#NQ7: I decided to fight for my right

At the top end of the year the Napo Workloads Campaign was launched in response to the overwhelming pressures many of our members up and down the country are facing.

While we continue to press the issue with employers, members are reporting wins as a direct result of Napo intervention.

Rosa Richardson, a PO in East Anglia branch, shares her story.

I was brought up to give 100% effort to do the job I get paid for. No complaints; just get on with it. I did not believe in unions either. I only saw them going on strike and didn’t realise the work they did behind the scenes.

When I completed my probation officer training I was offered a job at HMP Bure as programme facilitator. After five years I was redeployed to work in the community as an offender manager. I was promised full training to prepare for this highly demanding job. The reality was that I had to learn all the new processes and procedures as I went along. After a year of just getting my head above water, we had one colleague move to a YOT team and another colleague went on maternity leave. This meant that our team average WMT was 151%.

We started to compile a team risk assessment to highlight the work related stress amongst all offender managers at Waveney and Yare office. Napo representatives attended a meeting in October 2016 with our Head of LDU to report the issues and were told that an external advertisement for a probation officer had been rolled out.

We sent an email to the health, safety and fire divisional lead to highlight the employer’s duty of care to their staff and that work related stress caused by the organisation was at a critical level.

In December 2016, we had support from one agency worker that mainly covered the duty officer role, and took over a few case loads from us for four months. This resulted in the team average WMT being reduced, but the individual WMT remained very high.

In January 2017 we were offered a half-day workshop on managing stress. Not much changed apart from our WMT increasing to an average 178%. Colleagues were broken and the stress level had affected our physical and mental health significantly.

Napo East Anglia branch representatives worked extremely hard to raise our situation at every opportunity. Then in March 2017, with the support and guidance from Napo national official Ranjit Singh, most of our colleagues sent a “Foreseeability Notice” to our divisional lead, and I actively encouraged colleagues to complete incidence reports. With the support from our branch secretary, we passed the motion to be in dispute with our employer regarding the excessive workloads.

As a result of Napo’s support and guidance, in May 2017 we were given three POs on detached duty and two agency PSOs. This allowed us some breathing space.

Unfortunately, all of the detached duty PO support has now ended. We were promised that some of our existing cases will be transferred to the Norwich office. Slowly, this is being done. However, they are only transferring problems from one office to the next.

Without Napo’s intervention, I cannot imagine what would have happend to our team. No one wants to be seen as trouble maker, weak or not resilient to pressure. But we can’t just sit back and accept unfair treatment. I decided to fight for my right and Napo was my voice.

Rosa Richardson

If you have any success stories you would like to share with members. Please email editorial@napo.org.uk

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