Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Latest From Napo 79

BR 95/2015

28 September 2015

To: Branch Chairs
Family Court SEC (for info)
Cc: Probation Negotiating Committee
NEC Co-Reps
Napo Officers and Officials

Dear Colleague

Branch Briefing - Meetings between NOMS and probation Trade Unions

Please forward immediately to Napo members in your branch

As reported to last weeks meeting of Napo's National Executive Committee, the following meetings have taken place since BR 77/2015 was issued:

  • Probation Consultative Forum (PCF) – 3rd September
  • Probation in Prisons Briefing - 24th August
  • E3 'meetings - 2nd & 16th September
The following issues are reported on in summary form below:

1. Probation Training – PQF etc.
2. E3
3. Approved Premises
4. Probation in prisons
5. ViSOR vetting
6. Vetting (general)
7. The potential for future CRC disaggregation
8. Equality & Diversity
9. Estates
10. Active Risk Management System (ARMS)
11. CRC ICT Transition
12. Employee Care & Workload Prioritisation Agreement

Please direct any queries on this Briefing to:

1. Probation Training - An update on the Probation Qualifications Assurance Board, the PQF Review Group and the work of the Probation Institute with regard to training is to be found under the Learning and Development tab on the website.

2. E3 (NPS) - The last meeting of the E3 Forum was in June and a report on this meeting can be found in BR70/15. Napo, UNISON and GMB/SCOOP attended an enigmatically named Trade Union Design Workshop in place of the E3 Forum on September 2nd. We were again presented with the Design Priorities which are reported in BR70/15. The position, from a union perspective, appears to be much as previously reported though there was some acknowledgement of the need for greater union involvement. Another meeting then took place on September 16th. As reported in NPS News, the Programme is due to produce an operating model ('blueprint') by the end of October and it is suggested that this will provide the basis for more detailed engagement with the Trade Unions. Central to these discussions will be exactly who does what? - PO/PSO in the NPS. No decisions have been made on this yet, but a favoured model is likely to be presented for consultation. There are unlikely to be any great surprises about the shape of things to come - though the scale and extent of role boundary changes will be critical.

Design & implementation items for discussion with the TUs were listed as follows:

Design: - Role Boundaries, Job Descriptions, Resourcing including caseload levels, Management Structures, Staff supervision & quality of practice, Admin support to LDUs, Line Management of operational admin, Use of countersignatures, Out of hours arrangements, Double Waking Night Cover, Use of agency or sessional staff in NPS (also volunteers), Harmonisation of sessional staff rates, Staff wellbeing (including clinical supervision)
Implementation:- Consultation & Negotiating Framework, Communications to staff, Restructuring, Displacement of roles, Managing surplus situations, Mobility & daily travel for redeployment purposes, Removal of legacy Job Descriptions, Pay Protection arrangements, Learning & Development, Vetting issues.
So lots to do. These matters will be pursued in various fora including the NNC and the PCF. At last weeks meeting of the National Negotiating Council the Probation Unions again requested high level confirmation that engagement in the E3 project should not count as Facilities time.

3. Approved Premises (NPS) - There was some discussion at the E3 meeting (see above). This centred around the FM contract which is due to be renewed next year. No firm decisions on this have yet been made. It was also acknowledged that there are a number of significant HR issues outstanding for AP staff - many of them legacy issues from Trust days. Work on these has stalled and the unions sought to have them 're-invigorated'. We will report further if this meets with any constructive work being done.

4. Probation in Prisons - The final decision with regard to the Custody OM review has now been reported, and the proposed model is out for formal consultation. The final recommendations have been endorsed by NOMS and work is due to commence on implementation following consultation. This was reported in the General Secretary's Blog on 11th September, where Michael Spurr's letter was commented upon. It will be interesting to see how consistent end-to-end case/offender management is to be achieved as prisoners move from establishment to establishment through their sentences. Then, plans to move PSOs out of prisons remain current on an establishment by establishment rolling programme. There have been briefing sessions for staff about this and further briefings are likely to follow. Rate cards and guidance, together with process maps on how TTG will operate have apparently been sent to NPS staff. Napo have requested copies of this documentation together with anything else in writing about the future plans for probation in prisons. Finally it is reported that, under the auspices of E3, work is being undertaken to improve parole and recall processes.

