As mentioned in our last general update we are keen to continue this communication source, so we hope the following is helpful.

Control & Restraint

As you will have seen in correspondence work has begun for the return in C&R.  This is a huge milestone for us and one we have been pushing back on from November last year.  It is naturally a worry that after the past 15 months or so where we have been told to stay apart that steps are now being taken to return to the mats and train with colleagues.  This decision was made in conjunction with the return to pre COVID attendance patterns which, naturally will mean more prisoner interaction. It was also made with genuine concerns from many within our membership contacting us stating they were beginning to feel unsafe due to their lack of confidence in C&R and PPT.  It was a complex issue and decision to reach, however we took it with the understanding that robust RA and SSOW will be designed locally for each establishment that will have all the preventative measures you would expect for the SPS to deliver this training in a safe manner and to ensure our membership have as safe a working environment you possibly can.

Car Park Attacks

Following the last update, we can confirm that the SPS are still working through the plans laid out in their previous correspondence and will share the findings ASAP. 

Attendance Patterns

You will be aware that a date for returning to pre COVID attendance patterns has been scheduled for circa 30th September. Many establishments will be returning before this date, and this will be supported via a RAG assessment tool.  It should be noted that some establishments had asked for flexibility to make small changes to their roster prior to returning to ensure a better roster for their local establishments, and as an SNC we supported this decision as local branches have the autonomy for their attendance patterns and we shouldn’t stand in their way of negotiating small changes.  You will see from the correspondence that was sent out that should no agreement be met then a return to pre COVID attendance patterns is the fallback position.

As we have said for months, although we are returning to pre COVID attendance patterns we should be cautious about returning to pre COVID regimes as 1 thing that has been evident throughout this pandemic is that prisons have been a safer place to work in and we must maintain this safer way of delivering the regime that is required.

To say it’s been a difficult journey for some of our membership doing the long days is an understatement however we hope the light at the end of the tunnel is welcomed and eases the anxieties some have been facing. The members deserve immense credit, and we will not allow the sacrifices made by you, and your family life balance to support these regimes to be forgotten.


PFTA Updates

Updates on the national disputes.

Dog Handlers – POAS and SPS went to arbitration and the arbiter ruled in favour of SPS.  Obviously, this was not the outcome we had hoped for however we must accept this legally binding outcome. 

Emergency escorts SOP – SPS agreed to a new SOP which has been designed and accepted by the branch who raised it and by the SNC, so this PFTA has been resolved. 

COVID testing for staff

All SPS sites have the facility for staff testing to take place.  Uptake is not as high as is hoped and whilst it is entirely voluntary, we would again encourage as many of you to take up this resource to ensure as safe a working place for us all as possible.  Information on how to enrol is on the SPS SharePoint site.

SNC Reps to Establishments

SNC reps are continuing to travel to branches for essential business.  Should you wish to meet with us can you speak with your LBCs who will ensure we see you when we are in visiting the establishment.    

The State Hospital Carstairs

Our membership, along with most other NHS recognised unions voted to accept the 4% pay deal that was offered, and they have now received this award in their salaries.

Union Learning

Along with our 2 long standing Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) we have managed to get volunteers from within our membership to take up the role as ULRs which will help improve the union learning opportunities to our membership.  Most of the new reps have completed the course with a couple still in the process of doing so.  We are still looking for volunteers in the establishments who are not listed below and should you wish to volunteer please speak to your branch chair or secretary.  Current ULRs are:


Edinburgh – David Thomson & Kevin Clydesdale              Castle Huntly – Paul Leach

Barlinnie – Mick Mulholland                                          Polmont – Willie Mulholland & Jamie Connell

Cornton Vale – Andrew Taylor                                       Perth – Ryan Anderson & Maria Kiakowski

Grampian – Chris Bain                                                   Carstairs – Alan Blackwood & Allan Connor


Due to the success of the previous Gym Instructors Level 2 course and the fact we have managed to get more ULRs we have managed to obtain further funding for another 12 learners to do this course.  Details on how to apply will follow shortly.

We are keen to carry out courses that reach as wide range of learning we can for our membership so in the coming months we will look for input from yourselves to what type of training you want us to try and secure funding for so please keep an eye out for that communication.

COP 26

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference takes place in Glasgow from 31st October – 12th November.  Plans are underway between SPS and TUS into how this conference will impact, not only the SPS but the wider justice system in Scotland. From routine court cancellations throughout the conference to forecasted increase in prisoner population.  The amount of planning that has gone into this means that SPS are close to finalising, in consultation with TUS, how business will look for the 2 weeks (spread across 3 weekends) from weekend courts and the obvious impact on prison regime and SPS staff.  We hope this information is out soon to give everyone the opportunity to plan appropriately 

Perth Comms meeting 27th July

The POAs held a communications meeting on 27th July. It was a strange meeting being the 1st since the pandemic hit however it was great seeing LBC members in the 1 room and working as a collective for the benefit of the membership.  The following topics were discussed. 

Pay Structure

Discussions took place around the SPS pay structure that was part of the 3 year pay deal.  It was noted that talks with SPS and sister trade unions are ongoing as to how best achieve this as there is legitimate concern that we do not seek to introduce a structure that lends itself to any form of an equal pay claim.  We are engaging with trade unions whose employers have a similar staffing profile to SPS to see how this is achieved.  We will keep you updated on progress.

Physio Service

Following on from a successful pilot scheme in Edinburgh and Polmont SPS have rolled out their physio programme for staff who feel they require it.  Details can be obtained from local HR. 

Gender Balance

Discussions were had around how gender balance is affecting staffing compliments within the grades we represent.  It was clear that many establishments feel they are hitting a concerning level of different gender staff to prisoner profile which is beginning to have an impact on regime delivery and placing extra pressures on staff who have the same gender identity of those prisoners within their establishments.  It was noted that the adverts from staff for the Woman’s National Facility (WNF) and Community Custody Units (CCU) welcomed applications from female officers to deal with the female prisoner population.  It was highlighted that recruitment had highlighted through their risk register that to carry out the business required identified a need for more female, than male officers.  LBC have been encouraged where there is a genuine issue with gender balance to contact their GIC to get it added to the establishment risk register and this should help with the issue going forward. 

35 hour Working Week

It’s well advertised that the trade unions are engaging with the Scottish Government to look at the viability of all government agencies working a 35-hour week.  This idea will feature in the SPS pay discussions once more is known about the impacts of such a move. It should be recognised that for front line roles there is a significant difference in cost for such a move, and in these early stages it is unclear what the wider implications of such a move would have on future pay negotiations in regard to affordability/priorities for both the employer ant the respective trade unions.

POA Website

As mentioned in the last update. Many of you will be aware that the POA undertook a massive upgrade of the website, and I am sure you will agree it is looking far better than the last one.  You will also see that Scottish updates feature more prominently within the new site.  We would encourage you all to sign up the members section where you will be able to access union benefits, including discount schemes whilst being able to see the profiles of the SNC and the working groups/establishments we are involved in.  The address is

It should further be noted that soon there will be a further upgrade to the new membership database, where your membership record will be shared directly with you and will give you the access to change your personal details, rather than going through LBCs, this is to comply with GDRP rules, therefore we ask that you sign into the website to allow you access to this platform.

We hope you found this update helpful.  Stay safe.






Representing over 30,000 Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers, the POA is the largest UK Union in this sector, able to trace its roots back more than 100 years.