Extra Friday News Update

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So what is Napo doing?

Ian Lawrence, General Secretary and Katie Lomas, National Chair report

This special bulletin provides news for all members on the many issues that Napo are pursuing on your behalf. Please feel free to circulate this information to members who may have told you that they are not seeing Napo communications and any colleagues you know who are not currently a member of a trade union.

Remember – if your email address has changed you need to let Napo know!

Over the last few weeks a number of highly significant events have taken place around the future of Probation. These have seen Napo officers and officials engaged in a substantial amount of media activity as well as continuing our day to day work promoting our campaigns for reunification of the NPS and CRC’s and our pay harmonisation campaign via a number of ongoing pay negotiations.

Napo in the media and Parliament

Events in the early part of the week commencing 11th February were frenetic to say the least, as it became clear that Working Links had run out of road.

Their demise was officially made public on Friday 15th February when the Court finally organised itself to receive the Administration papers. As so often happens these days, major events seem to occur on Fridays which put massive pressure on our negotiators and communications team in maintaining contact with senior MoJ management, safeguarding the jobs and wages of staff who were transferring to SEETEC KSS CRC and ensuring that media and member communications were issued appropriately.

This event, whilst not entirely unexpected, was quickly followed over the subsequent weeks by:

•    The publication of the National Audit Office report

•    A hearing of the Public Accounts Committee

•    Interserve going into administration

•    Yesterday’s HMI Probation annual report

Napo has had an extraordinary amount of press coverage in recent weeks starting with the collapse of Working Links and the NAO report soon afterwards. There was coverage on all news channels that day as well as specific BBC National coverage with Tania Bassett being interviewed and Katie Lomas National Chair also undertaking radio interviews for BBC Wales and LBC.

There is ongoing interest from press on the future of probation going forward and Napo continues to work with media outlets to get maximum coverage. Yesterday’s publication of the annual report by HMI Probation Dame Glenys Stacey, saw extensive coverage on SKY News TV. This included an especially effective anonymous interview by a Napo practitioner followed by a live interview with the General Secretary where the case for reunification came across loud and clear

This work has also seen Tania, Katie and Ian feature in various live radio interviews and pre-record takes for ITV and other news outlets.

The above developments are causing ripples across senior HMPPS and MoJ leadership in terms of what the government response will be to their own consultation on the future of Probation and serious questions about where the money has gone?

Napo is maintaining regular contact with Bob Neil Chair of the Justice Select Committee and there is a real push to bring as many cross party MP’s on board with our campaign to reunify probation and bring it back into public ownership. Branches have been sent postcards for members to send out to their local MP’s outlining 8 reasons to reunify probation and to highlight a specific local issue. NEC reps are being asked to go back to branches to ensure that this is happening and to actively get members on board to send out invites. Napo is organising a parliamentary drop in and a meeting for CRC representatives for 1st May at Westminster and branches will be able to send representatives to talk to MP’s and to encourage their own MP’s to attend.

CRC round up and news for all members from the National Executive Committee (NEC)

Napo’s governing body (the NEC) met recently to consider the overall bargaining agenda and make important decisions in respect of Napo’s operational plan. Below are some of the key headlines of interest to members

RRP: Staffordshire West Midlands and Derby, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire & Rutland CRC’s

Pay talks have not yet started with RRP but a joint claim with UNISON is being submitted.
RRP has set up a Strategic Group Forum which is designed to enable RRP to engage with unions to discuss organisational matters that help to create a positive and inclusive environment. One of the issues that Napo will be raising will be a clear need for diversity training within the organisation following a number of incidents and racial stereotyping and cultural appropriation.

Workloads and a target driven working environment continue to be the biggest issues for members in both CRC’s. However, there is a growing issue of client engagement and local partnership agencies following RRP’s decision to reduce their estates and to bring the majority of Black Country work into Wolverhampton. Napo will be raising this at future JNCC’s. Recruitment is also likely to be an issue particularly in Birmingham following a mass exodus of staff to the NPS in a recent recruitment exercise.

WWM CRC: Warwickshire West Mercia

HMIP are due to carry out an inspection of this CRC at the end of March. It is clear that WWM CRC are anxious about this as they have been briefing staff to accentuate the positive work that they have been undertaking.

The CRC is actively recruiting Probation Officers. Some staff are due to leave following a recruitment drive by the NPS and a skills gap is becoming more evident. The CRC is initiating a recruitment drive and Pay talks are due to start shortly.