5. ViSOR vetting (NPS staff) - This was raised as a topic of concern at the last PCF meeting. Napo took the view that it was unhelpful for all front line staff to be classified as requiring ViSOR vetting - not all posts do require the use of ViSOR a and small minority of staff will either not wish to submit to this vetting or will fail it. Thus to retain a number of posts not requiring such vetting - e.g. those which are Court based, enables a degree of flexibility in accommodating such individuals. This proposition appears to have found favour with the NPS.

6. Vetting (general) - This was previously reported upon briefly in BR 70/15. It was discussed again at the PCF on 3rd September. Within the NOMS Security Group, we are told that a Vetting Steering Group has been established and it is this group that will apparently review the relevant Probation Instructions. To date, Napo has not been approached by this group for comment, although we have written to Digby Griffith (Director of National Operational Services - with overall responsibility for the Security Group) to express our concerns - notably about lack of transparency, lack of a clear appeals procedure and what is still a generally prison-centric emphasis.

7. Potential disaggregation of CRCs – It was our understanding of the CRC contracts that each CRC entity must be capable of ready re-construction in a disaggregated state either at the end of the contract or in the event that any one of them was terminated early. It becomes increasingly difficult to fathom how this might be possible in light of many of the current proposed operational developments. In the North and East, Sodexo is proposing to centralise all its HR/back-office functions for all of its CRCs in Salford, at its own pre-existing hub. In the Midlands, RRP is planning just one case administration hub in Derby to cover all work in both Staffs/West Midlands and Notts., Derbyshire, Leicestershire & Rutland. In the South, MTC/Novo is planning to outsource all its case administration to Hewlett-Packard who will move the work North to Newcastle - this then covering all case administration for both London and Thames Valley as we understand it. No doubt other similar "rationalisations" are planned elsewhere. A good question that we have continually raised and on which we seek the views of MoJ contract managers is exactly how this could all be readily unpicked at a later date without placing service delivery at great risk- not to mention the livelihoods of staff.

8. Equality & Diversity - A recent discussion took place with Colin Allars and Eila Davis (NOMS Head of Women & Equalities) on the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) for the NPS. This discussion focused on the needs of disabled staff and sought to explore practical ways of implementing the NPS Equality & Diversity Plan. Apparently the Equal Treatment for Employees policy is due for a fundamental review for use both within prisons and Probation. Sadly this is not due until early next year and until then the situation remains as reported in BR 70-15. A 'How to' (make reasonable adjustments) guide is due to be issued shortly, as is an Equality Analysis Instruction. Napo has not been involved in the development of either of these. Indeed we have not seen them, so it is difficult to comment further. It is interesting to speculate on how the PSED might be more effectively achieved in CRCs and perhaps an approach to this through consultation with the owners of the various CRCs might prove productive.

9. Estates - The following was reported at the PCF: "The programme is now in delivery. The series of exits and moves agreed with the NPS and the CRCs has been grouped (CRC ICT Transition) into projects, and Regional Delivery Teams are in place to co-ordinate implementation of those projects. To date, around 20 projects are at various stages of the space planning, design and move phases and around 50 projects involving an exit, move or reconfiguration are due to be completed before the end of 2015, along with a further 100 where new occupancy arrangements will be agreed for the NPS, CRC or both.

Where a move impacts on NPS staff, current terms and conditions will apply pending harmonisation of relevant policies." We are questioning what this actually means and will be using the NNC and PCF mechanisms to pursue this. No schedules of these projects have yet been supplied to us nationally. It appears to mean that quite a lot of office changes are in the pipeline. Hopefully affected staff (locally) will be aware and because there is as yet no harmonised NPS mobility policy, pre-existing (Trust) policies will apply in the NPS - and also in CRCs unless there has been any harmonisation agreements within CRCs.

10. ARMS - The training for and roll-out of this system is now well under way for NPS staff. At the consultative stage (for the Probation Instruction), Napo made strong representations about the impact on workload, particularly around retrospective use on existing caseload. We were insistent that its use should involve a workload weighting. Reassurances were given but it appears now that in reality ARMS is, as we feared, being introduced with little or no account being taken of the workload implications. Our concerns here will be tabled at the next PCF in October.

11. CRC ICT Transition - Technical enablers - A presentation was given at the PCF on 6th September. This was previously reported upon in BR 70-15 (Item 5). Lots of technical language was used describing a Strategic Partner Gateway and a Data Exchange Bridging Solution. The latter is being tested with Sodexo CRCs this month with a view to enabling the bridging required for information exchange (NPS/CRC) to occur. Our view is that 'wing and a prayer' come to mind.

