NPS members will be as concerned as Officers and Officials about the potential impact of the intended expansion of VISOR vetting as part of E3 phase 2. At the recent Trade Union Engagement Meeting the plan is for all CA, PSO, PO and SPO staff working in offender management and MAPPA to be vetted and to have access to VISOR.
For clarity this is a police owned record system and for NPS staff to access it they must pass a higher than usual level of vetting which includes giving details of family, household and finances. In the past members could effectively opt out of this by choosing not to move to a role requiring this level of vetting but the expectation that the majority of staff will be vetted changes this.
There are some obvious and quite understandable privacy and dignity concerns in relation to disclosure of such a level of personal information and we are concerned to hear some early reports of divisions expecting highly personal details to be passed through several layers of staff before reaching the vetting contact. If this is suggested in any division it should be brought to the Divisional JCC HR lead initially and if a resolution cannot be found referred to the Link Officer/official to escalate.
Napo highlighted the concerns around vetting in our response to the E3 phase 2 blueprint. As you will see from the branch circular issued shortly after the election when implementation began, we secured some helpful assurances from the employers.
This means that, unless the reason for failure of vetting is such that a disciplinary case is warranted then no member of staff will lose their employment as a result of vetting failure. Anyone failing the vetting process would be redeployed or have a restricted caseload or other adjustments to allow them to continue to work. If any Divisions are giving a different message about this, reference should first be made to the circular mentioned above and the letter to Napo from the employers giving the assurances and if necessary the matter can be escalated initially to the Divisional Director and if necessary nationally via the Link Officer and Official.
We are awaiting further responses from the VISOR HMPP leads following our representations at TU engagement and we will issue more information as soon as we can. It’s becoming tiresome to have to repeat this yet again but anyone who says that Napo is happy to go along with this or that an agreement has been reached, are to say the least being somewhat economical with the truth
Further E3 Job evaluation appeals
We have been contacted by a number of members in regards to all of the MAPPA roles (MAPPA Administrator, MAPPA Deputy Co-ordinator and MAPPA Co-Ordinator) and also the Review and Investigations Team Manager. We are appealing all of these results and will be working with our practitioner members to ensure that we have expert input into the process which is being Co-ordinated by National Vice-Chair Katie Lomas firstname.lastname@example.org
News on the Community Prisons for Women project
The project is part of the wider Prison Estate Transformation Project to build 5 new community prisons for women with 60 beds in each. This is a huge change in the way that women's custody is planned, designed and managed. The aims are for improved conditions and outcomes for women and a trauma informed model has been produced with women's needs in mind from the start of the design process.
Yvonne Pattison and Katie Lomas tell me that there is an acknowledgement that this is the first time an establishment for women has been designed in this way as all other women's prisons were either built as men’s prisons, or then converted.
Closeness to home is a key consideration and priority has been given to locations where there is the highest demand aligned to the CRC Contract Package Areas. It is acknowledged that there is a need for many more than 5 units but this is the first stage in the process. The broad geographical areas are London (2 sites), Wales, North West and the Midlands. All of the units will be on land adjacent to current or new prisons but the units for women will run independently with a separate staff group. There will be some sharing of services with the neighbouring prison however. The Governor from the nearest Women’s prison will have oversight of the unit. The units will be for women towards the end of their sentence, in their last 12 months and all women will need to be eligible for ROTL. The ideal is that all 60 residents will be out on ROTL at least 50% of the time. The residents will have a self-cook scheme with assistance given if needed and there will be a far lower level of physical security, in common with other women’s open prisons.
I had started to write this section as soon as I heard the brilliant news that Malala Yousafzai who if you need reminding, narrowly escaped death from a terrorist assassin for the heinous crime of attending school, has been accepted into Oxford University.
Last night’s atrocity in Barcelona which followed more terrorist inspired carnage in America and Burkina Faso over the preceding days again provide a stark reminder of the hatred that exists in our world. Such acts of futile violence seem beyond comprehension, yet the hope and success emerging from Malala’s experience should be an inspiration to us all.
Bernard Kelly RIP
Who died this week aged 79 and just months after being awarded the George Medal for his courageous attempts to defend the murdered MP Jo Cox from her terrorist assailant last year.
The following tribute to Bernard from Jo’s husband Brendan Cox appeared on social media:
"Bernard Kenny was a hero, he personified the best of our country; risking his own safety to help others. Our thoughts and love are with his family."