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‘Failing’ Grayling: Charged with reforming the Probation Service in 2014, he ended up ruining it.
Conservatives really don’t understand the way money works in a modern economy, do they? All they can do is throw it at rich privateers and hope they can carry out public functions.
Well, as Chris Grayling’s pathetic privatisation of probation services has proved, they can’t.
This Site reported on the fiasco in January. I wrote:
If you take money to do a job and don’t actually do it, you’re in breach of contract.
Sure, and part of the disaster was caused by HMG. The idea was to give 21 companies £3.7 billion until 2022 to handle and help prisoners serving 12 months or more who are at low risk of self-harm.
But it seems people like Messrs Heaton and Spurr had overestimated the number of low risk ex-offenders leaving prison and underestimated the number of high risk ex-offenders who are still being helped by the publicly run probation service
It means the private companies were dealing with fewer people, so they’d get less money – £1.6 billion less. This put them in financial difficulty.
It also transpires that these companies were also complete and utter failures at the job – so bad, according to inspectors, that they may as well not exist.
So why has the Tory government agreed to spend £342 million keeping them in business and in-contract?
The state should be demanding its money back from these privateers. They’re in breach of contract.
Now, a mere six months later, the Tories are throwing another £170 million at the same companies – to buy itself out of its contracts.
That brings the total spent on keeping duff companies in business up to £500 million – half a billion pounds.
Yet Tories are happy to let other businesses go to the wall. Is it because those firms’ bosses don’t wear the Old School Tie, or don’t belong to the right familes – or what?
Agreements with 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) to manage low-risk offenders will now end in 2020, two years earlier than planned.
CRCs were part of a major part-privatisation programme for England and Wales introduced in 2014 by former justice secretary Chris Grayling.
Under the reorganisation, the publicly run National Probation Service (NPS) dealt with the most high-risk offenders, while the supervision of low and medium-risk offenders was farmed out to privately run CRCs, who secured contracts worth almost £4bn over seven years.
Many of the CRCs were struggling to manage their caseloads with the resources available, with whistleblowers warning the public were being put increasingly at risk.
The reforms also came under attack last month by the House of Commons justice committee, who stated the probation service was in a “mess” after the reorganisation failed to meet its aims.
The current 21 CRCs will be slimmed down to 11 that are closely aligned with NPS regions. Ten will remain private, with the one in Wales merged with the NPS.
The £170m cost includes £110m the CRCs owe the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in fines for failing to meet performance targets.
They will be allowed to keep the cash to reinvest in services to keep them going for the last two years of their contracts.
The MoJ will also pay £22m in both years for “through the gate” services helping offenders immediately after they are released from prison.
Mr Gauke admitted the amount of work available for CRCs “has been lower than anticipated and that has had an impact in terms of their income and the services they are able to provide”.
That actually saved taxpayers £300m because the MoJ budgeted to pay firms £2.5bn by 2020 and had only paid out £2.2bn.
Mr Grayling has recently been dubbed “failing Grayling” by critics as he battles with major rail disruption in his current job as transport secretary.
That last line is included for its wild inaccuracy – This Site was calling him “failing” Grayling at least five years ago, as you can see by visiting this article.
Now, I was going to comment on this nightmare, but I find that Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon has already said it all for me:
“This announcement is further evidence that the Conservatives’ decision to outsource whole swathes of probation to the private sector has created an unprecedented crisis in the system. This ideological experiment has been a costly failure, just as Labour warned it would be.
This decision to throw more good money after bad and the government’s re-commitment to a privately-run probation service shows that the Conservatives have run out of all ideas on how to fix their broken system. Delaying this announcement until parliament closed for the summer is a tacit admission by the Government that its probation policies can’t withstand the slightest scrutiny.
With a Labour government there will be no more bailouts for failing private probation companies. Labour is fully committed to returning the probation system to the public sector. The Tories should do likewise and create a probation system that prioritises keeping the public safe rather than boosting the profits of private companies.”
It will never happen under the Conservatives. Privatisation is their religion – and they don’t care how many people they harm while paying tribute to their false god.
The death of Mark Duggan (inset) led to the riots of 2011 [Image: Daily Telegraph].
The Ministry of Justice has admitted that data from three semi-secret inquiries has gone missing on discs that were – get this – lost in the post.
According to the BBC, the missing material – which the Ministry of Justice says went missing after being sent in the post – relates to three investigations that examined the roles of police in the death of members of the public.
