National Chair

Jun 2010 | 23.06.2010

POA 71st Annual Conference

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Dear Colleagues

The 71st Annual Conference awaits the answers to what a Coalition Government will bring.  The POA, like every other Public Sector Union waits with a certain amount of trepidation for what the future holds for public sectors under this new regime.

Our Conference was the first trade union Conference to be held following the General Election result.  Whilst we had a wide and varied Agenda overshadowing the thoughts of all the delegates, there was a palatable level of uncertainty. 

Conference was addressed by numerous speakers, including Sir Alan Beith Liberal Democrat MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed who chaired the Select Committee on the Role of the Prison Officer.  Alan was given a warm reception by Conference in recognition of this excellent report.  Conference also heard from Mr Michael Spurr the incoming Chief Executive of NOMS who gave his vision for the future. 

Conference recognised the exceptional bravery of two POA members in the carrying out of their duties.  Neil Walker of Frankland and David Wingfield of Low Newton both acted above and beyond to save a fellow officer and an inmate in different incidents.  Both were awarded the Mabel Hempton Award by the POA.  The Union took this opportunity to show our recognition; we now await the same recognition to be shown by the Employer and Government for these brave individuals. 

Lord Bradley the author of a comprehensive report into mental health in the Prison Service addressed Annual Conference.  Tom Robson National Vice Chairman replied on behalf of the POA welcoming this very good report.  We only hope that the new Coalition Government implements the recommendations.

The theme of Conference was Prisons not for Profit, a world renowned expert on the folly of privatisation Mr Stephen Nathan gave a very informative speech outlining the false economy of privatisation. 

Conference also heard from Dr David Green of CIVITAS an independent think tank that advocates PRISON DOES WORK.

Juliet Lyon of the Prison Reform Trust gave an alternative view to Conference on the errors of imprisoning too many from our communities.   

Zero Tolerance and the recent upsurge in violence in our prisons was debated.  We welcomed the announcement by NOMS to stop the sale and distribution of glass containers in the closed estate.  We look forward to when this ban can be put in place throughout the prison estate. 

I hope to soon be signing a joint statement with NOMS in regard to the implementation of zero tolerance to violence across the prison estate.  The POA will welcome this initiative.

Whilst writing this article, we are still not sure of the policy that is to be taken by the new Coalition Government to penal policy.  We have requested a meeting with the Justice Minister Rt. Hon. Ken Clarke so we can put forward the views of the professional men and women who work in our prisons.

The Executive has changed in personnel and I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Mr Glen Birchall of HMP Manchester and Mr Ralph Valerio of HMP Elmley to the NEC, Mr Steve Bostock of Brinsford takes over as National Vice Chairman and Mr Pete Chapple takes over as Finance Officer.

In the last 12 months we have seen four new members join the Executive; we also see a new General Secretary in Steve Gillan as well as two new Full Time Officers in Joe Simpson and Andy Hogg. 

The National Executive Committee will continue to fight for improved working conditions and safety of all our members. The Executive will work with any Government that is interested in safeguarding the public sector. We are all too aware of the perilous state of our Country, it should never be forgotten that the state of our economy was not brought about by hard working professionals in the public sector.  The POA is not politically affiliated to any party, the Country has decided and we should all work in the common interest of our communities.  The POA wants and demands safe decent prisons not ones that are over run with drugs.  We want the equipment to stop the influx of illicit mobile phones.  We must have action to stop the growth of Muslim gangs or any other gangs that wish to dominate and carry out criminal behaviour in our prisons.

Good Industrial Relations are at the heart of running good prisons, we can only hope that the Coalition Government will impress on the NOMS Board that we must see an improvement on Industrial Relations starting with a national agreement on resolving disputes.

BRANCH VISITS
Gloucester
Whitemoor

 

Yours sincerely
 

 

Colin Moses
National Chairman