Research Launch: Sarah Friday looks at the Findings

Gill Kirton opened her contribution to the launch event by saying that probation staff are not regarded by the public like the junior doctors; they are not commonly seen as heroes. She said probation work “doesn’t have that feeling of working for the public good in the same way” instead probation members have slipped under the radar because the work is not glamorous and most of the public have little contact with it.

Gill Kirton’s report is the first to look at the impact of TR on working conditions, on Napo and on the impact of outsourcing on professional grades. The surprise for Gill and Cecile in the research results was in that they were contrary to what other research into public sector outsourcing and impact on staff has found, in that the whole restructuring exercise has had negative effects for Napo members – not only those that were outsourced:

NPS

On some measures, things seem worse in NPS, workloads, particularly around staff numbers, excessive working hours, stress.

CRC

The biggest issues were targets, insecurity, workplace relocation and low morale. Of particular interest to Napo were:

  • Long working hours in order to meet unrealistic targets and caseload
  • In CRC’s many branch officers were concerned that progressive policies, such as equality, capacity, or flexi-time policies, will disappear.
  • Within CRC’s, it is women who often feel more vulnerable due to the new ways of working.
  • Overcrowded offender training programmes and insufficient risk assessment of (male) participants vis a vis (female) trainers

The impact on Napo:

  • A consequence of centralising NPS decision making is that there is now less room for manoeuvre for branches at local level, placing more expectations on National Napo. A branch rep at the launch event said “If you do take the decision to become a Napo activist you know you are taking a risk by sticking your head above the parapet and you think: is this worth it? Can I actually make a difference?”
  • Women (particularly in NPS) say that time and location of branch/workplace meetings is important. The growing number of young female recruits with childcare responsibilities (but also older members with eldercare responsibilities) accentuates time and location issues for the organisation of branch meetings.
  • 50% of members who hold a branch position belong to the 46-55 age group and 25% to the 56-65 age group, only 25% are less than 45 years old.
  • New members are both predominantly female and are more likely to be located within CRCs. 25% of the members who joined less than five years ago are in CRCs compared to 17% within NPS.
  • PSO members fear that Napo will become the voice of PO’s only.Gill and Cecile’s thoughts on the future:
  • We will see increased feminisation of the probation service – particularly as it becomes more reliant on PSO’s for delivery.
  • TR’s chipping away at “good” public sector employment will in 10 years have resulted in a dip in pay and increase in casualisation.

Members prioritised Napo’s role as a trade union in the survey findings. However key to successful future survival is going to be the ability to find sufficient resources to cover trade union and professional association side of our work. This will be particularly important if we are able to continue to claim that Napo “is the voice of probation”. As will be learning from all aspects of the report findings it we are to survive as a strong, independent and successful trade union and professional association into the future.

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