#NQ3 One Probation : One Profession – Napo consultation

Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) was an earthquake that has shaken probation to its foundations. Further seismic aftershocks are predicted across the justice sector, with continuing uncertainty not about if, but about exactly when, where and how these will impact upon probation. This continued unpredictability means it is vital for probation’s
work to be anchored to a strong, clear sense of why we do what we do.

A clear sense of probation’s values are, as analysis from the NAO to Chief Inspectorate reports show, just about all that is keeping probation going. Defining these values and interpreting and applying them to the new, more divided operating environment is vital. As the professional voice for probation, Napo is determined to lead this challenge.
This is part of what we are consulting about over the summer.

Identifying values is only the first step. Translating values into practice and using them to shape probation’s infrastructure is as important. With the NPS struggling to establish itself and CRCs still working out what they have bought, this is the perfect opportunity for probation staff, through Napo, to grasp ownership and shape the structures that underpin what it means to be a probation professional.

This will include performance management, continuous professional development and learning, appropriate professional regulation and status, which in turn will also strengthen arguments for professional rates of pay and reward. New practice initiatives can themselves be tested against these values and principles. With all CRC owners agreeing to participate in a national Probation Consultative Forum on professional matters the will is seemingly there – Napo must now confidently lead and articulate this agenda.

Of course Napo has been filling this role for decades so unlike the NPS and CRC owners, we have the advantage of not starting our thinking from scratch. For example, our consultation has dusted off ideas for a professional licence to practice and an independent regulator to oversee and advise (in partnership with unions, owners and other stakeholders) on professional standards, required qualifications and career pathways,
especially for managers and professional experts.

Additionally, we are consulting about ideas that would start bringing this to life. A minimum allocation of time built into workload monitoring and measurement for CPD is just one example. We are suggesting a minimum of 10 days a year which could combine personal and collective training, both informal and formal, monitored and measured through an improved performance management system and by the regulator. This
could include “Napo Days” where staff are given time to reflect on professional issues in the way school inset days work.

With professional standards based around common core values being regulated independently with universal input we would have a good basis for securing One Probation. But Napo also recognises that especially in a new environment we also need One Profession – covering all frontline staff. With PSOs increasingly expected to do professional frontline roles, they need appropriate professional recognition, training and
support. Increasingly entry to professions like social work and teaching include on-the-job development. Napo is consulting about whether probation should afford similar regulated, protected routes for apprenticeships and paid pathways to
graduate and post-graduate qualifications.

Finally, consultation with members about how we can better support them in establishing and sustaining a positive professional agenda on their changes to how Napo works. The
constitution would require adaptation to meet One Probation: On Profession arguments, e.g. do we need rule changes to recruit agency workers? Do our current Committee structures work well as a way of consulting members, forming and implementing
policy decisions, etc?

These are big agendas and Napo will not have all of the answers but we are certain by consulting with members and taking a lead we can make sure all of the right questions are
being asked and tested.

The Consultation

  • What are the common probation values and principles that should underpin all probation does and how it does things?
  • Should probation be regulated? Who by and what would be in scope e.g. professional standards, a professional training and qualification framework for all frontline staff?
  • How could a licence to practice work across all of probation?
  • How can we ensure access to high quality professional corporate and personal development? Would set times, monitored by unions and a regulator help? How could this be incorporated into performance management frameworks?
  • What qualifications and support frameworks are needed to attract and protect professional PSOs doing professional tasks with low risk offenders?
  • Does Napo need to review its rules and structures to better meet members’ needs and a professional agenda?

How to take part

  • Attend one of the Napo meetings being held in your Branch as part of the consultation up to Napo AGM.
  • Download the documents from our website via napo.org.uk/professionalconsultation
  • Fill in our professional consultation document and return it to info@napo.org.uk
  • Write to us with your thoughts via info@napo.org.uk

Dean Rogers
Assistant General Secretary

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