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April 2012

The POA Members’ Magazine The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers

• Fair and Sustainable • Pay • Pensions and Safe Prisons • 01 Cover.indd 1

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Whatever life throws at you POA Legal will help protect you.

As a POA member you’re covered for:* Free legal advice and representation on: • Personal injury at work (including assaults) • Work-related road traffic accident • Industrial disease or illness • Criminal law representation (for work-related matters)

• Free will writing service • 30 minutes free telephone advice for any non-work issues such as landlord disputes, neighbourhood disputes, matrimonial and consumer issues • Employment law accessed through the POA

POA members and their families benefit from:* Free legal advice and representation on: • Personal injury (non-work related) • Road traffic accident (non-work related)

• Reduced rates for conveyancing and family member wills • Special terms for clinical negligence cases

For more information call POA Legal on 0800 587 7515

* Exclusions apply. Services only apply in England and Wales. Thompsons Solicitors is a trading name of Thompsons Solicitors LLP and is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

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CONTENTS

WELCOME

Gatelodge is published every other month by the POA. It is circulated free to all members of the Union and is available on general subscription. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Editor or the National Executive Committee. The Union does not accept responsibility for any statements made or opinions expressed in any of the articles, papers, correspondence or reports published in the magazine. Subscription Rates: Non-members £15.00 Overseas £20.00 Editor: Glyn Travis Sub Editor: Nicky Rogers Editorial Board: Pete McParlin, Glyn Travis, Steve Gillan, Pete Chapple, Steve Bostock Secretary to the Editorial Board: Carol Strahan e-mail: gatelodge@poauk.org.uk Editorial Office: POA HQ, Cronin House, 245 Church Street, London N9 9HW Tel: 0208 803 0255 Fax: 0208 803 1761 Editorial: Contributors to the magazine are requested to send material for the June 2012 issue by Thursday 21st May 2012. Editorial Design: Development Design Advertising Sales Katrina Browning 01778 395022 e-mail: katrinab@warnersgroup.co.uk Production Co-ordinator Sue Woodgates 01778 392062 e-mail: suewoodgates@warnersgroup.co.uk Advertising Design Development Design Publisher: Juliet Loiselle e-mail: julietl@warnersgroup.co.uk Tel:01778 391067 Publishers & Printers Warners Group Publications plc, The Maltings, West Street, Bourne, PE10 9PH. Tel: 01778 393313 Fax: 01778 394748

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Dear Reader, Welcome to the April issue of Gatelodge. Conference season is back and delegates from the special hospitals and all public and private sector prisons will gather to discuss the business and future of the Union as we face up to the changes and challenges that lie ahead. I have previously stated that 2012 will be a busy time for the POA, unions, workers and other organisations as the Government presses ahead with its austerity measures in an attempt to manage the economy and balance the books. I have to say that I have become even more cynical in the last few months as the focus seems to have changed to protecting our ‘Triple A Status’ and the long-standing values of this proud nation are being abandoned. The Bank of England printed a shed load of money in February to buy bonds to give the economy a boost - did any working class member of society feel the benefit? I doubt it, but the effect of this on the value of pensions and future pensions was truly significant. The reforms to the NHS will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable in society and the MPs we elect look to score political points from each other rather than doing the job they were elected to do. When will they learn? The Government reforms to public services and pensions will probably save billions but the long-term cost to the economy may be a big price to pay as unemployment rises, the welfare bill increases and the prison population continues to rise. The hidden costs to the economy will far outweigh the savings but is anyone listening or does anyone care? If the POA is to be equipped to challenge the Government’s plans it needs to have a strong executive and it is clear that the Government is attacking the Union through the facility time

agreement. Steve Gillan, General Secretary of the POA, wrote an excellent article on this issue, (on page 6 of the February 2012 issue) and I urge you all to read it don’t be fooled into thinking we have to change, change may be necessary but it must be for the right reasons and not political dogma. The changes to the working practices in HM Prison service under Fair and Sustainable were accepted through the workplace ballot; but work has to continue to ensure the implementation of these changes is managed properly at local level to ensure no current employee suffers a detriment. The Prison Service Pay Review Body recommendations will have been announced and the decision from Government known by the time this issue of Gatelodge is published, I can only hope that this board demonstrates its independence. The level of serious assaults in our workplaces continues to rise and I urge members to demand proper risk assessments and safe systems of work for prisoners known to have a history of violence in prisons. This is not the answer but it is a step in the right direction. I started by editorial with conference and I want to finish it by asking you to look at the motions submitted by the Union (see page 34 of this issue) and your branch and ask yourselves; is this what conference should be debating and voting on considering the change and challenges we face? I would like to thank the NEC, the editorial committee and the readership because without you the Gatelodge would not exist. Finally, I would like to thank Carol for all her efforts in the production and distribution of the POA’s official journal, don’t forget to visit the POA website and join the forum at www.poauk.org.uk Yours Sincerely

WHAT’S INSIDE National Chairman

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Obituaries

55

Health and Safety

6

Branch News

56

General Secretary

8

Postbag

64

Campaigns and events

10

Sports Scene

70

Shannon Trust

17

Healthcare

71

Scotland

18

Thompsons

73

Annual Report and Accounts

21

Fair & Sustainable

74

Strictly Private

54

POA Learning

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NATIONAL CHAIRMAN

FAIR AND SUSTAINABLE The result of the recent ballot of the membership with regard to the new working structures has now been published.

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s I expected, the membership has recognised, in these uncertain and unprecedented economic times the need to protect the pay and terms and conditions of current uniformed staff. In any analysis a positive vote in excess of 80 percent of those who voted is an endorsement of the NEC decision to engage with the employer on change within the carefully constructed parameters of conference policy. Fair and Sustainable remains the employer‘s document and should not be viewed as the panacea or remedy for all of the problems we face. Nevertheless, the life–time pay protection and the guarantee to protect uniformed grades from compulsory redundancy is an unprecedented achievement for this Trade Union. I am aware that there are members who continue to have concerns with certain aspects of the document. The NEC will continue to seek improvements to the document to reflect those concerns. For example, in recent weeks, the Executive has been successful with regard to the banding of hospital officers and with an aspect of the contractual obligations that had been signed on appointment by the then Officer 2 grades. Challenges will remain but certainly, to date, the persuasive skills of the current NEC continue to produce negotiated improvements to the document. The NEC is only able to do this because the positive ballot result ensured that the Fair and Sustainable Document is a collective agreement.

Local pay In my last article in Gatelodge (February 2012 issue, page 4) I made reference to the decision of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to invite the heads of the pay review bodies to report on the feasibility of introducing local pay arrangements. So what does this mean? In essence, in the future pay may be based on the cost of living in different geographical areas, based on (for example) travel to work costs and salary comparisons with private sector employers. Remember, the template for this latest initiative is the current arrangements within the court service. These arrangements are not the usual and somewhat crude north–south divide.

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It is far more complicated than that. In effect this template would potentially endanger national pay rates for prison staff, teachers, nurses and other civil servants. It remains the view of the NEC that differential pay rates are an excuse to drive down public sector pay rates and a potential recipe for further privatisation. The Coalition Government has recognised that differential pay rates are the model of choice for private sector employers. In his letter to the pay review bodies, the Chancellor has directed them to take into account a number of factors including whether any future proposals should apply to existing staff and/or to new entrants. The POA will provide well researched and comprehensive written evidence in order to assist the Prison Service Pay Review Body in reaching its conclusions. In addition, the POA will attend the oral evidence sessions which have now been scheduled by the secretariat of the Prison Service Pay Review Body. We continue to maintain that the Fair and Sustainable Document has provided pay reform within the prison service throughout England and Wales. There is no need for further pay reform. The POA will continue to emphasise to politicians and indeed the immediate employer that the prison service must be able to recruit, retain and motivate able and qualified staff throughout the UK. The Fair and Sustainable Document then has the potential to protect our membership from the dangers of local pay. As the NEC has maintained from the beginning, the Fair and Sustainable Document can provide concomitant benefits for the membership. We will, of course, keep the membership updated and informed.

Revised working structures The employer will now move to introduce the revised working structures. The POA recognises that the introduction of the revised working structures is the responsibility of the employer. Nevertheless, the employer must recognise that the success of the new arrangements will depend as ever on the cooperation of prison staff. The employer will need to convince staff that the structures will be effective in providing safe, secure and effective places of work. As one example, I look to management to ensure that the importance of the work of the supervisory officer rank is recognised and understood. In my opinion, this role will be pivotal in the delivery of that safe, secure and effective working environment. As we prepare this edition of Gatelodge magazine the initial feedback from the three early adopter sites is positive. The NEC will continue to monitor this process as it unfolds and will engage with the employer to support local branches.

Market testing The need to provide the basis for competitive bids was one of the determining factors in the decision of the NEC to endorse the Fair and Sustainable document. As readers of this magazine, you will be well aware of our views on competition policy but colleagues, whether we like it or not, the Business Advisory Group had to be provided with the opportunity to win. I would remind you that under current Government policy all of our public sector prisons will be subject to the competition process.

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NATIONAL CHAIRMAN In recent weeks, announcements have been made that the public sector Prison Service has entered into partnership arrangements with MITIE Group PLC, the Shaw Trust and Working Links. The Shaw Trust and Working Links are regarded as third sector organisations and currently provide services in prisons and public sector organisations. The Head of the Public Sector Business Development Group, Ian Mulholland, is on record saying that these two organisations will help to develop the Payment by Results part of the bids. All aspects of the bid process are important but there is no doubt that the Government places great significance on the Payment by Results model of rehabilitation. In my opinion, utilising the skills of these organisations in helping to developing a professional and compelling bid in this aspect of the competition can only be beneficial. The partnership with MITIE (a strategic outsource and energy services company which currently provides services within a number of public sector prisons) is a significant development. Prior to the announcement MITIE had announced its intention to bid for a number of prisons in this round of the competition process. Instead, MITIE will now partner the public sector prison service as they put together bids to manage all nine prisons. As National Chairman, I accept that the public sector needs to submit competitive and winning bids. I further recognise that this partnership arrangement has effectively removed a competitor from the process. The NEC has taken note of the press release announcing this significant and ground breaking partnership. Steve Wagstaffe, the Director of Public Sector Prisons stated: “Public servants will be responsible for the core operational work in running prisons and a number of key services will be delivered by MITIE under the contract.” As we go to press, a meeting has been arranged between members of the Executive, the Business Development Group and representatives of MITIE. We recognise that the employer has to adhere to the constraints placed upon it by the commercial, in confidence conditions contained within competition policy. Nevertheless, the NEC on behalf of the membership will now seek clarification on the employer’s interpretation of key services. Unlike the seemingly never–ending process endured by the prisons in the last competition, this time, formal bids need to be submitted in April. The competition timetable then provides for a final round of the process in the summer and a decision in the autumn.

politicians as being the successful model for this form of ownership. Arguably, mutuality is not a form of privatisation but an alternative that should be considered where privatisation is seen as contentious and difficult to implement. It should come as no surprise that the Government is keen to explore all options within the public sector. It has been brought to the attention of the NEC that investigative work has been undertaken on the viability of this concept within two public sector prisons. In effect, if the mutual model were ever to be adopted a prison would contract independently and directly with NOMS. As you would expect, on receipt of this information we raised our concerns with the employer and provided definitive advice to the membership. There are issues within mutuality which are clearly outside the remit of the trade unions and public sector employers being enshrined in legislation and the Principle Civil Service Pension Scheme. The NEC was further disappointed that NOMS did not enter into any formal consultation with any of the recognised trade unions within the workplace. We have now received assurances that any resources allocated to this investigative work will not impact on front line operations. A viable alternative to the threat of wholesale privatisation would be welcome but we do not believe that the concept of mutuality can be fit for purpose within prisons.

Prison population The NEC continues to raise with Ministers and NOMS its concern at the rise in the population and the lack of available space. There has been extensive media coverage of the POA view that this is a crisis and that a strategic approach to

the problem is needed. We remain unconvinced that the new places opening in March and April will ease the pressure on the prison estate. That pressure does not directly affect politicians and desk bound civil servants. Prison staff are not responsible for the significant growth in the population since the public disorder in August but they have to cope with the consequences. We remind Ministers and politicians that it is their responsibility to provide a safe operating level within prisons, they are aware of our concerns and we will not accept any excuses.

Justice and protection for prison officers We continue in our attempts to challenge and change the perception that the public and politicians have of the work we do as an essential front line service. In January, together with the Deputy General Secretary, we met with Craig Wylde and members of his family. You will recall that Craig was one of our members assaulted at HMP Frankland and that the prisoner was found not guilty at the subsequent court case. The Wylde family were in London to meet with Crispin Blunt, Parliamentary Under–Secretary of State for Justice. Along with Craig and his family we continue to emphasise that compensation is important but so too is justice. Kenneth Clarke is on record that prison officers deserve the fullest possible protection that we as a society can give them. Our role on behalf of society is a challenging one and we have a legitimate expectation that it should be recognised as such.

PJ McParlin National Chairman

Mutuality The Coalition Government and indeed the Labour Party support the idea that businesses in the private sector can be owned by employees. John Lewis is the example often pointed to by

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HEALTH AND SAFETY

WHAT WILL IT TAKE BEFORE R TO PROTECT STAFF?

Joe Simpson, POA Assistant Secretary

How workplace violence is identified Most people think of violence as a physical assault. However, workplace violence is a much broader problem. It is any act in which a person is abused, threatened, intimidated or assaulted in his or her employment. The prison service is the forgotten service because we are behind a wall or fence and some members of the public think that we should accept violence as an occupational hazard. That is why the action of our members demonstrating outside Nottingham prison highlighted that the level of violence in their workplace is no longer acceptable. The Governor’s reaction was to personalise the issue against the branch officials by instigating an investigation into the brave actions of the branch chair who was protecting the health and safety of his members. The

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POA Assistant Secretary, Joe Simpson, highlights the on-going problem of violence in our workplace, the inadequacies of the employer and failure of the CPS to protect our members from violence at work. unprecedented level of violence in our prisons cannot go on. We must start to protect each other and more to the point, take action where our health and safety is under threat. You are not punch bags and you do not come to work to be verbally abused, threatened or assaulted and we demand the protection of our employer through their duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. In particular, they must: • Protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees and other people who might be affected by their business. Employers must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this. This means making sure that workers and others are protected from anything that may cause harm, effectively controlling any risks to injury or health that could arise in the workplace.

Is your employer doing this? It is the duty of the employer to protect your health and safety by way of assessing the risks to your health and safety, removing (or reducing) the risk of hazards by putting safe systems of work in place. This should be done with the involvement of our health and safety reps who will represent your best interests. If a prisoner commits an assault whilst in prison, whether it be against a member of staff or a prisoner, they should have a risk assessment completed by a competent person, to ensure that they are no longer a threat/hazard in the workplace. If this means they have to be excluded from certain activities to ensure they are not a threat or hazard then this should be done.

Offences to be reported to police The CPS has informed the prison governors that the following offences should be referred to the police: • Murder and attempted murder • Manslaughter • Rape and attempted rape • Threats to kill where there appears a genuine intent • Where there is the use of a weapon causing (or likely to cause) serious injury • The occasioning of serious injury by any means • The use of serious violence against any person (providing that more than minor injury was the intended or likely outcome of such an assault) the actual extent of the injuries received may not be significant • Personal sexual violation other than rape but where the victim is especially vulnerable or there has been violence or a threat of violence • Unlawful imprisonment (hostage taking) • Possession of unauthorised weapons (firearms, imitation firearms or explosives) and other offensive weapons (knives, home made weapons, workshop instruments if there is evidence to suggest that the weapon was intended for use in the commission of a further serious criminal offence) • Arson, unless there was little risk of the fire taking hold (a cell fire may be an attempt to commit self-harm; these cases should not normally be referred) • Major disturbances involving a number of prisoners where the Governor has lost (or seems likely to lose) control of all or part of the establishment. www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 11:26:38


HEALTH AND SAFETY

E REAL ACTION IS TAKEN Is your governor doing this? If your governor is not doing this, then they should be challenged as to what his or her reasons are for not reporting these offences. Our members deserve the full protection of the law and no exceptions should be made; especially when it comes to violence against them. Just because a prisoner is serving a sentence does not preclude them from further prosecution for violence against our members.

CPS advice to prosecutors Prosecutors are asked to note that prison officers, while acting as such, have all the powers, authority, protection and privileges of a constable by virtue of Section 8 of the Prison Act 1952. The Code for Crown Prosecutors makes clear that prosecutors must select charges which reflect the seriousness and extent of offending. All things being equal, where the available evidence affords the prosecutor a choice between Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 (common assault) and Section 89 of the Police Act 1996, the latter will normally be the more appropriate charge. Where there is evidence of racial or religious aggravation, offences contrary to the provisions of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 may be appropriate, and prosecutors should consider the ‘Guidance on Prosecuting Cases of Racist and Religious Crime’. Prosecutors should first check that the offence falls within the NOMS guidelines issued to prison governors. If it does not, check with the governor via the police to find out the reason for the referral and whether there are any aggravating features. If a case is referred to the CPS the principles in the Code for Crown Prosecutors must be applied in the normal way. However, in assessing where the public interest lies, prosecutors should bear in mind the impact of the offence on the proper running of the institution and the potential impact of a decision not to prosecute.

Relevant factors The following factors are likely to be especially relevant in a prison context: • The offence was committed against a person susceptible to violent attack in the course of his or her duties, eg a prison officer • The victim was vulnerable, or subjected to personal and/or repeated attacks or put in fear of attack www.poauk.org.uk 6-7 H&S Joe Simpson.indd 7

• Offences which may otherwise be regarded as trivial can assume a greater significance when committed in an institution because of the wider impact on internal discipline. The Code advises that the balance of the public interest may be against a prosecution if the court is likely to impose a nominal penalty, or the loss or harm can be described as minor and was the result of a single incident particularly if it was caused by a misjudgement. Concurrent sentences are frequently imposed on serving prisoners who commit offences in prison. This is always the case for life prisoners. A prison sentence is not a small or nominal sentence even when it is imposed concurrently. The likelihood that a concurrent sentence will be imposed is not in itself sufficient to refrain from prosecuting an offence committed by a prisoner in prison. If the prisoner is not convicted of a criminal or disciplinary offence, his or her conduct cannot be taken into account by the Parole Board. Greater weight may be given by the Parole Board to a conviction than a governor’s punishment. On the other hand, if a custodial sentence is unlikely to be imposed, the court’s only option is to impose an absolute or conditional

discharge. In such cases a prosecution may not be the best way to deal with the case. The governor’s powers may be a more effective way of enforcing the law. In such cases, consult the police, and through them, the prison governor before discontinuing, to enable either to make representations. If the governor indicates that disciplinary proceedings will ensue if the criminal case is discontinued, this may point against prosecution where a small or nominal penalty is likely.

Unprecedented level of assaults In the last few months we have witnessed an unprecedented level of assaults against our members with an employer who is reluctant to act on our behalf and a CPS more concerned with saving money by announcing that it is not in the public interest. Colleagues, this attitude to violence in our workplace has to change and the only way to achieve this is by constantly challenging those who make decisions not to prosecute.

REMEMBER: • If your Governor does not report an offence to the police as per the list from the CPS, ask for their reasons in writing • Inform your local branch official and NEC member in writing • Take out a grievance against your Governor.

If the CPS does not taking action you can: • Talk to your local CPS who will try and deal with your complaint immediately, or • You can complain directly by using the CPS complaints form which can be found at www.cps. gov.uk/contact/feedback_and_complaints/feedback_and_complaints_form/ Remember you are not alone, your Union is here to assist you in any way it can, and I would refer you to the Thompsons article on page 73 of this issue. Together we can make change. April 2012 7 28/3/12 11:26:21


GENERAL SECRETARY

IS THE CROWN PROSECUTION SERVICE ABDICATING ITS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE PROTECTION OF POA MEMBERS?

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Whether POA members work in public sector prisons, private sector prisons or our secure psychiatric hospitals, they keep the general public safe on a daily basis.

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believe the vast majority of the public realises what an important job POA members do on their behalf. I also believe that the general public wants our membership to be safe whilst working and that when crimes occur against our membership that they would expect the full weight of the law to be implemented to protect them. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) also has a responsibility to society to make sure that crimes against the public are prosecuted. For far too long the CPS has stated that when one of our members is assaulted, it is not in the public interest to take the case forward. A recent Parliamentary question relating to the number of assaults on prison officers and related grade which were not prosecuted by the CPS because it was not in the public interest was answered stating that: ‘No central records were held. It is totally unsatisfactory for the answer to be avoided in this manner. I do not believe for one second that politicians and ministers would not expect the Crown Prosecution Service to have those statistics kept centrally. Let us face it; statistics are

trotted out religiously when it suits the occasion. Always one to give the benefit of the doubt to government officials I still maintain that if they do not keep these records centrally then they should ensure that the CPS is doing its job properly on behalf of society and is indeed accountable.

