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

Your safety at Work

It pains me yet again to inform the membership of a serious assault on a colleague which rendered them in an induced coma such was the ferocity of the assault. It is vital that all staff work as safely as they possibly can. In order to ensure your safety at work all POA members are encouraged to consider the following:

  • Never work alone – ensure you work within sight and sound of a colleague.
  • Never unlock a landing on your own- ensure you work at least in pairs.
  • Do not conduct CFCs alone even if cells are unoccupied- conduct CFCs in pairs.
  • During an alarm bell situation on a wing/unit ensure all prisoners are locked away until the situation is resolved and you are confident it is safe to unlock.
  • Do not unlock unmanageable numbers of prisoners if you are responsible for their supervision.
  • Make yourself familiar with all Risk Assessments and Safe Systems of Work for the area you work in and adhere to them.
  • Make yourself familiar with the legally binding Health and Safety Protocol (enclosed with this circular), so you are aware of your rights at work 

Your safety is non – negotiable.

Cookham Wood Re-Role

HMPPS have announced that HMYOI Cookham Wood will be decanting all juvenile prisoners and the prison will be re-roled to an adult prison.

Staff will stay at HMYOI Cookham Wood in the short term, and the site of HMYOI Cookham Wood will be used to further boost adult estate capacity. Plans are now underway to operate the establishment as an adult male prison in the short term and to review options for longer-term use of the site. These changes will not affect employment with HMPPS. Individual HR support will be provided.

Early Day Motion 479

All POA members are encouraged to contact their Local MP to ensure they sign EDM 479. The motion reads:

That this House condemns the horrific and cowardly unprovoked razor attack on a prison officer at HMP Humber on 9 February 2024, which resulted in 53 stitches for a facial wound; notes with alarm the rising tide of prison violence since the end of pandemic lockdowns, with assaults against staff up 16% and the total number of assaults up 21% over the past 12 months; further notes with alarm the rise in weapon attacks, with knife and blade assault incidents up 16% in the most recent year reported compared with a 2% rise in assaults involving all types of weapons, which made up 25% of all prison assaults in 2022 compared with 10% in 2010; agrees with the Government’s 2021 Prison Strategy White Paper’s assessment that traditional wet-shave razors can be used by prisoners both as a weapon for assaults and to self-harm; expresses concern that, despite seven pilot projects on alternatives to wet-shave razors since the White Paper, no decision has yet been made about future shaving provision in prisons; agrees with the POA union that it is reckless and irrational to give prisoners access to wet-shave razors, especially in the current prison-violence crisis; further agrees with the POA that no more trials are needed to conclude that wet-shave razors are far more dangerous than electric razors; and calls on the Government to remove wet-shave razors from prisons immediately and to introduce electric-razor provision as a matter of urgency.

The link can be found here:

Pay Award 2024/25

All parties have now submitted and delivered written and oral pay submissions. The Pay Review Body will consider all the evidence from HMPPS and the recognised trade unions prior to them delivering their recommendations to the Government. They have not yet outlined their timetable for delivering their recommendations. A brief outline of the POA and the employers’ proposals are outlined below.


HMPPS have finally submitted their written evidence. They have recommended the following: 

  • Band 2: an increase to the spot rate to meet the new National Living Wage is proposed (the National Living Wage is increasing by 9.8% from 1 April 2024).
  • Bands 3 to 5 and 7 to 12: increases in consolidated pay for all staff on F&S terms are proposed, but HMPPS has not proposed specific increases and invites the PSPRB to make its recommendations about the values of the increases that should apply (the Government has decided to adopt this approach in relation to the range of public sector pay review bodies).
  • Structural reforms: proposals include shorter pay ranges (10% from minimum to maximum) for Bands 8 to 10, ensuring that we are able to consistently apply our 10% increase upon promotion policy while addressing pay range overlaps between bands, and allowing staff to progress to the pay band maximum within 3 years; Band 11 to become a spot rate and all staff to move to this.
  • Pay progression: pay progression up their pay band is proposed for all staff below their pay band maximum (except for those subject to formal performance measures). The proposal is for Bands 3 and 5 to move up by one pay point, and for Bands 8 to 10 to move up by 3.33%.
  • Closed grades: a non-consolidated award is proposed for those staff who would not benefit from opting into F&S following this pay award (value to be proposed by the PSPRB)

Allowances: increases of 40% to the Tornado and Dirty Protest allowances are proposed


POA Pay Submissions

A copy of the POA Pay Submission can be found in POA Circular 16/2024 and also on the POA website. The headlines include:

