Operational chaos means a greater focus on health, safety and wellbeing

Over the last week Napo has been seeking urgent action with different employers over a range of issues where the impact of excessive workloads on the health of our members has featured highly.

Firstly, the intention by NOMS to implement the appalling CSEP attendance management policy. This is another of those Cabinet Office driven policies that are written by people with absolutely no idea about the realities of life at the front face and how the continual pressure of unrealistic and downright unsafe caseloads lead to stress, anxiety and, by the way, a general breakdown in the individual's immune system which inexorably leads to the likelihood of absence from the workplace.

Whilst never forgetting that many manager members are under similar pressure themselves that does not excuse the small minority who compound matters by the overzealous use of such policies to berate and discipline some of our members as illustrated by the types of cases that are referred to our team of National Representatives.

In the NPS, despite the incremental introduction of 600 newly qualified Probation Officers, we are still seeing large numbers of vacancies and breathtaking allocations in some areas. We will shortly be signaling our opposition to the introduction of this policy so whilst it is correct to say it has been discussed with the unions, that’s a world away from it being agreed, which it most definitely is not, and will not be in its present form.  

Wellbeing is an issue across CRCs as well, as they struggle to deliver contractual requirements against a backdrop of some extremely dodgy data that was provided to them at the time of the share sale and, in some cases abject chaos as a result of the weighted annualised volumes and the extremely dodgy operating models that they have and are trying to implement.

Members will know that the probation unions are currently engaged through ACAS in a dispute with Aurelius /Working Links over staffing and operations in their three CRCs, and whilst I will respect the fact that we cannot publish the exchanges that have been going on, it’s fair to say that during the most recent talks we have been pressing the issue of workload management and the health and wellbeing of our members against the demands being made of them.

Before anyone in the senior Aurelius/Working Links team throw their toys out, it’s hardly a surprise that Napo will want to raise these issues as it’s our obligation to do so and the least that our members would expect. For the problem goes well beyond the parameters of the above dispute and is something that local JNCC reps should be raising at CRC and NPS Divisional levels as part of the directive from our AGM to step up the workloads campaign.

As always, we cannot do everything from the centre; and while our members have quite understandably not yet shown their indignation in the same way as POA members recently have by walking off the job, I would caution senior management anywhere of complacency. Just so that I am clear, the law says that Napo must deprecate all forms of unofficial action, so I deprecate it in advance of it spontaneously happening somewhere, someday.

Meanwhile we will be factoring in the workload and wellbeing issue as part of our review of Napo’s draft strategic plan on which I am hoping that tomorrow’s meeting of your National Executive Committee will have some useful input to offer.

AP staffing shambles

E3 has been a tough ask for our NPS members in any number of work streams and despite the no redundancy agreement and 3 year pay protection, there has been and still is, considerable angst among many members about the impact of NOMS ‘more for less’ agenda.

Approved Premises is a clear example of how the race to outsource night waking cover possibly to the likes of trusty contenders such as SERCO and G4S has caused a huge problem in terms of more people than necessary being shoved into scope for TUPE, while Band 2 residential worker opportunities are posted on the Civil Service recruitment page.

While many staff prepare grievances we are trying very hard to engage with NOMS to stop this nonsense. As usual it will be hard to stave off the threat of privatisation without some industrial action, but as always we will respond to any demands for a legal ballot. Meanwhile perhaps a more constructive approach might be an additional annex to the E3 implementation agreement to deal with the unique situation of APs that the E3 blueprint failed to address despite the unions warning of problems ahead.

Violence against women and girls: and so it goes on, and on, and on

Last Friday was the United Nations international day which they badged as: ‘an opportunity to highlight the appalling levels of violence suffered by women and girls across the globe.’ In a week that saw the conviction of the Nazi terrorist who murdered Jo Cox in an act of despicable hatred, it’s worth reminding ourselves that in the UK the fatality rate sees an average of two deaths of women every week at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.

Were it not for our members in Probation and Cafcass, and the many other organisations who do so much to try and manage the depressing cycle of domestic violence and offer help and shelter to its victims, the gruesome statistics would be even worse.

When I last met with Elizabeth Truss it was noticeable that she was particularly interested in hearing more about our views on this subject, and invited us to tell her more. We intend to do just that but the world is full of politicians with good intentions when some practical support and funding assistance to those trying to cope with this huge but all too often unspoken problem, is desperately needed.

Napo Black Members Round Table event

I am looking forward to the policy discussion that we are planning around the ‘Prevent’ strategy with a number of invited speakers on December 8th 12:30 at the Imperial Hotel Central London (near Euston).

This is a timely event given the regular debates in the media on the need for vigilance against would be terrorists and the right of law abiding citizens to go about their business without state snooping aided by the incessant hysteria generated by the populist media.

I am told that there are still places free and further details are available from Ranjit Singh (rsingh@napo.org.uk).

NOMS Offender Equalities Annual Report

Meanwhile here are some more diversity related statistics published by NOMS last week:  

Official Statistics: NOMS annual offender equalities report: 2015 to 2016

They make for worrying reading on a number of fronts.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog