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August 2016 | 05.09.2016
POA POLITICAL PERSUASION
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR JUSTICE SAYS SHE WANTS TO WORK WITH POA ON REFORM PLANS.
It would seem a week in politics is a particularly long time. From the referendum result that no-one believed was possible, the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister, the appointment of Theresa May as his replacement, to the internal battle between ‘right’ and ‘left’ in the Labour party, certainly a lot has happened in a very short space in time.
For my own part, I met with the new Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice (SOS) Elizabeth Truss on Thursday 21st July. The SOS was accompanied by the new Prison & Probation Minister, Sam Gyimah MP, Amy Rees, Principle Private Secretary at the MOJ, and one of the SOS’s personal aides. The meeting had been scheduled to last only 30 minutes but I managed to squeeze it to over an hour, much to the aide’s annoyance at messing up the diary sheet. The new SOS stated that she wanted to work with the POA and was committed to fully engaging our Union in her reform plans going forward.
Prison reform continues
The SOS asked me to give a full and frank overview of the current state of the system and we spoke in detail about the resolutions to some of those issues I believed she needed to address. The SOS stated that she wished to continue with reform to the prison estate by closing old prisons and opening new ones, that she wanted to give governors more power and influence over how their prisons are run and that she wanted to look at how prison officers could potentially adapt their role to change the way in which prisons work, and enhance the skills and variety of jobs for our members.
The first meeting was a positive one and I have offered the POA’s assistance in ensuring that our members’ concerns are raised and also to accompany the SOS on any of her prison/secure custodial environment visits, so that the POA can explain and direct her understanding of how our establishments work. The POA will carefully monitor the political climate as things change and evolve under a new Government leadership. We must place heavy emphasis on political persuasion and do all we can to influence the right results for POA members across political parties.
The result of the offer on Payment Plus from NOMS was clearly rejected and I hope whatever the NEC decide are the next steps, that you get behind your NEC and POA locally as we strive to look at those issues that matter most. Remember though, “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and the NEC do not have a magic wand. We will have clear strategies to approaching our common concerns and no area of the POA will be overlooked. The concerns of our members in various different establishments, private or public sector and any other environment in which POA members are present will not be ignored but please remember that this takes time, patience and unity on all of our parts!
I have received an unusually large amount of emails and letters and I’m afraid I haven’t been able to respond to people as quickly as I would have liked to. I would remind members that there is a structure to the POA and that it is important that I and my NEC do not try and undermine that, so I would ask those that have issues locally to contact their local area reps for advice and consultation. If those local committees need to seek further guidance, then they will do so from their NEC representative. I will respond to all of the letters and emails but apologise in advance for the delay you may experience in receiving a response.
Congratulations to Gary Lyon, Branch Chair at Ashworth, on his recent victory at Employment Tribunal. We hope that the two colleagues wrongfully dismissed by the Trust at Ashworth will also shortly see some justice from their respective tribunals.
Your opinions are important
I have continued to visit establishments up and down the country to share the POA message with members and will hopefully, get to see all of our members on my visits during the next few years in office. It is important to me that each and every one of you are able to express your opinions, views and ideas with my NEC. Recent visits have included Liverpool, Birmingham, Highpoint and even Scotland POA HQ.