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Probation strikers today

(13 Posts)
whenim64 Mon 31-Mar-14 11:18:36

Some probation staff are striking from lunchtime today and will be standing on picket lines. Not all staff will strike because of safety issues in not supervising certain high risk offenders - they have complete union agreement about their need to stay in work. Here's a bit of information about their reasons for trying to stop probation being privatised.

• The National Probation Service budget is threadbare and will face cuts of 20% in 2015. High caseloads, burn out, thin management support, bureaucratic nightmares, domination by the prison oriented “command and control” National OfFender Management Service.

• The number of bidders has fallen from 50 to 26 and is dropping almost daily. In some areas there is only one serious bidder which is not even approaching the legal definition of a competition.

• £9 million (a crude under estimation) has been spent so far on privatisation consultants.

• Service delivery models are being suggested to “automate” offender contact. (This means not seeing offenders face to face)

• Sodexo at HMP Northumberland in chaos as prisoners and staff are not safe.

• Future probation officer training in complete disarray.

If you can, please give the strikers a wave or beep of the car horn to show support. Ministers and government officials are watching the public reaction to the strike with close scrutiny.

Riverwalk Mon 31-Mar-14 11:52:07

Sodexo ..... are they not a catering company? confused

Elegran Mon 31-Mar-14 11:58:55

DiL worked for Sodexo for a while (in the finance dept of the catering firm, who supplied food)) and one of her duties was regular meetings about money/bookkeeping/records/menus at some prisons. She was escorted in and out through locked doors. Presumable food goes in through the same locked doors. If there is a strike that would put catering staff in danger.

Ana Mon 31-Mar-14 12:01:44

If there is a strike by whom, Elegran? confused

Elegran Mon 31-Mar-14 12:05:18

Sorry, read half the thread and saw the words "Sodexo" and "strike" and leapt into typing mode. I should have read to the end.

whenim64 Mon 31-Mar-14 12:13:55

This is how Sodexo describes itself:

Sodexo in the UK and Ireland
Provider of specialist catering, life support and remote site facilities management to the oil, construction and camps sectors.

Iam64 Mon 31-Mar-14 13:06:14

When - thanks for posting this, I'd forgotten, but had meant to wander into town and stand with them.
I'm off for a walk with ex colleagues now, we'll no doubt join our former colleagues if only by pipping in support as we drive past.
What's happening in Probation is so sad, and in my view a mistake.
What's happening in the family court service is shocking. Both were good services which seem to be systematically being destroyed.

PRINTMISS Mon 31-Mar-14 14:41:58

My daughter agrees with you Iam64, she feels that so much good work has been done over the past few years, all of which will now be useless. She is what she calls a 'touchy feely' kind of person, (to her credit, but not always wise, as she again says), and I think she rather feels that so many people will be let down now, by a system which will really fail to care, and in some cases caring is what matters.

Iam64 Mon 31-Mar-14 18:46:56

Caring should be at the root shouldn't it. It's tough work and demands a lot of those involved. It seems crazy to diminish the ability of committed people to give their best.

Eloethan Tue 01-Apr-14 00:05:23

I feel angry that the probation service is being treated in this way. This government is hellbent on privatising everything they can lay their hands on but other privatisation initiatives have hardly been a great success have they.

Iam64 Tue 01-Apr-14 09:00:23

Eloethan - I despair that none of the changes are research or evidence based, it all seems ideologically driven with the aim of privatising what should be public services. I wouldn't feel so strongly about it if the government had a mandate, or solid majority.

whenim64 Tue 01-Apr-14 09:45:39

When probation hostels (approved premises) started using private agencies on the instructions of the Home Office, checks on agency staff were not carried out properly by the agencies. What we ended up with was offenders arriving to cover a shift, newly appointed to an agency's list of available workers. Managers and probation staff would carry out induction and ask about experience, to be told 'I've lived in a hostel myself, when I was on bail/released from prison!' I know of several examples just from personal experience. The agency worker would be advised to leave, which meant staff staying to cover a shift instead of going home to sleep. We had private agency staff working round the clock at different places, going to sleep on duty.

Private agencies are only there for profit and to pay out to their shareholders. Payment by results can only encourage more cutting corners and not holding to the high standards set by the probation service. It worries me to think of offenders being supervised by people who have poor pay and conditions, a reduction in training, payment by numbers (not seeing some of those offenders face to face but contact by text), managers covering too many probation sites so not being present much of the time and most important, the distrust of police and otter statutory public sector agencies who will not want to share information with agencies who don't come from an established and proven background of managing offenders.

Eloethan Tue 01-Apr-14 23:15:36

whenim I'm horrified by what you say about the poor vetting of agency staff - it seems the situation is even worse than I had imagined.

Your point about private agencies only being interested in profits doesn't apply just in this case. It seems to me that wherever services have been privatised this has had a detrimental effect for all the reasons you give - cost-cutting, reduced health and safety, demoralised staff, poor training, etc., etc.

And the worst thing is that when they've got a stranglehold on everything, they can then use blackmail to try and prevent proper regulation - the bankers and "wealth creators" will leave the country if they can't get their bonuses, we will be subjected to "blackouts" if measures are taken to stop the price-fixing of the energy companies, etc. etc.