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Another success story (not)

(17 Posts)
Eloethan Thu 08-Feb-18 10:04:04

There has been growing disquiet among staff, and subsequent media investigations have shown the terrible state of our probation service:

"Probation Service Reform Labelled 'Monumental Failure' After Shocking BBC Panorama Documentary"

".........Last month, HuffPost UK revealed these private firms have been handed millions of pounds an additional £37m by the Government last year despite an explosion in violent reoffending. The move was branded a “bung” by probation union Napo and “rewarding failure” by Labour.

"The number of offenders on probation charged with murder, manslaughter, rape and other serious violent or sexual crimes has risen by more than 25% since the service was privatised and prison numbers continue to rise.

"A joint report of the prisons and probation inspectorates in June also gave a damning verdict on the CRCs’ [Community Rehabilitation Companies] Through the Gate (TTG) programme."

How much evidence is needed before it is recognised that privatising public services rarely, if ever, provides value for money - at least not in the long term.

Nonnie Thu 08-Feb-18 11:09:58

In my very limited experience of working in the Probation service about 20 odd years ago it was never that brilliant. We had POs who gave money to their 'clients' when they came saying they couldn't afford food. We finally persuaded one of them to actually take their 'client' to the supermarket and buy them food. Unsurprisingly that 'client' never asked again. As they knew she was a drug addict I would have expected common sense to kick in.

I have never worked with such a group of clock watchers or people who seemed to take time off for pretty much no reason. The Manager thought I was wonderful and said he would give me a wonderful reference if ever I wanted another job in the Probation Service. It was the easiest job I had ever had and I really didn't think I was that wonderful.

I realise that I can only talk about that one office at that time but I was shocked at how casual the whole thing was.

I am sure there will be others who have a different view.

I haven't read the link but I have the same opinion about this outsourcing as any other - if the contracts are well written and properly sourced with effective KPIs and appropriate penalties then there should not be a problem. It is when the public sector fails to do this that issues arise.

Eloethan Thu 08-Feb-18 11:39:29

If your experience is in any way representative of what happened in other probation offices, that is totally wrong and suggests very bad management practices.

However, if the service was poor then, by all accounts it is practically on the point of collapse now - so I don't really see your point. Are you saying that the reason the probation service is in a terrible state is that many of those employed in it are still fairly stupid and inefficient? Do you not think that the fact the workforce has been significantly reduced (presumably to minimise costs and maximise profit) has contributed to this deterioration?

Every complaint re privatisation/nationalisation is always met with "I remember when BR/Royal Mail/Energy companies ..... were absolutely dreadful". For one thing, that is just anecdotal whereas a lot of the reports now are based on research carried out, statistical analysis, etc. and,for another, we are often talking about what happened many years ago. The leaps in developments in engineering and technology should, in my opinion, mean that our services are miles ahead of what they were years ago but it appears that, at least in this country, they are not.

eazybee Thu 08-Feb-18 14:36:27

Thank you Nonnie for your reasoned comment, based on practical experience. Some one will be along shortly to tell you that is Daily mail -speak and you don't know what you are talking about.
No experience of the Probation service, so unable to add anything useful.

Nonnie Thu 08-Feb-18 16:57:00

I think you did see my point Eloethan I made it quite clear that my experience was very old and only of one office. Had I implied that I knew all about the PS it would not have been reasonable - so I didn't.

My main point is repeated here: "if the contracts are well written and properly sourced with effective KPIs and appropriate penalties then there should not be a problem. It is when the public sector fails to do this that issues arise."

It doesn't matter where the statistics come from about how bad any outsourcing is, the people responsible are always the ones who did the outsourcing and should be monitoring it. If they fail at any point it will go wrong. I know as I was responsible for contracts and ensuring the contractors met their KPIs. If they failed I imposed the penalties but they didn't often fail as we had ensured that the people we awarded the contracts to had a track record to prove they could fulfill the contracts and we monitored them well.

durhamjen Thu 08-Feb-18 17:48:08

As it is now privatised, there is no real comparison.
Perhaps if you read Eloethan's link you could compare then and now properly. Just a suggestion.

durhamjen Thu 08-Feb-18 17:50:01

Chris Grayling outsourced it, Nonnie. Pleased you think he was wrong. So do many other people.

