Probation Officers Strike
Any visits to the picket line outside New Bridewell police station welcome. The strike begins at 12 noon on Monday 31st, and continues Tuesday 1st April from 8am. The strike is against plans to privatise 70% of the services work. There will be picket lines and protests on Monday and Tuesday organised alongside the Justice Alliance (the organisation that’s been defending Legal Aid from Graylings attacks).
Details of the dispute are here:
PROBATION Staff to Strike Against Reckless Gamble with Public Safety
On Monday 31st March from 12:00pm and all-day on Tuesday 1st April, Probation staff in Avon & Somerset will join colleagues across Englandand Wales on strike. At a time when all Probation Trusts are achieving ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ performance
 and are well financially managed, the Government is determined to abolish them by 1st June. It then wants to hand over supervision of up to 250,000 offenders to private companies by October-December 2014.
The Government has argued the changes are needed to cut costs and reduce re-offending by people sentenced to less than 12 months in prison. Probation Trusts currently have no role working with these people, but they could take on this extra work and deliver reduced re-offending, whilst achieving further cost efficiencies.
Ian Lawrence, head of Napo, union & professional association for Probation staff, has said “It’s not something our members take lightly but they feel that these proposals will have such an impact on public safety that they have no choice”
.We are concerned about how this will affect the local communities in which we live and work in Avon & Somerset, where we manage the sentences for over 5000 offenders
. We work in specialist teams with partners such as the Police, housing, education and drugs services to focus on those who commit the most serious violent and sexual crimes. This is complex work that requires highly-trained and experienced professionals.
The Government wants potentially hundreds of private companies, with no experience of ‘offender management’, to take over the punishment and rehabilitation of offenders on an untested, payment-by-results model.The potential for significant mistakes involving public safety is extremely serious; something acknowledged by the Government’s own risk register
, including an 80% risk that “…an unacceptable drop in operational performance will lead to delivery failure and reputational damage”.
The Government is desperately working to a parliamentary timetable to complete the changes before the next General Election, instead of taking the time necessary – however illogical the plans – to make sure they are safe and effective. Napo, whilst opposing the changes, is calling for an immediate halt to the changes, so that a pilot of them can be completed before any national implementation.
Don’t forget the DAY OF ACTION on 5 April from 12.00 – 1.00 pm in Broadmead (outside BHS)! We need a good turnout for this, trade union banners would be welcome.
So far we’ve received support from Bristol Disability Equality Forum, Unite the Community and the Bishop of Bristol among many others. Our press release will be going out early next week. Now we need people to come along. We’d expect to attract the interest of passing shoppers but we shall need our own supporters there.
There’s a flyer to help you put the word around attached to this message.
This will be a national Day of Action so please put this in your diary and help Bristol do its bit to make a splash against the Bedroom Tax on Saturday 5 April.Planned so far are some excellent speakers, a little bit of street theatre and also an advice stall to help people appeal against the Bedroom Tax. Please bring banners, placards, friends and anyone you know who is affected by the Bedroom Tax – but mostly bring yourselves.
Press coverage today further discredits the Bedroom Tax (see these links to the BBC and Guardian coverage this morning Bedroom tax fails to help tenants move, says report and It’s official: the bedroom tax causes misery). It’s an unpopular measure and we need to turn the tide of public opinion even further aganst it. Now’s the time to show our opposition – so be there if you can.
And a reminder: Last planning meeting for Day of Action is at 8.00 pm on Monday 31st March at Hamilton House. Come along and add your ideas for the Day of Action. Please contact me on 07758806144 if you will need a lift to get there.
Bristol and South West Unite the Resistancehttp://bristolunitetheresistance.wordpress.com/