Saturday, 20 October 2018

Yes or No to Pay Offer? 3

Here we have some recently-issued clarification from Napo:-

NPS Pay Offer – clarification on future pay progression

Napo HQ and local Napo reps are being regularly asked about what happens in terms of pay progression in April 2020. We believe that confusion has arisen due to some comments that have reportedly been made at UNISON pay briefings and the interpretation of their published information.

We of course work closely with our sister union and can only respect the fact that their position on the NPS pay offer is different to ours. This briefing from the Napo pay negotiators and the National Chair therefore sets out the facts behind this issue.

Where to get the facts

For the facts about what is in the offer and the proposal for an NPS Competency Based Pay Progression Framework (CBPPF), please refer to the pay modernisation page on the NPS intranet and the Napo briefing on the website.

We obviously cannot control information being circulated by others and would urge you not to rely on information sources outside of official Napo communications which may either not be accurate or which may seek to present personal opinion as fact.

No performance related pay

Similarly, we have heard that some very confusing messages have come from some NPS leaders that your future pay will be performance related and linked to the NPS appraisal system. There is no foundation to this suggestion and the unions flatly rejected any such notion in the negotiations leading up to this pay offer.

Pay progression and the pay remit process

In the NPS FAQs (available on the intranet) the issue of progression is covered by FAQ54, unfortunately some confusion has been caused by the answer to FAQ 42

Pay progression is different to a pay award. Progression is the process by which staff will move to the rate for the job through the pay scale.

A pay award is an annually negotiated increase in pay (usually a percentage) applied to the pay scales. Civil Service departments plan for pay progression in their forecast budgets. If they want to make a pay award as well, they must seek separate permission from the Treasury.

In Probation these remits have been limited to 1% which has been used up by the current incremental progression formula, which was meant to be negotiated annually.

This is one of the major reasons why Napo has campaigned so hard to achieve this major breakthrough on pay for all of our NPS members.

Some members are understandably concerned that pay progression from 2020-21 is not yet certain, because of concerns that the Treasury remit process will not allow the release of future funds. This may be because of what you have heard elsewhere, or due to the acknowledged difficulty in understanding the complexity of the Government’s remit process.

Every year, Departments calculate their known anticipated pay bill and request permission from the Treasury to increase this for negotiation on union claims (e.g. inflation based pay rises, or moving grade boundaries say as a result of Job Evaluation) the remit sets how much money the department then has with which to negotiate.

So if a department’s pay bill is £100M now and the remit from Treasury next year is 1%, the pay bill rises to £101M; if it were a 3% increase in the remit the pay bill would rise to £103M.

Progression costs already factored in

In the proposed NPS deal, the future progression costs have already been approved by the Treasury and have become part of the known anticipated NPS pay bill, and so are outside of the scope of the above remit formula. We have assurances from the employer that progression costs are fully costed and budgeted for within the HMPPS pay forecasts for at least the next 10 years.

What could change this position?

Nevertheless, HMPPS are cautious of saying progression is “guaranteed”. This is because future Government policy, depending on who is in Government by year 3 of the deal and beyond, could change either way. For example, it may be that members instruct Napo’s negotiators to seek an additional cost of living pay rise, but if existing Government policy on Probation pay progression continues then all progression payments would be secured.

This position could only be endangered if a catastrophic event prompting cuts in actual existing pay for public servants – this would be unprecedented, and which we would anticipate challenging alongside all other public service unions.

Why we recommend the pay offer

Napo are confident in recommending this offer to members but we recognise that it does not provide all that we were seeking. We also appreciate that many members will be mistrustful of their employer and many will also remember the last major pay restructure which, due to subsequent political decisions about pay, resulted in the problems you now face with pay scales which are too long and no pay awards for those at the top.

Many of the Napo elected Officers are facing these pay difficulties themselves so you can be sure they are well understood. Napo would not be recommending this offer if we did not believe it was being entered into in good faith.

The lessons of the previous 2008 pay deal (where future progression costs were not built in) are forefront in our minds. This offer begins to rectify some of the major pay problems that have resulted and we have secured a commitment to carry out further work on a number of other issues as well as that pertaining to the CBPPF.

Your pay enquiries

We obviously anticipated receiving a number of pay enquiries and Napo are responding to these just as soon as we can. Ideally, if it is possible to route these via your local Napo representative that would help, but otherwise please contact us at

Napo membership on the increase!

Please try and refrain from telephoning Napo HQ as our membership section here are working flat out processing significant numbers of new membership applications that have reached us within days of the NPS pay offer being published.

Please help us with our campaign to see Napo membership grow by engaging with colleagues who do not currently belong to a trade union and ask them to join our campaign for fair pay #payUnity for all of our members working in the NPS and CRCs.

Ian Lawrence Katie Lomas Dean Rogers
General Secretary National Chair Assistant General Secretary

18th October 2018

Friday, 19 October 2018

The New Breed

I thought it might be instructive to hear something of the thinking behind PO training nowadays. This from the latest Probation Institute Journal page 29:- 

Teaching and Learning post-TR: PQiP for CRC Learners 

Kelly Elliott, Senior Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, reflects upon her experiences within a CRC and how this is impacting on her teaching and delivery to CRC learners engaged within the Probation Qualification.

Having spent the previous years working within Probation and within a Community Rehabilitation Company following the Transforming Rehabilitation agenda, I witnessed first-hand the effects that this had on staff within the organisation. 

Retention and employment of main grade probation officers became problematic in the first years. What was also emerging was how quickly the role of a probation officer was developing within the CRC and how vital it was to ensure that the Probation Qualification and academic teaching on the course began to understand the complexity of the new role and organisations, but also ensured that those completing the course were leaving with the rounded knowledge to deal with these demands.

Having been a Senior Manager within a CRC, I had experienced the feeling of being part of a ‘lesser’ organisation in the eyes of those within the public sector Probation Service and saw how new staff were at times belittled by those they had previously shared offices with. I was aware of the importance of ensuring that the qualification moving forward was balanced and that all learners have an equal experience of the academic programme - hence my fortunate position to move over to become a part of the Sheffield Hallam Team. 

My new role has made me appreciate the fundamental concepts involved in the work of a probation officer and how we teach and deliver that academic knowledge, without getting dominated by specific tools, systems or procedures.

Learners need to understand the fundamental importance of assessment, planning and risk management whether this is completed via OASys or another system. We have to remember that this is a tool – a means to an end - and that the offender/service user is key in the assessment journey, and that the skills needed as an officer to interview/challenge and understand the policies and procedures are key to gaining understanding and sound risk assessments. Both organisations are dealing with complex individuals that pose a risk and learners need to understand behaviour and how to challenge this and how to work in partnership with others to manage these behaviours.

Regardless of personal or political views of what has happened post-TR, I am immensely proud of the work completed within the CRCs, the innovation and resilience of staff within the teams I was part of, and also the understanding that the learners who were undertaking the qualification, placed within these ‘newly forming’ organisations, are developing. We talk about how important an identity is for an offender within a community and how having a positive identity can impact on their sense of belonging. So it is interesting to see that same process being developed amongst the learners in the cohorts who are part of both the NPS and CRC. I witnessed the development of this identity and, more importantly, the ability to challenge each other constructively whilst undertaking a ‘live discussion’ with a current group of learners from both organisations when discussing assessment and planning and the issue of brokerage.

The concept of brokerage emerged within the Probation context following TR. The CRCs, as interventions providers, deliver interventions for both NPS and CRC cases and these are ‘costed’. As a result, the NPS ‘purchase’ the services from the CRCs - ranging from the delivery of Community Payback hours to the attendance on an Accredited Programme. The services available from each CRC were developed into a Rate Card brochure from which staff, in both organisations, are able to choose and develop specific services and interventions for offenders under their supervision from sentencing into custody and within the community. 

