Napo attend regular update meetings to discuss the progress of OMiC implementation. We retain a fundamental opposition to the OMiC model on grounds of practice and industrial issues. Nevertheless we engage with these meetings to ensure that member issues are raised and where possible dealt with. This is a summary of recent feedback.
Case Transfers These should have been completed by 31/12/19 but not all divisions could reach this target because of a backlog in ISPs due to high workloads and vacancy rates. All divisions now have an action plan in place and all are expected to complete by the end of January but it is accepted that London may still miss this target. We discussed the impact of dealing with the backlog and the stress that this causes for staff already under pressure. The OMiC team have a good understanding of the impact on morale and wellbeing of being asked to do this work but believe that this will be over soon.
SPOs in custody There will be workshops for prison SPOs and Heads of OM in public sector prisons which will cover the following: • New national OASys countersigning and assurance tools that go live in March
OMiC Dashboard A new dashboard is being launched which will show caseloads, staffing levels, equip usage. This will report monthly to the project board and will be published openly from March including to the OMiC update meetings.
Divisional Implementation Boards The terms of reference for these are changing to reflect the change in focus from transfer of cases to embedding OMiC. The NW are going to hold events for staff based on a paper written by their DiB lead. I expressed my concern that prison culture will be difficult to influence in this way and we await more information about how this will be approached.
Privately Managed Prisons (PMPs) All SPOs in privately managed prisons attended an event with the project team, feedback was largely positive. They are also being invited to the workshops being run and the project team are visiting all PMPs to offer support. The Midlands PMPs are experiencing staffing issues and have asked to set up a community hub due to this. This is concerning as contingency arrangements were supposed to be winding down not being set up. Jo Farrar and Sophie Otter were visiting the Midlands at the time of the meeting and more feedback will be provided later.
Contingency Plans The Isle of Wight community hub has been phased out but another has been put in place in the division. The community hubs in SE&E division are expected to be in place until September/October this year.
Case Administration Napo raised concerns about the level of case admin support in prisons, especially as the staff providing this function are prison staff who don’t have the experience of the aspects of case administration previously only provided in the community. The HR lead is looking at training needs at the moment. Napo suggestion is for prison CA staff to spend time working alongside community CA staff in the same way that prison OM staff have been enabled to spend time with PSOs in the community. They are also looking at moving to a pod system where a CA colleague sits with a small group of POMs and works directly with them – as a mini team within the team. Napo support this model and note that it is frustrating that in community teams many are moving away from this positive and efficient way of working to separate out admin teams and force them to work remotely on a transactional basis. We noted how much more helpful it is for the CA to be actively involved in case management and how much more of a contribution they make when they are seen as part of the mini team with ownership of a caseload.
Workloads There is work going on to look at building in a type of workload measurement tool into the allocation tool to measure the POM workloads. It isn’t clear when this will be available. We discussed at length the issues relating to measuring workloads and prison based colleagues were particularly interested to understand the way we give additional weight to some cases and at different points during the sentence. There is clearly more work to be done on this but some positive progress at last.
High Risk cases that have a Community Offender Manager Napo raised the issue relating to those cases which, because they are on recall or have less than 10 months to serve, have a Community OM responsible for their OM. In the past prisoners in this situation, if high risk, would have a Probation Officer OS in recognition of the training and qualification required to make the relevant assessments and to engage with someone in this critical stage. Now these cases, even when high risk, have a prison staff POM working essentially as an OS doing assessments and reports for MAPPA and Parole processes. We find this unacceptable and are aware that PCS and POA have raised concerns about the prison staff being placed in this position. We additionally noted that given recent high profile SFO cases relating to release and recall decisions this needs to be work prioritised for suitably trained and qualified staff. We are aware that at least one DD has also raised these issues. This is something that needs a formal response from the project team which could not be offered on the day. More feedback will follow.
Digital Prison System This will be a new system which only a restricted number of prison staff have access to enabling POMs from both Probation and Prison to record and share information without risk that it will be inappropriately disclosed. We have asked how this will link to Delius as our view is that anything recorded as part of OM in custody work by any of the POMs must automatically transfer to Delius.
Katie Lomas, National Chair & Ian Lawrence, General Secretary