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December 2011

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

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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: 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 February 2012 issue by 29th December 2011. Editorial Design: Helen Mackenzie Advertising Sales Katrina Browning 01778 395022 e-mail: Production Co-ordinator Sue Woodgates 01778 392062 e-mail: Advertising Design Development Design Publisher: Juliet Loiselle e-mail: Tel:01778 391067 Publishers & Printers Warners Group Publications plc, The Maltings, West Street, Bourne, PE10 9PH. Tel: 01778 393313 Fax: 01778 394748

3 Contents.indd 1

Dear Reader, Welcome to the December issue of Gatelodge. I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. The Government’s proposals in respect of pensions will probably still be subject to negotiations and the affected unions will have taken the necessary action to protest at these proposals. Will anything change and can we as trade unionists convince the public and MPs that these proposals are a step too far? Once again there have been lots of incidents in prisons, but sadly the NEC is not being made aware of these at the time or even after the event. There have also been some high profile court cases involving prisoners and this has attracted significant media interest. It is a pity that the media does not give the same coverage to staff who have been the subject of violent attacks or the victims of crime. Maybe if they did, the public’s perception of prisons may change.

The Gatelodge magazine should also be used to report and celebrate the achievements of local members, all too often we read about our members’ achievements in the prison service magazine or other publications, surely we should look to change this. The POA has submitted its written evidence to the Prison Service Pay Review Body and will also have given oral evidence on behalf of POA members. We will now await their recommendations. This will be a significant test as to whether they are truly independent or just puppets of government. 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:

WHAT’S INSIDE National Chairman


General Secretary


Campaigns and Events






Christmas Messages


Branch News








Sports Scene


POA Learning


Strictly Private



10 13

December 2011 3

2/12/11 16:43:26


STRATEGIC CHOICES In recent articles, I have pointed to the strategic choices that our Union may need to make in order to protect and preserve the pay, pensions and terms and conditions of the membership. I asked you to be patient and that we expected to have answers by the end of the year. with NOMS but we recognise that competition policy, the pay freeze, issues with facility time and pensions are disputes with politicians and not with the immediate employer.

Preserving pay and conditions


s I prepare this article the Fair and Sustainable document – the introduction of new working structures in HM Prison Service - has been published by the employer. The Annex A has been received by the recognised trade unions and the 28-day period of consultation will conclude on 12 December 2011. NOMS will by now have provided you with the opportunity to comment, raise issues and seek clarification on the document. It is in your interest to engage in the process. I believe that there is scope for some further improvements and clarifications to be made but essentially, the proposed new working structures are contained within the document. The NEC has endorsed the document and there will be a Special Delegates Conference in January to be followed by a ballot of the affected membership. The POA will communicate with the membership to provide clarification on the document and answers to questions and queries which will inevitably arise. NOMS have invited the trade unions to participate in a series of roadshows aimed at all sections of the workforce. The NEC has accepted this invitation and further agreed to my participation in a HMPS video presentation on workforce restructure. In doing so we are sending a clear message that the NEC are endorsing the document and working with NOMS to overcome the problems we face. We will continue to have differences and disputes 4 December 2011 4-5 Nat Chair comment.indd 4

Change is never comfortable and the prison service has endured its fair share and more in recent years. The “Heads of Agreement” discussions failed, WFM was rejected by the membership but led to the introduction of illconceived structural changes. We now have an opportunity to revisit these structural changes and preserve pay and conditions. Our approach to the implementation of the Job Evaluation Scheme (JES) and workforce restructure is directed by conference policy i.e., no detriment to pay and terms and conditions of current staff. We are pleased that following intense lobbying by the trade unions that actual job descriptions have replaced the generic task models. We do not accept that the published JES correctly weights the job that we do. Legal advice confirms that there are no changes to terms and conditions. It is not mark time pay and the POA will continue to make submissions to the Pay Review Body. This document promises to provide a structured and attainable opportunity for promotion. The document states that there will be no surplus OSGs, Prison Officers, Senior Officers

or Principal Officers as a direct result of this process. I can do nothing about offers of voluntary redundancy. If you are approached by the employer and accept a voluntary departure package then that is a decision for you and your family. For the POA to negotiate a position where we avoid compulsory redundancy, in the midst of the current recession, is a success.

Market testing Competition within the public sector is a difficult subject for a public sector trade union. We do not accept the need for market testing but the reality is that all three political parties support the competition of our prisons. All of our prisons face market testing in the years to come. The Coalition Government wanted to market test 25 of our prisons in the latest round but settled reluctantly on eight. NOMS insists that workforce restructure can provide significant savings and help to level the playing field with private sector competitors. Colleagues; we must provide our prisons with the opportunity to win. NOMS will move to introduce new workforce structures. So why you may ask are we planning to ballot the membership? The ballot will maintain our enviable tradition of seeking the views of the membership through the established democratic process. In addition, if the membership votes to endorse the 29/11/11 14:20:16


Fair and Sustainable document it becomes a collective agreement with concomitant benefits. Please read the document and engage with your branch committee and national representatives.

Pensions As we go to press, discussions on pensions are on-going. The NEC continues to press the Coalition Government on the pensionable age for operational prison grades and related issues. Again we can do little about the retirement age. There are currently four OSGs working in the prison service in their seventies. Staff choose to remain in work for a variety of reasons. However, our members must retain the opportunity to retire at their agreed pensionable age with no reduction in entitlements. We remain optimistic that the Coalition Government will listen to reason and recognise that we are a uniformed service. Nevertheless, the NEC is well aware of the mandate given by the membership to defend our pensions. You will find that pensions are covered in more detail in other sections of this edition of Gatelodge.

Facility time You will recall that Vice Chairman, Tom Robson and his team, with input from the membership, were negotiating in good faith with NOMS on the issue of national and local facility time. The employer had given 12 months notice of withdrawal from the existing arrangements. The Coalition Government has now instructed all employers in the public sector to cease negotiations with the trade unions. Henceforth, the Cabinet Office will conduct negotiations directly with trade unions. This is not good news. As a lay-led trade union any significant reduction in paid facility time at local and national level will change the dynamics of

the trade union. To date, we have not been notified of the arrangements for these negotiations but we will keep you informed.

We may be undervalued and underpaid but we must be safe and secure within the workplace Frankland court case Following the decision to find a serving prisoner not guilty of the assault of three of our members at HMP Frankland all avenues of legal redress are being pursued. Any redress has to be at the behest of the three members and their wishes and needs will be central to our decision making. The NEC was pleased to note that senior police officers have condemned the decision and that politicians are raising questions in Parliament on our behalf. The message from an NEC led by this National Chairman has to be clear. If the Government, the judiciary and the employer cannot (or will not) protect prison staff then the POA will. Pay and terms and conditions are important but in an operational environment safety remains our overriding concern. We may be undervalued and underpaid but we must be safe and secure within the workplace. The subject of body armour and pepper spray divides opinion. I am continually told that our prisons only work on the basis of co-operation and mutual respect between staff and the prisoners in our care. In my personal

view our prisons have changed in the last five to 10 years. Prisons are populated by increasing numbers of violent and unpredictable prisoners many with psychological and mental health issues. Again, our prisons are holding increasing numbers of prisoners with no realistic prospect of release due to the nature of their crimes. We will continue to manage our prisons with care and compassion but we do not come to work to be punched, stabbed and medically retired. We will revisit the issue of safety in the workplace in future editions of Gatelodge but the message from this Trade Union is clear: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

Northern Ireland Our colleagues in Northern Ireland face workforce restructure on an unprecedented scale. Finlay and his team are currently in the midst of intense negotiations with the employer on a new working model and the exit packages that would accompany such a restructure. I was pleased to see that politicians have supported the clear and unequivocal position of the POA that prison staff are employees of the Crown. In my opinion, any attempt to remove the HMP insignia in England, Wales and Scotland would be met with resistance. We must not forget, that in Northern Ireland between 1942 and 1993, 30 of our colleagues were murdered and others severely injured as members of HMP Prison Service.

Scotland I attended the Scottish Conference in Peebles. Phil Fairlie in his first conference as Chairman conducted business as the seasoned professional we know him to be. There was no doubting the unity north of the border. The partnership approach between Trade Union and employer continues. I will now meet with Phil on a bi–monthly basis to ensure that our working relationship develops to benefit all POA members. In closing, I send seasonal greetings to all POA members and their family and friends on behalf of the NEC. As we move into 2012 we do it together with common goals, aspirations and a determination to succeed.

PJ McParlin National Chairman 4-5 Nat Chair comment.indd 5

December 2011 5 2/12/11 16:44:32


POA APPLICATION TO EUROPEAN COURTS FOR TRADE UNION RIGHTS In my last Gatelodge article (October 2011 issue, page 6) I informed the membership that the POA application has been lodged in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. QC (and indeed the membership) for being so patient in our quest to regain our Trade Union rights. It is worth reminding ourselves of the basis of our application as I am sure there are many younger members who are not aware and for that matter older members who have forgotten.


would like to take this opportunity to thank Adrian Watts (HMP Birmingham) and Jacqueline Bates (HMP Buckley Hall) for agreeing to be applicants along with the POA against the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This application has been a long time coming and I am grateful to Thompsons Solicitors and John Hendy

Synopsis of application The POA is an independent Trade Union which represents prison officers and related grades in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. From our inception in 1939, we were free to take industrial action. However, a case in 1993 held that because prison officers have powers of a constable, they were not “workers” for the purposes of the relevant legislation. This meant that any inducement by the POA for industrial action would not be protected against civil

liability. This was reinforced by statute in 1994 which had the effect of prohibiting us from inducing prison officers to take industrial action. The prohibition extended to private sector custody officers. Nor do we have the right to free collective bargaining. Our pay is determined by the Secretary of State, on the basis of non-binding recommendations of a Government appointed body, the Prison Services Pay Review Body (PSPRB). Whilst we discuss other matters with the Secretary of State (through the appropriate structures at appropriate levels) in order to attempt to protect the interests of our members, the absence of the right to strike effectively means that what would otherwise be collective bargaining is collective begging. Nor has the Government made any provision for free collective bargaining in relation to prison custody officers in the private sector

General Secretaries support the POA’s lodge of its application with Strasbourg at the TUC.

6 December 2011 6-7 Gen Sec.indd 6 6/12/11 10:01:16

GENERAL SECRETARY and the employers of POA members in the private sector largely ignore the POA’s efforts to engage in collective bargaining. Thus prison officers and the POA in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are denied both the right to strike and, effectively, the right to collective bargaining. The SNP did not re-apply section 127 as Scotland is covered by a partnership agreement and binding arbitration. John Hendy QC has submitted on our behalf that: • The absolute prohibition on prison officers’ right to take industrial action • The absolute prohibition on the Union’s right to call or support industrial action by the NEC • The absolute prohibition on prison officers’ right to free collective bargaining over pay • The absence of prison officers’ right to free collective bargaining over other matters • The absence of effective alternative mechanisms to otherwise protect their interests are incompatible with the right under Article 11 ECHR to ‘freedom of assembly including the right to belong to a trade union for the protection of your interests’. The European Court of Human Rights has consistently held that freedom of association includes more than simply being free to join a union. The POA must also have the ability to protect its members’ interests. The POA contends although the Contracting State has a margin of appreciation to determine how these interests may be protected, it is necessary

for the State at least to ensure free collective bargaining and to protect the right to strike. These are amongst the essential elements guaranteed by Article 11(1), and the State’s margin of appreciation is limited in that it must guarantee these essential elements in order to fulfil its positive obligation to ensure that an individual’s right to join a trade union for the protection of his or her interests is fulfilled. Denial of both these essential elements (free collective bargaining and the right to strike) necessarily constitutes a breach of Article 11. The POA application then goes on to produce a wide, varied evidenced-based argument that has accumulated over a period since 1994 when the Criminal Justice Public order act and Section 127 and 126 were applied. I hope this gives a flavour of our application. I do not know when this matter will be heard but at least the application is in and we have a glimmer of hope for the future.

would encourage everyone to read the document and if you do not understand it, or have any queries, branch officials should invite their NEC representative into their establishments to discuss with the membership prior to the special delegates conference. In this edition of Gatelodge you will find an insert regarding fair and sustainable. Finally, I wish every POA member success for 2012 and I thank you for being supportive of your local officials at establishment level who do a magnificent job on behalf of the membership. I also thank you for your support of the National Executive Committee who always do their best for the membership in the most difficult of times. Steve Gillan General Secretary

Fair and sustainable As we head into the Christmas period the proposed introduction of new working structures in HM Prison Service will be widely discussed. The NEC has called an information and special delegates’ conference on Monday 9 January 2012 prior to balloting the POA members in England and Wales who are affected by the proposed changes. Information prior to this will be available by circular and on our website. It is vital that the membership fully understands this document and I

Diary dates 17-21 October 2011: TUC course ‘Strategic Choice, Campaigning and Coalition Building’ 24 October: TUC meeting on pensions 25 October: Royal Courts of Justice Case RPI – CPI 26 October: Scottish Conference – Peebles 27 October: Scottish Conference – Peebles 2 November: Pensions meeting – Congress House/Whitehall 9 November: NEC meeting 10 November: Meeting Clive House 14 November: Special NEC meeting 15 November: Pensions meeting at Whitehall 21 November: Branch meeting HMP ISIS 22 November: Public Sector Liaison meeting TUC Meeting Nia Griffiths MP, House of Commons Evening: Briefing session with MP on pensions – Portcullis House 23 November: (AM) Special NEC (PM)Pension meeting at Whitehall 6-7 Gen Sec.indd 7

24 November: (AM) Meeting Mark Serwotka, PCS General Secretary Meeting Tony Briscoe, Morning Star 28 November: Branch visit HMP Shotts 29 November: NEC meeting 30 November: TUC Day of Action 1 December: TUC Course: ‘Changing the way we work’ Evening: Cuba solidarity meeting 2 December: TUC Course: ‘Changing the way we work’ 5 December: Justice for Columbia National committee meeting 7 December: Branch visit HMP Whitemoor Evening: TUC Conference Leading Change

13 December: (AM) General Council Meeting (PM) Justice Union Parliamentary Group 14 December: NEC meeting 15 December: Pay Review Body oral evidence 16 December: Branch visit HMP Birmingham 19 December:

9 December: Meeting Larry O’Callaghan

Meeting Union Income Benefit

12 December:

20 December:

Trade Union co-ordinating meeting

Stock-take meeting with Michael Spurr

Evening: Meeting Dave Anderson MP

at Clive House.

December 2011 7 29/11/11 14:28:07




Dave Phillips (Cannon), Senior Officer (Retired) at HMP Liverpool reports on his attendance at the Northern Ireland Prison Service memorial service. 10.11.11 14:30hrs I left home for the journey to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport and having already booked in on line I made my way through the security area and into the departure lounge to await my flight to Belfast International Airport. I now had some spare time on my hands so I made my way to the Wetherspoons Bar to sample some real ale and read my paper. It was not too long before my flight was called and then it was off down the runway for the short flight to Belfast.

8 December 2011 8-9 GM NI Memorial.indd 8

On arrival in Belfast I was collected from the airport by Sammy Jameson and taken to his home to meet his lovely wife, Carol. I was then treated to an evening meal cooked by Carol which was duly appreciated. It was then time to sample some of Sammy’s beers and catch up on local news etc before retiring to bed.

