National Chair

Apr 2010 | 21.04.2010

Bronze Standard Now The Target


Dear Colleagues

The Public Sector Prison Service has always been praised for the excellent work it has produced under the most difficult of circumstances.  The budget cuts being imposed by NOMS are having the effect of not just leaving us working in dangerous prisons but are now leaving us open to criticism from all quarters, some would even say the NOMS Board are setting us up to fail. These strange acts from a body that say they are the Champions of the Public Sector, must be questioned and challenged.

The outgoing Chief Inspector of Prisons Dame Anne Owers has stated in her last Annual Report “even staff carrying out excellent work are now being told to hit a bronze standard because there is no money available”.  In her final report she implied that resource restraints could lead to violent disturbances in jails, warning of increased instability in a fragile environment and could not rule out a return to the overcrowding crisis, in the future.  Dame Anne warned “Prisons doing excellent work are being told to aim for the bronze standard; prisons with full employment  are told that this will not be affordable, innovative work, outside formal and mandated interventions is under threat”. 

The NOMS Board, want to turn the professional uniformed staff in our Prisons into Turn Keys.  The ill-conceived plans to introduce a second tier prison officer on derogatory pay scales are designed to save money but will make our prisons more dangerous. 

NOMS continue to insist that they will not accept ZERO TOLERANCE TO VIOLENCE in our prisons.  This is at odds to what Jack Straw wrote to the POA on 23rd January 2008 stating “I know the Prison Service has a very clear and robust zero tolerance policy on physical assaults in prisons”. The NOMS Board are operating a totally independent policy, if we are to believe what Brother Jack has stated to the POA. 

Who should we believe?  A Minister of State who has a record of making statements to the POA including, that Private Sector Prisons are “morally repugnant” then overseeing the largest private prison building programme in Europe or a NOMS Board that has steadfastly attacked the living standards and pensionable pay of POA uniformed staff.

There is no choice, as both share the same bed of deceit when it comes to serving the best interests and safety of POA members.  Dame Anne Owers in her critical report is right to state that the Prison Service in England and Wales is operating at a bronze standard.

Both the MoJ and NOMS should stand in the dock of shame in the way they are dragging our proud Service down the tubes of failure. 

NOMS continues to tell us we must do more with less, whilst they waste millions on ill-conceived IT systems, such as P-NOMIS and In Vision.  The NOMS Board seem more interested in running a two tier disciplinary code and rewarding those they have closely worked with.  What they should be doing is lifting the Prison Service from the bronze standard to gold standard we all deserve.  Who will protect the Public Sector Prison Service?

The POA is using all its influence to engage with all our major political parties to inform them of the mis-management of some of the most dedicated hard working professional public sector workers.  We must see an end to the wasteful financial incompetence that have been perpetrated on the Prison Service in the form of year on year budget cuts by this NOMS Board. 

I recently visited HMP Bure, this is a new 500 bed Category C prison, in Coltishall Norfolk.  I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the staff in opening this new Public Sector Prison.  They have shown that the Public Sector when given the opportunity can open and run new prisons.  I would urge both New Labour and the Conservatives to take the opportunity to visit this excellent facility and view what Public Sector workers can deliver.  The dogma and ideology that says all new prisons must be private should end.  Let us truly operate on a level playing field in bidding for new prisons and stop this morally repugnant practice of handing all new prisons to the profiteers. 


Glen Parva


Yours sincerely


Colin Moses
National Chairman