HC Deb 31 January 2003 vol 398 cc1091-2W
Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received concerning(a) workloads and (b) resources in the Probation Service. [94486]

Hilary Benn

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, through the National Probation Directorate, has received representations as follows:

(a)In respect of workloads, representations were made by the Trade Unions and staff representative bodies which led in January 2001 to a Joint Agreement on Priorities and Employee Care between the Home Office, probation employers, Trade Unions and staff representative bodies. This agreement identified the areas for concern raised by all signatories and a joint framework for improvement. The National Probation Directorate is leading the project to design and implement a Workload Measurement Tool, and has provided a Workload Prioritisation Framework.

The National Association of Probation Officers is undertaking a campaign in respect of workloads which has led to a formal dispute. Local agreements to settle this dispute have now been reached in 34 of the 42 areas of the National Probation Service for England and Wales, and negotiations continue in the remaining eight areas.

(b)In respect of resources, 16 Probation Boards have expressed views about their budget for 2003–04.

Mr. Allen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the(a) pay and (b) career development rewards available to probation officers for personal success in reducing re-offending by offenders assigned to them; and what plans he has to change them. [94492]

Hilary Benn

Probation officers are paid on a range in accordance with a nationally negotiated salary spine as part of the national agreement on pay and conditions of service.

(a)The current salary spine for probation officers is from a minimum of £19,443 to a maximum of £26,226.

(b)Probation officers are eligible for merit increases when they reach the maximum of the pay spine with a current maximum of £28,686.

The National Probation Directorate, in conjunction with the Probation Boards Association and the trade unions representing staff in the National Probation Service (NPS), is currently reviewing the structure of pay and reward for staff in NPS, including probation officers. The objective of this re-evaluation of the current system is to see that the NPS has an appropriate pay and reward strategy that properly rewards staff for high performance and ensures the recruitment and retention of a highly skilled and motivated work force.