Napo has maintained the pressure on Politicians and senior leaders this week following the recent national media coverage that has focused on the state of the Probation Service.
Over the past fortnight this issue has found its way into Prime Ministers Question Time and has been picked up on again this week by outlets such as ITV Good Morning Britain and Channel 4, with contributions from the General Secretary and an anonymous Napo member who provided their first-hand experience of the problems that our members are trying to cope with.
On Monday, Napo National Chair Helen Banner and General Secretary Ian Lawrence were part of a union delegation invited to meet with Probation and Prisons Minister Damien Hinds.
Here the unions made plain our demands that the only way to tackle the findings that have regularly appeared in a multitude of reports by His Majesties Inspector of Probation, was for a significant increase in resources to launch a full recovery programme for the Probation Service which must help to ensure the retention of staff.
In addition, the Minister was urged to tell his Government to take responsibility for the egregious impact of Transforming Rehabilitation on the service, and to halt the One HMPPS programme which we claimed threatens to subsume Probation into the Prison Service operational structure and is preventing the Probation Service to achieve stability following its welcome reunification in June 2021.
Helen Banner told Napo Magazine: “I urged the Minister to allow the Probation Service to return back to basics, especially with regard to the chaos faced by our members on a daily basis in trying to deliver fast justice by shortened PSR reports to Courts, as well as not having the time and capacity to undertake the necessary checks into the background of clients in order to assist in determining their risk to the public.”
As is often the case, the meeting with the Minister did not provide sufficient time for a comprehensive discussion on the many issues that impact on our members.
Nevertheless, Napo was also able to spell out the Probation Unions joint concerns over the direction of travel by HMPPS and senior Probation management on their developing plans for the delivery of current and future Programmes and Interventions.
The Minister was seen to specifically note our warning that these plans represent a real and future danger to public safety and that the ongoing negotiations were not at all promising and that the prospect of a trade dispute was very real.
One definite outcome from a discussion about the state of operations in London was the endorsement by Mr Hinds of Napo’s proposal for an urgent meeting to take place between the new Chief Probation Officer Kim Thornden-Edwards, the Regional Director for London and the Probation Unions. This was being pursued at the time of going to press.