Assaults on members The CPS exists in England and Wales and should be committed to strengthening the prosecution process and bringing offenders to justice fairly, firmly and effectively. If it is not committed to those protections then it should be brought into line. All too often the NEC and branch officials are frustrated with dreadful assaults on our members and the CPS trots out that because the offender and assailant is already serving a sentence, it is not in the public interest to prosecute. This negativity is wrong and indeed it is not acting in the interest of the public but merely saving money. In simple terms, the definition of acting in the public interest is: “The crime is important to people in society and most people would want it to go to court”. Further; even on its own website the CPS

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GENERAL SECRETARY

states that a prosecution is more likely if the crime was committed against a person serving the public. Prison officers and related grades do serve the public and deserve that protection from the Crown Prosecutors. There are 2,800 assaults on POA members in England and Wales each year. A high proportion of those assaults are not reported to the police and the proportion that are, do not see support from the CPS. That scenario must change and change quickly. Assaults on our members are getting more and more serious. The National Executive Committee is on record as stating that our health and safety will never be allowed to be compromised in any circumstances.

Nottingham Governor At the time of writing this article, Nottingham branch made a stand against the amount of assaults on members and demanded action from their Governor in relation to zero tolerance and the prosecution of those offenders. It would appear the Governor was embarrassed by the press coverage and decided to hold an investigation into a local branch official. I would urge this Governor to stop being ridiculous and engage with the Nottingham branch to ensure a zero tolerance attitude to assaults instead of being vindictive against a trade union official for doing his job in the protection of his members. In my view the Governor is attempting to hide his own shortcomings by making this a code of conduct investigation. I will watch the outcome with interest.

Zero tolerance

Always report assaults

Some time ago the National Offender Management Services signed up to a zero tolerance policy. It is fair to say that Michael Spurr and members of the board are committed to that policy; however I do have reservations that Governors up and down the country are embracing it fully (as can be demonstrated by Nottingham Prison). I am encouraged by other Governors whom have realised the scope of the problem at certain establishments and engaged with the police and CPS to agree local policies to ensure zero tolerance. Take Whitemoor for example, an establishment that consistently had assaults on staff and the times where offenders were not being prosecuted for whatever the reason was increasing very steadily until the local management and local POA had a joint approach and meetings were set up with Police and prosecutors. I have seen evidence that a protocol is in place and every assault is now prosecuted and furthermore; won in court. It is also pleasing that other establishments are following the zero tolerance approach but the reality is that every establishment should be and those Governors ignoring the zero tolerance policy should themselves be dealt with under poor performing guidelines.

The same now applies to the CPS; the POA will not allow it to treat our members as second class citizens. I accept the CPS may be under pressure to save money but we will not permit it to hide behind ‘not in the public interest’ just because the prisoner is already serving a sentence. POA members have human rights, they are not punch bags and prisoners and psychiatric patients held in secure hospitals should have no hiding place from the full weight of the law when it is broken, nor should they receive preferential treatment from the CPS. Where we find an injustice we will continue to hound the CPS until they get our message that an assault on as a POA member is very much in the public interest and should be pursued as such. If they are assaulted at work I urge all POA members to report the incident to the police and inform your local committee where the CPS do not prosecute, so that we in turn can turn our attention to the prosecutors in order that they are brought to task where they are abdicating their responsibility.

Steve Gillan General Secretary

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CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS

HORS DE C There is a lack of social justice and equality for ex-service personnel involved with the Criminal Justice system and living in the community. Tony Wright, Managing Director of About Turn CIC says that we must provide a more personalised support service for them.

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e are fortunate in the North East of England as the 12 regional Local Authorities /Councils have collaborated to ascertain if they are meeting the healthcare needs of ex-forces personnel. The project which is part funded by the Centre of Public Scrutiny (CfPS) aims to: “... review health services provided to veterans and to help to understand and tackle inequalities that veterans may be subject to as a result of their service in the Armed Forces.” It’s a review that is long overdue and one which I like to think I had a significant part in bringing to fruition. In 2009, I instigated a Freedom of Information request to the 12 Local Authorities across the North East of England and asked them to inform me how many ex-forces veterans were accessing support from mental health, drug and alcohol, A&E, probation and social services. I was particularly interested in how many had ended up in the homeless sector. The information I was given indicated that only 20 ex -servicemen and their families had accessed support across the whole region. The North East has a population of 2.6m and, according to the Ministry of Defence, is ‘one of the UK’s top recruiting areas for the three Armed forces and is home to tens of thousands of service personnel and their families’. So it was hard to believe only 20 were in need of support after leaving the services. It was clear that this nominal figure of 20 individuals was not only nonsense but the problem lay in the fact that almost all of the commissioned and non-commissioned services working within each borough failed to ask at point of contact the basic question; ‘have you served in the Armed forces?’ This omission from data collection sheets effectively meant that veteran-specific support services could not be commissioned to meet a need for a population that did not, in the eyes of the local authority, exist.

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CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS

E COMBAT Yet every service that I have worked for in health and social care settings or in my capacity as a social worker or probation officer over the last 25 years has known that veterans have always been a significant sub-set within their user group population or case load. I have come to the conclusion that as veterans have never been on the commissioned services ‘radar’, those that do work with the most vulnerable individuals in our society within the homeless sector have no idea how to communicate, engage and assist the ex-forces community. The problem is compounded by the fact that the ex-forces community is not a community at all but a disparate population with no voice in politics and only held together by the tenuous link of Internet social networking sites. For those unlucky veterans who find themselves homeless or/and rough sleeping; many can be described as ‘destitute-plus’ that is they are assessed as having a need for care and attention that is over and above the ‘mere’ lack of accommodation and subsistence. If my hypothesis is correct, it stands to reason that this lack of awareness and training must therefore impact upon the kind of services a veteran can expect to be made available to him or her, following a return to the civilian community, after leaving the Armed Forces. If the voluntary sector lacks a working understanding of the multiple and complex needs of veterans and it is usually this sector that picks up those that have slipped through the social welfare safety net, then it follows that the statutory sector will be no different. If this is the case, it may account for the disproportionate numbers of veterans currently involved with the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Again we are fortunate in the North East that both the Probation Service and Prison Service are now attempting to quantify the number of veterans in the CJS.

Veteran ‘slipped through the cracks’ However, having recently met a 27 year old veteran, I was surprised at how easy it was for veterans to ‘slip through the cracks’ of the health and social care support networks. This man had served for nine years having joined straight from school aged 16, but had lost his way when he returned to the civilian community and was diagnosed as having Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He was also a problematic drug and alcohol user and had involvement with the CJS. He was classed as a prolific and priority offender and at the time of our meeting, was ineligible for support www.poauk.org.uk 10-12 Hors De Combat.indd 11

from combat stress, because of his pending court case and continued drug and alcohol misuse, despite having accessed their support in the past. Similarly, he was unable to access communitybased psychological support to address his PTSD because of long waiting lists, (veterans are entitled to priority treatment from the NHS but when the waiting list is made up of other veterans then it’s necessary to wait in line) and a lack of community based CPNs with a specialist knowledge of this condition. He was resident in an approved hostel and on bail for offences which were of a violent nature. His risk assessment was categorised as high, partly because the probation staff were unable to refer him into specialist services that could have decreased that perceived risk. He was prescribed medication to suppress the symptoms of his PTSD but admitted to using other drugs (stimulants) to counteract the effect of the prescribed medication. The possibility of accessing a residential treatment centre specifically for veterans with PTSD was not an option as funding could not be secured despite such a provision having vacancies and being located less than 10 miles away from the approved hostel in which he resided.

“I was surprised at how easy it was for veterans to ‘slip through the cracks’ of the health and social care support networks” When we met, he was in the company of a highly experienced drugs worker who told me that the ex-forces men and women that he was currently working with were all in their early to late 20s and did not fit into any of the service provision he was able to offer them. As the veteran pointed out: “I have been waiting six months for help and support, but no one seems to know what to do with me.” It was clear the State was failing this individual and I began to wonder how many veterans have been sentenced because of a lack of ‘veteran specific’ community support services and how many may have been returned to Court (and subsequently imprisoned) for breach of their community based order simply because they were unable to comply because they were suffering from the symptoms of PTSD. I also began to wonder how sympathetic probation officers, and indeed the Courts would be to this being presented as a legitimate reason for the individual’s failure to comply with a Court order.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms The symptoms of PTSD can be extremely debilitating; invoking feelings of guilt, anxiety and fear. This can lead to paranoia, nightmares and sleep deprivation, hyper vigilance, anger, exhaustion, fear of crowds, and an inability to travel by public transport. At times, shopping is impossible and the bouts are episodic in nature. To deal with this, many self-isolate, or use drink and drugs to self- medicate and in some cases this can lead to relationship difficulties, domestic violence and ultimately involvement with the CJS. Sometimes, past events can be vividly relived blurring the present with the past. These manifestations can be so intense and disturbing that it is unlikely that a veteran will share the experiences with another veteran, psychologist or psychiatrist let alone a probation officer acting as an agent of the State or a Magistrate.

Support groups I run several peer led support groups for veterans living in the North East and the numbers attending these groups can fluctuate alarmingly as a result of PTSD or the need to attend ‘Combat Stress’-run residential treatment centres three times a year. If veterans are unable to attend volunteer support groups because they are exhausted or worried their behaviour will be erratic or disruptive for other group members, then it is very unlikely they will be able to attend appointments with probation staff even if they wanted to. This will mean that the probation officer will have to carry out home visits on a regular basis but at present, this is not common or accepted practice. Probation Service National Standards only require one home visit to be carried out by probation staff during the course of an order and this must take place in the first three months. This is however, discretionary but we must take into account that each individual officer may have a case load of 50-60 offenders and will be required to prepare timely Court Reports, as well as, acting as duty probation officer once a week. It may be that it is logistically impossible to carry out a home visit; even if it was felt it was appropriate to do so. Engaging with and gaining access to specialist advice from a psychologist who specialises in Combat trauma (PTSD) may be a post code lottery. In my area for example, the clinical psychologist who specialises in PTSD has a two year waiting list.

GPO led care General Practitioners have little understanding of the veteran community and a recent survey indicated that 48 percent did not know veterans had priority treatment or where they could refer someone for help if they presented with PTSD. It has taken a campaign by The British April 2012 11 28/3/12 11:31:11


CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS

Legion, Combat Stress and RCGP to address this deficit. “The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), the Royal British Legion and Combat Stress launch guidance to support GPs in identifying and meeting the healthcare needs of veterans more effectively - including accessing the priority treatment to which all veterans are entitled for Service-related conditions.” Many of the people who access mutual support via the peer led Forces for Good Veterans groups that we facilitate are, as one member described the group as: “A cohort of men ‘at war with themselves’”.

Discrimination? Involvement with the Criminal Justice System is but a small and regular part of the ‘destitute plus’ veteran’s lifestyle. Far from being a deterrent, prison can sometimes be viewed as a place where veterans can have structure put back into their lives and is a place where the regimented lifestyle is familiar, comforting, stable and safe. Similarly, the fact that they are not able to misuse alcohol or drugs (prescribed and illicit) to the degree they can in the community means that PTSD can sometimes become more manageable and the episodic nature of the problem for some, decreases. So are veterans being discriminated against simply because of a lack of awareness? Are systemic practices which remove individual discretion from the front line probation staff resulting in wholesale prison recalls or breach of community based orders? Are we punishing veterans when we should be helping them get the specialist support they need to reduce the risk of offending in the future? Is prison exacerbating the problem?

Veteran in custody officers Can the new veteran in custody officers (usually ex-servicemen and women now working as prison officers) positively influence ex-forces prisoners by signposting them to welfare assistance from the Royal British Legion, the Soldiers, Sailors, Airman and Families Association-Forces (SSAFA), Help for Heroes and other ex-forces benevolent associations? They assist financially by helping veterans re-establish themselves in the community by furnishing accommodation, paying off debts or providing clothing. Whilst this assistance is absolutely necessary, it needs to be part of a bigger support package that is sustainable, consistent and holistic in nature. It will only be by multi-partnership collaboration that long lasting changes to problematic behaviour will be addressed and veterans involved with the CJS will 12 April 2012 10-12 Hors De Combat.indd 12

be afforded the opportunity to put their offending and risky lifestyles behind them. The main ex-forces charities are not in a position to do this and do not have the skills, infrastructure or capacity to deliver the multitude of specialist services that are needed. Perhaps the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress and SSAFA and/or Help for Heroes should think about spending the vast amount of money donated by the British public by commissioning or putting out to tender services for veterans from all wars and campaigns (not just the recent ones)? They don’t currently.

Millions excluded If an organisation applies for grant funding from the British Legion it must also be a charitable organisation. This precludes ‘not for profit’ social enterprises and community-based groups from even making an initial application for ‘start-up funding’. This does not fit with the current Government’s idea of the ‘Big Society’ and the use of social enterprise as a real and sustainable vehicle for unemployed ex-servicemen and women to drag themselves out of the current economic downturn and become self-employed. The recent funding to ‘Be The Boss’ is only eligible for those who left the Armed Forces on or after 7 October 2001, again leaving millions excluded from this essential financial support. ‘Civvy Street’ provides grants of up to £2,000 to ex-servicemen and women to retrain but applicants must be unemployed and restrictions are in a place as to what type of training this can be spent on. It is also web based, so if an individual is not IT literate, competent or have access to a computer it’s fraught with difficulties. Help for Heroes will only support projects financially which address the needs of physically disabled veterans and especially those who served after 9/11. I don’t think that there is a person or ex-soldier in this country that does not commend and applaud the work they have done to address this gap in service but what a difference funding

from that organisation could make to the veteran I described earlier and the thousands like him. Sadly, his wounds are invisible...they are mental rather than physical so he, like thousands of others, is not eligible. Services should meet unmet need, rather than offer protracted and at times costly and ineffective short-term solutions to complicated problems. As one enlightened British Legion Regional Manager (ex-veteran) said to me: “Veterans present to our office with 10 problems or more. I can assist financially with two of those problems and frequently send them away with eight problematic areas of their lives remaining unresolved...it is no surprise to find that they return a few months later asking for more assistance and are they are no further forward.”

Personalised support Or is it time to instigate another Freedom of Information request asking how many of the 39,000 single homeless people and how many of the estimated 36,000 people with mental health problems that were entitled to ‘supporting people money’ between 2003 and 2010 were exservicemen and women, and how many of those died whilst in receipt of that entitlement or ended up in prison due to a lack of understanding of the unique needs of the ex-forces population? We need to provide a more personalised support service that treats each individual with understanding, dignity and respect and recognises the contribution that they have made for their country whilst facilitating their potential to achieve and contribute once again to the economic wellbeing of this country and become all that they want to be. Whilst 95 percent of ex-servicemen and women successfully make the transition back into the civilian community, five percent do not and they need all the combined expertise and coordinated support we can give them. Tony Wright Managing Director About Turn CIC

About Turn CIC is a new social enterprise (constituted as a CIC) that aims to improve the lives of ex-service personnel and their families through the development and delivery of holistic practices. www.aboutturncic.co.uk www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 11:31:31


CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS

APATHY,

THE ENEMY WITHIN NEC member, Dean Acaster, says that active committees and good communication amongst POA members will help to resolve the issue of apathy.

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s a Branch Official, I was keen to bring the debate about apathy in the POA to Annual Conference. Like most people, I could see the dark clouds gathering with the decline in members voting and attending branch meetings. I found the lack of interest being shown by members alarming. Many branch meetings are being held at lunchtime where only a few members attend because they go to the gym, stay in tea rooms or work through lunch instead! This is all personal choice of course, but a choice that affects the unity of a branch and consequently, the unity and strength of the POA. The debate at annual conference 2011 was a superb one as many branches shared their views and comments. Some branches had no issues around apathy and some did not know how to address it. The fact is that apathy does exist and some would say that it is growing amongst the POA.

How do we address the problem of apathy? Well, to answer a question with a question, what happens if we do not address the problem of apathy? • The answer is that the people who we challenge during our union duties will grow more determined and be able to drive down standards with less and less resistance • Those of you who think sitting in a tea room while a meeting takes place makes no difference - then think again • Those of you who think starting work before your start time while some of your colleagues stand outside waiting is a waste of time - think again. Your actions are damaging this union at local and national level.

Two-way communication is vital

to national elections and ballots are viewed by management! And to be honest, I would say the same. When we get only a few thousand members voting in national elections from a possible 35,000 members it does raise the question are the majority of POA members bothered? The answer has to be NO! So how do we address this enemy within? Listening to the branches that did not have a problem with apathy it became apparent that they had very good communications with a very active committee. This in turn carried on throughout the members locally who asked lots of questions and raised issues. Now put yourself in the position of a governing governor. Which would you prefer to negotiate with; a branch showing little or no apathy that is active and together or a branch that shows no interest and is apathetic?

Communications committee With this in mind I am now involved in the newly set up communications committee. We are looking at all aspects of communications throughout the POA. Communications to branches, members, press, politicians, the employer and how they all communicate with us. Great strides have already been made; the POA website www.poauk.org.uk is a very good source of information. We are in talks with the employer about getting this as an approved site on the intranet so you can view it from work. The forum on the website is a great place to ask questions and make comments. The two-way aspect of communications is vital. As National officials it is vital that we know what is happening in your establishments. When requests for information are sent out we must have the information we asked for. Only then can we address the concerns that are real and happening now. This all stems from you raising the concerns you have locally. We have some of the most dedicated branch officials throughout the trade union movement who work tirelessly on your behalf. They need your support. My first question was how do we address the problem of apathy? Well the answer is we don’t, YOU do! By doing nothing it grows, by getting involved it dies, and WE become stronger. I hope that you have been bothered enough to read these views. The next time a meeting is being held or a ballot paper drops through your door remember that by getting involved you make your position stronger. Please support your local committees, ask them questions, challenge what you do not agree with, and show that unity really is strength. Thank you Dean Acaster NEC

The comment is often made that we don’t represent the majority of our members. Why is the comment made? Because the returns www.poauk.org.uk 13 C&E Dave Acaster.indd 13

April 2012 13 28/3/12 11:32:47


CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS

WORLDPRIDE And the winner is...London Pride, the host of WorldPride 2012.

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he eyes, ears and rainbows of the world will be on London in 2012 as it hosts WorldPride. What promises to be an event on a truly mammoth scale, WorldPride will be held between two other significant celebrations; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games.

WorldPride will be held in the capital during this summer just ahead of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games. Organised by InterPride, WorldPride promotes lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues on an international level through parades, festivals and other cultural activities. London’s WorldPride in 2012 is expected to attract over one million visitors. The two week festivities will most likely take place from 23 June to 8 July 2012, with the main parade held on 7 July. Visit London Deputy Chief Executive, Sally Chatterjee, said: “This is a tremendous win for the capital. London Pride is an annual highlight of the cultural festival calendar and hosting WorldPride in 2012 is a proud triumph for our city. There really will be no other place on earth to be in 2012 than right here in London.” Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that London has won the right to host WorldPride in 2012. London has one of the largest and most diverse LGBT communities on the planet and it is a fantastic opportunity to inspire cities across the globe. In an Olympic year, the eyes of the world will already be on London and the city will give an enormous welcome to LGBT people, their friends and families, for what we want to be the most colourful and exciting WorldPride festival yet.” Chair of Pride London, Paul Birrell, said: “We are delighted that London was successful in its bid for WorldPride. This is a great achievement for London and coming in 2012, it will be a 14 April 2012 14-15 C&E Worldpride.indd 14

glorious year for our city. Pride London has grown over the years to be one of the UK’s largest cultural events and this is a tremendous achievement for the LGBT community.” The POA will be taking part in the parade and the WorldPride event and we would like as many POA members as possible to join in. We had a very good reaction last year even though our numbers were low. I will forward more details, where to meet and timing etc to your branches and on the POA website. ALL are welcome.

Afghanistan’s accidental gay pride The embarrassment over the trend for rainbow flags on cars in Kabul reminds us how far Afghanistan is from the liberal west. If you are gay and proud, Afghanistan is quite likely the last place on earth to show it publicly. How then, are we supposed to make sense of the recent very conspicuous appearance of the rainbow-coloured gay pride symbols all over the streets of Kabul and other urban centres? Even more remarkably, Afghan drivers seemed to have little concern about using their cars to openly advertise being gay and proud of it. In a country where social conservatism sometimes results in gay men sharing their life with their partner of choice and an arranged wife so as to keep up appearances, there was certainly something very unusual about this apparently new openness.