11.11.11 08:00hrs I was woken by Sammy and had time for a quick shower and shave before breakfast was ready. Sammy had been up very early to take

Carol to work and on his return he cooked a breakfast fit for a King (or a Scouser). It was soon time to leave Sammy’s house for the journey to the Prison Service College at Millisle. It was a very cold and windy day, not one for the faint hearted and yes, guess who did not have an overcoat???? (Yes it was me). I’m only glad that it was not raining. On arrival we were met as is usual by Finlay Spratt, June Robinson and the Northern Ireland POA Committee. It was now time to look around the college and meet up with some old friends. 6/12/11 10:05:26


It was a little upsetting to find that Les Holmes (ex Piper) from the Northern Ireland Prison Service Pipe Band was in a wheelchair and that he has had to retire from the band due to illness. I then met up with Dawn and Gareth Ferguson for a chat. Dawn is the daughter of our ex colleague Brian Armour who was murdered by terrorists on 4 October 1988. I also met up with Ken Tully and Jim Smith and other ex-colleagues. A Guard of Honour was formed by Principal Officer, Eamon Hanna, which was accompanied by the Northern Ireland Prison Service Pipe Band, led by Senior Officer, Walter Lambe. They then marched in formation to meet the visiting dignitaries. The Guard of Honour was then inspected by Mr David Ford who was representing the Government. The time was approaching 11:00hrs and time for me to take up my place of honour in the line-up of dignitaries who were to lay wreaths of 8-9 GM NI Memorial.indd 9

poppies at the Cenotaph in respect of Departed Merit. Earlier in the year, I had been asked by the Northern Ireland POA if I would like to lay the wreath on behalf of the POA as I had done previously in 2010.

11:00hrs The Last Post was sounded followed by two minutes silence and then The Reveille and a Lament. The service was then conducted by the Prison Service Chaplains and the names on the Role of Honour were read out by Mr Phil Price, MBE. This was followed by the Supreme Sacrifice and the laying of wreaths. A short prayer service followed along with the hymns; ‘Abide with Me’ and ‘O God our Help in Ages Past’. It was now time for a Blessing and the National Anthem. After the service, the Guard of Honour accompanied by the Prison Service Pipe Band marched off watched by approximately 400 visitors. And yes, the rain managed to stay away. It was now time to meet up in the marquee for some light refreshments before returning to Sammy’s house. The evening was then spent with Sammy in Belfast with members of the Belfast Volunteers Association who held a small gathering and memorial service. This was followed by a meal (?!), which was supposed to resemble what you might have been given to eat in the trenches during the war i.e. soda bread and jam followed by a lamb stew all served up in mess tins. The last time I had eaten from a mess tin was in the Scouts at summer camp some 50 years ago. The evening then

continued with some very funny sketches from the old timers and some old favourite war songs.

12.11.11 08:00hrs It’s time to get out of bed, shower, shave and down for breakfast which was prepared by Carol. After breakfast, Sammy drove me to the airport for my flight back to Liverpool. Once again I deem it an honour and a privilege to be able to represent the POA in this way and I feel that thanks are due to our National Chairman, Peter McParlin, our Finance Officer, Pete Chapple and Glyn Travis for allowing me this honour. Also, thanks to my hosts Sammy and Carol Jameson and Finlay Spratt, June Robinson and the Committee of The Northern Ireland POA. Thank you one and all who made this trip possible, I feel very humble and beyond doubt, extremely proud to be able to represent the Prison Officers Association in this way. Dave Phillips (Cannon) Senior Officer (Retired) H.M.P. Liverpool, POA Photographer December 2011 9 2/12/11 16:50:13



ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS The Prison Service Trust in Northern Ireland organised a trip of a lifetime for 20 widows and widowers of staff murdered by terrorists. Many of these widows are now quite elderly and have mobility problems so it was important to plan something for them which did not involve a lot of walking. June Robinson, Secretary Board of Directors reports.


he Board of the Prison Service Trust approved the trip and it was arranged by the Manager of the Trust, Mr Ivan Bolt, and our sincere thanks go to him. The Prison Service Trust looks after many widows, but this trip on the Orient Express was exclusively for those who had lost loved ones to terrorist activity. June Robinson, Area Secretary of the Prison Officers’ Association (N.I.) takes up the story: On Saturday 15 October 2011, our party of seven flew from Belfast to Paris to embark on this thrilling journey. We arrived in Paris to beautiful weather and settled into tour lovely hotel. Following a pre-dinner drink, we went to a restaurant near the Eiffel Tower, and then boarded a boat for the night-time cruise on the River Seine. The next morning brought more sunshine and the opportunity to explore Paris at our leisure. Some members of our group took an open-top bus tour, others braved the Metro, visiting the shops along the Champs Elysees and visiting the Louvre Museum. That night, we were taken by taxi to the Gare du Nord railway station, where we were escorted to a private VIP lounge and treated to complementary drinks and snacks. At 9.00pm we were taken along the platform to board the Orient Express and we were introduced to our personal steward, Wolfgang (a young Austrian). Nothing was too much trouble and the staff were so attentive and welcoming. We ate in one of the dining cars (there are three on the Orient Express) enjoying a sumptuous dinner in beautiful surroundings. By the time we returned to our cabins about 1.00am Wolfgang had prepared our cabins for us to sleep in and they were very cosy, particularly after a long day of sightseeing. Overnight we travelled through France and Switzerland, so when we woke we were in Austria where

10 December 2011 10-11 GM Orient Express.indd 10

the scenery was absolutely stunning, we also travelled through Litchenstein. We made two short stops, one at Innsbruck and one at Verona to allow us to stretch our legs. Wolfgang served breakfast in our cabins and a leisurely day followed, allowing us to view the scenery or enjoy drinks or coffee in the cocktail carriage whilst being serenaded by the pianist on the baby grand piano. A four course lunch was served in a different dining carriage to the previous evening, and before we disembarked, afternoon tea was served in our cabins. We arrived in Venice just before 6.00pm on the Monday. We were then taken by private water taxi to our fabulous hotel where complementary Prosecco was served in the courtyard. Ever keen to eat we then had dinner in a local Italian restaurant before retiring for the evening (to our rooms with Jacuzzis!) After breakfast, we spent the whole day wondering around Venice, exploring St Mark’s square, the Rialto Bridge and the Doge’s Place. We were so lucky with the weather and the sun shone again. We had another gorgeous meal in a local restaurant and whilst some of our party turned in for the night, others enjoyed the spectacle of the orchestras playing at the cafes and bars in St Mark’s square. It was a glorious end to a dream trip. The following morning we left early to take a water taxi to Venice airport where we flew to Gatwick and then another flight home to not so sunny Belfast (yes, we should have known – it was raining when we touched down!) Our thanks to Ivan Bolt, for making all the arrangements and ensuring this trip was possible, it was an unforgettable journey. Our special thanks and gratitude go to the POA for its assistance in making this trip possible. It was indeed a trip of a lifetime. 29/11/11 14:29:50


Finlay and Victor on the Champs Elysees Finlay and Victor at the Louvre

(l-R) Moira Kerr and Pat Cairns with their steward

The party enjoyed a whole day in Venice 10-11 GM Orient Express.indd 11

December 2011 11 2/12/11 16:52:02


POA & PCS LOBBY PRIVATE SECTOR BID TEAM MEETING Stewart McLaughlin, Wandsworth POA Branch Secretary reports on the recent meeting of Private Sector bid teams.


meeting of Private Sector bid teams took place on 21 October 2011 at Somerset House in London. Outside, a lobby was held by both POA and PCS and I took along the Wandsworth POA banner. After a short time, G4S security staff came out of the building and questioned us about being there, (we did have permission). The police were called and within 10 minutes a Constable arrived who didn’t move us on so we carried on handing out leaflets. Larry O’Callaghan (PCS negotiations officer), Tony Thorpe (PCS NOMS), Gale Ellison (PCS MoJ), Ann Martin(PCS HO), San Mason, Tom Taylor, Denis Lenihan (PCS HQ) and myself were present. Thanks to John and Kris who had made it to Somerset House but didn’t find the entrance with the POA banner outside. It was only a short protest, lasting about an hour but the point was made that justice should not be for sale. Stewart McLaughlin Branch Secretary Wandsworth POA 12 December 2011 12 GM.indd 12



Chair of the National Shop Stewards Network, Rob Williams, made a speech recently prior to the planned strike on 30 November 2011.

One year ago over 50,000 students marched through the streets of London. That march set off a mass movement of hundreds of thousands of young people against the rises in tuition fees and the abolition of the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for college students. “Then we had the 26 March 2011 TUC mass demonstration and the fantastic strike of 750,000 civil servants, teachers and lecturers on 30 June. “Now we’re just days away from 30 November (N30), when up to three million public sector workers will be striking to defend their pensions. “This will be an overwhelmingly popular strike because all those who have suffered from these cuts want someone to stand up for them. A Guardian poll found 77 percent of respondents thought public sector workers were justified in going on strike. “The grievances about all the cuts and attacks, the anger and frustrations, have been transferred into the battle over pensions. From the 250,000 job losses in the public sector this year to the thousands of pounds lost by many because councils of all pro-big business parties have attacked contracts. Workers are very practical. They’ll say: “We

might not have stopped all the cuts and saved all the jobs but on pensions we can win!” “The National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) was initiated in 2006 by the transport union RMT but we were created for times like this. The NSSN will always give support and solidarity to workers in struggle. “We’ll always bring together rank and file stewards and activists to learn from each other. But in times like this, we act as a lever on the official union structures and leaders to push them to act, popularising the idea of coordinated strike action. “I estimate that we’ve given out well over 100,000 leaflets this year, with “For a 24-hour public sector general strike” on them. Isn’t that what we’ve got on 30 November? “We lobbied the TUC last year, calling for a national demonstration against the cuts, which we think played a part in getting the 26 March demo organised. “And on 11 September over 700 shop stewards came to our rally and then marched and lobbied the TUC, calling for a coordinated strike against the Con-Dems’ attacks on pensions. “The NSSN appeals to everyone to make sure that on N30 there’s a demonstration in your town that reaches out to everyone who has suffered from this Government’s attacks. “We also need to involve workers in the private sector. The magnificent protests of the construction electricians at 6.30am every Wednesday for the last three months show that a united front of all workers can be built against the Government and the employers. “The Jarrow March for Jobs has re-tied the knot of history. Now we’re writing our own history with one of the biggest workers’ marches this year and the biggest strike for 85 years on November 30th. We can succeed in the present by defeating the attacks on pensions and forcing this Government out.” Rob Williams, Chair of the National Shop Stewards Network 6/12/11 10:08:56



Joe Simpson Assistant Secretary of the POA reports on the Socialism 2011 Weekend.


n Sunday 6 November 2011, I was invited by my party the Socialist Party to speak at the closing rally of the event and to take part in a workshop entitled, “Capitalism and Crime: Police repression and the Prison System”. As you would expect, the workshop was lively and constructive and supported by a well-informed audience. Opinions differed and ranged from having no prison system to a public sector prison system with the resources made available to assist prison workers to rehabilitate offenders. After much lively debate which could have lasted all afternoon, the message I took was one that if the state imprisoned its citizens then it was the moral responsibility of the state for the rehabilitation of those citizens, which was well received by the audience in the workshop.

There was a call for the criminal justice unions to work together to improve the system but also to fight against the privatisation of the criminal justice system. A surprise from the audience was their request for us to reach out to the Police Federation to guide them towards being a TUC recognised union and break away from the employer and stand on its own two 13 GM Socialism.indd 13

feet. They also reiterated their support and call for the restoration of trade union rights for POA members and condemned successive governments who criminalised our members for taking strike action to protect their interests.

and the unemployed to attend the rallies and meetings on 30 November to have their voice heard, as we should ensure this is not just about public sector pensions but about the attack and demonisation of the working class of this country.

Dave Nellist Socialist Party Councillor, Dave Nellist, spoke about his time served as a Labour Party MP, when there were active socialists within the party who were willing to stand up for the working class. He gave an example when the then Tory government motion to cut striking miners’ benefits during the 1984 strike. Although the miners who were on strike received no money, their wives and families could claim benefits and this motion was an attempt to starve miners back to work. Dave and 28 other Labour MPs protested by invading the pit in the House of Commons to prevent the motion from being heard. Dave then switched his allegiance to the Socialist Party and now serves the people in his ward by voting against cuts in his local council and ward.

The start of the fight back I then crossed London to the Friends Meeting House, Euston, for the closing rally which was packed to the rafters with delegates awaiting the closing speeches from whole array of trade unionists and socialist councillors. The theme of the weekend was building a movement to bring down the Con-Dems. This is scheduled to start on 30 November 2011 with strike action, marches and meetings to be held in every town and city, the call from my party is this is the start of the fight back. The rally was opened by Chris Baugh, PCS Assistant General Secretary, who reminded the audience that the fault of the crisis laid at the feet of bankers and not at the feet of the working class. He went onto say that PCS had recruited a further 8,000 members in the lead up to 30 November, who wanted to put an end to the attack on public sector workers. The next speaker, Alex Gordon, President of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and friend of the POA, told the rally that although the majority of his members are not covered by the public sector pension scheme, those who are were being balloted for strike action. He called for 30 November to be the start of co-ordinated strike action to defeat this Government. When I spoke, the message I relayed to the meeting was for all trade unions to campaign for disaffiliation from the Labour Party. I was a member of the Labour Party and after Sadiq Khan congratulated the Justice Minister for selling Birmingham to G4S I ended my membership as I felt they no longer represented workers. I also called for every trade unionist, student, pensioner

Vik Chechi Unison Branch Secretary at Queen Mary’s University, Vik Chechi spoke next and told us that when he took over the branch there had been no meetings held for five years. Vik and his committee reinvigorated the membership who then started to fight back against the employer and the job cuts they were pushing through. Management’s response to this was to place Vik on suspension with the threat of dismissal, the branch have informed management that they will support Vik and fight this injustice all the way.

Capitalism in crisis The closing speech fell to the Party’s Deputy General Secretary, Hannah Sell, who spoke of how internationally we have moved into a period of mass struggle and how there is increasing potential for the ideas for socialism to be raised as a viable alternative. She went on to say that we could bring about real change from a system for the millionaires, to one for the millions. Hannah concluded that it has not always been easy to be a socialist, when the promises of capitalism seemed possible. But for millions today it is becoming clear that “capitalism is in crisis”. Joe Simpson December 2011 13 2/12/11 16:56:01


JOIN THE POA OPEN FORUM Assistant Secretaries to the POA and forum administrators, Glyn Travis and Joe Simpson would like to this opportunity to once again send an invitation to POA members to join the POA open forum. It can be accessed at Colleagues The forum has been up and running now since 4 April 2011 and to date, it has been a reasonable success. We concur with the views of the current members of the forum that we need to re-advertise it. This article, in conjunction with POA Circular 156/11, sets out the rules to the membership and how to access the forum. The forum is open to all members of the POA and is reviewed on a monthly basis. The site has a number of pre-selected categories, which should be used to allow members to engage in open discussions and request a response from the National Executive Committee and/or full time officers, on specific issues. However, members can create their own topic threads. We would like to remind members that the site is not for airing grievances or to raise specific questions on personal cases.