Kent Surrey and Sussex CRC

The original KSS CRC contract has now been extended to include the CRC areas formerly managed by Working Links and new collective bargaining arrangements will shortly be discussed alongside the opening of pay negotiations.The unions priorities are to see the establishment of pay parity across the newly expanded KSS area, urgent remedial action on Workloads and immediate steps to improve the safety agenda for staff and clients and a change in approach from the disrespect that our members have suffered from their previous employer.

Interserve CRCs

All proceedings with Interserve Justice have been dominated by the dire financial situation of Interserve, their parent company. The company’s plans to de-leverage their debt were rejected by shareholders and early assurances were secured by the probation unions around job security and wages irrespective of the long term future of the CRC’s. This work has involved engagement with the TUC, the Labour front bench team and correspondence with Ministers.

In other developments the Chief Inspector for Probation has published a report on the HLNY CRC which was was given a “required improvement” rating.

Sodexo CRCs

On workloads Napo has been engaging with the employer to address the ongoing issues across the six Sodexo CRCs. The unions were on the brink of registering a collective dispute but since then substantial steps have been taken to trial a new Workload Measurement Tool and further talks are scheduled.

Engagement on pay continues with Sodexo and at the time of writing Napo are examining the latest HMIP report giving the South Yorkshire CRC a rating as requiring improvement.

Napo are also challenging the situation regarding the intention of Sodexo and other CRC owners to allow the appointment of Probation Officers who do not have the requisite qualifications.

Further news on this issue which is being pursued nationally will follow

Durham Tees Valley CRC

HMIP inspected the CRC in November 2018. The overall assessment by the Inspectors was that the service “requires improvement”.

Napo continues to press senior HMPPS management that whatever the future structure of probation there must be a role for the ‘mutual’ sector with appropriate resourcing being made available.

MTC – London and Thames Valley

MTC have re-stated their wish to expand their “market share” in probation following the withdrawal of AMEY from their partnership.

Operationally, Thames Valley CRC has recently had its latest HMIP inspection outcome published. This was ‘requiring improvement’. There are recognised challenges in Thames Valley recruiting and retaining staff. There is already direct competition between the NPS and CRC with rumours of various incentives being investigated by Napo Reps. Workloads are very high in the CRC. In London, there are similar challenges around workload, recruitment and retention and professional delivery in any new contract.

Pay negotiations for the 2019 round are due to formally start shortly with the presentation of the joint Napo/Unison CRC claim. MTC have stated they want to pay similar rates to the NPS and progress people through their grade in a reasonable time but this will be dependent upon the terms of any new contracts – stating that doing so on the current terms would mean them losing money on the contracts.

Probation Board for Northern Ireland

The end of the NNC Negotiating Machinery and National Collective Bargaining agreement has had a knock on effect on pay negotiations for PBNI staff formerly covered by NNC arrangements. The issue has further been complicated by the breakdown of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Northern Ireland Public Sector pay policy is clear. It states that cost of living increases can only be paid in addition to contractual progression where the pay deal is agreed as part of national negotiations. Napo has finally secured payment of the incremental progression for 2017/18 and we are in ongoing discussions to secure a pay deal that is equal to other public sector workers in Northern Ireland.

New PBNI Board: A new Board for the Probation Board of Northern Ireland was appointed in December 2018 Napo held a constructive and positive meeting with the new chair at the end of January covering a wide-ranging number of issues including discussions on pay and terms and conditions. However, we are currently at an impasse with the employer on a way forward to harmonise terms and conditions for the two different sets of staff employed by PBNI. At present one set are employed on civil service terms and conditions (mostly admin staff). The other set remain on NNC terms and conditions (mostly Napo members). We are still at the options stage of how best to proceed with this work. No further steps have been taken but it is clear that the employer preference is that all staff move to civil service terms and conditions in the long term. Talks will continue.

Cafcass

The NEC heard how top of the list of issues for most Family Court Section members are the consistently high and unsustainable workload pressures they continue to face. Members are telling us how they try to do what they can but are working work long and excessive hours to keep up to date. Cafcass and Napo have recently met to start work on a new workload measurement tool for Family Court Advisers (FCAs). We want to see a tool that clearly tells FCA’s and managers the number of cases they can expect to hold and be able to complete required tasks within normal working hours.

Professional Conference and Section AGM: The section executive committee have decided that we will combine this year’s professional conference with our Annual General Meeting, which will be held in London on 17th September this year.

Pay: FCS members have already been contacted about the so called “interim” pay award, which was imposed without negotiation. Unfortunately, there was no more positive news to bring before the NEC.  The award to local government social workers was 2% but Cafcass say that while they have the funds available to pay 2% they are prevented from making this payment as a simple pay award by MoJ restrictions. Further talks are due to be held soon but napo has made it clear that we will not entertain any suggestions for non-consolidated pay and/or performance related pay.

