Napo meets with the new Justice Ministers

Our introductory meeting on Tuesday with Liz Truss the new Secretary of State for Justice and Sam Gyimah, the Probations and Prisons Minister, turned out to be a very positive exchange. Despite a tight timescale, the probation unions offered a highly effective briefing which featured some excellent contributions from Yvonne Pattison and Tania Bassett about the key issues impacting on our members in the CRCs and NPS.

It's clear that there is a significant familiarisation journey ahead of them, but I saw plenty of signs that the new incumbents are prepared to listen and hopefully respect the views that we are going to relay to them over the coming months.

Aside from this, I have to say that it was hugely refreshing to see such an infusion of diversity into what is one of the high offices of state, and I have already asked Mr Gyimah if he will be able to honour the AGM speaking slot that we had previously agreed with his predecessor.

Although I omitted to mention it last week, the MoJ departmental shake up also included the appointment of a new Cafcass Minister in the form of Dr Phillip Lee MP. As you would expect, I am already taking steps to seek a meeting with our team which will of course include FCS Vice Chair Jay Barlow, as part of our attempts to ensure that the new Ministerial team are aware of the issues that are being faced by our members across the justice spectrum.

Meanwhile here is a link to the new Minister.

Public sector prison operating model

We had a presentation from NOMS this week on their plans to create a new operating model for Public Sector Prisons. It was explained that they wish to create what they described as an underpinning rehabilitative culture in all prisons, which focuses on developing relationships between staff and prisoners.

Not that we have any fundamental problem with that concept of course, but it again leads to the often asked question: and how are you going to do this exactly?

Essentially, it seems that whilst NOMS are saying that they are committed to a model using both prison and probation staff, they believe that the responsibility for custodial OM should sit within the prison.

The immediate implications of this suggest that, among other things, the new model would see more Probation Officers moving into custody based roles (transfer of community-based OM role into custody for the custodial period).

Probation Officers in custody would be managed by a Head of OMU reporting to the Governor and a small proportion of OM work would move from being done by the NPS to suitably trained prison staff.

NOMS also explained how the Head of the OMU would need to be suitably experienced to manage OM activity.  We understand that further work is being completed to define the job specification for this role.

NOMS also confirmed their intention to continue the redeployment of PSOs from prisons into community roles, aligned with E3.

As you might expect, we immediately said that this plan needed some serious consideration and was likely to be hugely unpopular with swathes of our members.

We will issue more news as soon as we have it but meanwhile I would welcome members initial views (mail me at

Cafcass workloads increase again  

Latest published figures show that by May 2016, Cafcass had received a total of 1,141 care applications. This figure represents a 23% increase compared to those received in May 2015.

Cafcass also received a total of 3,267 new private law cases. This is a 17% increase on May 2015 levels.

Our members in the Family Court section have been invited to take part in a Napo survey which seeks to help us map the amount of untaken TOIL out there in the network. Since  this is the last week of this initiative can I encourage any FCS members who have yet to do so, to take a look and spend a few minutes completing it by clicking this link

Job evaluation -  whats happening next?

We are due to engage with senior NOMS management about the next stage in the agreed process for reviewing those posts that formed part of the E3 job evaluation exercise including VLOs, AP Managers and AP Residential Workers.  This follows the agreement we reached with the employers to have a collective review of the job evaluation outcomes to avoid massive amounts of duplicated work from individual appeals.  

At the E3 trade union engagement meeting this week it was agreed that following a review of all the information provided by both sides, a meeting will be held prior to new panels being convened who will re-evaluate these job roles. Napo have insisted that the new panels must contain trade union representatives with the appropriate level of understanding of the specific roles being reviewed; and whilst we cannot hand pick our choices (as the system does not work that way) I am confident that those being asked to serve on the new panels will approach their difficult task with the professional knowledge and integrity that we would all expect from them. What is also important to note, is that we have insisted that the JE panellists and our expert practitioner advisers to Napo and Unison, receive a comprehensive pre-briefing from NOMS specialists about the outcomes from the proposed job roles and associated design questionnaires that Napo members actually undertaking the work have made an important contribution to.

Once we have agreed the final timescale for completion of the process we will let members know, but current expectations are that new JE Panels will be convened around mid-August.

Everyone in the leadership group here understands that this is an anxious time for many members, and all I can say at this stage is that we have done all that we can within the rules of the scheme to ensure that your interests are going to be given full consideration.

National Officer Elections - have you had a ballot paper?

We have started to receive enquiries from members who are so far without ballot papers for the current round of National Officer elections BR45-2016.

This explains that Ballot papers were posted second class to Napo members who are eligible to take part in the ballot from Friday 15th July, and the closing date for return of the ballot papers directly to ERS will be 12.00 noon on Thursday 25th August.

Any member who has not received a ballot paper by Monday 1st August should contact ERS directly on 020 8365 8909.

Have you voted yet?

Whilst percentage turnout in Napo ballots is generally higher than those conducted in most other trade unions, it could do with some improvement. That's why I once again urge our  members to please take a few minutes to take a look at what the candidates are saying and to make that important choice.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog