So, our well informed speculation about the new HM Prisons and Probation Service agency (HMPPS) has become fact, following this weeks announcement by the Secretary of State that NOMS will cease to be known by that name with effect from 1st April.
Anyone hoping for a root and branch reorganisation with an accompanying roll of heads will have been a bit disappointed at the detail that was contained in the official statement, as all the key players in the NOMS cast remain on stage.
As far as I am concerned, and leastways in the probation part of the new enterprise, major change would have been most unwelcome; and the fact that Sonia Crozier has retained her remit and been given responsibility to progress the project to reform the female custodial estate is good news. We must hope that her work brings about the desperately needed improvements and social reforms that we and many other interested parties have been championing for at least the last decade.
At yesterdays meeting of Napo's Probation Negotiating Committee we had a very useful debate about whether the advent of HMPPS signals a serious attempt to put probation at the heart of the justice system or whether it's a rebadging exercise to make it look like something important is going to happen.
The view was that Napo must move to maximise any and every opportunity we can to progress the agenda set by our members, and that we must also make it clear that the major challenge to deliver the Offender Management Review which looks to be the cornerstone of this initiative, won't achieve buy in from the probation workforce unless we see significant progress on pay reform at the same time.
We are working on a detailed analysis of what we think HMPPS may mean for Napo members and will get this out to you as soon as we can and after our timely meeting with the POA next week.
Important dates for the diary
This years Family Court Professional Conference will take place on Thursday 15th June and will be followed by the Women in Napo conference on the 16th June. These events will be held at the excellent Yarnfield Conference Centre in Stone, Staffordshire, and further details will follow shortly.
The TUC LGBT conference for 2017 will be held on Thursday 6th and Friday 7th July, at TUC Congress House in London. If you would like to be nominated by your Branch to attend as a delegate, please complete this form
and return to your Branch Office for endorsement by 12 noon on Thursday 9th March 2017, so that National Napo can be advised before the closing date.
National Napo will pay subsistence allowance to delegates attending the conference. The TUC will also provide a creche and facilities for disabled members.
What's Napo doing?
See for yourself with this reformatted version of the 2017 operational plan
which sets out how we aim to approach a myriad of key issues for members.
This is based on the plan that was approved at the November meeting of your National Executive Committee but has been modified to enable a better review of progress against objectives.
NPS Maternity Policy back on the table at last
After months of prevarication the trade unions were re-presented with the above policy and a raft of others which are part of the family and leave package on which negotiations have now reopened. These will be added to the huge list of outstanding issues and we will do our best to push them as near to the top of the pile as we can.
Yet again there is a glitch though, in that NPS are insisting on reforms to Annual Leave being agreed at the same time whilst Napo are of course arguing that it is disgraceful that the employer has yet again sought to place conditions on introducing a policy that ought to be a 'stand alone' and which should have been introduced over a year ago.
Some tough talking lies ahead, and Napo are considering how we can raise this issue more prominently amongst all of our members in the run up to International Women's Day on 8th March as part of our ongoing campaign to see this particular policy enacted and not used cynically (as some members have suggested) as a bargaining chip on other issues.
Some awful news from Russia this week, where the Duma passed laws which apparently downgrade the severity of the crime provided that there are no broken bones suffered by the victim during the assault.
It's scarcely believable in itself and is made worse in that a civilised society could even contemplate such a regressive move; it's also astonishing that elected politicians could bring themselves to endorse it and send out a signal to the rest of the world that (they believe) that DV is not such a big deal.
I also spotted that thousands of protestors have been on the march in Uruguay this week demanding tougher laws in the aftermath of 5 recorded 'femicides' over the last month. Reports suggest that a majority of parliamentarians may actually succeed in bringing this crime onto the statute books. We obviously wish them well but all this reminds me that it's a depressing world out there at times.
Back next week, have a good weekend.