National Chair

June 2018 | 29.06.2018

Ignore staff concerns at your peril!


Staff safety is not negotiable!

Another conference has passed and it was certainly a lively and interesting event.

The delegates were a credit to this union and I c an see a bright future if the level of participation and the desire to improve working conditions continues. Trade unionism is certainly alive and well in the POA.

My congratulations to all those who were successful in the recent elections. Welcome to Dave Cook an d Sarah Rigby, who I know will be an asset to members, welcome to the National Executive Committee. To those who missed out I would encourage you to apply for the vacancy that currently exists.

As we move forward I think it is important to focus on the victories that we achieve. All too often people focus on the negatives but in reality we continue to gain momentum and continue to get procedures and protective measures in place that improve the working life of all POA members.

Over the last twelve months we have:

  • Placed RMP ’s in jails as a requirement, due to the PSI we forced on the employer.
  • Deployed PAVA in f our jails to improve staff and prisoner safety as a pilot scheme. We will insist that there is a national roll out of PAVA which includes all categories of prisons.
  • Issued batons to the open estate during night patrol state. We will continue to pursue protective measures in the open estate during all states of the day.
  • Launched a pension changes challenge in court.
  • Challenged the employer over OSG pay and retirement age.
  • Applied political pressure to ensure the Carillion contract was returned to the public sector. We will continue to insist the Amey contract returns to the public sector as well.
  • Ensured lifetime protection for staff who have passed promotion JSACS.
  • Issued the employer with pre-action protocol letters to initiate judicial reviews of unsafe jails. Th is has forced the employer into immediate action in an attempt to stave off a judicial review.
  • Successfully re-opened prosecutions ensuring lengthier sentences handed down for assaults on staff.
  • Ensured that prison workers are included in the emergency workers bill progressing through Parliament which ensures sentences for assaults on prison officers will be doubled.
  • Forced a tobacco free workplace. All prisons are now ‘smoke free.’

All of the above contribute to our success and we should be proud of the union we are members of.


It was interesting to see the reaction of delegates towards our CEO Michael Spurr at conference. The photograph sums up the thoughts of conference, but credit where it is due, he faced our questions and criticisms and one can only hope that the strong feelings towards his leadership will hit home and he will start to take what the POA highlight to him and his directors more seriously.

At an assault rate of 23 staff per day the time really has come to act upon what the POA suggest. Denying staff the protective measures they so desperately need and allowing governors to run unsafe regimes, along with excuse after excuse for failure is no way to run this service.

As summer approaches so does our peak staff leave period. It will be interesting to see if regimes get curtailed to cope with the demands of allowing staff their summer leave. Ploughing on regardless without staff availability will undoubtedly lead to conflict. Now would be a good time for managers to sit down with local committees and ensure that the plans for the summer include predictable but safe regimes. It is vital that staff recuperate after working in what is undoubtedly the most violent and stressful workplace in the UK. I would encourage local committees to raise this subject as soon as they can if they have not already done so. NEC area reps will be pleased to advise. Let’s hope the summer is a pleasant one for us all.

Over the next few months negotiations begin over a few important issues including pay, overtime and payment plus, advanced prison officers and the youth custody estate. We will continue to update you as we gain more information.

Finally, I would just like to place on record my thanks for your continued support. Although we face many challenges ahead I am positive that our unity will improve our safety and working life.

Enjoy your rest periods.

All the best.

Mark Fairhurst
National Chair