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Probation under the microscope

New Year New Magazine

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed Napo Quarterly has been rebranded and relaunched as Napo Magazine.  Your NEC realised how important it was to increase member engagement and visibility of the union, so agreed to fund the ICT and communications bids I put to them last year.

Along with this new A5, bi-monthly magazine that will be distributed to as many offices as possible, you will also be receiving HTML emails on a regular basis keeping you up to speed with news and information that is relevant to Napo, probation and family courts and the wider trade union movement.

We definitely welcome your feedback on this here at HQ and any thoughts and suggestions about the new magazine can be sent to

Probation under the microscope

I think I speak for Napo and its members when I say that we have taken no pleasure in the raft of “I told you so” moments that have taken place since probation was part-privatised in 2015. Thankfully it seems that our campaigning has not fallen on deaf ears. The National Audit Office swooped in the back end of last year to investigate the additional £342m that had been given to the CRCs to keep them afloat, and Michael Spurr and Richard Heaton were then hauled in by the Public Accounts Committee to explain the NAO findings in more detail (see page 18).

And it’s not just the NAO and PAC that want answers. On 30 January, Unison’s Ben Priestley and I were invited to present evidence to the Justice Select Committee. I made it clear that the probation service is in serious difficulty and that taxpayers are continuing to fund systemic failure, with no accountability or transparency being provided in terms of value for money – a situation not unlike that which caused the collapse of Carillion.

The JSC were also provided with first hand written testimonies from a number of probation practitioners detailing their experiences in coping with the myriad problems that have followed the implementation of TR.

You can watch the hearing in full here

New justice team   

The government’s justice team have been playing musical chairs again following Theresa May’s cabinet reshuffle in January (page 12). I have had  the chance to have constructive informal chats with incumbents David Gauke and Rory Stewart as is customary and look forward to being able forging greater dialogue that brings Napo’s agenda to the fore.

Family Courts equally in crisis

Sometimes the happenings in probation overshadow that of Cafcass, but let us not forget that our colleagues working in the family courts are also in crisis. It’s hard to remember a time that members have not been crippled by oppressive workloads and not rewarded justly for their efforts.  The press have published stories in which in some cases, children have been sent on unsupervised visits with parents a domestic abuse allegations has been made against (page 30), but neglected to mention the fact that great care and vigilance is taken by Cafcass practitioners in screening for and identifying cases in which there was domestic abuse.

I’m sure you will all agree that all members need to stand shoulder to shoulder, regardless of who their employer is, to ensure their working practice is not besmirched publicly because of operational failings that do not allow them to deliver.

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