Thursday 21 April 2022

It's Very, Very Sad

Recent contributions pretty much say it all I think:-

I'm left wondering, with so much of what once was seen as probation work being handed over to wherever, is 'probation' still an appropriate term for what the service does?

No, current practice not worthy of the term 'probation'.

To a familiar tune:

"Its HMPPS, they're HMPPS, we know they are, that's all they are, they're HMPPS."

The word 'probation' within that acronym is simply to tick yet another a box; a bit like tying your enemy's flag to the back of your rocket launcher, or carving a notch in the stock of your rifle.

Probation is dead.

NB: There are individuals desperately trying to keep small samples of probation DNA alive in the hope they can recreate the noble beast. It is important to keep these locations secret as the HMPPS operatives are determined to exterminate any & all traces.

Very sad indeed. What's more, the servility of the senior civil servants who have enabled the destruction of our public services is of much regret. And we have our most senior minister, the 'prime' minister, leading by example.

Most reading this blog are, presumably either probation practitioners or have knowledge/experience of the probation environment. Many will therefore, I assume, be familiar with the wriggly 'weren't-me-guv' behavioural traits of 'regular customers', of those who excel in perpetrating domestic abuse, of the sexual offence perpetrators in denial & the run-of-the-mill bullies who have an overblown sense of entitlement.

All of these behaviours have been publicly celebrated as defining our 'prime' minister by government ministers & (with rare exception) the supporting cast of backbench MPs.

It comes as no surprise that the unfashionable values of 'probation' are unwanted, unloved & ridiculed. How can you possibly believe in truth, compassion & integrity if you are cheering on Boris - a vile creature who regards life as a parlour game for posh boys, something to toy with in between enjoying sexual favours, drinking, eating & spending other peoples' money.

It is true. The rules simply do not apply to Boris. He is other-worldly, esoteric, beyond the ken of man. But not in a good way.

Has anyone actually met him? I have. Skin-crawlingly unpleasant. Vain-glorious. Aloof. Shambolic. Rude. No capacity for focus and very easily distracted by a strong drive to acknowledge wide-eyed women. Easy to see how Jennifer Arcuri became a fill-in shag on the sofa while his previous soon-to-be-ex-wife was undergoing cancer treatment. (Arcuri made sure of pocketing a few quid from her experience & doesn't seem to have regrets).

Lies, law-breaking & other socially inappropriate acts of indiscretion are merely inconveniences to this grotesque. But I think the longer he stays, the better. Uh!?!?

Firstly, the more likely it becomes that he loses his shit in public &/or takes his private quipping & trolling beyond what even the most heinous lickspittles can stomach.

Secondly, the irreparable damage to the Tories becomes more widespread. Sadly there are always unintended consequences, but Starmer might have a better long-term plan than we imagine by baiting the buffoon on a regular basis. We saw signs of a snarl today.

Again, practitioners with some time under their belts will have tales of X or Y eventually being unable to hide the reality of their true personality, or the enormity of what they've done.

The demise of probation values has been co-terminus with the demise of the moral fabric of the UK, the methods & Modus Operandi very similar. The targeting & bullying of vocal opponents, the failures & the syphoning-off of public monies has been an experience far too familiar for many probation staff.

It is VERY, VERY sad.

Saturday 2 April 2022

Latest From Napo 230

It's been awhile since we've covered union news, but here we have the latest Napo mailout:-

Dear Xxxxxxxx

Your pay and the cost of living

On a day that sees our members across Probation, Cafcass and Probation Northern Ireland face massive increases in utilities and council tax together with a hike in national insurance, we understand the anger of members about inadequate pay. We will be doing all that we can in the pay negotiations with your respective employers to try and achieve significant improvements, but members should know that we have many challenges ahead of us. Napo through the TUC, will also be playing its part in the ‘Cost of Living’ campaign and a range of activities are being planned over the Spring building up to the National Demonstration in London on Saturday 18th June. More details of how you can get involved in our pay campaigning will follow over the coming weeks

Changes to Access to Work affecting Civil Servants.

Access to Work (ATW) is a government scheme which supports disabled people in work. It was set up to provide employees with practical support with their work via a grant that can help pay for things like: BSL interpreters; specialist equipment; adaptations to your vehicle so you can get to work; or pay for taxi fares; and, provide a support worker to help you in the workplace.

However, from today if you are a civil servant you cannot apply or renew your grant from the 1st April 2022. If you already have grant in place, please do not worry, this will continue as normal until the grant is due for renewal. Provision is in place so that each individual department will take over responsibility for providing the service previously provided via Access to Work.

This is a significant change and will create a level of anxiety and uncertainty for disabled members. We have been re-assured by the Probation Service that the necessary mechanisms are in place to cover any individual whose funding comes to an end on the 31st March or if a disabled member of staff needs to make any new application from today onwards. This process will be dealt with by the MoJ Workplace Adjustment Service.

If you have any concerns or questions about what support you need as a disabled member of staff, and have any concerns about the changes to ATW please contact Napo’s lead for Equalities Ranjit Singh at

Open online recruitment meeting – Thursday 7 April 12.30-13.30pm

We are holding an ONLINE RECRUITMENT MEETING ON THURSDAY 7TH APRIL 12.30PM-13.30PM with General Secretary, Ian Lawrence, to give an update on matters concerning Probation and the Family Courts and why join Napo. This event is a meeting open to all members AND non-members also so please circulate widely and talk to colleagues about this if they are not yet in a union.