Needless to say, Pajhwok’s reporter (local paper) soon discovered that Afghans who had decorated their cars with the rainbow symbol had no idea what it stood for. For them it was just the newest car fashion accessory but, on learning of its meaning in the west, drivers immediately started removing it. The rainbow stickers had first arrived on secondhand cars imported from Canada. Afghans had simply assumed that the colour combination was the latest fashion fad in the west, and duly adopted it. Had it not been for the news agency’s interest, the gay pride symbol would have continued to flourish in Afghanistan. Uprooted from its original cultural environment and landing in the country by sheer accident, it would have led an existence devoid of any meaning aside from showing that, like everywhere else in the world, Afghan men loved their cars. The confusion that had allowed for the gay-pride car accessories to become coveted goods in Afghan garages is not restricted to the symbol itself. Judging by the way homosexuality is debated in the public sphere, the term itself is understood incorrectly. It is usually used as a synonym for what would be described in Europe and North America as paedophilia. Hence, on the rare occasions when Afghan writers dare to publicly tackle problems related to sexuality, we encounter the local terms hamjins baazi (homosexuality) and bacha baazi (paedophilia) used interchangeably, as if they both deal with the same phenomenon. There seems to be little awareness of the fact that in liberal democracies of the west, the term strictly refers to relationships between consenting adults. www.poauk.org.uk 29/3/12 15:26:41


CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS

Why is Hebden Bridge the lesbian capital? Certain areas of the UK have greater concentrations of gay people and lesbians living there. But why? Some places in the UK such as Manchester, London and Brighton are known for having a disproportionately high number of gay and lesbian people. Such concentrations can be visible in the form of rainbow signs on bars or shops in places like Old Compton Street in London and Manchester’s Canal Street. Bigger cities are often assumed to be more tolerant places. But while one can imagine how metropolises like London, Paris and New York might disproportionately attract gay people, what about the smaller havens? How, for instance, has a small, peaceful market town like Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire become known as ‘the lesbian capital of the UK’? Sexual geography is now an academic discipline. At the moment it’s LGBT (lesbian gay bisexual trans) history month and activists are teaching children why places like San Francisco are popular with gay people. There are also plans afoot to do the same for the UK. Recent data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that 2.5 percent of adults who live in London identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual compared with 1.5 percent in the North West, 1.3 percent in both the South East and Yorkshire and the Humber regions. The stats aren’t usually broken down as locally as Hebden Bridge, but it has long been claimed that it has more lesbian people per head than anywhere else in the UK. Cities are not ‘safe havens’ - even ones with vibrant ‘gay villages’ - and rural areas are not

‘intrinsically homophobic”. But there are signs that something is slightly different - the lesbian dining company business card in the foyer of a bar, the same-sex greetings cards in the shop window. For anybody who misses these hints, there are more obvious clues in the names of some of the businesses, such as the homeware shop, Home...Oh! And there is a slew of gay and lesbian businesses - from dog walkers, decorators and fashion to wine bars and hotels. The town centre is a medley of organic, locally sourced and vegetarian eateries, independent coffee houses, eco-friendly clothing and knick-knack shops, arts and culture venues and a handful of high street names. Some people might even dub it a sort of Yorkshire San Francisco. It’s easy to imagine its modern atmosphere being at least in part a result of colonisation by former hippies in the 1970s. “It’s nice to just be, without feeling you’re in a minority or an exception,” says Amy Mellis, 29, a lesbian entrepreneur working part-time in a bar while getting a textile business off the ground. “If you go anywhere else, you feel self-conscious holding hands with your partner but not here.” Gay people often choose to live in places they identify as having increased freedom, says Sally Hines, Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies at the University of Leeds. “Often these cities will have a history of progressive local government policy towards supporting and financing LGBTfriendly initiatives.” There’s a stereotypical thought that big cities are more tolerant while rural areas can be more closed-minded. It’s not necessarily true, as the existence of Hebden Bridge - a small

town with a significantly tolerant community - might suggest. There is also a circular pattern of migration. Once an area has established a reputation as somewhere gay people live, more gay people are drawn there. People want to blend in somewhere, and even feel anonymous. “For many years, being gay meant running away from family to a place where you could be anonymous. You ran for anonymity. Brighton has for many years had a reputation as a place to run to because it is an openminded place where you can be who you want to be,” says gay writer and Brighton resident Simon Fanshawe. “What you also find about Brighton and other sea towns is that you can find work fairly easily. You didn’t necessarily need specific skills to work here. As more people find out about a place like this, more people come.” Thus the big cities like London and Manchester and the seaside towns like Brighton, Blackpool and Bournemouth have earned reputations as gay-friendly places. But the reasons can be as much economic as anything else. But ask anybody in Hebden Bridge about the appeal of the town to gay and lesbian people and they usually wax lyrical about ‘community spirit’. Walking around the town’s picturesque streets, you notice the regularity of people greeting each other. “A lot of women here have children,” says Mellis. “It’s an appealing place to bring up children. Women feel safe and included. My girlfriend and I have talked about settling down here and having kids.” Anne Ruzylo NEC Equality Advisory Committee Hebden Bridge

www.poauk.org.uk 14-15 C&E Worldpride.indd 15

April 2012 15 29/3/12 15:27:21


CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS

IN THE CURRENT ECONOMIC CLIMATE, IS THE POA VALUE FOR MONEY?

YOU DECIDE!

The POA Finance Officer, Pete Chapple is concerned that over the last few months some members have left or are considering leaving the POA in an attempt to save themselves £13.50. In the current financial climate we are all feeling the pinch but I believe not to be in the Union is short sighted and in fact, a false economy. During the current economic climate we all look at our family budgets before we make a major purchase and ask ourselves three simple questions: 1. Can we do without the purchase? 2. Can we afford it? 3. Can we get the same quality product for less elsewhere? Bearing in mind the litigious industries that we work in and the types of people in our care, I would suggest the same tests can and should be applied when considering joining or leaving the POA.

1. Can you do without the purchase? It would be impossible in this article to accurately estimate the amount of time POA officials (local and national) spend each year

supporting, advising, assisting and representing members both in work and their own time. However, discounting grievances, it is a matter of record that in the first nine months of 2011 in the Prison Service in England and Wales, 529 members of staff were charged under the Code of Discipline. (NB. This figure does not include those staff working in the private sector, special hospitals, Scotland, Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man). The majority of those staff received representation from POA officials. In the same year, Thompsons the POA Solicitors, opened 1,004 legal cases on behalf of POA members (NB. This figure does not include Scotland or Northern Ireland). Further consideration should be given to the fact that those POA members contributing to the POA Welfare Fund are eligible to apply for assistance in times of hardship as long as the hardship is not debt-related. In 2011, the Welfare Committee considered 94 applications for hardship assistance from members - in some cases making grants of up to £2,500, funded 38 member’s attendance at the Fire Fighters Therapy Centres at a cost of £1,800 per person per week and also funds the POA stress counselling and bereavement phone line. Are you a gambler? Can you afford to say: “It will never happen to me?”

2. Can you afford it?

Pete Chapple, POA Finance Officer

16 April 2012 16 Pete Chapple.indd 16

In my opinion, a more pertinent question should be: Can you afford not to be in the POA? Choices have to be made in life that can affect our futures, sometimes with devastating consequences. Do we spend a few pounds on car breakdown cover? Or do we take the gamble that the car won’t break down when it’s pouring with rain on our way home from work and have to spend a small fortune to get towed home? Do we spend money on home contents insurance? Or take the gamble that the house won’t get burgled or burn to the ground and then have to spend a fortune replacing all our possessions. Do we take out pet insurance and save a few pounds? Or take the gamble that the pet won’t get ill and then have to pay

out a fortune in vet’s fee. Do we decide not to join (or leave) a union and save the monthly subscriptions? Or take the gamble that we will never need representation, support, advice, assistance, legal cover or hardship support. Or potentially lose a fortune in wages or compensation because we didn’t have the Union’s backing because we weren’t a member.

3. Can we get the same quality product for less elsewhere? The cost of being a full member of the POA and therefore being eligible for all related benefits is £13.50 per month. That is less than 4.5p per day, which is less than the cost of three packets of cigarettes or equivalent to the cost of two gallons of petrol. Below I have selected a few Unions/ organisations that could be considered comparable to the POA due to the fields of employment undertaken by their membership; and the level of benefits their members receive. • POA - £13.50 per month • RCN (Royal College of Nurses) Nurse, full member - £16.24 per month • Police Federation - £21.58 per month • FBU (Fire Fighters Union) whole time member - £26.73 per month • NAPO (National Association of Probation Officers) 0.96 percent of salary, for example: • £16,001-£17,000 subscriptions £12.60 per month • £20,001-£21,000 subscriptions £16.80 per month • £25,001-£26,000 subscriptions £20.80 per month • £28,001-£29,000 subscriptions £23.20 per month • £33,000+ subscriptions £27.20 per month. I hope you will agree that in our line of work it is imperative to be a member of a trade union and at a subscription rate of less than 4.5p per day; the POA offers excellent service and value for money to its members. I believe my £13.50 a month is money well spent. Nearly 22 years ago, a POA member did me a huge favour and advised me to join the Union. Can you do the same? If you have a colleague who is not a member of the POA can you www.poauk.org.uk 29/3/12 15:28:25


CAMPAIGNS & EVENTS

SHANNON TRUST READING PLAN (TOE BY TOE) For many, learning to read is a cornerstone on the journey to rehabilitation.

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risoners teaching prisoners to read, requires prison officer support to make it happen. This is one learner’s account, told in his own words:

My experience with Toe by Toe – a learner’s story Before I learnt to read and write proper I would just blag it and pretend I could not understand a lot of things properly. Even the simple things like reading and writing letters to and from family was a problem for me. When I was on the out I would get my sister or girlfriend to do these things for me. But then I came to Pentonville Prison and I had to get things done for myself. Lucky for me one of the main people I conversed with was a Toe by Toe mentor so I decided to ask him for his help to improve my reading skills. It was one of the best decisions I had made in a long time. We started on a little handbook which was not that hard, it was mainly sounds of letters and breaking down words. I think as this was something I was finding fun and exciting and I could see the doors opening up for me as to all the things I could achieve for myself and be able to do better myself for me and my family. Well after I had learnt the two books and I successfully gained my first 3 certificates from B.I.C.S I decided I also wanted to help others to better themselves as my mentor helped me. I feel very proud of myself that I have taken this bad time in my life and I am making the best of it by trying to give back to others. Now 7 months later I have 11 certificates for all different things, I’m helping others and I’ve learnt a lot that I can use to build a better life for me and my family when I’m released from jail. Thank you. R.B.

THE SHANNON TRUST READING PLAN - NEW CD RELEASE “Getting the sounds right” – Scottish version

“Listening to a Scots voice in learning to read makes it easier for Scottish prisoners to get the sounds right”

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he new CD which was made with the help of prisoners, staff and Shannon Trust Local Representatives at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow was launched after a trial with mentors and learners, who were being introduced to the Toe by Toe reading plan.

Some of the comments were: “The Scottish accent is identifiable” “The pacing of the CD makes it easy to listen to the sounds of the letters” To find out more contact the Shannon Trust facilitator in your prison www.poauk.org.uk 17 Shannon Trust.indd 17

April 2012 17 28/3/12 11:35:57


SCOTLAND

BANKERS PAY

AND BONUSES...

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olleagues, most of you will be aware that in 2009 the SPS implemented a new Retention and Recruitment Allowance (RRA) for operational jobs in Pay Bands H and I. At Scottish Conference 2011, the following motion was submitted by the Shotts Branch and passed.

Motion 42/2011 ‘To recognise our members’ abhorrence of the excessive recruitment and retention packages given to some senior managers within the SPS. Further, our members are outraged at the fact that this package is by all accounts a nonconsolidated, pensionable lump sum. It is in the public interest to urgently establish a Government led investigation into the legality and ethics of such an undertaking by the senior managers of the SPS - especially at a time of efficiency driven savings and cost cutting exercises. We therefore call upon the SNC to canvas the Finance Minister to investigate this matter.’

18 April 2012 18-19 Scotland.indd 18

A national disgrace? You decide! This wouldn’t be allowed to happen in the public service...or would it? As you would expect, communication has now been forwarded to ministers from the Scottish National Committee. Where exactly this will lead I am unsure. However, as a result of a Freedom of Information request I am able to give you an update on how this came about. In doing so I do not intend to embellish the structure of the information, given by way of a ‘Brief on the Payment of Recruitment and Retention Allowances (RRAs) for Operational Jobs in Pay Band H and I’, just to make it look bad, what you will see is the actual make up of the business case from which you can make your own determinations. Please note that the briefing paper is in regard to the year of implementation, 2009.

The Briefing Paper has eight headings on which a question and answer case appears to have been applied. The text written in italics is directly lifted from the Briefing Paper. I have added a comment or two after this which addresses some, but definitely not all of our concerns, beliefs, feelings and/or perspectives to the motivation for ‘awarding this additional wage’.

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SCOTLAND

Payment of Recruitment & Retention Allowance (RRAs) For Operational Jobs in Pay Band H and I.

3. Q. What jobs are these? • A. The great majority are Governor in Charge or Deputy Governor in Charge jobs or jobs occupied by individuals in H or I Band in other roles but whose career role is as a governor.

Background 1. Q. What is the purpose of this brief ? • A. To provide background with regard to this issue following previous discussion and correspondence and the SPS’s decision to go ahead with the payment of an RRA to those in the above jobs.

I may not be alone here but it was my impression that only H and I Deputy and Governors where included, it appears they are only the majority. The other obvious point is covered in the next question.

There’s not much to comment on here other than to confirm that it was the SPS’s decision to award the RRA. (It should also be noted that the Freedom of Information request does not appear to have resulted in any of the previous discussions and correspondence being disclosed). 2. Q. What is a summary of the position? • A. The issues have been raised in various TUS/Management forums over the past year, and so there is a reasonable amount of familiarity with regard to the issues. SPS Management has consulted with the TUS, received its views, further reviewed the evidence base and has now implemented an approach. The case for the RRA will follow however what this appears to be saying is that Management have consulted with the TUS over a year and sought its views. The views are not documented here, however I’d imagine that if the TUS had supported this then SPS Management would have made this clear. In the absence of this I’ll let you make what you want from the statement: ‘SPS Management has consulted with the TUS, received its views, further reviewed the evidence base and has now implemented an approach.’ Jobs affected 1. Q. How many jobs are affected? • A. This is yet to be confirmed and is awaiting confirmation from relevant Directors which staff members within their Directorate meet the qualification criteria. I’d like to mention two points here although this question does raise more. The SPS appears to have committed itself to a cost from within its budget without having the knowledge of how much this might be. Similarly why would the SPS be considering who might meet a qualification criteria after the RRA has been implemented? This makes me wonder why it would carry out a defined course of action without knowing what exactly that might be or how much it would cost. 2. Q. What is the qualification criteria? • A. The qualification criteria is that the staff member is a Pay Band H or I staff member who is currently either: i. Employed in a senior operational manager post in an SPS prison establishment; ii. Employed in a post outwith an SPS prison establishment where senior operational management experience is clearly defined as a requirement of the job role or person specification; or iii. Employed in a non-operational role on assignment but with an explicit understanding that they may at any time be assigned back to an SPS prison establishment to carry out a senior operational management role at Pay Band H or Pay Band I. That makes perfect sense to me, it’s as many as we can get. Apologies that may not be the case, but it is what many people think, a clearer understanding is in the next question. What is clear however is that this answer is unclear, as is evidenced by the SPS as they were still unsure how many jobs would be affected. www.poauk.org.uk 18-19 Scotland.indd 19

4. Q. Why should people who were Governors but not currently in Governor in Charge / Deputy roles just now receive an RRA? • A. On occasion individuals may be required by SPS to carry out alternative roles for which their background as a Governor is extremely valuable and / or which may be developmental. Not to pay an RRA in those circumstances would mean that these roles would not be attractive and Governors would not wish to move into or stay in them when the Governor job pays more. That would mean a loss to the service resulting from being unable to deploy those skills to those particular roles or encourage development opportunity in other roles. That was quite a long answer to get a point across, what of an alternative though? In instances when Governors are required to work elsewhere as a result of their background or for development and to ensure the service does not lose out, why not continue the theme. Allocate a suitably experienced and skilled individual into the vacant Governors role for the time period they would be employed elsewhere. The bonus of this is that someone else is being developed in role on an acting up basis. There are other benefits associated to this for the SPS, one may be the need for fewer senior managers, and another of great benefit would be the up-skilling of individuals and a greater pool of competent staff that the SPS would be able to draw from. 5. Q. What about people who are approaching (or are already beyond) pension age of 60? Will they be treated in the same way as those who are not? • A. Yes, otherwise it is likely that there would be discrimination on the grounds of age. I’m not a lawyer so if this is right fill your boots. What a lucky position to be in though, considering it has the potential to equate to a difference in take home pension of over £4k a year. 6. Q. Will new people joining the service or promoted from a lower Pay Band into an operational H or I Band job receive an RRA? • A. Yes in order to ensure consistency of treatment and to provide the right incentive for people with the right qualities to join us. I’m not sure about incentives but at the time an I Band could expect to get £66k a year and a final salary pension with the potential to be over £30k and H Band, £55k and over £27k, that’s not a bad incentive, or am I going aff ma nut? At this point colleagues, I’m going to beg forgiveness for I have only tackled two of the eight points in the brief, however I’m sure this is enough for now to increase your understanding. The other six points raised are: • • • • • •

Reasons for intervening Evidence of turnover and difficulties in recruitment Evidence of pay rates being insufficient to attract enough suitable candidates How SPS rates compare with others elsewhere Consequential issues and Other issues.

Worry not though; it’s the number of words that needs to be attached to this that requires another article, hopefully in the next issue of Gatelodge and a wee bit more research. Tony Quinn April 2012 19 28/3/12 11:42:06


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FINANCIAL STATEMENT

POA The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers

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CONFERENCE MOTIONS

POA The Professional Trades Union for Prison, Correctional and Secure Psychiatric Workers

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CONFERENCE MOTIONS RULES AND CONSTITUTION 1. This Conference agrees to the change to Rule 12.2 as outlined below. 12.2 A special conference will be summoned by the Chairman and General Secretary for the whole of the Union. 12.2 c within any period of 4 weeks, branches representing a majority of the memberships requests a special conference.

SWALESIDE

2. That Conference amends Rule 21.1 and subsequent Rules as set out in Conference Paper ONE relating to the membership of the National Committee for Secure Health Care Services, to include the Assistant Secretary for Scotland in order that the SNC can fulfil its responsibilities under Rule 23.3.

10. Once a suitably appropriate and willing existing credit union is sourced, conference authorises the NEC, on behalf of the membership to enter into a partnership arrangement with them.

NEC 11. All our national committee members in the UK are treated equally with remunerations and expenses.

CORNTON VALE 12. Conference condemns “the membership recruitment competition”.

CORNTON VALE

NEC

GENERAL MATTERS 3. New Rule 8.7(c) Members who qualified for their subscriptions to be waived under Rule 8.7(a) and (b) shall not be entitled to reclaim paid subscriptions, save for 3 months maximum, if they failed to apply at the appropriate time. Further, the NEC ensure branch officials to adhere to the administration of this rule.

HOLME HOUSE

4. This Branch ask Conference to instruct the NEC to obtain a firm definition from the UK Governments what constitutes a frontline service and seeks legal advice as to where we fit in.

DUMFRIES

5. POA members and branches in Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales can only vote on issues that solely pertain to them.

LIVERPOOL

6. Conference authorises the NEC to initiate an annual award in recognition of the exceptional work by a POA Branch Official in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in line with Conference Paper TWO The award to be known as the “Steve Oxby Branch Rep of the Year” and awarded to the recipient at Annual Conference, starting in 2013.

NEC

7. Conference authorises the NEC to initiate an annual award in recognition of the exceptional work undertaken by a POA Health and Safety Representative in the Great Britain and Northern Ireland, in line with Conference Paper THREE. The award to be known as the “David Evans Health and Safety Representative of the Year” and awarded to the recipient at Annual Conference, starting in 2013.

LATCHMERE HOUSE

8. That conference applaud those branches and members who demonstrated and took strike action on 30th November 2011, giving due regard and thanks to those members who lost pay during that action fighting for the pension rights of all POA members and public sector workers.

NEC

9. Conference approves the appointment of Wilkins Kennedy chartered accountants as the accountants and auditors to the POA from the 1st June 2012 until 31st May 2017.

NEC

13. Conference instructs the Executive Committee of the Welfare Fund, to revisit the application for assistance document and develop a less intrusive and more dignified application form.

