Workers feel pressured into long hours to meet bosses’ unachievable targets
PROBATION OFFICERS are forced to neglect important tasks because of “unrealistic” time pressures and “unachievable” deadlines, the Morning Star can reveal today.
A survey found that almost half (47 per cent) of staff working for giant contractor Interserve — which took over large chunks of the probation service when it was part-privatised in 2015 — thought they were pressured to work long hours.
And 48 per cent said they were unable to take adequate breaks, according to probation unions Napo and Unison.
Sixty-one per cent said they often or always had unrealistic time pressures, and 46 per cent said they often or always had unachievable deadlines.
One employee said they had “worked many additional hours for no pay … despite having no printer, scanner or internet access.”
Napo national official Sarah Friday warned that pressures on rehabilitation services could have severe consequences for public safety.
“Given the nature of the work these staff do, this could have quite serious consequences in terms of managing safety issues,” she told the Star.
“These results are very much indicative of a wider picture. The part-privatisation of the service, and changes that have been made subsequently, have reduced an effective and high-performing service to a state of near breakdown. It’s the staff who are bearing the brunt of that.”
The probation service was split under the Con-Dem coalition’s Transforming Rehabilitation programme. The most serious cases are now dealt with by the National Probation Service, which remains in the public sector.
But all other cases are dealt with by regional community rehabilitation companies (CRCs), which were put out to tender.
Purple Futures, a partnership controlled by Interserve, now runs CRCs in Cheshire and Greater Manchester, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Humberside, Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire, Merseyside, and West Yorkshire.
One worker said: “My worklife balance is terrible and my family have expressed concerns about my job and how I look.”
Another noted: “It has made me ill, but I dare not be off sick. The last time senior management visited my office they said they didn’t want to hear any negative comments.”
Ms Friday said the stresses faced by probation officers could “only be addressed by bringing the service back together and under some overall government watch.”
The unions now plan to undertake similar surveys among members employed at other CRCs.