A learner mentioned that they did not feel the Rate Card was ‘right’ and that the CRCs shouldn’t be making money in this way. A CRC trainee responded with the following;
"CRC is a business - that’s what it’s about." 
As a former Senior Manager I was proud of that comment, though I’m sure for some readers it will be a shock that such views are already been held by staff within the organisation. What followed from an NPS learner, though, reminded me that these individuals are the staff of these future organisations and will help to shape the future of Probation for years to come: 
"I think that had it gone the other way (interventions to NPS) they would be charging. No one organisation would do work for others without getting paid, either from that company or money from somewhere."
It is vital, within my role and as part of the teaching team that we are able to allow these debates to surface - the conflict of the business culture and probation values continues, as we move into TR2 and the new contract process, and is not going away. We must equip learners to feel confident to discuss these issues, develop their own identity as a probation officer within each organisation and be proud of that identity – while also seeing through some of the politics, rhetoric and what I can only describe from my personal experiences as feelings of bitterness about the situation.

I have also realised that, for those of us who have had a number of years of service within Probation, at times we have to let go of the past and look at how we can move forward and support those who are working in the ‘now’. I feel privileged to be influencing the probation officers of the future and will continue to challenge the rhetoric around ‘lesser or better’ in an organisational context, continuing to hold onto the amazing role that probation officers have in influencing and changing behaviour, protecting the public and the communities in which we all live. As we move into the new round of consultation with potential new providers, areas and uncertainty, it is vital that we are prepared for the change and equip learners to deal with this over the coming months and years.

Kelly Elliott
Senior Lecturer Sheffield Hallam University

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Union Power

As probation staff employed by NPS continue to try and make sense of the pay offer and associated changes to terms and conditions, the thorny issue of union membership is once more highlighted. Along with other unions, Napo has seen a steady decline in recent years due to a number of factors and here we have the Bank of England no less joining up a few dots as reported last week in the Independent:-  

Weakening of trade union power has hit workers' pay, says Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane

Haldane added that if the decline of unionisation continued over the coming decades, so would the drag on pay

The historic decline of the role of trade unions in the UK economy has held back British workers’ pay, the chief economist of the Bank of England has warned. In a speech in London, Andy Haldane, who was also this week unveiled as the chair of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy Council, noted that the share of UK workers in unions has declined from half in the late 1970s to just a fifth today.

He said trade union membership has been associated with higher pay for workers of between 10 and 15 per cent and that the decline of unionisation is therefore likely to have exerted downward pressure on pay. “Using the long-run estimates that will have lowered wage growth by around 0.75 percentage points per year over the past 30 years, a significant effect,” he said.

Haldane added that if the decline of unionisation continued over the coming decades, so would the drag on pay. “If this trajectory were to continue the fraction of the workforce unionised would fall by a further 16 percentage points by 2030. According to our estimates, that could suppress wage growth by over 0.25 percentage points each year,” he said.

The remarks come at the end of the worst decade for inflation-adjusted average pay in almost 200 years (described by Mr Haldane as a “lost decade”) and when the Labour Party is pledging to give trade unions a major boost in order to “restore the balance of power in the workplace”.

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, told Labour’s conference last month that a future Labour government would extend union rights to part-time and temporary workers. He has also said he will roll out “sectoral collective bargaining” across the economy.

Mr Haldane, in his speech at an ACAS conference in London, also echoed another Labour critique of the modern workplace, by suggesting that the rise of insecure work and zero hours contracts was holding back pay by acting as a disincentive for people to move jobs (or “twist”), something that has been traditionally associated with a pay rise.

“One of the side-effects of structurally-higher job insecurity is a reduced willingness to add to that uncertainty by moving job,” he said. “If so, this would mean ‘twisters’ are fewer in number than in the past and that stickers are at an even greater pay disadvantage to twisters as their outside option has lost value. In short, job insecurity reduces workers’ pay power and weakens upward pressure on pay.”

Mr Haldane identified other factors that have dragged on UK pay growth in recent years, including the growing market power of large firms and automation. However, he struck a more optimistic note about the immediate prospect for pay growth saying that we may be witnessing a “new dawn” for pay growth due to the exhaustion of slack in the economy, something that should compel employers to lift pay awards.

According to the Office for National Statistics nominal annual average pay growth, excluding bonuses, was running at 2.9 per cent in July, still well below pre-financial crisis growth rates.


Of course one of the reasons probation finds itself in steady decline and marginalised is as a result of a long history of refusing to take any kind of effective industrial action. Historically the reason cited has been that such action would be 'unprofessional' and potentially harmful to vulnerable clients. Politicians have simply taken this as a green light to walk all over the profession and hence we are where we are. It's therefore somewhat sobering to reflect on what's happening in other parts of the criminal justice system where such qualms no longer seem to hold sway, such as the Criminal Bar. This from the Law Society:-  

‘It’s breaking my heart’: Barristers say resumption of action ‘almost inevitable’

The body that represents criminal barristers has said a resumption of action is ‘almost inevitable’, as one junior member claims to be on the verge of quitting with a ‘broken heart’.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) said today that heads of chambers will meet at the end of the month to discuss the way forward. ‘Unless the full £15m is honoured, and that the months of delay are fully compensated, a resumption of action is inevitable,’ it said.

In its consultation response to the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) plans for injecting £15m into the advocates graduated fee scheme, which determines how barristers are remunerated, the CBA said the fee arrangement is akin to cases with multiple experts being paid as if it were a minor punch up and a case with thousands of pages paid as if it had less than 200.

The CBA also reiterated concerns outlined by barristers and The Law Society that the promised £15m is actually based on calculations for previous years and in fact only amounts to £8.6m when compared to 2017/18 figures.

‘This is not remotely enough to fix the broken fee system,’ the CBA said, adding: ‘The government will need a little time to respond. But we cannot go on like this.’

Last week the Gazette reported that pressure was mounting on the CBA to reinstate ‘no returns’ with immediate effect. No returns, whereby barristers would not take on new work and refuse to take over cases when diaries clashed, was due to come into force earlier this year but was suspended after the MoJ made its offer.

Meanwhile the CBA has published a message it received from a junior barrister. It doesn’t name the barrister only revealing that they female and under ten years call.

The barrister said: ‘I was in tears last night. I got into £30k of debt from professional loans. I worked so hard to get to where I am, as we all did, we all slogged it out, got into debt, struggled through pupillage. We’ve all missed holidays, nights out, family events, given up weekends, given up sleep, given up our sanity at times. And now the choice to carry on doing this job I love, this important job, is being taken away from me by a disgraceful fees system. And it’s breaking my heart.’ The consultation into the MoJ’s proposals closed on Friday.


Meanwhile the POA and HM Government will shortly be locking horns in the High Court:-

POA leaders today appear in court as the government attempts to force prison officers to return to work in dangerous working conditions.

A prison officer was last week hospitalised after being strangled unconscious at HMP Lindholme while, in a separate incident, another officer was punched in the throat. The POA says these assaults breach their members’ rights under health & safety legislation.
POA general secretary Steve Gillan stormed: “These were serious assaults against prison officers. The POA has no argument with the courts and its judgements, but the government and HMPPS need to deal with the serious violence in our prisons before we are talking about an officer being murdered.

“We will sit down and negotiate but we will not sell our members’ health and safety. The courts cannot remedy the violence in our prisons – only the government and HMPPS can do this, with the POA at the heart of those discussions and solutions.”

POA national chair Mark Fairhurst added: “We are disappointed that the employer is more concerned with running the union into court instead of actually sitting down with us and addressing the safety issues that staff at Lindholme face. The safety of our members is non-negotiable and we will always defend the basic human rights of POA members to work in a safe environment.”

