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Not Over Yet

On Probation Blog Monday, 31 March 2014

Even at this late stage there are probably a number of Napo members undecided as to whether to strike or not. Whether to support their colleagues and deliver on the notion of collective responsibility. Some will feel that 'it's all over' and there's no point. Well I think it might be worth reading what Harry Fletcher has to say in his latest blog post published yesterday. 

Napo has been very fortunate indeed in having been able to secure the part-time services of the former Assistant General Secretary and as he makes clear, there is still considerable mileage in the Parliamentary process. In the circumstances, I'm sure there can't be any truth in the rumour that the union is considering early termination of his temporary employment, can there? This is what he has to say:-

Pace of Sell Off

The All Party Justice Committee became the latest group on March 25th to express concern at the pace of the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. MPs demanded clarification of the exact date of the take over of the new providers of supervision. Was it Autumn 2014 or spring 2015? They also asked whether or not the unions had signed off a post sale package and by implication the sale itself. The unions remain as ever 100% opposed to the sale. Problems continue to emerge most days with the timetable. 

The faster the pace the more likely the chance of errors. Over the last few days staff have learnt - that MAPPA eligible's were not included in the caseload calculation (and there are about 10,000 in that group), glitches occurred in staff accessing the Risk of Serious Recidivism tool, the main IT system is not suitable for AT users, report writing will take longer and there are insufficient staff to maintain the flow of reports to the courts anyway. 

The full implications for TR of Buddi pulling out of the £300 million tagging contract for hardware are becoming apparent: a) the timetable for the huge increase in tagging is behind what was hoped b) it is another example of a contract being let in an over hasty way c) bidders may start to think that what they believe they are after and what they will get are rather different. The Coalition had hoped to have the new traditional tag plus GPS tracking in place by mid 2015 with an increase from the current numbers tagged on a given day rising fro 26,000 now to at least 75,000 by 2020.

Over 20 parliamentary Questions drafted on behalf of Napo by Harry Fletcher on court chaos and tagging have been tabled via Justice Union MPs. At least 15 members of Parliament have written to the MOJ about different aspects of TRs progress. Many more will follow.  

The Future 

The strategy for slowing and defeating TR remains unchanged. It is a combination of Parliamentary action, legal challenges and industrial action. Legal opinion is needed and sought over a number of issues; the validity of using the Offender Management Act 2007 to avoid legislation, risk registers, the timetable and risk to the public, consultation with staff over transfer and allocation and the test of recklessness.

In Parliament questions both written and oral will continue, debates will be requested, points of order will be raised, EDMs will be placed and lobbying must continue. During the next 6 months all Probation staff should be sending to a central point details of their observations and experiences. They must then be published both in Parliament and the media.

PS - on twitter Harry poses this key question:- 

Question for MOJ How many of the original 50 bidders are not proceeding to the next stage and why have they dropped out?

Another blog always worth reading is that by Effie Perine and here is a taster:-

Rather than signalling the end, it’s the beginning of a new phase in which we can start to see our predictions become reality – and speaking personally, the more I find out and the more my team and I try to work out how we’re actually going to do this, the more holes and problems we can see. But now they’re becoming more than anecdote. They’re going to have a real, measurable impact in the real world.

Yes, it’s going to be hard. It’s going to be awful, and we’re going to have so much more pressure put on us. But we can use this. This is the time when the wheels really start to come off. I think it’s important that this phase in the project is going to be marked with the industrial action Monday and Tuesday – a reminder that WE are all in this together, solid ground we can fight from in this sea of uncertainty.

Napo wants to hear from members on this, as per the link to Jim’s post above. I think we also need to hear from our friends across the justice system. If you notice changes in probation, if problems come up that are potentially linked to the new system, please help us by talking to us about it. Talk to officers in court, your local Napo branch, or contact campaigns@napo.org.uk. Talk to us on twitter or blogs, and we can pass your information on, maybe enlighten you a bit more abut the reasons for problems too. Let’s keep talking, keep working together.

On that note, I look forward to seeing plenty of you on Tuesday at the Justice Alliance demo – meet 2:15pm, Old Palace Yard, opposite Parliament. There’s a rally in Cardiff April 1st, 12:30pm, at the Aneurin Bevan monument on Queen Street, and plenty of other local events across England and Wales. Check your local Napo branch’s twitter feed for information, or www.napo.org.uk. Picketing will be taking place at probation offices and courts from 12 noon on Monday 31st.

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