Thank you to POA members

As we approach the end of 2023, it is time to reflect on an incredibly difficult year for many of our members because of the cost-of-living crisis. But they have stayed loyal through these difficult financial times and the POA membership continues to grow. In fact, we have recruited an additional 2,000 full members since January 2023; and I do not take that for granted, so a big thank you to you and your families for your support. Without a strong membership it would be so much worse. For example, you pay into a welfare fund that has got stronger and stronger since its inception 20 years ago. Over those years we have been able to assist hundreds of our members in difficult times.


All too often the POA takes for granted the brilliant work that our local branch committees do at local level. It must be remembered that the men and women who represent you at local level do so as volunteers when they stand for election. They do so to make a difference to POA members at your respective workplaces. They put many voluntary hours in to represent POA members. Without those volunteers who represent you at local level, the POA would not exist. The same individuals turn up at annual conference giving you a voice at local level to shape the future of the POA in its policies that the NEC and full-time officers take forward on your behalf. Thank you to our local officials up and down the country for everything you do in representing our members, whether that is giving them support in their time of need or representing them in grievances and code of disciplines. They negotiate shift patterns, safe systems of work and many other issues in the workplace to ensure the POA membership is looked after at local level.


I have been General Secretary of the POA for 13 years and prior to that, from year 2000, I held positions as Finance Officer, National Vice-Chair and Assistant General Secretary (some 23 years). I have worked with many different national officials over those years, and I think this is one of the most cohesive collectives I have worked with. There is plenty of healthy debate at NEC level. The direction of policy is clear on health and safety, cost of living crisis, overcrowding, pension age and pay.

This NEC continues to work hard on your behalf to succeed in the policies that are set for us at annual conference. The National Chair and I continue to work with the media at every opportunity – as do other NEC members and full-time officers – to get your message across on the television and in our newspapers. This year, there has been no lack of activity in the media. Politically, the NEC is active and will continue to speak up for POA members irrespective of their workplace as our membership continues to grow.

I recognise that the POA membership politically will have differing views and we can remain party neutral in our work with politicians but we can never be politically neutral, as politics affects the working lives of our members and their families.

So, thank you to our National Chair, Mark Fairhurst, and executive members for all the work that you do on behalf of the POA membership. Thank you also to the Deputy General Secretary, Joe Simpson, and all the full-time officers and support staff. Without you, I would not be able to do my job. I am proud of the fact that we work as a team to get the administrative work done on behalf of the Executive and wider membership of the POA.


The Scottish National Committee, under our rules and constitution, has autonomy to deal with Scottish matters and it does an exceptional job. I was very proud to attend the Scottish conference that dealt with policy issues in Scotland. It has engaged with Unity Consulting Services to deal with any political campaigns that the SNC decides over the next 12 months. That autonomy on the day-to-day running of Scottish issues is vitally important as it knows the issues in Scotland that pertain to the Scottish membership best, along with the structure we have in Scotland, and the NEC will always be there to support. So again – thank you SNC for everything you do in making Scotland stronger for our members.


The Area Committee in Northern Ireland – just like Scotland – has autonomy under our rules and constitution as it knows the issues in Northern Ireland and how best to serve our members there. I have regular contact with the Area Committee and I am happy to advise it where it needs that advice.

I was impressed with the Area Committee’s written submission to the pay review body that broadly supports all members in Northern Ireland. By the time this article is published, it will have given oral evidence to the pay review body. The amount of work that has gone into the submission is impressive and the Area Committee collectively should be very proud of the submission it has made on behalf of the Northern Ireland membership where the POA has a very high density of membership. Thank you for everything you do at area level and local level in representing your members in Northern Ireland. I am sure it will continue to go from strength to strength.


The POA has many sub-committees and consultative committees made up of members from the field, including a retired members’ committee. I thank all those committees for their input, advice and recommendations. This all assists the NEC in shaping the sub-committee work in our structures.

Finally, thank you to all our providers from our legal teams, insurers, advisers and the many politicians who support the POA membership. Your work does not go unnoticed. This article is dedicated to everyone who works for and represents the POA. In many respects, I don’t think we say thank you enough to those who give so much and ask for nothing in return – such as our local officials. Thank you.

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.