POA Circulars

99 | 11.06.2020



Earlier today the CEO Jo Farrar for HMPPS put out an update to all her staff titled “RACISM IN HMPPS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED”. The first thing that I would like to say is that I endorse her statement as the POA General Secretary. There can be no hiding place for a tiny minority of staff who display racist behaviour. Indeed, there can be no hiding place in the POA for those individuals who are racist. The POA have expelled individuals in the past for racist behaviour and we will not be afraid to do it in the future once due process has taken place.


It would appear that a number of racist incidents and behaviours have been observed and reported recently to HMPPS from members of Prison staff who may or may not be members of the POA who have taken offence at postings on social media.

I have been a long serving member of the National Executive Committee in various capacities and we have constantly put out warnings about conduct around social media and postings. I have had the pleasure of working with some great National Chairmen Mark Healy, Colin Moses, Peter McParlin and Mark Fairhurst who have all championed the POA as being a Trade Union for everyone. I am now starting my third term of office as General Secretary and I will continue to work hard to ensure that everyone is treated with respect in the workplace.

The POA are responsible for its official Facebook page and we will be taking steps to ensure that it is used appropriately. I have noted with concern that some posts on our site are not by POA members when checked against our database. We will liaise with our IT consultants to ensure any offensive posts do not get posted. However, I want to make it abundantly clear we are not responsible for other social media sites. For example, “Know the Danger” Open site is absolutely nothing to do with the POA. We do not endorse it and haven’t done since its inception. I am aware of other closed sites on social media and wish to make it clear the POA do not endorse or are responsible for those sites either. Individuals will use them at their own risk and I would advise POA members to stay off them.

As long as I am General Secretary the POA will continue to work with HMPPS to eradicate racism. The POA will continue to work with the TUC, and outside agencies such as Stand up to Racism and Hope Not Hate in campaigning against racism and any other forms of discrimination in society and the workplace. That is what a Trade Union does it simply doesn’t just focus on internal issues within its own organisation.

I want a situation where HMPPS work jointly with the POA on a training package that is mandatory to ensure Equality and I will discuss this further with the CEO Jo Farrar and the Director General Phil Copple. It is in everyone’s interest to work together. The vast majority of POA members and HMPPS staff are decent, hard working people and I am not prepared to let a tiny minority spoil the respect that many in the POA and indeed in the Prison Service have strived to achieve over the years. I have said it many times the POA only take into membership who the Employer employs but as a responsible recognised Trade Union we will work tirelessly with HMPPS and any other employer to ensure our BAME members do not suffer in silence.


Your Sincerely

General Secretary