CORNTON VALE 14. Conference authorises the Executive committee of the POA Welfare Fund to enact a 3 month suspension of the word “ANY” from rule E1 of the POA Welfare constitution. Thus allowing non-contributing members another opportunity to join the charity.

NEC 15. That on joining the POA new members are given a 50% reduction in their POA subs for the first 12 months, thus encouraging recruitment.

EDINBURGH 16. That any new member of staff joining the prison service is asked to join the POA and is covered for the first year free, after which their subscription will start on the second year.

ROCHESTER 17. To debate the inclusion of managers as representatives of the POA at local and national levels. Furthermore, do we support the Rules and Constitution that allows any member to be elected to such positions?

SWALESIDE 18. That Jim Dawson is awarded Honorary Life membership of the POA.

NEC 19. That with effect from 1st January 2013, the Miscellaneous Expenses Grant (MEG) paid to members of the POA National Executive Committee and Full Time Officers is reduced to £2500.00 per year gross. Any future increase or change in the MEG will be subject to approval from Annual Conference. The Expenses Manual to be updated to reflect this change.

WORMWOOD SCRUBS 20. That a vote of “no confidence” be given to the POA NEC for their decision to close the Latchmere House branch without first informing and discussing the proposal with the Latchmere House branch committee..

WORMWOOD SCRUBS

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CONFERENCE MOTIONS 21. Due to the failure of the NEC to enact conference motion 42/2010 which stated, “Because of the political spin used by NOMS management board regarding the outcomes of staff surveys and the fact that information gathered in these surveys is used against the POA when submissions are made to the PSPRB. This Association adopts a policy of non-participation in any future surveys and instead conducts its own survey to act as a direct contrast HOLME HOUSE. We ask Conference censures the NEC for failing in two years to enact this motion.

HOLME HOUSE

22. That the NEC be censored for failing to mount national opposition to the Specification Benchmarking and Costings programme as per Motion 21/2010.

RISLEY

23. Once an incident occurs that subsequently leads to an investigation, members who have joined the POA after the event are not represented for the period prior to becoming a member of the Union.

MORTON HALL

24. That the NEC should provide representation where a member of staff could face losing their job on either a disciplinary or capability hearing.

BRINSFORD

25. Conference mandates the NEC to lobby Parliament for a change in Employment Law that the burden of proof is changed from one of probability to one of beyond reasonable doubt.

LIVERPOOL

26. That the NEC actively seek to recruit Operational Support Grades into the Union by way of the national OSG committee.

CHELMSFORD

27. That the NEC do not take part in any roadshows in support of the Ministry of Justice or their policies.

CHELMSFORD

31. That this Association make available Rally pack for regional TUC events and rallies, for use by Branches; these are to be held at Cronin House and each of the regional offices. It is suggested that each pack contains the basics of a table, some chairs, gazebo or other form of shelter and a banner highlighting the POA and any campaign that is on-going at the time. POA memorabilia will be at the discretions of the Finance Officer to decide what is included.

BURE

32. That when the NEC ballots the membership for Industrial Action/Strike Action that two separate proposals are mandated.

FORD

33. With effect from 1st July 2012, all Whitley meetings attended by members of the POA National Executive Committee and/or any full time official of the POA, to be minuted and all minutes published to the membership by way of POA circular within 3 months of the meeting.

WORMWOOD SCRUBS

34. Conference instructs the NEC to invite back the Northern Irish pipeband to national conference as they have been part of the folklore of our Conference.

CORNTON VALE

OPERATIONS 35. That NOMS should introduce a framework for the categorisation of Detainees in line with the prison estate to ensure Staff and Detainee Health and Safety is not jeopardised.

MORTON HALL

36. That the NEC seek from the Prison Service full disclosure on HMP Ford staff only the Mulholland report into the disturbance at HMP Ford on 01.01.11.

FORD

37. The NEC to negotiate with NOMS a nationally agreed policy of what is acceptable in an MSL.

WYMOTT 28. We call upon Conference to continue and give emphasis to their work with other constables within the Criminal Justice System, notably the Police Federation, with the view of forming a joint working in order to strengthen both sides in future negotiations with the Home Office of Government.

STOCKEN

29. That the NEC organise at a national level a C&R planned removal and riot demonstration for MPs. Ideally targeting those MPs over the age of 65. Then cascade out to all branches to invite their local MP to see a local demonstration of a cell removal.

HOLME HOUSE

30. Branches who wish to withdraw a motion once Conference has begun must give a reason for the withdrawal at the lectern; any branch wishing to take the motion forward should be given the chance to move the motion. Once the reasons for withdrawal have been established conference should vote on whether or not to allow the motion to be withdrawn.

MORTON HALL

38. That the NEC insist that NOMS apply the Specification and Benchmark to administration staff in the same way that they apply it to discipline staff.

HOLME HOUSE

39. The branch calls upon Conference to fully embrace the 1952 Prison Act notably that, every prison officer whist acting as such has all the Powers of a Constable (Prisons Act 1952 15 & 16 geo 6 and Eliz 2 section 8).

STOCKEN

HR 40. The NEC negotiate with NOMS as part of the OSG agreement the OSG grade be allowed to undertake constant watches.

STYAL

41. That the NEC have the fitness test removed and replaced with the health screening test which is currently in service in the Scottish Prison Service.

ROCHESTER

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CONFERENCE MOTIONS 42. That if the current proposals to raise the pensionable age of prison officers is adopted that the Prison Service immediately ends the practice of mandatory fitness testing for prison officers on the grounds of equal opportunities, age discrimination and disability discrimination. If this is refused then it would be challenges legally through the courts.

SWINFEN HALL

43. Due to the proposed pensions changes and subsequent increase in retirement age of prison staff. The NEC to negotiate with NOMS a reduction in the minimum mandatory fitness test requirement of staff over the age of 60, to a standard which is fair and reasonable.

STYAL

44. Conference mandates the NEC to challenge the ethics and legality of the mandatory fitness test; regarding members aged over 60 years old. Given that the present test is based on the ability to carry out basic C&R when our employer fails to recognise prison officers as “front line” staff.

HOLLESLEY BAY

45. In the light of the changes to the retirement age of prison officers, the NEC negotiate reasonable adjustments to the fitness test to allow for a drop in personal fitness ability as we age.

STOCKEN

46. That the NEC seek to reach an agreement with the appropriate body that any sickness taken by staff due to injury at work should not count within KPT figures for the establishment.

STOKE HEATH

47. That the Prison Service immediately end the practice of fitness test supervisors taking the blood pressure reading of staff who have declared themselves being treated by their Doctor for high blood pressure. This should only be done by qualified medical staff in private.

SWINFEN HALL

48. That the NEC seek to reach an agreement with the appropriate body that any sickness taken by staff due to accidents at work should not count within KPT figures for the establishment.

STOKE HEATH

49. That the NEC seek to reach an agreement with the appropriate body that any sickness taken by staff due to assault at work should not count within KPT figures for the establishment.

STOKE HEATH

50. The NEC negotiate with NOMS a nationally agreed policy for the facilitating and granting of annual leave.

WYMOTT

51. That the current process for gaining references for future employers by staff who have left the service is reviewed by the relevant Whitley Committee, with a view to making the process relevant to the needs of ex staff and their prospective employers.

WORMWOOD SCRUBS

52. That the NEC seeks to agree with the Prison Service that when a prison is to be closed, staff in that establishment will be offered “voluntary redundancy” as well as suitable redeployment to other establishments.

WORMWOOD SCRUBS

53. Debate the rising age of prison officers against the stationary age of the prisoner population and the effect it will have on our members.

CORNTON VALE

54. That this Union enters into a national failure to agree on the impact that the extra savings that branches have been burdened with, due to the cost of incremental pay scales not being accounted for at the start of the financial year. This is over and above the 10% that we have already been told to save from our budgets.

HOLME HOUSE

55. Staff who attend the establishment in cases of emergency for Payment Plus should not have those hours put on the bloodline. The bloodline should only be used when staff volunteer with prior notice.

MORTON HALL

56. When a senior officer volunteers to “act down” for payment plus they agree to be included to cover officer shortfalls should they have the lowest TOIL balance should payment plus not be available.

MORTON HALL

57. Conference mandates the NEC to negotiate with NOMS that in the process of the Conduct and Discipline the hearing authority should reside with a Governor from outside of the establishment.

LIVERPOOL

58. In line with efficiency savings the JSAC process is discontinued and replaced with a Promotion Board for uniformed staff.

LIVERPOOL

59. That the NEC engage in urgent discussions with NOMS regarding the sickness policy that full time staff are suffering a detriment when measured against those on part time/work life balance or compressed hours.

CHELMSFORD

HEALTH AND SAFETY 60. That the POA actively pursue a total ban on smoking in HM Prisons in order to protect staff from second hand smoke which is a proven significant health risk.

HOLME HOUSE

REPORT BACKS 61. That the NEC report back on Hollesley Bay motion 114/2011 and informs conference what has been achieved in regards to challenging PSI 49/2010. Given that this instruction has severe implications to security and good order of prisons.

HOLLESLEY BAY

62. That the NEC report back on the progress of Annual Conference Motion 61/2011, with regards to the comprehensive examination of the current POA structures.

HOLME HOUSE

SECURITY AND CUSTODY 63. That the NEC negotiate with NOMS to provide uniformed staff with one good quality pair of footwear per year.

HUNTERCOMBE

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CONFERENCE MOTIONS 64. That the NEC negotiate with NOMS for the reintroduction of the boot and shoe allowance.

HUNTERCOMBE

76. That individual branches that are subject to a market test are the only body that has the right to endorse a bid on behalf of the members. Where the bids are for clusters, a collective workplace ballot will be conducted for all the sites included within the bid.

65. That prison officers working in the open estate and in particular at Thorn Cross be issued with batons.

BIRMINGHAM

66. Conference debates the rise in violence and assaults within Prisons in order to highlight the vulnerability of staff working in Prisons.

SWALESIDE

67. That conference accepts that all prison officers must be fully trained in PACE as are all other constables within the Criminal Justice System.

MOORLAND

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STOCKEN

68. That the NEC look at the Mutual Aid Agreement with regard to public sector prisons responding to disturbances and providing other support in privately run prisons, to ascertain which are provided at nil cost.

CHELMSFORD

69. The NEC seek that all IRCs be immediately re risk assessed and all SSOW are reviewed once a categorisation of detainees has been established to ensure safe working conditions for all.

MORTON HALL

70. This Conference adopts the motion that all prisons; whether public or private; should staff their security departments with prison officers in roles that involve the making of operational decisions and in any area where the Powers of a Constable are needed.

STOCKEN

SECURITY AND CUSTODY 71. That Conference debate the policy of the Union on engagement in the Market Test/Competition process.

MOORLAND

72. That this Union re-affirm the policy of engagement with the Market Test/Competition process.

MOORLAND

73. This Union withdraws its engagement from the Market Test/ Competition process.

MOORLAND

74. We call for the NEC to form a Market Test strategy group utilising experiences staff from prisons with the aim of providing advice and guidance for our members to win a future Market Test.

HOLME HOUSE

75. Conference debates the issue ... If the Government allow a Private Sector to compete for Custodial Business on a contract, are the staff who work in the Private Sector not a part of that contract with particular regard to Personal Protection and terms and conditions of employment? If Public Sector Bids have to be adjusted to create a level playing field, why should a Private Sector Employer gain an advantage by paying less for its staff and their terms and conditions of employment?

BIRMINGHAM

77. To debate the inclusion of the private sector as a partner within the public sector bids unit. 78. Conference debate the impact on the Service in general and the Union in particular of NOMS entering into partnerships with the private sector.

PRIVATISATION 79. Conference mandates the POA Private Sector Committee be organised to include two representatives from within the membership of each Private Sector Employer. That the representative will be a Branch Committee Chair or Secretary or Committee person and be voted to the Private Sector Committee by the whole of that particular Private Sector Employer’s membership of the POA.

BIRMINGHAM

80. Conference mandates the POA Private Sector Committee be organised and include representation from within the membership of each Private Sector Branch. That the representative will be the Branch Chair and Branch Secretary or a delegate from the Branch Committee.

BIRMINGHAM

81. Conference mandates that the minutes of the Private Sector Committee Meetings be published in the manner of Full NEC Meeting minutes, to the Membership on a Branch Circular.

BIRMINGHAM

82. That the NEC enquire into whether senior NOMS staff are allowed to when retiring /transferring or leaving the prison service, can immediately go and work in the custodial service provided by the private sector.

CHELMSFORD

PRIVATISATION 83. That this Association condemns those responsible for agreeing to the terms of the NUVOS Pension Scheme for prison officers, firstly for not engaging the membership and discussing it and secondly for agreeing a retirement age of 65 for prison officers.

DUMFRIES

84. That the Finance Officer look into the feasibility of our own or TUC Pension Scheme, as an alternative to the MOJs career average pension scheme which they are imposing.

WINCHESTER

85. That the NEC seek a reduction in the rate of actuarial reduction from staff who wish to retire at their original contracted age of retirement so that these staff do not suffer any detriment.

DUMFRIES

86. That the POA respond to the criticism of gold plated civil service pensions and highlight the fact by producing figures that this was in fact deferred salary.

CHELMSFORD

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CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS

WHO’S NEXT Well, haven’t we all got used to our coalition Government? You know, the one the experts said would never last? Where are the police?

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onsidering their precarious start, the ConDem(n) schoolboys have become very comfortable bedfellows and have already begun laying the foundations that may inflict sufficient damage to our nation’s infrastructure that will, in no doubt, leave an irreparable legacy for generations to come. As a voting public, we would have been forgiven for assuming that with the Liberal Democrats in tow, the Conservatives would perhaps have been forced to bring their policies from the far right to somewhere perhaps a little more politically and economically moderate. How wrong would we have been?

Change Since the arrival of this Government in 2010, there has already been tremendous change. Our NHS is being “made more transparent” and we have witnessed the auctioning of our water boards to the highest bidders. Some local councils have been threatening redundancies; others have been imposing inferior Terms and Conditions on public servants. This list is not exhaustive and for us, the privatisation of HMP Birmingham may only be the tipping point for what may lie ahead. The sole objective of this ConDem(n) Government has always been to systematically franchise large portions of our public services to the private sector. There was a time when the voting public would simply not tolerate such behaviour. Notably, when the Conservatives last relinquished office at No.10, one of the primary contributors was that the general public was unhappy with the privatisation of the rail system. Look what has happened there. When seeking to regain power in the 2001 election they ran a campaign of “you paid the tax, so where are the police?” My, haven’t things changed? 52 April 2012 52 Ralph.indd 52

In March it was announced that the West Midlands and Surrey Constabularies would be allowed to invite bids from large security companies on behalf of all forces across England and Wales; to take over the delivery of a wide range of services that are currently performed by the police. It is planned that private companies would be offered responsibility for investigating crimes, detaining suspects, developing cases, responding to and investigating incidents, supporting victims and witnesses, managing high-risk individuals, patrolling neighbourhoods, managing intelligence, managing engagement with the public, as well as more traditional back-office functions, such as managing forensics, providing legal services, managing the vehicle fleet, finance and human resources. Isn’t that everything that the police do? Where is the public outcry? Will we soon be asking ourselves for real “where are the police?”

Improvements to service Once again the “challenging financial conditions” have been cited as the justification for such a radical “transformation”. Chief Superintendent Phil Kay, who is overseeing the joint West Midlands/Surrey programme, remains optimistic, “We want to explore how working with people in the private sector might be able to give us a new dimension and help us transform our service. “We also want to see what areas of business there are where we can work with partners in the private sector to deliver in a way that is more cost-effective, efficient and helps to improve the service.” Sound familiar? Now as POA members, we have become only too familiar with such language as “challenging financial conditions” and “business partnership”. From experience, this language invariably leads to one word . . . “efficiencies”.

Decline in our front line officers Like the police, we have seen the consistent decline in our front line officers for years. At the same time, the numbers of private sector employees and civilian workers who come through our gates have steadily increased. Indeed, have you ever thought to yourself “there are fewer of us on the landing than ever before, yet I still can’t get a space in the car park”?

Sadly, “business partnership” has been taking place in our organisation for a considerable period of time. Just look to your works departments, healthcares, drug treatment and drug therapy programmes for the evidence.

Extensive market testing Thanks to our ConDem (n) Government the threat of extensive market testing is no longer idle and the potential of job losses and TUPE are real. It is hardly surprising that NOMS have been forced to seriously consider a voluntary partnership agreement. It is hardly surprising that MITiE snapped up the opportunity. To what extent this ‘partnership’ will extend will remain to be seen and the POA must be ready to safeguard the livelihood of its members. Sadly, once it has finished its wrecking spree, the Government will have changed the face of the entire criminal justice system. The police won’t be policing and it will be our fight to ensure that we remain as prison officers. We cannot rely on public outcry. There was none when HMP Birmingham was privatised. There was none when another nine establishments went out to tender. Indeed, we must look within. Our fight is a unique one; it is not about the typical trade union diatribe. It is one of decency, justice, loyalty, duty and service. It’s about doing the right thing. Give this Union a voice. Give yourself a voice. Shake off the apathy that seems to be engulfing this nation like a fog whilst we still have a chance. Ralph Valerio POA NEC www.poauk.org.uk 22/3/12 16:51:27


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STRICTLY PRIVATE

NOT RECOGNISED? There is still a consistent membership within the private sector who enjoys the support of this Trades Union.

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here we do not have any recognition agreements it is very difďŹ cult to provide support to a collective membership. It is therefore essential that we use ACAS guidelines, along with our own skills and knowledge to provide advice and support for individuals. It is this advice and support which, by word of mouth, largely maintains or increases this section of our membership. We give our support but do not take lightly, or for granted, the support we receive in exchange. Our legal services, provided by Thompsons, provide their extensive knowledge and

54 April 2012 54 Strictly Private.indd 54

are often requested to give advice and representation to colleagues within the private sector, they do so unfailingly. This Trades Union values each individual member, wherever you are. It is not always easy but we provide for you and take pride in doing so. Best wishes Tom Robson National Vice Chairman & Chairman of the Private Sector Committee

www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 12:03:47


OBITUARIES

Steve “Perky” Perkins 1964 to 2012

Support Grade. Alan was always cheerful and helpful to everyone he met - a real gent. He would often be seen standing outside the prison next to his motorbike, dressed in his red and black motorbike jacket talking to his friends and colleagues over a cigarette before entering the prison for duty. I worked with Alan for several years and it was a pleasure and honour to of known him. Friends, family and colleagues all said our farewells to Alan at a service at Chilterns Crematorium, Amersham at 11.30 am on 19 January 2012. I know it sounds unusual; but it was a relaxed, upbeat service with Alan’s life being celebrated, many cheerful tales about Alan were told and laughed about. Alan was married to Madeline and had two sons, Mark and Michael. RIP Alan.

It was during January 2012 that a friend of mine working at HMP Littlehey informed me that another friend of mine had passed away. Steve Mark Perkins and I knew each other during and after prison officer training at PSC Newbold Revel from October 1988 to December 1988. We were both transferred to HMP Littlehey and started there on Monday 28 December 1988. I have many memories of working with Steve, one of which was just after we had finished induction and we were both detailed visits (being sprogs). We had to rub down all prisoners who were about to enter the visits hall. As Steve gave a large prisoner a rubdown search he came to his right trouser pocket and challenged the prisoner, “What’s in your pocket mate, nothing is allowed in the visits hall.” The prisoner became a bit embarrassed saying: “Leave it out boss it’s my d**k.” Steve said: “It must be half way round your waist, I don’t believe you, get in the strip cubicle so we can check you out.” Both Steve and I entered the cubicle to strip search the prisoner and as he undid his trousers his appendage leaped out like a PR24 (riot stick) attacking us, Steve, a bit embarrassed, apologised and let him dress and enter the visits hall. The service on 31January 2012 at Kettering Crematorium was a service conducted by the British Humanist Association and was a celebration of his life. It included a mixture of family and friends recounting Steve’s exploits and stories creating many laughs, we also listened to music Steve liked. Throughout the service we all laughed, cried and smiled and truly celebrated Steve’s life, although 47 was far too young to go. It was a big turn out from staff at HMP Littlehey who showed just how much the big man was loved and will be missed by his friends and colleagues. Steve was married to Tina and had two children; Joanne and Jason. RIP Steve.

