News reaches me that a number of Working Links employees were not covered by valid CP vehicle insurance in the Devon area from the period of 27th March up to last weekend. The ensuing chaos in the delivery of Community Payback was compounded by a previous delay with the delivery of fuel cards. I am told that this resulted in some of the van fleet being grounded miles away from their scheduled use last weekend with desperate staff using their own vehicles to transport offenders back from community service assignments.
It seems that someone at least had the nous to order a lock down on the use of all fleet vehicles within the operational areas while steps were taken to rectify the situation. A number of supervisory staff, understandably concerned about their legal position, used their own vehicles to tell clients at CP sites to stand down.
It is not clear at this stage whether this resulted in unsupervised clients having to make their own way home, but a number of issues have been raised with me by members regarding the loss of community service provision, estimated at the equivalent hours for 70 clients, and the impact on those organisations who expected unpaid work to be carried out on their behalf. There are also doubts being expressed about other vehicles owned by Working Links that are thought not to have valid MOT certificates.
No; before you say it I will. You could not make it up.
I am just finalising the Media release and this will be on my twitter account later @ilawrenceL and on the Napo website.
Children affected by domestic abuse
I was really encouraged to see the steps that Cafcass are taking to help highlight the impact of domestic abuse on children and how this is assessed.
This follows the Cafcass Open Board (OBM) meeting in January where Baroness Claire Tyler among others, highlighted the work that Cafcass has been doing to raise awareness among policy makers and parliament.
In a report of the OBM, I noticed that Chief Executive Anthony Douglas remarked that: ‘Children who have experienced DA are three times more likely to develop conduct and learning disorders, anxiety and depression. Children can continue to feel vulnerable after the DA incident has happened, and lifelong relationships can be distorted.’ He continued: ‘We hold the responsibility to bring each child’s daily lived experience to life. We need to understand it and make recommendations to make their lives better,’ adding: ‘We can’t do that unless we know what the child is going through.’
Nobody will have any difficulty agreeing with any of this, but yet again it comes down to resources and the capacity of Cafcass staff to put suggested best practice into action against the backdrop of increasing workloads.
Workloads campaign is for everybody!
We sent out another reminder to members this week about the plans for Napo members everywhere: NPS/CRC/PBNI/CAFCASS to take part in the lunchtime demos on Workers Memorial Day on 28th April. This is a timely opportunity to get out in the sunshine or rain (whatever) and highlight the impact of workloads on you and your colleagues. It’s also another opportunity to open up a discussion with colleagues who are not in a trade union about why we are organising activities such as this.
An unpaid bill?
News reaching me from the NPS North West where members have told me that it has not been possible to make telephone calls this week from a number of locations and Approved Premises around Lancashire, as it is thought that bills have not been paid on time.
Fortunately incoming calls were possible and hopefully someone down at HMPPS in London will have taken advantage of this and enquired as to what has gone on exactly.
It’s a strange eco-unfriendly world in some CRC’s
Speaking of bills, CRC staff tell Napo that SEETEC are unwilling to pay for the cost of the tea towel cleaning contract (reported to be £8 per week) and have instructed staff to buy new ones and throw them away. Mixed views about this latest cost cutting exercise, with some well-founded speculation that the ‘buy and throw’ policy is likely to be more expensive and not too good for our environment.
Maybe we ought not to be too surprised, following the ‘buy and throw’ approach to staffing that some CRC owners adopted soon after winning the contracts.
Attendance Management and the need for consistency
The way in which the deeply unpopular HMPPS Attendance Management Policy was written and its chaotic application across the NPS, is a constant source of dissatisfaction among members.
We are doing all that we can, amongst the many other priorities, to challenge situations where we can and to offer advice to hard pressed Branch Reps. We are also in discussion with the POA about their current engagement with HMPPS on the policy.
For example, National Official Sarah Friday met with HR specialists from HMPPS this week. They confirmed that there should not be a cap on the number of days for invoking trigger points when allowing for reasonable adjustment, as each case will differ and should be judged on its merits. So if there is evidence that a cap is operating please let your Link Officer know.
I was able to alert the HMPPS Well-Being team to some worrying information that had reached me this week from our reps in an NPS Division and I have been assured that they will be looking into how they can address the problems there as part of their support and sustain programme.
Branch Napo leads for the Attendance Management policy should also keep an eye out for an awareness workshop that HMPPS have agreed to run for managers and union reps. It is hoped that this will allow for full and open dialogue about what has and is going on, as well as what ought to be happening.
More news to follow as soon as possible.
Here’s hoping you make the best of the long weekend and that we have some decent weather to go with it.