Section Executive Committee: Following changes to our constitution at last year’s AGM, meetings of the SEC are now open to all members. We are arranging to hold the SEC meetings in different offices around the country and will put a standing item on the agenda to consider local issues, which will normally be scheduled for 4 pm to facilitate local members’ attendance. The next meeting will take place at the National Business Centre in Coventry on Thursday 4th April.

Following some excellent engagement work by Cafcass reps on behalf of members, the NEC were pleased to hear that Napo Cafcass membership is continuing to rise!

NPS Updates

ViSOR news: Members may have seen the communication from Sonia Crozier this week detailing that there is an issue with the technological side of ViSOR so training is cancelled. We have been told that the ViSOR project will not stop but you can be assured that we will continue to make clear our position that the use of ViSOR as a secondary reporting system will place unnecessary additional workload at a time when our members are already struggling to cope.

Clarification on standing in elections: Members in most NPS roles at band 1-6 are classified as “politically free” in terms of the Civil Service Code restrictions on political activity. This means that members in these roles can stand for election to Council and Parish Council roles. If you plan to do this you should inform your line manager of your intention and of course of the outcome of the election. Election as a Member of Parliament is different. Members in these bands can be selected as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate but at the point a General Election is officially called would have to resign as Civil Servants cannot be elected as a member of parliament. Anyone resigning for this reason and then failing to be elected as an MP would be immediately reinstated on the same terms. If you have a query about this please contact Katie Lomas.

OMiC update: We continue to meet with members of the HMPPS OMiC team. Members will know that Napo continue to make known our objection to the OMiC model. We welcome the keyworking element and believe that this will be an important and helpful addition to the prison regime but the case management model is fundamentally flawed because it builds in inconsistency in the crucial worker:client relationship at the most vulnerable points in the sentence. We also have concerns about the move to give offender management of around 30% of NPS custody cases to prison staff. This is not to suggest that those prison staff are not capable of offender management but if they are expected to do it they must be properly trained and have suitable experience of community OM work so that they understand how to manage risk in the community rather than in custody.

We continue to discuss the issues around workloads for people working in custody. We have asked for more information about the resourcing model and will share more updates when we have this. Finally we continue to discuss the issue of newly qualified probation officers (NQOs) being placed in a prison as their first qualified role. We have asked that the principles we are assured NPS are using be firmed up into a policy to ensure they cannot be varied when workload pressures bite. As a reminder to members the principles are that an NQO will only be placed in a prison where there is an established team of experienced officers and never in a situation where there are already other NQOs or a team new to prison work. Napo maintain that prison is not a suitable first placement for an NQO because most prison teams are small teams where it is difficult to offer the protected caseload and access to a variety of working styles and learning and support opportunities that NQOs need immediately after qualifying.

SSCL (Shared Services Connected Limited) overpayments

The NEC considered the position relating to the “over-payment” problems in the NPS. A separate briefing will follow for branches and negotiations continue with the NPS Pay team.

Essentially, NPS HR say they are under pressure to recover all overpayments as a matter of principle. This has been delegated to SSCL. The majority of cases so far identified relate to previous payroll errors from SSCL, especially relating to the 2017 SOP (Single Operating Platform) updates; and disproportionately impact those who were on sick pay, maternity pay or who had otherwise changed their pay in that period. Having had to struggle to make sense of their pay and pension contributions for many months between 2017-18, and thinking these had finally been resolved, some members are now being chased for consequent alleged overpayments - arising from SSCL failing to properly apply the correct sick pay or maternity pay calculations.

Legal advice has been sought and we are tracking the position, whilst also seeking to continue constructive negotiations with the HMPPS. We are advising members impacted to automatically appeal on the grounds that they cannot trust the calculations from SSCL, contacted them and were told it was now ok and settled, etc. We are especially troubled by members who have retired between 2017 and now, who will have neither any access to an appeal or means of paying alleged overpayments without adjustments to their pension.

The NEC have given authority for Napo to enter a formal dispute if this is not resolved to our satisfaction urgently. Members are to be asked to submit details if they have unresolved issues around overpayments so please look out for more news.