Jim Wylie HMP The Mount

Jim Wylie HMP The Mount

OFFICER ERIC LANE AND OFFICER STEVE STEELE, HMP WINCHESTER Eric Lane, 1947 to 2011 Steve Steel, 1951 to 2011 Senior Officer Eric Lane passed away on 5 October 2011 and Officer Steve Steele passed away on 28 December 2011, both after brave fights against long illnesses. Both funerals took place at Wessex Vale Crematorium, Eric’s on 19 October 2011 and Steve’s on 11 January 2012. Both were attended by staff from the prison, current and retired, uniform and non-uniform, with uniform staff in full dress, all lining the drive to the entrance of the crematorium and showing the due respect to the coffin and to families. Eric and Steve typified the sort of prison officer we all aspire to be, they instinctively knew what to say and what to do in any given situation, and had the knack of getting things done without noise and fuss, they also had the ability to laugh at themselves as well as others. Their presence at Winchester is greatly missed. RIP.

O.S.G. Alan Henry Fraser, 1961 to 2011 It was while I was relaxing at home on 26 December 2011 when I heard the sad news that Alan Fraser had died on Christmas Day. Alan had just been released from the local hospital two days before and was looking forward to relaxing at home during Christmas with his family. Alan was raised in a military family living in various military bases in Scotland and Germany. He and his brother both continued with the military tradition and joined the army, Alan choosing the Royal Corps of Signals. After serving for approximately nine years he left the service in 1989 having reached the rank of Lance Corporal and serving operational tours in Ulster twice and the Falkland Islands just after the conflict had ended. Alan became a plumber and eventually joined HM Prison, The Mount about six and a half years ago as a Night Patrol/Operational www.poauk.org.uk 55 obituaries.indd 55

April 2012 55 13/3/12 09:33:44


BRANCH NEWS Frankland Welcome once again to the Frankland Jottings. We are sorry not to have been in the February edition but Darren has never been any good at meeting deadlines. Well by now, Fair and Sustainable has been voted upon, and the implementation has begun. I am not too sure which bit is fair and which is sustainable but like everything else that has engendered change within our organisation, we will find a way to make it work. Budget cuts continue to dominate local issues, and whilst the establishment is awash with rumours and speculation about pensions and possible exit packages etc, as usual not one of them has any foundation of truth or accuracy. Fair and Sustainable means many things to many people and absolutely nothing to a whole lot more. The more questions you answer the more questions get asked. This is definitely the biggest change the service has seen since Fresh Start and we still have members who appear to be ignorant about the whole thing. With pensions we are all waiting with bated breath for the moment of truth when our members will suddenly sit up and take notice of something we have been trying to tell them for a long time. April pay packets will be some £30 less due to increased contributions (the Government tax on your pension) and for many members this will be the wake up call and no doubt the first thing they will want to do is to complain about it to their Union. Watch this space. Locally as a committee we are as proactive as we can be considering the large amount of apathy that exists within our own members. We have ensured that the implementation of budget cut proposals are managed so they do not directly impact on our members through constant changes to shift patterns and group structures, however by doing that we have in many ways sheltered them from the reality of those cuts. Overall this is the loss of posts. And yet most appear to simply moan about the loss of income from PP. Things are about to get a great deal harder. Have a thought for those that are going through a Market Test before you complain.

Staff living quarters Well Easter is upon us and the Prison Service changes at breakneck speed. As part of helping with recruitment, the Department is going back to the old idea of building quarters to enable staff to live in affordable accommodation. For those of you who can remember the old quarters, staff used to rent them from the prison usually living close to the prison. This was beneficial for staff (i.e. no parking problems etc). Also, the governor could call on staff during emergencies (some quarters had an indicator when an alarm was raised in 56 April 2012 56-63 Branch News.indd 56

the Prison). Staff would help each other out in times of trouble clearing snow and putting each others bins out etc. Under the new schemes staff would have to promise not to heap snow against each others doors when they are on Payment Plus. Someone would be detailed to go round and wake staff up so as to avoid anyone sleeping in, (probably by a rock being thrown at your bedroom window). Mind you, toughened glass will be fitted to all quarters to avoid the Works Department going bust. To avoid any embarrassment the outside lighting will be switched off for ten minutes to give everyone a chance to sprint back to their own quarters/ partners. (Garden fences will be banned). Staff would take turns putting bins out promising not to rummage about in them looking for PP and A/Leave slips. In Vision would be installed into the TV systems. Bed Watches and Escorts would flash onto your TV Screen on the new Freeview channel. The first one to hit the red button on your remote and answer the following question gets the overnighter. In what month will the “Cry for help, I’m desperate for Xmas off can’t get the kids looked after” global email come out A. June B. August or C. October Texts cost £1.00 (Some mobiles cost considerably more). This helps with the cost cuts as the amount raised would more than pay for the PP. In the event of a tie, Dave Clark and Kev Dodds would have a tie break question about prison-related subjects like maternity leave, job share, I need my own shift pattern etc.

A tip for staff The best way to get out of doing the workshops, or any job for that matter, is to devise a scheme (that you would have taken from your previous establishment) and pretend it’s your own. Make sure no other wing can get hold of the Risk Assessments for your idea by keeping them on your desktop on the pc. This means that when you come back from Leave/Rest days etc you will be in demand and your Brownie Points will rocket! Your wing S/O will then have to detail some other minion to do your original task (ie workshops, LBBs, searching etc). This enables you then to walk around the prison with your files that are littered with spelling mistakes and various other errors…

What have Frankland and Heathrow Airport got in common? They both carry a lot of passengers. To help things, the gate at Frankland will be rebuilt to resemble Terminal 5 to enable staff to bring their excess baggage into the prison. Daftest question of the year: “How do you get the egg in a scotch egg?”

Sick Note Officer: “Doctor? You know where you have put that I only have simple flu?” Doctor: “Oh yes.” Officer: “Well I don’t agree with that so could you change it to “Life threatening illness that only affects the patient during school holidays?” Doctor: “OK, I will change that now and while we are on the subject, do you need time off to cover bank holidays, Christmas etc?” Officer: “No that’s OK Doc, if I’m not doing Bed watches/PP on them then I just send a heart-rending global email around at work, usually does the trick.”

New scheme at Frankland To help with the smooth running of the establishment, Frankland will be pioneering a new scheme soon where all movements will be at the same time every day of the week. Staff will hopefully turn up on time for workshop moves and gym moves etc. This will save the ECR, S/So, CAMMS, Oscars 2, 3, 5 and the prison cat from shouting for staff to attend jobs/places that they are …paid to do anyway.

More upset A while back when Sunderland were playing Spurs, Jonny Potts and Tommy Robson could be found listening to said game on the radio, in between patrolling the landings of B2 of course. The radio commentary described a Sunderland wonder strike and then free kick which nestled snugly in the back of the net… Screams of joy rose from the pair, hugs were exchanged, shirt tops pulled up etc (may not be true!). Not unusual you may think for two die hard fans… but wasn’t the final score a 1-0 win to Spurs? Erm, yes… They had been listening to the highlights of last week’s game being played during half time! DOH! *Loud echoes of pennies dropping.* Another ‘White-ism’ from John White. When discussing some inappropriate behaviour between a prisoner and his sister he asked “Which sister? The boy?” The following letter was received by Frankland CAMMS office from the local Tesco Store: “Dear Sir, If possible, could you please have your Easter detail done before we stock our www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 12:09:55


BRANCH NEWS shelves with Easter eggs. An officer came in recently, spotted the eggs and broke down crying. They were consoled and asked what the problem was. Apparently, because we had eggs on the shelves it caused the officer psychological problems as they did not know if they could purchase any for their children as they did not know if they had Easter off. As a result of this we had to take the eggs and put them back into storage...”

Details Always remember, your detail is everyone else’s business but your own. Hidey holes are going to be constructed in centre offices to enable staff to cower with fright whilst their ‘colleagues’ scrutinise their details. Interpreters will be on hand to interpret the following examples:

“Eeee why are you on that?” Meaning: “You shouldn’t be on that job.” AND “Eeee are you a scheduled A shift today?” Meaning: “I know you’re not an A shift as I have looked at the shift predictor. But by asking you this way it forces you to tell me you have XOD’d.”

Diaries New diaries will soon have a feature in them where you can compile a graph/bar chart to keep an eye on when the last time you were on a certain task. This will help for example if you have to go on the Jeremy Kyle show accusing your fellow colleagues of favouritism. All contributions to Jim Turner SEG or Darren Stafford HOSP

COOKHAM WOOD A very limp handshake to you all! A big ‘sorry’ to you all for the recent lack of jottings but hopefully this will be a ‘rebirth’ of the gossip! Since the last set of jottings there has been a lot of goings on here at ‘The Wood’. Funding has been granted for a new, 178 bed accommodation block which will mean the mothballing of the current A and B wings. This new block will be purpose-built, state-of-theart with in-cell showers which will obviously be so appreciated by all the prisoners. Unfortunately there weren’t enough pennies down the back of the sofa to allow us to have the one thing that is so desperately needed and that is a new gate! We have been subject to a visit from the HMCIP and it would appear that, at last, all the hard work that has been put in by everyone has been rewarded and we are no longer sitting on the naughty step. JES and Fair & Sustainable (isn’t it strange how it has the same initials as Fresh Start?) are now with us and one thing is for sure - the future isn’t as bright as the past. Roll on 60 when I retire - or is that 65? 67? Oh, just roll on retirement! We have had many leave our walls since the last report and the SMT picture board at the front gate has had more images on it that the most wanted section of Crimewatch (obviously the similarity ends there!) Governors Pennington and Benson were told, sorry asked, to move to the coast. Mark Love has left and is now into drugs (don’t laugh, it can happen to anyone), Sharon Roots is now a retired millionaire and Sir Lancelot is pruning instead of mincing. www.poauk.org.uk 56-63 Branch News.indd 57

Do you want a photo? On a funny note, Big T was escorting a prisoner on a ROTL around Maidstone town centre when they were approached by a salesman asking if she would like to have a free photo session with her and her ‘son’. In a moment of blind panic Big T announced “err he’s not my son, he’s my err nephew”! The remainder of the ROTL continued without incident with Aunty Big T getting him safely back and tucked up in bed in time for a story!

Attack Our thoughts go out to Gary Corden and his family who, at the time of writing, is still off sick following an awful, unprovoked, and sickening attack from an ‘enhanced’ prisoner. Those of you who know Gary will know that there isn’t a nicer person in the service and this should be a reminder that, when all is said and done, we are dealing with certain individuals who will willingly inflict harm on anyone without a thought for the consequences. We should all stay safe, look out for each other and always keep the eyes in the back of our head open wide.

Look after your wellies On a lighter note I have recently celebrated the 26th birthday of a pair of wellingtons. These wellies were brought when I was just 19 and are still going strong, so it just goes to prove that if you look after your wellies they will look after you. Anyway, must go now because I’ve got to go home and immediately talk about work on Facebook…NOT TTFN, SOMK April 2012 57 28/3/12 12:10:04


BRANCH NEWS WINCHESTER Apologies for the recent lack of jottings from Winchester. 2011 has been and gone and 2012 has arrived, but we should take time to look back at last year. 2011 saw the passing of five members, or former members of staff from the prison. I suppose we need to talk about, and look forward to 2012, but in all honesty there does not seem to be much to look forward to except more shambolic efforts to re profile the prison, and more swingeing staff cuts.

Draft profiles for April have been produced and we are looking at cuts of a further 20 to 30 staff from what is already a very understaffed prison; with the regime being curtailed for one reason or another nearly every day. Perhaps this would not happen if external escorts had been included in the current profile - who knows? As for Christmas Day 2011 it’s all best left

unsaid, except that many have said that it was the worst Christmas Day in the prison for years. Winchester would like to wish all colleagues, in all establishments, and all offices, the very best for the coming year. Unity is Strength and our strength is going to be tested this year.

WORMWOOD SCRUBS Hi, welcome to the New Year and new shifts, new profiles and the new G4S uniforms (oops not yet), steady guys - it will be here soon enough. We hope that you all had a lovely Christmas and a safe one if you were working. Need to say loads of thanks to people who were simply fantastic over the Christmas season. Sooooo; here we go: Thank you to Kate Grace, who once again sorted out the staff kids’ Christmas party, which we hold every year in aid of Nicola’s Fund. I won’t go into the explaining the fund because we have photos and will be hopefully doing a page in a future issue of Gatelodge so you can all read about it there. Please do read it because maybe, you could help in the future. Nicola’s Fund is very dear to our hearts. We had 43 kids all under 12 fed, watered and games played. Personally, I really enjoyed being a naughty crocodile. So, Kate Grace, Thank you. Thank you to my ‘Daughter of Darkness’, Abbey, Cathy Brumbley’s daughter Mollie and young Caitlan. We could not have done the party without you girls and you did want your names printed and in lights with sparkle. Dunno about Cath but my 13 year old Daughter of Darkness fleeced me for it. Teenagers. Bah Humbug. Need to thank Work Husband for folding a couple of serviettes on the day and helping us push the food trolley back to the kitchen. It looked like a scene from the Chuckle Brothers, “to you - to me”. Every little helps. Also thank you to him for stepping into the breach and helping this lady in distress out when ‘Significant Other’ decided he didn’t want to go to watch the god that is ‘Example’ and suddenly realised he had important meeting, strange he made the pub! Work Husband and I bounced all night. Thank you to John ‘Glitter’ Hancock who was our Father Christmas at the party. The kids absolutely loved him. Thanks for the chocolate 58 April 2012 56-63 Branch News.indd 58

he pulled out of his sack for me, HOHOHO. The photos are to follow. But guys, isn’t that what it is all about? You know us staff and our families and outside people we love and Santa and pressies and forgetting that actually no one except for us care about us.

Back to work! So, new profiles, shift patterns. Lots of groaning. However, guess we just have to get on with it even if it is going to be reviewed in six months though there are some amazing ideas. Won’t bore you with all of them but just to make you gooooo. A weekend A shift, yes we know we all have them. So you get in at 07.30hours and are resigned to being at work until 21.00hrs. Then at 08.30 hours in rocks the rest of the staff on Main shifts (yep an hour later) then at 17.30hrs out they rock. On duty at the gate at same time as unlock is yelled, we is screws not magicians. Lunch at 11.45hrs on a Friday, not hungry at that time and very long afternoon being hungry. (Is that an excuse for chocolate?) Not much to say about fair and sustainable, or unfair and unsustainable as some would say. Really enjoyed the YouTube ‘mapping into fair and sustainable’ much more than trying to understand all the rules and regulations (Facebook regulars will know the video of which we speak). Why oh why can things not be in plain good old English? Is that just an age thing?

Celebrity news You may have heard that they are remaking ‘The Sweeney’, and we were graced with the original ‘cockney geezer’ Ray Winstone for a day’s filming for his role as Regan. An idol of Jules, who was ‘employed’ as an extra for the day, but ended up with a part that will see him credited on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame with his own star. Between Lassie and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo. Apparently, they are now ‘BFFs’ whatever the hell that means, ya get me, bruv? They exchanged phone numbers and Ray said he’d keep in touch. Jules rang him last week and got through to the East Acton Society for Whippets and Racing Pigeons, so he must’ve dialled it wrong. And we won’t mention that he tried to bang up Plan B who is playing Carter, “because he looked like a con” but Jules is knocking on a bit now and is not as down with the kids as he used to be. Finally, thanks to Ralph Valerio who visited us for a branch meeting, and as usual, spoke at us in an eloquent and very Scottish voice. However, we’ve heard that joke about the crocodile twice now, so would ask that you watch Mock the Week before your next visit. Either that or a new box of Christmas crackers? I’m No-More-a-Freeman. Thank you for listening. And remember, we’ll always have H.F! And dead records. S & M Standing by

Other news There is no salacious gossip or this month, as there is no leave left, no money left, and no Christmas bonus except for the usual job lot of Cash n’ Carry tins of chocolate, which equates to 40p per person, depending on how many of the strawberry creams you had. We’re still trying to get rid of the coffee creams if anyone’s interested? www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 12:10:39


BRANCH NEWS CHELMSFORD Hello from the good ship Chelmsford. Well, we’re still afloat and sailing about the doldrums of Essex but like other ships in the fleet; we might be sailing into stormy (if not dangerous) waters. The ship’s captain has made it clear that we have to save money – ‘nuff said. Anyway, people have been jumping ship or will jump ship in the near future and we wish them well in their new endeavours. One to jump ship is our ship’s chief moaner; ‘Seaman’ Campbell otherwise known as ‘Where is Ian?’ During his time on board, Ian has been in more poo than a vet’s arm and is so cockney it hurts. He can tell more stories than a year of Jackanory and most involve winkles or cockles. Well, back to jumping ship. I think it’s becoming a sport now but we don’t seem to be revitalising the ship’s compliment with eager press gang volunteers (ie not enough fingers to go in the glove). Nothing changes.

News from A Deck OK let’s crack on with news from the bowels of the ship; we’ll start with A Deck. Seaman Goodwin is still swimming to and from shore after his ‘rowing privileges’ were suspended. Seaman Craven has become parental over his new life raft and vets any other object that ventures within two fathoms of said raft - and if he could he’d put limpet mines around it he would. I was told that he intended to put a fly screen on his windscreen so the glass stays clean.

B Deck B Deck is still under pressure with all hands to the bilge pumps and Midshipwoman Day running about like a demented banshee writing things down in her notebook like a waiter on speed. Our very own ex-corporal of the drums platoon, Steve Howard can be seen venturing on to B Deck with the purpose of a man on a mission. Well at least he comes out of the office.

C Deck C Deck is on perpetual spring clean mode with Mother Reeve swabbing the decks and keeping things ship-shape and Bristol fashion. Ship’s Officer Pryme has difficulty comprehending the word ‘no’ when asking the radio room for permission to leave the net. It’s not often he’s left floundering for a reply and at least he joins it. Seaman Chaplin keeps doing the navel jig on the deck. Am I being dragged in or am I being dragged out? It’s what happens you’re popular.

D Deck D Deck’s staff quarters are reminiscent of God’s waiting room with slippers and www.poauk.org.uk 56-63 Branch News.indd 59

Sanatogen all over the place. Where when someone says they need the toilet - they mean NOW. Hence, the toilet must be within meandering distance at all times and a clear non-obstructed route is used. Staff are restricted to limited amounts of fluids at all times and they have a pecking order for the toilet with Seaman Wilby last in line.

the control of our very own Stig. That’s Stig of the Dump Tess - not the racing driver. The ships Works Department have been doing a version of the Great Wall of China or in other words; never has something so small taken so long by so many. Was it two or three bricks an hour? Watch out DIY SOS.

E Deck

Well let’s get to the ship’s physical trainers or as they are known: The Starbucks Darlings. Enough said. Minus five degrees and still in shorts. Gillespie needs to be shown how to keep the pig in the pen when wearing shorts and crossing his legs (so I have been told). He’s one inch away from being placed on a register. Our ship’s baggage handlers and Seaman Slote have been engaged in an ongoing conversation which references the culinary delights of vegetables - chopped or whole. Seaman Slote likes them whole and extra-large. Seaman Hill Benny, yes, that is his name, has been told that he has become too butch and has had his lunch time gym privileges revoked by the Fagan, Dodger and ‘Ming the Merciless’ lookalike, Ray Hill. The ship’s communications room, better known as Slag ‘Em Central, have all asked to go on a physic-come-voice recognition course. It would help if other members of the ship’s company was to join the net, they’ve also asked for a job lot of Yellow Pages and a ‘Where’s Wally’ book to be renamed ‘Where’s Cahill’ book. Seaman Martin will inevitably have to see the ship’s deputy captain reference; starting his own business.(The business is called: www. wecleananydoor.com ). Also, Seaman Tugboat better known as ‘The Human Blender’ has asked that when he falls asleep at dinner times (in fact any time) can people stop putting ‘do not resuscitate’ posters on any of his bellies? The winner of the ‘why say one word when I can say twenty’ competition was won by ten nautical miles by Vic. It would have been Seaman Chittenden but he had a project on that day. Seaman Johnson fell at the first hurdle as he won’t do comms during the day shift. Bless him. I would like to end this issue of Chelmsford’s jottings by conveying our prayers and thoughts to all the staff that are currently off sick and their families. You are in our thoughts especially our Maggie.

E Deck still has Seaman Gallier being annoying. He’s like something you caught on shore leave; you know it’s there you can’t scratch it - he’s nice man really. Seaman Jones has been banished from E Deck and now resides on sleepy hollow. He’s been watching too many 70s Mick McManners archive films - me thinks he’s more of a Kendo Nagasaki type of man.

F Deck F Deck has a new addition to their numbers. It’s Tom or ‘Hello my name’s Tom and you are?’ Keen as mustard is our Tom. Very shiny as well. Anyway, not a lot happening on four day week deck so let’s crack on.

G Deck G Deck (i.e. sleepy hollow where the staff are always under the cosh by the over-energetic CP Brown) are just mumbling away to each other bickering about who has the eating teeth and who has the talking teeth for any particular day. This doesn’t affect Dave Harford as not a lot of people can understand the welsh wizard at the best of times - mumbles from the Dick Tracy films spring to mind.

