30 November. You can find out more about Helga’s background and immediate priorities on page four. London CRC remains committed to keeping you informed of our work and collaborating with partner organisations that share our goal of reducing reoffending across the capital. This newsletter will be published bi-monthly and issue two will be circulated in January 2016. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please speak to your existing London CRC contact or email LondonCRC.partnershipnewsletter@

Nick Smart Chief Executive Officer

Our new approach to reducing reoffending 

An insight into the new ways of working that are being introduced to transform the way probation services are delivered across the capital.

Since ownership of London Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) transferred to MTCnovo on 1 February 2015, a lot of work has been done to develop a fresh approach to delivering offender rehabilitation services across the capital. Read on to find out more. 

Our new Offender Cohort Model 

From 7 December 2015, London CRC will adopt a new approach to delivering rehabilitation services. 

Rather than providing generic, geographically based services as they do now, offender managers will work with groups of offenders who have similar rehabilitation needs. This will allow us to deliver tailored services that tackle the underlying causes of offending. Service users will be assigned to one of the following cohort groups: 
  • 18 to 25 year old males 
  • 26 to 49 year old males 
  • 50+ year old males 
  • Mental health and learning disabilities (as the primary presenting need) 
  • Women. 
Community Payback will remain as a distinct service delivery arm. The way we work with each offender cohort will be slightly different and based on evidence of what works best to maintain high levels of compliance. For example, we will adopt an outreach approach – based on visiting service users in the community – to working with men over the age of 50; whereas for female offenders, we will be developing a number of local hubs where services will be delivered to groups of women. Building on our commitment to evidence-based service delivery, we will closely monitor the rehabilitation outcomes of each of our interventions.

Our new ways of working at a glance: 
  • An evidence-based approach to rehabilitation 
  • Working with cohorts of offenders who have similar rehabilitation needs 
  • Tailored interventions that tackle the underlying causes of offending 
  • Partner organisations deliver rehabilitation interventions for specific offender cohorts 
  • Rehabilitation Activity Requirements provide structured activities to address personal offending triggers.
A multi-agency approach to rehabilitation 

One of the key drivers of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda was to open up the probation market to a diverse range of rehabilitation providers. As a result, MTCnovo has engaged a number of partner organisations that specialise in working with specific offender profiles to provide tailored rehabilitation interventions for individual cohorts. For example, St Andrew’s Healthcare (the UK’s largest charitable provider of specialist mental healthcare) will support offenders with mental health needs, and Penrose (an organisation that provides a range of person-centred rehabilitation services in prisons, ‘through the gate’ and in the community) will work with 26 to 49 year old male offenders.

London CRC’s 12 Probation Engagement Workers (PEWs) will also be assigned to the cohorts to work alongside our offender managers. Having previously been subject to probation supervision or in prison themselves, the PEWs – who are employed by London CRC – are able to engage particularly well with offenders who are more resistant to working with Probation. 

The National Probation Service (NPS) is responsible for allocating offenders to either the NPS or CRC based on its assessment of risk and rehabilitation needs. London CRC staff are therefore working closely with their NPS colleagues to define a new process for allocating offenders to our cohorts. 

Rehabilitation Activity Requirements: structured activities to reduce reoffending
Rehabilitation Activity Requirements (RARs) were introduced by the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014 to replace Supervision and Activity Requirements (SARs) for offenders sentenced to Community Orders and Suspended Sentence Orders. As the name suggests, the purpose of RARs is to provide offenders with structured rehabilitation activities to help them address their personal offending triggers. This could include helping them to find secure accommodation or advising them how to disclose their offences to new employers. For others it could involve referring them to a substance misuse awareness programme, or supporting them to complete a workbook aimed at helping them adopt alternative approaches to aggressive behaviours.

A RAR sentence specifies the maximum (and not minimum) number of activity days an offender must complete. In RAR terms, a day doesn’t mean 24 hours: an activity that only lasts for two hours counts as one day, and if an offender is required to complete more than one activity in a day that also counts as one RAR day. 

It is the responsibility of NPS Court staff to propose the length of an offender’s RAR based on their assessment of rehabilitation need. However, CRC offender managers decide what activities the offender needs to complete and therefore how many activity days – up to the maximum term specified by the sentencer – are required to meet this need. 

We are developing a range of rehabilitation interventions that could be delivered as part of a RAR and will be briefing NPS Court staff to ensure they are able to make appropriate recommendations to sentencers.

Introducing Helga Swidenbank London Community Rehabilitation Company’s new Probation Director

Helga Swidenbank joins London Community Rehabilitation Company as our new Probation Director from 30 November. Find out more about her background and immediate priorities. 

Helga has extensive experience of leading organisational and cultural change in complex organisations in both the public and private sectors. With a BA in Sociology and Social Anthropology plus a Masters degree in Criminology, she has worked in custodial settings for many years – latterly, as Director of HMP Bronzefield Young Offenders Institution while at Sodexo. More recently, Helga’s role at Sodexo has been to lead a large-scale Facilities Management contract for a corporate client. 

As someone who passionately believes that providing the right support and motivation can help offenders turn their lives around, Helga developed a number of health and education interventions while working in the Prison Service. And as a firm advocate of adopting multi-agency approaches to reducing reoffending, she also established partnerships with third sector organisations and instigated community engagement initiatives. 

Helga: “I joined the Prison Service as a freshfaced 23 year old and, since then, have seen firsthand the impact that providing the right interventions at the right time can have on offenders. It’s the opportunity to help people make positive changes to their lives that attracted me to this role at London CRC. The Cohort Model gives us great scope to deliver evidence-based, tailored interventions to work with groups of offenders with specific needs.

“We will continue to deliver high levels of service as we embed our new ways of working.” 

“In terms of my immediate priorities, I’m under no illusion that it’s been a turbulent time for Probation so I’ll be focused on reassuring staff, the offenders we supervise, and our partner organisations like you, that we will continue to deliver high levels of service as we embed our new ways of working. Key to this will be working closely with London CRC and MTCnovo colleagues to ensure the changes are implemented safely.

“I’m really looking forward to building on London CRC’s great track record of offender engagement to develop new and innovative rehabilitation interventions. I don’t get out of bed in the mornings to do a mediocre job. My ultimate goal is to significantly reduce reoffending across the capital and for London CRC to be the bestperforming CRC in the country.”

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Latest From Napo 87

I guess we need to catch up with what the General Secretary has been doing of late and his theme seems to be that of being very busy. This from the 21st November:-  

TUCG rally shows why we and six million trade unionists can still make a difference

No chance of a restful weekend with attendance at a major summit being run by tbe General Federation of Trade Unions in Stafford with a hotfoot back to London today for the privilege of addressing a packed Central Hall for the TUCG rally against austerity. Here I was able to illustrate the impact of the TR disaster and why its part and parcel of this Governments attempt to privatise anything that moves and at the same time seek to knock the stuffing out of the organised workforce.

Here is what I said if you are interested in seeing it:


This from last Friday:-

A punishing schedule but it's what we do

Readers of my last posting live and direct from Central Hall will have got some idea of the involvement that Napo has and the respect that we have with like minded organisations and unions, and this was typified by our contribution to last weekends major trade union summit, organised by our friends in the General Federation of Trade Unions.

Here our delegation joined others from a number of 'craft' unions in exploring how we should encourage and enable new future leaders, how we can and should change the methods we have traditionally adopted for trade union education and critically, how we might seriously explore the concept of shared services amongst unions to help us improve our response, and our services to, our respective members, attain greater efficiency in the areas of tendering and procurement and whether we can quite simply, stop reinventing the wheel on a range of areas that might include ICT, research, design and printing to name but a few.

