Workload pressures and the unreasonable expectations that accompany them are the bane of everyone’s lives. Sadly they cannot just be wished away and stuffing cases in cupboards or a desk drawer doesn’t solve the problem either. Since the implementation of the TR programme our members in probation have repeatedly raised concerns regarding increasing workloads and in the Family Court Service the statistics don’t lie in terms of huge increases in public and private law applications.
The specific concerns raised by our members across our bargaining areas shows that pressures on staff are negatively impacting upon the effectiveness, and in some cases, the safety of the services that they are expected to deliver. Staff regularly report feeling under pressure to cut corners, meet unrealistic targets and report that they feel they are failing service users and ultimately the public, in achieving their objectives.
Napo’s new workloads campaign won’t magically make the problem disappear and it will not make any impact on the employer without your involvement. The three C’s that are the cornerstone of the campaign aim to encourage Napo members everywhere to confront the issue of high workloads, challenge our employers to address them and at the same time, champion our professional standards.
We are asking Napo Branches to gain statistical information about workloads to enable accurate assessments of the pressures that our members are facing. But to do that we need hard facts and not just anecdotal information. The latter points to unsafe practices, ineffective delivery of services and a concerning impact on staff health and wellbeing as a result of workload pressures but to make it stick with employers and politicians we need empirical evidence.
One example we have highlighted in the campaign material is from a CRC member who explains how pressure not to breach service users who fail to comply with Community Orders is leading to ineffective supervision, in this case of a client who has committed a violent domestic assault: “He never comes in but he phones, I was told that counts as contact so I shouldn’t breach him. What can I do in a 3 minute phone call to get him to change his behaviour?”
Similar concerns have been raised by other CRC based members pointing to the business objective of meeting unachievable targets: “It’s all linked to targets but if they all did come in I’d be here until midnight…”
The impact on professionalism is damaging. An NPS member notes that: “I can’t do the job I was trained to do, I know I should spend longer with my offenders but I don’t have the time.” Similarly, an example given by an NPS Court staff member speaking about Report preparation stated that: “I trained to do 2 two hour interviews with a domestic abuse perpetrator to really get into the offence analysis, but I get a half hour slot to speak with them now.”
Changes in practice, pressure to deliver on unrealistic targets and increasing concerns about our professionalism leave staff in unmanageable situations, open to allegations of poor practice, which affect health and ultimately impact on public safety.
This is an opportunity for Napo members to get involved and to try and make a difference. Napo can’t do all this from the centre but members can send a clear signal to their respective employers that enough is enough.
Simple steps that you can take to get involved
Branches will receive demand cards very soon linked to the 3C’s. Take one, carry it and promote it.
Branches will be undertaking local surveys on the impact of workloads on staff. Respond, contribute and get involved.
If you feel under pressure, report it. Tell your Manager, ask for a stress risk assessment, complete a Hazard Report, and contact your local Napo Rep.
If you and your colleagues feel team pressures are excessive, report it. Tell your Manager, ask for a team risk assessment, and contact your local Napo Rep.
Attend local workplace meetings to discuss the campaign and help to generate confidence amongst members.
- Take a hard look at what you do and the hours you spend doing it.
Since next Friday is the TUC's "Work your proper hours day" it’s worth taking a look at this short factsheet to see what the cause and effect of Britain’s long hours culture actually is.
Family Court Section news
I was pleased to hear reports from this week’s meeting of The Family Court Section Executive that as well as having discussions around a range of bargaining issues, planning for the Family Court Professional Conference on 15th June is coming together. This year’s event will look in depth at the professional issues associated with radicalisation and also modern slavery. The section is also hoping to put on workshops on practice issues, such as the Cafcass Domestic Violence toolkit. The event is at the BT conference centre in Stone, Staffordshire and will run the day before the Women in Napo Conference at the same event. FCS members are encouraged to stay and attend both, more information is about to be released soon about registering for the Conference.
HMI Probation issues report into Greater Manchester probation services
We are analysing this latest report which was released early yesterday to see what issues we can highlight to members of the Justice Select Committee who we have been meeting individually over last few months. A quick look suggests that NPS services are running near to expectations but, as always, there is room for improvement. The verdict on the GMC CRC suggests that while the operational systems have been developed, the delivery in terms of ensuring suitable standards of public safety have been found wanting. More to follow on this shortly.
AGM 2017 early notice - Nottingham University Friday 13th Saturday 14th October
Yes I know we have hardly got over the excitement of the last one, but we will soon be issuing full details about this year’s event which moves to a full two day format at a new venue near Beeston. The scouting party tell me that it looks like an excellent venue, so do get those dates in the diary please?
Probation Trainees Conference 5th April 2017 at De Montford University
Very happy to give a plug to this event that takes place in Leicester and is being hosted by the Probation Institute Napo will be represented there and have been given an appreciated opportunity to exhibit and speak to the trainees on the vocational issues that will be under consideration.
GFTU Education Officer vacancy
Doug Nichols GFTU General Secretary has asked us to publicise this attractive vacancy and the link to the job description appears below.