Last Friday, Napo expressed serious concerns around authority to practice and access to information as a basis for halting the Target Operating Model.
Napo wrote to the Directors of Probation in England and Wales as follows:
As the first week of the new arrangements for the provision of Probation services draws to a close, we are doubtless all taking stock.
Members have been contacting us through the week with concerns about the new systems and operating arrangements. I would like to draw two specific issues to your attention.
The first concerns the basic authority to operate as Officers of Providers of Probation Services and in particular in the context of staff being asked to operate across the new divide between the two organisations. Napo is seeking to provide its members with advice and guidance but this is proving difficult in the absence of certain key pieces of information. We do now have the NPS SLAs and have seen Schedule 28 of the CRC contracts ( though not the contracts themselves, despite having requested them on several occasions). What we do not have are what appear to be two critical Probation Instructions - The Role of Court Duty Staff & Authorisation of an Officer of a Provider of Probation Services - the latter expected to be PI 31/2014. Both are trailed elsewhere and we are aware they are in preparation but, considering the requirement for consultation and authorisation, it seems unlikely that they can be issued in anything less than six weeks. Existing Probation Instructions on these matters have effectively become null and void with the advent of new employers and as such we would question whether staff are in fact operating ultra vires. Both of these Instructions should have been in place on June 1st.
The second concern is around the (in)ability of staff to access key information on offenders across the divide. As you will know, restrictions have been put in place notably within NDelius and OASys. Many members have contacted us about this. They are concerned that these restrictions hamper their ability to properly assess and manage risk. In our estimation, these restrictions pose a high if not very high risk of serious harm to service users, staff and third parties.
In light of these two very significant issues associated with the new operating model, we would ask you to confirm, by return, that the model will be put on ice. If you feel unable to comply with this request, then we will feel bound, as a public duty, to place these concerns before a wider audience.
Not unexpectedly, NOMS did not acquiesce. In their response, Colin Allars and Sarah Payne, asserted that the Offender Management Act 2007 provided the basis for authorising individuals to act as Officers of Providers of Probation Services. They said that they were reminding both CRCs and the NPS that they should confirm to staff that these authorisations are in place. The referenced PI will provide further guidance on this once it is issued.
As regards Napo's expressed concerns about access to information, they said "we are now making good progress in embedding and stabilising the new organisations and associated operational processes." They went on ...."with a programme of this size, there will also be a period of stabilisation relating to the transfer and whilst we recognise that this is a challenging time for NPS and CRC staff, the introduction of some of the operational processes from 1 April allowed the transfer to take place in a phased and controlled way. Whilst there have been some local ICT issues with individual role based access (RBACs) profiles we along with local ICT support managers are continuing to address any issues as they arise." They conclude, "Transition to the new working structures is now well under way and good progress is being made, as you are aware our top priority is to continue to support probation staff as they work to embed new working structures."
Napo will be replying and our response will be posted here shortly.
TO NAPO MEMBERS:
TR Briefing for Branches - Update
(Last update BR70/2014 issued 6th June)
This is the latest information from NAPO National Office. Any comments or observations should be submitted directly to National Official Mike McClelland (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Reminder: All TR Briefings can now be found on the Napo Website in the Members section.
Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy Scheme
As reported in BR 70/14 this scheme is now available but it is evident that there is a degree of misunderstanding about the Scheme. So here are a few key points:
The Scheme is available to both CRCs and the NPS
In the first instance it will be offered to senior managers and Corporate Support staff whose jobs have effectively disappeared in the re-organisation of the Service.
Voluntary redundancy is always in the gift of the employer and will only be offered where there is a surplus of staff in a particular role or at a grade. Many members might be hoping for it as a lifeline/escape from what they now perceive as a job they no longer want to do but hopes should not be raised unrealistically.
The money for this enhanced scheme is being made available by the MoJ. It is a separate pot reported as being £61million - although this figure is only an estimate of what may be required. It may be less and it may be more. If more is required then the understanding is that the MoJ will seek authority from the Treasury to increase the size of the pot.
Although the MoJ are funding the scheme, it belongs to the NNC, which is where it was negotiated and agreed.
There may be second and even third waves of invitations to express interest in the scheme, whilst it remains in place - any time up to 31 March 2015 (with departure dates as late as March 2016). Whilst applications in this first tranche are limited to those obviously surplus, across its life the Scheme applies to all staff and there is no reason why further expressions of interest should not be sought from other groups of staff if appropriate. This will depend on the staffing requirements of both CRCs and the NPS.
In our view, MOJ/NOMS cannot dictate how and when the scheme is offered. Despite it being "their" money, it is not their scheme
On the other hand, the financial impediment to either CRCs or the NPS offering Enhanced Voluntary Redundancy where appropriate is less critical as this separate fund exists. However cost will still be a criterion where there are competing applications - and this is public money.
Voluntary redundancy should always be considered before compulsory redundancy. This is addressed as best practice in the Management of Change process which still applies across Probation.