The POA is being backed by a cross-party group of MPs and peers and fellow justice-sector trade unions who have warned the government not to bully prison officers into accepting dangerous working conditions.

The Justice Unions & Family Courts Parliamentary Group called on the Ministry of Justice to drop today’s scheduled High Court action, warning that officers would resist “any attempt to normalise the extreme violence they face every day at work”.

JUFCPG co-chairs Liz Saville Roberts, Plaid Cymru MP for Dwyfor Meirionnydd, and Labour Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede have written to Justice Secretary David Gauke insisting that “inadequate staffing levels and overcrowding have helped fuel a dramatic escalation of violence in HMP Lindholme and across the prison estate – yet with this legal action it appears that your Department and HMPPS are trying to deny prison officers their basic Health & Safety rights”.

The Parliamentarians added: “These brave public servants will not be bullied into submission”, and questioned why the Ministry “has not yet made a statement regarding the serious assaults at HMP Lindholme on the night of Thursday 11 October, which saw an officer hospitalised after being strangled unconscious”.

Probation union Napo expressed solidarity with the prison officers, with general secretary Ian Lawrence saying: “Prisons must provide adequate standards of safety for staff and those whom they supervise. How does this government expect more probation officers to undertake their work in the prison estate when such a basic requirement cannot be met? The POA are standing up for their members – and we fully support their struggle.”

Labour’s shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon also backed the POA, tweeting: “The situation at HMP Lindholme shows the urgent need for the government to get round the table with the POA and work together to make prisons safe. They should be working with – not against – our prison officers because it’s them – not politicians – who are on the front line.”

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Yes or No to Pay Offer? 2

Seen on Facebook:-

It’s an appalling situation we’re all in and I fear it won’t improve anytime soon. I’ve done 20 years next year and I’ll be retired before I get to the top of my band (I’m 50 ). Whilst I don’t begrudge colleagues in NPS receiving this pay offer I don’t find it frustrating that colleagues in NPS with single figures service will be paid more than me within a couple of years. The CRC I work for have already said they won’t be paying a pay award this year other than the increment.

I am in a very similar position as you and it makes my blood boil. Yet again loyalty, knowledge is not adequately remunerated.

Many aren't staying - early retirement or off to better roles... we've lost 3 NPS PO's this month to our DTV team & good for them - going to an employer who appreciates them instead of grinding them into oblivion. The blame for the crisis in staffing figures lays firmly with the tories.

Agreed - I doubt I'm alone in considering the DTV jump myself! X

I am looking at the fact that the FAQ from the employer says that if 61% of all union members do not accept the deal, we get zero. And it's back to the negotiating table for everyone.

Yes and in each Union not just overall figures. Don't remember this from previous ballots on pay (though those are so long ago I could have forgotten).

It's based on the "new" government rules that say a union vote is not valid unless 61% of the membership votes for it. It was a rule brought in to stop strikes but it could now cost us a rise as well. Unless someone higher up the tree decides to ignore it because it makes them look bad - which they haven't cared about before so unlikely to change. With Unison being difficult over the Competency aspect of the future (which still isn't agreed anyway), we could be facing nothing. Especially if upset Napo members who feel that any percent less that 11% right away is not "good enough". I will take 3% or 6% over two years in preference to sitting at the same place for yet another 2 years.

I’ve just been reading the FAQ linked to the pay award. Setting aside my own or anyone else’s feelings about the strength of the current award I wanted to seek some clarity about what happens come April 2020. The current pay deal will expire at that point and whilst the restructuring of the pay bands indicates that those of us who have been stuck in the middle of their band since 2010 will finally reach the top, offering a light at the end of the tunnel. If I’m reading the FAQ correctly though come 2020 we could return to civil service pay constraints and not make that final leap. Can someone in the know clarify?

Katie Lomas Progression will happen after the end of the 2 year deal (from 2020 onwards) but we will be back to negotiations around a cost of living award for 2020 and beyond. The tables provided by the employer show this, the calculator only shows this year and next year. Pay progression is factored into spending and budgets, cost of living increases are not and have to be separately agreed by Treasury.

Although you say "pay progression is factored into spending..." there are many people (and Unison statement) querying what happens from April 2020. Unison have said any move to the next paypoint as of April 2020 depends upon the Treasury. Is the next pay move guaranteed or not? I understand if it isn't we would still keep pressing for it but it would help to know. Thanks.

Katie Lomas Hi, we discussed this at the meeting with the employers today as it is really unhelpful that mixed messages are out there! We are just agreeing wording of the clarification with the employers and will send out comms as soon as we can (likely tomorrow) to clarify as well as explain how this has become muddled. I hope this helps.

Katie Lomas thanks for your input. I think there are a number of things that may benefit from clarification including the information in respect of post 2020 progression. The current pay deal seems to be around restructuring pay bands and rightfully so but if I’ve read it correctly there remains the absence of a cost of living increase (which we obviously haven’t received for a number of years). Without this the % increases over the next two years are negated by rising inflation and whilst I, like others, appreciate all and any additional money in my pay check at the end of the month the pay deal in real terms becomes much less significant.

Thanks Katie. I have been encouraging members not to vote until answers to queries are given so yes clarification of this will be very helpful I think!

Of course! We will get info out as soon as we possibly can...

Thanks! I've been following this from my holiday, and what happens in 2020 makes all the difference in my view of the offer.

I think if you had been qualified for 17 years (like me) and only half way up the pay scale you might understand why this is a good deal! I should have been at the top of the scale 10 years ago so I’ve lost £50,000 at least not including cost of living! There’s always winners and losers but I think for the thousands languishing in the middle like me it’s an unbelievably good deal.

I was in the same situation when I retired two years ago. Detrimental to final salary pension. Glad this is being addressed.

Can anyone who has been qualified as PO 17yrs or so remember back to 2006/7 pay deal & thereafter as to possible more rapid progression up payspine for those who qualified after them? It's just that we've got members here who are on same pay point as others who qualified approx 13 yrs ago so I'm wondering if it's linked to that pay deal? Many thanks!

Katie Lomas In the 2007 deal anyone with less than 10 years service went to bottom of new scale along with newly qualified/ new in post staff. The current pay deal is not linked to any other deal. Aim is to shorten pay scales.

Hi Katie yes I know there's no link but as members are looking at and comparing pay points because of THIS deal, the 17yrs in but being at same pay point as those 13 yrs in has come up & we've had queries as to whether they are at right point on pay spine. It just occurred to me it might be linked to that old pay review. 

Hi, I am 16 year qualified. I remember the last pay deal and it resulted in people being placed at the same pay point as me who had only just qualified. I felt cheated at that point and up until this new pay deal been stuck in the middle.

Yes I can understand how galling that must have been. I remember a lot of emphasis on the need to boost position of starters and those at lower point of scales and the justification for giving up of leave to help fund this. We had a very heated branch meeting with Judy Mcknight! The reduced pay spines in this current offer are good but there will be still be some staff who gain more quickly than others. Can't juggle any more figures at this hour though but thanks for your help and all best for pay progress!

Was looking at it today and was confused as to why we were told it was a 3% payrise when it's actually 2% with a 'top-up', or in some cases a 1% with a 2% 'top-up'. What gets me more, though, is the new banding where NQOs in 2020 will take 5 years to reach top of band (subject to competency of course) but I will be 11 years post-qualification in 2020 and only in the third band from top of range! Nothing makes sense other than the financial pain of paying everyone with more than 5 years post-qualifying experience at that at top of scale would clearly break every budget going. The point is, we should have been there anyway.

Katie Lomas You might need to refer to the pay tables rather than the calculator. The calculator only tells you what you will get for this year and next year. Most who are currently in the middle of the pay Band will be at top in April 2020...

