At the National CRC Committee on 4 November it was agreed to contact HMPPS with regard to the new Lockdown in England expressing our concern that CRC’s appear to be required to work to a Recovery and Transition Model that was signed off some 3 months ago when we were in a very different place with regard to the pandemic.
Since then the HMPPS Update: New National Restrictions in England (below) has been issued. There is therefore little chance of HMPPS offering different advice. It’s also the case that different approaches have been adopted in different CRCs.
Accordingly Unison NWPC branch will be making representations to the Interserve and Sodexo managed CRC’s in the North West that CRC staff appear to be required to work to a Recovery and Transition Model that was signed off some 3 months ago when we were in a very different place with regard to the pandemic.
In addition the Government has issued revised guidance covering people who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV).
Clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) staff must work from home. If they cannot work from home, then redeployment opportunities could be considered if this would enable them to work from home. But if a CEV employee cannot work from home, they should stay at home, work if they can, and must be paid normal full pay.
For employees who are Clinically Vulnerable (CV), staff should only attend the workplace if it is COVID-secure. If an employee expresses concerns about returning to the workplace, the employer should address these concerns and carry out an individual risk assessment. If COVID-secure requirements are not met, the employee should not return to work until appropriate measures are in place; until then, the employee should remain at home on normal full pay.
If you have any concerns in this regard i.e. your working situation please contact the branch on firstname.lastname@example.org
HMPPS Update: New National Restrictions in England
Following the Parliamentary vote yesterday, we are all facing additional COVID-19 restrictions in England. The restrictions commenced today and will continue until 2 December. I am writing to update you on our operating plans in England for the period of these restrictions.
Across our services we have taken every opportunity to refine our strategy and operations to limit the spread of the virus since March. As we enter this new phase of the pandemic, we have swiftly assessed our operational plans and applied the learning we have from our experiences to date. We have additional mitigations in place which were not available in March and put us in a stronger position to limit the impact of any outbreak. For example, we have fully implemented our compartmentalisation strategy in prisons, we are rolling out a comprehensive testing programme and we have increased our use of PPE across all services.
In the probation service, our aim is to continue to deliver our core probation services under our established exceptional delivery framework, as we have been doing over recent months, prioritising public protection and risk management. We will follow the principles of our Roadmap to Recovery, while protecting the health and well-being of our staff and service users by following public health advice. Our Regional Probation Directors and CRC CEOs will continue to make decisions on how to best deliver probation services in regions based on local circumstances and staffing levels and adjusting their exceptional delivery plans as needed. We will continue to deliver Accredited Programmes and Unpaid Work wherever possible, consistent with government and public health guidance. Our Approved Premises will also remain open, with amendments to how they operate where necessary.
In the prison service, our COVID-19 National Framework commits us to keep reviewing the balance of risks we face. Our strategy is based upon rapidly identifying and tackling outbreaks wherever they occur, rather than pre-emptively imposing a lockdown of regimes across the estate.
During the period of the national restrictions we will need to temporarily pause social visits to adults at all sites in England. There will be exemptions for compassionate reasons which can be approved by a Governor locally. We will continue to prioritise supporting video calls for prisoners and their loved ones to encourage continued contact during the restrictions period.
Official visits – such as access to legal advice – will continue although remote access through telephone or video conferencing should be used as a priority. Support to Offender Management and Parole Board activity remotely and face to face should continue where safe to do so.
Our other priorities that we will continue to deliver are: access to exercise and education areas; continued delivery of workshops where these have been reopened since March; structured wing activities and one to one sessions between prisoners and their key workers; particularly for those who are vulnerable or high risk.
Other activities such as corporate worship, library attendance or access to barbering/hairdressing will be suspended in line with community restrictions, as in Welsh prisons during the Wales firebreak. However, exceptions can be made if removing an activity would cause significant harm to the wellbeing of an individual and these will be agreed on a case by case basis. We will continue to offset the impact of regime restrictions by offering free PIN credit, supplementary food packs, and payments for those not able to access work.
Social visits to children in the youth estate will continue where sites remain safe to offer them. We will continue to work with our co-commissioners to operate as full a regime as possible for the children in our care across Young Offender Institutions (YOIs), Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs). As in the community, we will aim to continue to provide education, including physical education to children across the youth estate. We will also ensure access to advocacy services and Custody Support Planning (CuSP).
Access to all aspects of health care for young people will remain paramount. It often helps our young people to access other areas within our secure estate, particularly education.
I am grateful for the valuable support and contribution all our partners are making to ensure that we can operate our services as safely as we are able to. Our latest information and advice in relation to the pandemic is continually updated on GOV.uk.
CEO of HMPPS