Chart Room The ship’s chart room with Fagan and Dodger (France and Russell) can only be described as a post war black market operation. All Karl is missing is a suit case with nylons in it and Russell could sell sand to the Arabs (but it would be iffy sand). Anyway over to the scab lifters area of the ship and Jackamo Moran is still prancing about like a futon with legs and the other three seem to bow and kowtow to Big John’s every whim. The lovely John Burton was told to find a ghost and practice saying ‘boo’ to it. Seaman Birch, our very own Uncle Fester lookalike and Santa’s little helper Seaman Sanbrook are in the process of teaching Tia, the new addition to their group, all they know (that should be enough to fill a NAFFI break). Our Stores Department where stores are for storing and not for issuing are doing fine under

Ship’s physical trainers

That’s the lot Mickey B April 2012 59 29/3/12 15:29:40


BRANCH NEWS

WANDSWORTH A number of issues are now blossoming with a lack of clarity or direction by some sections of the management. Individual matters that should be dealt with swiftly are becoming an embarrassment; bearing in mind the bigger challenges ahead - but here are a few: • Grievances from a few of our OSGs who were passed over for deployment (to accommodate a number of work/life balance issues), we still have these members waiting patiently for change to happen but the management seems paralysed to move on their (partially) upheld grievances • One member who has had an issue with a leave request still appears to be out on a limb to get a definitive answer • Possibly the worst is a female member of staff who was covered in human excrement, (where are her human rights?) and returned to work on the same residential unit. Some time later, a prisoner attempted to isolate her for whatever reason, (we’re not a Sunday school so it’s unlikely to have been pleasant) and she was moved to a non- residential area for a bit of protection. The subsequent investigation supported her, (credit to a

Governor there) and it was deemed that the move would be made permanent, which included a work/life balance matter. Not so! She’s had been given various assurances by different managers what her future was likely to be, apparently to the satisfaction of most parties but a final decision couldn’t be made and who knows where we’ll be in a months’ time? Of course, when it comes to working on Fair and Sustainable, the current track record of decision making does not bode well. As this edition of Gatelodge comes out in April, I’m sure the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is just a coincidence. A recent exhibition of prison history concluded at the local borough museum and a temporary exhibition of historical items in the Gate area appears to have been well received. The prison welcomed the arrival of the new Governor, Kenny Brown, formerly of HMP Bristol; we can only wish him well for what will be a difficult time ahead with budget cuts and changes under Fair and Sustainable.

I’m sure we’ll see something soon about how the POA will be restructured. We do need to change to be a more effective Union in the 21st Century and I look forward to seeing the various options. A recent visitor to the prison was the former GMB Union General Secretary, John Edmonds. He had been to the prison many years ago and he commented on how different it was and much to the better. He saw part of the bricklayer’s shop and was impressed with the skills being learnt by the prisoners. A recent proposal move prisoners from a part of the prison that was closing was sent to the Committee with no time for effective consultation. As the MPC process is meant to be part of the compensation for not having trade union rights, I wonder how many breaches of this process go unrecorded. Poorly managed grievances also highlight that without trade union rights, compensatory measures appear to be very weak? Stewart McLaughlin Branch Secretary

STAFFORD Lots has happened since we last appeared in Gatelodge so please accept my apologies if I have missed anybody or anything out. But please feel free to nip into the POA office and remind them of things past, present or future that you would like included! So here we go. We welcomed Bridie OakesRichards to the jail as our new Number 1 and look forward to taking Stafford forward with her at the helm. We have far too many staff leave and equally far too many arrived to list them all individually; but for those who have arrived we wish you the best. However, first amongst equals will be the sad departure of the legend that is please accepting my apologies Officer Phil Gent. ‘Genty’ is hanging up his keys after almost 20 years on the landings and is off to pastures new. Phil will be missed by everyone at the jail almost as much as by the publicans in town. He will leave a big gap and we wish him all the best for the future. A big well done also to Steve Edwards who picked up his MBE from the Queen recently, well done ‘Jack’ we are all proud of you.

60 April 2012 57-63 Branch News.indd 60

Talking of ‘Steves’, good job ‘Woody’ is towards the end of his time with HMPS after in his own words: “25 years of impeccable service”. Almost at the end of his time he decided to take home the doubles keys as a souvenir. Nice one Steve. Since our last entries, much water has passed under the bridge and I am aware of missing almost a year and a half worth of occurrences. Therefore please forgive this relatively short entry but rest assured we are now back with vengeance and will rip into anyone who does stupid in the weeks to come. Send anything you would like to see in the next Jottings to the committee and furthermore it’s another good avenue to air your views and put out a bit of your feelings to the general population other than the POA website.

Yet again, the Prison Service has been asked to produce more for less in the era of ever increasing budget cuts, what with things like JES and F and S etc. There is an old proverb that runs along the lines of “if you hit a dog enough times with a stick one day it will turn around and bite it’s owner.” However, being the professional men and women in the service that we are, no doubt we will still hit our targets and perform well above expectations despite the restrictions placed upon us by the powers that be. Watch this space for the continuing saga that is Stafford. Cheers The Tea Boy

www.poauk.org.uk 22/3/12 11:14:59


BRANCH NEWS

BULLWOOD HALL Hi to everyone from sunny Southend-on-Sea. As you are now all aware, (and if not where have you been during the last few weeks?) Fair and Sustainable has been implemented by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). This was probably the best deal we could get as a Union considering the present economic situation the country is in. In case anyone is not aware Steve Bradford has now gone to The Mount. Farewell and good luck from everyone at Bullwood Hall. So it’s ‘out with the old, and in with the new’, welcome to our new Number 1 Governor, Helen Carter who has just come from Littlehey

Troubles at Bullwood At present, we still have our fair share of troubles at Bullwood Hall just like any other jail. We still have three on suspension - one of which is now into the 14th month with no sign of an outcome. We are currently running four officers short due to temporary promotion as SOs. As usual, payment plus is the glue that makes the prison run which is not ideal, however, it is the cheapest option for the prison service. Staff find it hard to get their leave when they request it, again, just like any other jail in the country but we hope to make progress and find a way round this issue.

Unfair and unsustainable Staff bonuses were a recent issue at Bullwood Hall. There were a lot of rumblings amongst the ranks. A lot has been said recently about the bonuses paid out to various individuals. Firstly, we think it’s important to remember that it’s not the fault of any individual recipient of a bonus, nor can we expect them to justify it. They have been selected as warranting one and so therefore are entitled to it without having to be made feeling guilty about it. The main issue among staff is that it seems that the whole selection process and decision making process is flawed. Whether it was the decision of one individual or a selection panel, the rift across grades caused by this is an area of concern. The sad reality is that it would appear by the example below, that the value placed on staff and their contribution in awarding these bonuses is indeed grade specific: • Approx total number of Unifed staff – 87. • SO Group (11 staff ) equates to 13 percent of Unifed staff • 91 percent of SOs received a bonus! Officer group - undisclosed. www.poauk.org.uk 56-63 Branch News.indd 61

• OSG Group (20 staff ) equates to 23 percecnt of Unified staff. • 100 percent of OSGs did NOT receive a bonus. It doesn’t make good reading and its certainly not a ‘slight’ against the Senior Officer group, but when we are constantly bombarded with the slogan ‘Fair and Sustainable’ then this clearly flies in the face of that and the irony shouldn’t be lost on anyone! There can simply be no justification for this. Whoever rubber stamped it should hang their head in shame, as should the rest of the management team for not challenging it and not anticipating the divisions, lack of motivation and apathy that this clear and discriminatory decision has clearly caused amongst staff. Surely this is “Unfair and Unsustainable” As usual it has been brought to the attention of the committee and we are in the process of dealing with it.

Still rumbling… Anyway enough of the day-to-day rumblings and we move onto staff loyality...OH NO! Sorry, but we have more rumblings. Officer Guy Harling joined the prison service on 19 August 1996 and has been loyal to the Crown for 15 years, both here and at Chelmsford. On the 8 February this year, he was awarded a plaque and £25 ‘Love to Shop vouchers’. However, his letter of recognition was signed and dated much earlier on 30 November 2011 behind closed doors, maybe it took three months for the ink to dry? Officer Robert Connell joined the prison service on 16 December 1991 and has been loyal to the Crown for 20 years. Rob has worked at Pentonville and Chelmsford as well as here at Bullwood. On 8 February this year he was also recognised for his long service, he was awarded, in the Dep’s office . . . a decanter. Officer Karen Blake joined the prison service 25 years ago and has worked within

many departments and had many different roles here. Karen began her service as a national recruit who had to go where she was told when she first joined; this resulted in her arriving in sunny Essex as a raw POELT, miles from her home in Birmingham. This recognition was also done behind closed doors. In recognition for her service she was awarded a silver carriage clock. However in her disgust she handed it back. Once again, the way things are done beggars belief. I believe that Officer Blake has actually submitted a letter expressing her disappointment to this publication. We encourage you to read it.

Disregard for dedication to duty The point we are making is that the prison service believes in Investors in People but we would like to know how they recognise this in relation to the three cases above. Surely a public display of gratitude for these loyal members would have been the least the prison could have done in front of all who work here, giving all colleagues a chance to show their gratitude? This once again shows the total disregard for publically recognising the continual hard work and dedication each and every prison officer does for the benefit of the prison service and the community. Nevertheless, the branch committee and its members on behalf of the POA would like to say “well done” for reaching your milestones and “thank you” - you are all valued members of the prison service and long may your loyalty continue. Let’s hope our next donation has a more positive content. Until then - it’s the BULLWOOD DEFENDERS signing off - on A/L . . . Only joking! April 2012 61 28/3/12 12:12:20


BRANCH NEWS CHANNINGS WOOD Sometimes, a wind up goes better than you could have possibly expected. Such an occasion occurred just after Christmas, when Dave Toon was trying to convince Holly Pearn that he loved eating Haggis, but as they were such a delicacy, they were being hunted almost to the brink of extinction, and getting hold of one nowadays was harder and harder. Would she take the bait and ask if he had ever shot one himself ? No, she instead expressed the opinion that she didn’t know that you shot them, as she thought it was a type of fish. Maybe that’s where all of these so called experts have gone wrong over the years. There is no prehistoric monster living in Scotland, it’s actually ‘The Loch Ness Haggis’. As usual, Nigel Doggett gets a mention this month. In a desperate bid to save a couple of pennies, Nigel wisely invested 49p on a brand new diary and then proceeded to fill it out with all of his shifts for the coming year, like we all do. Also like we all do, he then went back through the diary and filled out his annual leave chits and submitted them to the detail office, eagerly awaiting a reply. Unfortunately for Nigel, what he hadn’t noticed; was that his new diary was 49p for a good reason, it had three weeks of the year missing. So his initial joy at being granted all of his leave was very short lived, as he found out he had now booked leave on what were already all of his rest days.

Keep pedalling In breaking news, Nigel Doggett now gets a second entry. As previously mentioned in preceding months, Nigel is a very keen cyclist. So keen in fact, that he decided to join a local

cycling club. So focused was Nigel on this new pursuit, that on his first visit, he failed to notice that nice though his bicycle is, it looked a little bit shoddy alongside the £1,000+ exotica that was on show. What he also failed to notice was that when asked if he considered himself a beginner, intermediate or expert, he really shouldn’t have made the comment: “Most of these guys are twice my age, so put me down as an intermediate”. Off they set for what Nigel thought was going to be a pleasant ride on the moors with maybe a bit of sightseeing, and a cream tea half way through. 30 minutes later, Nigel is pedalling like a madman, with sweat pouring off his brow, and sounding like somebody with emphysema, trying to keep up with a spritely 70 year old who was calmly chatting away next to him about what a lovely gentle ride out this is. No cream tea in sight!

62 April 2012 56-63 Branch News.indd 62

Heebie Geebies It would appear that Luke Allen is a big fan of the Bee Gees. Only being in his twenties, he probably hasn’t listened to much of their music, but has certainly worn some of their outfits. This is the only explanation I can think of for how he ended up hiding behind the visits desk one day with his skin tight trousers split from front to back. When asked about his dilemma, he said that what had happened was a ‘Tragedy’, and ever since the accident, he’d had a ‘Night Fever’ quite regularly. He said that if you want the same to happen to you Geoff, then, ‘You Should Be Dancing’. But if I see any more entries about myself in the Gatelodge, then you’re going to have a problem just ‘Staying Alive’. Point taken!

“They’re both dead…”

Grim Reaper?

Matt Strickland almost had a crisis on his hands. Whilst giving the morning briefing on LB5 he issued two separate instructions to the wing staff: Number 1. Can somebody go and check both the prisoners who are on an open ACCT document, and make sure that they are OK? Number 2. Can somebody go and check the batteries on the wheel chairs and make sure that they are charged? Five minutes later, Ian Smith (who is not the sort of officer to do a wind up), came back to the office and with a very serious face, reported, “I’ve checked them both, and I think they’re both

Richard Williams has to get a further mention, as the death toll around him grows. I have mentioned in several previous editions, the fact that whenever he goes on holiday, the location soon becomes an area of mass destruction. Rich goes to Guatemala, there’s an earthquake. Rich goes to Madeira and there are landslides. The Maldives, there’s a tsunami, and whilst in Mombasa, there was an attack by Al Qaeda. Last year when there was a shark attack in Egypt, Rich had been there the week before. In order to keep the casualties to a minimum, Rich decided to take his wife away for a short break staying in a cottage on the Isle of Sheppey. For those people not familiar with this location, it is a small island in the Bristol Channel with a population of about 20. What could go wrong? The day after Richard and his wife returned, a fisherman goes missing, presumed dead, just off the coast. Is this a coincidence? I think not. However, this has now given me an excellent idea. I’m going to save up over the next 12 months, and then pay for Rich to take my ex-wife to the North Pole. Collateral damage, nil! Whilst away on our Tornado refresher at Kidlington, Reg Varney was just closing his hotel bedroom curtains ready for the night, and witnessed a sight rarely seen outside of a Chippendale’s show. Straight across the courtyard from him was Matt Spooner in a state of undress, posing and flexing his muscles, admiring his reflection in the window. Later in the course, Matt stated that he thought the PR24 side baton was called that because there were 24 different ways to use it. From some of the poses that Reg witnessed, I think it should now be renamed the PR25!

HMP LEYHILL Now it is not like us to moan down here, however, several members of the ops group were disappointed to see one of their former colleagues taking up the noble art and not being invited to watch the brave effort of Paul “Shorty” Short now at Risley, (we know - invite lost in the post again!!) From all that knew you here; good effort mate. Last issue I mentioned the retirees and forgot the new arrivals and there have been a few so again in no particular order; Alan Powell, David Oakley, Dave Macdonald and Mike Smith. We welcome them to Leyhill but what we really need is gossip (the juicer the better)! One more retirement since our last jotting; a legend in his own lunch hour which could be extended at will. Graham ‘Hatcher’ Crook has finally decided to take permanent rest days, Crooky will be dividing his time between the

dead”. When Matt had finally come back down off the ceiling, Ian continued that he’d now put them back on charge.

moors and fishing, subject of course to the wishes of his good lady. Over the Christmas period Santa and one of his elves visited, so congrats to Sean and Claire. The livestock continues to grow and as well as chickens, we now have highland cattle and soon it is rumoured; donkeys, and no doubt when the wind is in the right direction the smell of good clean country air will caresses the nostrils followed by some strong Anglo Saxon utterances. Watch this space for the date of the inaugural Leyhill donkey derby. In other news, B Wing has grown a new spur which in the fullness of time will become the palliative care spur adding another string to Playbills’ bow. Well that’s all for now. And we wish all our colleagues a happy Easter.

Simmo www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 12:12:52


BRANCH NEWS

DUMFRIES Greetings from Sunny Dumfries! Well we are into the spring now and at the time of writing, we still don’t know what our pensions are going to be like in the new era of Tory/Lib Lambs excuse for a Government. Recently the RBS top brass gave up their extortionate bonuses for this year but what about future years? Their bonuses are set to be even higher than the ones they have given up this year. This is a bank that as tax payers WE own a majority share in, but they seem to take our money year in year out when we struggle to keep our pension rights that we signed up for when decided to become prison officers. We have had no pay rise for two years; food and fuel prices are rising and yet the Government is more determined to chase after our pensions rather than bringing a bank (which we own) into the real world of cut backs. No wonder we are disgruntled and dismayed as hard working civil servants when it comes to our pensions. Wake up Tory/Lib Lambs this is fight for our future rights and we are determined - no matter what - that it is a fight that we are united for and will win. Locally, things have been progressing - slowly - but progressing none the less. It would appear that the word ‘partnership’ has re-entered the vocabulary at HMP Dumfries!

Sad news We have been rocked recently at HMP Dumfries by two pieces of news we wish we never heard. Firstly; our ex-Governor, George Taylor, passed away after a fight with illness. He was an ‘old school’ governor who was well respected by the staff. This was demonstrated by the retired members as well as current who turned up to show their respects at his funeral. This Service needs more like him. Our other piece of news that has rocked the establishment recently is hearing of the terminal illness of Garden Party Officer, Ian Kerr. To say Ian is a liked and valued member of staff is an understatement, a recent collection for him was the most generous collection that has been seen at HMP Dumfries in recent years. It’s with a sad heart, due to the circumstances, but with overwhelming pride to see how staff have rallied round for him and his family with the collection and visiting him at home. Ian has continued to go and watch his beloved Dumfries Saints Rugby Team and he has an active role training Dumfries Saints U16’s. A true gent. www.poauk.org.uk 56-63 Branch News.indd 63

Lighter news We have lost some staff to pastures new i.e. HMP Low Moss. All at HMP Dumfries wish you all the best at your new place of employment and I am sure what you have learned in your time at HMP Dumfries will benefit you in HMP Low Moss. (Still no residential staff transfers in!) We would like to wish all the new staff that have arrived back from college all the best for their future within the SPS, and welcome to the Prison Officers Association (for those of you that have succumbed to Big Tarn’s powers of persuasion). For those that haven’t Big Tarn is watching! I! We are celebrating two of our ‘elder statesmen’ turning the ‘Big 50’ this year and at the time of publication of this issue we will have had the hangover from one. So, belated happy 50th to Rigsby Magoo. Just a typical night out for McGoo - never bought a round all night! Moaned about pensions and no pay rises and “what’s the Union doing about it?” Just a normal staff night out then! And in August we have The Legend’s 50th (or stag do to the trained eye), even though he says he is 40, down in Whitley Bay. Rumours are there is no hair dye left in any shop in Dumfries for this tour. Watch your loose change!

The secret diary of Mike Dickson aged 44 and ¾ “Got a diary from the POA. This will enable me to know what day it is and stop reading out wrong menu choices at the hotplate.” “Whitley Bay? No my wife won’t let me go keep the deposit!

Quote of the Month “I told them when they changed my post on Ex Grat that there is no way I was coming in to work it,” Aye right Rigsby that Pinocchio nose is getting bigger! “If the Union asked me to stop working overtime I would it if got the posts covered.” Rigsby, bigger still! The Doonhamer

April 2012 63 28/3/12 12:18:18


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THANK YOU WELFARE COMMITTEE Just a note to express my sincere thanks for your generous award in response to my welfare application. The money will come in extremely useful at this difficult time. I am pleased to say I am responding well to my treatment and look forward to returning to work. Thank you once again, and keep up the good work for an organisation I have always held in the highest esteem. Name and address supplied

Unity is Strength Unfortunately for the Local Branch and its members, we were informed that a member had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Obviously this came as a nasty surprise for us, not only the tragic circumstances but also of the age of the member concerned. Immediately, the prison staff nature of caring and generosity kicked in. During a period of ten days over £1,400 was collected (a significant achievement as Dumfries is a small establishment) for him and his family to go on holiday and spend quality time with each other. This was helped by the generosity of the Local Benevolent fund who also assisted and credit must go to their Committee but especially Willie Wilson. I applaud all. It was everyone’s way of trying to help but also it highlighted the qualities we will never lose, the togetherness and binding of the people that do our job. No matter what happens to us in the future we always stick together. When one of us is in need the Union’s motto is never more so important, “Unity is Strength”. Yours in Unity Alistair Wilson Branch Secretary – Dumfries 64 April 2012 65-69 postbag.indd 64

RETIREMENT I joined the service at HMP Stafford in December 1974 and went to Wakefield for my training (so I was a screw). I retired from HMP Wandsworth in December 2004 and time has flown by. I lived in London for six months a year and the Philippines for six months. Whilst in service, I saw many changes I think most for the worst. I think things really started to change dramatically with the introduction of Fresh Start. When it was being introduced, they got a higher profile by getting the media on their side by stating that prison officers were so well paid and there were too many Spanish practices. Yes, I earned £32,000 in 1986 but what the media did not say was that I was working 80 to 90 hours a week. My pay dropped to £19,000 after Fresh Start. Although I do not think it was a bad thing to reduce our working week, our masters said we did not need to work overtime as everything could be covered in normal time. (So why introduce Toil?) How could they tell us Christmas day, Sunday and all Bank Holidays where just another working day? (Do MPs work these days at all?) Not just that, it was the start of the demise of the prison officers’ promotion structure. Firstly; replacing the Chief Officer with a suit. He was the leader for the uniformed grade -love him or hate him you respected him as he knew all the dodges (and had rubber keys) as he came through the ranks. The No.1 Governor usually listened to him and they did their rounds together. If you did something wrong he would summons you to his office and you knew it would be for a good rollicking but that was it, over and done with (not suspended for weeks or months). Now they have done away with the POs rank made a 2 tier officer. What next; a lollypop lady on free flow?

