Combatting C19 - Bulletin 1

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To: all Napo members in Cafcass, NPS, PbNI and the CRC estate

Dear Member

Combatting C19 - Napo members show courage and resilience as Exceptional Delivery Model is implemented  

I thought I would base the contents of this week’s mail out around the key issues that I reported on to your National Executive Committee yesterday. This was an extraordinary meeting, in what are extraordinary times; as it was conducted entirely remotely by teleconference. It worked pretty well all things considered, and I extend our appreciation to NEC members for their patience and discipline as we debated issues of serious importance to our members (another mail out will follow early next week about what was discussed) Unfortunately, this and other means of remote communication, will provide the main means of support for our activities as we all go about our business in the uncertain weeks and months ahead.

As I write, the horrendous live news feeds from the desperately overwhelmed Italian health service, and news of another 39 deaths today in the UK, provides further warning (as if it were needed) that we and our families are in the midst of a global Pandemic that presents a real and present danger to millions of people irrespective of age and social standing. Napo has been doing, is doing, and will continue to do, absolutely everything we can to work with your employers to enact the necessary measures demanded by the social distancing policy that was announced by the Prime Minister this week. As you would expect we will lead by example within our sphere of influence.

Our work, and the considerable achievements over the space of a few days to try and reduce risk to staff and service users would not have been anywhere near as effective without the support of our members, who have been providing important real time information that has enabled us to engage early with senior leaders and, where needs be, to take a robust approach where we believe that action has been slow to happen. Much has been done, but there remains a lot more still to do.

In a week that has seen unprecedented partnership between the Government, the Official Opposition, TUC and Employers representatives, it’s only right that I express appreciation to senior HMPPS leaders for their willingness to listen and respond to your concerns as best they can especially following our demands that prioritisation be given to the suspension of Interventions and Programmes across the CRCs. Things are tough enough as it is, and the climate is not helped by endless media speculation about possible further initiatives by the Government. That said, we can be pretty confident that next week will see the announcement of major steps across the Criminal Justice and Family Court systems that will fundamentally change the way in which the majority of our members undertake their work. If and when that happens the Napo Officers and myself will issue further news to you as early as we possibly can

Here are some of the other actions we have been involved in nationally alongside our sister unions this week :

  • Strategic meetings and regular contact as and when required, with the Director General and Executive Director of Probation around the developing Exceptional Delivery Model (EDM) which provides the structure for emergency measures across Probation and Prisons. See the following LINK to the Official advice from Government about key Workers and the closure of educational establishments
  • Establishing links which give Union H&S leads early previews of intended instructions to be issued under the EDM
  • Similar contact by your Officials and National Officers with Cafcass Leaders, CRC owners and Senior Management Teams on contingency planning and steps to reduce face to face contact
  • Discussions about the launch of an additional hours remuneration package in NPS to support the EDM (more about our views on this next week)
  • Further representations about the need to suspend the NPS sickness absence management scheme, and all face to face hearings.
  • Work with cross party politicians and the media on the developing situation across Prisons and Probation
  • Fielding the many and quite understandable questions from members

Keeping Napo functioning during the crisis

The Officer Group have moved swiftly to authorise me to enact emergency measures to protect your employees at Falcon Road in respect of risk mitigation and business continuity.

Essentially, all Napo staff are now working remotely (save for a designated team who will attend HQ on a rota system for care and maintenance purposes). This means that we will generally be asking members who need to contact HQ directly to use the voicemail telephone number and e-mail address. Both sources will be monitored daily and the team will seek to contact you at the earliest opportunity  I will arrange for further details to be issued to your Branch Representatives. Meanwhile, the normal link arrangements with Officers and Officials via phone and e-mail continue as normal.

The officers and NEC also agreed that all face to face contact between members seeking assistance or who may be called to attend a hearing and Napo staff or any Napo representative must be conducted remotely until further notice.

All Napo events between now and early June are also cancelled and a decision will be made on the scheduled June NEC at a later date.

Ian Lawrence
General Secretary on behalf of the Napo Officers and Napo Staff Group

20th March 2020