  • All Bands 2, Band 3, Band 4 and Band 5 Fair & Sustainable grades (Uniformed Operational staff) in the remit group to receive a consolidated uplift in salary at all pay points of RPI 5.3% + 3% = 3% 
  • All closed grade staff including Prison Officer 2, G4S Prison Custody Officer, Operational Support Grade, G4S Closed Grade Security Officers, Prison Auxiliary, Night Patrol, Prison Officer, Senior Officer and Principal Officer to receive a consolidated uplift in salary at all pay points of RPI 5.3% + 3% = 3%.
  • The F&S Unsociable Hours Allowance increases from 20% to 30% of Base Pay.
  • A £500 payment to the remit group who take on additional unpaid duties, for each additional duty that they take on, including Tornado duties/training.
  • Re-introduce contractual consolidated incremental pay.
  • Re-introduce Specialist Allowance.
  • As part of this year’s submission, the POA request that back pay attracts interest at a rate of 10.7% for each month delayed, attached to the back pay.
  • Payments for dirty condition and tornado raised: Dirty Condition payments, £15 for up to four hours, £30 for over four hours; Tornado payments, £40 per hour officers and above, £35 per hour OSGs.


Body Worn Video Cameras

HMPPS have been conducting pre-record tests on the new Body Worn Video Cameras and have decided that the following will apply:

At the completion of the testing, the feedback was collated and a paper submitted to the Prison Operational Management Committee (POMC) on 12 February 2024, with the recommendation to activate 30 second pre-record across all public sector prisons. POMC accepted the recommendation, with an expected ‘go live’ date of Monday 11th March 2024.

We are currently working on communications to go out to Governors, staff, and prisoners to make them aware of the use of pre-record from 11 March 2024. 

Payment Plus For Band 4 Specialists

The employer has recently proposed that Band 4 Specialists should be able to work PP outside of agreed policy. Their proposal reads:

Proposal: With agreement from the NEC we are seeking an interim amendment to the current collective agreement PSI 24/2008 to enable band 4 specialist roles (PEIs and Therapeutic Community Programme) to undertake payment plus, paid at the existing agreed rate, to cover any vacancies within these roles.

The NEC do not agree that Band 4 staff should be subject to the same rate of PP that applies to Band 3 staff and have insisted that HMPPS increase the rate of PP for Band 4 staff to reflect an enhanced rate of pay that relates to their gross annual salary .It is not acceptable to this union that Band 4 staff should be expected to perform Band 4 duties but only receive Band 3 rates of payment plus.

POA Scotland

On 18th March HMP Kilmarnock was brought into the public sector Prison Service after its contract with Serco ended. This is a massive victory for the POA after some tremendous work by the Scottish National Committee. We welcome all new POA members at HMP Kilmarnock. 

Chief Inspector of Prisons

At a recent meeting with Charlie Taylor HMCIP, the General Secretary and I expressed our anger at his criticism of staff at HMYOI Wetherby, who had bravely saved a young girls life and had acted accordingly to do so whilst reducing further risk to her. I personally asked Mr. Taylor to apologise to Wetherby staff for his grossly unfair criticism of their actions.

I doubt the staff will receive an apology from him.

My stance is simple. Until Wetherby staff receive an apology from the Chief Inspector of Prisons this Union will no longer engage with him.

Use of Force

The new Use of Force Framework includes several aspects that the NEC do not approve, have challenged, but HMPPS are determined to forge ahead with. POA members are therefore encouraged to consider the following:

Digital Learning Package:

No POA member should attend a C&R Basic Refresher without first having fully completed the digital learning package covering the legalities and medical implications of using force. In order to facilitate this package, you should be given profiled time during your working week to complete it. Under no circumstances should any POA member be expected to complete this e-learning package in their own time and you should not attend a basic refresher if you have not fully completed it.

We have asked for this to be abandoned and replaced with face-to-face learning, but HMPPS are determined to roll it out.


Use of Force Governance Committees:

The new framework includes a recommendation to include a serving prisoner on these committees. We have vehemently opposed these proposals, but HMPPS have decided they wish to explore this after accepting a recommendation included in the Lammy Review.

HMPPS accepted a recommendation made by David Lammy to ensure committees have a member whose role is to represent the views of prisoners.  The policy includes this requirement, but Governors should exercise judgement about who is best placed to fulfil this duty and the guidance will reflect this as there are ways of ensuring that there is a voice of the prisoner population without a prisoner being present at the meetings. 

POA Members involved in these committees are encouraged to work with their local SMT to ensure Use of Force Governance Committees are appropriately staffed. We do not expect any POA member to engage with criminals when scrutinising use of force. There are other options available that ensure the voice of prisoners is heard without resorting to an actual prisoner being present (IMB for example). NEC representatives will be available to advise further if you are unable to reach agreement on the make-up of these committees locally.

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.