The justice services union Community has successfully lobbied to prevent Prisoner Custody Officer (PCO) badges of officers in the private sector being revoked without appeal. Prior to Community taking up the issue with the Ministry of Justice and National Offender Management Service, officers could have their badge revoked and there would be no process where officers could make a challenge. Losing your badge means you lose your livelihood because you can’t work as an officer again.
Following a number of meetings with the National Offender Management Service, civil servants have written to Community’s General Secretary, Roy Rickhuss, confirming that no PCO’s badge will be revoked without the officer concerned being given a hearing.
Community has asked for NOMS to circulate guidance widely across the sector and will update members once the guidance is issued. The focus of Community’s campaign will now to turn to Scotland and the private contracts managed by the Home Office.
Adrian Axtell, Community’s National Officer said: “This win is integral to protect members who were at risk of being put out of work with no opportunity to defend themselves against allegations. It’s time now that the Scottish Government caught up and provided the same rights to justice staff working for the Scottish Prison Service.”
One of Community’s prison officer members said: “I had my PCO badge taken away before I was even able to put my case forward. I was out of work for months on end while the incident was investigated. I’m pleased to hear that thanks to Community this won’t happen to any more of my colleagues. I hope it will be rolled out across the rest of the UK.”
Community represents workers across a range of justice services including prisoner escort contracts and private prisons.