Yes, I looked at the pay scales, too, and in the main they place you down the pay scale disproportionately to where you should be after the 2 year re-alignment process. It will be a 5 year progression to top of scale but after 11 years post-qualification I am still 2 bands away from that. I'm guessing there are so many people who should be at top of scale it would kill the whole deal. The problem is, there indeed should be so many more people at top of scale!

I’m still trying to get my head around it.

Perhaps it is just crap if like me you are already on the max. I have the luxury of already earning 36k plus LW. If l was getting five grand over 2 years l might feel differently.

This isn’t a loaded question, but for someone at the top of their band what were your realistic expectations?

My expectations were low to be frank. It is not the money, which is meh once you net out the bungs. It is the feeling that this is only half a deal.

Before l can wholeheartedly support this l need to know what the competency framework that those following me will get.

I just don't trust them to not screw us with Stakanovite targets to achieve "competence".
Hi. I understand the reservations about something so unknown, I share them. But the documents shared said that they will be developed alongside the unions and with their agreement, which probably means another ballot on the final framework. It will require members to actively participate in its development. For the best comparison of what it will look like, we were told it will mimic the NHS model. 

It’s worth noting I think that the one off payments are pensionable which is unusual and a positive factor.

They are but I don't think the transition payment is (otherwise you just lift the top up by £300. 

We were told all payments were pensionable. 

That’s certainly the information I recall, that all payments received as part of the deal are pensionable.

NPS FAQs doc says the £300 is non-consolidated and pensionable.

Because not everybody will know about Stalinist Russia and I am a terrible nerd, Alexi Stakanovich was a Russian miner who cut 102 tons of coal in a single shift. Workers were encouraged to emulate the great Stakanovich (without being told that he had the best machines in Soviet Russia, two assistants and a 12 foot wide seam of coal. Insane targets were set for workers based on this and if you could not get your 102 tons in an 18 inch seam with a pick axe you suffered pay cuts.

Or were sent to the Gulag as a capitalist wrecker.

Given the amount of guff we've had to read I'm amazed we can think with any coherence!!

I’m still trying to get my head around it.

I have been band 4, qualified in 2004. Can someone explain to me when I will progress to top of band and what is the top band 4 amount - has this changed? Have seen the calculator in email sent this afternoon but still confused. Looks like I've only had £300 salary increase plus the £300 'bonus ' and then another £300 next year!! About £3.50 a month then??

Back in the 80's when my wife worked payroll she said that £200 a year was £10 a month. Despite the changes in tax since then I have always used that as a ready reckoner and it seems to work (cos as income tax has dropped NI has more than doubled to make up for it). So 300 is 15 a month and the one off payment will come as a one off payment in November. I think that this is a shit deal when you pull out all the window dressing. 

I read that if you currently earn above £32k then you will be at the top of the band by April 2020. £37k.

So I will get 15 a month backdated to April and then a further 35 a month the following April 19. This will be worth about 50 a month for me at the top of the scale.

Those under £32k will reach the top of the band by 2023.

It just talks about up to 2019 and then performance related pay comes into play from 2020 so will I jump from 32,375 to 37k in two years ???

Did not really look at this but as far as I can see you go from 32,375 to 33,334, if we vote for it, to 34,342 in April 19. Then finally in April 20 you get to scale top of 37,174. That last step is a big one! So for you this is a big pay rise and you might feel it worth the lack of guaranteed development beyond that.

This is not a pay deal for us dinosaurs, good for you recent entrants though (or for those stuck in the doldrums of the pay freeze all their careers)

Yes seems odd. I guess they are stringing it out as long as they can.

Do you know what those on £33,344 (pay point 94) will get?

Now understand that I do not really understand their stupid table, but; I think that you would go from there to 34,342 now and scale max in April.

I MAY be wrong about yours and step one on the scale will be to 32,688 and from there to 34,342 in April. This means that your bung would be bigger for the year we are in.

So I also jump £3,000 in April? Presumably the top is 3% higher though by then. Thanks, that’s better than I thought but shit for most people!

No this is a 2 year deal to 2019. There MAY be a pay award for 2020, assuming that we have any economy left. Alternatively we may all be camping in motorway service stations and living off feral cats.

Is there a doc anywhere that says what pay you should be on depending on year of qualification?

I have found the reckoner. Have my work laptop at home with me. Your pay will go to 32688 back dated to April but will have 658 top up an 300 transition bung so a total of 1271 (around 1000 in one hit) then in April you will go to 34342 all substantive. You will then move to scale max in April 20.

Can you check mine on your laptop? £33,344.
4/18 34,342 =998 rise plus 300 bung
4/19 37,174 (scale max)
4,130 less the bung is 3830 rise. That is the sweet spot l think.

Yep, anybody who is on your pay point will end up at max in April on this deal.
So those who got to the top, if that’s £37,174 at April 2018, won’t that be 38,289 (with 3% increase) in 2019?

No that is the total as of April 2019. Then we negotiate the pay rise for 2020.

So the minimum 3% is a cost of living rise and incremental rise? They are cheeky f*%kers those Tories. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Union Victory

Here we have an interesting case of a union with the bottle to take on the government by going to law. One wonders where it leaves other unions?

PCS wins £3million check-off compensation

PCS has achieved a major victory over the government as the High Court has ruled that ministers acted illegally by withdrawing check-off, the decades-old practice of collecting members’ union subscriptions directly from their pay packet.

Our union has won £3 million from the government because of the illegal moves the Department for Work and Pensions took to try and smash PCS. In 2015 we were at the heart of opposition to the government, fighting against the government’s cuts and closures, robbing members of their redundancy rights and we were fighting to end austerity.

As a result the then Tory Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude took a particularly vicious decision to attack members’ terms and conditions, attack our reps and try to bankrupt us by overnight announcing that he would not allow our members to pay their union subscriptions directly from your pay packet. A system that had been in operation for many decades. He did that because he knew that 90% of our income came from that method.

Magnificent campaign

In a magnificent campaign we signed up over 160,000 members to pay their subs by direct debit in a matter of weeks and months to stop us from going bankrupt and to ensure we could continue to represent members at work. We also took legal action in the High Court to show that the government had acted illegally and to get compensation. Today that case has been settled and in a humiliating defeat for the government, in its attempt to smash PCS and other unions in the public sector, it has to pay £3 million compensation and all of our legal costs.

We now plan to take legal action against every major government department because of the illegal way they’ve treated us.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “Today’s announcement tells us we have settled one departmental case on union busting, we have many more to come. That’s good news for all of us, and now we’ll ensure we use that money to benefit our members.

This goes to show that this union can win. We can win in the courts and we can win through campaigning. We’ve defeated the government on the Civil Service Compensation Scheme and we’re waiting for the outcome of a judicial review on the way the government handled pay this year because we believe they did not consult us lawfully. But we’ve got more campaigns to fight. We’ve still got to challenge the government on pay, and ensure that next year we can win above inflation pay rises.

We will continue to take them to court when we can, but the key to winning is to be a stronger union in every workplace. If you know a colleague who hasn’t joined PCS, please urge them to join. If you’re a member consider becoming a rep. The more of us who are in the union, the more of us who are active means we won’t just beat the government in court we will beat them in our campaigning, too.”

Monday, 15 October 2018

Yes or No to Pay Offer?

Jim. Why don't you whack a note on the top of the page for Pay talks? It's big news.

(Yes it's massive news with 9,500 hits yesterday alone.)

The latest blog post from Ian Lawrence Napo General Secretary (slightly edited):-


At last we are in a position to publicise the pay offer and all NPS members for whom we have a preferred email address should have received a unique code which will allow you to vote in the ballot which launched today.

I don’t intend to rehearse our written commentary on the offer which appears on the website and is as thorough as can be and includes a commetary which is very relevant for our CRC members. We will supplement this where necessary but in respect of pay enquiries could members please firstly read NPS News 122 and look at the helpful Pay ‘ready reckoner’ to show what the offer means to you before contacting Napo. If you still have a query please route these through your Branch where reps have been sent information to try and deal with members questions. If you are still unsure about something please send your query to We will get back to you, so don’t worry if it’s not an instant reply.

