POA Circulars

139 | 23.12.2014

National Detached Duty

The National Executive Committee has been in consultation with NOMS on their protocols and guidance since February 2014 in an attempt to support members who are either being forced or volunteering to go on detached duty. The protocols are attached at Annex A for information.

The requirement for Detached Duty is necessary due to serious operational difficulties in some prisons and due to the chronic staff shortfalls, shortfalls which were created by poor planning and inept management. Whilst NOMS may believe that they have supported staff required to perform detached duty during this prolonged period the reality is that more and more POA members are being forced to live away from home and have their family lives disrupted.

It is clear that the requirement for detached duty will remain throughout 2015; not necessarily as a result of staff shortages, but due to the fact that NOMS can no longer recruit Prison Officers in certain parts of the country because their remuneration package is not competitive, something the Executive have been advising NOMS on for some considerable time.

It must also be noted that the POA strongly objected to the number of leavers under NOMS VED’s scheme and told them that they had got their estimates on the prison population wrong.

The Executive do not accept that members should continue to have their family and working lives disrupted to shore up a service that is in disarray. The NEC has sought legal advice on the legality of forcing staff or requiring staff to perform detached duty. Following receipt of that advice and a case conference with counsel, it was determined to seek information from members who fall into one or more of the following categories or protected characteristics:

• Single parent,
• Primary carer,
• Working a work life balance shift pattern,
• Working under the provisions of the flexible working regulations,
• A part time worker,
• Covered under the equality act 2010,
• On medication for an underlying medical condition; or
• Suffering an underlying illness.

If you are asked to go on detached duty and you object to the request or order, you must make representations to the Governor stating your reasons to be excluded. A standard letter is attached for your use at Annex B, you must insert any personal reasons you have for objecting. If your reasons are refused, you must fill in a grievance and comply with the order under duress.

A standard grievance is attached at Annex C for you to complete and submit. The Executive would also like copies or a note of the reasons you gave to the Governor if you are excluded from the requirement to perform detached duty.

Please forward a copy of your grievance and or reasons to be excluded to the legal department at Cronin House or by e-mail to legal@poauk.org.uk no later than Friday the 30th of January 2015.

Please draw the contents of this circular to all your members.

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

Yours Sincerely

General Secretary