As you would expect Napo Officers and Officials have been in touch with senior management across all employers where we are recognised, to press for urgent action in light of yesterday’s announcements of further lockdown measures across the UK.
Early indications across the CRC Estate are that a number of employers have already shut down Programmes and Unpaid Work or are scaling these activities back to the absolute minimum in an attempt to drastically reduce face to face contact within strict social distancing regimes. Officials are working with reps to seek urgent reviews of Risk Assessments and Operational Models. We understand that a number of pro-active announcements have today been made to staff in respect of these issues. Napo is also very concerned at the apparent pressure being exerted by Ministers via HMPPS Contract Management to deliver totally unrealistic targets which cannot be delivered safely. We will be raising this issue directly with the Director General Probation this week.
The NPS position is under review, and while we have received welcome news that Polygraph Testing is temporarily suspended and pending review following our representations, we expect more substantive news about the impact on services across Regions when we meet with the DG Probation. Our position is that while the NPS is legally required to deliver all aspects of probation services that are possible to do so remotely, (as was the case during the first lockdown in March last year), face to face appointments with service users must be reserved for exceptional cases, e.g. where public protection concerns cannot be managed or assessed solely through remote contact. This may include interviews with service users on release from custody, and cases where there are safeguarding or domestic abuse concerns. All other service users should receive their appointments remotely. Our priority is the safety and well-being of our members who while designated as key workers, rightly expect to receive the maximum possible protection during a Pandemic of which the Government has totally lost control. This is equally important for those staff working within the Approved Premises Estate and who are already facing significant risks.
In Northern Ireland our local representatives will also be in touch with senior management to ensure that revised guidance is issued where necessary.
Extra Protection for the Extremely Clinically Vulnerable
We will also be demanding across all employers that all Extremely Clinically Vulnerable (ECV) staff and those staff who are living with an ECV person, should not be required to deliver a face to face service and must work from home.
In Cafcass, we are pleased that we have been already been able to have positive discussions with Senior Management about new guidance on face to face contact with Children and Families. Our Family Court Section will be issuing more news when it becomes available.
All of the Napo HQ team and Napo Officers are conscious that the new Lockdown announcements will be unsettling and create a worrying time for our members as you seek to respond to the changing rules and expectations. We will bring you more news as soon as we can, but meanwhile all members who are likely to be involved in face to face contact with service users are advised to seek a review of individual risk assessments with your line manager.
Specific enquiries about this news item should be directed to your Napo Link Officer or Official in the first instance please.
Ian Lawrence Katie Lomas
General Secretary National Chair