Approved Premises (AP) Double Waking night cover (DWNC) and rota issues

The DWNC continues to be problematic with varied performance from the two providers OCS and Sodexo. HMPPS is now charging the providers for all failures (backdated to the start of contract) including a fines and the actual cost to HMPPS of the cover arrangements. In effect this means that the providers could be in a position where their charges and fines paid to HMPPS are in excess of the income they are receiving. Following a visit to the North West by Katie Lomas, Ian Lawrence and Sarah Friday, our members working in APs are being encouraged to use the official health and safety reporting systems to log any incidents or near misses relating to their work including incidents caused by the DWNC contractors failing to cover a shift or sending inappropriate staff. This includes reporting work related stress caused by the situation.

The AP rota that was supposed to be a model rota changed has caused serious difficulties, not least because the rota makes work life balance almost impossible and does not allow for flexible working arrangements. We have secured an agreement to review the rota starting this month (March) with reference to staff feedback and the HSE guidance on shift work.

The “Professional development agenda

Napo support the efforts being made to offer professional development to staff and to develop the licence to practice and register but we have strongly objected to the description currently being used by the centre of “Professionalisation”. This suggests that our members are not professionals and it is frankly insulting. We have encouraged HMPPS to reflect on this term and to change it. We still await proper engagement on this important subject but a positive development was the announcement of a series of sessions to be delivered as part of Learning at Work Week in May. There will be around 70 events which will be face to face or virtual events delivered on a regional basis with workshops on a variety of topics.   

We have asked for acknowledgement that most NPS frontline staff will struggle to access events when workloads are unacceptably high and have suggested that this is used as a basis for a programme of events to be made available on a rolling basis to ensure it is not just tokenistic but an integral part of our members working lives.

Professional issues remain a focus and a concern across all probation providers. Any reforms to probation going forward need to address these concerns and attract broad stakeholder support from the Magistrates Association to Howard League. Napo will be at the centre of those discussions with both the MOJ and CRCs.

Training for Napo reps - off to a great start!

The new Napo education programme has started to be rolled out and the first branch has received its training starting with module 1. A number of branches now have dates in the diary for starting the programme and the NEC heard that it is hoped that by the end of the year all branches will have started the Education Programme. The training package covers three modules: Module 1 covers how Napo works, our values, what roles you can choose to do and what support is available, the legal rights and protections that come with being an accredited local Napo representative, and how the branch can work to link collective local negotiations to campaigns. Module 2 covers representing individuals and provides the skills and knowledge on how to help resolve individual employment issues (Module 2 is optional for anyone who completes Module 1) and finally Module 3 will cover collectively developing a new Branch Development Plan and an individual plan.

Diversity

Women in Napo Conference: we now have around 70 women registered at the time of writing and more potentially to come. Securing facility time to assist attendance from the NPS has encouraged some CRCs to also offer paid time off for attendance and, as always, the event is a great way to inspire and activate women members.

February was LGBT History Month. To mark this occasion Napo joined together with PiPP (Pride in Prison and Probation) and probation employers to run a series of roadshows across the country. The aim of the roadshows was to provide an opportunity to raise awareness of LGBT issues for both staff and service users. The roadshows proved to be a great success and we have identified key issues that have come out from the workshops that we will now work towards addressing and reflect on how we can encourage employers to take action on LGBT issues.

Diversity: Napo worked closely with Sodexo on delivering our LGBT Roadshows. Nick Hall the Director of the Northern CRCs and Alex Osler Director for Essex CRC spoke at our event in Newcastle and London respectively. Northumbria CRC also paid for securing Newcastle Football ground to launch Napo’s LGBT Roadshows in Newcastle.

Lammy Recommendations: Napo and UNISON have written a letter to the Probation Minister Rory Stewart. The letter sets out our concerns about the lack of reach of the Lammy Review’s Recommendations (into outcomes for BAME individuals in the Criminal Justice System) and read across specifically for probation. We are awaiting a response from the Minster to our joint union letter.

Black Members’ Survey: There was a low take up for our survey soliciting the views of Black Members. We have been working with RISE and ABPO to explore ways to increase the response rate. Additionally, we have a date in the diary to meet with the Ministry of Justice so that we can increase the response rate amongst the staff group.

Health and Safety

Napo attended the UCU working group ‘Safety in Prisons’ meeting in January. This meeting of UCU and RCN, BMA, GMB. UNISON, POA, PCS and Unite unions – all with members who work in prisons have been meeting since last summer.

We have been working on a joint policy statement for the alliance, entitled “Safe Inside Unions in Prison Alliance’” This document outlines our intentions and a number of action points, including H&S systems for all staff, effective communication with unions on risk assessments and safe systems of work, tackling violence in prisons and the targeting of women, preventing exposure to Spice and adequate levels of prison officers.

We have also developed a survey to go to the joint unions prison based members in to find out about their experiences of working in the prison environment.