My main thing is that for about the first 20 years of my service I really looked forward to going to work. The comradeship and the banter. Being able to say ‘No’ to an inmate (or go away in short jerky movements). Happiness is door-shaped. Knowing that your workmates would watch your back (not put a knife in it). During the latter part of my service it became more of a chore going to work as all everybody was getting concerned about was looking over your shoulder to see if you were going to be investigated or market tested or re-profiled. There were a lot of officers who stabbed their fellow colleges in the back by going on profile committee just to gratify their own career. (You know who you are). Even now; I open the Gatelodge and all I read is doom and gloom. Many of my ex-colleagues say to me I got out at the right time. I appreciate that the duties of a prison officer have changed and more is being put into rehabilitation but I still think the carrot and the sticks apply. Give; but have the right to take away - like enhanced. When was that last taken away? When I joined, the only money you could spend in the canteen was what you earned. The idea that every prisoner was equal and no outside money could buy you an easy ride. Yes, I did I retire at the age of 55. Staff are now expected to go on to 65 plus. Where is it all going to end? Good luck to all you officers doing a valuable and professional job. Reg Owen ISM Retired PO Caterer, HMP Wandsworth PS. When I joined we were told at OTS not to use jargon. Now all it is on every communication is jargon. Can we have a breakdown to what most of it is, as it makes difficult reading if you do not know what it is? www.poauk.org.uk 22/3/12 11:24:54


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DEPRESSING STATISTICS ABOUT DISCRIMINATION Stewart McLaughlin a member of the POA Equalities Committee reports on the TUC/ EOR Conference, “Discrimination in Employment Law”.

Delegates from the Equalities Committee attended this one day conference at the TUC in London which provided a valuable update on Discrimination Law to the POA’s equalities committee. A number of speakers from a wide background addressed the conference and everyone received a heartfelt welcome from the TUC General Secretary, Brendan Barber. To our surprise, there are some depressing statistics about discrimination and case law outlined to the conference. In 2010-2011, the employment tribunal annual report demonstrated that only three percent of claims on race discrimination were successful following a hearing and 16 percent unsuccessful after a hearing - quite a remarkable statistic. In 2012, 28 percent of claims were withdrawn and 36 percent were resolved due to the intervention and services of ACAS. In addition, 10 percent of claims were struck out without a hearing and five percent were dismissed at the preliminary hearing.

POA Delegates at the TUC/EOR Conference

Concerns were raised over the Government’s plans to introduce charges for applicants to use employment tribunals in the future. Conference believed this may well prevent small claims being taken to an ET and there is a real danger of “chequebook justice” becoming a reality for workers in the future. The irony is, a previous Tory Government claimed to give unions back to their members whilst watching the trade union movement reduce by half, as if this was not bad enough, millions of workers were left without the collective strength of a union to protect themselves. Now this Tory led Government wants to remove access to justice, for non-

Thank you I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to Tristram from Thompsons Solicitors and to the barrister who represented me in Court. They were both extremely supportive and informative throughout the entire process and I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone. Name and address supplied. www.poauk.org.uk 65-69 postbag.indd 65

unionised workers by preventing them from taking claims of ill treatment by their employer to the tribunal on a cost prohibitive basis. These hurdles will also apply to union members but they may have the financial backing to overcome these draconian restrictions. It was clear from the conference that there is still a lot to do if equality for all is to be achieved.

BEDFORD PRISON REUNION, 4 MAY 2012 The countdown is on! Anyone interested (who has not yet responded) should contact Malcy Barrett for final details as soon as possible. The response so far has been great so do not miss out, this is a chance in a lifetime. Contact Malcy now! Malcybarrett@hotmail.com or 07779 568054 Looking forward to seeing you all. SPREAD THE WORD. April 2012 65 22/3/12 11:25:04


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CREDIT WHERE IT IS DUE During these difficult times of austerity plans and attacks on public sector workers it is always refreshing to hear that industrial relations can be improved when both sides strive to make the workplace better for all concerned. In the last 12 months, assaults on staff here have become more common than they should be. We are pleased to report that our Governor has been very supportive to the staff and has pushed for all cases to be referred to the CPS. We have a Governor in charge of litigation who also deals with assaults on staff. He has been very effective in helping getting cases to court recently. During January 2012 we have had two assault cases heard, one in the Crown Court and the other in the Magistrates Court, by a circuit Judge. The Crown Court case resulted it the prisoner receiving a two month sentence for common assault and the case heard at Magistrates Court ended with the prisoner receiving a six month sentence for AOABH. The Magistrates Court hearing also made it in to the local press. We are also jointly running a local campaign against violence where zero tolerance posters are made in our print shop and displayed in all areas of the prison. We believe that this kind of partnership working is the way forward to improving relations between management and our members. The committee would like to take this opportunity to applaud our Governor and her team for their approach to this growing problem for our members. It makes you realise that the zero tolerance policy towards violence against staff can be implemented effectively. You just need people to work together to make it happen. Wakefield Committee 66 April 2012 65-69 postbag.indd 66

Thank you Firstly, let me apologise for taking so long to write to you, and secondly please may I say a very heartfelt thank you from both my wife and myself.

The money awarded to us by the Welfare Committee was more than we expected and has taken a huge worry out of the situation. Thank you once again, unity and strength seems more than a motto now. Name and address supplied

HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL DAY 27 January 2012 It was a privilege to attend the Holocaust memorial event hosted by BBCTV’s Emily Maitlis and Jonathan Freedland in London on 26 January. The theme was: “Speak Up Speak Out”. The event raised awareness on the language and behaviour of hate and our responsibilities to challenge inappropriate behaviour when we believe it to be wrong. The event also focused on the consequences when nobody speaks up against this type of wrongdoing. Holocaust Memorial Day marks the anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, Auschwitz, and other genocides which subsequently followed included Cambodia (the killing fields), Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur. This is an important event in the world calendar and represents a part of history that should never be forgotten. The famous lines of the German Pastor, Martin Niemoller who spoke out against the Nazis saying: “First they came,” still ring true today. “First they came for the Communists but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the trade unionists but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews but I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” You could, perhaps change the descriptions of the individuals in these famous lines to unemployed, disabled, Muslim, BME or LGBT who are all

facing attacks of one sort or another whilst unions remain under attack. The programme had a mixture of choir song, poems, prayer, (El Male Rachamim, presented by cantor Jonny Turgel). Candles of remembrance were lit in a moving and memorable event. There were messages from the Chief Rabbi, Lord Sacks and a final address from the Rt Hon. Eric Pickles MP. There was a pledge for 2012, which included: “We will”. “Challenge the language of hatred when I hear it and never use it myself. Give voice to the voiceless and use my words to draw attention to the experiences of others. Work with my friends, family, colleagues and my community to create a society which is free from the dangers persecution and hatred.” There was an excellent display at the event on the work of the Holocaust Memorial Day and an opportunity to talk to individuals who had survived the genocides. In spite of the inhuman treatment that millions of people had suffered, there was a message of hope and I am always surprised by the almost lack of bitterness or hate often expressed by the survivors, who simply don’t want it to happen again, whilst remembering and telling people of their ordeals. “Speak Up, Speak Out” Stewart McLaughlin Equalities Committee www.poauk.org.uk 22/3/12 11:25:14


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Senior Officer Garry Newsum Senior Officer Garry Newsum retired and on 7 December 2011was presented with the ISM by Andrew Cross, East Midlands Regional Manager. This may have been the last ISM ever presented as only Long Service Medals are being presented from now on. Garry was HMP Stocken`s POA Branch Chairman for a number of years before his retirement. He joined the prison service in 1981 at HMP Nottingham and served at Long Lartin, Wormwood Scrubs, Ashford, Latchmere House and finally Stocken. The branch wishes him and his family all the best for a long and happy, well-earned retirement. Graham Smart POA Branch Secretary HMP Stocken

11th International conference on care and treatment of offenders with a learning disability 12 and 13 April 2012, Northumbria University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne This two-day event, organised this year by The National Autistic Society, is recognised as the foremost opportunity, in the UK and internationally, for reflection and sharing for services providing care for offenders with learning disabilities, both in the public and independent health and social care sectors and the criminal justice system. The conference and its published proceedings has provided a platform for this speciality, often regarded as a minority interest by both health and criminal justice mainstream services. Topic areas discussed at the conference include: an overview of forensic learning disability services from an international perspective; education and training needs of staff; provision of up-to-date information on legal aspects and complex needs; autism spectrum disorders; learning disability and the criminal justice system; mental health legislation and the learning disabled offender. For more information about the conference and its documentation, please visit: www.autism.org.uk/ conferences/LDoffenders2012 www.poauk.org.uk 65-69 postbag.indd 67

Lack of adequate recognition Last year, on 2 June 2011, I reached a notable moment in my Prison Service career – namely; 25 years’ continuous loyal service – for which I recently received a Long Service Award. I was presented with my award (a carriage clock) behind closed doors; a quick handshake before being moved on with so little thought that I returned it to the Acting Governor as I felt that it was anachronistic and old-fashioned. Being frank, I do not think that it really showed any real recognition of me – or appreciation for the many extra duties I have carried out, over and above the expected norm, throughout my 25 years’ service. I am therefore writing to express my disappointment and provide a number of reasons why I feel the way that I do. • I joined the Prison Service on 2 June 1986 at Drake Hall when the Service was national and female officers worked with fellow females, and male with male, apart from management and admin support roles • Other than the first three months at Drake Hall as a NEPO (New Entrant Prison Officer) I have worked at Bullwood Hall ever since. I have worked on every wing, with DTOs, YOs, adult females and now foreign national adult males • I have worked in the CSU and the gate/ communications area, canteen, Induction, was very successful as Race Equality Officer for three years (setting up strong protocols and rigorous, auditable procedures) and I am now in OMU • I am an ACCT assessor and work in the Care team. I also successfully wrote the rotas up for both of these areas for a number of years • I have always kept myself busy, looking to help colleagues whenever possible to ensure that the days and nights run smoothly.

I was very upset at being given a letter dated 30 November 2011, a plaque and especially a carriage clock, from the Acting Governor because the Governor, Mr Bradford had moved on. All that this award has done is highlight to me the disparity and inequality which is now rife in the workplace at Bullwood Hall. I say this because I have seen fellow colleagues receive financial bonuses for day-to-day work carried out (often by others, like me, ‘going the extra mile’) which were much more useful awards. The present work culture has sadly become very divisive; it only makes for bad feeling amongst colleagues, and certainly does not encourage staff to work ‘above and beyond’. The realisation that I wasn’t personally thought of at all, nor properly recognised for all of the extra work that I have done over the years, other than by being issued with an antiquated, unwanted carriage clock, was very upsetting. I feel badly let down by management. It seems that some people at Bullwood Hall are treated as more equal than others. More than one manager has said that “we are all in it together” but this is clearly not the case, given the disparity of treatment and appropriate recognition. This seems a poor bequest from one Governor to the next; a divided workforce, fighting amongst themselves, with some seen as more equal than others, sometimes even receiving financial recognition for the hard work carried out by others. I have now therefore withdrawn my help, and I will not be volunteering for any extra work over and above my normal duties; let those who get the financial bonuses do it. Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. Name and address supplied

April 2012 67 30/3/12 15:33:21


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RESPONSE TO LETTER FROM JIM MCCABE I would like to respond to a letter published in December’s edition of Gatelodge from Jim McCabe, Local Branch Secretary, Cornton Vale. In his letter he states that there were no members from Peterhead at a recent demonstration for “People First”. I have three points to raise about this letter which attacked members of the POAS. Firstly, I was at the demonstration. I may not have marched under the banner of the POA, but since we were staying in Glasgow, and as my wife went shopping again I decided to take the time to represent Peterhead at the demonstration, marching with some friends from other organisations. So before condemning establishments for non-representation I think he should get his facts right. Secondly, even though Glasgow was holding the largest demonstration, there were other demonstrations in town and cities throughout Scotland. There was one in Aberdeen, so why would members from the north east travel all the way to Glasgow when we could show our support nearer home? My third and final point is; where was the support from other branches when we at Peterhead were fighting for our jobs, not just our pensions? For over ten years the threat of closure was hanging over us. Our lives were put on hold. We could not make plans for the future in case we were to close and the threat of redundancy loomed. We fought long and hard to keep an establishment at Peterhead. For this we have our wives and partners to thank, not other branch members. It was our

wives and partners who lobbied the Scottish Parliament, it was our wives and partners who organised petitions, it was our wives and partners who spoke to the press and finally it was our wives and partners who organised speakers at the rally we held in Peterhead. When we demonstrated through the town where was the support from other branches? The expression; ‘pots and kettles’ comes to mind. Members from Peterhead may not have travelled to Glasgow en mass - but we were represented. All this article has done is to show the prisons board that there may be disharmony within the POAS and the expression; ‘divide and conquer’ comes to mind. John Grant Residential Officer and Branch Member Peterhead

Dress uniform I have been looking at the December 2011 issue of Gatelodge and I found it both refreshing and disappointing at the same time. The reason? The photographs of the Northern Ireland Prison Service in full ceremonial dress uniform at the memorial service on pages 8 and 9. Surely this should induce the higher echelons of the Scottish Prison Service to review their opinions of our dress uniform. If the English and Northern Irish Services are able to put forward a case for a smart, disciplined uniform then why can’t we? Or is it again, the case of us being the poor relation? I know management do not like us to be disciplined or regimented but surely they must also recognise the benefits of caps, tunic and trousers to match instead of the inappropriate mis-match we have to put up with. The uniform may make the man but it goes a long way to inducing discipline and self-respect whilst conveying the image of professionalism to the public. Ian Hughes

HMP WANDSWORTH HELP FOR HEROES EVEREST BASE CAMP TREK A team of staff from Wandsworth will be taking a number of our soldiers who have suffered terrible injuries in the service of our country, to the base camp of the world’s highest mountain, Everest, on the Nepalese and Chinese border.

Thank you Welfare Fund I would like to thank you for the recent award which has helped with our struggles. Without the help you have given us things would have proved very difficult for us. It does look as though things are going to be tough for us financially as well as mentally and physically. So once again, many thanks for the award and your good wishes. Name and address supplied 68 April 2012 65-69 postbag.indd 68

This wonderful endeavour will raise funds for the Help for Heroes charity and will be a test of endurance and stamina. It’s an excellent example of the best achievement is never easily won. The 19 days will take the team to Nepal and after a short stay in the capital, Kathmandu; they will proceed to Everest. www.poauk.org.uk 22/3/12 11:25:39


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Retired Members Branch I refer to the article which appeared in the August 2011 issue of Gatelodge in which Pete Chapple set out proposals to reform the Retired Members Branch. I retired in September 1997 after twenty two years’ service at Broadmoor Special Hospital and joined the Retired Members Branch at the same time and until now my membership has been free. It should never have been free. When one considers all the costs involved such as the posting of Gatelodge six times a year to my home address currently £15.00 per year plus a pocket diary, it becomes obvious that the general membership is subsidising the members like me to the tune of at least £18.00, probably more. This was all well and good when the Retired Members Branch was few in numbers and made up mostly of retirees from the big four; Pentonville, Brixton, Wandsworth and Wormwood Scrubs. The membership has spread nationwide however, and now stands at 2,679 and it’s still growing. Peter, as Finance Officer, is quite right in arguing for reform and I for one support him. Under the new scheme we will continue to receive Gatelodge, the pocket diary and be eligible for the discounts and offers which from time to time appear in this magazine’s pages. The two significant changes, as proposed, will be a death benefit of £1,250 plus enrolment into the Welfare Fund, the latter accounting for the odd fifty pence. In conclusion, I would say the scheme, as proposed is reasonable. Yours sincerely Ted Geary Broadmoor Staff, Retired

Thank you I have worked at HMP Stocken for 12 years and I am currently on long term sick leave awaiting a major spinal operation. Mr David Lee (Branch Chairman) has been so very supportive during a very difficult time for me. In addition I would like to express my gratitude to the Welfare Committee at Cronin House whose support enabled me to purchase an orthopaedic reclining chair. This chair has greatly improved my daily comfort and will be a huge asset after my surgery. I cannot thank you enough. Name and address supplied

www.poauk.org.uk 65-69 postbag.indd 69

April 2012 69 28/3/12 12:35:21


SPORTS SCENE

COUNTDOWN TO THE 2013 WORLD POLICE AND FIRE GAMES Quick facts • 65 sports • 10,000 competitors

Belfast is now one of Europe’s top visitor destinations

• 25,000 visitors • 70 countries • 10 days

Preparations are well underway in Belfast for the 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG).

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he event takes place from 1 to 10 August 2013, with the aim of attracting 25,000 visitors to Northern Ireland from over 70 countries. The Northern Ireland Prison Service was involved from the outset in bringing the Games to Northern Ireland, with Director General, Robin Masefield presenting as part of the bid team in Adelaide in 2007. WPFG is the third largest international multisport event in the world and it is almost three times the size of the Commonwealth Games in terms of competitor numbers. The 2013 event will be the biggest sporting event ever staged in Northern Ireland, injecting at least £15.5m into the Northern Irish economy. The 2013 Games will include an estimated 10,000 participants competing in around 65 sports. The final plans for all sports and venues are currently being finalised, but this should be announced in June 2012. The provisional list of sports (which is subject to change) is available on the website at www.2013wpfg.com It is anticipated that registration for competitors will open in November 2012.

Background The WPFG is a biennial sports event organised for serving and retired police, prison, fire and uniformed customs and border agency staff. Their aim is to promote physical fitness and camaraderie within the services around the world. The countdown to the 2013 Games began in earnest with the handover of the World Games flag at the closing ceremony of the 2011 New York Games. WPFG Federation President, Mike Graham, officiated at the ceremony, with Police Service NI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, NI Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer, Peter Craig and Deputy Director General of NI Prison Service, Max Murray accepting the flag on behalf of the uniformed services in Northern Ireland. 70 April 2012 70 Sports Scene.indd 70

The Northern Ireland ‘Tridents’ Ice Hockey Club, which includes members from the emergency services and HM Prisons

The WPFG aim to promote physical fitness and camaraderie within the services around the world

Belfast Belfast is now a popular short-break destination and has established itself as one of Europe’s top visitor destinations. National Geographic’s prestigious ‘Traveller’ magazine included the city in its top 20 ‘Best of the World’ list in November 2011. It described the city as a ‘treasure’ with an ‘incredible atmosphere’. Getting to Northern Ireland has never been easier. Belfast is served by two airports – Belfast International Airport, which is 17 miles northwest of Belfast, and George Best Belfast City Airport, which is just three miles

east of the city centre. Regular scheduled ferry services to Belfast and Larne (35 minutes north of Belfast) operate from Stranraer, Troon and Cairnryan in Scotland, Fleetwood and Birkenhead in England and Douglas in The Isle of Man. There are also preferential accommodation rates available to competitors in the 2013 Games. To browse options or book your accommodation, go to www.2013wpfg.com/accommodation For further information about how to get to Belfast and what to do when you get there, go to www.gotobelfast.com

More information Raymond Hill and Neil Donaldson from NI Prison Service are seconded to 2013 WPFG Ltd to work on sports delivery. If you have any specific sports queries, email rhill@2013wpfg.com or ndonaldson@2013wpfg.com For more information go to www.2013wpfg.com or email info@2013wpfg.com or call 028 9092 2007. You can also keep up-to-date on www.facebook.com/2013wpfg and www.twitter.com/2013wpfg www.poauk.org.uk 12/3/12 10:41:19


HEALTHCARE

TUBERCULOSIS –

A WARNING

A personal injury lawyer sets out her concerns over a growing problem within the working environment of POA members.

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uberculosis is uncommon; but it is on the increase.

