National Chair

Oct 2010 | 19.10.2010

More for Less

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The current thrust and buzz phrase in NOMS (National Offender Management Services) is “more for less”.  As we await the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on the    20th October 2010, many may say what is wrong with this statement.  Austerity should be at the forefront of our minds so the message from the Government reads. 

The concept of MORE FOR LESS is a concept of running our prisons, not in a SAFE and DECENT manner, but running them on the cheap with dangerously low staffing levels; putting staff, inmates and the public at risk.  The Government and NOMS must realise that there is no rewind button when riots and serious acts of indiscipline occur, due to them gambling on our prisons being safe. They can not continue to run prisons on the cheap and cut budgets to the bone at the expense of our safety.  Sometimes it actually feels as if they are cutting into the bone and marrow of our prisons. 

The cuts envisaged under more for less are done under the guise that the Country is in a dire financial state and we must all contribute to getting us out of this mess. 

The current financial state of this Country was not created by public sector workers.  The lives of public sector workers should not be put at risk to bail out the mismanagement of bankers and Treasury mandarins. 

The Prison Services throughout the United Kingdom face an ever increasing rise in the level of violence towards staff and yet budget cuts seem only to be aimed at those in uniform on the front line.  During my recent visits to prisons throughout the United Kingdom, staff have relay to me some horrific stories of the threats and intimidation that they face on a daily basis in their working environment and the problem is on the increase.  We have a culture where inmates are openly using such expressions as “COLLATERAL DAMAGE” when referring to assaults and attacks on staff whom have the audacity to interfere with them carrying out their criminal behaviour in prison. 

Currently a number of Parliamentary Questions (PQs) and Freedom of Information (FOI) Questions are reviewing the level of violence in our prisons hopefully this will bring about change or slow down the dangerous budget cuts.  The more for less programme will only serve to heighten the threats to staff o a daily basis and lead to more claims for compensation costing the tax payer more ion the long term.  The MoJ should abandon the disgraceful programme of more for less and replace it with a root and branch examination of the waste that is produced by such systems as In-vision and other IT disasters.  It should also look at the millions that are wasted on medication in our prisons.  The burden of budget cuts should not fall on front line uniformed staff.  We have to be prepared to fight to preserve safe and decent prisons.  We should be prepared to join with other public sector unions to fight to protect our Pensions in the face of the Hutton review.  If we are not prepared to defend our working conditions then we can only wait until those workplaces are wrecked, havoc prevails, sick rates and stress levels rise, as our already dangerous prisons only get worse.

We should all stand ready to assist the Country to recover but that assistance should not be at the cost of POA members’ lives. 

Branch Visits

Woodhill   

I addressed a very well attended branch meeting, along with Mr Steve Bostock, National Vice Chairman.  Concerns of staff were regarding future pensions and the rise of violence in our prisons.

Grendon   

I visited Grendon in the wake of an inmate murder.  Grendon has a history of being one of the most successful prisons in the Country delivering a unique programme and so for a murder of an inmate by other inmates to take place in such a surround again identifies how budget cuts are affecting the safety of both inmates and staff.  If it can happen at Grendon, where will it happen next?

Brixton   

If there was ever evidence of the apathy that prevails in our Union and the concern of staff for their Union to do more, it was presented to us starkly at Brixton.

Hindley   

I addressed a very large branch meting in which the concerns of staff were the daily assaults they are facing from the juveniles held there.  The rise in incidents where staff have been spat upon was a serious concern for those in the prison but more so was the lack of support and action from management when dealing with these incidents.  Staff concerns were about what the future holds for their pensions and employment. 

Shepton Mallet   

Shepton Mallet is one of those prisons that feel that the ominous leaks of prison closures without any substance being put before them is making their lives very difficult.  Shepton Mallet is one of the highest delivering prisons in the Country.  The size of the prison should not be the driving force in any review but the rate of delivery of the tasks that are set by NOMS.

Guys Marsh Area Meeting    

I attended an area meeting of the SW prisons where 16 prisons were in attendance.  The main thrust and questions again ranged from the future of our prisons, the status of the Officer 2, budget cuts and the effects these will have on the safety and security of our prisons.

Birmingham   

The decisions of Birmingham’s future as a public sector prison lie in the face of Market Testing and obviously staff are anxious as are their families.

Glenochil   

Is a successful prison that is looking at how partnership between the SPS and the POA Scotland impacts on their member’s. 

Conferences attended

TUC
Liberal Democrats
Labour
Conservative’s

 

Yours sincerely
 

 

Colin Moses
National Chairman