Category Archives: Prison Service

The Crucifixion Cycle

And so it has started.

In truth it probably started a year or two ago, but various distractions have kept our blinkers in place.

The Crucifixion Cycle

Stage 1

Slash Resources

Government slashes the resources of the public body in question.  Be it NHS, Armed Forces, Police, Education, Coastguard, Fire Service, Probation…..the list just goes on and on.  They have all had their resources slashed to the bone (and possibly deeper) by this failing coalition government in the name of Austerity. Be under NO illusions, more cuts are coming, Gideon says so.

Stage 2

Highlight The Failings

Next Step is to commission a report highlighting the failings of said public body. Policy Exchange (other Think Tanks are widely available) are normally good at issuing reports that seem to support government’s plan of action.

Stage 3

Get the Press to Crucify the Public Body for Their Failings

Certain sectors of the British Press seem only too willing to publish articles, splashed across their front pages, or 1st item on the 10 o’clock news etc, crucifying the public body for their failings. They never seem to mention slashed resources at this stage, just how serious and awful the failings have been, whip up some public backlash, and launch a “heads should roll” theme to move it forward.

Police and NHS are currently suffering at the hands of Stage 3.  Whose turn next?

Stage 4

Privatisation.

These public bodies can’t be trusted to organise a beer-drinking event in a brewery.  Just look at the headlines at Stage 3. I know how to sort this out, we’ll privatise them.  We’ve got some Lords with interests in suitable private companies, let’s give them a shot at sorting it all out, perfect solution.

Am I wrong?

Is this NOT how it happens?

Where are you on the Wheel of Fortune?

Have you been crucified yet?

Cynical? Me?

Now I’m a cynical, sceptical old soul, but there are things going on (some may say many) in the world of government that I don’t understand.

Police Service – As much as possible seems to be in the process of being identified by privatising, probably to G4S. Budgets slashed by 20% and thousands of Police posts have to go across England and Wales.

Armed Forces – Too many Strategic Defence Reviews, servicemen being laid off, Armed Forces now at their lowest strength for decades.

NHS – Again, ripe for privatisation. Just look to see who the directors are of the companies in line to benefit.

Who is destroying our NHS

Who is destroying our NHS

And I don’t understand why, at a time when demand on Accident and Emergency Units has never been greater, A&Es across the country are being closed down. Does that make any kind of sense?

Target time to be seen in A&E is apparently now 4 hours. Nobody should have to wait 4 hours to be seen in A&E.

Probation Services – Being Privatised, again to G4S amongst others, and a Social Media Gagging Order imposed upon Probation Officers by Chris Grayling just in case they’re upset by what’s going and might want to Tweet about it, so I’ll do it for them, he hasn’t managed to gag me.

Coastguard Service – Coastguard Stations being closed down, service streamlined, Search and Rescue operations Privatised to an American Company.

Fire and Rescue Service – Fire Stations closed down, Fire Engines sold off or mothballed, jobs at risk or been lost.

Education – Schools turned into Academies, judged by complex League Tables. We nearly had to ditch GCSEs and create an English Baccalaureate Certificate (EBC), but Gove backed down on that one.  The National Union of Teachers has also warned that 2015 will bring an “unmanageable level of change which could lead to a collapse of the system.”

G4S are now teaching and looking after our children. Are we all mad?  A Blog by Tom Pride, read the full article Here

Banks – Apparently responsible for a lot of the mess this country now finds itself in, making huge losses still, some of them, but still manage to pay out millions in bonuses. How does it work that you get paid a bonus for making a loss?  And still they are not lending enough to ordinary folk to kick-start the economy and get the housing market moving again.

My first question is ‘Are they changing too much, all at the same time?’ This is a government that seems hell-bent on reforming everything in sight before the next election and its inevitable result. Naive? Arrogant? Greedy? Self-Serving? All of the above?

My second question is this; Why, in times of austerity when ‘We’re All In This Together’ are we laying folk off, privatising public services that have served us well for generations, closing down public buildings, letting foreign companies come in and run certain aspects of the service, all because the country cannot afford to maintain these services at their existing levels, why then do the government then reduce Income Tax for the richest people. Those who earn the most now pay less Income Tax, 45p in the pound instead of 50p.