Why vote yes?

We are recommending (what is after nearly a decade of pay restraint) that our NPS members accept the offer. Rather than write reams of narrative given the welter of material out there, why not see for yourself what I said at Conference last week.

Unions to hold pay meetings, be sure to attend the right one!

Unfortunately, I see that some rather unhelpful messages about Union Pay briefing meetings which have been issued in one of the NPS divisions. I am taking this up with NPS senior management to say I am not exactly enamoured, but for the sake of clarity: Napo, UNISON and GMB will be conducting briefing meetings for our respective members at which for Napo’s part, prospective members can attend, join Napo afterwards and vote on the Offer.

Confusion has been caused by messages inviting all staff in some LDUs to UNISON meetings, but our sister unions policy on inviting non-members differs from ours.

At our meetings you will hear why we are standing by our conviction that this offer is the best available in the present economic climate and why we are putting faith in our members to endorse that view.


Summary of the Offer
  • Pensionable increases to all NPS staff over the two years of the deal (April 2018-March 2020), ranging from 13.6% to a minimum of 6%. In cash terms, all staff will receive between £3772 and £1405.
  • Increases to the current band maxima by at least 3%, giving the first consolidated increase for staff at their band maxima for nearly a decade.
  • Fully consolidated increases ranging from at least 3% for all staff already at their band maxima, rising to 12.2% for some staff progressing through their pay ranges.
  • Progression to the new higher band maxima in less than 6 years in all bands.
  • For staff in Band 1, progression to a new 17% higher band maxima in no more than 2 years
  • Guarantee further progression payments in 2020-21 for those still not at their band maxima
  • Pay progression from 2021 linked to a new Competency Based Pay Progression Framework (CBPPF), which will be designed in partnership with the unions, aligned to National Probation Professional Standards. Napo are insisting these must also cover CRCs.
  • A joint-review of management grades from Band 5 upwards, recognising the additional pressures and workloads that implementation of the new CBPPF will bring, as well as the changing nature of the role since TR.
  • Some additional elements that more closely align NPS terms with MoJ terms (set out below).
After prolonged negotiations aimed at reforming the probation pay system, a final offer has been made by the HMPPS. If accepted in union member ballots, the offer will be applied for all staff across the NPS. Napo is recommending acceptance of the offer.

Napo are also committed to maintaining Pay Unity across all parts of probation. CRC members are receiving a parallel briefing explaining our approach and arguments for Pay Unity. If NPS support Napo’s recommendation, all probation staff will receive a further briefing explaining how they can support our #PayUnity campaign, a vital part of our argument to reunify local probation services.


Seen on Facebook:-

When you get 10 mins to sit and get your head around the pay offer... and realise you've been in service 12 years, qualified for 5. Currently worth £30208 a year.. a grand total of £1170 more than when that hard earned qualification landed in my hands.

While welcoming the news that there is a major restructure of bandings on the way, unfortunately I have still got to wait til 2023 to reach the dizzy heights of the top of pay scale... When the trainee I'm currently mentoring will get there too.

I must say I do not begrudge trainees reaching their maxima within 5-6 years. I wish I had - I'd be there now (and frankly, along with so many others should be a hell of a lot closer to it than I am). But it has prompted me to sit quietly bubbling with rage (again) that we have been so overlooked, so disregarded, so disrespected, and have been expected to do so much for a measly £300 a year increment for so long. It's a wonder any of us stay.

Couldn't agree more...I've been qualified 8 years (in service 13). Currently on £30503: those of us in the middle will have to stay in the middle for a few years more and I'm bubbling with rage as well feeling disregarded, disrespected and overlooked trudging through the brown stuff...I really thought this pay deal would help (& eventually it will even for us!). There's a whole lot of us stuck in the middle and having to wait another 5 years to reach the top of the scale... I am voting for the deal as I can't see an alternative but it's not as good as I thought it would be.

Pretty much exactly my reason for voting for it too. Bloody disgraceful when you actually work out the progression since qualification really. And to think those scales were reviewed in 2014! Appalling.

What gets me is the assessment type thing to happen in 20/21 where it is not an automatic pay award but you have to be assessed as competent or is that just certain grades?

I think it applies to everyone...

As I understand it if Treasury release funds everyone except those at maxima automatically progresses to next paypoint in April 20 as the CBPPF won't start being applied till 21.

I need to go back and reread what Unison haven't said and likewise what they have said ie no recommendation to or against.

I think Unison have not made a recommendation from what I've read on HMPPS site but if I remember right you're a Unison rep so you'll have most accurate info!

Well said. I really don’t understand how this is fair on anyone other than those who are quite new in service. 15 year in, 13 qualified and I won’t be at the top until the same time as you and your trainee, whilst mentoring 3 pquips more or less on my own with £150+ case load.

Surely you're over the hump which means you'd be at max by 2020?!

Hmm maybe, but I’m still £3k off next year so seems unlikely!?!?

I was trying to find the post a few mins ago... somewhere it says that people earning over 32-something cam expect to reach maxima by 2020... just can't remember what the exact figure was.

If you are 13 yrs qualified PO now (ie at £32688) you'd get backdated pay rise to this April to £33344 then April 2019 go to £34342. Then the dox say you should move to max in 2020 of £37174 (though this presumably relies on Treasury). A trainee presumably at earliest qualifies later this year so would be at start rate of £29038 move to £30208 in April 19 and (Treasury funds and competency allowing) get to max by April 2023?

Agree with everything you've said Xxxxxxx...I just hope this pay offer will at some point extend to CRC officers too, especially given that POs are to be seconded to NPS from CRC. I'm not very hopeful it will though! X

Also many officers in CRC with 20+ years in probation. Makes the gap between NPS and CRC even wider when they say they're trying to bring us closer.

I really hope so... it's all so divisive. The whole thing makes me so angry. Hope you're OK chick! X

My thoughts exactly, it's just awful how it's all turned out. Bloody government! I'm OK love, hope you all are too. xx

Yep sadly you’re right. Never seen such division in the same building since this pay offer to one half and not the other.

I share the pain, 16 years qualified and still mid table on the pay scale. But I have come to accept that's how it is. It will never change what has happened. I have decided not to waste too much negative energy on thinking about it.

Reading all these posts with interest and I fully understand everyone’s anger, disappointment etc. However please do not forget your colleagues in CRCs who have the same frustrations, anger, caseloads etc without any hope of a pay rise anytime soon.

Absolutely and I apologise if my post was insensitive to that. The whole situation is appalling, and I sincerely hope that the unions are able to secure a matched deal for all CRCs. My post was poorly worded perhaps; my frustration was a general reflection of how all probation staff and the work we do has been overlooked for so many years.

Pay deal.
So a 2 year deal. Year 1 I get (Cos I am on max)
361 consolidated
722 non consolidated (so one off bung)
300 "Transition payment" (Bung) THEREFORE
I get 361 rolled over to yr 2 and 1022 in one of payments.

Year 2 I get
729 consolidated
364 non consolidated (Bung)
But remember that I LOSE the 1022 bung so that does not roll forward, my pay rise becomes just the 364 non consolidated with a bit of the consolidated.

So over 2 years I get 2476 (as they say) but off that 1386 is in one off payments, so that becomes 1110 in TOTAL.

CONSOLIDATED PAYRISE over 2 years. Unless I get AT least 364 in year 3 I get a pay CUT. So substantially less than the 6.96 they are offering. Because over HALF of this is not in fact a pay rise but is a bung. I have just done a quick calculation and can tell you that this is 3% consolidated over 2 years, or 1.5% a year.

