POA Circulars

43 | 16.04.2014

Benchmarking: Update

The National Executive Committee discussed the recent report back from the BDG sub-group in respect of a number of issues, the following is a summary of the key points.


The POA and BDG have been working for several months to develop the (RMP) guidance. This document will be discussed by DDC’s and placed before the NOMS Assurance Board shortly for sign off.

The (RMP) provides systems and regime plans to assist local committees and Management to establish Safe, Systems of work, Risk Assessments, Minimum Staffing Levels (MSL’s) and regimes which can be delivered safely. It is vital that all committees engage in this process once it has been approved.


The BDG have adopted a different approach due to the demographics of the estate and all prisons have now been visited. A positional paper was submitted to the Assurance Board in early April and it is anticipated that the 2nd Phase will commence throughout May to August.

The delay has been due to the Women’s Estate review, although ROTL and through the gate changes will be included in Benchmark Reports. The feedback to date on engagement has been positive with proposals all being considered. The NEC will continue to monitor the progress of this work.


The Open Prison Estate have all been visited by BDG and Stage 5 Reports issued. Some of the Open Estate are at Stage 6 Reports.

Concerns have been raised by members over the implications of the new PSI on ROTL for the Open Estate. The backlog of OASys reports and changes in Open Prison regimes is being considered, but BDG say all the work has been profiled into Stage 5 Reports. This is being challenged locally and nationally.

The Open Prison branches met with the POA BDG group to discuss issues relevant to their prisons and these issues are being progressed.


The work in the High Security Estate is ongoing. It is clear that there are some serious underlying issues specific to this part of the estate that need to be addressed.

The Safety, Security, Good Order and Discipline of these prisons, in addition to the type of high risk offenders will have to be considered throughout the process.

It is vital that local positive engagement takes place throughout the process. The NEC will continue to monitor the process and support branches.



There are still serious concerns and confusion across prisons, as Management press ahead to deliver regimes based on the ideology of 1-30 for example. For clarity this is purely a figure used by BDG and not a base to dictate numbers on activities.

All activities, or regimes must be staffed based on local facilities, local circumstances, risk assessments and safe systems of work. It is not acceptable for a Governor to simply say 3 staff unlock and supervise 90 prisoners for example. The staff to prisoner ratio varies in each prison type but the principles remain. Even if this was acceptable and it is not it could only be introduced of a prison was at “Steady State” currently there is no prison at Steady State. Steady State is dictated by a number of factors including Target Staffing.

The NEC have produced a number of POA Circulars and articles in Gatelodge to clarify how Benchmark operates. These should be accessed for information.

The NEC has agreed to produce a Gatelodge Extra which will assist all members to understand the process. This will be sent out shortly.

Please draw the contents of this circular to your member’s attention.

Thanking you in anticipation of your support and co-operation.

Yours sincerely

General Secretary