Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Latest From Napo HQ 2

This is the first of three guidance documents referred to in yesterday's e-mail from Napo HQ - all received this morning at 08:37


This information is not designed to be exhaustive.  Due to the varied number of roles in Probation and the diversity of the staff, we cannot cover every eventuality but we hope the following provides a useful guide to some of the issues you should consider when raising your grievance.  These are the questions we have been asking and which the MoJ have declined to answer.  As it looks increasingly likely that litigation will play a part in the near future, it is imperative that members raise their concerns formally at this stage.

There is no doubt that the MoJ and some Trusts will accuse Napo of scaremongering for even asking these questions.  That will simply be an indication of how distorted this process has become.  Ignore the criticism - you have the right to know about your future employment.  Document it.  Raise the grievance. Afford yourself maximum protection at work.

Practitioners in the National Probation Service

This section is also applicable to managers and administrators who work with practitioners.

A probation practitioner in the NPS will become a civil servant.  At present, the probation service retains its independence, we are not subject to ministerial directions.  For example, we are not instructed whether to support the release or otherwise of a prisoner because we make an independent professional assessment.  We risk losing that in the process of becoming agents of the Secretary of State.  Our concern is that we might come under pressure in a high profile case to make recommendations not for release or to recommend certain licence conditions.

Probation offers a varied career and moving into different roles over the span of your career is one way to manage the emotional demands of the job.  Our concern is that this will be lost in what appears to be a very narrowly defined series of practitioner roles in the NPS.  Having risk “oversight” but little control over cases in the CRC is fraught with difficulty.  Where are the lines of accountability?  Would there be lots of travel?  Who would attend oral hearings?  Solely case managing high risk offenders can be traumatic given the nature of some of the offences.  What support would be in place?

Victim Liaison Officers will move into the NPS and they are currently paid at different pay bands because of differences in the Trusts.  What will happen next? Programme tutors delivering Sex Offender Treatment Programmes are in the same boat and there is no information on whether pay will be harmonised.

Some generic manager grades are paid at different bands given the nature of the role, particularly AP Managers.  What happens next?

Practitioners in the Community Rehabilitation Companies

This section is also applicable to managers and administrators who work with practitioners.

A probation practitioner in the CRC will become a private or third sector employee.  There is less certainty about the professional values of these potential organisations that will bid and less information about how they are run.  You may have reservations about how they approach work with offenders.  What are their values?  Have they got experience?  Doing our work for a company with no track record in dealing with offending behaviour is being sold as ‘innovative’ but our concern is that this would be an added pressure with complex, emotional work being reduced to unit costs.  You might like the idea of working for a mutual but would get out quickly if it was A4E or Sodexo, particularly with their track record. There is also no guarantee that Mutuals will remain financially viable. 

Practitioners in a CRC may no longer be carrying out risk assessments (when there has been a change in risk) nor will they provide advice on release, recall and sentencing.  There will be no work with high risk offenders which will reduce the potential for career development.  We are concerned that after an initial period, all of these jobs risk being downgraded in terms of pay band  to the less generous conditions. 

Programme tutors can be on different pay bands because of the differences between trusts.  There is no information on future plans.  Those tutors delivering domestic violence programmes have been seen as on a par with SOTP tutors - will this change?  What happens to members who deliver both?

Staff in the Community Rehabilitation Companies

The CRC will be subject to price competitive tendering and the cheapest bid will win.  This will probably mean office closures and less staff, yet the workload will increase because of the supervision of the Under-12 months custodial community (if the Offender Rehabilitation Bill is enacted).

There are no certainties about who these organisations will be, and even less security about who will win the competition.  Therein lies the grievance (see below for individualised impact).  You could be happy with the Prime Contractor but less happy with a sub-contractor for whom you are chosen/assigned to work for. If you are transferred twice, you would not necessarily retain all your existing terms and conditions because no assurances (especially continuity of service) have been guaranteed.  You might be unhappy with the Prime and want to seek reassurances about your future.  This has been made impossible because you can only lodge an appeal against a vague entity called a CRC - not an actual employer. 

Given the mix of organisations in the CRC (primes and sub-contractors) there may be opportunities to work for different organisations but there is no guarantee of continuous service.  That means you could lose all the benefits you have accrued over your previous employment.

Organisations such as Serco, G4S, Catch 22 and Sodexo have Uniform policies.  Will there be uniforms?  What will be the impact on the work and risk of safety given that uniforms are associated with control rather than care.

Staff in the National Probation Service

You will be subject to Acts of Parliament that may severely restrict your choices.  For example, the Business Appointment Rules mean that you are barred from working for a company (for a period of time) to who you might share information which gives them a commercial advantage.  We have been unable to get further information about this despite requests.  Members are entitled to know the answer.

Staff with Protected Characteristics and other vulnerable staff.

We know that people with protected characteristics are particularly vulnerable in the workplace and often apply to work for organisations which have a good record of staff care.  To make a choice now or to be assigned without any information is putting these individuals at risk.  A description of your own circumstances here will be essential in raising concerns with your employers.  Do the new organisations have proper maternity provision?  What about childcare?  Dependent carers?  Does the organisation have a diversity strategy?  Who will provide AT equipment and ongoing support?  What happens to reasonable adjustments?  Have you had a stress/health and safety risk assessment - will it be honoured?  Have the potential bidding companies got a track record of discriminatory behaviour?  Would you feel safe?

Pension entitlements and Staff who are over 50

Napo has repeatedly requested assurances on future pension provision and entitlement post the proposed CRC share sale. Despite these requests, no assurances have been given for current members of the LGPS or new starters.

This will have an impact on all staff, but will have a disproportionate impact on those who are over 50 but not yet 55. This is because any potential Voluntary Redundancy scheme is only being offered until 2015 (note this has still to be confirmed).


The above indicates the importance of Napo members registering a grievance should your Trust ask you to respond to any formal notification regarding your future role. Please note that Napo advises you to sign the letter which seeks to assign you to the NPS or a CRC or which asks you for an expression of interest. Failure to do so may place your future employment at risk, however, we advise that you submit your grievance using these and the additional guidance notes at the same time.

Tom Rendon                                    Ian Lawrence
National Chair                                  General Secretary

26th November 2013


  1. The extra information that was missed of the bottom of that email yesterday have been sent this morning regarding: -

    Grievance advice RISK

    Local JNC Disputes Napo Guidance


    Also available via the Napo Forum : -

    Andrew Hatton

  2. OH sorry, I posted the above, thinking it was on the post about the original email. We are paddling in the same pool!

    Additionally Mactailgunner has sent in a report and seems to have survived a spraying of flak!: -

    Andrew Hatton