Extract from the latest blog post from Ian Lawrence, Napo General Secretary:-
STEP INTO MY OFFICE? – IT’S THE BLUE FORD AT BAY 6!
The post-TR shambles manifests itself in increasingly incredulous ways and now we are investigating reports that the relocation of established office premises is adding even worse problems to the general chaos, where new premises have yet to be secured or refurbished.
I have had a conversation with a member who believes that a colleague was instructed to conduct an appointment with a client in the back of the practitioner’s car because the arrangements to see their client in another government building fell through. Another report from a different part of the country indicates that staff, having been told to arrange to interview clients at another would be provider of temporary accommodation learnt to their horror that staff there were not comfortable with the idea of Probation clients pitching up.
Elsewhere, agreements have apparently been reached to let clients into temporary premises but the host organisation closes on the money at 5:00pm, so no late night reporting there then.
In one NPS location (like many) the reception area has gone over to a CRC, which resulted in clients not getting in as the doors were locked. Then it appears that a number of CRC clients turned up there too as they had no idea as to where they were now supposed to report to.
All a bit amusing to those who revel in state sponsored chaos, but no fun for our members’ that’s for sure.
‘Into the community’
Now there won’t be many practitioners who do not support the idea of getting out into the community a bit more, so no worries if you can’t interview someone in your car, because there is always a local cafe, pub, or nearby street corner (best done before the winter nights draw in of course). Most worrying is a suggestion from on high that staff will have to carry cash with them at all times so they can pay the travel-expenses of clients under supervision.
The blog understands that in this instance reassurances are being offered and that mobiles will be issued in case of trouble. Mmm.. but who does one phone these days with no office base to report your last or current whereabouts to? And why not advertise to the whole world that you are walking around town with a heavy brief case and a wad of cash in your pocket?
While some of these problems have been flagged up in the NPS, it is a fact that a number of the CRC owners are starting to see that they have been taken to the cleaners over hidden accommodation costs and other liabilities. This has resulted in them running back squealing to the MoJ and putting plans in place to drastically reduce their costs.
Napo’s advice to members is simple. These types of working practices are unacceptable and in some cases downright dangerous, so if they are (or are due to be) in place, insist individually and through your union that full risk assessments are undertaken. All of the new ways of working – flexible working/agile working - will have to be risk assessed and TU safety reps are entitled to be involved in this assessment process. Safety reps have the right to visit the new work location to carry out a safety visit-both before staff have started to work from there and after they have started to work from there.
You can also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (from a private e-mail address only) to let us know what’s going on and we will do our best to get you advice and if needs be get the local media involved. Members facing this nonsense should also hold an office or team Napo meeting, instruct their local reps to register a dispute and if you decide that you are prepared to take industrial action we will gladly ballot you at the earliest opportunity.
Your safety and wellbeing is paramount and just too precious to be put at risk.