Saturday, 17 February 2018

NPS - What Your Employer Thinks of You

Here we have an edited version of yesterday's blog post by Napo General Secretary Ian Lawrence:-


The signs were clear at last year’s AGM in Nottingham that the political tides which have revealed the wreckage of privatisation were turning back in our favour. We heard keynote speeches from both ends of the political spectrum in the form of Shadow Justice lead Richard Burgon, and the Justice Committee Chair Bob Neil, both of whom pulled no punches in denigrating Chris Graylings dreadful social experiment.

Since then we have maintained high level contact with the Labour party and are assisting them with their planning for the development of a strategy to return the service back to public ownership when they form the next Government. More on this in the exclusive interview we have set up for a future edition of the soon to be bi-monthly Napo News. We have also stayed close to the current Parliamentary inquiries by providing briefing material for the Committee for Public Accounts and the oral evidence that the unions presented to the Justice Committee.

Since then we have been on a heathy roll media wise, with a bumper day last week in advance and immediately after the big conversation that Napo Cymru organised at the Welsh Assembly last Wednesday and coverage last Saturday in the Guardian and more TV interest in the pipeline to follow the expose by Sky News.

Nobody ever said that the campaign to reunify Probation would be easy, but many members have taken the time to contact Napo recently with positive feedback about our efforts here and elsewhere on behalf of members.

In need of Assistive Technology? - It’s still a priority

Napo reps have been made aware of some difficulties being experienced by members in the NPS who need assistive technology. It seems that where this involves ordering new ICT kit some members are being told that laptops cannot be ordered because of the new NPS IT upgrade that is being rolled out. While this may be the case for general requests, any laptops needed for assistive technology will still be prioritised. We recently discussed the issue at the NPS AT user group and we have been assured that assistive technology remains a priority. Any members experiencing difficulties should contact their local Napo rep for advice and reps should seek assistance from Katie Lomas if they encounter significant delays.

A heavy agenda and heavy going at the Trade Union Engagement meeting

We met with senior NPS managers yesterday for what was by any standards a marathon session as part of our regular engagement meetings.

I intend for us to issue a comprehensive mail out to members and get some detailed reports up on the website, after we have written letters to the Secretary of State on a number of issues including the lack of progress on Pay and to also seek an urgent meeting. Meanwhile here’s a taster of the areas covered and the union narrative.

  • Pay 2017-18: ‘Where’s our money please?’
  • Pay Reform: ‘Where’s the money please?’
  • Payment of Market Forces Supplements to existing staff: ‘Where’s the money please?’
  • Shared Services fiasco (continued): ‘Why are you taking our members money without telling them why, despite the agreements we reached with you?’
  • AP Double Waking Night Cover outsourcing: ‘It’s a shambles and neither of the contractors (OCS and Sodexo) seem to know their backsides from their elbow. It (the whole project) needs to be ditched as it poses a serious risk to community safety.’
  • Workload Management Tool: ‘The proposed change to non-attributable time (16%) in the Workload Measurement Timings is worrying. The NPS tried this last year (or the year before?) and when they did a time and motion study the figure was actually higher than the 16% allowed for. Still work to do here.’
  • SFO investigations and suspensions: ‘We are receiving disturbing reports about over-zealous responses by Divisions to SFO’s and the way in which investigations are being conducted. We need a high level view and discussion about the expected process.’
  • OMIC: ‘The positive slant being put on the progress so far is likely to be viewed with scepticism by our members, who have serious concerns over the intended management structures inside Prison OMU’s and this has not been helped by some rather dodgy needs figures for community based intervention.’

The following Napo statement was sent out by email yesterday afternoon and amply demonstrates what the MoJ and HMPPS think of probation staff:- 

HMPPS reject Unions representations on 2017-18

After the considerable efforts by the Probation Unions to secure additional funding for a pay increase for all members in the 2017-18 pay year, I have just received this letter from HMPPS Chief Executive Michael Spurr. This says that the Agency has no intention of paying anything beyond the incremental progression that was implemented last April, meaning that the intention is that staff at their pay band maximum will receive no increase for 2017-18.

