CIRC 092: NATIONAL CHAIR UPDATE NOVEMBER 2023
Please bring the contents of this circular to the attention of all POA members.
All POA members are reminded that they are entitled to official lunch breaks consisting of one full hour away from their workplace. Once ‘roll correct’ is called over the net at lunch time staff have 1 hour from that point to return to the gate to commence their afternoon shift. They do not have to be present at their area of work but must be present in the gate area to collect their keys etc, exactly one hour after roll correct is called.
The NEC are aware of concerns from members that highlight the late collation of roll correct and some Governors insisting that staff return early from their hour lunch breaks to run the afternoon regime on time. This is unacceptable and staff have a contractual right to exactly one hour’s lunch break away from their area of work. If this practice occurs at your prison, please exercise your workplace rights and do not tolerate it. For example, if roll correct is called late at 1300 hours but should have been collated at 1230, staff have a right to return to the Gatelodge exactly 1 hour after roll correct at 1400 hours to collect their keys etc before progressing to their areas of work. No Governor has the legal authority to force staff to return earlier than an hour to facilitate the regime running on time. Please demand your rights at work and do not accept this practice.
We have been made aware that many prisons are utilising C&R equipment that is nearing or has run past its ‘shelf life.’ Every piece of C&R equipment has a set date that confirms its usable capacity. If you are using equipment that should be replaced, you are placing your health and safety at risk. All POA members must ensure they only use C&R equipment that is within date and is not past its expiry date. Local committees are encouraged to audit their C&R equipment, ensuring that older expired equipment is disposed of and new equipment is ordered.
Rapid Deployment Cells
Prior to prisoners being housed in rapid deployment cells all POA members should make themselves familiar with the Risk Assessments, Safe Systems of Work and Fire Risk assessments including evacuation procedures that cover these units. Without these in place no rapid deployment cellular accommodation should be in use.
The recent pay ballot yielded the following results:
The offer has been rejected.
The return was as follows:
1013 votes FOR (38.3%)
1643 votes AGAINST (61.7%)
The next steps will look to organise a membership ballot for industrial action.
New Prison Minister
Edward Argar was appointed Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice on 27th October 2022, replacing Damien Hinds MP. He was previously Chief Secretary to the Treasury between 14th October 2022 and 27th October 2022 and was Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office between 6th September 2022 and 14th October 2022.He was Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care between 10th September 2019 and 6th July 2022. He was previously Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice between 14th June 2018 and 10th September 2019. He was elected as Conservative MP for Charnwood in 2015.
POA Survey Results
Many thanks to those POA members in England and Wales who completed the POA survey and to those members who adhered to conference policy by refusing to complete the annual staff survey. The POA survey highlighted the following:
- 2,261 responses.
- Less than 40% feel they were adequately supported during their probation period.
- Over 75% of members did not believe staff grievances are taken seriously.
- With 80% not having confidence in the adjudications process.
- 56% of staff did not believe that assaults on staff are taken seriously.
- 85% have had to help support offenders with mental health issues.
- 67% had had to deal with a cell fire.
- 5% had had to intervene during a prisoner-on-prisoner assault,
- 50% had had to deal with a self-inflicted death.
- 81% reported that they had witnessed a work colleague being assaulted by a prisoner.
- 83% reported that following these traumatic incidents they were not sent off duty and given any special leave.
- 51% did not trust senior managers to make day-to-day decisions concerning their prison.
- 28% of respondents had been assaulted in the last 12 months.
- 20% of those required hospital treatment for their injuries.
- In 41% of cases there was NO action taken against the Prisoner who committed the assault.
- Only 24% of assaults on staff were referred to the police.
- 35% were refused immediate sick leave excusal by their governor following the assault.
- With 45% stating it would be considered on their return to work.
- 73% of members believe their safety is compromised in order to deliver their prison regime.
- 91% believe that razors should be removed from prison and replaced with electric shavers.
- 57% agreed or strongly agreed that their prison is severely short staffed.
- 83% of the survey respondents do not believe their salary accurately reflects the roles and responsibilities of their job, or the risks involved.
- Over 50% work overtime or payment plus to make ends meet.
- Over 75% attend work despite not feeling well enough for duty.
- Over 95% believe the current retirement age is too high.
- 42% of members intend to leave the Prison Service within 5 years.
- A further 28% are unsure of their plans.
NORTHERN IRELAND AREA VICE CHAIR ELECTION RESULT
Please find below the result of the Northern Ireland Area Vice Chair election:
COOKE Darren 331
FERGUSON Maurice 54
MORRISON Jon 120
THOMPSON Jonathan 124
Darren Cooke has been duly elected and will take up post on 1st January 2024
Pay Award 2024
To date the Government have still not activated the remit letter to the Prison Service Pay Review Body (PSPRB) informing them to begin pay talks for the 2024/25 pay award. This means that yet again Prison Officers and related grades can expect a severely delayed pay award in 2024. I can assure all POA members that the NEC will forward their written submissions prior to any deadline the PSPRB give us, so we may expedite proceedings. We find this treatment of POA members by the Government disgraceful and unacceptable and would therefore urge all POA members to immediately update their contact details. We require your name, address, establishment, private e mail address and private mobile number. You can do this by accessing the self-service option:
To register for access to the Self-Service module, please go to the POA Website www.poauk.org.uk 1.
- From the menu select “MyPOA” from the blue menu ribbon at the top of the page.
This will take the user to the POA E-Services page. Select “Register”.
- A screen will be presented for the user to enter their Surname, Email, and Date of Birth. After entering the information select “Register”. **(Please note that these details must be the same details held in POA records).
- If the data validates successfully an email will be sent to the users email address to complete the registration.
- The user then needs to follow the link in the email and create a password and confirm this password and submit the data by selecting “Activate”.
- When this process is successfully completed the user will be taken back to the login eServices screen where they will need to enter their email address and password. When you have registered you will see your own personal data, as held by the POA.
- If you need to update/change your data, you select “Personal Details” from the menu ribbon. Update your data and Save.
If you experience any difficulties updating your details, please contact:
England, Northern Ireland and Wales membership - firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotland membership - email@example.com
All the best.