Communications, Press & Information Committee


To review the current methods of communications used by the POA at local, area and national level.

To review the current provision of information technology, establish if it is fit for purpose and make any recommendations for change deemed necessary.

To establish a strategy document setting out, short, medium and long term aims to improve communications between members, providers and external organisations.

The committee will prepare written reports to the executive and other committees within the union’s structures as necessary, making recommendations for change.


PJ McParlin - Chair
Glyn Travis - Secretary
Steve Gillan – General Secretary
Ralph Valerio – National Vice Chairman
Andy Darken – Deputy General Secretary
Steve Lewis – Researcher


Following the decision of the NEC to establish a sub-communications committee, the committee met on the 24th October 2011 to discuss the next steps in improving and reviewing the way in which we communicate with members, providers and external organisations.

As a result of the meeting it was agreed to produce this strategy document for your consideration.

The National Chairman has established the terms of reference and the General Secretary appointed appropriate secretarial support to ensure this piece of work is conducted in a timely manner.

The Chair of the sub-committee has produced an article for the December Gatelodge to launch this initiative and seek views and opinions of the wider membership.


  • To ensure that all forms of communications is joined up and two way.
  • To consider alternative forms of information technology to support our communications strategy.
  • To conduct impact assessments on all forms of communications, to ensure it is fit for purpose.
  • To formalise a short, medium and long term strategy to improve communications.
  • To raise the public’s perception of prisons and the work of the POA members.
  • To improve communications between members, providers, other unions and organisations.
  • To introduce significant improvements in communication in a timely and cost effective manner.
  • To ensure compliance with legislations.


Short Term:

  • To examine and review all strands of communication.
  • To examine the feasibility of introducing new forms of communication with members such as:  POA Facebook, Twitter account, SMS/TMS text alerts, extension of union blogs, national advertising campaign.
  • To meet with existing and new providers to examine technology and services.
  • To produce written reports to the NEC and internal POA committees to agree and introduce changes to our communications programme.
  • To analyse the data and outcome of the POA’s survey.
  • To engage with members and seek their views on how communication can be improved.
  • To establish standing items for all area meetings, to ensure all NEC members are involved in the day to day communication with members.
  • To look at methods to improve branch returns on information, workplace and postal ballots.
  • Explore the present communication working practices in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
  • Engage with and consult fellow Trade Unions with the objective of exploring their present communication working practices and emulate best practise.
  • Appoint a field based committee and focus group to identify membership perception of current communications. Identify member driven action points for medium and long term measures.

Medium Term

  • To purchase and introduce new technology across the unions offices to improve communication.
  • To ensure all FTO’s and NEC members have I.T. equipment that is fit for purpose, links up with the union’s office technology and improves communication.
  • To deliver information technology and media training for key personnel to ensure the union’s message is heard.
  • To engage appropriate services/organisations to collate and report on the union’s communications activities.
  • To look at the way in which information is collected, reported and stored in respect of trade union and political activity.
  • To examine how union activity and attendance at events, campaigns, rallies and demonstrations can be increased.
  • Foster a collaborative approach towards improving communications with the field based committee and focus group.

Long Term

  • To ensure that the union’s communications continue to be developed and improved, taking account of the needs of the members and union.


  • Methods of communications are always changing and it is vital that the POA as a people organisation keeps pace with and adapts to change.
  • The NEC must ensure that adequate funds are released to deliver and improve our communications.
  • The profile of the POA has to be raised if the union is to succeed in the challenges that lie ahead.
  • The work of all POA members has to be brought to the attention of union’s, Politician’s, organisations and the general public if the public’s perception of prisons and secure hospitals is to be changed.   Improved communications will be a key tool in delivering change and achieving change.