NAPO conference 2021/ Day 2

Friday 15th October

Today’s conference was stunned as news came in that David Amess MP was killed. This was brought alive by Lyn Brown MP and shadow Probation minister who was visibly shaken by the news.

Despite the shock, Lyn continued to address conference. She was quite a contrast to yesterday’s speech by Kit Malthouse the Probation Minister. She felt that the pitch on the use of electronic tracking devices was superficial. While accepting that they can supplement Probation supervision they do not substitute. She also seemed to join the growing chorus for a locally accounted Probation Service rather than part of the Civil Service.

In the morning Frances Crook, Chief Executive of The Howard League for Penal Reform addressed conference. She based her speech on her recent blog ‘10 point action plan to change prisons’.

Conference includes professional issues, as well as trade union and the first of the two professional sessions, was ‘Domestic Abuse and the Family Courts — a year on from ‘The Harm Report’.

The report was commissioned after a number of mothers and children were killed by their former partners and fathers while going through the Family Court for contact with their children. It raised the question of whether the Family Court process colludes with a former partner applying for child contact using the process to further abuse the victim.

The afternoon professional session was entitled ‘The impact Racial Trauma on Probation and Family Courts’

Panellists which included Justin Russell spoke to his inspectorate’s recent report.

Author Trevor Hercules ensured we stayed grounded as he espoused his thoughts on the subject which he has recorded in his book.

The day ended with Jim Barton standing in for Jo Farrar, Chief Executive of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). The session highlighted the tension between those directing the service and the experience of those working in it. Jim acknowledged that workloads were too high and that the pay was not where it should be to attract and retain staff.

I am never sure if solutions come but in the meanwhile, those working in the service have to navigate the tension. Napo offers a place to feel less isolated and to engage with those in power.

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Writing as a Napo member

Speaks with a Northern Irish accent, lives in Hertfordshire, England.