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Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.
The Prison Service Pay Review Body have confirmed they have submitted their recommendations for the 2022/23 pay award for Prison Officers and related grades to HM Government. We must now wait for the Government to publish these recommendations and inform us which recommendations they wish to adopt.
Civil Service Job Cuts
There are still no confirmed plans relating to the recent announcement by the Government reference 91000 Civil Service Job cuts. We still do not know if this will affect HMPPS staff. It is envisaged that details concerning these job cuts will be announced sometime in July.
The Scottish National Committee are conducting a workplace ballot on the Scottish Prison Service pay offer. They fully expect an outright overwhelming rejection. The consolidated offer reaches no higher than 3.5% for the lowest paid members. The ballot will run until 18 July.
Assuming there is no improvement on the offer there is the potential of moving to a ballot for industrial action, as Scottish Prison Officers have the right to strike.
HMPPS have commenced discussions with the NEC concerning their proposals that Nasal Naloxone should be carried by Prison Officers so they may administer this drug to prisoners experiencing an Opioid overdose. This would involve training staff in spotting the signs of an overdose and how to safely administer the drug.
HMPPS insist this can yet again be facilitated by ‘volunteer’ staff, without the need to renumerate staff for this additional skill.
The NEC want additional skills performed by Officers and OSGs to be fully funded and staff paid for the skills they gain to assist the business.
Members are reminded that they are under no obligation to ‘volunteer’ for any additional task or skill that the employer considers essential to delivering business or targets.
We will continue with discussions but must reiterate that Prison Officers and OSGs are not ‘clinicians’ and any insistence that this drug can be administered by Officers or OSGs must be fully funded which includes an increase in salary for the additional skill gained.
The more that staff ‘volunteer’ to perform additional tasks for zero additional renumeration, the more difficult it is for the NEC to improve your terms and conditions.
Members should make themselves aware of the following:
We have become aware of changes to the Offensive Weapons Act, which came into force in 2019. Legislative changes to section 141 of the CJA extend the list of weapons that are considered to be offensive, and make it possess certain weapons in private places. It is likely that this legislation would be interpreted by police and the CPS as applying to PR24 and extendable batons that are issued to prison staff.
The changes mean it is a criminal offence to have in batons in possession in private, whereas previously an offence may only have been committed if possession was in public. A private place could include a place of residence or a vehicle.
We have raised this, and HMPPS are working to clarify the position and advise on appropriate working practices moving forwards. We are working together to ensure staff can return batons they may have stored at home safely and legally and will advise in due course of the arrangements for doing this.
In the interim period, we strongly advise any member who may have stored at home an extendable or PR24 baton should alert their manager. We are concerned that members will be placing themselves at significant risk if they continue to store any of these items at home, rather than in the workplace.
PENSIONS CHALLENGE: THE 2015 PENSION SCHEMES AND AGE DISCRIMINATION
Members are encouraged to thoroughly read POA Circular 37/2022 to ascertain if they registered for a compensation payment for ‘injury to feelings’ after our recent successful legal challenge that was settled pre court action with the Government. This circular gives an update on all aspects of our legal challenge over changes to your pension.
Help for Wormwood Scrubs Members
Plans to turn the former Governors House adjacent to the prison into an approved premises are progressing. If this plan goes ahead staff will be placed at risk. All POA members are encouraged to sign the petition to prevent this proposal from progressing. Please sign the petition at the following link and support your colleagues at the scrubs:
Home to work mileage claims for Dog Handlers
Notice to staff 3/2022 which can be accessed via the HMPPS intranet confirms that:
From the 1st April 2022, all Dog Handlers can be reimbursed for the home-to-work mileage costs when they are transporting their dog to their permanent workplace, free from taxation and National Insurance contributions, where the relevant criteria is met. This enhancement to the policy brings consistency for all Dog Handlers who need to transport their Dog to and from work.
DOCUMENTARY OF POA HISTORY
Members are invited to view the new documentary that highlights the history of the POA. It can be viewed via the following link:
I have consistently reiterated to POA members and local committees that the NEC are against returning to pre covid regimes, do not advocate full wing unlocks and wish to abandon pointless association periods that include meaningless games of ‘pool’ and ‘table tennis.’ In order to ‘build back better’ we must learn from past mistakes and regimes.
Future regimes must be based on risk. The NEC advocate small, manageable unlock numbers that encourage staff engagement, give us the ability to respond to incidents and ensure regimes are safe. We advocate purposeful regimes that address offending behaviour and encourage social skills. I have repeatedly reminded local POA committees that if they are having issues with a difference of opinion about regime delivery then they should contact their area NEC rep.
Future regimes must be agreed locally between the Governor and the POA committee.
If any Prison is returning to pre covid regimes including full wing unlocks then it must have been agreed locally, as the NEC would never agree this position nationally.
The NEC are unaware of any branch that has complained about regime progression. If any branch is having difficulties agreeing regime progression including unlock numbers, they should contact their NEC rep.
I again reiterate- we must not return to pre covid regimes if it is not safe to do so and future regimes must be agreed locally after a thorough assessment of risk.
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.