Unions urge immediate protection of Black probation workers from COVID-19

UNISON and sister probation unions tell National Probation Service there is no time to waste in safeguarding their Black/BAME members

UNISON is calling on the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies to proactively reduce risk for Black probation staff.

NHS England confirmed on 7 May 2020 that members of Black communities are at a disproportionate risk of fatal COVID-19.

The NHS has subsequently issued detailed guidance for NHS employers to undertake specific risk assessments of the vulnerability of Black/BAME staff to COVID-19 and take appropriate action to reduce their exposure to and risk from the disease.

The police service has quickly adopted the same approach for police officers and police staff, and now UNISON, NAPO and GMB/SCOOP are calling on the government to implement the NHS risk assessment programme to protect Black probation staff.

In a joint statement, the three unions assert that: “The unions do not believe that there is time to wait for further research on the risk of COVID-19 to Black/BAME communities, which Public Health England is due to publish in a few weeks’ time. We need action now to protect our Black/BAME members.”

Ben Priestley, UNISON national officer for the Probation Service, said: “The risks to Black probation staff from COVID-19 are now well known. The NHS confirmed this to its staff on 7 May, and put in place measures to protect them, and yet we are still waiting for the National Probation Service to take decisive action to protect its Black workers.

“UNISON and our sister unions in probation are calling on the National Probation Service to take action now.”