Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.


Pay Award

On the 20th of December the Government finally activated the remit letter to the Pay Review Body. They have a target of February for written submissions. The NEC will produce written evidence before this date in order to expedite already severely delayed pay processes.


Key Work

It has been brought to the attention of the NEC that many Governors are attempting to ‘dilute’ the agreed National Key Work model in an attempt to provide some form of key work that satisfies their reluctance to curtail prisoner activities. For the avoidance of doubt the only agreed Key Work model is the one that has existed since its introduction which includes Prison Officers having a case load of no more than 6 prisoners that they engage with once a week for 45 minutes. This work should be profiled and the additional staff to achieve it is included on the prison Annex G.

Many ‘project teams have different ideas on how keywork should be facilitated such is the chronic staffing shortages in some prisons. However, under no circumstances should the agreed key work model be diverted from. If Governors wish to achieve a successful and productive key work model that was initiated to reduce violence and harbour positive staff /prisoner relationships they should consider prioritising key work above ‘domestics’ and ‘association.’

If any Governor attempts to divert from the agreed key work model local POA Committees should immediately submit a local dispute as per PSO 8525. For further advice on this issue please contact your area NEC Representative.


HMP Lowdham Grange

The Ministry of Justice announced on the 18th December 2023 that HMPPS has taken over the running of HMP Lowdham Grange in Nottinghamshire for an interim period to improve safety and security at the Prison. The public sector will take temporary control of Lowdham Grange and are sending in Neill Thomas ex Stocken as Governor, along with our own SMT and detached duty staff.

No decision has yet been made over the permanency of the contract. All expenses will be met by Sodexo.


New PGD Appointments

HMPPS have confirmed the following appointments to the three Prison Group Director (PGDs) vacancies:

Helen Ryder: Devon and North Dorset

Ian Blakeman: London  

Matthew Spencer: Yorkshire and Humber


Custodial Managers

For some considerable time, the NEC have been relaying to HMPPS that the Operational Custodial Manager spans of control create excessive workloads for that grade of staff. Policy is more aligned to an office environment and is not practical for operational grades. This work is nearing completion and it is envisaged that Custodial Managers will have a more manageable workload. As soon as HMPPS confirm final details the membership will be updated.

As the year draws to a close, I would like to relay my personal thanks to each and every POA member for the outstanding work you continue to do despite intolerable working conditions. You are a credit to society, the POA and your employer. Continue to support each other and remember that your NEC is there for you whenever you need us.

I wish you all a peaceful and Happy New Year.

All the best.

Mark Fairhurst
National Chair

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.