For this I give up automatic pay rises for ever and replace it with an unknown "Competency Framework". A competency framework that does not, as yet, exist. I am asked to trust the government to act as honest brokers in this. Given their behaviour over the last four years I would not trust these guys as far as I could throw a Jumbo Jet.

I also have no guarantee, as a person on the top of the scale that I would get any pay rise in year three. In fact, given the cluster fuck that is Brexit and the probability of a huge UK wide recession caused by hacking ourselves loose from our closest neighbours (good or bad Idea it is going to be hugely disruptive and have negative economic consequences) I more than suspect that there will be an IMMEDIATE pay freeze so I will be looking at a 300 quid pay cut.

ON TOP of a complete pay freeze for 7 years. This also does not address London Weighting or any other regional adjustments. I don't know what I am missing but when you remove the bribes this looks like a TERRIBLE deal to me. Please tell me why I am wrong.

I suppose the question is what are you getting now if you are at the top of your band, as you will not be getting a yearly increment. The competency framework won't affect you, being at the top of the band. In terms of year three we are all in the same position and none of us know if we will be offered a pay rise. People who are not at the top of the band now may have the opportunity to get to the top, rather than it taking over 23 years to get there.…

There is that certainly.

I think if you had been qualified for 17 years (like me) and only half way up the pay scale you might understand why this is a good deal! I should have been at the top of the scale 10 years ago so I’ve lost £50,000 at least not including cost of living! There’s always winners and losers but I think for the thousands languishing in the middle like me it’s an unbelievably good deal.

Has anyone had the opportunity to use the pay calculator which has been issued to give staff an idea of what things will look like under the current offer? I’ve been qualified since 2005 and I’m currently on 32,688 which is quite frankly a joke. The current offer would still suggest I’ll be flogging on for some time before hitting the magic £37k, I’m sure I read somewhere on this page that an officer on £32,056 would be looking at April 2020 for top whack but the projections I’ve got make it look unlikely! Any help appreciated before I reach retirement before my band maximum.

Was looking at it today and was confused as to why we were told it was a 3% payrise when it's actually 2% with a 'top-up', or in some cases a 1% with a 2% 'top-up'. What gets me more, though, is the new banding where NQOs in 2020 will take 5 years to reach top of band (subject to competency of course) but I will be 11 years post-qualification in 2020 and only in the third band from top of range! Nothing makes sense other than the financial pain of paying everyone with more than 5 years post-qualifying experience at that at top of scale would clearly break every budget going. The point is, we should have been there anyway.

Does anyone have a link to the pay calculator, please?

It's on the intranet under 'Corporate' and then Probation pay whatever and a hyperlink in the communique. 

Thank you. I will check it out tomorrow.


Unison position on pay offer and introduction of performance related pay

Dear UNISON NPS member,

Have your say on the NPS pay offer

I am writing to tell you about proposals which could make big changes to the way you are paid. These proposals are the result of negotiations between UNISON, the other probation unions and the NPS and now we need to know what you think.

The offer has some major financial benefits for staff, but also some significant risks for pay in the years ahead. That’s why UNISON is putting the offer to you without any recommendation on how you should vote. Instead, we are pointing out the pros and cons of the offer for you to consider before making your decision.

This is a two year pay offer, with a link to a third year which is not yet funded. Year one of the offer covers the current pay year of 2018/19. Year two covers 2019/20 and year three, which is linked to the offer, covers 2020/21. All pay years begin on 1 April. Before we ask you to vote, I wanted to outline UNISON’s assessment of the pros and cons of the pay


  • Staff would receive individual pay awards of between 6 -14% over two years, plus a one-off payment in year one of £300.
  • The number of pay points in each pay band would reduce from an average of 23 to just six.
  • The majority of existing staff would move significantly towards the top of their pay band by year two of the offer. These moves would be automatic.
  • In year three (2020/21) staff would automatically move further up their pay band to the next highest pay point, as long as NPS gets the necessary Treasury funding (See cons below).
  • Subject to a new Competency-Based Pay Progression Framework, staff could expect in future to move to the top of their pay band in no more than five years, as long as NPS gets the necessary Treasury funding. (See cons below)
  • All pay bands get a 3% increase in the value of the top pay point over the two years of the offer. The top of pay band 6 gets a 4% increase over the same time.
  • Pay bands 1, 2, 3 and 5 all see an increase in their bottom pay point over the two years of the offer.

  • After year three, the offer would remove the entitlement of NPS staff to automatic annual pay progression and replace it with a Competency Based Pay Progression Framework (CBPPF). Under this system pay progression would be conditional on staff competence.
  • The terms of the CBPPF are, as yet, unknown.
  • If the CBPPF is not agreed between NPS and the unions by 31 March 2020, there are two possible outcomes:

  • the pay offer says that NPS can implement the CBPPF without union agreement 
  • without a CBPPF in place, staff get no pay progression.

  • There is a risk that the NPS fails to secure sufficient funding from the Treasury to pay for automatic pay progression in year three, or for the CBPPF linked pay progression going forward from 2021.
  • The NPS Detached Duty Scheme, which is part of the offer, will provide NPS with the ability to “instruct staff to take up a detached duty posting when there are overriding business needs and all avenues have been exhausted”. This covers mainly Band 4 probation officers and Band 5 senior probation officers.
  • The offer does not address London, or South East, weighting.
What you should do now

Find out more about the pay offer.
• visit
• try to go along to any UNISON pay briefings where you work – contact your branch/rep
• attend the NPS pay briefings and read the NPS information on the offer.

Then tell us what you think. Included with this letter is a ballot paper. Please complete it and send it back in the pre-paid envelope. The ballot closes at 5pm Thursday 8 November, so make sure you allow enough time for your ballot paper to reach us. 
If the pay offer is accepted by members of all three probation unions, the NPS has confirmed that, for the majority of staff, the pay increase will be in your November pay packet.

TR Leads to Rise in SFOs

From yesterday's Guardian:-

Number of supervised offenders charged with violent crimes rises 21%

There were 627 serious further offence reviews in England and Wales last year, FoI data shows

The number of offenders charged with serious crimes including murder, manslaughter and rape while they were being monitored in the community has jumped by more than a fifth in a year in England and Wales, the Guardian can reveal. There were 627 serious further offence (SFO) reviews conducted in 2017-18, a freedom of information request response disclosed, a 21% rise on the 517 in the previous 12-month period.

SFO reviews are triggered when an offender under statutory probation supervision is charged with murder, manslaughter, rape or other serious violent or sexual offences. Among high-profile SFO reviews conducted in the 2017-18 period was the case of Simon Mellors, from Nottingham, who killed his ex-girlfriend, Janet Scott, in January after being released on licence from prison, where he had been serving time for murder.

Inspectors and parliamentarians have highlighted the crisis faced by the probation sector in a succession of damning reports. They flagged disappointing reductions in reoffending, low morale among staff and remote contact between workers and offenders. It was found tens of thousands of offenders – up to 40% of the total – were being supervised by telephone callsevery six weeks instead of face-to-face meetings.

Many of the difficulties faced by the sector have been put down to the disastrous changes introduced in 2014 by Chris Grayling during his tenure as justice secretary. He ignored significant warnings from within the Ministry of Justice and broke up existing probation trusts. They were replaced with a public sector National Probation Service (NPS) dealing with high-risk offenders and privately run community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) that manage low- and medium-risk offenders.

The shadow justice secretary, Richard Burgon, said: “All too often probation appears stretched to breaking point and struggling to fulfil its fundamental role of keeping the public safe. The Conservatives’ irresponsible decision to break up and privatise much of probation has put huge pressures on the system. The government urgently needs to explain how it plans to tackle this extremely worrying rise in serious offences committed by offenders.”