To join the forum If any POA member wishes to join the forum, they must follow the procedure as set out here and they will be provided with the necessary details. Using your web browser e.g. Internet Explorer, Firefox, Opera, etc. type the following into the address bar: This will bring up the POA forum log in page. Here you will see this link at the bottom of the page: Don’t have an account? Apply for membership Click on the ‘Apply for membership’ link and you will be directed to the Forum Membership Application screen Here you will need to enter the email address you want to use to receive your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and other notifications from the forum Enter your first and last name(s) in their respective boxes and the last five digits of your membership number Underneath this are the forum use terms which you are required to read and follow when using the forum. Once you have read these and agree with its terms of usage, place a tick in the ‘I agree to the terms of service’ box, then click on the Apply button below If you have provided all of the required information your details will be sent off for 14 December 2011 14 GM Open Forum.indd 14

processing and you will see the ‘thank you’ screen. You are required to agree to the terms and conditions of use for the forum when you sign up, but for your convenience we have included them here for your reference: • I agree to the following terms and conditions of use when using the POA forum. I understand that it is a facility which is monitored, I agree to abide by the rules for its use, and the mutual respect of my colleagues and will not; • Use abusive or derogatory language, Upload inappropriate pictures, or material, Accept that replies to any questions posed will be responded to as soon as practicable. That replies may be the opinion of the individual and not that of the NEC; • Pass on my password to any other person; and Do anything which may bring the Union into disrepute whilst using this forum. • I accept that if I do any of the above my membership of the forum may be terminated. If any member has their membership to the forum terminated they will have a right of appeal to the NEC whose decision will be final. The appeal will be in the form of a written submission containing no more than 500 words. Any appeal must be forwarded to the General Secretary’s office that will ensure the appeal is placed before the executive at the earliest opportunity.

Members will normally be advised of the decision within seven days of the meeting. • This forum is not a substitute for obtaining advice from Branch Officials or legal advice through the POA’s Legal Scheme. You should always contact your branch official, the NEC and or the Legal Department in the first instance on work related matters. • If you need to speak to your NEC area representative on a work or personal matter please use the offices of the local POA committee and not this forum, otherwise any response may be unnecessarily delayed. END We would hope that all members would take up the opportunity to join the forum and be active within the Union. We would ask that members are patient when applying for membership of the forum as the administration of this on a daily basis may prove difficult. The support staff at Cronin House will endeavour to process the applications as quickly as possible. 5/12/11 12:27:05


SCOTTISH NATIONAL CHAIRMAN’S REPORT Scottish National Chairman, Phil Fairlie reports on the Scottish Conference in Peebles.


erve wracking, yet extremely enjoyable.’ I think that is the best way to describe my first experience as Chairman of Scottish Conference in Peebles at the end of October. While it was a great honour to be elected Chairman, and to have the opportunity to address Conference in that capacity for the first time, it was also unchartered territory for me in that my contributions were no longer in response to motions, but in response to Government Ministers, and guest speakers - people such as Brigadier Hugh Monro (HM Inspector of Prisons) and Henry McLeish (exFirst Minister of Scotland and Chair of the Prisons Commission). It also provided the opportunity for me to open Conference and lay out my plans and hopes for us in the future as a Union in my address. I did this by outlining some of the past behaviours adopted in Scotland since the merger, focusing on the more negative aspects of how we conduct our business together, how we communicate with one another, and questioning its purpose. I sought to highlight, then challenge, what it is we do, and why do it. I spoke about the changes in the last decade and more, pointing out that it wasn’t always this way. There were many in the hall, (mainly at the back of the room and as guests now) that recognised the SPOA Conferences I spoke of, both in atmosphere and relationships.

Unity of purpose I pointed out that it was counterproductive and worse, a disservice to the membership who send us there every year, expecting us to all work together for their benefit, and to demonstrate a sense of unity that the members were entitled to expect. The call was for us to use this Conference as the first in a long time, where we set aside the bad habits of the past and seek to demonstrate to our members the unity they require, if we are to deliver on their behalf in a climate where unity of purpose is absolutely essential if we are to make any difference at all to the issues we are facing. I am delighted to say that Conference wholeheartedly supported that message, and I would take this opportunity to both thank and congratulate the delegates for the very positive and supportive two days that followed. I thought 15 Scotland Phil Fairlie.indd 15

we had some excellent contributions to the motions, and some terrific debates, none more so than those around the issue of HMP Noranside.

Support for public sector prisons Conference was again addressed by the Minister for Justice, Kenny MacAskill. He spoke of his gratitude to the staff within the SPS for continuing to deliver to a remarkably high standard in more and more difficult times, and stated that the contribution will not be forgotten by a Government who value that contribution and would look to demonstrate that in better times. He gave a very welcome continued commitment to the public sector running our prisons, a position that should never be underestimated by the membership. He also spoke of the pay freeze position, and of the pensions debacle we face. He spoke of the Government’s understanding and sympathetic outlook to what we faced as public sector workers, but that ultimately, he could offer no assurance that these matters could be addressed by the Scottish Government, due to the jurisdiction lying in Westminster. In my response to the Minister I thanked him for the supportive comments about prison staff, pointing out that although it is what I would expect a Minister to say on such an occasion, I had heard him say it often enough in various forums and arenas, that I knew it to be his genuine view of the members. I pointed out that the commitment to prisons staying in the public sector was extremely welcome, but also that we had earned that commitment over the years. I stated that while we understood the limitations of the Scottish Government to address the key issues facing us such as pensions and pay freezes, being able to do little was no reason to do nothing at all. With some will and imagination the Government in partnership with us should still be able to find ways of demonstrating to the staff within the SPS, that the words spoken in his address about the gratitude of the Government were more than just rhetoric. I also stated that while we value and wish to continue to work in partnership with the SPS and the Government in Scotland, his inability to provide reassurance to us over our pensions, was matched by my inability to provide the Government any reassurance

over how our staff will seek to demonstrate both their bitterness and anger at the pension reform proposals.

A positive and united Conference I made reference to the fact that a Westminster Government which hides behind legislation that says prison officers cannot demonstrate their anger in the same way any other worker can, while at the same time ripping up their terms and conditions under their noses, was extremely provocative behaviour for a Government. That behaviour is likely to be matched, by the staff they seek to keep at heel. My opening address, and the joint exchange between the Justice Secretary and I as Chair, were the first two pieces of Conference business, and it set the tone and approach for the Conference that was replicated time and again as we worked our way through the agenda.

New beginnings The feedback and consensus seems to be that we did indeed have a positive and united Conference, and that we came away from Peebles with a clear understanding of what the year ahead holds for us. More importantly, we seem to have come away from Conference with a determination to tackle those issues together, and some sense that this year could well be that new beginning I hoped for. Given the climate we are in, I can’t imagine a better time for it. Phil Fairlie Scottish National Chairman December 2011 15 29/11/11 14:39:42



CONFERENCE 2011 This year’s Scottish Conference was held at the Cardrona Hotel in the picturesque town of Peebles. Phil Thomas, Scottish National Committee reports.


he Conference marked a new era for the Scottish National Committee (SNC). We welcomed the newly elected Chairman Phil Fairlie and the new Vice Chair, Mick Grattan. I think we all agree that they both carried out their duties impeccably. Conference also welcomed HMP Kilmarnock as the newest branch to the Scottish Conference and the first private sector representatives north of the border. It was with regret and some considerable emotion that we said a sad farewell to HMP Noranside branch and we all offer the branch and committee our best wishes for the future. Noranside officially closed on 31 October 2011, for the past number of years the branch was represented by Graeme Ross and Barry Simpson both of whom fought doggedly to keep the establishment open, this was recognised wholeheartedly by the membership, the SNC and all who attended annual Conference. The Conference was attended by the Justice Minister, Kenny MacAskill for the fourth time. This reaffirms the positive relationship the POA(S) has with the current Scottish Government. In his address, the Justice Minister outlined the Government’s budget plan for the Scottish Prison Service

16 December 2011 16-20 Scottish conference.indd 16

(SPS) and again he publically recognised the good work that prison officers carry out within the judicial system. The Chairman of the Scottish Prisons Commission, Henry McLeish, also addressed Conference. The former First Minister also recognised the valuable role we perform within the judicial process and supported our aspirations for Prison Officers to play an active role in the community, which was very much welcomed. The Chief Inspector of Prisons, Brigadier Hugh Munro, again attended Conference and gave a frank and honest report to the delegates on the rationale behind his findings and recommendations. The SNC recognises that the Chief Inspector does take into account the working conditions of our members when carrying out his role and we thank him for that. The new National Chairman, Pete McParlin, addressed the Scottish Conference for the first time, outlining his vision for the future and how we can improve the business of the POA. The POA(S) would like to wish him all the best for his first National Conference in May 2012. The General Secretary, Steve Gillan, updated Conference on the sensitive pension issues and we wish him and the negotiators the best for the future discussions. It was good to see our friends from the National Executive Committee from England and Southern Ireland. It was good to see so many honorary life members in attendance and we thank

Tam Adams for his fraternal greeting. The former Scottish Chairman, Davy Melrose MBE, attended his first conference as an honorary life member and it was good to see him reunited with his old friend Derek Turner - they soon reverted to their alter egos Waldorf and Stadler. The SNC would like to thank the stewards, Jimmy Freeburn, Stuart Sheils, John Crombie, Davey Nicholson and Martyn `red wine` Herbert for their sterling efforts during the Conference. The hotel accommodation and food at the Cardrona was excellent and we would like to publically thank the staff for the first class service they provided. In his opening address, the Chair, Phil Fairlie, spoke openly about how we in Scotland can improve on how we deliver business on behalf of the membership and how important it was for the branches and the SNC to work together to achieve our aims. Across the whole spectrum of attendees, from delegates to guests, all agreed that Conference this was year was a great success and the SNC would like to thank all delegates for the professionalism at this year’s event. Finally, we would like thank Kathryn Walker and Lorraine Jackson for the hard work they did in sourcing the hotel and arranging the event, without them we would be holding conference in a field. Please find on the following pages, the running order of the Conference Motions and how they were disposed. 5/12/11 14:49:46


Pay, Substitution and Allowances Motion 1 That this Conference asks that in any future pay negotiations that any ex-gratia policy is replaced with an overtime policy that includes premium rates for unsocial hours and is considered as pensionable pay Dumfries Carried

Motion 2 That Conference instructs the SNC to work with partners to put in place ex-gratia payments when establishments suspend staff, thus alleviating any extra pressures being placed on staff Cornton Vale Carried

Motion 3 The SNC negotiates with SPS that operational ex-gratia payments are calculated on our 37 hour working week and not a 42 hour working week Barlinnie Remitted

Motion 11 The SNC seeks to retain all pay progression points regardless of any pay freeze Aberdeen Withdrawn

Motion 12 To increase the Excess Journey Allowance in accordance with the rise of fuel costs Aberdeen Carried

Motion 13 That the SNC seeks to negotiate a rise in the Excess Journeys Allowance (EJA) rate - in line with the mileage allowance paid as T & S to reflect the increase in fuel and cost of living Shotts Withdrawn

Motion 14

That the SNC negotiates the payment of weekend ex-gratia rates for any shifts worked on public and privilege holidays Edinburgh Carried

The SNC seeks to obtain a decrease the 40 mile Excess Journey Radius to aid recruitment in the North East, HMP Grampian and to obtain a better deal for those colleagues having to transfer to other establishments Aberdeen Carried

Motion 5

Motion 15

That this Conference asks the SNC, in any future pay negotiations seek to negotiate an allowance for uniformed staff who work unsocial hours and that this allowance is included as pensionable pay Dumfries Carried

That the starting pay for a prison officer is substantially increased Dumfries Carried

Motion 4

Motion 6 That this Conference asks the SNC to negotiate an allowance for any member of staff that volunteers for more than their core requirements, e.g. first-aider, Incident Command Team, negotiator, Atlas Ops, etc. Perth Lost

Motion 16 When staff are suspended from duty they suffer no loss of earnings or potential loss of earnings Cornton Vale Lost

Motion 16 A

Motion 7

That the POAS ballots the membership on the Pay outcome for the main Staff Group “Branch Secretaries Circ 35/11” Glenochil Lost

That the SNC pursues an allowance for front line Operational staff who work in an area that is overcrowded Glenochil Carried

Conditions Motion 17

Motion 8 Instruct the SNC to endeavour to get the reasons as to why the Governors Recruitment and Retention Allowance is pensionable Cornton Vale Carried

Motion 9 That allowances are put in place for staff who undertake specialist roles within the SPS and this allowance is pensionable Dumfries Fell Not Seconded

Motion 10 That the SNC pursues a change to the Dirty Campaign Allowance to include staff who work in an area where a biological hazard is present Glenochil Carried 16-19 Scottish conference.indd 17

That the SNC publicly denounces the current UK Government policy of reducing Civil Service pension and the increase in the retirement age Dumfries Carried

Motion 18 That this Conference gives unanimous support to the ongoing POA campaign to challenge the current Government attack on our pensions and furthermore, insists that the partnership with the SPS will not be used as an excuse to refrain from any necessary action needed to protect our pensions Glenochil Carried

Motion 19 Conference debate – pensions, what’s our next move? Cornton Vale December 2011 17 24/11/11 14:40:07


Motion 20

Motion 29

That the SNC informs the membership in Scotland who and with what consultation agreed that Operational Prison Officers should retire at the age of 65 when the Nuvos Pension was introduced 2007 Edinburgh

That conference debate the issue of additional contracted hours for staff Dumfries

Motion 21 That the SNC seeks public support from the Scottish Government in our argument that due to the exceptional nature of a Prison Officer’s role that the retirement age of 60 is reasonable and justified Glenochil Carried

Motion 22 Due to the recent attacks from this Government on our terms and conditions of employment and attacks on our pensions, Conference reaffirms the POA policy of seeking a 35 hr week, thus reducing the impact of these draconian attacks on our members Cornton Vale Carried

Motion 23 That Conference instructs the SNC to negotiate with SPS a system whereby uniformed staff successfully meeting the criteria to progress on promotion, move to their promoted pay banding after 30 days whether or not they have been placed in a substantive post Cornton Vale/Aberdeen Lost

Motion 24 Conference instructs the SNC to endeavour to have all operational staff who have completed their SVQs an immediate promotion to a D or D+ post Cornton Vale Lost

Motion 25 That the SNC negotiates a change to the promotion process for uniformed staff to ensure that past performance is included in the promotion scoring process Edinburgh Carried

Motion 26 That the current selection criteria for staff to apply for promotion to FLM discriminates against D band staff and needs to be addressed. Conference requests the SNC to negotiate with the SPS management a fairer selection criteria Greenock Fell Not Seconded

Motion 27 That the SNC seeks clarity from the Employer regarding the issue of overtime/ex-gratia payments when an employee is suspended or sick due to a workplace accident/incident Glenochil Carried

Motion 28 The SNC endeavours to have the current PPMS system abolished Cornton Vale Carried 18 December 2011 16-19 Scottish conference.indd 18

