C19 - Update 25-03-2020 (bulletin 3)

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Following substantial contact from members yesterday the general guidance on operations has been updated on our webpage, this is the HMPPS EDM (Exceptional Delivery Model) that all Probation providers (NPS and CRCs) are expected to follow. There will also be EDMs for APs, Courts, Electronic Monitoring and Probation in prisons. Each Division and CRC will then produce their specific EDM based on the HMPPS guidance and this will be signed off by the centre. Already we have made representations about one CRC owner’s EDM not being properly in line with the HMPPS guidance and we will continue to monitor and act on these to ensure that CRCs and NPS divisions are all working in line with the national model.

Clearly this process takes time and not all of the EDMs have been signed off yet. If any members are in a position where they feel they are being asked to work in a way that does not meet the HMPPS general model they should first take it up locally with their managers and seek support from local reps who can escalate to the national team if necessary. Over the past two days we have seen many issues resolved thanks to the proactive and persistent approach of our local reps who have managed to pull back attempts (however well-meaning) to pre-empt guidance or introduce different versions. As soon as we have any updates we will post them to the webpage so please check it regularly.

NPS staff working in prisons

We are still awaiting the specific EDM for this, and have made Senior leaders aware of the significant impact the delay is having on members. We expect the EDM to be with us by the end of the week, but in the meantime members should not be seeing any clients face to face except in the most urgent and extreme of circumstances and then only when social distancing protocols can be observed. Prison regimes should all now be in lockdown which should help in this. Staff based in prisons can, if they need to because of an underlying health issue, work at home and this can be agreed by their line manager. We have heard from some members that there is tension between the decisions being made by Probation managers (in line with NPS guidance) and the very real urgency for Prison management to make the establishment as safe as it can be in the face of a staffing crisis. We have made it clear to HMPPS Senior Leaders that this is unacceptable and that staff working in prisons remain employees of the NPS or CRC and not the prison.

Suspension of most disciplinary, grievance and attendance management cases in NPS

We have secured agreement that, during this crisis, all of these cases will be suspended (so no hearings or investigations will be taking place) until we return to “business as usual”. The only exception will be some gross misconduct cases and those cases where it is decided, very exceptionally, that to not proceed would cause too many difficulties. New allegations of gross misconduct where suspension is unavoidable will proceed to suspension and then a decision will be made in line with the above whether to proceed with the case or not. HMPPS will issue an instruction on this in the next day or two and we will share it once we have it.