There were 270 SFO reviews conducted by CRCs in 2017-18, 15% higher than the previous year, while there were 357 SFO reviews conducted by the National Probation Service (NPS), a 26% rise. In 2013-2014, the year prior to the changes introduced by Grayling, there were 429 SFO reviews completed by the probation trusts. However, the MoJ said the changes expanded the number of offenders eligible for SFO reviews and therefore it was not possible to make like-for-like comparisons.

But Ian Lawrence, the general secretary of the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) union, said the significant increase between 2016-17 and 2017-18 illustrated the pressures the sector was under.

“The increase in SFO’s is a major public health and public safety issue that the MoJ needs to start taking seriously,” he said. “Our members are overworked, under-resourced and many, especially in the NPS are facing burnout. There is currently a consultation on the future of probation and the minister now needs to start listening to the experts instead of the privateers and stop being wedded to the marketisation of probation. We urgently need a publicly owned reunified service to effectively protect the public and have local and public accountability. People are literally dying as a result of this failed social experiment. Napo will continue to campaign until we achieve this.”

Other high-profile cases subject to SFO reviews include the rape and murder of Lisa Skidmore by Leroy Campbell in November 2016. He had been released from prison three months earlier after serving 17 years for an attack on another woman. In 2015 Conner Marshall, 18, was battered to death in Porthcawl, south Wales, by David Braddon, who was being monitored by probation workers after being convicted for drugs offences and assaulting a police officer. He is serving a life term for Marshall’s murder.

There were 507 SFO reviews in 2015-16, before the spike from 517 to 627 between 2016-17 and 2017-18. Among the CRCs, London and Cheshire and Greater Manchester had the equal highest number of SFO reviews in 2017-18 with 30, while Staffordshire and West Midlands, which includes Birmingham, had 27. Kent, Surrey and Sussex was third with 18 SFO reviews.

A Prisons and Probation spokesperson said: “Serious further offences remain extremely rare at less than 1%. Nonetheless, every single one is taken seriously and a rigorous review carried out in all cases. Our reforms extended probation supervision and support to approximately 40,000 extra offenders each year who would not previously have been monitored, inevitably increasing the number of SFO reviews carried out. It is therefore not possible to make a like-for-like comparison between the numbers of serious further offences committed before and after the reforms.”

There were 192 SFO reviews conducted in the first five months of the year 2018-19, the figures disclosed, which suggests the increase may have plateaued. Grayling’s disastrous changes ultimately forced the government to bail out the failing private probation companies by more than £500m pounds.

David Gauke, the justice secretary, previously announced that eight private companies running 21 “community rehabilitation companies” (CRCs) in England and Wales were to have their contracts terminated in 2020, two years earlier than agreed. Under new proposals, the number of CRCs operating in England and Wales is to be reduced to 11, with 10 new probation regions to be formed in England plus one additional region in Wales.

Despite significant problems identified with the provision of services by the private companies, the government insists the sector has a role to play and says it will be putting contracts out to tender for the overhauled framework proposed for 2020 onwards.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Reflections on the Spurr Era

It's been a couple of weeks since we heard that Michael Spurr would be departing from the MoJ and I didn't want to miss this bit of historical analysis from Rob Allen:-   

Spurr's Relegated

A few years ago, I attended a leaving do for a NOMS official with whom I’d worked closely. Michael Spurr paused his generous speech a couple of times as he wanted to be kept updated about a hostage taking incident. His warm words and care about realities on the ground- in this case thankfully resolved peacefully- show why he has been such a well-liked leader in the prison service. Having worked his way up from the wings at Armley Jail, few know or care more about prisons in this country. But there’s no getting away from the fact that his period in charge has coincided with their catastrophic decline. The probation service has all but been destroyed and the oft and much heralded development of electronic monitoring something of a fiasco.

How much responsibility should Michael bear for these failings? Not much is the emerging consensus. I agree that the lion’s share of the blame for the deterioration of prisons lies with the first three Justice Secretaries Spurr served as NOMS CEO. Kenneth Clarke offered enormous Departmental savings to the Treasury predicated on prison population falls that he could never deliver. Chris Grayling made a Faustian pact with Unions resulting in much lower levels of staffing as an alternative to privatisation as well as signing unsustainable maintenance contracts for prisons. Michael Gove’s lofty rhetoric of redemption merely acted as a distraction from the growing problems of safety and control in many jails. (Unsurprisingly an evaluation of Gove’s six Reform Prisons due this summer has not materialised)

Michael fared slightly better with his second trio of Lord Chancellors, particularly the underrated Liz Truss who managed to obtain much needed funds to recruit more staff. Davids Lidington and Gauke have continued a pragmatic approach to repairing the enormous damage inflicted by their predecessors. But Gauke has now decided that the uncomplaining Spurr should be relieved of his duties. Maybe last week’s POA action has prompted the move.

I have no doubt that Spurr will have spoken truth to power when giving advice about policy options, but as Julian LeVay has argued, his job was then to implement whatever Ministers decided. Could he have done more to blow the whistle about the likely consequences?

As accounting officer, Spurr might have sought ministerial direction about the feasibility of some of the measures he was asked to implement- particularly the probation reforms whose risks were so widely voiced in and outside government. It’s worth recalling that it was warnings about the consequences of overcrowding made by Spurr’s predecessor Phil Wheatley which forced Labour ministers to introduce a temporary early release scheme in 2007. I hope Spurr and the Permanent Secretary gave clear and explicit warnings about the impact of staffing cuts on violence, self-harm and disorder in prisons. If ministers ignored them, shame on them. But maybe that advice was not given with sufficient force.

In 2016 the National Audit Office found that Permanent Secretaries appear to lack confidence to challenge Ministers where they have concerns about the feasibility or value for money of new policies or decisions, not least because standing up to Ministers is seen as damaging to a civil servant’s career prospects. That’s nothing new. I remember when Kenneth Clarke dreamt up the absurd idea of Secure Training Centres for 12 year old persistent offenders, we officials hoped the Permanent Secretary might intervene, joking that he was “keeping his powder dry”. When he reluctantly attended a meeting with Clarke, the PS said virtually nothing other than berating me afterwards that my submission was too long.

So what are the lessons for Spurr’s successor? Prisons need a Whitehall heavy hitter able to stand up to ministers more than they do a knowledgeable and experienced practitioner. Someone like Simon Stevens who has carved out some freedom of manoeuvre as head of the NHS . And whether Probation should stay linked with Prisons should be carefully considered. Probation has not gone well in NOMS or HMPPS. I'd devolve it but lets see what the consultation brings.

Rob Allen


"And whether Probation should stay linked with Prisons should be carefully considered. Probation has not gone well in NOMS or HMPPS"

It is an unequal and damaging coupling. That the CEO of HMPPS will never come from Probation ranks is an oft quoted given, and demonstrates the problem. I wonder if the D word might actually be Divorce. It's an unequal partnership where one is suffering at the hands of the other, and whose identity is being swallowed by the dominant other.

Leave! I want to cry, you are brilliant and strong and have so much to offer the world: you just need a bit of support to get back onto your feet again. The point of leaving is risky, so you need a good plan and some strong support, but you would be so much greater and happier and safer without him.

I am stretching this analogy because there is a more direct gender issue going on here too. Gauke under pressure from a resisting public servant threatened to "get macho"... an extraordinary and revealing thing to say. If we ascribed gender to Prisons and Probation, (and I suspect you could do this also by looking at the gender ratio of staff)… could we say that Probation is the departments feminine side?

What?! I hadn't the honour to hear any of Mr Spurr's 'generous speeches', but do remember his formulaic responses to disturbances, including terrible suicides in prison. They would go something like this: to be regretted - complex prison - we are now setting up some measures for the future- here are some good things done - confidence in the governor and staff. And the suffering, with same responses, would go on and on elsewhere. Of course he had to support those working in prisons, but never any sense of the primacy of the need to fundamentally change - the politicians' responsibility I know, but they could go to bed comfortable after Mr Spurr's musings.