Whilst I missed the middle session to speak at Central Hall you ought to know that Yvonne Pattison, Tania Bassett and Our Finance Official Theresa Boorman did you proud. We will be issuing a detailed report of the proceedings as soon as we can after the GFTU Executive have considered the outcomes at their meeting here today in Loughborough. You may also want to know that Yvonne and I are on that group as well and therefore in a good place to try and influence that debate.

An eventful week

Immediately after the GFTU summit we started the week with a meeting of the National Executive Committee which had a long and hard look at our financial projections which have been constructed to help us deal with the real (and directly political) threat posed to Napo's existence by the removal of Check Off and our strategy for engagement with members over the next few months.

It was as you would expect, a testing occasion for everyone but I wanted to register my appreciation to everyone who put in a longer than usual shift and their acknowledgement of the hard work being carried out by Napo staff (your employees) who are seeing no sign of a reduction in workload with a bargaining environment where we now have our membership spread across 24 employers.

I know from my regular interaction with Napo staff just how much they are committed to seeing this union rebuild and their intention to play a leading role alongside our activists and wider members.

A real purple future?

I am always cautious about reading too much into what seemed like a really positive engagement with the Chiefs and owners of the Interserve cluster of CRC's.

Make no mistake, I am expecting us to have some major differences as they go about making a fist of the contracts that they and other CRC owners have been mis-sold, but I was struck by the tone and genuine intention to try and work in partnership with the unions. Time will tell, but Purple Futures could make a good start by committing to the EVR scheme once they reveal what their future staffing plans actually are.

Meanwhile, the Joint Secretaries get to meet

Virtually, on account of competing demands, but nevertheless a useful exchange after which we were able to issue reminders to the Sodexo owned CRC's that we still await their response to the Management of Change protocol questionnaires about their plans to handle the posts that they are claiming they still need to make compulsorily redundant. They need to get a move on and try to demonstrate some good faith following the chaos that has been caused by the disingenuous approach by their owners to the whole 'its not EVR but something else'

We also dealt with other non-Sodexo stuff for once including some Market Forces supplements and a good old fashioned NNC dispute which we hope can be resolved without the need for a formal visit.

E3 job evaluation

We have been picking up a lot of incoming concern this week from members across all grades about the job evaluation process that was announced in the E3 operational blueprint.

This has been especially the case amongst our Victim Liaison Officer members who are questioning the proposals to band this role at 3. This is complicated by their seemingly being an almost 50/50 split of staff across bands 3 and 4.

We will be issuing a more comprehensive briefing once your National Officers have completed their mapping exercise with branches, but our position remains clear in respect of these and all other roles that are threatened by the as yet still to be agreed E3 review. There will be job evaluation to the agreed NNC standard with skilled evaluators on board, there will be consultation with members and there must be negotiation with the unions on the outcomes.

Remember that these are not Napo's proposals and they are symptomatic of the 'more for less culture' that is a hallmark of the continuing austerity agenda.

More next week on the FCS strategy day, PBNI and the latest position on Approved Premises.


Finally, regular readers might recall that a couple of weeks ago a cryptic message directed at Napo London Branch members appeared on social media:-  
Every member of NAPO London Branch needs to attend the Branch Meeting tomorrow at 2pm as a matter of priority for an extremely important announcement concerning the future of London Branch. If you are coming please urge as many other members to attend as possible. We cannot emphasise enough that the announcement will concern all members of the Branch.
After the meeting, the following exchanges appeared:-
London branch is financially broke
But not as a result of financial mismanagement but rather as a result of external decisions regarding national finances that in practice appear to penalise branches that manage their finances effectively and in a responsible manner – such as staying in credit and building up a small contingency fund to pay deposits for cheaper early booking of hotel accommodation for AGM – saving substantial sums of money. I realise we are not the only Branch that this policy has impacted on detrimentally but it is false economy to stop financially savvy branches from having the ability to manage their finances in order to maximise the service they give to their members in response to local needs and instead allow greater centralised control of financial matters to occur that is less responsive to members needs and takes money from those who operate within the parameters of their budget to subsidise those who do not. This is not a real world financial strategy and incentivises financial mismanagement.
Oh blimey .. And we have to return any monies to chivarly rd. What happens now
If you run a tight ship you have to give it to those that don't – simples or they withhold your grant.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Prison News

Yet again the posts of Chief Inspectors of Prisons and Probation are involved in controversy. This from the Guardian:-

Michael Gove rebuked for phoning prospective prison inspectors

The justice secretary, Michael Gove, has been censured for personally ringing up prospective candidates for the posts of chief inspectors of prisons and probation to encourage them to apply for the jobs. The Commons justice select committee says it was “unwise for the secretary of state to ring prospective candidates” when “there should be no perception that either chief inspector is beholden to the minister [responsible] … for those services”.

The strongly worded rebuke to Gove is coupled with concerns that the justice secretary’s preferred candidate for the £130,000-a-year job of chief inspector of prisons, Peter Clarke, a former Scotland Yard head of counter-terrorism, has such “slender experience and knowledge” of the prison system that a handover period should be arranged with the current chief inspector, Nick Hardwick.

The MPs say Clarke, who has not been inside a prison for nine years, will “face a major challenge to bring himself swiftly up to speed in order to command widespread public confidence”. Gove rang prospective candidates out of the blue soon after the general election, before the two posts were advertised. Gove knew Clarke from his time as education secretary when he asked the retired senior police officer to investigate the Trojan Horse allegations of Islamist extremism in Birmingham schools.

He rang Glenys Stacey, the outgoing head of school exams watchdog Ofqual, to encourage her to apply for the post of chief inspector of probation. The row over the appointments follows the resignation last year of Paul McDowell as chief inspector of probation after it was disclosed that his wife runs a private probation company that won six of the 23 probation contracts in England and Wales.

The MPs on the Conservative-chaired committee said the latest episode demonstrated that the independence of the two watchdog roles should be enhanced by making them parliamentary rather than ministerial appointments.

The justice select committee report concludes: “They are posts whose occupants must arrive at independent and evidence-based judgments on the performance of the bodies required to deliver effective, lawful and humane custodial and probation services in the criminal justice system, and there should be no perception that either chief inspector is beholden to the minister with overall responsibility to parliament and the public for these services.”

The MPs also raise concerns that the three-year contracts for the two jobs may be too short to enable their holders to develop and exercise full authority, especially as neither preferred candidate has recent experience of prisons or probation. They say that if they were five-year contracts it would enable the chief inspectors to apply for extensions without worrying about challenging the incumbent justice secretary.


Meanwhile the current Inspector demonstrated why he didn't get his term extended by being quite blunt about things on the BBC Victoria Derbyshire programme:-

The outgoing chief inspector of prisons has said there is "no doubt" jails have deteriorated in the five years he has been in the role.

Nick Hardwick said they were "more dangerous" for staff and prisoners and "less effective" at preparing people for release so they do not reoffend. He also said he had seen prisoners who were "out of it" from taking legal highs. The Ministry of Justice said it was investing in and reforming prisons.

Mr Hardwick told the Victoria Derbyshire programme: "The deterioration isn't just bad for prisoners, it's bad for the communities into which they'll return because not enough has been done to stop them committing more crime."

Drugs 'surge'

He said the deterioration was due to a combination of issues and the reasons had changed during his time in the role. "You've got too many prisoners, not enough staff, the men who are there now are more likely to be there for more violent offences, serving longer [sentences].