Two inquiries relate to fatal police shootings of crime suspects in London – Mark Duggan and Azelle Rodney. The third relates to the 1997 murder of Robert Hamill in Northern Ireland, which campaigners allege involved the collusion of police officers.
In each inquiry there were witnesses, including police officers, who were given anonymity because of possible threats to their safety – but officials have refused to confirm whether any of the missing documents include personal information relating to these witnesses.
This is yet another bungle by a failing Ministry of Justice under a failing Justice Minister – in fact, his nickname is an admission of this: Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.
The Azelle Rodney case involved a mid-level career criminal who was shot dead by armed officers of the Metropolitan Police on April 30, 2005. In July 2013 a judicial inquiry found that the Authorised Firearms Officer who fired the fatal shots had “no lawful justification” for opening fire. The case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to determine whether a prosecution should be launched. On July 30, 2014, the CPS announced that they had made the decision to charge the officer with murder.
We should all remember the case of Mark Duggan. He was the young man whose death sparked the riots in London – and subsequently across the UK – in the summer of 2011. The official story of Duggan’s death has undergone numerous changes, drawing criticism and suspicion from Duggan’s family, residents of Tottenham, and other supporters. These critics accuse police of misconduct and of failing to cooperate with investigating Duggan’s death. Shortcomings in the police response have also been blamed for stoking the riots, and for fueling ongoing discontent, with Duggan’s supporters stating “there can be no peace without justice”.
(Information on both these cases is from Wikipedia).
If this writer was entrusted with the delivery of documents that may include material identifying key witnesses who had been given public anonymity, the last thing I’d consider is sending it via the recently-privatised Royal Mail!
There is huge potential for – let’s call it – mischief in this matter – and we cannot discount the possibility that the Tory-run Ministry of Justice is behind some of it.
We may await the ‘outing’ of some of these anonymous witnesses with a sense of inevitability.
Sick and disabled people in the UK can justifiably feel they are lining up for a death sentence as they prepare to take the dreaded Work Capability Assessment – the test devised by the Department of Work and Pensions and run (badly) by the French company Atos.
It leads – directly or indirectly – to an average of 32 deaths every week.
But there may be a ray of hope for them in the fact that the Labour Party has secured a Parliamentary debate on Atos and the WCA, to take place on September 4 – next Tuesday.
It is to be hoped that this will be the debate when Labour leader Ed Miliband finally gets off the fence and puts his weight – and that of his party – fully against the murderous system imposed by Chris Grayling and his master Iain Duncan Smith, both of whom are on record as stating that their version of the system is preferable, and less harsh, than that carried out under the previous Labour government.
The Daily Mail columnist Sonia Poulton has written two open letters to Mr Miliband, calling on him to break cover and declare his opposition to the scheme, and it seems bizarre that he has left people wondering for so long whether he actually supports a scheme that kills society’s most vulnerable.
The signs are hopeful that Mr Miliband will support change. In a letter to Sonia Poulton, he wrote: “Disabled people need support and compassion, and the Labour Party believes in a welfare state that fulfils this principle… I share some of the concerns that have been expressed about the test by you, along with many charities, disability groups and healthcare professionals. These concerns… have shown that the test must be improved. The Government needs to listen. We have also forced a vote in Parliament on the need to reduce the human cost of the wrong decisions that result from the WCA in its current form.”
Let’s remind ourselves why it’s important. There’s a petition online at the moment, calling for the restoration of benefits to an Afghanistan war hero who lost his leg in the line of duty. Sapper Karl Boon lost his left leg in a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade attack in Afghanistan in 2010 and has been stripped of his benefits by the Department for Work and Pensions and ATOS.
In signing the petition, I wrote: “More penny-pinching from the poor by the government that doesn’t have the guts to tax the rich. Here’s a man who has risked his life and lost a limb in the service of his country, and all his country’s leaders can think of doing in return is taking away his financial support – aided by a foreign company. We have witnessed many stories like that of Sapper Karl Boon over the last two years and it seems to me that there is no depth to which the current government will not sink. To those in government, I say: Prove me wrong. Give this man the respect he deserves and pay him what you owe him.” Too harsh? Think on this: At least Karl Boon is currently still alive.