There will be a more detailed communication issued by the probation unions next week, but essentially I wanted all Napo members to be aware of my disgust at the shoddy and patronising response from the employer to our claims. This message is at serious odds with that which we hear has been imparted to NPS staff in recent communications from the NPS senior leadership team to the effect that the employer is seriously committed to doing something about probation pay.

Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee meets next week to consider the situation and the prospects for longer term pay reform, but I expect that members will draw little comfort from the ‘Jam tomorrow’ nature of this reply, which is not only deeply disappointing but fails to explain the fact that money which ought to have been used to increase the pay of probation staff has been diverted elsewhere at the expense of our members.

Neither does this communication in any way reflect the incompetent manner in which pay talks have been conducted (amongst the worst that I can remember) and the at times farcical exchanges over how much money was (or was not) available at any given period.

Whilst Napo will of course want to engage in substantive talks on longer term pay reform, members will take some convincing that the NPS leadership is really serious about standing its corner against the MoJ and Treasury who, despite assurances from Ministers, show no sign of deviating from the Governments failed austerity policies.

More news about pay will follow as soon as it becomes available.


Reaction on Facebook was immediate:-

Just got an email from NAPO. No payrise again this year but those of you on less than scale maximum will get your 1% pay progression. Somebody should calculate wage inflation since 2010 and then tell us at what point we should turn off our computers and sit at our desks on a Friday.

Just remember you all that you are NOT getting a pay rise you are getting progression up scales that have not been updated for 7 years. I get an effective pay cut, you get a DISGUISED pay cut. Do not be fooled.

Oh I’m in no way fooled. I haven’t had a pay rise since I joined the service in 2009. Totally agree with everything here! This really is the ultimate insult. What all staff have been through these last four years has been stressful and a nightmare. We’ve held high caseloads for well over a year and having an increasing amount of targets demanding to be met. Having to raise Pointless NSIs for most things we do, just so that big brother can check up on us cos they can’t be bothered to read case note entries. Work hard, more hours than we should so we don’t get told off for missing targets and so we can keep our heads above water!! And this is the thanks we get. Astounding.

The average loss in real terms on the average wage is 14%.

Note of caution on the BBC figures, they compared current average for all staff vs previous average for POs so they aren’t accurate. BUT we still have a real terms cut - it’s just not quite as big as 20%...

What ever figures are used it’s evident that our profession has seen a significant cut in pay over recent years. I can’t see it improving anytime soon. We’ve lost that money forever.

I'm surprised that more people haven't left. There are only so many slaps in the face that people can take.

I can't say as how I'm surprised that we're being expected to work five days for the price of four. But it really is ridiculously insulting, especially considering the Prison Officers got 1.7%, we really are the poor relation of the justice system.

That’s why we are not getting it! I am so tired of this job.

I for one have had enough and have reached the point of voting with my feet. It's not going to get any better!!

I’m starting to thinking like that.

The e mail mentions PAY MODERNISATION which to me means fewer points but a lower maximum. Hence us at the top get squat till the rest catch up.

Modernisation means the same as targeted help which is the same as reform. All mean less money for more work. 

At some point we will be told we have a VOCATION which is always a bad sign.

I remember seeing a chart detailing losses since 2008 for various professions & probation was the one that came out worst.

Seriously ..... are we all mentally ill......what are we doing ???!!!????

Unless and until Probation Officers are prepared to go on strike across the board and stay on strike they will continue to get screwed. No one will notice what you do until you stop doing it.

Yep. and that ain't gonna happen any time soon.

Quite which is why I retired early on a pittance rather than continue doing more and more for less and less. At least now my time is my own.

I’d go on strike.

Last time we did  at my workplace I was the only one out there.