Grayling is doing enough to confirm his incompetence without further comment needed, but as for Ms Truss, a know-nothing do-nothing stop-gap, completely out of her depth, she has the residual function of making her successors look competent if not overly bothered by much, while a moment could have been taken to note Ken Clarke's description of the continuing iniquity of the IPP sentence, a preventive measure to keep people inside just in case they might do something in future, a measure against all notions of justice, as a 'stain on the justice system', a stain all of the above, & Gauke, are obviously perfectly at ease in letting continue. The prison service is a disgrace and starved of money by politicians who don't care is not the only issue.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Making Sense of CO Report

Over the last few days and the AGM weekend, two issues have become intertwined in the discussion thread, namely that of the Certification Officer Report and pay. In the absence of official statements on both, it's hard to untangle fact from fiction, supposition from rumour. I'm sure the issue of pay will become clear eventually, but in the case of the CO Report, I doubt it. 

In view of this I have attempted to bring together in one place what I feel are salient points in relation to the CO Report and in this we are helped by the almost unprecedented situation of having contributions from two named individuals:-   

Barry Adams 4 October 2018 at 20:16

For many members the background and details leading up to a PO member asking the Certification Officer to rule on a course of action taken by the national officers. What is clear from the Certification Officers report is: 
The named officers breached the Constitution.
What is less clear is:

1. Why did the officers take the course of action that they did.
2. Who advised the officers (wrongly)
3. Were the ÑEC kept fully and in good time informed.
4. What if any involvement did the General Secretary have.

This action has damaged Napo in many ways and has cost Napo members an undisclosed sum of money. Members should ask these and other questions and the only way to get truthful, honest and unbiased answered it to ask at AGM for an investigation by a independent body (national reps panel?) To report directly to the NEC. Any investigation should be conducted with all possible due diligence.

Peter Robinson 5 October 2018 at 13:07

The findings of the Certification Officer in "Peros v Napo" bring into the open a sequence of events that spans three attempts to invoke disciplinary process under s29 of the Napo Constitution. I represented the members under the internal s29 action on the other two.
In each case the officers deviated from the processes set out in s29 of the Constitution and the associated Rules laid down by the NEC. It is clear from the findings of the formal hearing last month that the officers were in serious error.

I don't think the Certification Officer is strictly speaking a "Court" but it would also be inaccurate to describe the hearing as a "meeting". It is a formal hearing by a regulatory body and of sufficient importance for Napo to be represented by a barrister accompanied by a solicitor.

The issue with setting up an irregular investigation first arose in 2015. I believe that this was the first time the process had been invoked in a generation. There were other complications in that matter but it was eventually found that there was "no case to answer". The irregularity was not pursued further but the officers were informed that the Constitution would need to be amended by an AGM if the process were to be varied in the future. No action was taken by the officers or the NEC to propose such amendment to the following AGM in 2016 however.

The action in July 2017 in the Peros case was the second in the sequence and had several contentious aspects. These included an intention to use the same irregular investigation process. In October 2017 a third case was opened with similar procedural issues. Initially an outline agreement was reached with the officers whereby the process would be cancelled on completion of undertakings by the member. Although the member complied with her part of that arrangement the officers opted to persist with the disciplinary process. They did so without addressing the procedural irregularities. In a long history of representing Napo members in employment processes I have reached settlement in more than a few but on no occasion has any employer reneged on an agreement. I was dismayed that my own Union should do so.

In March 2018 the disciplinary process in respect of both Dino Peros and the matter I was involved in were scuttled short of a hearing. This means that no valid disciplinary finding has been returned in either case and the time, energy and expenditure has been lost without useful purpose. I would point out that whilst Napo resources underwrote the waste on the “official side” the members affected and their representatives have to bear their own costs. 

The persistent deviation from clear provisions in the Constitution needed to be challenged. As the Peros matter predated the other case the complaint was made by him through Dave Rogan. A simple duplication by the other member and myself would not have added to the scope of the action but we would have been prepared to take such action on the same grounds if Dino Peros and Dave Rogan had not done so.

The Constitution safeguards the rights of members and forms a central part of the membership contract. Officers are elected to uphold the Constitution and do not have the authority to vary it at will. I do not see the need for further investigation as to possible culpability as the Certification Officer has covered that. I believe that this is the first adverse finding by the Certification Officer in the history of Napo and is a highly significant event. I hope and trust that Napo will have learned from this experience and that there will be no recurrence. The Napo NEC should review the Constitution as there are a number of matters to be addressed. However there should be no deviation without the necessary membership approval at an AGM.

A branch could take a detailed motion to NEC asking for full disclosure of the officers and officials decision chain regarding Dinogate (copyright pending) and how much members money was spent on legal costs. Their answers could then be compared with Dino's version of events and those members who give a shit could then decide what, if anything, to do next. If the new chair and GS are found culpable then a motion of no confidence could follow. It only takes a few members in each branch to put forward and win the argument for NEC reps to be mandated. That is unless the top table find some procedural or confidentially orientated reason to block debate. That's the usual way they do it. If so, then members could make their minds up about that. The thing is, this kind of thing isn't new. IL relies on bluff, bluster and lack of interest amongst the dwindling rank and file to get away with this sort of thing. Oh, and claiming credit for the secret pay deal is the ultimate smoke and mirrors exercise. The MOJ had to modernise pay and would have done so even without union involvement. He just sat on the other side of the table and said thank you. Unless they can tell us what extra concessions they forced from the employers of course.

I rate Jamie. It's a dilemma isn't it? We can wring our hands at the decline in membership, and at some problems that need addressing in its leadership. In order to tackle both, what we need is a call to arms for probation folk to sign up and join. And this will not be helped by public agonising about internal problems. By and large the latter is of interest only to the anoraks, who can then mobilise the members who are motivated to do so, to make some changes. 

Lest we forget, the problems besetting the Union are as much to do with the fucking Tory government getting rid of sign-off and doing everything in their power to undermine the effectiveness of Unions. An issue for more than this one Union. The problems of Probation: privatised, hacked about, underpaid, are also down to this government. Harking back to Halcyon days of Probation and the Union is a bit of a bore frankly.

Peter Robinson 10 October 2018 at 10:07

It would be a mistake for members to dismiss concerns about the Constitution and rules as "of interest only to anoraks". The Constitution is the democratically determined wish of the membership and gives safeguards to member's rights. Section 29 of the Constitution is the only mechanism by which a member is exposed to direct detriment and this raises the possibility for disqualification from office and ultimately expulsion. The whole point of the Peros action at the Certification Office was surely to safeguard those rights from arbitrary variation without authority. Napo argued that the actions were "pragmatic" that the Constitution should not be applied with the strictness of statute. The certification officer evidently did not support that view.

Well said. A Trade Union needs to abide by its own constitution, else, where is the mandate for Reps to hold employers to account for THEIR failure to abide by the rules in respect of their Members? We just become a hypocritical laughing stock with no authority.

Have I read the same Certification Officer's Report as discussed on here? I don't think it was ever disputed that the Officers breached the constitution - the Report says that was agreed by all, Officers included. It reads that it was the reasoning behind the breaches that was complained about. So didn't the CO have to find that the constitution was breached?

No action was taken to remedy the breaches as the matter was discontinued and the CO declined to make an Enforcement Order. The CO even noted that no issues of bias or unfairness were raised. It's hardly the disgraceful scandal cited by some in the comments on this issue. In fact, some of the comments have been quite disrespectful about the alleged initial complaint that seems to have been about bullying of someone. It's almost like some members want to create internal damage to Napo rather than focus on the struggles we should be working on! C'mon Dino et al fight for - not against Napo!