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2023 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
6 June 2023
Carried as Amended

Evidence has emerged that the Probation Service has spent and continues to spend millions of pounds on agency staff. Whilst it is acknowledged that agency staff are an asset that is vital in managing the work of the service, it is noted that a significant proportion of the money spent on their employment is taken by the agencies that employ them in the form of fees. This is not a good use of public money which is siphoned off into the private sector with no investment being put back into the service in the way of training or staff development. It appears in some regions that permanent staff have the burden of completing further tasks that agency staff have refused to complete because they are in the fortunate position of currently being a rare commodity.

It has also been recognised that agency staff are being offered differing job descriptions in Probation regions across England and Wales. This has resulted in agency staff spurning job offers in certain regions as they are able to work at home or can pick and choose their job functions. The result is that some regions are now faced with shortages of permanent staff but also have no respite due to the paucity of agency staff.

Whilst agency staff are, in essence, supposed to be a stopgap in terms of completing the work of the service it is apparent that agency staff are now being employed for years rather than weeks in many circumstances. There is also anecdotal evidence that some agency staff have not received the requisite training required to carry out the requisite roles to the standard that is required due to the length of time they have operated as agency staff and potentially because of a lack of training.

We therefore call on the Service Group Executive to:

1)Raise our concerns to the Probation Service bodies responsible for agency staff recruitment and to propose that agency staff are given incentives to join the Probation Service as permanent staff.

Proposals should also stipulate that agency staff are treated in the same way across all regions in terms of being given generic job descriptions in order that they fulfil the needs of the organisation equally across all regions.

It is also proposed that the organisation either starts up an in-house agency or it reduces the fees it pays to all agencies in order that we recruit adequately paid, permanent, full time staff.