CIRC 005: NATIONAL CHAIR UPDATE JANUARY 2024
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.
I can confirm that the NEC will submit the written evidence for this years pay award before the deadline. Once the Pay Review Body have received all written submissions, they will publish all the party’s evidence. We will then await a date for oral submissions.
Meeting with Prisons Minister Edward ARgAr MP
On 22nd January 2024, the General Secretary and I met with the new Prisons Minister Edward Argar MP. A variety of topics were discussed and we reiterated to him that the ridiculous retirement age of Prison Officers needed to be addressed, whilst working conditions, safety and pay did not incentivise staff to remain in the service for prolonged periods. The meeting was productive and the Prisons Minister acknowledged everything we raised.
A ballot of POA members in Scotland confirmed that the membership have accepted a revised pay offer. The threat of industrial action has now been rescinded.
Phil Copple Priorities
POA members and local committees should be aware of a recent communication that Phil Copple, Director General, forwarded to all Governors and PGDs outlining his priorities for 2024/25. They include:
- Security & Public Protection – to prevent escapes, absconds, releases in error and manage other risks to public safety.
- Safety & Order – to achieve a safe, well-ordered environment where risks of harm and to good order and discipline and of ongoing criminality are well-managed.
- Rehabilitative progress – to reduce reoffending rates through a regime of purposeful activity and good offender management, including resettlement.
Local committees are reminded that any changes to regime delivery must involve meaningful consultation from Senior managers via the issue of an Annex A Management Proposed Change (MPC), which involves a minimum 28-day consultation period. If local committees disagree with these proposed changes, they may, if they wish, seek the advice of their NEC area representative prior to responding to any proposed changes.
It is clear that to deliver mandatory staff training and achieve certain aspirations in relation to regimes, some aspects of delivery will be prioritised whilst others will need to be dropped or cut back. My previous advice about the key work model stands. If HMPPS wish to change any aspect of the key work model they must issue the NEC with an Annex A and enter into negotiations nationally. Until this takes place all local committees are reminded that the nationally agreed key work model remains in place and Governors should prioritise key work above other aspects of the regime. NEC representatives are ready to support any branches that need it.
Ceramics in Prisons
POA members are reminded that the possession of ceramic cups and plates by prisoners in their cells is not permitted and should be removed from their possession with immediate effect. This stance has been supported by Phil Copple Director General, who issued a directive in 2018 asking Governors to review control measures for items that can be fashioned into weapons. The only viable control measure in relation to ceramics is to remove them completely from Prisoners possession. I am once again reading reports of serious assaults by prisoners using ceramics. I would not want a member of staff to receive a life-changing injury or be subject to risk from an article that can easily be alleviated. Please help to protect yourselves in your workplace and remove ceramics from cells with immediate effect. The extract from the Phil Copple letter reads:
The Governors of closed establishments must carry out or review existing local risk assessments by 30th April 2018, of the significant items which prisoners could fashion into weapons, and ensure that appropriate controls are put into place; in all cases, this must include razor blades and, where applicable, tins and tin lids, and ceramic items.
HMPPS have indicated that they are planning to reduce the amount they spend on PP. Prisons that are at or above their target staffing figures can expect, at some point in the near future, to have their reliance on PP reduced. We have asked HMPPS to put out communication to their employees to inform them of their plans and the criteria that will be used to facilitate PP.
Dedicated Search Teams/Dog Handlers
The NEC were made aware of an imminent risk to the Health and Safety of DSTs and Dog Handlers due to a policy change in relation to the Use of Force Framework. I am pleased to announce that the issue surrounding the carrying of PAVA for these groups of staff has been resolved with the following being agreed:
“Whilst the consultation is ongoing with the POA, the status quo position of DST and Dog handlers being able to carry PAVA will be maintained.”
All the best