JTU07-2023 – Programmes Reform Bulletin

JTU07-2023                                                                                  15 March 2023


Our members will be aware that the joint Probation Service trade unions (TUs) have now been involved in negotiations about the future of offending behaviour programme delivery for almost a year.  Despite our best efforts, we are no closer to agreement with the employer’s proposals.

We are aware that the employer has stated that there have been over 30 hours of consultation on the subject, although the TUs would question how meaningful this was.  We have continued to emphasise our concerns over how the proposals will negatively impact the management of the risk of harm to the public, in addition to looking after the interests of our members.  Below is an update on the issues the TUs have raised with the employer.


The aim of the employer is to replace all current facilitator job descriptions (JD) at band 3 and band 4 with one JD which may end up being evaluated at pay band 3. The TUs believe that the JD should differ between general offending behaviour programmes (GOBP) staff, such as those who deliver TSP, and those who deliver work with men who commit sexual offences (MCSO) and domestic abuse (DA).

Consultancy, delivery of non-accredited one-to-one work, guidance to sentence management and provision of Learning and Development support to Sentence Management staff will differ with risk levels and complexity. Those subject to conditions to complete a general Offender Behaviour Programme (OBP) are not likely to require significant consultancy, guidance or Learning and Development support

The TUs feel that the creation of two facilitator roles at Band 3 and Band 4 better represents the work of our members.  Work with more complex and high-risk groups (DA and MCSO) justifies differing salary bands to other types of Offending Behaviour Programme (OBP) facilitator staff.


Under the current proposals, the only career development pathway for facilitators will be to leave facilitation.  Our proposals for Band 3 and Band 4 facilitator roles would offer greater flexibility in terms of career progression that would support remaining in facilitation.

The TUs have continued to emphasise the need for the Probation Service to develop a career progression model whereby people new into the service deliver structured interventions and TSP, allowing time to develop their knowledge, experience and skill before they progress to deliver Building Better Relationships (BBR) and programmes for those convicted of sexual offences, if they choose to do so.


The TUs continue to press the employer for further information about:

  • The justification for a single facilitator job description
  • The pay band at which a single facilitator role will be paid?  If the outcome of the job evaluation process puts the role at Band 3, our pay band 4 members face losing up to £11,000 per annum, if they want to continue to deliver programmes.  This includes some former CRC facilitators.
  • The arrangements for Band 4 members currently working in Interventions to return to sentence management.  These members may have been out of sentence management for many years.  As a minimum, these members, would require a full package of training and a gradual acquisition of a full case load.
  • Whether non-qualified Band 4 facilitators who choose to leave Interventions would be offered pay protection if they were to return to a Band 3 PSO role.
  • The consequences for new staff of failing Core Skills or programme specific training


Under the current proposals the employer intends for all facilitators to deliver all accredited programmes and structured interventions.  This will result in existing DSOUs being disbanded, resulting in the loss of the accumulated expertise and knowledge held by our members in these teams and placing the public at greater risk of serious harm. 

The TUs have been clear that keeping these teams would not only mean keeping current expertise in work with men who commit sexual offences but also allow for the development of expertise and knowledge in work with men who commit DA offences and engage in sexually abusive behaviour. 

This would provide an opportunity to enhance our work with this group to improve risk management and public safety.  The TUs continue to be clear that DSOUs should be expanded to incorporate those most experienced facilitators in the delivery of domestic abuse programmes to provide the same level of consultancy and support to sentence management and stakeholders that members in existing DSOUs provide.

The TUs continue to press the employer for further information about:

  • What will be asked of members, who, for whatever reason, don’t wish to work with those who commit domestic abuse offences or are convicted of sexual offences?
  • What will be asked of members who deliver structured interventions and don’t wish to deliver accredited programmes?


Under the employer’s proposals, the TUs believe it is unlikely that Treatment Managers will have the capacity to provide current levels of professional support and guidance to probation practitioners and relevant stakeholders. This would be an increased risk at a time when the Probation Service has a large and increasing number of inexperienced probation practitioners and managers.   It is clear that there are currently no substantive plans in place to ensure that competent clinical advice or support to probation practitioners or stake holders is in place.

The TUs are concerned that Treatment Managers may be expected to oversee programmes of which they have no experience rather than delivering twice before taking up the role.  The TUs have pointed out that this would clearly result in negative consequences for the standard of programme delivery and lead to a reduction in the quality of risk management, putting the public at increased risk of harm.

The TUs continue to press the employer for further information about:

  • The employer’s lack of response to issues raised around the potential consequences of staff inexperience and its implication for risk management, in the face of recent SFO reports and HMIP inspections.


The plans for Interventions will result in significant cost, in addition to the costs of developing a new programme.  The TUs believe this money could be better invested in increasing facilitator numbers for existing programmes.


The employer’s current plans are to replace all current accredited programmes with a single programme for all offenders.  The information so far provided by the employer does not, in the TUs’ opinion, justify the plans put forward and indicates no significant work on a new programme has yet taken place.    

An evaluation of a single programme approach used in Canada which has been seen by the TUs did not yield positive results.  The TUs continue to have significant concerns in relation to:

  • The future of the Domestic Abuse Safety Officer role should BBR be replaced with a single programme
  • How Programme Managers will ensure the safety of our members and people on probation if DA perpetrators and MCSO are included in the same group
  • How Programme Managers will be able to ensure there are no victims of DA or sexual offences in groups
  • How it will be possible to facilitate and ensure the engagement of group members in large groups
  • How sexual deviance will be tackled as part of a single OBP, as this is one of the biggest risk indicators


The unions are opposed to the HMPPS proposals for Programmes because we believe that they will reduce public protection at a time when tackling violence against women and girls is finally getting the attention and resources it deserves in other government departments. HMPPS is trying to force generic job descriptions onto complex work areas in order to save money in much the same way as the NPS did at the time of E3. It did not work then, and it will not work now.

So, we will continue to campaign against these dangerous changes both within and outside HMPPS.