Napo very clear about our objectives on job evaluation
A 30 minute break from what is as I expected, a testing but extremely thorough E3 Job Evaluation meeting with senior NOMS management, gives me an opportunity to bury any notion that Napo has entered the appeal mechanism having already decided what the results of the job evaluation panels (that I wrote about last week) are going to be.
I rarely respond to idle gossip or rumours, but if anyone can let me have the source of the statement being peddled in some quarters as official Napo policy, that this union is not trying its best to achieve an increase in banding for the Victim Liaison Officer, then I will be pleased to investigate.
Better still let’s all save some time; and allow me to repeat what I have made clear at just about every branch AGM I have attended in recent weeks, which is that Napo's leadership group believes that the VLO banding should be set at 4. That is why I have devoted considerable internal resource into our efforts, and have helped persuade NOMS to take our issues seriously, and with the help of Katie Lomas, Chris Winters and Yvonne Pattison, have found a number of expert practitioners who have provided superb input in helping us challenge the original outcomes.
We now enter the next stage of an agreed process as part of the NNC Job Evaluation scheme where trained job evaluation panelists – which include Napo nominees who know about the jobs – will look at the revised job descriptions and job design questionnaires that we have tried to make as reflective as possible of the valuable work undertaken by our VLO Members.
We will adopt exactly the same approach for all of the other appeals that we are going through in an attempt to secure the best possible outcomes for members.
HM Inspectorate pulls no punches
Dame Glenys Stacey has certainly set out her intentions in the way in which the probation inspectorate intend to go about their work, with another highly impressive report into the provision of probation services in the Durham area.
We will be going through this to pull out the key issues that we will want to bring to the attention of the new Secretary of State as well as Michael Spurr following our recent meeting. Among other things, the report raises some interesting issues about 'on the day' court reports that tally with much of our E3 feedback.
We have already approached NOMS with our view that under E3, the court report allocation system requires reports to be allocated to either a PSO or PO based on the level of risk. But given that the level of risk is determined at the end of the report, it’s a fair question as to how the reports will be allocated on this basis if this is not determined at that point? We, and you, are concerned that reports will either be completed by staff not properly trained to do them, or that there will be lots of duplicated work, where for example a PSO starts the report process (interview etc) then realises it's not a PSO appropriate report and has to hand it over to a PO who will have to start from the beginning. This is time consuming for staff but pretty awful for clients at a critical point in the judicial process.
Practitioners will be well aware of how the Information available at court is often mixed; it can take weeks to get what is needed from police and social services and information on the availability of interventions from CRCs isn't always up to scratch either.
There is a new drive from NOMS to prepare the report where the client is sentenced even if they live in a different area. This also means that a report writer in Leeds may be completing a report for a client who lives in London and it's not easy to find out how to get information from police, social services and the local CRC to where the client's order will be managed. In the past these reports would be adjourned for a local report writer to complete.
This situation needs urgent attention from NOMS, who will not be able to say that Napo failed to bring it to their attention.
Public Service Prisons Operating Model - early responses from members
Following my invitation for direct feedback last week, it’s clear that there is disquiet amongst some members about the proposals, especially in light of the E3 1:1 meetings taking place at the moment. Until now there has been a lack of engagement with the unions on this keynote proposal which has a huge potential impact on our members for many reasons. My appreciation to those readers who have taken the time and trouble to let me have your views. Here is a snapshot summary of some of what you are saying about the prospect of more NPS staff working in prisons:
- Prisons are generally less accessible; therefore there are fears that there is a possibility of members being managed out due to disability.
- Working hours are more restrictive in prisons, making it an unsuitable option for many staff due to work life balance issues.
- The environment is a very different one and any transition should necessarily be managed carefully and be for a fixed term.
- Some LDU clusters have no prisons, some have several, and so moving the custody work means moving staff which in turn means a huge upheaval of staff from those areas with no prisons.
- Some members may struggle with the vetting requirements for prisons.
- There is a lot of uncertainty about the practicalities of prisoners moving multiple times during their sentences. This is likely to cause workload issues for members.
There are many questions about the minutiae of the proposals that we will be putting to NOMS during the engagement process.
Plenty to think about on this, and the myriad issues that we are pushing on behalf of members across the 24 employers we now deal with.
This from the previous week's blog:-
Job evaluation - whats happening next?
We are due to engage with senior NOMS management about the next stage in the agreed process for reviewing those posts that formed part of the E3 job evaluation exercise including VLOs, AP Managers and AP Residential Workers. This follows the agreement we reached with the employers to have a collective review of the job evaluation outcomes to avoid massive amounts of duplicated work from individual appeals.
At the E3 trade union engagement meeting this week it was agreed that following a review of all the information provided by both sides, a meeting will be held prior to new panels being convened who will re-evaluate these job roles. Napo have insisted that the new panels must contain trade union representatives with the appropriate level of understanding of the specific roles being reviewed; and whilst we cannot hand pick our choices (as the system does not work that way) I am confident that those being asked to serve on the new panels will approach their difficult task with the professional knowledge and integrity that we would all expect from them. What is also important to note, is that we have insisted that the JE panellists and our expert practitioner advisers to Napo and Unison, receive a comprehensive pre-briefing from NOMS specialists about the outcomes from the proposed job roles and associated design questionnaires that Napo members actually undertaking the work have made an important contribution to.
Once we have agreed the final timescale for completion of the process we will let members know, but current expectations are that new JE Panels will be convened around mid-August.
Everyone in the leadership group here understands that this is an anxious time for many members, and all I can say at this stage is that we have done all that we can within the rules of the scheme to ensure that your interests are going to be given full consideration.