Motion 30 This Conference recognises the enormous strain placed on our members when they develop underlying health conditions, which have the potential to impact on one’s ability to work or travel to work. This Conference also notes the failure in various workplace scenarios of employers not acting in the spirit of the DDA – subsequently finding themselves at great risk of being managed out of their respective operational roles under the guise of the Absence Management Policy. This Conference instructs the SNC, via the Equal Opportunities Policy and the DDA policy, that we ensure this issue remains a serious focus for all our members and that people’s health disadvantages are duly recognised as per the DDA Shotts Carried

Motion 31 That the SNC seeks to review the appeals process within the SPS Code of Conduct. Review to include viability of second appeal stage Inverness Carried

Motion 32 Conference instructs the SNC to endeavour to have the “SPS Standards of Professional Conduct Appendix X” removed, as this is nothing more than a control mechanism that acts against the best interest of our members Carried Cornton Vale

Motion 33 That the terminology of First Line Manager be changed to Senior Officer Dumfries Lost

Miscellaneous Motion 34 That the Group Life Policy be reviewed to include loss of limb cover. Staff should have the option to increase monthly contributions to restore this part of the policy Barlinnie Carried

Motion 35 Conference requests the SNC seek to negotiate that the Group Life Insurance Scheme should be extended past the age of 65 years Edinburgh Carried

Motion 36 This Conference debates the closure of HMP Noranside Dumfries

Motion 37 That this Conference recognises the hard work done by Noranside Branch in trying to stop their prison from closing Dumfries Carried 24/11/11 14:40:20


Motion 38

Motion 46

That the SNC clarifies to Conference the selection criteria for the SPS Voluntary Exit Scheme Glenochil Carried

Conference asks that the SNC seek to achieve that Governors are

Motion 39 Conference censures the SNC for allowing the Noranside/Castle Huntly Severance Package to go ahead after condemning the Low Moss LBC for trying to obtain the same conditions for the membership that worked there Cornton Vale Withdrawn

required to state their reasoning when they suspend staff Cornton Vale


Motion 47 That as partners the SNC engages with management on a regular basis to review and update staffing policies, these reviews would be carried out in conjunction with local branches and the findings published Dumfries


Motion 40 That the SNC obtains all relevant information on what steps have been taken nationally to ensure that the Operational Prison Officer is classed as uniformed frontline staff as per recommendation 14 of the Hutton report. Once the information has been obtained the membership in Scotland should have this information given to them Edinburgh Carried

Motion 41 That the SNC seeks to negotiate an agreement that limits uniformed staff who work in programmes/group work, to a maximum period of 5 years in any single posting Cornton Vale Carried

Motion 42 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 non consolidated 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 Shotts Carried

Motion 43

Motion 48 While we acknowledge the SNC’s remit to negotiate on behalf of the membership, we ask that a process is put in place to get feedback from local branch committees on all new or amended policies and procedures prior to them being signed off Greenock


Motion 49 The SNC and local branches to review the services provided by Levy & McRae. Review will include overall service provided, cost and performance. To be completed within eight months Inverness


Motion 50 Conference instructs the SNC to ensure that all Scottish National Committee Posts due for election are carried out fairly and equitably wherein all candidates are operating on a level playing field Cornton Vale


Motion 51 That the SNC circulates to local branches the progress of current policy/ mandates before the closing date for proposals for Scottish Conference Glenochil


That the SNC approaches the SPS for a review of the Conduct Investigation Unit. This to include the current structure and the recruitment of staff to the unit Greenock Withdrawn

Motion 52

Motion 44

Motion 53

Conference condemns Scottish Prison Service management for operating a Code of Conduct Policy that is hostile to our members and is effectively a two-tier system Cornton Vale Carried

That any motion that has been passed at Conference and not achieved

Motion 45 That the investigations carried out by the Conduct Investigation Unit are subject to review by a panel comprising of both senior SPS staff and SNC members to ensure that an appropriate standard is being maintained Greenock Carried 16-19 Scottish conference.indd 19

That this Conference discusses the effect of the recently passed motions at the UK national conference on previously passed Scottish motions Dumfries

within two years is remitted by the SNC to Scottish Annual Conference for voting on Dumfries


Motion 54 That the SNC seeks to have an independent enquiry carried out into the running of Ross House at Cornton Vale Cornton Vale

Carried December 2011 19 24/11/11 14:40:38


Motion 55

Motion 60

This Conference notes that all the main political parties at the 2010 General Election agreed on the need to cut public spending in the near future and welcomes and applauds the work being done by the STUC’s “There is a Better Way Campaign.” A campaign that recognises that literally billions of pounds each year is evaded and avoided via illegal activities, tax loop holes and tax havens and that much of this money could be collected and used to fund public services and so prevent the slash and burn approach now being taken by the Con-Dem Government. An approach that places the deficit burden solely on working people and the vulnerable who should not pay the price for an economic crisis created by greedy bankers, senior executives and multi-national conglomerates. Conference further notes that for the most part the silence on this matter from all ministerial parties is deafening and applaud the POA’s support for the “People’s Charter” which sets out a programme for challenging the economic crisis and for a fairer society. In furtherance of these aims the SNC should seek to have the POA(S) represented on the People’s Charter Scottish Committee and to continue working with other unions and the STUC/TUC in its support of demonstrations and rallies in defence of our pensions, public services, jobs and workers rights and to organise branch visits to encourage attendance at these rallies and increase awareness amongst our members of the importance of our pension schemes highlighting the consequences of this Government’s attacks and the outcomes for our members if they succeed in destroying or undermining these schemes by failing to leave us with a pension scheme that covers the cost of living of the individual upon retirement, or having to retire early due to ill health Shotts Carried

Conference instructs the SNC to promote and campaign for cleaner computer workstations in the workplace. We should inform both the membership and the employers about the health issues associated with computer equipment such as keyboards, touch screens and the computer mouse. This vitally important and ubiquitous work equipment should be cleaned and maintained with special regard to the transmission of harmful bacteria as this is an important health and safety issue for everyone Shotts Carried

Motion 61 As C & R training is part of our core competency, that the relevant PPE be supplied to all staff Cornton Vale Carried

Uniform Motion 62 To introduce some kind of personal protection or baton pockets for those members of staff who work in areas without standard uniform, e.g. PTIs, cooks etc. Perth Carried

Motion 63 That the SNC negotiates that when the new uniform for staff comes online that establishments do not wait until old uniform stock is depleted before issuing the new style uniform Dumfries Carried

Motion 56 That the SNC seeks to have published the findings of the other strands of efficiency savings undertaken at the same time as SAAR Carried Dumfries

Motion 57 That within the next 12 months the SNC hold an affirmation ballot of the membership in Scotland to see if they wish to remain part of the current national POA arrangement or leave and return to an independent Scottish POA. At the time of the ballot the SNC should provide the membership in Scotland with all the relevant facts of the advantages/disadvantages and financial implications of the choice facing the membership Fell Not Seconded Edinburgh

Motion 58 That the SNC is mandated to carry out a full independent staffing review, highlighting vacancies and the amount of sickness absence across the estate and the allocation of variables to enable them to have a fuller picture when entering into any future discussions Dumfries Withdrawn

Health & Safety Motion 59 Conference debates the passive/non-passive smoking issue that affects the majority of our membership Cornton Vale 20 December 2011 16-20 Scottish conference.indd 20 29/11/11 14:46:25


WHERE WERE YOU? At the recent demonstration in Glasgow for ‘People First’, Jim McCabe witnessed tens of thousands of people march against a Government hell-bent on destroying OUR FAMILIES’ quality and standard of life, by turning a financial crisis caused by the bankers into a public service cull. This is his report.






ens of thousands of people from all walks of life marched in the pouring rain. It was an amazing sight – although you wouldn’t have known it given the coverage from the Government driven media. When we were near Finnieston Police Station, I looked back at the masses and they were stretched back from Finnieston through Charing Cross all the way up St Vincent Street and still they were coming over the hill 10 abreast in the pouring rain. Rich/poor, able bodied/disabled, young/old, all colours and creeds. I saw babies being pushed in their prams, disabled being pushed in wheelchairs, old and young marching side by side. The camaraderie was something to behold. But none of you will know this because there were only 15 POA (S) members out there. Shame on you. Did you have something better to do? Was there a game on? Shopping to be done? What was it that was so important that you would not take this opportunity to demonstrate your feelings on their policies and political doctrine to Government? • Isn’t it your jobs and pay rises and conditions under attack? • Isn’t it the future standard of living of your families that is threatened? There are plenty of you who talk a good 21 Scotland cornton vale.indd 21

game about what the Union does to help us and what the Union should be doing in the future - well out of the 15 that proved that day that they care and are prepared to act now, not at the last minute, only two non-committee members turned up! • One committee and one member from Barlinnie • One committee from Dumfries • One committee from Glenochil • Two committee and one member from Cornton Vale • The rest made up of Scottish National Committee members and two partners of the marchers. NONE FROM ABERDEEN NONE FROM INVERNESS NONE FROM PETERHEAD NONE FROM CASTLE HUNTLY NONE FROM PERTH NONE FROM POLMONT NONE FROM EDINBURGH NONE FROM GREENOCK NONE FROM SHOTTS NONE FROM SPS COLLEGE. TOO FAR TO TRAVEL FOR SOME OF YOU? Well it’s not as far as when the same faces traveled to London for the Rally in March this year. It’s your jobs, your terms and conditions and you and your family’s quality of life. If you don’t have the guts for a fight at least have the guts to fight for your partners’ and childrens’ futures.

Haven’t you worked it out yet that by not getting a pay rise this year and potentially next year added to the three percent that you will now have to pay towards your pension a Residential Officer’s TAKE HOME PAY will be approx £170 LESS in the future and an Operation’s Officer TAKE HOME PAY approx. £134 LESS. Don’t believe the ‘we are all in this together’ garbage. Are you aware that last year all our operational F&G bands got a £2,000 a year ‘on call’? Are you aware our Governors have a retention allowance of £7,000+ a year? This will go some way to alleviate the cuts that the rest of us have to suffer. The only people interested in us and our families is US.

As a final thought Look to the future, think of your children and when they are older and are looking at the past, either in gratitude because of what was preserved as a result of what we do in the months to come or at what they have lost because too few cared enough to turn up. When they ask Mum or Dad ‘Where were you?’ Will you be able to honestly turn to them and say ‘I was there, in the fight from the start to the finish’? Jim McCabe Local Branch Secretary Cornton Vale December 2011 21 29/11/11 14:47:15


POA(S) RESPONDS TO SCOTTISH Andy Hogg, Assistant General Secretary, Scotland, sets out the POA(S) response to the Scottish Government’s Draft Budget for 2012-13 and Spending Review 2011 as published on 21 September 2011.


hilst welcoming the increase in the proposed funding for the SPS we note that current and projected inflation will impact considerably on perceived benefits. However, following discussion with the SPS we are content that the proposed budget will adequately fulfil the day-to-day, requirements of an increasing prisoner population. The POA(S) welcomes the continued commitment by the Scottish Government towards investing in the provision of a modern, fit for purpose prison estate within the public sector. With HMP Low Moss opening this year and the pending completion of redevelopment work at HMP Shotts throughout 2012 -13, significant opportunity exists not only to help manage the increasing population but to do so with the aim of providing decent and modern facilities in which to focus on the interventions necessary to contribute to addressing offending behaviour. Further commitment to modernising the estate through the construction of HMP Grampian and development work around a future HMP Highland and HMP Inverclyde is eagerly anticipated and is a significant endorsement of the partnership approach between the POA(S) and SPS management of providing efficient and effective prison services to the Scottish Government and Scottish public.

Rise in the female prisoner population We support the Scottish Government’s aim of addressing the female estate and

consider that this should be developed in accordance with an overall strategy for the management of female offenders in the context of tackling the execrable rise in the female prisoner population as well as the general prisoner population. With the movement of females to HMP Edinburgh, there is an easing to some extent of conditions within Cornton Vale. However, some areas within Cornton Vale are not fit for purpose, and do not lend themselves to contributing positively to the rehabilitative environment required to help the staff address the issues that are evident within the female prisoner population. We are conscious of the requirement that areas of the prison estate not currently identified for specific development, such as HMP Dumfries, receives assurance regarding its role and long-term future, and that sufficient monies are made available to maintain and invest in the fabric of the prison to allow it to contribute fully to the overall aim of delivering a safer Scotland. Whilst development in the estate and modern working practices has allowed for increasingly effiwcient staffing models, the continued rise in the prisoner population places a considerable burden on maintaining safe staffing levels. Although such mechanisms such as ex-gratia payments provide incentives for staff to work additional hours; this can inevitably raise issues around long working hours and associated fatigue and in the long term, is not a substitute for having the correct staffing level and appropriate cover arrangements.

Maintaining staff morale will be one of the most significant challenges to face the SPS in the immediate future. 22 December 2011 22-23 Scot final submission.indd 22 29/11/11 14:47:44


GOVERNMENT’S DRAFT BUDGET Rehabilitation The question is put around whether there is sufficient funding for interventions and rehabilitation work with offenders. Whilst the level of resource available for this is important and we have no reason to suggest there are insufficient monies available, the principle barrier to providing effective interventions is the level of prisoner population. What might appear as a well-rehearsed and old chestnut about the impact of overcrowding, the reality of persistent and increasing prisoner population means

prison service and continued investment in the development of the prison estate will serve the Scottish public well in the future. However, crucial to the success of the SPS is the morale of staff. Maintaining good order in a prison is not an easy task and requires prison officers to manage relationships with prisoners skilfully, with confidence and with the knowledge that they are supported and valued for the role they undertake. The Scottish budget provides no relief for those prison officers who face another year of a pay freeze (pay cut),

Continued investment in the development of the prison estate will serve the Scottish public well in the future. that the Scottish public are put at greater risk through the lack of opportunity to attend to prisoners offending behaviour and make the suitable interventions that may help prisoners readjust and make a positive contribution when returned to their communities. Recent figures determine that despite the drop in overall crime, Scotland locks away 155 persons per 100,000 populations with almost 20 percent of those being remanded in custody, (pre-trial or convicted awaiting sentence). Although violent crime has slightly increased, it remains difficult to reconcile the apparent conflicting picture. We believe however, that the Scottish Government has the right approach in focussing on managing offenders in the community where it is safe and appropriate to do so - thereby allowing prisons to be left to manage those offenders who pose a serious risk to the public and allow staff the time and opportunity to deliver the interventions required. Nonetheless, it remains an enigma in our minds, why a country the size of Scotland feels compelled to lock away more of its citizens than the vast majority of Western Europe.

increases to their pension contribution and the prospect of working longer to achieve less whilst dealing with the demands of an increasing prisoner population and real cuts to their standard of living. Maintaining staff morale against this background will be one of the most significant challenges to face the SPS in the immediate future. Stability and good order in our prisons should not be taken for granted and we risk becoming complacent as a result of the hard-won efforts of our members to build and maintain constructive and positive relationships. Demoralised and under-rewarded prison officers risk becoming vulnerable to malign pressures, on the other hand, wellmotivated and properly rewarded prison officers make a difference to society, contribute to making Scotland safer and deliver a service the country should be proud of. Andy Hogg Assistant General Secretary Scotland

Other issues The POA(S) appreciates the level of confidence shown by the Scottish Government towards the public sector 22-23 Scot final submission.indd 23

December 2011 23 29/11/11 14:48:24


GROWING OLD IN THE SCOTTISH PRISON SERVICE The National Committee of the POA is currently discussing the retirement age of Prison Officers with the Government. Tony Quinn reports.


n undoubted effect of any plan to extend the retirement age of our staff without the provision of a fair, sustainable pension will be to have an aging workforce. The graph below outlines the current Operational Staff profile in the SPS by officer role and all roles combined.