This might not sound much, but is it going to provide an incentive for the richest folk to spend more? I don’t think so. Is it going to give you and I the incentive to go out and spend more? I don’t think so.

Why not consider having a two tier VAT system like certain European countries do; 20% for most things, but 5.5% for Restaurants, Bars, Home Improvements etc etc, giving folk the incentive to eat out more, employ builders more because the VAT bill is nothing like so big, and that’s just the beginning.

Raising Taxes is never going to be a Vote Winner, never has been, but we’re seldom in the pickle we are now.  Once these services are Privatised they are very unlikely to be unpicked and put back into National ownership again.  As long as it was fair I think I personally would prefer to pay a modest sum more each year in taxes and keep British Public Services in Public, British, ownership. There is nothing wrong with making these services as efficient as they can possibly be, but Police, Fire, NHS, Teachers, Armed Forces etc etc are NOT BUSINESSES. They cannot be run like businesses, they should not be treated like businesses. They are not for profit, but if G4S, amongst others, come in, make no mistake their first priority will be to make a profit for their shareholders, anything else will be secondary, less important.

Lobby your MP, sign all the petitions you can find, demonstrate peacefully when the opportunity arises, make your voice heard. The government are getting away with this massacre because not enough people are standing up to them. they are behaving like playground bullies, and we don’t like bullies do we?

If we don’t these services will be irrevocably changed and some may disappear forever.

Let’s All Pull Together

I am indebted to @Cate_a_Moore of Twitter fame for raising this issue today.  Thank you Cate.

There have been several marches, demonstrations, petitions and arguements at various conferences over the future of so many public services.  Police, NHS, Teachers, Coastguards, Armed Forces, Probation Officers, Lawyers, Firemen, Ambulance they are all under attack by this coalition government in the name of Reform.

Only today my old friends Policy Exchange seem to be promoting further privatisation of public services, although I must admit that I haven’t yet summoned up the enthusiasm to read beyond the synopsis.

What is needed, in my humble opinion, is ONE Campaign, similar to the #DoItRight campaign promoted by the Police Federation in tandem with one, co-ordinated campaign to raise public awareness of the threat to public services and the British way of life.  Once they are gone it would take a miracle to restore them.

Make no mistake this government doesn’t give one hoot what happens beyond 2015 because they will no longer be around, they are making themselves unelectable and they don’t care.  All of their (and Policy Exchange’s) ideas for Reform are being rushed through before 2015 with scant disregard for the consequences and long -term catastrophes.

Short term profits for shareholders is all they seem to be interested in together with feathering their own nests for their retirements.

I don’t really have an opinion on who heads up such a campaign and takes the ‘Lead’, but please Britain, why can’t we try it?  Can anyone think of something better? This arrogant ConDem coalition HAVE to be stopped before they disassemble Great Britain plc forever.

At the Big Picture we have blogged before on the various disasters that are being perpetrated by this government in the name of Reform, and it really is time to see The Big Picture. The future is out there and it really isn’t very bright.

Join in, do your bit, Retweet this blog far and wide, make suggestions as to how we can move forward, but above all Stop This Government before they destroy everything that we have worked hard for and can still be proud of.

Updating The Big Picture

Most of the blogs I read are Police-related.  The main reason for that is because that’s my background.

Earlier this year Steve and I decided that we’d give The Big Picture a try in an attempt to get some information out there about what else is going on in Public Sector Land.  We’ve featured articles on the NHS, Fire Service, Prison Service, Criminal Justice Sector, Interpreters, and I believe even HM Coastguard might have got a mention.

We have also included items on the con that is known as Privatisation and the effect that Think Tanks can have,

Most recently we have concentrated on a short series of articles on Government Wastage.  We have tried not to be party political, although this current ConDem coalition does just keep on giving (when they’re not taking away from us that is).  Waste by ANY Government on the scale that we have highlighted is extravagant, hypocritical, incompetent and bordering on the criminal.  The worst example that we have featured is the NHS IT debacle at £12 Billion.  I don’t need to point out that these wastages are cumulative and that their effects continue on and have made the cutbacks that we are suffering proportionately worse.

