POA Circulars

123 | 29.09.2017


The detached duty guidance document (“The Guidance”) was discussed at the National Executive Meeting on 14th September 2017.

The Executive does not accept that Detached Duty is still necessary and have agreed to arrange a meeting with HMPPS to discuss this issue regarding their   Guidance document and have agreed to seek legal advice.

The vast majority of POA members are Mobile Grades and they can therefore be ordered or asked to go on Detached Duty. Local Management should establish a list of suitable employees once they are aware they are required to supply Detached Duty.

If a member is asked or ordered to go on Detached Duty and this causes problems for the individual, they should meet with the Line Manager and set out their reasons to be excluded from Detached Duty. Paragraph 10 II says that staff should be asked to identify themselves if they think they should be excluded from the scheme. The examples given are: primary carers/special needs and exceptional circumstances. Paragraph 12 requires staff who have particular needs, such as caring responsibilities which limit the flexibility to carry out detached duty to set out their reasons for being excluded from the requirement to undertake detached duty with their line manager.

POA advice is that if there is no change following these representations and management insist on the Detached Duty, the member should raise a grievance. The member should agree to undertake the detached duty under protest and seek legal advice from the POA.
It is clear that HMPPS are seeking volunteers and using the bumping system to avoid compelling members to undertake Detached Duty, which necessitates staying away from home. However, the POA is concerned that this Guidance may well be indirectly discriminatory, breach the Working Time Directive and Health and Safety Legislation.
There are a significant number of typographical errors in the Guidance but, we understand it has already been circulated to Governors and HRBPs.

The principles set out in the Guidance cause serious concerns and members need to seek clarity from the employer when claiming travel time and subsistence.

“Briefing and Induction at Receiving Establishments”.

We consider this section of the Guidance is totally unacceptable. Members should ensure they receive adequate security and other relevant information as part of their briefing. Members should also demand access to local risk assessments, safe systems of work, contingency plans, local agreements and local security strategy including the workings of the RMP, to ensure their own health and well-being and that of prisoners in their care are protected. All of this should take place before the member undertakes normal duties.

It is also important that members who are taking their own PPE (e.g. the extendable baton) have written permission to take this home if they are not going to the home establishment to collect prior to travelling to the establishment they have been sent to. Members should also ensure they have all PPE and are fully trained in the use of this at the receiving establishment before undertaking normal duties.

Members should also ensure they are given a secure locker to leave such PPE for the duration of the Detached Duty at the receiving establishment.

The Executive have also been asked to advise members who leave smoke free establishments to work in non-smoke free establishments or vice versa. Obviously, this is a relatively new issue, but one the employer must take into consideration. Members must raise this issue with their Governor and receiving Governor to ensure their health is protected. The guidance issued to all POA members in relation to opening a cell door when the occupants have been smoking remains for all prisons where smoking is permitted.

Please draw the contents of this to all your members and raise it with your local SMT to ensure all members are fully briefed and aware of their rights.

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

Yours sincerely
General Secretary