12. Employee Care & Workload Prioritisation - This is a bedrock agreement established many years ago as a basis for workload measurement and management. The principles contained within it still hold good although it is in need of revision to reflect the changing world of Probation. Napo has been pressing for many months for this revision to be undertaken and it was raised again at the PCF on 6th September. It is with the NPS to action.

A challenging bargaining agenda. Napo will be issuing updates on the above issues as soon as there is something substantive to report. These, and many other issues demonstrate how the union is trying to engage with a massively increased post-share sale bargaining agenda which reflects the significant pressures being placed on our members.

Yours sincerely

Mike McClelland      
Ian Lawrence
National Official       General Secretary


  1. I bet that any plans to 'outsource' are inevitably delayed because once external companies come face to face with the reality of probation work their reaction is, wtf we didn't realise it was this in depth / complex... have no idea how to proceed and have to re-think. What a load of bullshit it all is.

  2. I'm starting to wonder where everyone has gone on this blog, while Jim is busy trying to keep us informed. I'm surprised there have been no comments on the Labour Party Conference. I have watched it over the last 2 days, inspirational and moving, but not a mention of Probation, from Corbyn, Faulkner or Watson, or any other speaker, altho' prisons, courts and domestic violence victims were briefly touched on under human rights.

    1. Reading the blog & appreciating JB's efforts doesn't nccessarily involve posting a comment. JB knows what the hit-rate is daily.

    2. yes thanks, am well aware of that. I have read every blog and comment daily for about 18 months, since I discovered the site, but only occasionally comment or send guest blog. I value Jim's efforts and am amazed how he finds the time to run it and monitor it.

  3. The role of outsourcing giant companies was mentioned, their role as a "Shadow State" will have some light shone into it.

    I applauded the doctors who took to the streets yesterday but it made me feel embarrassed at out pathetic effort to save probation. In hindsight the service I loved died twenty years ago, yes-men and yes-women where unable to fight because they had no skin in the rehabilitative game. No the majority were driven by their naked ambition and their level of debt.


  4. Tune in to pm on R4 - interview with the Leics magistrate who was suspended/resigned imminent...

    1. A transcription of the interview would be an amazing guest blog - its brian sewell meets nelson mandela!!

  5. According to The Mirror, The Conservative Party is to launch its own trade union movement...

    1. How would that even work?

    2. Bit like joining a golf club, perhaps? Big joining fees, high annual subscription, screened applications...

  6. RE 12. Employee care is wholly absent..workloads are ridiculous, staff who are hanging on are expected to cover the work of several absent colleagues. It is horrendous. Is this the case all over the NPS ?

    1. It is in our area. Lip service is paid to 'staff care' but caseloads continue to rise, its 'normal' to be over capacity. At least three people in my office could be signed off on sick tomorrow (reports of not sleeping/exhaustion/generally very down/physical chronic illness) but hang on in rather than dump further shit onto colleagues.

    2. Same situation in our area too..and yet those at the top , or trying to get there, are giving each other plaudits...people have been off sick for weeks and those left have just been expected to keep taking on more while they cover up the problem. Duty of care,,,pah

  7. What's happening in Wales CRC and NPS? No mention anywhere

  8. Rrp swm dlnr are supposed to be releasing tom soon.

    1. On Licence or PSS?

    2. Sadly PSS and not met at the gate,no one showed up and no has any idea what is going on.

  9. The AGM has motions on Israel and the Palestinians -with one set endorsing the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign and another the Trade Union Friends of Israel – yet the two organisations have different aims and objectives. The TUC position is clear: We reiterate our encouragement to unions to affiliate to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, urge union members to join the PSC Trade Union network, and agree to organise, jointly with the PSC...' (General Council statement on Gaza, 2014)

  10. The so called 'new way of working' by putting more OMs back in prisons is another example of reinventing the wheel.....this is the start of the return to the silo model of pilloried by the Carter review.....what next the return of the New Choreography?

  11. Here's a (very slightly amended) tribute for those who have been bowled a googly by Sodexo:

    "When the moment comes and the gathering stands and the clock turns back to reflect
    On the years of grace as those footsteps trace for the last time out of the act
    Well this way of life's recollection, the hallowed strip in the haze
    The fabled teams and the noonday sun are much more than just yarns of their days"

    Hats off to (Roy) Harper; Chapeau M.Brown. Fuck you, CSG.

    For now, the future lies uncertain... May your gods be with you. X.