Goodbye – Mr Grayling, it was nice being associated with you…


I do not know why I am counting the weeks down. It is not as if this is something to celebrate. But, for my nearest, dearest and for me, 10 weeks, given the last 42 weeks, is a significant period in Bureau de McMahon. I felt it my duty as (nearly) a law-abiding citizen to inform My Grayling, he and I are soon to part company.

I much prefer the term “operational period” than suspended sentence. There are now 10 weeks to go until I am effectively, in terms of being in the hands of the Criminal Justice System, free. Despite the myths, previously covered, an operational period covers just as much weight as a custodial sentence and the rehabilitation period is the same. Basically, what was an 18-week sentence, suspended for a year, means in terms of screening, I have to disclose the sentence, the operational period.

The last 42-weeks has been an interesting journey. From the canal bank – to sleeping on a sofa, a work period that has brought me highs, lows and somewhere in between, new levels of thinking patterns. Rehabilitation and my beliefs that we lived in a society that promoted this state, has changed immensely and the fundamental basics of rehabilitation is, we have to do 95% of the work ourselves. Given my operational period did not have any supervision requirements attached, I have had to supervise myself. The Transforming Rehabilitation agenda is banging those on sentences for under 12-month periods is the group that offend the most. Well, guess what, Mr G, here’s one who had no supervision and with ten weeks to go, I managed to stop doing what I was doing. But you sure as hell made it hard to pick up the pieces of a life that just under 45 weeks ago was lying on a hospital bed after having her stomach emptied of nasty white wine and paracetamol.

Alas, Mr Grayling, you do not know me personally. But I am one who sits in your crime figures for only ten weeks mind. It will be like parting with that painful, dull ache that is frequently associated with a visit to the dentist. A dull ache that gets worse as time goes along. I have watched you from afar, as you sliced up the Probation Service with a guillotine. Then I watched and listened to your bizarre reforms, although I must say I do actually agree with 12-month supervision in the community. I have supported the legal profession as they strode out against your cuts to legal aid and your ultimate parting gift was the embargo of parcels into prisons. Seemingly cards, gifts and other little home comforts are not “allowed” (gasps, imagine, a prisoner having a token gesture from a child who has little idea of your strident approach) to prisoners.

I must commend you on your choice of the security company who “handled” my journey in one of those buses. Smiling is not on the agenda as members of staff. I wonder if a condition of their contract they move like robots and show absolutely no emotion whatsoever and they must enter the incorrect details into the satellite navigation system in order defendants do not arrive on time to court? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but you’d like to think a “security company” has the ability to secure the delivery of goods to the right place at the right time.

What intrigues me more than anything, Mr G, (I hope you do not mind me calling you this, we have been in a relationship for almost a year now and feel we have got past first base, but no kissing mind, I don’t give out in the first year) is how you can call your new reforms, A Rehabilitation Revolution Let me just put you straight on this. There is no rehabilitation to revolutionise. We are not a nation that has rehabilitation. So, perhaps you could address the title for me? To something along the lines of “A Magistrate’s Revolving Door”? Please forgive my sarcasm, but well, coming from a canal bank (it was summer, so you’ve gotten off lightly, at least I did not get cold – I do not want you worrying too much) I have lost the art of being kind when all my stuff was nicked and the Salvation Army asked me to leave the hostel I managed to procure for three days.

The time is looming for us to part company and say our goodbyes. With ten weeks to go, I managed to use my brain and it was with family, (the one I have left) and friends I was able to come through the ups and downs, the false allegation, that almost had me locked up on the day of conviction last June. But we have come through a lot together and I feel on the day of the ending of our relationship, I’ll raise a glass to you for your company over the last 52 weeks. It is a wrench for me, to be saying goodbye to you. I do think you are misunderstood at times and I do think you have things a little mixed up, but hey, it must be a tough job taking humanity away from those who are in your hands. I do not envy you this role one iota.

I’ll let you into a little secret, sssshhh, if you treat people with dignity and respect, you get so much more back and you might just find those pesky re-offending rates coming down a tad. Human beings are what these people are and the harder you make it for these people to get their lives on track, the more it is going to cost your department.

Now do not be worrying yourself. I have not claimed a penny from that other department hatcheting away at human beings either in that they are hungry and being evicted from their homes. I have not cost you a penny in my rehabilitation. I managed it with support from my family and friends. Somehow they realised you could not do it and they took charge.

Good luck, Mr G, and moreover, for those who sail in you from herein. I will miss you telling me and others how to manage our rehabilitation periods.

Goodbye, it was an interesting run between us.

Warmly and fondly,


  1. Dear Tracey,

    You have no idea how I felt when I received your letter. I have spent the time since I received it soul-searching; at least, I would, if I had a soul. Maybe things would be better if I hadn’t sold it to the devil. Right now, your words have left me broken-hearted; at least, they would do if I had a heart.

    Oh, Tracey! What can I say? I know I haven’t been able to give our relationship as much time as I know I should. I accept, totally, that I have been spending all of my time working these days and that is never good for a relationship. But don’t you know that wrecking the justice system takes every waking minute of every day, Tracey?

    Bureau de McMahon? I think you mean Bureau de Change, and a lot of change. You aren’t the woman you were when we first met, obviously. Then, you say you were full of wine. Me, I was, and remain, full of whine. We are separated by a mere letter.

    Isn’t there anything I can say? Isn’t there anything I can do? Somehow I feel resigned; and most of the country wishes I had.

    Au revoir, and try to think fondly of me.

    Chris Greything

  2. Dear Mr Greything,

    I feel I can call you Chris – now we have reached the point where it is time to say goodbye.

    I must give you 100% for your duties. You have excelled where no other Rgt Honourable thingy has managed previously in the smash and grab of the justice system. Imagine, wigs protesting against their own. Not only have you managed the point of no return, you have even ballsed up the “no return” I’m not a lawyer, but oh silly me, neither are you.

    Full of wine? Well I wasn’t swigging the fine stuff in the bars of Westminster coming up with Payment-by-Results. Still, I think with me, you have gained one off those re-offending numbers and you don’t have to shell out to some of those new companies, replacing Probation, you know the ones, Community thingies, full of volunteers for me being one who will not be through the revolving doors of the Mags courts. I refuse to contribute to your bizarre trend of smash and grab. Robbing the likes of public services and you had the cheek to give me an operational period? That was a long whine you gave me and boy did you make me pay.

    You’re right, Chris, I have changed, changed from a corporate rat race to a normal life and I have you to thank for this. You see, you showed me the light, on how not to behave and how to stand in front of a bench – and say “Yes, I did this”

    I’ll now share you with the British Public as they have their way on the run up to the election, but just in case you’re not aware, this love affair is well and truly over. I’m sorry I could not do it in private, I was about to claim the cost of my travel to your office and to swank in and throw a strop in front of your secretary (who needs firing immediately as she never reminded you to remind her to send me flowers last year on my birthday) but well, we don’t claim expenses for private matters now do we? That is just downright flipping naughty if not against the law? Damn, I forgot, you have immunity to prosecution up there in dem there halls.

    Frankly, as a partner, you fare about as well as you do in charge of justice.



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