Tuberculosis It is an infection of the lungs by tubercle bacilli. If not arrested, it causes progressive destruction of the lungs with serious ill health and eventual death.

How you can get it It is transmitted by breathing in infected droplets that have got into the air as a result of someone with active disease coughing or sneezing.

How it is treated

How to protect yourself Get tested to see if you have a natural immunity or would benefit from being vaccinated with BCG. Unfortunately this does not provide anything like complete immunity so you need to be aware and take protective steps. Be aware of suspicious symptoms such as: • An unexplained cough that has continued for more than three weeks • Sudden weight loss • Fever • Fatigue and feeling of being unwell.

Tuberculosis is on the increase

Be particularly vigilant when dealing with prisoners who: • Have been homeless • Come from exceptionally deprived backgrounds • Have a history of serious misuse of drugs or alcohol • Are HIV positive • Come from areas such as Asia, Africa and Latin America where there is a high prevalence of the disease. When TB is suspected, the prisoner must be treated as infectious to others until the sputum has been fully examined.

It is treated with drugs and is generally very successful. www.poauk.org.uk 71 healthcare TB.indd 71

April 2012 71 28/3/12 12:22:12


HEALTHCARE MATTERS

MULTI-SKILLED HEALTHCARE OFFICERS CAN BE THE PRISON MEDICAL CENTRE’S FINEST ASSET Further to the last Gatelodge column, we have now established that under the massive Fair & Sustainable negotiations, we have further opened up the Health Care Officer role towards the possibility of career progression with the introduction of Custodial Manager, Health Care.

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t the time when we have struggled to preserve specialist roles, we have had recognition and realisation that the healthcare multi-killed prison officer can be the prison medical centre’s finest asset. We will continue to press forward this message to all those who will listen.

Lord Bradley The POA has a seat on the newly convened ‘Bradley Group’, an advisory body which deals with healthcare and the Criminal Justice System. This replaces the National Advisory Group in which we played a significant role. The Lord Bradley report was published in 2009 and its significance and progressive nature was a breath of fresh air. The group will continue with the ethos of Bradley and both support and challenge Government action regarding offender healthcare. We will look at mental health, learning disabilities and physical wellbeing, both to divert offenders and give positive support and treatment wherever required. This Trades Union will continue to promote its highly skilled and professional membership in all forums. We will continue to seek improvement towards conditions for our members and those in our charge, using our influence wherever we can. Good health to you all. Tom Robson Chairman of the Nursing & Health Care Officers’ Consultative Committee

Nursing and Health Care Officers consultative committee members Tom Robson – Chairman 0113 2428833 Duncan Keys – Secretary 0113 2428833 Steve Baines – NEC 0113 2428833 Ralph Valerio – NEC 0208 803 0255 72 April 2012 72 Healthcare.indd 72

George Bernard – HMP Frankland 0191 3323130 Carrie Sheppard – HMP Manchester 0161 817 5600 Jeff Clements – HMP Grendon 01296 445202 Graham Dale – HMP Cardiff 02920 923100 www.poauk.org.uk 13/3/12 09:10:37


THOMPSONS

POTENTIAL REFORMS TO THE CRIMINAL INJURIES COMPENSATION SCHEME Wayne Christie of Thompsons Solicitors looks at the latest Government attack on the rights of workers who are the victims of crime at work.

P

OA members who are injured in the course of their duties as a result of a criminal act will be restricted in the types of injuries they can claim compensation for through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (CICS), if reforms being pushed by Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke become law. The Ministry of Justice consultation: ‘Getting it right for victims and witnesses’, which Clarke claims is intended to give victims of crime more support, is actually going to ensure less support. It proposes that some types of injuries will no longer qualify for compensation and others will see much lower awards.

Bands 1 - 5 The consultation proposes removing injuries that are in the lowest bands of the scheme – bands 1 to 5. These carry the tariff of £1,000 to £2,000 and include: • Temporary anxiety • Temporary, partial deafness • Some types of fractures and • Injuries to teeth.

Bands 6 - 12 Injuries in bands 6 to 12 which attract between £2,500 to just below £11,000 will be reduced in value. So: • Eye injuries • Scarring to the limbs and torso and • Other injuries Will be reduced from £2,500 to £1,000. Moderate injuries resulting in continuing, significant disability (such as a fractured collar bone) will be reduced from £4,400 to £2,400.

Assault POA members face being assaulted in the course of their duties by prisoners on a daily basis. At Thompsons I handle many claims for members who have been the victim of an www.poauk.org.uk 73 Thomson.indd 73

agitated or aggressive inmate who the officer has tried to restrain. The types of injuries they suffer vary but typically are as a result of the prisoner kicking, hitting out or pushing. Crucially, the injuries are rarely just physical. The psychological injuries that can result from such incidents can be far more serious.

Case Study One I recently dealt with the claim of a member who suffered a knee injury when he was assaulted as he tried to de-escalate an aggressive situation. He was also traumatised by the incident. He and his colleague had no idea if the prisoner was armed or not. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) denied the claim, advising a law enforcement officer had to be exposed to ‘an exceptional risk’ to qualify for an award. We appealed and he was awarded £2,000. Under the proposed reforms neither his physical or psychological injuries would qualify for any award at all.

Case Study Two Another member, who suffered a serious knee injury when they were assaulted in a cell, received over £9,000 after Thompsons appealed an initial award of just £5,500. The member also suffered mental anxiety as a result of the attack and was off work for some time. But because the claim falls into the bands 6 to 12 bracket, this member’s compensation would be significantly reduced if Clarke’s plans go through.

Restrictions Further restrictions on eligibility for CICA awards include that there will be no award if the incident was not reported to the police as soon as reasonably practicable, if the victim has an unspent conviction (even a minor motoring conviction) and if they have lived in the UK for less than six months. The current scheme allows incidents to be reported to a body other than the police, such as the employer. This is often more appropriate when someone has been assaulted in their workplace and particularly so with prison assaults. Changing this rule and forcing victims to report the incident to the police anyway, irrespective of the circumstances, including that the assailant had already been convicted of a crime and would be reprimanded anyway for the attack, is likely to deter some members from claiming. The proposals are being dressed up as supporting victims of crime, when in fact they are a kick in the teeth for victims of crime including those injured in the course of their work. As a money-saving measure they offer little. Far from giving more support to victims of crime, this is another cynical move by this Government to deny access to justice to vulnerable and hardworking people.

THOMPSONS S O L I C I T O R S

April 2012 73 28/3/12 12:23:17


CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS

AND

THE FUTURE Vice Chairman, Steve Bostock and the team of Tony Merricks, Duncan Keys, Mark Freeman and Glyn Travis, report on recent headline news and changes to the working practices in HM Prison Service, following the workplace ballot to accept Fair and Sustainable. We do not intend to dwell on the past or revisit history but we must remind members of the current economic climate. It is clear that a small minority of members are unhappy with the decision of the Union to accept the offer from NOMS on behalf of Government as set out in the Fair and Sustainable document, which achieved lifetime pay protection for existing staff. The NEC promulgated POA Circular 22/2012 which sets out in detail some of the issues that have been raised. If you have not had the opportunity to read this circular, we suggest you do as a matter of urgency, it can be found on the POA website at www.poauk. org.uk and in every local POA office. For the avoidance of doubt and to ensure there could be no misunderstanding the content, this circular was approved by NOMS, not because the executive needed to but because it was clarifying issues on their policies. • NOMS Organisational/Restructure was in full agreement with the content of the POA circular. It has been drawn to the attention of the executive that some branches may wish to bring an emergency motion to conference to re-ballot the membership and try to overturn the Union’s position. That of course is the right of any branch if they believe it is the right and proper thing to do. The POA is a democratic Union and democracy will always prevail. A cautionary word of warning to any branch or member; • Be careful of what you wish for. The National Executive Committee made it absolutely clear that the offer on the table was the best that could be achieved at that time and that they would continue to 74 April 2012 74-75 Fair and Sustainable.indd 74

press for improvements and clarity before implementation in April 2013. This has (and still is) occurring as we write this article.

Evaluation NOMS has established three adoptor sites to test and evaluate how the proposed changes to working practices will map out at establishment level and early indications are positive, however, we will continue to monitor this piece of work. We are fully aware that some governors are trying to introduce their own local systems and as a result, concerns are quite rightly being raised by members and committees. The subcommittee of the executive continues to meet with senior officials of NOMS and seek written assurances from the CEO Director General; old speak, on issues.

Headlines and comments We have drawn together some headlines and comments from newspapers to remind members what has happened to other public sector services and workers as the Government presses ahead with its austerity cuts, despite the protestations of the TUC, some MPs and the trade union movement in general. Permanent public sector cuts In August 2010, David Cameron warned that public sector cuts would be permanent, when he said: “We are going to have to change the way we work,” and “How can we do things differently and better to give value for money?” He said he was thinking in terms of cuts of five percent a year, rather than a big bang

Steve Bostock, National Vice Chairman

Tony Merricks, NEC

Duncan Keys, Assistant Secretary

Mark Freeman, Deputy General Secretary

cut of 25 percent immediately and that the Government was focusing on the big-ticket items such as welfare, pensions and public sector pay rather than smaller cuts in other departments. We’re all in it together In November 2010, George Osborne’s message that ‘we’re all in it together’ seemed hollow as he attacked public sector workers and those reliant on credits. He went to the chamber of the House of Commons to deliver an autumn statement that prophesied a long, bleak winter for the British economy, a downturn unmatched in the postwar era, one that would stretch for seven lean years. At the same time the Lib Dems tried to defuse the row over £15bn spending cuts deal with Tories as Danny Alexander said the party would fight the next general election committed to £15bn in spending cuts for 2016 and 2017. So by 2011, the writing was on the wall for the POA and other public sector workers and despite industrial action, public support remained with the Government. In 2011/2 reality hit home to millions of workers as employers slashed pay, reduced terms and conditions, increased pension contributions and made thousands redundant as the Government austerity plans gripped the country. Against the backdrop of this bad news the NEC negotiated lifetime pay protection for existing staff through the implementation of Fair and Sustainable. www.poauk.org.uk 28/3/12 12:25:43


CAMPAIGNS AND EVENTS Some press headlines

Coalition cuts force £10bn in  public sector savings More than 200 areas of public spending faced realterms cuts in the first year of coalition Government. More than 200 areas of public spending faced real-terms cuts in the first year of coalition Government, with departments having to find £10bn in savings from services such as GP care, prisons and the rail network, an analysis by the Guardian shows.

Unions angered as Chancellor  seeks to scrap national pay  deals in public sector George Osborne was accused of planning to cut pay in areas of high unemployment with move towards local bargaining. Trade unions reacted angrily when George Osborne announced that he had written to the pay review bodies across the public sector to draw up plans for local pay bargaining by July 2012 and given them the freedom to recommend the abolition of national pay bargaining.

Ministry of Defence spent £290m on consultants last year MoD criticised for failing to look in-house for technical expertise while pressing ahead with 60,000 job cuts. • The Ministry of Defence spent £290m on specialist consultants last year while making thousands of military and civilian personnel redundant, new figures show.

Police numbers at lowest for a decade • Number of police officers in England and Wales falls by 6,000 in a year as chief constable warns of 'cliff edge' • A further 8,820 police civilian staff jobs, 11 percent of the total, and 907 community support officer jobs also went during the 12 months to September 2011, according to the latest Home Office figures. • The total number of sworn police officers in the 43 forces in England and Wales has fallen by four percent from 142,363 in September 2010 to 136,261 in September 2011.

Chief constable’s warning over council tax freeze is ignored   • A police chief constable has warned that a council tax freeze means his force may be unable to provide basic services, and could lead to a drop in public confidence and morale among officers. • Gloucestershire Police Authority ignored the warnings of the chief constable, Tony Melville, that cuts had already pushed his force to a “cliff edge” and on Thursday voted against an increase in the police share of the council tax. • The police are arguing the decision to veto a 2.9% percent rise – the equivalent of an annual increase of £6 a household – means a cut of another £1.3m. That equates to the loss of more than 40 officers. • Gloucestershire police has already shut police stations and made officers and staff redundant to cope with cuts of £24m on its £103m budget

The public sector axe is  swinging wildly, leaving  expensive waste in its wake

Army to cut 20,000 jobs two years earlier than expected

• The Office for Budget Responsibility has estimated that in the wider public sector, 710,000 public employees will be laid off. • Guided by the crude dogma that cheapest is best, the truth is that the Government is actually costing the taxpayer more. • Agency workers are often temporary and are usually employed on lower incomes, with worse terms and conditions than permanent employees. • Health and Social Care bill will now cost an extra £660m as a result of the Government making NHS employees redundant.

Pay freeze for 1.6 million council staff 

U.S. debt set to overtake GDP America’s £9trillion debt is set to overtake the country’s entire economic output within the next two years, economists warned.

The army is to speed up its redundancy programme by axing 20,000 posts by 2018, two years earlier than expected, it has emerged.

Around 1.6 million council workers are to have their pay frozen for a third year in a row, local authority employers announced today.

Local authority cuts: one year on Over the next three years the council plans to shrink its workforce by about 1,600. Around 700 positions have already gone, through voluntary redundancy or jobs being frozen, but the impact of cuts to local authority budgets has repercussions that ripple far beyond the employee roll at county hall.

Charities scared to speak out amid cuts, says report Service provider charities censoring their public remarks for fear of funding reprisals, warns Independence Panel Charities that provide public services are increasingly reluctant to speak out against social injustice because they fear they will lose their funding, according to a report.

German Chancellor unveils massive cuts German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, yesterday unveiled the biggest savings package in her country’s post-war history - with £66bn shaved off government budgets over the next four years.

Balancing views We have not reproduced the above to scaremonger but to try and balance views and perception in these difficult times, as the Con-Dem Government press ahead with their austerity plans. The NEC has consistently said that the Fair and Sustainable document is NOMS offer and it is not what the Union would have produced in an ideal world. www.poauk.org.uk 74-75 Fair and Sustainable.indd 75

We recognise that there are faults with the overall package but it was and is the best that could be achieved. The implementation to the changes in working practices to HM Prison Service will be difficult, recruitment may not be as easy as NOMS anticipate but the POA remain committed to safe, secure and decent prisons. April 2012 75 22/3/12 17:06:26


POA LEARNING

LEARNING WITH THE POA

M

y career in adult learning began when I was delivering Offending Behaviour Programmes to prisoners and offering a small amount of local training within my establishment. I decided that training delivery to staff was an avenue I wanted to develop and luckily, at that time, an opportunity arose to apply for a course on a Certificate in Training Practice (CITP) which was part of the Continuous Professional Development programme. I asked for permission to apply and was granted a place. From this, I gained my Certificate in Preparing to Teach in Lifelong Learning. A couple of years later I was fortunate to apply for and gain a place on the Regional Training Team for the North East & Yorkshire where I then had the opportunity to gain my Certificate in Lifelong Learning. It was during this time that I began to question my literacy and numeracy skills and wondered if I should seek guidance to improve these areas. To be honest; I had left school at 15 with no qualifications and had managed quite well

without them, however as I was entering the arena of adult education I felt it was not only in my own interest to be critical about my current level of ability but also I needed to ensure I was able to give the right guidance to my learners. While I was working at Holme House Learning Centre (HHLC), I decided to step into the POA learning suite to see what it was all about. I was amazed to discover the wide range of opportunities available to staff and that was the trigger to motivate me to start the process of having my existing skills assessed.

Discovering strengths...and weaknesses Although this was quite daunting (it’s not always easy to discover the truth about your own abilities!) I knew it was a step I wanted to take and had just been putting it off for many years. I asked the POA staff at HHLC what I needed to do and they put me in touch with Hatfield Learning Centre which was my local POA Learning centre. They arranged for me to complete assessments in both areas. The process of assessment for literacy was a comfortable experience for me as I was fairly confident with this specific area, however numeracy was completely different.

Senior Officer, Jackie Ritchie tells us how her career in career in adult learning within the service developed. I had always had a ‘thing’ about maths at school, in fact I not only struggled with it but it actually became a bit of a phobia for me, so therefore, at 53, not having done maths for a long time (apart from balancing my cheque book, working out pocket money for the children and that sort of thing) I was very nervous about the road I was about to take. There was a large gap between completing my literacy examination and taking my numeracy diagnostic assessment. To be honest, on more than one occasion I nearly backed out of it due to my own insecurities and perception of my ability. Thankfully, the staff at Hatfield were very patient and encouraging and with their guidance I not only completed my first ever maths exam but I am now on the road to improving my current level and working towards the next one.

Plusses outweigh minuses! I have found the experience difficult at times, not only on a practical level but also trying to fit it in with full time work which involves a great deal of time away from home, fitting it in with my family commitments but also finding the confidence to have a go. I decided the only thing I had to lose was a small portion of my time. The benefits of my achievement far outweigh the sacrifices and worry of failure. Jackie Ritchie Senior Officer NOST

76 April 2012 76 POA Learning.indd 76

www.poauk.org.uk 29/3/12 15:30:58


POA LEARNING

HATFIELD POA LEARNING CENTRE How the Wednesday morning IT class at Hatfield POA Learning Centre teaches new skills benefits individuals and the wider community. Margaret, a retired but extremely active member of the local community, who is highly involved in voluntary work, first came into the centre back in October 2010. She had recently been given a laptop as a present by her family. However, having no experience of using computers, she wanted to learn how to send and receive emails, to be able to keep in touch with her friends and family. In no time, Margaret had soon built up the confidence and gained the skills she needed. Before long, she found herself learning new skills, which included accessing the Internet Hatfield’s Wednesday morning IT class

and creating word-processed documents. Upon hearing about the support Margaret was receiving; several of her friends and co-volunteers also expressed an interest in attending the centre, and so the Wednesday morning IT class was born.

Gaining qualifications Peter and Mary who run a local family business and volunteer at the same charitable organisation as Margret joined the group shortly afterwards. All three are now working through their Level 2, European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) program and are continuing to develop their IT skills and knowledge. They are learning new skills in areas such as word-processing, spreadsheets and presentation software. We currently have six learners in our Wednesday morning group. As well as the excellent voluntary work they all do within the community, they all have one thing in common; their desire to learn new IT skills

to assist them in their everyday life, as well as in their respective roles as volunteers within organisations which include the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the local branch of Rotary club. Well done to all. Margaret joined the IT club in April and said: “My family decided that I needed to move with the times, so they gave me a laptop computer as a Christmas present. I knew absolutely nothing about using computers and found that my family had little patience when it came to showing me how to use them. I was at the point of giving up and retiring the laptop to the back of the cupboard. Then my daughter told me about Hatfield Learning Centre. “Feeling unsure, I contacted Scott, a tutor at the centre and arranged my first session, I haven’t looked back since. In no time I was sending emails, sharing photos with friends and family and accessing the Internet. The support I received was fantastic and it helped me to meet people from my own age group, who, like me, are getting to grips with using a computer.”

STAFF CHILDREN’S CHRISTMAS PARTY AT HIGHDOWN Saturday 10 December saw the annual staff children’s Christmas party at HighDown Prison. As the whole affair is organised by, and held in the Union Learning Centre, the party is a ‘Play and Learn’ event. There were lots of things for the kids to do and make - all with a Christmas theme. We had 33 children, all with their attendant mums, dads, grandparents, and helpers – enthusiastically joining in with various pastimes, such as cake decorating, make-your-own Christmas decorations, face painting, paper making and card angels, and even painting a giant Father Christmas which most of the kids had a go at. Our own Santa Claus arrived at midday, brilliantly played by PO Ed Davidson, who sat in his superbly decorated grotto – which was built by HighDown prisoners and staff together. All the children received a present, kindly supplied thanks to donations from

www.poauk.org.uk 77 POA Learning.indd 77

the Governor, Peter Dawson, and our POA Committee. All the gifts were ‘play and learn’ toys, and a lot of care and time had been taken by the Centre staff to ensure that each of the children got a present that reflected their age, abilities, and interest. A full spread of excellent party food was provided by Sal Dearsley, and funded by POA Learning (Thanks!) As there was very little to tidy up at the end, it had obviously all gone down very well – and VERY quickly! All in all, it was a great day (if very tiring!) greatly enjoyed by all present. Special thanks need to go to: Karen Pickett (Centre Manager), Sal Dearsley, Jackie Burke, Shan Garrard, Lynne Willmer, and Dan Pyett. We’ve started organising next years’ party already! Clive Orpwood

Most of the kids had a go at painting a giant Father Christmas ‘Santa’ in his grotto

April 2011 77 30/3/12 15:38:46


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��������� 8/6/10 11:47:47 24/9/10 16:15:29

POA Gatelodge April 2012  

POA Gatelodge April 2012

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