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

Detached Duty Bonus Scheme

The NEC have been made aware of colleagues suffering a financial detriment if they committed to a Detached Duty Bonus Scheme but were unable to complete the hours due to an assault or injury occurring at the detached duty site. We can now confirm the following will apply as approved by HMPPS.       

We have now fully reviewed your request for consideration to be given for the payment of bonuses, where an individual is unable to complete the full period of NDD due to sickness.

Our position stands in that staff who do not complete their full detached duty period for reasons of sickness will NOT be entitled to the full bonus, unless they complete the hours upon return to full duties. I am content that there is suitable provision in place to allow for exceptional circumstances to be considered at the appropriate level (Deputy Director of Prisons), should the necessity arise. As well as options for the individual to complete their NDD duties at an alternative location upon return to duty and receive the full bonus payment, should they wish to do so.    

However, we do now consider it appropriate to review cases where an individual is assaulted at work and is granted Sick Leave Excusal as a result. This will bring the position of bonus payments in line with HMMPS’ obligations under paragraph 9.6 of the Civil Service Management Code.

In such circumstances officers are entitled to continuing to contribute towards their bonus on the basis of the mean average number of NDD hours worked over the 13 weeks preceding the assault. This period will be used in determining whether an officer is eligible for a bonus payment and to what bonus payment should be awarded.

I also believe that it is appropriate to move to a position of pro rata payment of bonuses commensurate with the number of weeks completed for any individual that is unable to complete full duties due to sickness (rather than to the nearest 4, 8 or 12 weeks as is the case now). We do, however, need to conduct some final checks with pay policy colleagues on this final point.

Therefore, our proposal is as follows:

  1. Draft revision to the guidance, in line with that noted above (To be completed by 22nd Sept)
  2. Liaise with pay policy colleagues to ratify the position (return by 29th Sept)
  3. Share with Trade Unions for comment. (14 day consultation)
  4. Implement: W/C 16th Oct

Fitness test

Official communication has now been received by the NEC in relation to the scrapping of the annual staff fitness testing. The following applies:

The recent review of fitness testing has concluded, and POMC-R have approved a number of recommendations to make changes to the current fitness testing arrangements. It will take some time to develop alternative delivery models and during this time the current annual fitness testing will remain paused. Recruitment, specialist, and C&R advanced testing will continue.

The main recommendations from the review were:

  • Fitness testing to remain in its current format for new officer recruitment, specialists and C&R
  • Where specialist testing for applicable groups (as per the current fitness testing policy) remains in place, dismissal or regrade will be replaced with relocation for those who fail (process to be designed).
  • Replacement of the standard annual test with an appropriate scenario-based assessment that replaces the pass and fail element with advisory outcomes (to be designed).
  • Introduction of a well-being approach (to be designed).

These changes are, in part, informed by emerging research into age and gender and how these impact on physical fitness. In particular, research highlighting the potential effects of menopause has meant the standard test is no longer fit for purpose in our modern service.

A well-being approach will be developed with the intention of supporting staff with wider fitness considerations such as blood pressure and cholesterol as examples. As with the scenario-based assessment, OH referrals may be appropriate and further guidance will be provided on all aspects with the introduction of the revised policy.

POA Scotland

The Scottish National Committee are still waiting on any formal offer being tabled from the employer for a pay settlement date of April 2023.The SNC have had informal discussions with SPS and are fairly clear about what the offer will look like once tabled, but it is still going through the Scottish Government route for approval.

The Chief Inspectors of Prisons Annual Report was published with a mixed bag of positive and negative commentary around Scottish prisons. The main focus is on the impact of the continued overcrowding in our prisons, and the projections for the numbers to climb above 8000 again in the near future. She has cited this as leading to holding some prisoners in inhumane conditions both in terms of the age of some of the estate, and the space available for cell sharing. She has focused on the lack of rehabilitation and training work being done due to staff shortages and overcrowding, citing the societal cost of that not being delivered in a way that has meaningful impact on recidivism rates in Scotland.

PAY 2023 – 2024 – Ballot Result

The POA recently held a pay ballot for Mitie Care & Custody ICE & OCC staff that are covered by the POA recognition agreement within Mitie Care & Custody. The proposed pay award put to ballot is shown below.

  • 1% increase for ICE DCO National and ICE DCO Vehicle Base.
  • 7% increase for ICE DCO London and ICE DCO Vehicle Base London.
  • 7% increase for Manston DCO and Manston DCOM.
  • 7% increase for ICE DCOM National and London.
  • 5% increase for Operational Control Centre Officers and Operational Control Centre Managers.

The pay award was accepted by 77.5% of members that responded to the ballot. 61% of members voted in the ballot. 2 Ballot papers returned were deemed spoilt. The pay rise will also be applied to all overtime worked from 1st May 2023. 

GDPR: staff absence / sharing personal information

The NEC continue to receive reports about staff absences being discussed in weekly attendance management meetings that are attended by a number of individuals within establishments. Staff are reminded that they have a right under the General Data Protection Regulation Act that their personal information is not disclosed to anyone other than those who need to know about their absence, such as their line manager. The circumstances in which your personal information is shared is restricted. To ensure compliance with the UK GDPR, this information should only be shared when absolutely necessary and only with the minimum number of people to achieve the specific purpose. Other colleagues, even other managers, should not have this information shared with them unless there is a specific and justifiable reason for them to be made aware, and even then; only essential information should be shared.

Sharing personal information in group settings (such as management morning meetings) is highly likely to be inappropriate/unlawful.

POA committees are encouraged to take note of GDPR legislation, ensuring their members privacy is protected at all times.

POA Survey

The NEC have commissioned their own survey that we now encourage all POA members to complete. It can be accessed in the comfort of your own home or on a smart phone. It will take about 20 minutes to complete and we wish you to be as honest as possible. The results from the survey will be used as evidence to the Pay Review Body during the next round of pay submissions. At this time the survey is only open to serving members who work in public sector prisons in England and Wales. There will be future surveys for all other members in other jurisdictions in the near future.



The survey will run until Monday 30th October 2023.


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.