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New Probation Workforce Strategy

On the 30th July 2020 Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) announced a new workforce strategy for probation which will allow the service to grow over the next three years, whilst also improving conditions for its existing staff. This is a timely and welcome announcement, both in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic and the strain this has put on the existing workforce, and with the merger of the Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRC) in 2021.

What did it say?

HMPPS has pledged to increase the recruitment of probation staff this year and has a target to have a minimum of 1000 new probation officers in training by January 2021.

To support the initiative HMPPS is enhancing qualification routes by improving the existing Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP).

These objectives will be important for existing staff who have long suffered under high workloads in an understaffed service.

In addition to pledging to attract new staff with a large recruitment drive, HMPPS also hope to improve staff retention by testing an accelerated progression pathway from Probation Services Officer to Probation Officer, which is launching in late 2020/21.  HMPPS will be working with both staff and trade unions to progress collaborative work on pay modernisation.

In addition to the recruitment and retention of staff, the strategy sets out a commitment to invest in existing staff by:

  • Promoting wellbeing for everyone
  • Supporting and developing our people
  • Creating a more diverse workforce where everyone feels included
  • Fostering confident leaders who inspire and empower others

Some of the key actions this will include are:

A commitment to implementing the wellbeing action plan for all staff across probation, including a rollout of Mental Health Allies and internal and external post-incident support by 2020/21.

Adapting digital services as part of a larger IT strategy to provide staff with modern, fit-for-purpose tools that allow them to perform some of their work remotely.

Implementing a new learning and development model from 2020/21 to provide comprehensive and accessible learning services for staff.

The development of a new diversity and inclusion strategy focusing on representation of protected characteristics, as outlined in the Lammy Review, and the broadest possible promotion of opportunities to expand diversity of experience, background and thought in the workforce.

The launch of leadership products such as the Aspiring Leaders Toolkit for those who aspire to management positions in the future and the strengthening of the HMPPS Leadership Continuous Professional Development Framework.

If you would like to read the Probation Workforce Strategy in full, you can visit the government guidance page here: Probation Workforce Strategy

Agency Workers and RSG’s Role

RSG continues to support HMPPS by providing probation practitioners on agency worker terms. We are proud of our five year+ supply record of accomplishment with HMPPS, and our broader, 15 year+ record of accomplishment for supporting the probation sector more generally.

We continue to strengthen our employer of choice status by mirroring the HMPPS best in class employer practices.

RSG operates an agency worker welfare service via our Account Management team and our dedicated Agency Worker Welfare Liaison Officer.

We offer occupational health services to which we can refer agency workers to within 24 hours for cases with a clinical requirement

From 2020, we now commit to maintaining the continuous professional development of our deployed workers.

Furthermore, for several years we have offered a training product suitable for probation officers wishing to return to the service on agency worker terms.

HMPPS has lived up to the rhetoric of partnership working by working collaboratively with RSG to assist us in rolling out further innovations.

Across the last six months RSG have worked closely with the NPS to pilot a new quality assurance framework for agency workers. This will support the NPS’ aims to professionalise further the job roles within probation with respects to agency workers with the piloting of a framework through which agency workers can be recognised and rewarded, seek access to training and development, and resolve workplace issues in a formal, professional manner.

We are hopeful that in the Autumn/Winter of 2020 this framework will be rolled out across the NPS nationally and by 2021 we will have a formalised, fully functioning QA process for RSG supplied agency workers which will create a better working environment and experience for them.

If you have any questions or would like more information about any of the services referred to above please contact Tomas Keenan-Blair (NPS Account Manager) at tomas.keenan-blair@rsg.ltd or on 0203 119 3307.