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Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.
I can now confirm that work on the POA memorial will commence in the near future and the unveiling ceremony will be at the National Arboretum, Stafford, on Thursday May 12th at 1100 hours. POA committees are invited to send 2 representatives to the ceremony. Local branch funds should be utilised to cover travel expenses.
Names of interested parties should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org so we may collate numbers.
Any POA members who wish to attend the ceremony at their own expense are welcome to do so. Full dress uniform will be welcomed. A circular will remind members of arrangements nearer the date.
Medal for Staff
The POA are proud to support a campaign organised by the Police Federation to recognise frontline workers. Although their campaign specifically mentions Prison Officers, we will have the ability to apply for the award for all related grades and members we represent including OSGs, Private Sector and Secure hospitals staff, escort services, immigration removal centre staff, and any other frontline workers we represent in any secure setting throughout the UK.
Along with other staff associations, Unions, and organisations, PFEW (and other policing associations) will be helping to launch a campaign on April 4th for the creation of a new medal to specifically recognise posthumous police officers, firefighters, prison officers and other colleagues from the emergency services. We want Home Office approval and are seeking cross-Government support to enhance the current awards system, which fails to adequately reflect the dedication, commitment and bravery of those brave individuals who lose their lives during the execution of their duty.
You will be aware of The Elizabeth Cross, which was first awarded in 2009 and is given to the bereaved relatives of members of the British Armed Forces killed in action or having died of wounds caused by military actions. This is rightly granted to the next of kin of Armed Forces personnel killed on operations, or because of terrorism, as a mark of national recognition for their loss. We are seeking similar recognition for the families of our fallen colleagues across the emergency services. We know this could mean so much to so many.
Market Supplements Extended
HMPPS have informed the Union that the following will apply as a temporary emergency measure approved by HM Treasury to aid stability over the summer months. Members should note this only applies to F&S bands 2 and 3. This is a desperate attempt to retain staff for a short period. This will not apply to closed grades, or those F&S staff at band 4 and 5 either substantive or temporary promoted.
This means that Prison Officers who are on Fair & Sustainable (F&S) terms (Band 3) at HMP Wayland, HMP Berwyn, HMP Eastwood Park and HMP Norwich will receive an additional £3,000 per annum, paid monthly at £250 from April 2022.
Prison Officers who are on Fair & Sustainable (F&S) terms (Band 3) at HMP Bullingdon, HMP Woodhill and HMP Aylesbury will have their Market Supplement payments upgraded by £1,500 to a value of £6,500 per annum. This will be paid monthly at £541.67. Operational Support Grades on Fair & Sustainable (F&S) terms at these 3 Prisons will have their Market Supplement payments upgraded to £1,170 per annum, paid monthly at £97.50.
It was agreed that daily and mandatory testing is subject to frequent review and that once the assessment indicates daily and mandatory testing is no longer a reasonable and proportionate measure it will come to an end. Given the reduction in prevalence and the reduced risk of Omicron HMPPS has decided that mandatory testing is no longer proportionate and as of 3rd March 2022, the mandatory element to testing is no longer required. Testing, however, continues to be vital in containing the spread of covid-19 within prisons and so all staff are strongly encouraged to continue to test.
The requirement for visitors to test prior to social visits in prisons in England and Wales will cease from 1st April, and it will no longer be necessary for prisoners to be offered a pre-visit test.
Continued Testing for Contacts of Positive Cases in England and Wales
Members should be aware of the following guidance that has been issued by HMPPS:
All prison and approved premises staff who are become aware that they have been in contact with a positive case, have been identified as a contact of a positive case or suspect they have been in contact with a positive case will be encouraged to continue to test using LFD testing for 7 days following an identified contact with a positive case.
Until now, prison staff in England who are not fully vaccinated or who do not wish to disclose their vaccination status, had Daily Contact Testing (DCT) available to allow them to return to work through the period of isolation providing they undertook an LFD at a dedicated ATS at the prison prior to starting work for a period of 7 days. Staff in approved premises who are not fully vaccinated have been required to isolate. As the isolation law has now changed and the legal requirement to isolate has ended, staff who fall into this category will now be expected to undertake the DTCC programme.
Additionally, fully vaccinated staff in Wales have undertaken the Risk Mitigation Testing (RMT) and those who were unvaccinated were required to isolate.
From 1st April, in England and from 28th March in Wales all staff who are identified as a contact of a positive case are expected to undertake this programme of ‘Daily Testing for Contacts of Covid (DTCC)’ for 7 days.
Oral Pay evidence
Oral evidence to the Pay Review Body is due to commence in April. All submissions will then be considered and the review body recommendations will then be forwarded to the Government for their decision. A timescale for any pay award is still uncertain.
The Government Internal Audit team recently expressed concerns surrounding the disparity and conflict in how the payment and allocation of bedguards is commissioned. They concluded that policy was not fit for purpose. HMPPS have been heavily criticised. A bedguard review project has now been formed to ensure consistency of policy and payments covering bedguards. The review will consider all aspects of bedguards including fairness of allocation, travelling distances to guards, excessive hours working by staff and travel and subsistence rates of pay. The review has commenced and are due to publish their recommendations by the end of April.
SAVE THE DATE: TUC National Demonstration, 18th June 2022
On Saturday 18th June, the trade union movement will be taking to the streets to demand action on the cost of living - a new deal for working people – and a pay rise for all workers.
Families across the country are bearing the brunt of the cost-of-living storm. Every worker – public and private sector – needs a real pay rise in 2022.
The Government needs to act now. Let's come together on 18th June to speak out.
We'll be marching with thousands of people from all over the UK, followed by rally in Parliament Square. JOIN US!
For more details, please read POA Circular 21/2022.
The NEC continue to hear reports around the estate that some Governors are attempting to reintroduce pre- covid regimes now that restrictions are continuing to lift. A joint statement between HMPPS and the POA confirms that we should not return to the pre pandemic chaotic and violent regimes and we need to find a safer and more productive way of facilitating regimes.
I cannot reiterate enough to each and every one of you that if you deem an activity or task unsafe then you should use legislation and the legally binding Health and Safety Protocol to protect yourself as an individual in your workplace.
I know your local committees are working tirelessly to agree regimes that benefit us all. The days of full wing unlocks, unmanageable numbers of prisoners to supervise and pointless association periods only bred violence and must be a thing of the past.
Please continue to work safely and remember that the NEC will fully support you and address your concerns if you need our intervention.
All the best.
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.