Key Links



Death Penalty


Justice System





Practitioner Links

Domestic Violence

Mental Disorder

Restorative Justice

Sex Offenders

Substance Misuse



News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

December 1, 2004: Napo and POA Resign From NOMS Board

Yesterday Judy McKnight, Chair of probation union Napo and Colin Moses, Chair of the Prison Officers Association resigned from the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Board. Ms McKnight has published a copy of her resignation letter to Home Office Prisons and Probation Minister Paul Goggins. Her letter reads:

“I am writing formally to register my resignation from the NOMS Board with immediate effect.

As both Colin Moses and I have stated from the outset, it is only possible for us to continue on the Board if we can be there as representatives of our respective trade unions. Unfortunately, you have not been able to agree to our request.

As members of the Board on an individual basis it is clear that we do not have an equivalent status to other Board members. For instance, should we be unable to attend a meeting, we are unable to send deputies or be issued with Board papers.

There have also been a number of public references to the fact that the unions are represented on the NOMS Board. Martin Narey's interview in the Guardian on November 17th was one of the latest examples. This article stated:

"The board is a very large vehicle chaired by the minister in an attempt to bring together all parties. We are moving into a situation where we are going to have different providers. So we have the head of the public sector there, a representative of the private sector and the three main trade unions. This is a genuine attempt at real consultation."

This statement implies that the trade unions have equal status on the Board to other members, including not only the head of public sector prisons, but also the representative of private sector prisons. This is not the case.

It would, therefore, appear that our position as Board members is advantageous to NOMS management in seeking to convey to staff and to the public an impression of a commitment to consultation.

However, from our perspective, the reality has felt very different.

We say this particularly when it has just been announced that steps are now being taken to speed up the effective dismantling of the Probation Service in order to provide for the purchaser/provider split that is necessary for contestability, along with the announcement that a group of prisons will be identified for market testing in the next few weeks. These announcements, in respect of both the Probation Service and the Prison Service, have ignored the outcome of the consultation that has taken place to date.

Although we are resigning from the NOMS Board for the reasons set out above, we nevertheless hope that we can jointly discuss with you how best to provide for real consultation and discussion between us on developments in respect of NOMS.

Ensuring that the views and concerns of staff are properly heard and addressed is vital to the successful management of change. We therefore trust that we can meet with you at an early date to discuss how consultation should take place between us in a way which ensures that the views of our members are fully and properly taken into account in the decision making processes of NOMS.”

A leaked account in The Guardian of a meeting at Downing Street on November 18, 2004 indicates that an announcement naming prisons for market testing is to be made in the near future. It also suggests that NOMS staff will consider which areas in probation are suitable for market testing. It is suggested that there will be a focus on probation hostels, accredited programmes and drug testing and treatment orders. NOMS chief Martin Narey and Home Office ministers deny that contestability, as market testing is known, equates to privatisation, though others including Richard Garside of the Crime and Society Foundation have argued that contestability is very much about privatisation.