"And particularly in the past year or two there's been a surge in the availability of drugs, particularly so-called legal highs and that then leads to bullying and debt, and that's created much worse conditions." He said there were lots of ways the drugs got into prisons, over walls, from prisoners, during visits, or through corrupt staff.

"I was in a prison the other day, and this was quite unusual, there were so many prisoners under the influence that the worst - and it is dangerous, it kills people - they were taking to the hospital, the health centre, but the guys who were less badly affected they were leaving other prisoners to mind and look after," he said. "I walked round and saw these guys who were obviously out of it."

'Finally listening'

Mr Hardwick said sometimes there were "simply not enough staff. Sometimes I will go on to a wing and want to talk to someone about it and you can't find a member of staff to talk to."

Earlier this month, Justice Secretary Michael Gove announced that Victorian prisons would be closed and replaced with nine new establishments in England and Wales by 2020. Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the closure of Holloway women's prison in London in the Spending Review on Wednesday. Mr Hardwick said he was encouraged that the government was "finally listening to what we are saying," but that they "had to deliver". 

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said prisons needed reform. It is only through more effective rehabilitation that we will reduce reoffending, cut crime and improve public safety. That is why we are investing in a modern prison estate, where governors are empowered to run prisons in the way they think best, and prisoners are given a chance to work or learn."


The news that HMP Holloway, the largest female prison in Europe, is to close is not greeted universally and the suspicion is that it's more about a property deal than improving things for female prisoners. This by Sara Hyde in the Independent:-

Closing Holloway Prison to make room for luxury flats isn't a triumph, George Osborne - it's just cruelly ironic

Those rat-infested, Victorian prisons. Dirty, expensive, violent. Osborne has just announced that he’s going to get rid of one of the most prominent old ones, the women’s prison at HMP Holloway, and we’re all supposed to give him a cheer. But wait – is this really cause for celebration?

I’ve worked in women’s prisons for seven years, so I find myself compelled to set the Chancellor straight on a few things. Firstly, there’s been a prison on-site at Holloway since the 1850s, it’s true, but the current one was opened in the 1980s. Not exactly Victorian, then. And it by no means has the worst conditions: HMP Holloway has a grading of 3 (1 terrible, 4 exceptional) from the MoJ and has almost 24 hours a week of purposeful activity for the women who reside there.

In fact, the last HMIP inspection of Holloway commented: “Despite the constraints of the physical environment and its size, most women, particularly the most vulnerable, were held safely and treated decently – although some significant shortcomings remained.”

The Inspectorate also noted the support for those who self-harmed or were otherwise vulnerable was better than in most prisons. At the time of the 2013 inspection, there had been no self-inflicted deaths since 2007: devastatingly, there has been one since. Its impact was felt throughout the prison, not least because it has become so unusual here due to the excellent staff, not the lack of people trying. These facts all point to a well-run, safe prison – more than can be said for some of the stories I’ve heard coming out of places like Pentonville and The Scrubs.

I find myself in a difficult position when faced with the closure of HMP Holloway. With all my heart I long for a justice system that plays a part in restoring and rehabilitating people and communities; a system that decides holding women, 80% of whom are incarcerated for non-violent crime, is a terrible idea and so, having funded robust community alternatives and small custodial units, embarks on a women’s prison closure plan.

So part of me does rejoice that Holloway is going to close and that rumours of serious reform are in the air. But there is significant infrastructure both inside and outside the walls of Holloway that cannot simply be transferred in a hot second to Surrey, where Bronzefield and Downview are located.

The significant advantage of Holloway is that women can be held close to their families and communities, with access to community agency support for when they leave. Holloway holds a lot of women from London, Kent and Essex. Try telling a mother from Colchester, who has already had her life blown apart by her daughter’s crime, that HMP Bronzefield has good transport links to London. It doesn’t – I’ve been there.

The other important thing about HMP Holloway is how incredibly visible it is to the rest of the public – which is one of its greatest advantages. Most of us never get inside the prison system, or inside the narratives of those who reside there. But at least these city prisons remind us that we aren’t actually ‘all in it together’, that the economic recovery isn’t felt by us all, and that inequality is still a pernicious force destroying our society.

We could rebuild smaller, modern prisons on these very sites – they’ve already done it once with Holloway, so we know it can be done. Anyone who thinks this ‘quick fix’ solution can work has clearly never experienced the hours I’ve spent with vulnerable women in homeless people’s units, trying to find somewhere for a person to sleep on the night that they come out of prison, only to eventually be left ringing round charities late into the evening when the stretched local authority refused to house survivors of domestic abuse or women work at risk of sexual exploitation.

Now, in a move that is cruelly ironic, the only home some people have known – prison – is due to be bulldozed and used as sites to build luxury flats that no-one on a normal salary, let alone benefits, will be able to afford. The central London location will no doubt make it exceptionally attractive to investors.

Closing prisons and reducing our use of criminogenic imprisonment by improving conditions are clearly a desirable aims. Using architecture and technology as a replacement for human interaction to save money is not, and does nothing to promote desistance from crime. Strong family relationships help people desist from crimes – how will these relationships be sustained with extra distance and extra cost?

However, there is a huge opportunity here to use alternatives to custody and to finally meet the policy recommendations set out in the 2007 Corston Report. Bring on the small custodial units that allow women to be held near their children, so that their kids suffer a tiny bit less.

The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. This may yet be good news. So let’s see what kind of prison Mr Gove builds next and if he actually executes the things he learnt in Texas. Quality of life for so many people depends on it.


Finally, the Business Insider website reported on the continuing battle with mobile phones in prison:-  

British prisons are going to make it harder for inmates to access the internet and make mobile calls

Britain's prisons are going to further enhance the mobile phone blocking technology they use in order to prevent criminals from accessing the internet and having unauthorised conversations. The new measures — announced by Chancellor George Osborne in the Autumn Statement yesterday and reported in The Financial Times — will be introduced by the Department of Justice and funded with the help of a new £1.3 billion pot of money that has been pledged to improve the nation's Prison Service.

Prisons across Britain currently allow inmates to use monitored landline phones but mobile phone use is limited and must be approved first. Earlier this year, the government issued a fact sheet on mobile phone use in prisons. It said mobile phones were being used "by serious organised criminals to import firearms and drugs, co-ordinate escapes and to arrange murder".

The government introduced a law in January that enables prison authorities to cut off signals to mobile phones used by prisoners. Specifically, the new powers allowed Prison Service employees to apply for a phone disconnection after they'd identified it. A number of UK prisons already have mobile phone blocking technology but the FT reports that there have been a number of cases where prisoners have been able to get round it.

The Ministry of Justice claims the new technology is better than before, adding that it will "stamp out the organisation of crime from within prisons, and stem the availability of drugs and other illicit substances." The £1.3 billion investment will also be used to build nine new prisons.

The money will also be used to roll out teleconferencing equipment to prisons so that prisoners don't need to travel to court for their probation hearings. George Osborne, the chancellor, said the measures would reduce prison running costs by £80 million.

"New investment will also fund video conference centres, allowing up to 90,000 cases to be heard from prison instead of court, and will deliver more safety improvements in prisons, including body scanners and mobile phone blocking technology," he added.


