PROBATION NEWS November 2023
PRISONER EARLY RELEASE SCHEME
The crisis of prison overcrowding has led to the government’s announcement last month of an early release scheme for some prisoners. This will have major workload implications for the Probation Service which is already struggling with unmanageable workloads. UNISON will be meeting with HMPPS to discuss members’ concerns over risk management and staffing overload. If you have any concerns, please contact your UNISON probation branch in the first instance.
The joint union ‘Operation Protect’ campaign against unmanageable workloads is having an impact. On the back of the prisoner early release scheme, HMPPS has asked to meet the unions urgently to discuss our ideas about workload reduction. These meetings are on-going.
At UNISON’s Police & Justice Conference in Edinburgh earlier this month delegates voted to seek the repeal of the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. It was this Act which introduced post sentence supervision for those serving short term sentences. UNISON now wants this legislation repealed to allow probation staff more time to manage people on probation with a higher risk of re-offending.
The probation unions have lodged a dispute with HMPPS over the implementation of One HMPPS. The dispute centres on concerns over the potential impact of One HMPPS on pay and conditions, the lack of any implementation agreement to protect staff and the overload which the One HMPPS programme has caused to the trade unions’. A dispute hearing will be held shortly. More news to follow.
PROBATION IS A LOCAL SERVICE
UNISON’s long-standing policy is that probation should come out of the civil service and be returned to local management and democratic control. This was how probation worked, and worked well, before the disaster of Transforming Rehabilitation.
We are pleased that the out-going Chief Inspector of Probation shares our views. In his last Annual Report, published in September this year, he said:
Many in the service hark back to the days… when probation was a genuinely local service – locally accountable rather than run from Whitehall, focused on local partnerships and able to act autonomously within them. I have to say I have increasing sympathy with this view.’
The Labour Party has also recognised the failings of civil service management of probation. UNISON has been in dialogue with the Party via the union’s Labour Link to make the case for moving probation back to local control.
Labour’s National Policy Forum document agreed at its party conference in October says:
The Conservatives’ centralising approach to running services from Whitehall is failing badly. We will ensure that the Probation Service is run effectively in local areas so that probation staff can focus on rehabilitating people in their communities. We will positively explore options for more locally delivered and responsive services, and the devolution of powers over youth justice and the probation services to the Senedd and Welsh Government.’
Back in June of this year, the three probation unions submitted a claim to HMPPS to re-open the three-year pay award to improve the pay deal which only gave on average a 3.2% pay increase to probation staff each year. Since June, HMPPS has failed to respond to the claim. The unions are due to meet the Justice Secretary later this month to discuss the claim among other issues.
Another claim from the unions is to introduce geographical payments to help staff in very high cost of living areas outside London.
Ex-CRC STAFF INCREMENT CLAIMS
Ex-CRC staff can now find out whether they are eligible to claim for increments which should have been paid by their CRC if they were appointed, promoted, or regraded between 1 October and 31 March at any time between 2014 and 2021. The Probation Service has now published the process for doing this. It is quite a complex process, but UNISON encourages all ex-CRC members who were appointed, promoted, or regraded by a CRC between 1 October and 31 March at any time between 2014 and 2021 to follow the process to see if they are eligible.
UNISON speaks up on behalf of Probation Service staff. We are campaigning for better pay and conditions for you and your colleagues. If you are not already a member of a trade union, join UNISON now to add your voice to our campaigns.
Call FREE on 0800 171 2193
Or visit: www.joinunison.org