You couldn’t make it up #7

Austerity leads women into the criminal justice system
CRC members may see pension contributions increase in April

You couldn’t make it up #7

Don’t worry?  I am NOW!

Members in some parts of the NPS received a random email from SSCL telling them they had mistakenly been captured in a payroll exercise transferring staff working in public sector prisons and prison HQ into a new defined contribution pension scheme provider. Their pension had wrongly been transferred from Prudential to Legal & General, but they were not to worry as this has been rectified.

But this, not surprisingly, did cause considerable worry because:

  • Not all the members even worked in a prison – so how had they been captured?
  • Clearly personal financial information was being randomly shared with commercial companies by accident, an evident breach of GDPR regulations.
  • More significantly, the members thought they were in the local Government Pension Scheme, which is a defined benefit scheme not a defined contribution scheme.

Napo the NPS National HR leads and some clarity emerged. It seems SSCL forgot to mention that they were referring to Additional Voluntary Contributions, paid in addition to the LGPS defined benefit pension. However, we’re still seeking clarification as to whether this data breach was reported to the ICO and some explanation to how this ridiculous and random error could occur.

Looking good for 150 -Those beauty products really work

Generic stock image used to represent Madame CJ Walker
The real Madame CJ Walker

DLNR CRC has taken the welcome step of producing an ‘inclusion calendar’ for 2019, featuring notable BAME and LGBT+ people, and women of note. Unfortunately, the company producing it used a generic image of a young black woman to illustrate May, which features Sarah Breedlow (known as Madam CJ Walker) who died 100 years ago that month and was the first female self-made millionaire in the US.

Napo rep, Steve Bradley, wrote to the CRC to raise this on behalf of a Napo member who had brought it to his attention.

Steve told the CRC  “… my member wishes to express their dismay about an apparent lack of care when researching the continuity and accuracy of images which relate to diversity and specific historic figures to which they are attributed. They have found it most offensive that you appear to have used a generic image of a young black woman, and are concerned that there might be an inference about all black people look the same so it won’t matter!

Credit where it is due, DLNR responded immediately and the fault was rectified – see the new May – but, a great piece of intervention by Steve and our alert member in DLNR CRC.

Have another go

As Government start looking for potential “partners” for new TR2 contracts in 2019, their choice looks a bit limited, with even existing partners wary about having lost money in TR1, reputational damage from closer scrutiny of performance in more restricted contracts, etc. However, taxpayers must wonder if there could be any rational circumstances that would allow the MoJ to seek tenders from companies still under investigation from the Serious Fraud Office for stealing millions from the MoJ last time they used them. But that’s the reality with Serco and G4S. Officials refuse to rule them out of the tendering process, saying they’ve done their time on the naughty step, even if the SFO are still investigating.

To contextualise imagine pitching this scenario for a sitcom – For some reason next door hire a security firm to build a garage. After they blow up the kitchen, run off with the money and leave both your gardens in a mess your neighbour asks for your advice to find someone to clean up the gardens and rebuild their kitchen. They tell you they’re thinking of asking the same people they used last time. At what point is the script rejected as too farcical. You really couldn’t make it up.

Keeping it complicated

Recently, the MoJ removed responsibility from CRCs for doing IT password resets and new staff account set-ups for Delius and OASys, and gave it to some type of call centre. One agency worker, who moves round the country, reported their new employer putting in a request to MoJ for a new account on 18 December.  They were supposed to get an email back, with a ticket number which they could use to request the account within a certain time, but were still waiting for it in the New Year

The new system for password resets is that staff phone their own IT Department, who then issue a reference number. Staff then have to phone the MoJ phone line (average wait time 25 minutes) to give them the number and request the reset.  The MoJ has been asked how long staff will need to wait for the reset but they have declined to answer! The old “in-house” system took minutes.

On a more serious note, it seems the service is being subject to even more layers of bureaucracy, with enforcement hubs taking over breaches, etc., which used to be done locally. Staff have had reports sent back for failing to write a date in the preferred format as well as other spurious reasons. It seems more money is being spent on setting up more layers rather than funding more staff.

The policy’s n the post!

Finally, so much change has there been in the HMPPS that last month they started a consultation with Napo without sending us the policy they were consulting on “because they hadn’t finished writing it yet”!

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