I can’t believe it. That’s bad. Quite a few went on strike in Xxxxxxxx

Lots out in Xxxxxx. But mainly the over 40s. Younger workers seemed not to believe in collective action.

A good turnout in Xxxxxxx.

We all need to take action on this. I’m up for striking as the lack of pay rise is taking its toll on all of us. Morale is at an all time low.

I think we should just work more slowly. Why lose money just work 20% slower.

I’m up for striking.

Now that’s a brilliant idea.

I think the loss of earnings due to the pay freeze is something like £4000 and to bring Probation staff back up to equivalent pay levels would mean an additional £4-5k.

Maybe we should work out in relation to work hours how much our pay equates to and just work those hours.

Working contracted hours would be a start.

Oh no. Build toil. Just don't do extra work. Work S.L.O.W.L.Y

I’m at an age where I get very hot and my office always hot. What with the heat and my ageing brain ... thought and work processes are slower.

I know how you’re feeling. Got to be so careful though you might get put on PIP.

I've sent a stroppy email to Michael Spurr. I'm sure it won't make any difference but made me feel better!

I think I might do that too.

It is a real shame when other staff in the public sector end up getting £10000 a year bonus on top of their yearly pay for doing their job

I haven't had a payrise since 2009.

None of us have.

Nothings got any cheaper n im now in serious debt.

After watching Flatpack Empire, I would even consider working at Ikea for £8.65 an hour.
Yep...I've not had a rise for last 7 years!

Cost of living cuts might be 20% If I factor in the fact that despite qualifying in 2001 I am not even half way up the pay scale so earn about £5000 less a year than colleagues at the top of the scale who do the same job as me, I’ve lost about £50,000 in addition to the pay freeze!!!!

But of course they rely on the fact that we don’t do it for the bloody money.
And that is why we are powerless. Too many people will not accept it is just a job.

It's an utter disgrace. Those of us at the top of the scales get nothing. I reckon I've lost out on about 4k over the years. Inflation is now at 3% as well. We are being treated with contempt.

At least 14% of my work time is OASys completion. Lets just stop doing them. Useless waste of time anyway. But we won't. Ah well been nice to vent.


  1. While the incompetent bully Spurr keeps his bank manager happy with £150k plus regular bonuses the frontline probation workforce continue to have the piss ripped out of them. Some JSC MPs, comfortable with their generous pay rises & eyewatering expenses, can't see past the professional increment, citing that it gives staff a 1% annual pay rise. Not even Unison's even-handed explanation had any impact at the JSC appearance.

    Allowances, Leave, pay rises, national agreements, redundancy, professional standards, working environments, nomenclature, respect, courtesy... Nothing remains sacred as HMPPS continue to strip the flesh from probation's bones while filling their own pockets.

    1. I heard that the Napo officials want more pay too how can that happen ? Surely more pay to fund it has to come from a pay increase to subscription?

  2. In terms of the current pay scales, the NPS have been told they must modernise pay structures in a recent tribunal. See point 60 onwards. The judge makes it very clear in point 72 that the NPS should restructure the pay scales as they are discriminatory.

    1. Will probably form the basis of a future blog post, but in the mean time:-

      "72.It should be apparent from what we say above that it is our view that it is principally because the Respondent is actively considering changing the present pay policy to eliminate the lengthy pay progression policy that means that the present policy is justified. If no active steps are taken in the near future the outcome of a further complaint might be very different and we would urge the Mr Paskin to see through the task that he has been set to review the present policy as soon as possible."

  3. NAPO stated on 04.11.17. That they had demanded a meeting with the minister.
    That was. Nearly four months ago.
    Have I missed something?

  4. You will never get a pay rise this century probation is now dominated by robots with degrees in criminology ... in London the YOT I work in YOS Officers earn more than SPOS jump.ship asap!

  5. Rubbish. There was an equal pay tribunal July 2017 similar points where similar points were raised, even the same witness for the respondent (Mr P. Nothing changes and us unlikely to, any time soon!

    A pay audit and gender pay gap review is LONG overdue