Napo National Chair and General Secretary Ian Lawrence report.
We have been in dispute in relation to ViSOR vetting for some months due to the significant concerns that members raised with us. We took extensive legal advice on some of the issues around how reasonable (in the legal sense) it was to require members to undertake vetting, the data protection questions raised and the impact on the career opportunities for those who failed. The legal advice was that only the impact on the career options could realistically be challenged as the risk management and security concerns override the other issues. We nevertheless secured assurances about the collection and use of personal information and have continued to remind the employer that the underlying plan to make ViSOR a “business as usual” IT tool will only add to bureaucracy and additional work to already under pressure staff. We will continue the discussions on these issues as ViSOR is introduced.
We continued our dispute on the grounds of the impact to the career options of those who fail the vetting. During a series of meetings which also involved NPS Chief Executive Sonia Crozier, we made it very clear to the ViSor project leads and senior management that their position was effectively abandoning those who fail vetting through no fault of their own. Napo has been able to secure significant concessions here, and on 4th February the NPS will issue further advice and guidance around support for those staff who fail vetting. This will include support to appeal to the Police and liaison between the employer and the Police about how long it will be until a further application can be made. This will then inform decisions about redeployment options for those members affected and ensure that they receive the support they need. We have exhausted all of the options available in the negotiations and have therefore resolved our dispute with the employers.
During our discussions we have been informed that with almost 80% of the vetting complete the number failing the process is around 1.3% which is thankfully much lower than expected. Equally welcome was the confirmation that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that discrimination is taking place against staff with protected characteristics. Any members with concerns should contact local Napo reps for support and refer to the NPS guidance to be issued on 4th February. We will of course continue to monitor the situation with the employer to track any trends in relation to those failing vetting including any geographical anomalies and any disproportionate impact on specific groups.