NEC considers range of issues for Probation members

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The following issues were among many others that were considered by your National Executive Committee (NEC) yesterday. The NEC also received an update on the plans for the Joint Trade Unions Workload and Stress campaign of which more details will be reaching members next week. Further information about all the agenda items are available via your NEC member who will be pleased to report to Branch Committees.

Programmes and Interventions

The NEC heard about the major developments around the consultation on the planned changes to Programmes and Interventions and we await a response to the significant concerns we and our sister Trade Unions have consistently raised about the intended job description for the Facilitator role and the operation of the NNC agreement on the Job Evaluation Scheme. The One HMPPS agenda, is also escalating in its intensity as we oppose its likely impact on Probation in the short to long term.

Probation Pay

The Probation Negotiating Committee met to consider two issues on 4th May 2023. Subsequent to this, negotiations have continued between the unions and senior management and the NEC were asked to endorse two recommendations made by the PNC.

Six-month increment dispute offer

The NEC were asked to agree the recommendation that Napo accept the offer for a payment to staff appointed on 1st October 22 for the 6 months up to and including 31st March 23. Whilst continuing to press the case for staff formerly employed by CRC’s who did not receive their 6-month increment. Final details to follow.

Pay award reopener

Following discussion with our sister unions the NEC endorsed the proposal from the PNC that the unions submit a claim for a 12% pay award plus a £2,500 lump sum. A formal claim will be submitted shortly.

Government announce £1500 pay award to staff covered by Civil Service Pay Remit

Late on Friday 2nd June the Government issued news of the above award.

Following this the Probation Unions issued a joint statement which was mailed out to members as JTU 23-2023. Further details are awaited including an FAQ fact sheet and more news will follow as soon as it is available

Prison Issues and OMIC

Home Detention Curfew (HDC)

As detailed in a recent mail-out to members Napo has continued to raise urgent concerns with HMPPS senior managers about their inability or unwillingness to appreciate the significant impact on members resulting from the recent expansion of the HDC scheme from 135 days to 180 days. While eligibility for release under this change came into effect on the 6th of June members will be aware that additional work has resulted from this in the previous months to complete the increased number of assessments this has involved. We have focused primarily on the workload impact of this change but also the potential risk to public safety resulting from the this and other changes to the HDC scheme that recently came into effect.

Further ‘clarification’ was issued by HMPPS relating to HDC assessment process in late May, without advance notice being given to the trade unions and within days of the formal consultation on the HDC Policy Framework having closed, in relation to the checks to be made by staff in completing HDC assessments. This included what we believe to be a significant development in relation to stating the employer’s position – “Home visits by probation for the purpose of a HDC address check are only to be conducted by exception”. Napo have responded to raise significant concerns about how this significantly conflicts with other instructions given by the employer on home visits in earlier Policy Framework and the exposed position this leaves individual practitioners in coming to a judgement on whether to complete a home visit. While the employer has acknowledged receipt of this feedback we continue to await a further response on our request for further discussions.

Parole Issues

The Parole Changes working group continues to meet each month. We continue to wait for the outcome of the most recent hearing in relation to the judicial review of the previous Secretary of State’s (now revised) changes to the Parole Board Rules. The NEC heard that Napo have submitted evidence to the Justice Select Committee on the Victims and Prisoners Bill, especially in relation to the proposed undermining of the Parole Board and changes to the parole process.

The 28 day trade union consultation period on the proposed ‘Parole Board Oral Hearing Administration & Attendance Policy Framework’ issued by HMPPS is underway and it is possible an extension to this will be required as we await the conclusion of the judicial review discussed previously.

Reasonable Adjustments Escalation Route 

Napo called an emergency meeting with the Employee relations team and HR to discuss the growing number of concerns around a failure by the employer to implement workplace adjustments within a reasonable timescale. Napo is supporting a number of members with potential employment tribunal claims as a consequence of the employer’s apparent disregard for disabled staff.

