The conference was held in the fabulous setting of the GFTU owned Quorn Grange Hotel near Loughborough, and was attended by over 60 practitioners, primarily from the East Midlands area, with a few delegates travelling from neighbouring areas and further afield.
The theme of the conference, which had the strapline of “towards a collaborative approach” was the examination of the state of professional values in probation services since the 2014 NPS/CRC split.
Helen Mercer, the Deputy Chief Inspector of HM Inspectorate of Probation was the first guest speaker. She was able to summarise the key themes of recent inspections, particularly emphasising the extraordinary and impossible situation faced by many CRC staff in the light of mass redundancies and reorganisation. These had rendered many CRCs dysfunctional, before a measure of stability and improved service provision in some areas.
Professor Paul Senior, an old friend of Napo, and Chair of the Probation Institute, appraised the conference of the role of the institute and reflected on the changing landscape of probation services.
Next up was a panel discussion featuring Charlotte Dunkley, acting LDU head of Derbyshire representing the NPS; Bob Bearne, head
of Nottinghamshire/Leicestershire representing the CRC, and our own general secretary Ian Lawrence. Each speaker was asked to address conference on the theme of collaboration and this was followed by a lively Q and A session.
The utterly predictable chaos caused by the TR lunacy was of course mentioned by all speakers, but some positive examples of collaborative approaches and joint NPS/CRC initiatives also emerged: pockets of good practice demonstrating hope for the future.
After a lovely lunch and a chance to enjoy the sumptuous gardens at Quorn Grange, Stuart Brady, a Nottingham based barrister and the prospective Labour parliamentary candidate for Loughborough, told conference about Labour’s plan for the criminal justice sector. These include the return of the probation service into public ownership.
Following this, Sarah Win Win Sein and Isobel Cartledge, lecturers in criminal justice at De Montfort University, updated conference on the current shape of PQIP training.
Gladstone Hibbert and Jacqueline Lockhart from Mixed Foundations delivered the final session. Mixed Foundations is an innovative Nottingham based project that provides counsellors to work with difficult to reach young people who have not responded to traditional approaches. This was a particularly well received session, with a very interactive Q & A session.
Following closure of conference at 4pm, many delegates stayed on for a drink and social at the hotel. Organisers were delighted with the positive attendance, for which staff had been granted a continuous professional development day, which demonstrates Napo’s important role as a professional organisation. Locally, members intend to build on the success of the day through raising the theme of collaboration with our respective employers.
East Midlands Branch