I am fully aware of the role that the global banking industry has played in the recession and austerity, but I do hold successive governments partly and directly responsible.  The Metropolitan Police for example are struggling to make £500 million of savings.  I’m quite sure that there will be job losses and overtime restrictions involved to a greater or lesser extent.  The last 2 governments have wasted 24 times that amount on the NHS IT farce alone.  Aircraft Carriers (avoidable) and Chinook Helicopters (avoidable) added together exceed the Met’s target savings.

To take things forward and evolve we’d like to involve you, our reader.  We’re quite happy to carry on doing what we’re doing.  What we’d like you to do is simply RT the blogs as much as you can, not because we like big numbers, but we want to spread the message as far as possible

Feel free to use the comments section at the bottom of this blog to give us any kind of feedback you think we deserve.  We’re both too old to need smoke blowing, but if you like it, let us know.  If you think we could do things a bit differently you can let us know that too.

If you have any suggestions for subject matters that you think we might like to look at by all means include those.  I’m not promising that we’ll feature them but I will promise that we’ll look into them.

Finally, much like the manyvoices blog that I’m sure you’re all aware of, if any of you wish to contribute an article anonymously that fits in with our ethos then let us have that too.

Bang ‘Em All Up (If You Can)

Let us be under no illusion, the Prison Service is yet one more public institution under attack by the unelected, unwanted coalition.  The main thrust of union opposition to these reforms seems to be pensions and job cuts.  Prison Officers normally belong to the Civil Service Pension Scheme.  My views on tinkering with pensions are well known and recorded elsewhere.  As I haven’t changed my views one iota I won’t repeat them here.

I will readily admit that privatisation of the Prison Service has largely passed me by, as I’m sure it may have done with you also.  A little bit of digging however, unearths the fact that insidious creep is present here also.

In July 2011 it was announced that 2 prisons would close and 9 others put out to tender in a mass privatisation programme.  How did I miss this?

The proposed prison closures constitute  the much-praised resettlement jail, Latchmere House, in Richmond, west London, and Brockhill prison near Redditch.

4 prisons were previously put up for tender in March 2011 and one of them, Buckley Hall, stayed in the public sector, however the largest of the 4, Birmingham,  went to our old friend G4s.

The prisons up for closure include HMP Lindholme, HMP Moorland and HMP Hatfield, all in Doncaster; HMP Wolds in East Yorkshire, which was the first private prison in Britain; HMP Acklington and HMP Castington, both near Morpeth in Northumberland; HMP Durham; HMP Onley near Rugby; and HMP Coldingley near Bisley, Surrey, which is a purpose-built training prison.

Already 12 of the existing 138 jails are run by the private sector. A further four new prisons are already earmarked to be built and run by the private sector.

In March 2012 the Guardian reported this;  “The governor of three prisons in South Yorkshire has ordered all probation staff off the premises after discovering that the local probation trust had formed an alliance with the private security company, G4S, to take over the running of his jails.”

What on earth is going on?

Prisons closed = Job Losses, pure and simple.

Prisons Privatised = Uncertainty.  Private companies such as G4S exist to please their shareholders and turn a profit.  To do this they must surely pay less, pay fewer staff, or close prisons and ‘streamline’.

Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons public accounts committee said:

The national offender management service is less than halfway through its cost cutting programme but is already lagging behind its target to curb spending by £884m before March 2015.

       This figure must be hit if the Ministry of Justice is to stand any chance of achieving £2bn annual savings by the same deadline.”

The new justice secretary, Chris Grayling, is likely to push through a round of spending cuts and accelerating the move to greater privatisation in prisons and probation.

2015 again, everything has to be done by 2015, put it in your diaries.

Prison Closures and Fewer prison Officers = Reduced Safety for the public and staff.  Not to mention, where do the Police and Courts put all those nasty criminals?

Prison Service Privatisation – it’s happening NOW.  A good thing?  You decide.  If you think not, then badger your MP, get on his/her case.  Turn up at his/her surgery and demand answers.

If you think it is a good idea, let us know your views via the Comments section so that we can all debate them.