I thought it was worth publishing the fact sheet:-

Serious Crime Act 2015

Fact sheet: Unauthorised mobile phones in prison 


1. Unauthorised mobile phones in prisons have been used by serious organised criminals to import firearms and drugs, coordinate escapes and to arrange murder. In January 2015, a serving prisoner received a life sentence for using a mobile phone to import machine guns into the UK. In 2013, the use of a mobile phone was instrumental in the escape of two prisoners near Salford, who were subsequently recaptured and sentenced to over 20 years in prison. In 2009, a prisoner was sentenced to 18 years for organising the importation of a large quantity of cocaine using a mobile phone from his prison cell. And in 2006, a mobile in prison was used to organise the killing of a gang leader. 

2. The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) uses a range of measures to prevent unauthorised phones getting into prisons, as well as measures to identify and seize phones in the possession of prisoners. In 2013/14, NOMS seized over 7,400 SIM cards and phones in prisons in England and Wales. All prisoners have access to approved fixed-line phones and are able to telephone the Samaritans free of charge. 

Current position 

3. Despite the success of measures to detect and seize phones in prison, mobile phone technology continues to advance and the size of handsets to decrease. This is making it easier for prisoners to conceal illicit phones and move them around the prison estate. Whilst it is a criminal offence to posses or use a mobile phone in prison without authorisation (section 40D of the Prison Act 1952), it is often not possible to attribute handsets and SIMs to specific individuals and prosecutions are rare. It is also a criminal offence to convey a mobile phone into a prison (section 40C of the Prison Act 1952). 

4. However, before the enactment of the Serious Crime Act there was no legal obligation on Mobile Network Operators to disconnect unauthorised phones in prisons. 

The new powers 

5. Section 80 of the Act will enable the Secretary of State (and the Scottish Ministers) to make regulations which will confer a power on the County Court (in Scotland, a Sheriff Court) to make an order to compel Mobile Network Operators to disconnect mobile phone handsets and SIM cards found by the court to be operating in prison without authorisation. This new power will allow NOMS and law enforcement agencies to disconnect mobile phones without the need to first take possession of and then attribute the handset or SIM to an individual. 

6. Before applying for a court order, NOMS will take robust steps to ascertain that the phones are being used without authorisation inside a prison. The court would need to be satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, that the phone is in prison and being used without authorisation, before ordering its disconnection. When a phone is disconnected from the network, the user will be able to make calls to the emergency services, should that need arise. This is an important safeguard. 

7. In the unlikely event that someone’s phone is disconnected in error, that person will be able to request an expeditious reconnection of their service, if it can be shown that the phone is not in use in a prison, or not in use in a prison without authorisation. Reconnection of their service can commence without the need to return to court to vary the order. 

8. The details of the scheme, including provision conferring rights on affected persons to make representations and provision about appeals, will be set out in regulations which must be debated and approved by each House of Parliament (or, in Scotland, by the Scottish Parliament) before they can come into force. 

Home Office March 2015

Friday, 27 November 2015

Guest Blog 48

Staff Survey - 'Oh Dear!'

I was very bored, so I took a look through the data for the 2015 Civil Service People Survey. I really can't explain why, other than general nerd-ery, as I work for a CRC and so I wasn't even involved in the survey!

I made some notes as I went, so please feel free to use the below as a guest blog (anonymous, naturally), if you want. One important caveat: although I got an A in GCSE Maths when I was 16, I remember very little about statistics and make no claims about the accuracy of my judgements, which were formed by looking at the responses from NPS staff and then comparing them in a very broad sense with the answers from other departments.

The questions were grouped together into 15 themes - I missed off the last two ('discrimination, bullying and harassment' and 'subjective wellbeing') because I wasn't sure how to interpret the responses. My take on the remaining 13 was as follows:

My work: these questions were about the respondent’s level of interest in their work, but also whether they found it challenging. There were generally positive answers here, particularly to the question “I am interested in my work” – 94% responded strongly agree or agree, which is just about the highest score across all civil servants in all departments. However, only 38% agreed/strongly agreed with question B04 “I feel involved in the decisions that affect my work”, which was amongst the lowest across all departments.

Organisational objectives and purpose: these questions relate to an understanding of the organisation’s objectives and how well the respondent feels their work fits in with those objectives. There appeared to be high levels of positive responses to all three questions.

My manager: these questions relate to the manager’s ability to motivate staff but also recognition and positive feedback. Generally the answers were positive, in the 60-75% range, but concerningly only 34% agreed with the statement “Poor performance is dealt with effectively in my team”. However, looking at the scores across other departments this appears to be a Civil Service-wide problem – most of the responses were in the 20-40% range.

My team: three questions about how well the individual feels their team works. Pretty positive answers here, particularly about the reliability of people in the team to help when things get difficult.

Learning and development: a lower scoring section, with only 30-40% agreeing that they had access to the right L&D opportunities , and particularly poor for questions about career development. From my cursory look at the data for other departments, I’d say these scores were generally lower than for other civil servants. Across the Civil Service as a whole, about 40-60% gave positive answers to these questions.

Inclusion and fair treatment: Most people felt they were treated fairly at work, with 86% responding that they were treated with respect by the people they work with, although only 56% agreed that they felt valued for the work that they do.

Resources and workload: a mixed bag of responses to a mixed bag of questions. Respondents felt that they were clear what was expected of them and had the skills to do their job effectively, but only 50% agreed that they had the tools to do their job effectively (OASys/nDelius anyone?) and even fewer (48%) felt their workload was acceptable. Those scores were quite substantially below the Civil Service benchmark (the median score across all departments).

Pay and benefits: Ouch. 28% agreed that “I feel that my pay adequately reflects my performance”; 25% agreed that “I am satisfied with the total benefits package”; and 27% agreed that “Compared to people doing a similar job in other organisations I feel my pay is reasonable”. Having said that, the median score for these questions across the whole Civil Service were 31%, 33% and 25%, so this is not much different from the national picture. There are a lot of unhappy civil servants out there still stuck in the pay ice age – “we’re all in this together” still clearly doesn't cut it.

Leadership and managing change: Double ouch. The questions in this section look at how well senior managers are doing, and this should make uncomfortable reading for them. Only 27% agreed that “I feel that the NPS as a whole is managed well”; and only 19% felt that there was a clear vision for the future. Only 16% agreed that change is managed well, and – perhaps most damningly – only 9% agreed that “When changes are made in the NPS they are usually for the better”. Only 15% agreed “I have the opportunity to contribute my views before decisions are made that affect me”, and only 21% said “I think it is safe to challenge the way things are done”. These scores were all well below the overall Civil Service benchmark median. Pretty damning stuff.

Employee engagement: an interesting split in the answers here, with 50%+ agreeing that they felt proud to tell others they were part of the NPS and that they felt a personal attachment to the organisation; but only 31% agreeing that they would recommend it as a great place to work. Only 35-40% felt inspired or motivated by the organisation to do their best.

Taking action: 20% said they believed that senior managers would take action on the results from this survey, although 36% felt that managers where they worked would do so. Only 12% agreed with the statement “Where I work, I think effective action has been taken on the results of the last survey”. Did someone say something about the best predictor of future behaviour being past behaviour? Worrying.

Organisational culture: on the whole pretty positive answers here, with 89% agreeing “I am trusted to carry out my job effectively”, though only 58% said they would be “supported if I try a new idea, even if it may not work”.

Leadership statement: really interesting split in the answers here – the questions make a distinction between middle and senior management, and the responses for questions about the ability of senior managers to inspire and lead their staff were 30%+ more negative. This pattern is repeated across the Civil Service as a whole (although the responses from NPS staff were well below the median in general), suggesting that senior managers have a real image problem.