It’s fair to say I was quite surprised when I put these figures down as I didn’t expect the ratio in numbers of staff over and under 40 to be so stark. Looking at the SPS Operation Staff October 2011 graph above, it is not difficult to see a picture emerging in 10 years when it will not be unreasonable to assume that seven in 10 Operational staff will be over 50 years of age or in 20 years even, where more than half the operational staff will be in their 60s, some of us, no doubt in our 70s. Colleagues, this is what the current Government is proposing should we not be recognised in accordance with Recommendation 14 in the Hutton Report, regardless of the outcome of any pension reform. Recommendation 14: The key design features contained in this report should apply to all public service pension schemes. The exception is in the case of the uniformed services where the Normal Pension Age should be set to reflect the unique characteristics of the work involved. The Government should therefore consider setting a new Normal Pension Age of 60 across the uniformed services, where the Normal Pension Age is currently below this level in these schemes, and keep this under regular review. (Independent Public Service Pensions Commission:Final Report March 2011)

A sad reflection on this recommendation is that it is made as justification to increase the retirement age of the Uniformed Services (the armed forces, police and fire-fighters). It is not made as a statement of common sense that would equate to an aging staffing group that is required to carry out exceptional public service. Quite simply, the citizens of this country would not accept the majority of men and women in the armed forces, the police or fire service to be in their 40s, 50s or 60s. I am confident that these same citizens would not expect that of the men and women who are charged with the care and custody of individuals imprisoned to maintain public safety and security. Yet even now, if we are not there already it is fast approaching. In Scotland now, nearly three quarters of our staff are 40 or over and we are aging. I am not suggesting that the figures I am projecting are objective, they are not, there is nothing with which I can compare. I am saying though 24 December 2011 24 Scotland Growing Old.indd 24

that they are not unreasonable. Sure the Operations Staff Group has much movement as does the Supervisor Group, but there is no guarantee that the age profile of these groups will be younger, my guess is they wouldn’t change that much as people move. There are two more consistent age profiles however; those of the Residential Officer and those of the prisoner population. Again, look at the SPS Operation Staff October 2011 graph, nearly nine out of 10 residential staff are over 40. This will probably reduce slightly when the staff is in place for Low Moss, but this wont be significant. The two graphs below (Operational Staff Profile October 2011 and Prisoner Age Profile October 2011) show the different trends in staff and prisoner age profile, it should not be a surprise to you now that they are almost a mirror image of each other. The statistics I was given were probably not produced on the same day but they were in the same week and they quite clearly demonstrate that on that week nearly 75 percent of operational staff in the SPS are over forty, in comparison, there were more than 75 percent of prisoners under forty.

As I’ve already stated, these figures have surprised me and I’m sure, most of you too. I’m willing to bet that MPs, MSPs, the public and others would also be a tad concerned. I can only hope that the Westminster Government applies the age old adage of common sense as is the case in the US and Canada both of which, through pension policy, have provision for this not to happen. Pension reform in 2007 has resulted in operational staff joining since then being required to work to 65. This is wrong, let’s aim to get it sorted. 23 years ago I started this job with the promise of a fair, sustainable pension that would help see me retire at 60. In the event I have been lied to and robbed and I may need to work until I’m 67, 68 or 70. Say this to the public and they’ll think you’re having a laugh as you explain to them the first thing you do before getting involved in a prisoner removal is to remove your teeth. Tony Quinn 29/11/11 14:48:47



TOWARDS LOCAL HEALTHCARE PARTNERSHIP BOARDS The common misconception is that Governors no longer have custody of their healthcare departments. This is not true!


he Governor has full responsibility for the security, health and safety of all who reside, work in, or visit a prison establishment. He or she also enjoys Chairmanship, at least jointly, of the local Healthcare Partnership Board. No PCT or private health care provider can make decisions without the input of the Partnership Board. Still there are POA branches who have no seat on the Board to help secure the best provision for their establishments. If you do not have a seat then make your request now, it is essential that POA committees get involved and raise issues which are important to our members. There are still Governors who resist this move but it is the Governor’s decision. Please make use of the following letter to Governing Governors, written at our recent request. Please see on the right a reproduction of Michael Spurr’s letter, who was pleased to endorse our request and we are grateful to him for doing so.

To: Governing Governors POA REPRESENTATION ON PRISON HEALTHCARE PARTNERSHIP BOARDS Following the National Whitley Council meeting in July, I agreed with the POA that I would write to encourage your support in actively engaging with the POA on all healthcare related issues via your Prison Healthcare Partnership Boards. While there is no official mandate that necessitates union membership on these boards, I think engagement with the POA via this route is good practice and may negate the potential for escalation of relatively minor issues to the POA Health Sub Whitley. I would therefore recommend engagement with your branch officials on these boards where appropriate.

You can see by the tone of Michael’s letter that he supports good industrial relations and dialogue within healthcare. We need the POA to be influential. Ask your Governor now for a seat on your local Prison Health Care Partnership Board; don’t take NO for an answer! Good health to all. Tom Robson Chairman of the Nursing & Health Care Officers’ Consultative Committee

Yours sincerely Michael Spurr

Nursing and health care officers consultative committee members Tom Robson


0113 242 8833

Duncan Keys


0113 242 8833

Steve Baines


0113 242 8833

Ralph Valerio


0208 803 0255

George Bernard

HMP Frankland

0191 332 3130

Carrie Sheppard

HMP Manchester

0161 817 5600

Jeff Clements

HMP Grendon

01296 445202

Graham Dale

HMP Cardiff

02920 923100 25 Healthcare.indd 25

December 2011 25 29/11/11 14:50:06


Thompsons Solicitors wish you a quiet and peaceful Christmas. Yours in solidarity in 2012. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the branch oďŹƒcials, committees and members in the South West and Wales area, and my secretary, Debbie Davis, all of whom have shown me tremendous support over the past year. I have enjoyed working with you all. Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year. John Hancock, NEC 26 December 2011 26 Christmas messages.indd 26 29/11/11 15:09:34

SEASONS GREETINGS CHRISTMAS MESSAGES I hope that all POA members and their families throughout the United Kingdom have a Merry Happy Christ Christmas and a Happy and prosperous New Year. mas f r o As we go into 2012 we will face many challenges m all at BHS F but united with a common goal the POA will become stronger. That common goal must be about protecting each other and promoting At this time of financial the aims and objectives of the POA which are austerity all of us are enshrined within our rules and constitution. feeling the cuts. I truly hope all members and Steve Gillan, General Secretary their families can, at this festive time of year May I take this opportunity to wish all the POA enjoy their Christmas Membership best wishes for the season and a celebrations and banish prosperous New Year, in particular all the Committee the gloom for a short time. Good luck to you members and members of the East Midlands area along with the Support Staff and Full Time Officers all and have a very happy and healthy at Cronin House and Linden House. Thank you all for Christmas and New Year. your support over the past year. Mark Freeman, Deputy General Secretary Best wishes Glen Birchall, National Executive Committee Dear Colleagues My family and I want to wish Dear Colleagues, all members and their families At this time of year we are all excited with anticipation of what Santa may bring so I want to a very happy Christmas and a share with you my top five Christmas wish list. prosperous New Year. • My trade union rights back Especially where in the • An end to privatisation coming months there will be • Return Birmingham to the public sector changes that will be one of • An end to assaults on staff the biggest ever known to this • My pension left alone. Not a lot to ask for Santa, my New Year’s wish is Union, even bigger than Fresh for all the market tested prisons to remain public Start for those still with us. Merry Christmas to all of you and your Best wishes to you all. families and may 2012 keep you safe and well. Terry Fullerton, POA/NEC 26 Christmas messages.indd 27

Steve Bostock National Vice Chairman

December 2011 27 29/11/11 15:09:53


To all POA members, their families and readers of Gatelodge, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you I would like to wish all my friends and colleagues in the all a happy Christmas and prosperous New Year. I have no doubt that the effect of the global recession West Midlands a very happy Christmas and a prosperous has impacted on all of you in some way, but hopefully the festive season will bring you all joy and happiness. New Year. This last year has been a All the very best. tough one and 2012 will be equally as tough however as a Glyn Travis, Assistant Secretary united post, we will tackle all that comes our way head on Seasonal greetings to every member throughout the UK. A special and heartfelt mention for our to achieve success. family and friends who support prison staff in the I would also like to take essential work that we do on behalf of society. this opportunity to pass on The NEC remains determined to provide safety, my best wishes to all of the stability and appropriate reward in 2012 and beyond. branches in the North East where I spent a very happy PJ McParlin, National Chairman two years. Dear Colleagues I salute you all. I recognise it has not been an easy year for any Tony Merricks, NEC of us; this is why I will continue to source further membership benefits and further investigate ways of I would like to take this reducing central Union costs in an effort to make your opportunity to wish all subscriptions go further. our members and their Best wishes to you and your families for the festive season families, a very happy and the New Year from the Finance Department and me. Christmas and a happy New Year. Let’s make Pete Chapple, Finance Officer the most of the joys of this festive season and I would like to wish all POA members, both in the regroup in the New Year public and private sector a happy Christmas and to face the challenges the very best for you and your families in the New ahead together. Year ahead. Stephen Baines Ralph Valerio, NEC POA NEC 28 December 2011 26 Christmas messages.indd 28 29/11/11 15:10:16

Merry Christmas, to all colleagues and friends. Wishing you everything you wish yourselves for the forthcoming New Year.


Brian Traynor NEC

Our working lives are dedicated to protecting the public. My Christmas wish is that we receive protection and security in return. A wonderful Christmas and a safe secure New Year to POA members everywhere, along with your loved ones. Kindest regards Tom Robson, National Vice Chairman Levy & McRae wish to take this opportunity to thank the members of the POA(S) for their continued instructions throughout 2011. We hope that we have provided valuable service to those for whom we have acted. We wish all the members a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Levy & McRae www.po 26 Christmas messages.indd 29

December 2011 29 29/11/11 15:11:38


FRANKLAND Greetings from Frankland and a merry Christmas


y the time that you read this, we will have a new Governing Governor. We extend a warm welcome to Governor, Paddy Fox. With all the uncertainties that life brings, we hope that Mr Fox will steer us through the hard times ahead. We all trust that he will be at least more visible within the prison than Mr Thompson was. His appointment was a “managed” appointment like so many others nowadays. It is true to say that he was not on the “I have heard such-and-such is going to be our new Governor” list. There was speculation that he would see out the Market Test of Castington and Acklington. But that was not to be. At least, he has not been “poached” by the opposition like so many others. Welcome also our new head of res., Aled Edwards. Many of you will have heard about the murder that occurred within our prison in October. The psychological effects on staff and other prisoners of this brutal mutilation of a prisoner at the hands of cold and calculating fellow inmates should bea reminder to us of the dangerous and unpredictable nature of the job we all do. Governor Edwards was indeed given a baptism of fire managing the Prison throughout the weekend in question and actually caring about staff. Staff at Frankland have also recently had to live through the events of 13 March 2010 again, whilst giving evidence for the prosecution at the court case of prisoner Thakrar, who was responsible for the serious assault and near fatal wounding of two of our staff. At the time of writing this, the case has not been decided but I know that you will join with me in trusting that the staff receive the justice they deserve. How many of you as serving staff, have had the unpleasant task of witnessing a prisoner in the act of self-harm or have been unfortunate to have discovered a prisoner who has killed themself ? With what is happening in the world in general and the Prison Service in particular, attacks on pensions, market testing of prisons and budget reductions, it is all too easy to forget (since it appears that everyone else has) just what a difficult and dangerous job we all do. 30 December 2011 26-32 Branch News.indd 30

Jottings have historically, always been about the news and views of staff. It is always nice to hear what is happening elsewhere outside of the prison in which you work. What gets us all through the day is the sense of humour that we have all adopted, the ‘dark’ humour that underpins the nature and character of the prison/ custody officer. At the time of writing, the competition has started for the future of three of our local prisons, Durham, Castington and Acklington. Along with all of the others, (Lindholme, Moorlands, Hatfield, Coldingley, Onley and Wolds), it has to be a stressful time for all concerned. Let’s hope for a happy and acceptable outcome.

Seasonal advice Christmas is now upon us, how many of us have asked Santa for a calculator to work out how much we are going to lose in the pension reforms? But does anyone REALLY care about that. You should - it is your future, and it comes round quicker than you think.

5. I’ll have a group change this year (last one nine years ago) 6. I’ll have a group change this year (never had one) 7. I’ll be thankful I’ve got a job 8. I won’t blame the POA for everything 9. I’ll challenge my line manager first before I contact the POA. Mind you all these ‘retro’ toys and gadgets are all the rage. You would be onto a winner if you kept all your old stuff stored away. I can see it now; Frankland boot sale in the car park, the red team (bottom end staff ) take on the blue team (top end) in a race to buy a bargain and sell it on at a huge profit. There would be no cheating or dodgy dealings. The sale would start at roll correct (so the red team would get a head start then?) You can just hear the cry: “I’ll sell you this Etch-a-Sketch for a fi ver if you do my Christmas Eve” and “This Sony Walkman original is yours for just a tenner for an early patrol”.

Christmas songs

Don’t forget now - write your list for Santa: 1. A clicker 2. Hair dye 3. Brut 4. Slippers (wear these for work – no more planned removals) 5. A magic key that lets you through the delta /kilo gate.

(To the tune of Away in a Manger) Away on a two day In a nice hotel bed The usual suspects Are at it again. öõ I have to work Christmas And it’s just not fair If my name doesn’t come out I’ll just dye my hair. öõ Now I don’t work on A-Wing I’ll have Christmas off If I don’t get my own way I’ll just have to cough. öõ Now it’s fallen on a weekend I won’t have to work If I knew it was this bad I’d have stayed as a clerk.

Now it’s time to start thinking of your New Year’s Resolutions: 1. We’ll just HAVE to lose some weight (good idea-fitness tests) 2. We’ll stop buying breakfasts from the mess (good idea-fitness tests) 3. We’ll have to go the gym now and again (only for our fitness tests) 4. I’m going to follow my detail without question. (This actually belongs in our new fairytale section starting in the New Year)

(To the tune of Santa got Stuck up the Chimney) If I find out I have to work Christmas I’ll begin to shout You boys and girls won’t get any toil If you don’t help me out I’ll eat your bait Who cares if I’m late You can shove your early patrol No one told me I had to work Christmas I won’t I won’t I won’t.

Don’t forget Christmas is coming, so get your excuses ready for time off: 1. “The reindeer will need feeding” 2. “Someone has to peel the sprouts” 3. “My wife, Mary, is giving birth tomorrow” 4. “The kids (if they are not at work) like me to be there when they open their presents.” 5/12/11 13:55:56


CHANNINGS WOOD (To the tune of the Pogues’ “Ponytail – sorry - Fairytale of New York”) Its Christmas Eve now Here at Frankland I worked it last year Won’t work another one. öõ I’ve got the kids to feed I’ll have to find the time When I’ve wrapped the presents To phone the sick line. öõ I’ve got kids, I’ve got dogs I won’t work Christmas Day I’ll just take some sick leave But I still want my pay When I first joined this job No one ever did say That sooner or later I’ll work Christmas Day. öõ To the boys and girls of Frankland Jail Who are working Christmas Day All the best to every one of you Season’s greetings - come what may.