Workplace adjustments have also been denied when recommended by the employer own Workplace Adjustment Service.  Napo are now exploring the potential of developing a formal escalation route with the employer that can be utilised when there is a dispute on the relevance and reasonableness of a workplace adjustment.  The aim is to negate the requirement to pursue a legal route and avoid the unnecessary stress caused by lengthy legal action to secure a remedy.

Victim Liaison Officer Job Evaluation

Following representations from Napo on behalf our of VLO members, the employer side has paused the evaluation to listen to our concern in relation to the omission of some significant tasks and has agreed to take the draft job description away to redraft with the inclusion of these tasks. They are proposing to resubmit to the trade unions for formal consultation again at the end of this month. The NEC expressed appreciation for the input from our memThank you all for your massive input into this.

Press, Parliament and Campaigns                               

Napo has had some good press coverage since the last NEC. Of note there was an article in Guardian recently covering the issue of disbanding the Regional Sex Offender Units and the risk this poses to the public, clients and staff across the organisation. This story was also covered by Police Oracle, the internal police magazine. The article gave Napo a very strong voice to articulate our concerns over this organisational change and we will continue to raise this issue with one of probations key stakeholders in supervising those that commit sexual offences.

Parliamentary work remains a high priority for Napo through our direct work with parliamentarians and our work with the Justice Unions Parliamentary Group. At the time of writing this report Tania Bassett National Official and Ben Cockburn National Vice Chair are writing evidence for the House of Commons Public Bill Committee for the Victims and Prisoners Bill. There are some worrying parts to the Bill, particularly in Part 3 which focuses on prisoners. Once this has been submitted the written evidence will be made available to members.

The Justice and Home Affairs Committee have called for evidence for an inquiry into Community Sentences. Napo will be submitting our evidence for this next week and will again make this available to members after 15th June.

Napo continues to submit parliamentary questions. In particular we are focusing on the disbanding of the Regional Sex Offender Units and the recruitment and retention of PQiPs.

Trade union organisation

A good TUO Network meeting was held on 23rd May. Discussing matters such as our presentation for use at PQuiP / new starter events; our use of social media and perhaps re-run a members’ survey on this, as well as talking to other unions about their social media use; a Napo branch email address facility that is available; Branch Accounts and support for Branch Treasurers.

Reps’ Training

Work is ongoing on a bespoke online 3-day course with the GFTU for Stage 1 Reps’ training over the Summer. Discussions are ongoing and we currently have a list of at least 15 members which is really encouraging.

AGM 2023 – Thursday 19 to 21 October – Nottingham

Work is in progress for this year’s Napo AGM in Nottingham following the decision at the last NEC in March to proceed with this venue.

Diversity Data  

Napo has again made a request to the employer to get HR data by protected characteristics specifically for probation staff and broken down by grade and region where possible.  We have been promised that we shall get this information in a form that does not identify individuals.  However, we have still not received it and will follow this up.

Probation Staff Networks

The NEC received a comprehensive update on the work of the three staff networks in Probation – DAWN, PIP and RISE.  The three Networks are working more closely together and Napo has offered to help them continue to raise their profile and the work that they do to support staff.

Disability Network

The Network met in May and it was evident from the testimony of members present that the employers approach to disabled staff is not acceptable.  The feedback from the meeting supports Napo’s request for an emergency meeting with the employer to discuss reasonable adjustments and the failure of the employer to support disabled staff.

At the meeting we agreed for Napo to develop a Disability foreseeability notification that staff can use to send to the employer if their reasonable adjustments are not in place in advance of a period of three months when the request was made.  It will include the request for disability leave alongside notification that the employer will be potentially liable for the health and wellbeing of the member and the quality of work that is produced without the adjustments in place.

LGBT Network

The Network is still in its infancy and we hope that it will grow in the coming years.  The next meeting is scheduled to take place in June as part of Pride Month activities.

Napo Black Network (NBN)

The NBN met earlier this week. Amongst the topics for discussion included raising awareness of Black issues at Napo AGM in October.