Civil Service Code: as a poor private sector drone the words Civil Service Code mean nothing to me – however it appears that only 66% of NPS staff agreed that they were aware of the Code, only 37% were aware of how to raise a concern under the it, and only 45% were confident that it would be investigated properly. These scores are well below the median level for the Civil Service as a whole – although as relatively new members, this may not be all that surprising.

Overall these responses look like trouble for senior managers. They have a staff group who generally enjoy their jobs and feel skilled and confident in what they do, but who don't feel like they have any say in the direction of travel of the organisation as a whole, or have any confidence that their concerns will be listened to. A comment on yesterday's blog put it more succinctly than I have: "staff survey was grim. To summarise: Do you love your job = YES. Do you have any respect for your leaders = NO. Oh dear"

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Probation Institute Debate

I thought it would be useful to summarise the recent debate and exchanges concerning the fledgling Probation Institute. It was kicked off by a comment I re-published from Facebook by Napo's David Raho. The ensuing contributions raised some serious questions and I'm grateful to him for openly responding:-

It has been suggested elsewhere that we continue to sign our correspondence PO PSO SPO as per employment contract and in addition start listing professional qualifications. In order to preserve our professional status including designations we need a recognised professional body that registers our qualifications courses etc as CPD. It was hoped that the Probation Institute would perform this role in the same way as the Institute for Learning does. Unfortunately the Probation Institute got a bad press (mainly due to Grayling dishonestly attempting to take credit for its establishment) and continues to be unfairly maligned and undermined and weakened by a small number of very vocal critics who have failed to recognise its potential importance to our profession.

I would encourage anyone concerned about their professional status and probation as a profession to join the PI in addition to NAPO (who are a professional association) who recognise the Probation Institute as aspiring to be a centre of professional excellence including all those with an interest and/or involvement in probation including academics, leaders, politicians, voluntary sector etc. Some of us have been calling for a PI for years and now we have one we need to join it and support it. 
David Raho

A Probation Institute with licence to practice powers rather than mere 'registration' may have been welcomed as it would have protected excellence as the PI aspires to become to a 'centre of excellence'. Though supported by the Napo leadership it is quiet support as I don't recall any strong promotion by Napo of the PI. It never gets mentioned by the general secretary and I don't see any evidence of Napo urging members to join.

There are trained and experienced staff seeking to transfer to the NPS and being told they will revert to the bottom of the pay scale. On this issue and other issues that affect conditions of service and livelihoods the PI is silent.

The MoJ spent 90,000 on the PI because it was good PR at a time when they needed to show their commitment to maintaining professional standards in the post TR world. No wonder its critics saw it as more fig leaf than supposed centre of excellence. The PI enjoys more traction with academics than practitioners. Is this just because practitioners have been deterred by a small number of very vocal critics, or could it be that in general it is regarded as a cosmetic: lipstick on the TR pig?

The practitioners I know see very little benefit in joining the PI until all the grand words about being a centre of excellence translate into concrete action towards achieving a proper register of licensed practitioners. Until then, and particularly whilst corporate entities and those with no background in probation can simply buy themselves higher levels of membership than frontline staff, to most people it will remain little more than yet another quarterly glossy magazine.

The PI should have been free to all frontline probation staff. Not everyone has to buy a registration, as does the humble NPS probation officer. CRC's had it paid for, NPS did not. The PI's 'code of ethics' didn't have a problem with this.

The other way is to be handed it for free by your friends. Funny that, the PI was set up by probation Chiefs and now they're awarding themselves "fellowships". This list of current 'awards' is packed with probation Chiefs (I'm not counting Andrew Bridges as he's the only one that's deserving in my book). I hope they enjoy writing C.O.R.R.U.P.T after their names.

CRC's staff may have been offered free membership to the PI but I don't know anyone that took up the offer in Kent. Maybe this was offered as compensation for NPS staff being given a day off for the Queen.

I disagree with David Raho on the Probation Institute (PI). It's a bit unfair to blame the critics when there are many flaws in the set up and operation. It failed us, we didn't fail it!

The PI may have worked if it'd been properly established in the first place. It's silly it was started by absorbing those of the Probation Association and Probation Chiefs Association, those that did nothing to fight the Govt destruction of probation. The PI has still not spoken against TR, it is silent against every new/additional Govt attack on probation, and I have never seen or heard it speak publicly in defence of probation. 

It's committees/boards are heavily packed with persons from Community Rehabilitation Companies and private firms. The PI has had ample time to combat/correct all of the above but seems to be only interested in increasing member fees and issuing silly 'fellowships' which include those that helped the sell off, and have nothing to do with, probation. Its professional register might have worked if it were not so intent on bowing to private companies by registering and giving silly post nominal letters to those without probation qualifications, and even volunteers those not working in probation. I don't see why it's partnered with Uservoice either, or why it needs to be propped up by Napo.

I agree probation needs a professional body, a format for registering qualifications and professional development, a credible place for identifying and accessing research and training, and a probation focused authority to speak on behalf of probation practice. Sadly the PI in its current form is not it, and has tried to be too broad and therefore too vague. Rather than blaming its failure on the critics it should go back to the drawing board. There's a lot we all could say on the PI but it would already know this if it tried to listen.

I agree with David Raho on much, but his comment that the PI "continues to be unfairly maligned and undermined and weakened by a small number of very vocal critics" is rather odd.

Who are these critics, except for those on this blog? Do we really have that much power? The PI has had a huge amount of establishment support, and its failure to gain traction is the result of the fundamental flaws in its design - particularly the offer of corporate memberships - as well as the PR problems that was the initial £90k seed money from NOMS and Grayling's early championship. The fact that it seemingly can't overcome the challenge of a few naysayers is a mark of its fundamental weaknesses, not the strength of the critics.

We do need a professional body, separate from the trade unions, but not this one. As Probation Officer says, to be credible the PI needs to be seen to be standing up for probation values and actively challenging the TR wrecking ball - but the current PI is financially dependent on the CRCs and will end up being complicit in the destruction of what it professes to value.

I intend to contact David Raho directly to explain why I am so opposed to the Probation Institute. I will express myself here anonymously because this is social media and being NPS I would be sanctioned for having the temerity to express my views. Yup in the land of Magna Carta, in 2015, I dare not speak out because I am a (second access to the better pension remember) Civil Servant. Not once has the PI ever spoken up about the truly shocking experiment-turned-reality of TR. Not once has the PI expressed any concern about the impact of TR upon victims, communities, clients/service users/offenders. Not once has the PI ever raised concerns from practitioners or managers.

I work in the NPS and horrified by the PI which incidentally was set up and funded by Chris Grayling's department, the MOJ. PI has no credibility and no teeth to uphold probation 'core' values. The only thing PI is interested in is using this organisation as a marketing tool to advise the aims of the private sector and supporting companies that are out to make a profit.

The PI was introduced as a smoke screen to smooth the muddy waters that the MOJ knew would follow TR. What they didn't envisage was us mere mortal front line PROBATION staff seeing right through it. I am quite frankly shocked by David Raho's statement, I always held him in high esteem.

It's a bit unclear. All this E3 nonsense is actually an opportunity for the Probation Institute to find itself. The PI, if it's reading, should tell the MoJ, NOMS, the NPS and CRC's - what best practice is, what probation practice must be and the role of the Probation Officer, how professional qualifications and standards must be maintained, how justice cuts will affect standards, the problems and effects caused by TR and privatisation, the restraints and robotisation of being civil servants, etc.