C Nomis We have had a big push to make sure that our C-Nomis history sheet entries for inmates are up to date. To speed this up at Frankland, we are allowed to use a new language like the one used in text messages on mobile phones. An example: ‘Bob as ad a avrage wk wif no major outbursts. LoL. E as owever ad a prob wif is vizits nd is canteen:) LoL.’ U no the score!

Meet and greet service We promised we wouldn’t mention Officer Dixon’s (SEG) meet and greet service outside of the main gym. This service is for inmates who used to be here and have come back again. It just wouldn’t be right to mention it. ww 26-32 Branch News.indd 31

We promised Jill Scurfield in the ECR that we wouldn’t mention the time when she asked how often the “Prison Officer of the Year” awards were held. SO John White OBE, whilst supervising an inmate’s family photograph on visits, asked them to line up against the wall so they can be shot. Durham Council are happy to announce that they are going to provide more double yellow lines around the city for people to park on. These extra double yellow lines will be placed 50 yards away from plenty of empty car parking spaces that are always available. This follows a survey carried out on some staff at Frankland who find it easier to park their cars on the double yellows when there are plenty of spaces…a few yards up (ie a short walk).

STOP PRESS Anyone heard about the rumour that Gary Cowan (J Wing) got a helicopter for Christmas? This follows from an incident where he and two colleagues had a canoe accident in Scotland. One member of the exhibition stated that the whole event could have had tragic consequences. “Yes” said Kevin Dodds,” It did. I lost a very expensive paddle.” All contributions/stories to Darren Stafford (Hosp Group) or Steve Jackson (A Wing) please.


fter a long period of resistance, avid cyclist Nigel Doggett finally succumbed to the insistence of all of our more experienced riders that the way forward was to wear proper cycling shoes that clip onto the pedals. I suppose it was inevitable really, that as soon as he pulled up at the traffic lights, he couldn’t get his foot out in time and ended up falling sideways onto a 4x4 that was next to him. Then to add insult to injury, he proceeded to roll forwards whilst sliding down the bonnet, and was eventually lying under the front wheel, still attached to his bike. It gets better though. As Nigel still couldn’t get his foot free, several members of the public had to lift him and the bike upright so that he could go sheepishly on his way. Paul Smith (who himself is no spring chicken) has managed to set a somewhat dubious record at work, by being assaulted by the oldest prisoner on the wing. The confused 69 year old decided to try and head-butt Paul, and they both ended up rolling about on the floor. When further staff arrived, they said that the smell of old people and urine was almost overpowering. When questioned later, the prisoner stated that he had also noticed it! Welcome this month to all the new Officer 2s that have just started their career at Channings Wood, and also to Gary Pavey who recently transferred in as SO from HMP Dartmoor. Normally, it would be some time before a new member of staff ’s shenanigans would come to my attention in a way that would warrant inclusion in the Gatelodge magazine, but Gary has started straight away. In what can only be described as bigamy, he let it slip that he leads a double life with two marital partners. From my own personal experience, I can state that monogamy and bigamy are pretty much the same thing, as they

both involve having one too many partners! Gary has his no doubt lovely wife at home, but also has his no doubt not so lovely husband living in Scotland. It turns out that whilst on a week of drunken debauchery in Las Vegas when he was in the Marines, he and a mate thought that it would be a great idea to go to the ‘Chapel of Love’ and get married to each other. When asked if he could get the marriage annulled on the basis of non-consumation, Gary became unusually quiet… Farewell during this period to a trio of stalwarts of the prison service; Pete Wooldridge, Roger Mould and John Nicholson. I’m sure that none of them will mind if I give a brief character summary of how they are remembered by their friends and colleagues: Pete, steady guy, straight down the line. Roger, steady guy, straight down the line. Nicko, headcase!!! Nicko had various key phrases that would get him through the day, and I would like to quote some of them now. “10-4 rubber duck”, “Keep taking the pills”, “I’ve been to the 2 Mile Oak, the bladder, the bladder” and “How many duffs in a tray?” All the best for the future to you all and we hope you enjoy your well-deserved retirements.

December 2011 31 5/12/11 13:56:43


KENNET Colleagues,


uring the first few months of the current Government’s reign, one of the items at the top of the agenda was to make huge reductions in the prison population. This policy was designed to see mass prison closures as the ‘head room’ was no longer needed. At the time, Justice Minister, Ken Clarke boldly stated the current prison population was hugely disproportionate to when the Tory’s were last in power and they were looking to add some common sense to the proceedings. Yet here we are, twelve or so months on and once again we have hit a record population. How can that be and does this mean their policies are fundamentally flawed? Most prisons have now been furnished with their expected efficiency savings for the forthcoming financial year. A recurring theme has developed which points to savings being predominately aimed at front line, white-shirt level. Members and the public should be under no illusion; some of the proposed officer reductions have the potential to destabilise prisons or at best, make the officer little more than a glorified waiter or servant. It doesn’t take an academic (which we are still looking to recruit why?) to see these year-on-year cuts will end in tragedy. In some prisons offenders are already spotting fewer officers responding to incidents, which is creating a culture where the balance of power is tilting in the favour of the prisoner. Have we not heeded the warning signs of history like Strangeways and the unprecedented prison riots that followed in the early nineties by turning the screw this time on staff ? Over the years the POA has been known in the trade union movement as a ‘battling no-nonsense’ outfit. So it’s little wonder some members are bemused both locally and nationally when policy changes, but little information is given for the reasons.

32 December 2011 26-32 Branch News.indd 32

Here at ground level, the NEC has been criticised for a host of things including the substandard shoes, how can they be at fault for that? Those frustrations and some local issues have seen a break-away union being created at Kennet under the banner of the PSU. A very small number of disaffected members have approached the Governor looking to have some kind of legitimacy; unfortunately this fell at the first hurdle. The boss’s initial view was that he couldn’t deal with them because they weren’t recognised nationally, meaning the rep/reps would be governed by little more than McKenzie Law. One thing is clear; these staff have now lost the ability to have any say on their own futures in the form of local and national negotiations and ballot. The new PSU fledgling committee has been informed in no uncertain terms that the POA will look to the full weight of the law in defending POA members from being poached, which could result in individual staff being privately sued if evidence was provided. Thankfully, most members have opted to remain loyal to the POA at this time. Should any be undecided the POA spent £2.3million on legal expenses, where as we are informed another union spent £60,000. In this ‘blame corporate manslaughter’ climate we operate in, can you really afford not to have the very best legal cover? Unfortunately this has distracted the committee slightly in recent weeks but we are now back on track with matters of much more relevance. At present, we are being groomed for potential re-roll to Cat D. If this proposal goes ahead it will provide huge savings for the Department at the expense of jobs. (May be it’s our turn to have ‘on the bone’ staffing levels?). While we don’t welcome the reroll as such, it would offer Kennet some degree of a long term future but with potentially 50 plus surplus officer grades, not to mention the other grades affected, it will be a bitter pill to swallow that’s for sure. Anyway to end on a few light hearted local matters, as we have established

above, public sector prisons have been given a good kicking in terms of efficiency savings. Fire Officer Pete Kerwin can testify how painful these cuts can be taking one for the Service in the form of a fl ying boot in the gonads from the ‘pretend unconscious prisoner in a cell’ scenario. Pete could tell it was going to be one of those days when a certain female officer dropped gut midway through the training, forcing the other candidates to don the breathing apparatus for real. Officer Halliday has finally (after just short of a million years’ service) qualified for the ‘seat of all seats’ in OMU, now he can proudly live up to the name ‘The Chair’. Colin, as promised with so much experience we won’t mention the key incident at the Gate ‘Who’s not handed their keys in?’ Oops… Avid Intranet readers will have read recently the piece entitled: ‘Old on the inside’ about elderly off enders, based on the unprecedented attacks on public sector pensions it looks like this will be applicable to us… Bag Puss, AKA Officer James Lusmden, has an innovative approach to PS green issues. This has been recognised and rewarded for ‘services to the environment’ with him re-enacting the story of the Hare and Tortoise on a regular basis. Hopefully, officer Col Nolan will be back on duty in the near future, roused from his sick mummified McDonalds-driven comatose-like state. Finally (promise!!) the Court decision on the staff who were attacked at Frankland prison which saw the perpetrator released without charge is an utter disgrace but not unexpected in a farce of a criminal justice system we now operate in. Does this mean that man can seriously injure staff without any form of legal retribution in the future? And to the editor of ‘Converse’ are you really so bitter and twisted you can attempt to legitimise or defend this man’s actions? 29/11/11 15:25:27




ow I know I said in the last edition of Gatelodge that those jottings were the last from Latchmere, it is now apparent they were not! I am still here at Latchmere with a small contingent of staff to look after the place whilst a final decision is made as to whether we will formally close or re-open. Well, let us hope that someone with some sense at the top makes the right decision and re-opens Latchmere House. We were a high-performing establishment and as the latest re-offending figures show (yet again) we had the lowest re-offending rate by a country mile of any other prison. If we as a society really want to put rehabilitation at the forefront of our penal system (and indeed who wouldn’t?) then it surely makes sense that an establishment that demonstrated this more successfully than any other should remain open to continue with that good work. Of course if this Government does not really mean what it says about a ‘rehabilitation revolution’ then we will remain shut for good and society will continue to suffer. I will try and remain positive. Whilst we are here we still remain as a branch (albeit a small branch), so it was lucky we didn’t spend our entire branch funds on that great night out, we may still need some of it, although we will not be buying champagne again (it was good though)! Yes it was a good night out for our members; you never know we may need another night to welcome you all back! As a branch we are still in receipt of POA and Branch Secretary Circulars and I was waiting with bated breath for updates on Restructuring, JES and Facility Time, no surprise

- I am still waiting! Of course our NEC may say well we have updated you, but we cannot say what we have agreed or discussed to date due to ‘confidentiality’. Well excuse me, but as our NEC negotiates on our behalf then they must need to know what we as members want from those negotiations. If they do not consult with us and ask us want we want, then how do they know what to negotiate for? If they do not tell us what they have discussed, consulted, negotiated and agreed thus far, then how do they know if it is what we want and if they are on the right track? It is about time we had transparency and detailed information distributed to us at every step of the way in negotiations affecting the wider membership and not hide behind a confidentiality that should never have been agreed. Information will and does leak out anyway, so there is no point to agreeing such confidentiality and no logic to it either. No representative should have the right to agree to changes that affect their members’ work or terms and conditions and life without asking them first, so it follows that before we get to the point of no return on negotiations we are informed where and why we have got to a certain point and ask for any input to assist further negotiations. Yet we appear again to have reached a point of no return where we will be asked to vote on ‘final offers’, if I am wrong then great, but if JES is to come in April next year, restructuring anytime now and changes to facility time in January next year, then how can we as a membership possibly be in a position to influence further negotiations and indeed would the service agree to further negotiations anyway?

Anyhoo, rant over and it is ages since I had a good old rant. I trust that all of Latchmere House’s (ex) members are getting on with their new establishments and although it ain’t never gonna be Latchmere, hopefully you will all settle in eventually. We were denied VEDs for our members at Latchmere when the closure was announced, but after some fighting we assisted members in putting a case for VEDs where we could and a lucky few have been offered VEDs. That may not sit well with those members we fought for and lost, but we did our best and despite everything, we should be pleased for those that have got what they wanted. We also became aware that on our last day/s some staff were given ‘performance recognition’ rewards of £125 shopping vouchers in recognition of their work during the ‘closure’ period. Why was this given, when in the opinion of all I have spoken to and that includes some who got the rewards, we all performed as well as each other despite the closure being poorly managed and the fact we did not want the place to shut? It was a real kick in the teeth to see and hear of staff being rewarded in this way and others who worked just as hard get nowt, not even thanks. If there was money to waste in this way then all staff should have been given an equal amount as we all contributed equally. With the amounts that were given out to the chosen few, then there was surely enough to go round for all to be given recognition. I will pursue this matter further and let you know what I achieve, if anything. Finally, I know some members have struggled with their redeployment and our closure and as a result have been off sick; I hope all of you get well very soon. Andy Darken



e now have a full committee and a warm welcome is extended to Mick Wilson and Sid Sidery. I’m sure the team will be leading on all issues that are raised by the members. The issue of shift finish times and when we are on duty has been raised again. Bulletin 8 explains how staff can be kept past their shift but this appears to be rarely used. It could be taken that once a shift has finished and Bulletin 8 has not been applied, any censure would be 26-32 Branch News.indd 33

for staff that are off duty? The issue here seems to be around roll checks, hardly an unforeseen event. Staff inform me of too much movement during the roll check time and there appears to be an on-going problem with treatments. Perhaps resolving the problem rather than targeting weary staff at the end of their shift might be a better way forward? Just a thought. Our Union Learning Suite, opened by the Mayor of Wandsworth some time ago, remains unused with a proposal to move

it. It’s a pity that a staff facility that offered such great promise looks like being relegated somewhere else. By the time this goes to press, the action 30 November will have been taken to protect our pensions; I hope there was a strong POA presence at the events and protests taking place.

Stewart McLaughlin Branch Secretary

December 2011 33 5/12/11 13:57:30


WORMWOOD SCRUBS Ho Ho Ho from Wormwood Scrubs.


t has been a couple of months since we last found the time and energy to put pen to paper, or rather finger tips to key board. Reason is simples, wanted to do this in the manner of Barry Manilow but was told NO NO NO, so have been sulking like a small child. Anyway, dolly is now back in the pram and we are off and away. Now we are talking business. Sooooo, firstly and hoping this is in December’s mag, Happy Christmas and loads of stuff for the New Year. We hope that everyone got time off that they want to spend time with family and friends - you know, that thing they call a life, a thing that sadly the ‘powers that be’ forget we have. To all those who have put down to have both Christmas and New Year off, shame on you, to those who have been told “No” to that , serves you right. The Christmas Parties have been booked and so there should be loads of gossip, either real or made up, in the next issue. Will enjoy doing that and as us two are squeaky clean we have nothing to worry about!!!!! Yeah right.

Think she should get out more and I have done her a copy of my Wretch 32 CD for future reference.

It’s a ‘rap’

Privatisation is hitting again and I guess we are all holding our breaths to see who will be going next. Maybe everyone is slowly starting to realise that is does not matter if your establishment is high performing or not, all our jobs are hanging in the balance, so bear this in mind if asked for help from the N.E.C. United we do stand. Here, we are awaiting our latest re-profiling exercise and our new shift patterns. We hope they will not be like the last ones which consisted of having to be in two places at once and not being able to spend any time with those people we know and love on the other side of the big wall. However at least the Governor did listen to the problems our committee gave him. So once again; Cheers to Alan and Co, we’re not gonna mention Martyn coz he gets all the praise. Talking of the N.E.C. thanks for the new diary, it is functional and smaller and fits in the shirt pocket well. A bit disappointed that there was no piece of ribbon to mark the page being used. I have made my own with sticky backed plastic. Please don’t tell me that that was not a serious motion at conference?

