TUC motions on TR and the crisis in the Family Courts

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13/07/2018
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26/07/2018

TUC motions on TR and the crisis in the Family Courts

Napo’s two motions for this year’s TUC Congress will be going for ratification to the September NEC.

The first deals with workload pressures in the family court system caused by the sustained increase in the number of childcare cases and under resourcing in Cafcass. The second calls for a ‘rehabilitation counter-revolution’ to address the failings of TR and asks the TUC to support the probation unions in our campaign for a locally accountable, reunified and publicly funded core probation service is run in the public interest and not for profit.

Family Justice System in Crisis

Congress notes the record number of appearances before the family courts and the unparalleled numbers of children in care whilst the agencies tasked with supporting these vulnerable children and families are doing so on standstill budgets.

Research from the Nuffield Foundation and Family Rights Group found a £2bn shortfall across children’s social care services. The same research highlights:

Children in the system having a sense of the crisis;

  • Professionals frustrated, overwhelmed and overstretched. Napo’s own research shows members choosing to work reduced hours to manage their case loads in their days off; and
  • A culture of blame, shame and fear permeating the system.
    Austerity savings are false economies – legal aid cuts prevent or delay access to solicitors resulting in delayed mediation and increased court costs from litigants in person; cuts to Children’s Centres mean less access to information for vulnerable children and parents; cuts to benefits often trigger or worsen a family crisis. Tragically, children in care are far more likely to re-emerge in the criminal justice system. These wider social costs don’t feature on Treasury spreadsheets.

Congress calls on the TUC to:

  • Support campaigns for a fairer funding settlement for vulnerable children and families
  • Lobby for cross government strategic planning and shared responsibility to resolve the crisis
  • Lobby for adequate funding – including guaranteed staffing levels and pay, and training and support for initiatives to incentivise recruitment and retention across all parts of the social work profession.

The Transforming Rehabilitation counter-revolution

Chris Grayling’s dogmatic ‘rehabilitation revolution’ was supposed to transform probation services and support for offenders on their release from prison. It saw the abolition of locally accountable, publicly funded Probation Trusts, but the main achievement was the ruinous division of an award winning service, leaving it in an unsustainable mess.  Private CRC contracts, despite additional funding by government of over £230M are still operating at a loss, prompting further dangerous staffing and service cuts. Napo believes it is no coincidence that Serious Further Offences have increased since this disastrous privatisation.

The National Probation Service can’t recruit, pay or collect staff pensions adequately or consistently, further undermining morale. Calls to their HR department cost the taxpayer 88p a minute. The MoJ, following the qualification of recent accounts, is seemingly being run from the Treasury with every major financial decision taken by its auditors.

It is time for a Rehabilitation Counter-Revolution and a new model, built around consensus not dogma, where an independent, locally accountable, reunified and publicly funded core probation service is run in the public interest and not for profit.

Congress calls on the TUC to facilitate and support unions in:

  •  Building a cross-sector alliance with HM Official Opposition, charities, public sector partners and supportive cross-party politicians and academics to develop a consensus and refine a new model.
  • Lobbying politicians to secure the funding and legislation needed to deliver a better, safer and more sustainable model for probation founded upon these principles.

1 Comment

  1. Susan webb says:

    I do not wish to form a alliance with HM Official Opposition. Members have not been consulted on this. However, I am completely supportive of working with supportive cross party politicians, of which there are many – including within the Conservative Party.

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