Nonnie Fri 09-Feb-18 09:50:04

Isn't it amazing how some people choose to interpret what we write on here to suit their own ends even when it is abundantly clear what we have said. Or maybe they actually believe that individual government ministers sit down and write contracts in detail and spend their days monitoring them. Yes, that must be it because surely no one would deliberately misunderstand?

TwiceAsNice Fri 09-Feb-18 09:59:12

I don't have personal experience of the probation service but do know that an ex colleague and the daughter of a friend both left their jobs with probation because of lack of staffing, beaurocracy and severe stress .

durhamjen Fri 09-Feb-18 10:12:47

"Probation services are responsible for the rehabilitation of offenders once they are released from prison, working to reduce reoffending rates and maintain public safety. However, in February last year, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling pushed through the sell-off of 70% of this long time public service – the most extensive privatisation in the criminal justice system ever. As a result, ill-considered and reckless moves towards privatisation have jeopardised the quality of probation work - which have worsened accountability, stretched workers and increased dangers to public safety. "

Chris Grayling was responsible for privatising 70% of the probation service.
Isn't it strange how people can ignore that fact?
I presume he signed the documents to say so.

Isn't it strange how some people can ignore the whole point of a thread?

Nonnie Fri 09-Feb-18 12:45:16

Yes, it is strange that some people can ignore what has gone before. This thread is about the privatization of the probation service so any discussion about said subject must be relevant.

I find it incredible that anyone can blame a minister for the day to day writing of contracts or the management of contracts. Clearly to do so shows a huge chip on shoulder. I'm leaving this thread because such lack of objectivity is not worth reading.

Luckygirl Fri 09-Feb-18 13:35:20

My nephew had really poor experiences of probation - basically because they were lazy - too lazy to go anywhere with him (benefits office, job centre etc.) - just sent him off on courses like anger management etc - all beyond his grasp. They also insisted on him keeping appointments that interfered with his work hours (when the family helped him find a job). Very silly that!

I am afraid that these outsourced services just do the minimum to tick a box.

durhamjen Fri 09-Feb-18 14:33:23

Who's got the chip?

Do you not agree that Grayling signed the contract to hand over 70% of the probation service to two private companies, Sodexo, and Interserve?
That's what I was talking about, as was the OP, not the smaller contracts.
Which of those companies did you work for, Nonnie, or is that too personal for you to answer?

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 20:24:03

" Interserve, the British outsourcing company, has presented a rescue plan to banks in an attempt to secure fresh funding, with fears over its future raised by the demise of rival contractor Carillion.

Interserve, which cleans the London Underground and manages the Ministry of Defence’s estate in the UK, has already warned on profits and delayed a test on its banking debt covenants until the end of March. It has secured £180m of additional short-term funding until then.

On Thursday, the company met with eight banks including Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, RBS, MUFG, Sabadell and HSBC to present a revised business plan and request fresh funding for the company. The proposals are under consideration but no decision has yet been reached. Interserve declined to comment.

Attention has turned to Interserve following the collapse of its former rival Carillion, and in the wake of a profit warning that knocked nearly £1bn off Capita’s market value last week."

Jalima1108 Sat 10-Feb-18 20:59:03

Nothing to do with the CJS should ever be privatised imo.

Jalima1108 Sat 10-Feb-18 21:01:22

I thought that Interserve was a Facilities and Estate Management company - perhaps they are very good in that sphere and I see no reason for private companies not fulfilling those contracts, but again, like Carillion, they expanded into areas where they were not able to fulfil the criteria.

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 22:39:43

"The company operates in a range of sectors, which include aviation, central government, commercial offices, defence, education, energy and water utilities, health, highways, industrial, justice, leisure, local government, marine/rivers, regeneration, retail, waste and welfare to work services"

Not many areas missing there.