#NQ5 The impact of workload pressures on practice

Probation staff have repeatedly raised concerns on the impact of increasing workloads on the services they deliver since TR was introduced. Feeling under pressure to cut corners and to meet unrealistic targets, those in the CRCs and NPS worry they are failing service users – and ultimately the public – in achieving rehabilitative and reduced reoffending objectives.

Napo’s 3 Cs Campaign will CONFRONT the issue of high workloads, CHALLENGE our employers to address them and CHAMPION our professional standards!

We have asked branches to gather statistical information from employers so we can accurately assess the pressures staff are facing. Anecdotal evidence and official data already reveal unsafe practices, ineffective delivery of services and a concerning impact on staff health and wellbeing as a result of workload pressures.

What Can Napo Do?

The 3 Cs Campaign will highlight the impact of excessive workloads on our ability to deliver constructive and effective work with service users; its effects on our professionalism; the risk to public safety; how it damages staff health and wellbeing and its cost to the employer due to high rates of staff illness.

We are also demanding the implementation of an effective workload management tool for those working in the probation service and the need for managers to be trained on how to support frontline staff.

We want our employers to formally acknowledge their duty of care to staff and carry out workload and stress audits regularly and act on the findings. Workloads should be a standing item on every JCC and JNCC Agenda and local Workload Committees established.

Probation Operating Models should be regularly audited to ensure they are fully resourced and properly staffed.

What Can You Do?

  • Branches will receive demand cards very soon linked to the Take one, carry it and promote it.
  • Branches will be undertaking local surveys on the impact of workloads on Respond, contribute and get involved.
  • If you feel under pressure, report Tell your manager, ask for a stress risk assessment, complete a Hazard Report, and contact your local Napo Rep.
  • If you and your colleagues feel team pressures are excessive, report it. Tell your manager, ask for a team risk assessment, and contact your local Napo Rep.

Members share their stories of how their work has been affected since TR

One CRC member says pressure not to breach service users who do not comply with Community Orders has made it difficult to supervise an individual who has committed a domestic violent assault: “He never comes in but he phones, I was told that counts as contact so I shouldn’t breach him. What can I do in a 3 minute phone call to get him to change his behaviour?”

Similar concerns have been raised by another CRC member who highlights the problem with unachievable targets:“It’s all linked to targets but if they all did come in I’d be here until midnight…”

The impact on our professionalism is damaging. An NPS member notes: “I can’t do the job I was trained to do, I know I should spend longer with my offenders but I don’t have the time.”

Similarly, an NPS Court staff member speaking about report preparation stated that: “I trained to do 2 two hour interviews with a domestic abuse perpetrator to really get into the offence analysis, I get a half hour slot to speak with them now.”

Changes in practice, pressure to meet unrealistic targets and increasing concerns about our professionalism leave staff

in unmanageable situations, open to allegations of poor practice, affect health and ultimately impact on public safety.

A CRC member of staff reported frequently “breaking down in tears” at her desk and “hating every minute at work”. We await data on workload stress records and anticipate corresponding evidence for the feedback we are receiving on workloads.

Tina Williams
National Vice-Chair


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