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

‘Welfare’ CHECKS on Prisoners

The NEC are aware that some prisons are allowing ‘welfare’ checks on Prisoners who appear to be ‘under the influence’. These checks take the form of an ‘Illicit substances welfare log’ being opened with a requirement that Prison Officers log the condition, at regular intervals, of Prisoners who appear to be ‘under the influence’ of an unknown substance.

All POA committees and members are reminded that there has been no national consultation about these proposals, there is no national policy covering such checks, there is no agreement in place for Prison Officers to conduct welfare checks or complete any form or official log and this is unprofiled work.

If a Prisoner is unwell, they should be monitored by healthcare.

With immediate effect all branch committees and POA members are instructed to cease any welfare checks until such a time that the NEC have been consulted and agreed a national policy that affords additional resource to conduct such tasks.

WOMEN’S Estate Expansion Plans ‘Paused’

HMPPS have informed the POA that “women’s estate expansion plans have been affected by high levels of inflation over the last year, which have had a material impact on estimated costs. Amid these ongoing fiscal challenges, we are taking a responsible approach and pausing our plans to build while we consider the impact of such pressures.”

The five female prisons affected by this decision have been notified.

UK armed forces data breach

The NEC have received the following assurances from HMPPS:

As you may have seen in press reporting, there has been a data breach at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) involving one of their IT suppliers. The Ministry of Justice are aware of the incident and have been briefed by the MoD and the Cabinet Office about it. We have received assurances from the Cabinet Office Government Security Group and the MoD, who are extremely confident that this incident and the underlying problem which led to it, only impacts the MoD. There has been no impact to MoJ IT services, or MoJ data.

Sick Leave Excusals/ Sickness Warning

We are aware yet again of some Custodial Managers being ordered by Governors to issue sickness warnings despite policy confirming that line managers may use their discretion and have it within their power not to issue warnings even if trigger points have been met. This also extends to supporting sick leave excusals.

For the avoidance of doubt no Governor has the authority to force Custodial Managers to issue a sickness warning or refuse to support a sick leave excusal application.

If any Custodial Managers are ordered to issue a sickness warning or to refuse to support a sick leave excusal by their line manager or above, they should ask for this directive in writing. If the Governor is not prepared to deliver this in writing, then the order does not stand.

The NEC have approached this with HMPPS but need evidence to support it. Once you have the directive in writing it should be forwarded to your area NEC Representative.

HMP Lowdham Grange

HMPPS and Sodexo have agreed, in principle, terms to enable HMP Lowdham Grange to be brought under public sector control. Sodexo is currently the contracted operator of the prison, although HMPPS stepped in to take over responsibility for running elements of the prison on an interim basis in December 2023. Negotiations are ongoing to finalise transfer terms and conclude contracts, and it is currently anticipated that the transition will take effect during Summer 2024.


At Annual Conference 2024, Motion 42/2024 was carried. As a result of this Motion being carried, monthly subscription will increase by 40p in England, Wales, Scotland, Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, with effect from 1st June 2024, as a result the new subscription rates will be collected on 1st July 2024.


It has been confirmed by HMPPS and the Government that Razors will be removed from the adult closed male estate, whilst further analysis of the closed female estate continues. As soon as we have an implementation date the membership will be updated. 

Pay Award  2024/25

Due to the General Election and the dissolving of the Government it is envisaged that this years pay award will be delayed. We will pressure whichever Government runs the country after July 4th to make a timely decision prior to the summer recess. Once we know more the membership will be updated.

PAVA Roll out in Juvenile Estate

A decision on the roll out of PAVA in the juvenile estate was imminent but has now been delayed due to the General election. We will engage with the Government in power after July 4th to ensure POA members are protected in their workplaces and a timely decision is made on this issue.

Use of Force ‘Reflective’ Statements

It has been brought to the attention of the NEC that some POA members are being asked to complete a ‘Reflective Statement’ after using force on prisoners. For the avoidance of doubt this practice has neither been discussed or agreed at a national level and does not form part of any use of force policy. Staff are placing themselves at risk by completing such a form. Under no circumstances should any POA member complete a ‘Reflective Statement’ after using force on a prisoner. POA members are reminded that you cannot be forced, pressurised or ordered to complete these statements.  

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.