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2023 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
6 June 2023

Unpaid Work is the most visible and public facing element of the Probation Service. First introduced as a sentencing option to the judiciary in 1973, it soon became popular as way of offering both punishment, rehabilitation and restoration to the community, it outperforms prison sentences when comparing re-offending rates and despite some dubious interventions from some private companies, it has remained the jewel in the Probation service’s crown.

Given how important Unpaid Work is to the success of Probation Service in the eyes of the community the way it has been re-integrated into the unified Probation Service has been truly unacceptable. Many staff have suffered months of not being paid properly, of having inadequate payroll systems imposed on them, some staff have been downgraded, there are regular reports of lack of adequate facilities in terms of estates and equipment and recruitment to the roles are often lacking in accurate information which results in poor retention.

It has now been 2 years since unification and the situation for our Unpaid Work colleagues has improved very little; workplace satisfaction of this group of members remains low.

We therefore call on the Service Group Executive to work with the National Probation Sector Committee and the employer to refocus efforts in making sure that this vital part of the Probation Service has everything in place to be able to function properly including;

1)Sourcing buildings and equipment that are fit for purpose;

2)Introducing a payroll system that works for all Probation functions;

3)A commitment to re-evaluate all roles that were down-banded at the point of unification;

4)An introduction of recruitment practices that reflect that the actual job.