Napo Magazine - The Trade Union, Professional Association and campaigning organisation for Probation and Family Court staff news.

ECSL To Be Extended Again

Napo were informed by HMPPS senior managers this morning that the failed End of Custody Supervised Licence (ECSL) scheme was to be further extended to 70 days (therefore doubled) in 84 adult male prisons across England and Wales from Thursday the 23rd of May 2024 until further notice.

Napo were informed by HMPPS senior managers this morning that the failed End of Custody Supervised Licence (ECSL) scheme was to be further extended to 70 days (therefore doubled) in 84 adult male prisons across England and Wales from Thursday the 23rd of May 2024 until further notice.

We have, in no uncertain terms, communicated the anger and frustration that our members will feel at this decision to the HMPPS senior managers we have been in contact with. HMPPS has once again, in our view, demonstrated by its actions that it views the prison overcrowding crisis as the overriding priority for this organisation, to the detriment of all others. Napo have been clear throughout our discussions with the employer on ECSL, and the joint unions wider ‘Operation Protect’ workloads campaign, that Probation has been treated disgracefully in comparison to the attention and money spent elsewhere in HMPPS, all while this employer demands our members take on huge amounts of additional work at the shortest of notice to help them sort out a prison overcrowding crisis a generation or more in the making.

Some in HMPPS have attempted to claim ECSL merely brings forward work that would be done by Probation staff anyway. Napo have consistently and vociferously argued against this position, which we do not believe for a second would be credibly adopted by anyone with any actual experience of this area of Probation practice. Members would seem justified to take the fact that such comments continue to be made by some in HMPPS as good evidence of the size of the chasm between their understanding of our work and reality.

As members will be aware of from previous communications on this issue (for instance ECSL – Napo’s position | Napo) in discussions with HMPPS senior managers Napo have stressed the huge range of practical issues with the ECSL scheme as it existed previously. This latest extension of ECSL only exacerbates these difficulties, especially in the weeks prior to and following this extension coming into force when the demands on us are at their height, but also brings additional concerns. For instance, and a point repeated to HMPPS senior managers when this extension was disclosed to us, was its apparent impact on the ability of some of our members to comply with their statutory responsibilities (and HMPPS’s own policies) under The Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (e.g., the ‘Duty To Refer’). Also, HMPPS have discussed an extension to the notice period Probation staff in the community should receive that of a person on their caseload is being considered under the ECSL scheme, but this remains far short of what we have previously discussed as being the minimum required for staff to complete such work safely and effectively.

It is clear, and has been stressed to HMPPS in earlier talks, that any possible workload relief for some staff in ‘sentence management’ resulting from the ‘Probation Reset’ plans had already likely been wiped out by various ‘early release’ schemes introduced, and in ECSL’s case drastically extended, in recent months (ECSL, changes to Fixed Term Recalls and the extension of the Home Detention Curfew scheme) even before today’s news. Members should expect a further communication on ‘Probation Reset’ and the ongoing work by Napo and the other Probation trade unions under the ‘Operation Protect’ early next week.

It remains unclear whether this extension to ECSL will stand up to parliamentary scrutiny, given in the last ministerial statement on the matter in March 2024, the Lord Chancellor referred only to that the scheme being extended to “around 35-60 days”. Napo members can be assured that we are in discussions with our contacts in Parliament, including the cross-party Justice Unions Parliamentary Group, to attempt to bring publicity to, and accountability for, this decision. Similarly, Napo will continue its numerous contacts with various media outlets to attempt to publicise our significant concerns over this news.

As previously discussed in our earlier communication HMPPS continue to refuse the calls of Napo and others, including in parliament, for figures on the impact of ECSL to be publicly released. This relates not just to the impact on the workload of staff but also on the numbers of people released under the scheme who have been released without any accommodation, recalled, committed Serious Further Offences, or died while subject to ECSL. Given this, members will draw their own conclusions, based on the first-hand experience of themselves and their colleagues or the apparently unauthorised disclosures made occasionally by some senior regional figures to staff, on just how disastrous these figures must be.

Napo will continue to meet with HMPPS senior managers at every opportunity to repeat our concerns over ECSL and the make clear the strength of feeling of our members on this issue. In addition to this we will maintain our contacts with figures in Parliament and the media. For this reason, it is vital that members continue to keep us updated with their experiences of ECSL – without including confidential or sensitive information on the individuals released under the scheme – as we have used these in the work Napo have done to this point. Please contact your Link Officials and Officers or use the following email address if you want to share any of these with us as your trade union representatives info@napo.org.uk.

Finally, members will recall the mandate provided by Emergency Motions 3 and 4 passed at our last Annual General Meeting (AGM) in relation to pay and workloads – Napo AGM 2023 Probation Emergency Motions. Napo would take this opportunity to remind all members of the importance of ensuring that your membership details – including those we should use to contact you – are up to date. Similarly, members should continue to check emails from both Napo HQ and your respective Branches in the coming weeks as further updates regarding these Emergency Motions, and possible next steps for us as a trade union, will be shared very soon.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for the update. What a disgraceful decision by HMPPS! Again the voice of Probation is undermined and the impact of the stress this will cause our members has been ignored. Shambolic !

  2. It’s an absolute joke… It now isn’t unusual for high risk people to be released literally to sleep on the streets without benefits etc in place. These changes keep getting implemented with little fuss…. I doubt victims who are not part of the victim contact scheme have a clue that their abuser etc is being let out so early.

    Great for people on probation who have housing and support systems in place but for those (majority) who do not it’s leaving them and the public in a massively vulnerable positive and makes a mockery of probation and risk management.

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