The employer closed formal consultation on this matter in April and moved to transfer line management of Senior Probation Officers/Heads of Offender Management Delivery to Governor-grade staff as of 31/05/2022 (though we are aware that in some Regions an approach has been adopted to move to this final position over the weeks that followed and some continue to do so).
As set out in earlier communications Napo representatives involved in consultation provided detailed feedback on the proposals and documents issued to the trade unions as part of this process, making clear our broader significant concerns over these plans while offering reasonable and practical proposals to maintain line management wholly with the Probation Service. The employer chose the course of action they have proceeded with despite many outstanding concerns and issues, not least the decision to transfer line management in this manner.
The basic principle all Napo members affected by the employer’s decision, now and in the future, should remain focused on moving forward is that they remain subject to specific Probation Service terms and conditions as well as the range of formal processes (for instance, but not exclusively, Probation Instructions in place on absence management, staff grievances, managing poor performance, conduct and discipline, annual/special leave, flexible working/work-life balance), just as their colleagues working outside of public sector prisons do.
Any Prison Service employee involved in the line management chain of Probation Service staff must work to this fundamental principle, and be able to evidence that they are doing so as required, or be liable for this failure.
Given all the circumstances involved, unfortunately not least the period of uncertainty that will likely follow in the coming months, we continue to strongly recommend all Probation members affected to ensure they are members of a recognised trade union and seek advice and support from local and national representatives as required on the issues arising from the employer’s decision. If colleagues who are not in a trade union express an interest in joining Napo please direct them to www.napo.org.uk/content/join-us.
The guidance documents issued by the employer on this change detail how staff can raise issues and concerns as required with their employer in the first instance, including to the level of the regional senior management of both Probation and Prison Services, and we would recommend following this, while keeping Napo representatives updated throughout. By doing so your trade union can continue to represent its members with the employer at local, regional and national levels to ensure the employer follows Probation Service policies and processes in relation to these workers and continue to raise problems and concerns about this transfer of line management responsibility. We also recommend that members involved, in particular, but not limited to those in the SPO/HOMD role, maintain regular contact with other member colleagues in other prisons in the region as a source of support and share experiences as this change progresses in the coming weeks and months.
Please continue to ask any questions or share issues related to this, or other relevant matters, through your local Branch representatives and with your Prisons/OMiC lead national officer Ben Cockburn – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ben can also arrange to attend Branch Meetings or those with groups of individuals – such as at a particular prison, or group of prisons in a region, to discuss these or other prison-related matters if this would be helpful to members.