If the PI wants to be a "centre of excellence" and "voice" of probation then it needs to put in the work. Get rid of the premature partnerships, give the MoJ back its £90k, get involved in a few news interviews about crime, punishment and rehabilitation to promote and defend probation work, and then build in the right direction. Look how the police have taken the current terror threat and spoken out about justice cuts! I respect the likes of Paul Senior and Sue Hall but they're not doing enough if they want it to work. I'm an NPS PO and there is literally no point in joining, in fact I don't even know what it is except that it tried to run before it could walk. I'd love to help them make it work but clearly the PI's priority is membership fees, glossy magazines and pampering the self-believing 'elite'

I expect unions to fight for terms and conditions. I expect the PI to promote and preserve probation practice. Being a probation officer has always been and still is a profession. It is more than 'just a job' and therefore should not be subject to silly models and initiatives that strip it bare. This is not idealistic or a "fantasy", the fact is that with many 'professions' such as doctors, lawyers, police, surveyors, counsellors, social workers, etc, us professionals on the frontline should and must expect to be able and supported to do the job we are paid for and held accountable for. The reason for the superstructure of specialist unions, institutes, inspectorates, etc is to ensure this.

I am happy to talk to anyone regarding my current dealings with the Probation Institute. Like many I was sceptical at first but the PI will only be as effective as those involved in it and to a large extent prepared to give up their spare time to further its aims and projects. I am fully aware of how it was formed and the relatively small contribution from the MoJ. I think it has value as a means of networking and bringing together different people with an interest in probation that would not necessarily be comfortable dealing with trade unions. My experience has been that there are good people involved such as Paul Senior that those who have been around a while will recognise as good friends of the probation profession and will aim to do no harm. As a profession we need to engage with a wider audience and we need recognised infrastructure to do so. I am happy to hear from anyone directly.
David Raho

David Raho, total poppycock. That silly "only as good as it members" line may work in excusing the sham of the Napo exec/leadership, but the PI is not a union. It is in fact the responsibility of those running the PI to make it effective for and attractive to those that make up the profession it seeks to represent. If the PI cannot realise this then it is not ready to be an organisation/institute. There are many posts above stating the failings of the PI and what it could do to change. These points and more have been raised many times over, here and elsewhere. Let it show us how it is a voice of probation and centre of excellence, as it claims, because "networking" is not enough.

You are right to say the PI is not a union but some of those commenting do not make that distinction. It does however strive to be a democratic organisation and members therefore have a say. I do not expect it or similar institutes in their infancy to behave in the ways described or as a radical pressure group. However, I think some of the work currently being done may be influential. Nothing is ever as perfect as we want it to be and whilst it is easy to be negative about what exists it can at least be worked with rather than simply dismissed as irrelevant. 

If the PI fails it will be as much a casualty of TR as anything else and will be seized upon by those who's interests are served by deprofessionalising and silencing voices speaking up for the probation profession. As I said before I was initially a sceptic but I can see the sense in engaging with a wider group through the PI who would not necessarily feel comfortable engaging directly with NAPO as a professional association. I'm happy to do this. Without a professional institute there is no obvious home for specialist networks etc to find a home and those with interests in probation would rely on ad hoc professional conferences etc to communicate. So in providing the means to have a forum and network the PI fits the bill. They currently rely on members subscriptions and as far as I am aware do not get any money from the MoJ. My own hope for the PI is that it does provide professional services in the way the Institute for Learning does to te teaching profession. If it's membership increases so will its potential to have a stronger voice and a bit more clout and may well be more critical of policy makers. It is not however and should not be seen as being a trade union.
David Raho

If it makes you feel better to say that, congrats. The fact is it was badly set up and is doing little to nothing for our profession. If it's a "professional association" then it should be it now, and not 'when it has enough members'. You may say it's a catch 22 my friend, I say it must put in the work and the members will come. Look how the police spike and fought against cuts and are now protected until 2020. We've not heard a snippet from the PI on TR, sodexo, E3 or the looming cuts, but it claims to be the voice of probation but will not while it bows to the MoJ and romances its privateer friends. As I said, the comments are above and elsewhere, and the PI has done nothing to rectify this. You're not its spokesperson so you can't answer any of this either, so little point debating with me on an old blog post nobody else is reading. I'd love the PI to be an institute of probation, the fact is it is far from it.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


On the day that the charmless Chancellor announces yet another round of public service cuts, I'm fairly sure one lucky visitor to the blog will become the 3 millionth person to click on in order to get the latest news regarding the TR omnishambles. It's another significant milestone without a doubt, but unlike those previously, I'm in no mood to celebrate.

As we discussed a few weeks ago, readership is steadily declining as highly experienced colleagues continue to leave and are driven out of this once wonderful profession. Those remaining feel increasingly scared of contributing for fear of falling foul of bullying management in the privateer world of CRC's and the growing control freak environment of NPS. 

It's basically all incredibly depressing, but there's undoubtedly more to come and the blog has to soldier on for a bit longer in it's aim of highlighting and cataloguing the ever-unfolding disaster. As ever, it can only be achieved by people making contributions and continuing to send me information. We haven't really touched on E3 and the Staff Survey, or some of the daft and dangerous new operating models being developed by the privateers. 

As always, I would like to warmly thank everyone that has contributed and supported this endeavour through some very tough and soul-destroying times. In the words of all those official responses to negative reports, 'we've done a lot, but there's more to do'. Despite the difficulties and threats, please think about contributing what's going on in your area for the benefit of others and best of all, consider writing a guest blog piece and help fill the empty pages of late.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Jobs News

This from Facebook:-
News from a CRC:

  • Performance Delivery Manager. New name for an SPO. (At least it isn't PIM or POM)
  • 'The details will be confirmed as part of the consultation process'. Consultation vs Confirmed? Oxymoron?
  • Probation Practitioner. Anyone who supervises a Service User. This will replace the terms Probation Officer, Offender Manager, Case Manager and Probation Service Officer. This may also be referred to as ‘Responsible Officer’, as per the legal definition.
  • Role boundaries? In your dreams.
  • Community Support Worker: A (newly invented) paid position, CSWs are involved with the delivery of Service User rehabilitation activities and support as part of Reducing Reoffending Teams. They will have a major role in promoting engagement, undertaking assertive outreach with Service Users with the most complex needs.
  • Finally for now: Biometric technology will support automated step down reporting as Service Users approach the end of their order.

David A Raho in response:-
It has been suggested elsewhere that we continue to sign our correspondence PO PSO SPO as per employment contract and in addition start listing professional qualifications. In order to preserve our professional status including designations we need a recognised professional body that registers our qualifications courses etc as CPD. It was hoped that the Probation Institute would perform this role in the same way as the Institute for Learning does. Unfortunately the Probation Institute got a bad press (mainly due to Grayling dishonestly attempting to take credit for its establishment) and continues to be unfairly maligned and undermined and weakened by a small number of very vocal critics who have failed to recognise its potential importance to our profession. 

I would encourage anyone concerned about their professional status and probation as a profession to join the PI in addition to NAPO (who are a professional association) who recognise the Probation Institute as aspiring to be a centre of professional excellence including all those with an interest and/or involvement in probation including academics, leaders, politicians, voluntary sector etc. Some of us have been calling for a PI for years and now we have one we need to join it and support it.


BTW Jim, no blog on the NPS people survey yet? It's a shocker. Three quarters of NPS staff unhappy with pay, career progression and training and with the ability of the centre to run the service. Tiny confidence that their voice will be heard if they speak out and a fear of doing so. Shockingly, 25% of the respondents in one LDU say they want out in the next 12 months. These kind of numbers in a private sector organisation would prompt shareholder panic, changes at the top and some proper reform to ensure profitability. What will the NPS do? Probably nothing If the survey is anything to go by. Very few respondents believe action will be taken on the results. Don't get me started on bullying numbers. They're shocking too. Come on Jim and NAPO and UNISON make some hay with this.