OK. A certain uniformed, healthcare person has had a bit of a month; she is a year older and not a year wiser. We think the wine isn’t helping her to engage mouth with brain. Out shopping she found this garment she liked the look of and decided to try it on in the shop - Hammersmith will never be the same again. “Why can’t I get these shorts to fit? the legs are at a funny angle” followed by her poor daughter trying to explain it was because said garment was actually a top and she was trying to force her legs into the arms. Modern fashion, eh? Who would have thought a shirt would need to come with instructions? She also took her poor daughter to a gig and whilst queuing for her pre-ordered tickets, she started to get the hump, because she thought two young lads were trying to push past her. So heels well dug in and best stroppy face on, this was not gonna happen. Until the bouncers intervened and got these two young, and apparently well known (to everyone except madam) rap stars their tickets to stop the riot that was happening around them with the girlies and boys trying to get to them.

34 December 2011 26-35 Branch News.indd 34

Birthday sparkles While on the subject of birthdays, thank you so much to my ‘work husband’ who spent hours making me a voucher for a “Vajazzle.” Not quite sure Pritt Stick is gonna work, but I will let you all know how it goes, with photographic evidence. (Parental discretion is advised.) Our recently retired Johnny O has decided to have an après retirement do when he comes down to the Smoke for a visit, invites have been sent and another big turn-out is expected. As he says: “You don’t miss the job, but you do miss the people.” And speaking of missing people, we wave a sad goodbye to Governor, Paul Golder, who is leaving us for HMP Isis; their gain is our loss. Paul is a rare breed among today’s managers, in that staff feel they can approach and talk to him. He always has a smile and time for a cuppa. See you, Paul and best of luck for the future.

The return of sticky backed plastic

‘Manilow Month’ is coming up As we approach the festive season, we can’t forget the Halloween and Guy Fawkes

celebrations of the last month. The London Dungeon sent a representative to Scrubs to see how they could make their new “Victorian Punishment” exhibit more realistic and scary. After six hours wandering the wings, she realised that prisons don’t do punishment (at least, not for prisoners, see reprofiling tag above) so she made an appointment to visit Minty’s missus instead. That was the last we saw of her… Fireworks night was eventful as ever, and management’s suggestion to “put rockets under the wing staff ” was rejected. Not on the grounds of Health and Safety, but because they weren’t on BOGOF at Sainsbury’s and we need to keep some money back to pay even more governors. Reports of some officers offering to buy their own and those who said they had “loads in their lockers” proved to be false. As did that bit about the London Dungeon visit, can’t have people thinking they missed out. But the bit about Minty’s missus is bang-on. Hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s boring news. Be warned that next month will be Manilow Month, and it’s quite likely that it will be written to the tune of Copacabana, and will be written by us wearing feathers in our hair, and a dress cut down to there (for Vajazzle purposes…) And so to finish, dear readers, a festive ode for your delectation:

A Christmas Tale… This is a tale from years gone by, of Christmas long ago Dragged out every Christmas, like Bond films and mistletoe, Like Granny snoring by the fire and Grandad passing out, The smell of cinnamon filling the air with a hint of brussel sprout. I wish it could be Christmas every day, with kids fighting over their toys, After three days of bestest behaviour from all the girls and boys, Hoping to stay on Santa Claus’s “All The Good Kids” list, Hoping he can find their house without satnav, as all the Bailey’s gets him A little merry. He’s sat on the roof of D wing now, all bloated on Sherry and pies, A bulging sack of gifts beside him, but a 5/12/11 13:59:42




sad look in his eyes. Dozens of guards stand all around, like soldiers at their sentry, He needs to get in undetected, but there ain’t any method of entry. He’s been to Curry’s for Chopper’s Xbox Kinnect and he’s got Big Bob’s PS3, He used a false name on Amazon to get Harry’s JLS CD! But he can’t get in, the gates are locked, and the chimney’s full of cement, And there’s no way on earth, with his wider girth that he’d squeeze in through the vent. “What a dilemma? What shall I do?” he says, just to himself, “Maybe I can be of assistance?” says a friendly little elf. “If we distract the officers, then we can nick some keys, see? And be in and out in seconds, it will be so easy-peasy!” “But how will we distract them, elf ? They’re professionals through and through!” “Leave it to me, big fella” said Elf, “I know just what to do.” He went up to the control room, and announced live, on the net, That there were 17 bedwatches on PP to fill, and they weren’t covered yet. As every officer, bar one, stampeded to the orderly room, Elf dived into Security, through the darkness and the gloom. True to his word, he let Santa in, to deliver his goodies to all, And quick as a flash, they took to the skies for the North Pole Christmas Ball. But what of the officer who stayed behind? The one who saw this unfold, She kept the secret to herself, and she never told a soul, Until she told me, so I could write it, she said “please use some discretion.” So needless to say, upon Boxing Day, I’m getting the poor love sectioned.

Remember we will always have The Blue Ribbon. S&M Standing By 26-35 Branch News.indd 35

Welcome from the sunny south coast prison that is HMP Ford.

here have been some staff departures, Richard (Wiggy) Bennett who has finally retired from the Service. Wiggy has been an OSG CAT A driver to Officer and back to OSG and finally OSG Fire Officer - we wish him and his wife a happy retirement. Morris Baines has retired from the stores to become a steward at Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, at least he will get to watch the match for free now. Also leaving the service is Sam Cresswell who has decided enough is enough and has returned to the life he led before the Prison Service. To all those who have left we say good luck and enjoy your freedom! We welcome SO Chris Hawkes and SO Sheridan Lyne to our ranks, we hope you have a long and enjoyable stay! We welcome Rodger Moore to the committee and say thank you for your work to Mike Smith and Steve Raffo who have left the committee. We wish those on the sick a speedy recovery and hope to see you soon, the sick must have been bad as the Governor managed to get detached duty in to cover the shortfalls. To Denise Whittle we wish you a speedy recovery from your knee operation and hope to see you soon.

After the riot It’s been over 11 months since the riot here and the prisoners and staff are still waiting for the new gym to get here, wonder when it will finally arrive? A few dates have been talked about but I will believe it when I see it. Have things changed since the riot? Yes they have - some for the better – however, a lot more for the worse. But saying that, people do see things in different ways.

Wreath laying service Lesley Miller (Chair) and Colin Usher (committee member) represented the staff at HMP Ford and the Prison Service at the wreath laying service at the Commemorative Garden at Yapton Road, Ford. It is nice to see the number one uniform used for a great cause. Maybe next year we can have more staff attending the service and provide the prison with some good press coverage for a change. As the cost of petrol has gone through the roof, more and more staff are cycling to and from work and this is good to see. Note to those that don’t; it is a great way to get fit and lose weight and doesn’t hurt the damaged joints or worn out body parts. But more importantly, it saves you money. Maybe now that so many are cycling to work the Governor will provide the staff with better staff facilities? Any bits of gossip please pass it on! Just remember - it’s a jungle out there. Take care! Caffeine Man

MANCHESTER Hello from HMP Manchester.


till busy at Manchester preparing our submissions for the extension to our contract, the duration of which we are still to find out. The final proposals are due to be submitted this month (November 2011) and hopefully, this will reduce some of the anxieties our members have locally. Nationally, we have played host to visits from some branches that are involved in the current round of competition and some that hope to work in a pro-active way to avoid any involvement in the future. We hope these visits have been helpful and extend the invitation to other branches if they feel it would be beneficial. We would like to register our disgust at the judicial system following the result of the trial into the serious assault on staff at HMP Frankland. Again this shows the distorted view of what goes on behind prison walls portrayed by the press, media and TV and how

it clouds the view of the general public. Our thoughts are with the victims of this horrific assault and all our colleagues at Frankland who will undoubtedly be affected by this blatant miscarriage of justice. Locally, our training department has been working with management and the local branch committee to looking at the viability of a partnership arrangement promoting lifelong learning for staff and their families. A training needs analysis exercise is currently underway that will identify the aspirations and requirements of individuals and assist in the way the project progresses, directing learning on a path using training methods that are tailored to the survey results. It is hoped that an on-site facility will provide both traditional and e-learning methods. Finally, best wishes to all our colleagues who are off work ill and we wish them a speedy recovery. Apologies if we have missed anything. The Committee.

December 2011 35 5/12/11 14:00:39




Ian McFall, Head of Asbestos Policy at Thompsons Solicitors, looks at the implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Ian McFall, Head of Asbestos Policy at Thompsons Solicitors


rison Service workers with the asbestos-related condition, pleural plaques, face a ‘postcode lottery’ for compensation after the Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly had the right to pass laws for the benefit of their citizens. People in England and Wales diagnosed with the same condition continue to be unable to pursue compensation against their former employers. The welcome decision by the UK’s highest court was made in response to a challenge by the insurance industry to the lawfulness of an Act of the Scottish Parliament – The Damages (Asbestosrelated Conditions) (Scotland) Act 2009. The Act was passed in order to reverse the decision of the House of Lords in 2007, in a case called Rothwell v Chemical & Insulating Co

36 December 2011 36 Thompson.indd 36

Ltd, to end compensation for pleural plaques - a scarring of the lining of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos. Pleural plaques seldom cause any physical symptoms. However they represent irreversible structural damage to the lungs. Someone diagnosed with plaques will, understandably, suffer anxiety due to the increased risk of going on to develop a more serious or fatal asbestosrelated condition. Members may have known former colleagues who died from mesothelioma, the cancer of the lining of the lung caused by asbestos. It was accepted by the courts for 20 years, until challenged by insurers, that pleural plaques did constitute personal injury which should be compensated. The insurers’ motivation was of course to save billions by preventing tens of thousands of people with plaques from making claims against negligent employers. The Law Lords agreed with the insurers that the presence of pleural plaques did not constitute an injury which could give rise to a claim. The right of pleural plaques sufferers throughout the UK to pursue compensation was ended. Holyrood acted swiftly to restore the right to compensation for Scottish citizens. The effect of its Act was to declare that pleural plaques are a personal injury for the purposes of a claim for damages. The Northern Ireland Assembly took the same approach and passed a similar Act earlier this year.

In unanimously rejecting the insurers’ appeal, the Supreme Court delivered a ringing endorsement of the legislation in Scotland (and Northern Ireland). The insurers, Axa, Royal Sun Alliance, Zurich and Aviva, claimed the legislation was incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights and so was outside the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. They also said that it was an “unreasonable, irrational and arbitrary” exercise of the legislative authority of the Scottish Parliament. But the court accepted that the legislation served a legitimate social policy aim and was a proportionate means of achieving it. It also accepted that Scottish pleural plaques sufferers who were directly affected by the insurers’ legal challenge had a right to object to it. This decision recognises the democratic right of the Scottish Parliament to legislate for the benefit of its citizens. In Scotland the rights of people with pleural plaques are more important than the commercial interests of insurers, which is how it ought to be. The failure of the Westminster Government to act leaves it isolated. Only the discredited arguments of insurers and politicians could attempt to justify why people in Scotland and Northern Ireland whose lungs have been damaged by asbestos are entitled to compensation while those suffering from the same condition in England and Wales are left without a remedy. 6/12/11 10:13:49




Sadly, we have to report the passing of OSG Adele Hamer. Adele was one of the External Cat A Group and was a popular staff member who could always be heard laughing throughout the day. Adele leaves three children and our thoughts are with them at this sad time. It is worthy of note that her close friend and colleague, Joanne Valentine, was a constant support throughout her illness and proved again that when it is needed we are one big family. RIP Adele.

POA Manchester Committee

RETIRED PRINCIPAL OFFICER My father, Retired Principal Officer Danny Blake (Ex Durham, Leicester, Brixton and Ranby), passed away on 14 October 2011 aged 76. I would like to thank all ex-colleagues of my father for the kind messages and support they have given. His funeral was held on 31 October 2011 at Macclesfield Crematorium and three of my colleagues from HMP Styal provided the Guard of Honour. Please remember him as he was, as I knew he enjoyed his time in Service (27 years).

Kind regards, Danny Blake (Jnr) HMP/YOI Styal.


CHARITY FUND AGM The Prison Service Charity Fund will be holding its AGM Springbridge Carriage Diving Centre Countesthorpe Road Willoughby Waterleys Leicestershire LE8 6UL

On Saturday the 21st April 2012 Any member wishing to attend would be most welcome. The itinerary for the day 1130 am arrival – coffee or tea 1215 pm lunch informal chat 1400 pm meeting starts 1600 pm meeting ends Coffee or tea before departure.

If you wish to attend the AGM please confirm by email or in writing no later than Friday 13th April 2012 to: PSCF Secretary 15 Merepark Drive, Southport, PR9 9FB. Email – www.po 37 Obituaries.indd 37

December 2011 37 29/11/11 15:15:14



The sudden and tragic death of my 19 year old daughter, Naomi, in January 2007 should have been more than enough for me and my family to cope with, but unfortunately fate had other ideas. On Tuesday 27 April 2010 while working as a, sorry, ‘the’ landing officer on the 4’s landing of B wing at HMP Leeds, I became the victim of a vicious and unprovoked attack and was seriously assaulted. I remember nothing about the assault, nor the events immediately afterwards. I have been told that my colleagues initially thought I was dead when I was found motionless and lying in a pool of blood, and that during my night in intensive care at the Leeds General Infirmary, there was doubt about my survival. Waking up in the intensive care unit thinking you are about to die is quite an experience and is certainly something that stays with you. It’s not an experience that I would recommend nor is it one that any of us should have to endure in such circumstances. At the time, my wife was working in Bury and received the dreaded phone call from my son so she had to drive to Leeds hoping that she got there before I died. She remembers very little about the drive other than starting to panic when she got to Leeds and being unable to remember the route into the hospital - despite having been there hundreds of times before. I can only imagine the journey as being horrendous. The prognosis was not very good and my wife was told that if I pulled through that my stay in hospital could be as long as three months. I had four skull fractures and four bleeds to my brain, (yes, it was confirmed that I have a brain!) Only time would tell if an operation was needed. Contrary to what a Governor stated on the Wednesday lunchtime it wasn’t confirmed until the Friday teatime that thankfully, an operation was not necessary and that I could go home. My recovery surprised everyone. I write this letter to thank all my colleagues at HMP Leeds for their incredible support. Without it, I doubt my family would have got through recent years. Special thanks go to Officer Dave Smith (Sir Dave! My knight in shining armour) for being there on the night, looking up from the 2’s and seeing a prisoner making a stamping movement and seeing my white sleeve sticking out under the railings (thanks for Daz whiteness!) and raising the alarm, no doubt saving my life. Officer Norman Bruce (now retired) for turning me over. The prison nurses, Steph White who despite having worked for 10 years in a busy city A&E dept said I was the worst sight she had ever seen (thanks for that confidence

38 December 2011 27-39 Postbag.indd 38

boost Steph) and Julie Bedford who gave me their undivided attention, SO Vanessa Nixon, who held me in her arms because she didn’t want me to die alone. There are many people I would like to thank including the Duty Governor on the night, Gov Dave Pearson, his actions and sense of urgency on the night made a difference and I cannot leave out SO Stuart Morris for his continued support. Because of my injuries and the psychological effects that followed, I spent a long time at home and returned to work on a phased return basis with the Yorkshire Area Search Team. The time I spent with them helped me get back into working mode and I am really grateful to them for their time. I am now back at work full time, however not at my previous post at HMP Leeds. Last time I worked there a prisoner tried his best to kill me so when I was given the opportunity to work at HMP/YOI Askham Grange, I took it, so I will be at pastures new when my transfer goes through. During all this time the level of support I have had from all the staff at HMP Leeds has been tremendous, I would not be where I am today had they not been there for me and my family. I have asked on numerous occasions for the staff that were there on the night to be recognised in some way, but to no avail, had I been a prisoner I am sure there would have been commendations all round! I have listened to uniformed staff complain over the years about the price of their diary! Well I can vouch for the worth of our diaries as priceless; you only appreciate the true value when you need the support. The Branch Chair at Leeds, Richard Chamberlain and the Branch Secretary, Jason Croft have been there for me right from the start including sitting with my wife through a five day trial at Leeds Crown Court. We are eternally grateful. I am also grateful for the well wishes I received from across the country, Northern Ireland, Australia and I even received a letter from the then Home Secretary, Jack Straw. Considering all the cut backs that are being forced upon us, I would urge everyone to think about their working environment, is it safe? Are you safe? I was very lucky on that night; it might have worked out quite differently! Stay safe! Steve Gough HMP Leeds 29/11/11 15:16:20






Dear Sir, I think that all those who attended the Scottish Conference in November can be proud of themselves. Donations provided a much needed boast to Poppy Scotland’s fund at a time when our case load is increasing dramatically and money decreasing at an even greater rate.

