C19 - Bulletin 5

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Napo Feedback on EDM for OMU (prisons) 30/3/20

STOP PRESS – as we prepared to send this to members we have had some communication from HMPPS Senior Leaders which may assist in clarifying these points. We will update members as soon as we can but be assured in the meantime that we are raising these points at the highest level.

Despite many attempts to get hold of an early version of this EDM in order that we could feed in member views the unions were not given this until several hours after it had been formally issued. This is disappointing as we have been fielding and collating many concerns from members about their circumstances working in prisons. While there will be many different and specific issues for members in different establishments we have distilled this to four broad areas of concern which we first raised with HMPPS senior leaders on Tuesday 24 March. Below is the feedback we have today sent to HMPPS Senior Leaders about the EDM reiterating the issues that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

Feedback sent to HMPPS Senior Leaders on 30 March.

The first and most obvious point is that the title is confusing, there are OMUs in the community as well as in custody and we need to ensure they are differentiated.

There are many and varied queries that our members have been seeking clarity on and these are not addressed by the document. We need urgent clarity on these points (which we have been raising since 24 March) so that we can advise members who are becoming increasingly distressed.

  • Most OMUs have small office / workspaces so social distancing is impossible – they feel they should be following the advice that other NPS staff have been given to work at home wherever possible. While the EDM advises work at home there is conflicting guidance to have staff in the prison OMU and we have seen incidences of staff who have NPS laptops being told by their SPO they can work at home but then being contacted directly by the Prison Governor to order them to come into the prison to work. We need unambiguous guidance including reference to the decision making process being via NPS not the prison for NPS staff.
  • Where staff are working in the prison here is a need for guidance and possibly PPE relating to key/lock use as there is much more requirement to touch handles/locks/door surfaces in prisons as doors and gates are locked and unlocked multiple times by a large number of staff
  • Some staff have been told that OMU staff must remain in work as they (OMU staff) will be required to assist the rest of the prison in their roles. There is evidence of this in a circular that has been provided by Ian Lawrence. This is particularly concerning as NPS staff are not trained in the same way as prison staff and their skills and expertise are desperately needed for probation right now.
  • Some staff have been told they will be redeployed to community teams or APs but not when and they are querying how decisions will be made on redeployment and what support they will be given to adjust to an unfamiliar role and environment. Some staff working in prisons have been there some years so also unfamiliar with processes and procedures. There is no guidance as to how many staff should remain in the prison OMU and how decisions will be made about who should remain and who should be redeployed and where.

Katie Lomas         Ian Lawrence
National Chair        General Secretary