Hi Jim,

I know several PO's who are withdrawing their applications for NPS because the salary they are being offered is back at the bottom of the pay scale. So, NPS would rather continue to pay £25-£30 per hour to a temp (not to mention recruitment agency fees) than take back PO's who were shafted in to CRC in the first place. All the way along through the recruitment process no one has been 'able' to confirm salary and then when offered job after all the slaver and costs involved in interviewing and disclosure processes, you get told the salary is at the bottom of the scale! Told to make a business case for going in at current salary, but it gets rejected. It's a farce and an insult!


Meanwhile, there are currently 60 PSO NPS jobs being advertised in the North West:-

Job description
Postholders will undertake the full range of offender management tasks for cases including assessment, sentence implementation and producing reports in accordance with National Standards, the Probation policies and key performance objectives of the National Probation Service. Postholders will report to a Senior Probation Officer or equivalent line manager.

The National Probation Service is seeking to employ a number of Probation Services Officers for positions across various delivery units in the North West (Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and Cheshire). Successful candidates will be deployed in Offender Management Units undertaking challenging and rewarding work facilitating the rehabilitation and risk management of offenders in order to protect victims and communities from harm.

These positions can be based at any NPS location within the North West Region. Further information will be provided at interview. Probation Services Officers may be required to undertake any combination, or all, of the duties and responsibilities set out below. 

  • To undertake the full range of offender management tasks with offenders assessed as low or medium risk of harm. 
  • To use the NPS computer based systems to produce records and other documentation within agreed timescales as required 
  • To review Oasys, assessing the risks and needs of offenders for whom the post holder is the offender manager and complete within appropriate timescales. 
  • Where the post holder is the offender manager, to work collaboratively with colleagues and providers of interventions and to implement and review sentence plans in an effective and timely manner. 
  • To monitor and review plans to ensure they remain “fit for purpose”, making amendments as necessary and referring significant changes in risk to the team manager. 
  • Ensure effective referrals to and communication with offender management staff, interventions staff, service providers and external agencies to review progress and associated risks. 
  • When working under the guidance of a Probation Officer Offender Manager, report observations relating to risk of harm and/or of reoffending or any non-compliance within agreed enforcement procedures. 
  • Undertake home and prison visits as required. 
  • To be responsible for addressing the risks and needs presented by offenders being managed, for achieving compliance with national standards and requirements in orders and licences and for prompt and effective enforcement and breach. 
  • To take breach action, case transfer and case closure using Service procedures as appropriate. 
  • To work and engage with the offender, to promote change and to ensure they understand the links between all the relevant interventions. To facilitate the offender’s understanding of the links between the different interventions; help the offender make the links between new learning and their day-to-day environment; seek to ensure offender practices new skills and behaviours and habitualises new behaviours in their own environment. 
  • To undertake work in the court setting, including the completion of appropriate bail information reports, oral reports on cases and prosecution of breaches. 
  • To provide cover within the offender management unit and to other offender management units as appropriate. 
  • Demonstrate pro-social modelling skills by consistently reinforcing pro-social behaviour and attitudes, challenge anti-social behaviour and attitudes. 
  • Participate in quality assurances processes as required and jointly take responsibility within supervision and appraisal process for own professional development. 
  • To promote diversity and anti-discriminatory practice to all service users and staff in line with National Probation Service policies. 
  • To ensure all activities are conducted in accordance with Health & Safety Policies and procedures. 
  • Maintain and ensure safe storage and usage of data, service property and equipment. 
  • To undertake any other duties with appropriate support which are commensurate with the grading of the post. 
The duties/responsibilities listed above describe the post as it is at present and is not intended to be exhaustive. The Job holder is expected to accept reasonable alterations and additional tasks of a similar level that may be necessary. Significant adjustments may require re-examination under Job Evaluation and shall be discussed in the first instance with the Job Holder.

Minimum 5 GCSE’s at Grade C or above, including English

Relevant Degree:
- Criminology or Applied Criminology
- Community Justice
- Criminal Justice or Police Studies
- A combined honours degree where at least 50% is in one of the above titles and combined with Social Science or Law will also be accepted as relevant


  • Experience of working with a diverse range of people who have experienced a range of social/personal difficulties 
  • Understanding of factors related to offending e.g. substance misuse, accommodation issues 
  • Understanding of, and commitment to the principles of case management.
  • Knowledge and understanding of risk management/risk assessment as pertaining to offenders. 
  • Experience in planning and coordinating work. 
  • Understanding of Health & Safety legislation in the workplace. 
  • An understanding of and commitment to equal opportunities and diversity good practice. 
  • Knowledge and understanding of the work of the Criminal Justice System and Probation Service 
  • Experience of working with groups or individuals in order to motivate and change behaviour 
  • Knowledge of the aims and objectives of the Probation Service 
You will be asked to supply evidence of meeting these competencies when you apply.

Making effective decisions
Changing and improving
Collaborating and partnering
Persuading and influencing 

If you are a successful candidate you will be expected to undertake Basic Checks.

Reserved status
This is a Non Reserved post and is therefore open to UK, British Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals and certain non EEA members

Working for the Civil Service
The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. Applications from the UK Reserve Forces are welcome, as we aspire to be a model employer of those who serve their country. We also offer a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for disabled applicants who meet our minimum selection criteria. We will not tolerate any form of discrimination.

Commissioner's statement
The Civil Service recruits by merit on the basis of fair and open competition as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles.

School leaving age statement
Candidates will be subject to UK school leaving age legislation.

Sift/interview dates and location to be confirmed.

Further information
Public Interest Transfer and detached duty terms do not apply. The successful candidates will be required to meet the cost of transfer at their own expense. If you are a current Civil Servant or employee of a CRC, this vacancy may be available on a Loan/Secondment basis for up to 2 years. Applications are invited from suitable qualified staff. The Loan/Secondment is subject to the approval of the selected candidate's Business Unit, which should be obtained before confirmation of appointment.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Inquiries Here, There and Everywhere

First, news that Gove has written to the House of Commons Justice Committee in relation to the preferred candidates for the two vacant HMI posts:-

As you are aware, I am responsible for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation. Further to our correspondence before the recruitment process began, I am pleased to put forward my preferred candidates for the Committee’s consideration: Peter Clarke for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Prisons and Glenys Stacey for Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Probation.

Peter is a retired senior police officer, who served in the Metropolitan Police Service for more than 30 years. He rose to the rank of Assistant Commissioner and also served as Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. In 2014 he was appointed Education Commissioner for Birmingham, with a remit to conduct an inquiry into the allegations concerning Birmingham schools arising from the ‘Trojan Horse’ letter. Peter is currently a member of the Board of the Charity Commission.

Glenys is currently the Chief Executive of Ofqual, the exams regulator in England. She is a solicitor by profession but also has 17 years’ experience leading public sector organisations, having previously served as CEO of Standards for England, Animal Health, the Greater Manchester Magistrates’ Courts Committee and the Criminal Cases Review Commission. In August this year, she announced her intention to leave Ofqual when her term comes to an end.

Candidates were informed prior to appointment that the positions were subject to scrutiny by the Justice Select Committee. As you are aware the hearing is non-binding but I shall consider the committee’s conclusions before deciding whether to proceed with the appointment.

