What do they think they’re up to …
I’ve just been looking through the latest edition of NAPO News (as one does) and found it illustrated perfectly the stupidity of the cuts. The magazine, produced by the National Association of Probation Officers, reports that this year’s Probation Service cuts mean that a number of probation trusts are going to have to reduce their staff, whilst others will introduce a vacancy freeze. If probation service and CAFCASS cuts in future years are twice as large – which NAPO expects – the union believes that “neither service will be in a position to fulfil its statutory responsibilities.”
Then, towards the end of the magazine, Assistant GS Harry Fletcher reports that the National Offender Management Service has decided that this is just the right time to change the names of Departments.
- The Directorate of Commissioning and Operational Policy becomes the Service Development Directorate.
- The bit that’s already called the Service Development Directorate shuffles along to become the Business Service Development Group.
- The Safer Custody and Offender Policy Group re-emerges as the Offender Safety, Rights and Responsibilities Group (change of government or not, the spirit of Tony Blair lives on …)
- The Reducing Re-offending Policy Group is re-named the Rehabilitation Services Group (… but not here).
I’m sure that makes everyone feel better. As Harry comments, it’s a surprise that the Chaplaincy isn’t re-named the Heavenly Solutions and Interventions Group.
At this point it’d be easy enough to work myself into a Littlejohn lather, but the really disappointing thing about all this is that probation cuts – like so many others – are self-defeating. As NAPO has shown, investing in probation is the best way to cut the number of short-term jail sentences, which are extremely expensive (apart from anything else) – recruiting an extra 1,250 probation staff would produce net savings of £300 million a year.
But instead, we’re going to do the opposite.