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2023 Police & Justice Service Group Conference
6 June 2023

Unpaid Work, Community Service, Community Pay Back, whatever people call it, everyone knows what is meant by it. Unpaid Work is the most visible, public facing, community interactive 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 private companies who were awarded contracts to run Unpaid Work in some regions, it has remained the jewel in the Probation Service’s crown.

Given the centrality of this function to the courts, the Probation Service and the community, the way that Unpaid Work has been welcomed into the unified Probation Service has been nothing short of a scandal. Many staff have suffered months of not being paid properly or of having inadequate payroll systems imposed on them. Some staff have been downgraded and there have been regular reports of lack of adequate facilities in terms of estates and equipment. It was almost as if the Probation Service did not realise what they were taking on.

Two years on since re-unification, the situation for our Unpaid Work colleagues has improved very little and workplace satisfaction amongst this group of members remains low.

We therefore call on the Police and Justice SGE to work with the National Probation Service Committee to refocus efforts in seeking to ensure that this vital part of the Probation Service has everything in place to be able to function properly by encouraging the employer to provide:

1)Buildings and equipment that are fit for purpose;

2)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.