Dear Sir, I wish you, the NEC and the membership good luck in the struggle ahead and hope that you are able to negotiate the best deal possible. Would you please be so kind as to pass on my thanks and best wishes for a very bright and happy future to Tom Robson? A good part of my time as Dover’s Chairman was spent with Tom as our NEC Representative, and I have always considered him as a true trade unionist at heart and a pragmatist in the head - a wonderful combination. I valued both his advice and his friendship.

Once again thank you all. Danny Cochrane Treasurer City of Perth Poppy Appeal

Regards Tim Rising

THANKING PHIL FAIRLIE REMEMBRANCE DAY I was fortunate to be at HMP Winchester on the 11th of the 11th 2011 at 11.00 when all uniformed and non-uniformed staff observed the remembrance two minutes silence. It was a moving occasion. I stood on the centre proudly as the transmission came over the net for the establishment to remain silent. Along with our colleagues of all grades; the Chaplain, Deputy Governor, Governors, Health Care, SOs, Officers, OSGs, Probation, IMB, Prisoners and if I haven’t mentioned anyone who took part forgive me. But what a credit the observance was to the staff of all grades, the establishment and the service.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall now weary them, nor the years condemn, At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them.”

Dear Sir, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Phil Fairlie, Chairman of the SNC for his hard work and commitment in helping me with my case. It was a long, drawn out dispute which I am sure would not have reached a satisfactory conclusion had not been for Phil’s hard work, professionalism and drive. Once again, thank you. Yours faithfully Gordon Reid (Castle Huntley)

REMINDER HMP BEDFORD REUNION 2012 Reminder to all ex-staff of all ranks, who served at HMP Bedford from as far back as the early sixties. Whilst I was serving at Bedford I organised many social functions including reunions. The evenings were always memorable and rekindled memories of our past experiences. I retired 15 years ago but am still in touch with old colleagues and I would like to know if there is enough interest for a further reunion early next year. As I now live abroad all I would ask is that anyone interested would agree to pay the agreed amount per person on the night of the event. I would hope to be able to include a cabaret feature. If you or anyone you know may be interested in this reunion, please contact me. Fondest memories and regards to you all.

Remembered truly at HMP Winchester and across the Service. Thank you all. Brian Traynor, NEC 38-40 Postbag.indd 39

Malcy Barrett Tel. 0034 966 192 595 / 07779 568054

December 2011 39 5/12/11 14:13:36


WELFARE FUND AWARD THANKS Thank you very much for the recent Welfare Fund award, and the one sent previously. It is greatly appreciated and will help my partner and I get through the period of half pay. Name and address supplied

RELIEVING STRESS AND PRESSURE Dear Pete and Welfare Committee, On behalf of our member, we would like to thank you all for the generous award of £1,500 to assist in accommodation and travel whilst his wife undergoes her treatment. I personally took the cheque to their house, the surprise and relief that came across from them was overwhelming to say the least. I am sure that the generosity you have all provided has gone a long way to help relieve the stress and pressure that they are both going through at this time. I am sure the member will write to you in the near future to pass on his thanks personally but until that time, please accept our thanks and gratitude to you all. Name and address supplied

I have just spent a short while perusing the latest issue of bad news from our masters. By that, I mean the page after page of politically-veined propaganda just published on the Intranet that is aimed at convincing us that the massive changes being thrust upon us are in our best interests, and that we, the ailing patient, should docilely swallow the medicine aimed at curing us, and not complain if the taste is not to our liking! Our last pay rise was in 2010, we naively assumed that our benevolent employer would throw us a few more crumbs from their well-laden table in 2014. How naïve we were! Those of us already on the top rate of pay will never see another pay rise. Indeed why would they give us more when the benchmark they will use to decide on any award will be that of our poorly paid colleagues; the Officer 2 grade? We are informed by NOMS that any future pay award for staff who choose to remain on current terms and conditions will be referred to the pay review body. Well what a waste of time and effort that will prove to be. Are they going to give staff on around £29,000 per year a rise when they can get the badly treated Officer 2s to do the self-same job for many thousands a year less? Anyone who thinks they will be the recipient of any form of pay rise for many years to come obviously believes that their employer has their best interests at heart! Get real! They can’t wait for all the dinosaurs to retire, all those on top money gone, and the remaining staff subject to the wages of penury. Year on year inflation eats away at our pay, which has taken many years to be brought up to a reasonable level. Now it will be eroded and eaten away until our lords and masters have achieved what they have wanted for many years .i.e. parity of pay with the private sector. The forthcoming market testing of prisons will prove to be nothing but a shameless charade; they have already chosen which prisons they will privatise. Who knows who will be next? Doomsday scenario? Of course, but it will be coming to a prison your way soon. Never believe that anything our masters do is in our interests, it never is. You may as well believe the dentist when he says root canal surgery isn’t going to hurt you! Oh, and by the way, never forget their main mantra: ‘You’re lucky you’ve got a job!’ Alan Spafford Officer HMP Nottingham

GENEROUS DONATION Dear Mr Chapple, I am writing to thank you so much for your generous donation towards my husband’s care. It will go a long way to make his life more bearable at the nursing home that he is in. My husband worked in the Prison Service for so many years and it is nice to think that you still show support for him during his declining years. Thank you once again. Name and address supplied

THANK YOU Dear Sir, Please give my kindest regards to all concerned for this much appreciated donation. This amount will go a long way to getting me back on my feet after such a bad year for me. I never thought that when asking for help from you that I would be given this fantastic amount. Thank you very much Name and address supplied 40 December 2011 27-39 Postbag.indd 40

EDITOR’S NOTE: The POA has consistently said that staff should not start or listen to rumour or innuendo. Whilst I appreciate your views and respect everyone’s right to an opinion, why is it you fail to respond to all issues and simply make comments which appear to be a good sound bite? How many members got a pay rise in 2010? You infer that no-one did and that is not true, I agree everyone deserved a pay rise but when they didn’t get one what did they do? You infer that we only expect a pay rise in 2014 that again is not true. The POA, has submitted it’s recommendations to the PSPRB for 2012 and even NOMS have recommended that some staff get a pay rise. Of course, it is the Government’s directive to freeze pay for those earning £21,000 or more. The POA will continue to put forward a submission to the PSPRB and I do not believe it will be a waste of time. By the way, no-one is entitled to a cost of living rise no matter how much they earn. In respect of competition, this Government has stated all areas will be completed, so we need to have a reality check if we are to protect Public Sector prisons. I note you have been in the service for a long time, so clearly you have had lots of reality checks and influenced policies of the Union. Finally, the offer ‘fair and sustainable’ does not change anyone’s Terms and Conditions, and like Fresh Start, the membership will have a say through the ballot box, but it does protect what staff have and give them a choice. 29/11/11 15:16:59






The countdown to the 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG), which is being held in Belfast, Northern Ireland, started in earnest with the hand-over of the World Games flag at the closing ceremony of the 2011 New York Games. WPFG Federation President, Mike Graham, officiated at the ceremony held on 4 September 2011. Police Service NI Chief Constable, Matt Baggott, NI Fire & Rescue Chief Fire Officer, Peter Craig and Deputy Director General of NI Prison Service, Max accepted the flag on behalf of the Uniformed Services in Northern Ireland.


he WPFG is a biennial sports event organised specifically for serving and retired police and prison officers, fire fighters and uniformed customs and border agency staff. The aim of the Games is to promote physical fitness and camaraderie within the Services around the world. The standard varies from international calibre sportsmen and women to those who wish to participate and enjoy the Games experience. There is no qualification standard; all levels of competitors are catered for from novice through to those with many years of experience. The Games also caters for a wide range of ages from the Open category right through to Grand Master (70+years).

The 2013 Games The 2013 Games will run from 1 – 10 August 2013, when 10,000 competitors and an additional 13,000 friends and family from 41 Sports Scene.indd 41

70 countries around the world are expected in Belfast. They cater for 65 sports including all the main team sports such as rugby, hockey, football, ice hockey and for the first time in the World Games cricket! The individual sports include all track & field athletics disciplines, lawn bowls, archery, swimming, cycling, badminton, angling, table tennis and some which are less well known such as horse shoe throwing! A full list of sports can be found on our website at under ‘Latest News’. Games Patron, Dame Mary Peters, commented: “Bringing the World Police and Fire Games to Northern Ireland is a tremendous achievement for Belfast and Northern Ireland. The Games are the third largest multisport event in the world; this is the first time the Games will have been staged in the British Isles. I would encourage all our fire and law enforcement officers from

around the world but especially those from the UK and Ireland to come to Belfast in 2013 and participate in what we hope will be the friendliest Games ever!”

December 2011 41 5/12/11 14:55:25


ENGLISH PRISON SERVICE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION FESTIVAL OF FOOTBALL 2012 4 APRIL AT 9.30AM LEICESTER UNIVERSITY SPORTS GROUND STOUGHTON ROAD, OADBY, LEICESTER LE2 4FS RULES • 9-a-side squad of 11 players. • No offsides. • Each team to provide a matchball and set of bibs. • £25 Entry fee ~ cheques made payable to EPSFA with entry form to: PSSA, PSC Newbold Revel, Stretton-under-Fosse, Rugby, Warwickshire CV23 0TH. • Closing date for entries 18 March 2012. This event is funded by the PSSA so as such, all entrants are required to be members (minimum 12 months - early cancellation £20 admin fee) only exceptions are officers’ sons who will be charged £2 (payable on the day.) Any entry forms without either membership numbers or membership forms will be refused entry.

Name of Player

Membership forms can be obtained from your local PSSA representative, from the PSSA address above or Nigel Masters at North Sea Camp. HMP………………………………………………………………………

PSSA Membership Number

Contact name and number…………………………………………………………………………………… Directions and details will be sent to you with your confirmation of entry. 42 December 2011 42PSSA Football.indd 42 29/11/11 15:18:25




earners who successfully completed their Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) qualifications were rewarded at a presentation event held in the CLINK Restaurant at HMP High Down. This included a lovely two-course meal, followed by tea and coffee before the formal presentation of the learners’ certificates, these were presented by Lynne Willmer who retired from POA Learning in July. This is now the sixth course that has been run at the Centre and all the learners (although a little apprehensive at first) have embraced the course and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The courses were delivered by Julie Hills who is a Senior Lecturer from Sutton College of Learning for Adults (SCOLA). Julie has built up fantastic relationships with all the staff she has dealt with and she has commented on how much she enjoys teaching our learners. The presentation event was provided by POA Learning and also Governor Peter Dawson from HMP High Down. Both POA Learning and Governor Dawson acknowledge the commitment the students give to this course and are also more than aware of the issues that can occur with completing this qualification, especially for those who have not undertaken in any learning for many years. This event truly is a celebration of all the hard work and commitment that each and every one of the learners has shown and we at the Centre are very proud of them all.



n 4 October 2011, HMP Shrewsbury held a Staff Wellbeing Day which POA Learning attended. The event was organised by Sadie Blain (AO Training) and it was extremely well attended.

POA Learning had a stand next to the POA stand and so both worked in conjunction to promote the benefits of joining the POA and also what POA Learning can offer to help both employees and the employer. We handed out about 50 information packs to staff and they were also asked to fill in some quizzes for fun, with the opportunity of winning a prize of a £10 voucher. Work is in progress to open a Learning Centre at Shrewsbury and it is anticipated this will open in the early New Year, so this event was also an opportunity to advertise this and answer any questions.



e are celebrating the success of four Level 2 ECDL achievements at Full Sutton. The European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) is a nationally recognised qualification designed to give the learner an upgrade in their computer skills for work, home and leisure. The course work is carried out on any computer which has a broadband connection. Sarah, one of our successful learners writes: I found the course material very user-friendly as all the stages were well explained and easy to follow. The course was also broken down step-by-step to make it easier to work through. The tests were also very straightforward - and the questions were easy to understand. Gemma agrees, and would like to encourage anyone interested in developing their IT skills to consider doing the ECDL course. She said: “I think that anyone could complete the qualification, for those who don’t use computers on a daily basis it may take slightly longer and more work to complete but it is definitely achievable.” There was also an appreciation of the support given by the POA Learning Team at Full Sutton. Students said: “POA Learning helped us and supported us from the moment we decided we wanted to complete the course.” “The team was very accommodating when it came to sitting the exams; we were able to take them at very short notice, sometimes on the same day.” Congratulations and well done to Matt, Sarah, Kelly and Gemma.

(R-L) The class of 2011. Matt Fitzgibbon, Sarah Taylor, Gemma Chatterton and Kelly Golden. Well done all of you!

(L–R) Jane Wallis of POA Learning, Mark Thompson of POA Shrewsbury and Emma Bowditch of POA Learning 43 POA Learning.indd 43

December 2011 43 29/11/11 15:18:51

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YEAR SLIPS BY Time seems to simply fly past these days!


here is an unhealthy acceleration towards market tests and competition; however this Trade Union sees no competition between its members in the public or private sector. We will continue to give the best service and support to every member - wherever you are. If you work in the custodial sector, the POA is the Union to belong to; the Union will then belong to you. See the advertisement below, point it out to those colleagues who may not be Union

46 December 2011 46 Strictly Private.indd 46

members and hopefully they will consider getting on board. Season’s greetings to everyone. A prosperous and (most of all) safe New Year!

Private Sector Committee

Tom Robson Chairman of the Private Sector Committee

Tom Robson Chairman 0113 242 8833

Phil Thomas SNC 0131 443 8105

Duncan Keys Secretary 0113 242 8833

Steve Lewis Research Officer 0113 242 8833 29/11/11 15:19:19




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

POA Gatelodge December 2011  

POA Gatelodge December 2011