Let’s also remember that we’re experiencing an enormous rise in hate crime against the sick and disabled, fuelled by government propoganda and a right-wing media that’s primed to support it. ITV’s Tonight programme reported last Thursday (August 23) that more than 65,000 hate crimes against the disabled were reported in the last year. You can read my article on this blog site to find some of the stories.
So why has Miliband sat on the fence for so long?
There are two issues to separate out here.
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with the idea of having regular assessments to judge whether a person on one or both of the disability benefits is able to work, or will be likely to be able to do so in the near future. The only people who can be against that are people who want the easy life, living on benefits and off the hard work of the taxpayers.
But the way the Coalition regime has gone about these assessments, through its private contractor Atos, is totally inappropriate and unfit for purpose. We can see that in the many horror stories that have come out over the last few weeks and months.
Why should those who are permanently disabled be forced to go through reassessment every few months? They’re never going to get better! But we have Atos reports saying an amputee will be fit for work as soon as his arm grows back (for crying out loud)!
Why are doctors’ reports ignored? I know there is an argument that doctors may be persuaded to sign people off work when they aren’t actually unfit but, if the assessments were carried out by properly qualified medical professionals, working in accordance with the standards their qualifications have set for them, those would be found out. Instead, we get unqualified assessors working to a tick-box questionnaire, that isn’t remotely adequate to the job and has been acknowledged (as we saw on both Dispatches and Panorama) to be designed to get people off benefit.
There is no realism to the questions in the assessment, no anticipation of the kind of work that a person will be asked to do. There is no acknowledgement of the ways an employer would have to stretch to accommodate people with particular disabilities. Signing somebody as fit for work because they have one finger able to push a button does not make them attractive to an employer and merely sets them up to fail, possibly on a life-threatening scale because, as we know and I make no apologies for repeating, 32 people are dying every week because of the assessment system.
So what’s the alternative?
A better assessment would refer to the notes made by a patient’s GP, but would also include tests by a medical professional to ascertain the current condition of the disability – that it has been correctly reported.
It would then go on to cover the patients’ ability to carry out the sort of work that they might reasonably be likely to see on offer. Would they be able to manage it with a minimum of bother to an employer? That is the only way we will see sensible assessments coming in.
Atos is not fit to carry out these assessments in any case. The company had a bad reputation in France before it ever got a British contract and does not deserve to be making money from the taxpayer by condemning British people to the death that many of them have suffered.
These are the arguments I would wish to hear aired during the Parliamentary debate on the subject.
The Guardian reported today (August 14) that hate crime against disabled people has hit its highest level since records began, totalling 1,942 recorded incidents in 2011, an increase of more than 25 per cent – that means it’s up by more than a quarter – on the total for 2010.
The Crown Prosecution Service managed only 523 convictions for disability hate crime during the same period – so only a little more than a quarter of the perpetrators were punished for their crime; the rest got away with it.
The number of recorded incidents has risen by 60 per cent since records began in 2009.
Just to give you an idea of what this means locally, in my own police area, Dyfed Powys, there were three recorded incidents of disability hate crime in 2009. In 2010 there were seven.
In 2011 there were twenty-seven.
This is what your votes condone.
It’s the logical result of the government’s effort to demonise disabled people and those who claim benefits on their behalf, and I think we know where government behaviour of this kind leads.
Picture the scene: A street in a typical British town, with two men walking down it. We’ll call them Iain and Chris.
Iain: It’s so much better here, now that we don’t have all those disabled people cluttering up the place!
Chris: Absolutely! With the crips gone, we’re not spending all our tax money paying for them. (Taxes haven’t gone down though)
Iain: And so much more peaceful, after we got rid of all the racial minorities.
Chris: Not half! We couldn’t keep them here – they were a threat to our peaceful British way of life.
Iain: And now that we’ve got rid of the trade unionists, we can all get on with our jobs in peace, too!
Chris: Totally! It’s so much better now that our bosses can pay us as little as they like to work in deplorable conditions.
Iain: So where are you going for your holidays this year – somewhere nice?
Chris: Actually, I’m saving up for a trip to the private healthcare specialist instead. I’ve been having trouble with my back ever since the health and safety laws were repealed and-
Iain: Police! Police! Come quick and take this man away! He’s a dangerous radical and probably a socialist! He dared to complain about our glorious New Britain!
A policeman appears. He’s wearing a jacket emblazoned with the letters ‘G4S’.
Do you really want to live in this kind of Britain?
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