Ongoing concerns over ViSOR vetting

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Ongoing concerns over ViSOR vetting

Over recent months there have been more and more concerns raised by members about the new requirement for all Offender Management staff working in the NPS to undergo ViSOR vetting.

The introduction of this wider use of ViSOR was part of the E3 phase 2 programme. At the time of the consultation on phase 2 Napo made representations about the mechanism for vetting, the additional workload related to use of ViSOR and the impact of failure of vetting on members. You can find the representations made and the employer’s response HERE.

These concerns remain and Napo is in ongoing discussions with the employer to try to find a resolution.

A full briefing on this work can be found on the Napo website

Concerns

The NPS seem blasé about the impact of failing the vetting process. Leaving the impression that vetting failures will inevitably happen to some people for reasons beyond their control and that this is OK. However the general feeling is that the failure of vetting will be hugely stigmatising and will have a significant impact on someone’s career.

The number of roles that can be undertaken without ViSOR vetting has reduced significantly since the original consultation, and it now appears that only Court and Accredited Programmes roles will be suitable for someone who fails. We have asked that the employer considers how staff who fail vetting may be supported to remain in their role, for example by having adjustments made such as colleagues entering data onto ViSOR for them, as happens now for most staff.

Police procedures not uniform

All of the police forces have different forms and some of the questions differ. We have been told by members in some areas that there are questions on their form about medication they are taking and other health conditions (including mental health). There appears to be a level of intrusion by some forces beyond what was expected, and certainly beyond what is being asked by other forces.  The fact that some members are being asked for a different level of information has, in itself, caused members to question the legitimacy of the process.

What happens to the information?

Many questions are arising about what the Police will do with the information they are gathering, in bulk, on Probation staff. In some cases there will be a significant body of information and intelligence, and there is deep concern amongst members about how this may be used in future by the Force.

There is also concern about how the copied identification documents will be held and stored by NPS and later by the Police if they are passed on.

There remains at the heart of this matter a question about whether this is really necessary, especially on such a scale.

Latest engagement with senior NPS Management

As has been reported, we have regularly taken the direct experiences of members during our engagement with senior HMPPS management. At the last meeting between trade unions and HR leads we made it absolutely clear that urgent action is required to prevent the possibility of a National Dispute having to be declared as we receive more and more reports from members who are worried about facing the prospect of a blighted career through no fault of their own.

The urgency of the situation has at least been acknowledged by the Director of Probation Sonia Crozier, who has offered to host a special meeting involving senior decision makers where more time can be spent examining these issues to try and find a way forward. Napo are totally committed to the maintenance of an accurate and effective data base which helps to protect our communities, but is equally determined to ensure that the welfare of our members is taken seriously.

More news will follow after this meeting, but meanwhile members are asked to continue to forward us information (ideally via your Napo Link Officer) so that we can continue to build a picture of the impact of the new ViSOR vetting requirements.

Katie Lomas, National Vice-Chair

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4 Comments

  1. Leah phillips says:

    We have just received our vetting forms 1/8/2018 and have 14 days to complete. Do we complete them or wait for this matter to be addressed ? If this matter isn’t addressed soon, we would have all completed our vetting and any dialogue or representations will be pointless. I would welcome clarification. I am a PQIP learner and am trying to understand where and when I disclose to an offender that i may be recording details of supervision on a police system – interested how this is going to sit with confidentiality and the therapeutic relationship between offender and probation worker. Any advice gratefully received.

    • Napo Union says:

      Katie Lomas, Napo vice-chair says:

      The question about the therapeutic relationship and information sharing is always a tricky one. Hopefully Officers will explain to their clients at the early stage of their working relationship that some information will be shared, especially when the client is subject to MAPPA which are the ones that ViSOR use is required for. Balancing the need to develop a positive working relationship with the need to share information for risk management purposes is one of the key skills for any front line worker in Probation and these issues should be covered by the training and development programmes, if not enough time or energy is devoted to this we need to collectively address it and any examples would be useful. It should be noted that the requirement to share information using ViSOR has existed for many years, it is the mandatory vetting of all OM staff that is new.

      In terms of the requirement to complete vetting forms we have a meeting with NPS senior management on the 9th August and will be issuing more advice to members after that. At this point we are not suggesting that any member should refuse to complete the vetting forms. Members with specific concerns should speak to their Line Manager for advice and support and contact your local Napo rep if needed.

  2. Jane Doe says:

    I am an NQO having recently completed the 15-months intensive training programme. There are massive concerns in my office regarding the possibility of vetting failure. I to have concerns considering the length of time I have invested into probation and related degree study since 2012 that I could fail and be placed outside of my role either in the courts which undermine the reason I joined probation (rehabilitate and support offenders face to face) or worse, redeployment elsewhere within the civil service, which as you can imagine will become merely a job and not a career I had hoped for myself. I am wondering why it is deemed ok for probation heads to play with our futures and dictate the course of our lives seeing as time well spent and invested into the service on an individual level is now time possibly wasted which could have been invested elsewhere.

    Moreover, If I were to fail vetting, I will no longer be able to put my degree(s) to good use as I will not be considered due to vetting. Therefore, I will be laden with student debt for a degree I cannot utilise in the way I had hoped. I feel I will be lost and unsure of the pathway I wish to undertake and returning to university again in my 30’s is not feasible.

    I would like my concerns to be addressed as I feel I amongst others are being treated as numbers and not as human beings who have sacrificed a great deal to work for NPS.

    • Napo Union says:

      Katie Lomans Napo Chair says:

      We appreciate the grave concerns that you and many other members have about ViSOR vetting and we are still working to get a resolution to our dispute, to make sure that if anyone does fail vetting they can remain in their role with adjustments made to allow them to do their job properly. We have a meeting to discuss the dispute later in November and will report back as soon as we have some news. In the meantime do not hesitate to contact your local Napo rep for support if you need it.

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