Recruit a Friend Scheme

If you were not aware of this yet, we are running a current ‘Recruit a Friend Scheme’ till the end of April whereby any member who recruits a new member, means that both of you will get a £25 online LovetoShop voucher. So please talk to your colleagues and if they are not yet in a union, encourage them to join Napo or come along to the online seminar on 7th April to find out more. Due to this year’s budget, it is capped at one voucher only for your first new recruit, of course all new recruits will still get the voucher, but don’t let that stop you from recruiting please, as our top recruiters will also be entered into a draw to get an extra prize/voucher. We will be running several of these schemes frequently throughout the year. Do always check out the Napo website where you can download leaflets and handy tips for recruiting and organising.


In Napo we have accredited reps that will help members in individual and collective representations as well as having accredited Health & Safety reps. We would like to increase our accredited reps across the union and you can sign up for courses at the TUC here

Make sure you get in touch with your branch if you want to sign up for any of these courses or contact Annoesjka Valent at

This could be daunting if you do not know what is involved, but your branch will be happy to talk you through the task and perhaps arrange for you to sit in on some cases / meetings that are happening, so that you get a better understanding of what it all entails. As an accredited Napo rep or when undergoing training, you are entitled to time-off and workload relief/ The branch or Napo HQ Official will assist you with this if you should encounter any problems with your line management.

However, if you feel you cannot take on a role like this, there is always ‘something union’ you can do! You could be a Napo ‘Activ8r’ – be a signpost in your office, maintain the union notice board and just put your name up for people to approach you. You don’t have to have any answers, just listen and tell people you’re going to pass their query/issue onto a rep to get back to them.

Contact Annoesjka Valent at if you want to be added to the Activ8r list.

Napo AGM – Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 October in Eastbourne

A mail-out was sent to branches this week about this year’s hybrid AGM. We hope you are looking forward to getting together again, it sure was great to meet up in Newcastle last year. Obviously this is for members feeling comfortable in doing so and able to attend, but we hope you look forward to returning to a seaside venue!

Following on from last year’s post-AGM Survey, we of course will be continuing with a hybrid format for all the main conference sessions the way it was run last year in Newcastle but we will be returning to in-person fringe meetings at the actual conference rather than hold online fringes in the run up to AGM. There may be possibility for one or two fringe meetings to be held hybrid in the main hall but we need to confirm that with the venue and information will be sent to branches following a next site visit. But meanwhile please put this date in your diary now!

Pay updates

Members will be aware that the annual pay progression and pay award is due today. As usual it will not be paid on time because HMPPS cannot make any payments relating to progression or the pay award until the totality of the pay award is settled, and the negotiations on the pay award cannot begin formally until the Civil Service pay remit is issued and permission is given. We have yet to begin formal negotiations on the Probation pay award for 2022/23 and will be issuing the Joint Trade Union pay claim shortly. We will of course share the pay claim once it has been submitted.

We are now at the end of the trial year for the Competency Based Framework for pay progression (CBF). The CBF was part of the 2018 pay deal that members voted on with a commitment for the Trade Unions to work with HMPPS to develop the details of the scheme. We have retained automatic contractual pay progression for all the years while the framework was developed and we secured a genuine trial year during which pay progression would remain automatic. This means that everyone who is eligible for pay progression will become entitled to progression today (even though it won’t be paid until the pay award is concluded). The progression will of course be back dated to today

The CBF is the mechanism that replaces automatic pay progression and enables staff to move more quickly up the pay scales. It would not have been possible to move from the former 23 year pay scales without some mechanism. The CBF was designed to enable staff to progress through the pay scale, not to hold them back. The intention is that no more staff will be held back from progression than with the previous mechanisms (because there was always the potential to hold someone back from progression as a specific outcome of a disciplinary or poor performance process). We know that some staff are struggling to believe that there is no catch, but the truth is that the only catch with CBF is the natural inclination of people working in Probation to seek to prove themselves. The CBF is genuinely a simple process, with very little bureaucracy attached, which only requires staff to evidence maintenance of competence during the year. The threshold for holding someone back from pay progression is necessarily high, as there is a pay implication that could result in justified complaints against decision makers if this was to be withheld.

We encourage members to share any and all feedback about their experience of the trial year of CBF, and to share any concerns about suggestions that the CBF is linked to performance measures in any way.

Contacts – Ian Lawrence and Katie Lomas

Health and Safety

Version 15 of the Safer Working Practice has now replaced V14. You will notice that a lot of the mandated protections have been removed and replaced with words such as "encouraged" or "choose". This is because the government has now handed back the duty of care to the employer.

What this means for us is that the covid risk assessments are even more important to ensure the safety of colleagues and people on probation, especially as the rates are rising as fast as they are doing. Can all health and safety reps ensure they take part in revising existing risk assessments, including those for programme delivery etc. We are not in "business as usual" but "living with covid" and that is about ensuring safety. Good ventilation is key, and staff should still not be using rooms where there is no or inadequate ventilation. Keeping a safe distance and/or wearing face coverings are also important to maintain.

If you are, or suspect a person on probation is, vulnerable please ensure you ask for an individual covid risk assessment (soon to be known as a personal management plan), even if you feel you don't need any reasonable adjustments (and this includes our pregnant members of staff). We are aware that very few people were recorded nationally as being in this group so it is extremely possible there was under reporting of it. Completing this document ensures that the employer is aware of who is more vulnerable to ensure all safety adjustments are put in place.

We have asked for further clarity in relation to this morning's advice that if you think you are experiencing symptoms of covid you should isolate for 5 days, or if it will be more cost effective for the employer to continue to provide testing kits.

Our weekly Winter Recovery meetings with the employer are continuing for the time being, so please do get in touch with any comments or concerns.

Contacts – Carole Doherty and Ian Lawrence

Best Wishes
Napo HQ