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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

June 4, 2009: Napo On Ferez and Bonomo Murders

Probation union Napo have issued a statement on the homicides of Gabriel Ferez and Laurent Bonomo. They were horrifically killed on 29th June 2008. One of the accused, Daniel Sonnex, was on non-parole licence.

The licence commenced on 8th February 2008. On 1st May he was arrested and charged with handling stolen goods, and remanded in custody. He was subsequently bailed on 16th May and went missing. Recall proceedings were completed by mid-June but the police were unable to locate him.

The standards of supervision of any individual who is charged with a further serious offence, who is on licence, are automatically the subject of a Serious Further Offence (SFO) enquiry. This enquiry examines in detail the practice and decisions made by staff involved in the case. In Napo’s view it is rare for there to be any direct link between faults and mistakes found and preventing the crime. Nevertheless the individual members of staff in this case have been severely criticised in the reports.

Harry Fletcher, Assistant General Secretary of Napo, said:

“These were savage murders. However the decisions made by individuals involved in supervision were based on information available at the time. Had staff known that the individual on supervision was to go on and commit a horrific murder then obviously the decisions would have been different."

"The officer involved in direct supervision in this case was newly qualified yet had 127 cases at the time of the murder. Fifty of these were medium-risk in the community. The senior officer was carrying the work of two and half people. Managers were equally under pressure from overwork and multiple responsibilities. It was the Ministry not the Chief Officer who controlled budgets and training."

"The supervision occurred in Lewisham. No probation officers working in that borough had more than two years post qualification experience. There were two senior officers when there should have been five. There were high sickness rates, overwork and stress and not surprisingly in the autumn of 2008 a group grievance was taken out - which is still unresolved.”

“If staff had received the same level of supervision, attention and inspection as conducted by the inquiry, during 2008, then matters may have been different. Blaming individuals avoids the acceptance of political responsibility. Ministers should either fund the criminal justice system and allow probation officers to do their jobs properly or stop claiming that they are protecting the public."

"This case was appalling but does illustrate the stresses and strains facing courts, probation and police and that cuts to services are hampering their ability to carry out their day to day duties. The absence of an integrated IT system hindered communication. The collapse of the government’s C-NOMIS system, which would have helped the process, meant staff resorting to legacy systems, the phone and fax, to vainly try and get information to complete assessments."

"There were contradictions because of prison overcrowding, the courts were under pressure to bail when they could and probation to only recall to custody if necessary and after strenuous reviews. The cost of NOMS bureaucracy has soared since its inception in 2004 to more than £1 billion per annum. More is now spent on administering the NOMS hierarchy than the entire expenditure on the Probation Service in England and Wales."

Jack Straw has stated that the Probation Service does not have a resource crisis and that the case illustrates management failure. He cites a 70% increase in budgets since 1997 and a £17 million underspend last year.

Harry Fletcher added:

“Probation did receive additional funds over the last decade, but it did not result in extra probation officers. The number of probation officers fell by 9% over the period. The money was spent on failed IT, consultants and huge increases in bureaucracy. The underspend last year was not a surplus, but held over to fund this year’s redundancies."

"It is extraordinary that the government is implementing a 20% cut across the Probation Service over the next three years. Also, it is outrageous that over 50% of trainee probation officers qualifying this year will not get jobs. This is a waste of talent and taxpayers’ money. Commonsense decrees that the cuts are bound to lead to even less rigorous supervision, more crime, more victims and more public protection compromises.”