Grayling – repeat offender

Jim Brown /   June 29, 2015 at 8:38 PM 1,313 views

Well at long last the BBC has got around to airing a decent programme about the probation TR omnishambles. Last night’s Radio 4 File on Four ‘Repeat Offenders’ report by Danny Shaw was a pretty good run through of the main issues and I think many of us would agree that Chris Grayling admirably demonstrated his almost complete lack of understanding and knowledge of the subject. It’s pretty worrying to discover that a mature democratic state can throw up such a person with the power and authority to destroy a word-class public service and be both so ignorant of what is involved and the inevitable consequences of their actions. Some of his responses truly amazed me, such as all this bollocks about co-locating CRC with NPS and people “crossing the room to ask advice of more senior staff” or there being “no need to second guess prisoners before their release” or the “need to streamline the system and make it less bureaucratic.” The Liberal Democrats in particular need to listen to this programme and urgently examine their collective consciences because make no mistake, this is a complete disaster in the making and it will have public safety and political consequences. What really worries me about this whole thing is that Chris Grayling, as an important Minister of the Crown, has a vast army of public servants at his disposal and one would assume access to the best advice and guidance tax-payers money can buy, and what is the result? A complete dog’s breakfast and dangerous omnishambolic slow train crash. What does this say about our system of government and administration in this country? Is Chris Grayling such a none-too-bright bully and Conservative attack dog that public servants just tell him what he wants to hear, or does he just ignore their advice and shout orders at them? Chris Grayling had absolutely no believable answers to the questions put to him, whether it was about the Peterborough prison experiment, payment by results, the failure of the London Diamond scheme, the frightening Risk Register – the list just goes on and we know from the recent revelations about how he treats Parliamentary Questions, he is utterly contemptuous of it all. In short, a very good performance from Joanna Hughes, Vice Chair of Gloucestershire Napo and utterly heat-breaking to hear of such experienced officers such as her and Sally Lewis CEO of Avon and Somerset Probation Trust deciding to leave on ethical and moral grounds. Indeed we heard that at least 10 CEO’s feel there is no place for them in the brave new world being created by TR and sadly each of us undoubtedly knows of other experienced colleagues who have either left, or will be doing in disgust and dismay. Isn’t it extraordinary that the nation and our weasel politicians are allowing, indeed facilitating, such a purge of dedicated professional expertise and talent? I’ve recently been accused of becoming too strident and shrill on this blog, but I defy any reasonable person to spare 40 minutes, listen to last nights programme and seriously say that this ‘reform’ of probation has any merit in it at all. It’s repeated on Sunday at 5 o’clock or can be found here on i-player. Oh and by the way, I guess Ian Lawrence’s contribution ended up on the cutting-room floor? Courtesy of Jim Brown at On Probation Blog  

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