Clarke has been a very busy chap since retiring from the police:-

New board members appointed to Charity Commission 22 May 2013

Mr Clarke is a retired senior police officer. He was Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police Service where he was Head of the Anti-Terrorist Branch and National Co-ordinator of Terrorist Investigations. Previous roles included Head of the Royal and Diplomatic Protection Department and Deputy Director (then Acting Director) of Personnel for the Metropolitan Police. He is a trustee of Crimestoppers, a patron of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College, London, and a non-executive Director for the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Rob Allen has his concerns and it's probably worth bearing in mind I'm pretty sure he broke the story about Paul McDowell's family connections.This from his recent blog post on the matter:-

Whatever one thinks of Clarke, it is disappointing that the opportunity has not been taken to make the post of Chief Inspector of Prisons more independent of government. Last year Hardwick told the House of Commons Public Administration Committee that being appointed by and reporting to the Ministry of Justice is “by its nature incompatible with full independence” and proposed direct accountability to Parliament. The Committee recommended as much in their report but just before the election, change was rejected, with the MoJ arguing that allowing the inspectorate separate offices and a website plus more freedom to recruit its staff were sufficient to “reflect the unique watchdog status of HMI Prisons”.

At the same time, as if to amplify concerns about independence, the Justice Committee were involved in a spat with Chris Grayling over the selection of Hardwick’s successor. The fact that the two "independent" members of the selection panel were revealed to be tory activists, led the Commissioner of Public Appointments to promise to amend the rules about panel membership. In the event no appointment was made but now that it has been, the Justice Committee will no doubt want to know who made it.

What else might they ask when Clarke comes before them for a pre appointment hearing? Most of their questions will no doubt focus on the skills, experience and values he will bring to a post which many consider as one of the foremost human rights monitors in the country. But there are three specific matters they would do well to raise.

First they will need to establish whether Mr Clarke has any family relationships that might cause a conflict of interest, such as that which ended Paul McDowell’s time as Probation inspector (and about which the Committee regrettably failed to inquire at the material time).

Second they might want to ask how being an ex-police officer could affect his judgement. After all inspection of police custody suites is an important role of the prison inspectorate these days. Former prison service staff are ineligible to be Chief Inspector of Prisons, but ex police officers seemingly not. His investigation skills will not be in question but will his impartiality?

Finally, they may want to ask a bit not only about how his experience in counter terrorism might affect his attitudes to the treatment of Muslim prisoners but about his other police roles too. For example he was deputy then acting head of personnel at the Met in the early 2000’s. Today the Met admitted that that there had been no proper management of the deployments of undercover officers, even after the introduction of supposedly stringent legal controls. Was that debacle any part of Clarke’s responsibilities? Lets hope not otherwise he will be busy contributing to Lord Justice Pitchford's inquiry.


It must only be a matter of time before the awful Criminal Courts Charge introduced by Grayling gets the chop. The Justice Committee have pronounced:-

Justice Committee report concludes that the Government should bring forward legislation to repeal the criminal courts charge.

Report: Criminal courts charge
Report: Criminal courts charge (PDF 243KB)
Inquiry: Courts and tribunals fees and charges
Justice Committee

If the Government is unwilling to abolish or radically reduce the levels of the charge, the Committee recommends that as an irreducible minimum, judges and magistrates should be given discretion to decide whether to impose the charge, and on the amount, in accordance with individual circumstances.

The Committee's main concerns are:

  • The levels of the charge being grossly disproportionate to the means of many defendants and to the gravity of the offences in relation to which it has been imposed
  • The lack of discretion given to judges and magistrates on whether to impose the charge and if so at what level, creating unacceptable consequences within the criminal justice system
  • The creation of perverse incentives for both defendants and sentencers
  • The detrimental impact on victims of crime and on the CPS from reduced awards of compensation and prosecution costs
  • The capacity of the charge to raise the revenue predicted by the Government, and the effect on respect for the legal process of levels of non-payment
Chair's comment

Justice Committee Chair Bob Neill MP said:

"The evidence we have received has prompted grave misgivings about the operation of the charge, and whether, as currently framed, it is compatible with the principles of justice. In many cases it is grossly disproportionate, it fetters judicial discretion, and creates perverse incentives - not only for defendants to plead guilty but for sentencers to reduce awards of compensation and prosecution costs. It appears unlikely to raise the revenue which the Government predicts. It creates a range of serious problems and benefits no one. We would urge Michael Gove to act on our main recommendation and abolish it as soon as possible."

Witnesses to the inquiry who gave oral evidence on the subject were critical of it, as were those who referred to it in their written evidence, except for the Ministry of Justice.


The Committee have launched an inquiry into Restorative Justice. The Chair Bob Neill has written a guest blog for Russell Webster and the terms of reference are as follows:-

The Justice Select Committee introduces inquiry into restorative justice

We welcome submissions by 31st of January addressing this subject. The Committee welcomes views on any aspects of the use or potential use of restorative justice in the criminal justice system, but would be particularly interested in submissions addressing the following points:

  • Progress made by the Government in implementing the Restorative Justice Action Plan 2014, including any changes that have been made to this plan
  • How the entitlements to restorative justice in the Victims’ Code are working, and their implications for any such entitlements in any future Victims’ Law
  • The impact and effectiveness of the National Offender Management Service’s restorative justice programme to promote the development of victim-offender conferencing
  • The effectiveness of delivery of restorative justice across the range of service providers and funding arrangements, including provision made by Police and Crime Commissioners, the Prison Service, the National Probation Service, and Community Rehabilitation Companies.

Finally, with increasing attention being drawn to rising numbers of deaths in custody, it's probably worth mentioning another of Gove's appointments :-

Although not subject to pre-appointment scrutiny, I would also like to take this opportunity to draw to your attention to the appointment of Kate Lampard, CBE, as the Interim Chair of the Advisory Panel on Deaths in Custody.

Kate is a former barrister and former deputy chair of the Financial Ombudsman Service. She was previously appointed by the Secretary of State for Health to provide independent oversight of the NHS’s investigations into Jimmy Savile’s activities, and to produce a ‘lessons learned’ report. She was also commissioned by Serco to lead an independent review into the culture of Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre. She currently serves as a senior non-executive director in the National Health Service. She will serve for a period of 6 months from 16 November 2015, during which time a public appointment exercise will identify a permanent Chair.

There is also the enquiry recently set up by the Home Office into deaths in police custody and discussed here in a blog post by Russell Webster:-

There are three terms of reference:
  • to examine the procedures and processes surrounding deaths and serious incidents in police custody, including the lead up to such incidents, the immediate aftermath, through to the conclusion of official investigations. It should consider the extent to which ethnicity is a factor in such incidents. The review should include a particular focus on family involvement and their support experience at all stages.
  • to examine and identify the reasons and obstacles as to why the current investigation system has fallen short of many families’ needs and expectations, with particular reference to the importance of accountability of those involved and sustained learning following such incidents.
  • to identify areas for improvement and develop recommendations seeking to ensure appropriate, humane institutional treatment when such incidents, particularly deaths in or following detention in police custody, occur. Recommendations should consider the safety and welfare of all those in the police custody environment, including detainees and police officers and staff. The aim should be to enhance the safety of the police custody setting for all.
The role of Inquest

The Home Secretary also confirmed that there will be a formal role for INQUEST, a charity that offers advice to families bereaved by death in police custody. Deborah Coles, Director at INQUEST, has been appointed as a special adviser to the chair and the charity will:
  • facilitate family listening days so that the Chair can hear evidence first-hand from those who have lost loved ones in police custody to ensure their views are taken into account.
  • play a leading role on an advisory board which will offer expert advice to the Chair during the course of the review.