Keep Probation Public / Keep Probation Local


Justice for Sale – unions voice concern over increased privatisation and cost-cutting

The scale of private sector involvement in the UK’s prisons and probation service has increased dramatically in the last four years and the overwhelming majority of contracts are held by just three companies, according to a report published by the TUC.

Justice for Sale is the first in a series of reports from the TUC and its seven unions with members employed in the justice sector, and is the first activity of the Speak Up for Justice campaign. The research was undertaken by the New Economics Foundation and looks at the growth of outsourcing – where work once carried out by the public sector is now being handled by private companies.

The report looks in detail at what has been happening in the three areas of offender management in England and Wales – prisons, probation and electronic tagging – in an attempt to assess the implications for the taxpayers, public safety and the rehabilitation of offenders.

Read more


Government plans to privatise probation breach forced labour regulations

UNISON, NAPO and GMB have jointly reported the UK Government to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) over its plans to outsource the probation service to the private sector, as this breaches international labour law.

The Government’s plan to open up the supervision, monitoring and delivery of probation to the private sector is in breach of article 24 of the ILO’s Forced Labour Convention which states that community payback orders must be supervised by the public sector. Under the Government’s plans, this supervision will be handed over to the private sector.

Every day, more than 200 community payback orders are imposed by courts in England and Wales. And last year, around 7 million hours of unpaid work were done in the community to deliver on these orders.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said:

“The ILO Forced Labour Convention is very clear that community payback orders must be supervised by the public sector, and the Government’s privatisation proposals will breach this".

“In fact, the UK Government first breached the Convention over 12 months ago when they put Serco in charge of community payback in London".

“The Government is rushing through its probation privatisation plans with undue haste, and this breach of international labour regulations will be just one of the catastrophic results”.

“As well as making this referral of the UK Government to the ILO, UNISON calls on the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to abandon his controversial probation privatisation and to work with unions and employers to keep probation public in the interests of community safety, accountability and offender rehabilitation".

Read more


Protest Against The Sell Off Of Probation

Thursday 19 September 2013, 12.00 till 1.00

Newcastle Law Courts on the Quayside

UNISON is organising a protest to take place at lunchtime on 19 September for members to show their opposition to the Government’s plans to sell off 70% of the Probation Service to the private sector.

Why 19 September? Because this is the day that Chris Grayling, Justice Secretary, is planning to put the advert for the probation sell-off into the Official Journal of the European Union. This is the first step that must be taken in any major privatisation.

We hope as many members as possible can join the protests to make it clear to Chris Grayling that opposition to his flawed and dangerous plans has not gone away.

Details and campaign update


99% Of Unison Members Vote To Reject Government Reforms Of Probation

UNISON’s recent survey of all Probation members has delivered a resounding vote of no confidence in Chris Grayling’s plans to radically reform the Probation Service.

This result will send a very strong message to Chris Grayling and the Government that staff who work for the Probation Service are not prepared to stand by and see the Service that they have committed their working lives to, destroyed for ideological ends. The jobs that our members do, to protect communities and help reform offenders, is too precious and too important to be broken up in the way that the Justice Secretary is proposing.

UNISON and our sister union in Probation, Napo, have agreed a high level statement which sets out our joint commitment to work together on behalf of our members to defend a public Probation Service.

Read the statement and more in the 'Probation Works' newsletter.

To support our fellow UNISON members in Probation complete the model letter below and send it to your MP.

Model letter in PDF format 

Model letter in MS Word format 

Find out your MP’s details


Transforming Rehabilitation

UNISON Briefing No.2, June 2013

This briefing describes:

UNISON Briefing No.2, June 2013




In January 2013, the Government published ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ setting out radical plans to reform the Probation Service in England and Wales.

The Probation Trade Unions welcome the big idea behind the reform, which is to provide supervision and rehabilitation to those leaving prison after short sentences. But the Government is going about this in completely the wrong way.

The Government wants to:

  1. Privatise up to 70% of the work of the Probation Service: including offender management for all but the most dangerous offenders, programmes and community payback
  2. Parcel up this work into big cross regional contracts and sell it off to whichever private sector company can do it most cheaply
  3. Pay for the work via an untested ‘payment by results’ model
  4. Force the 35 local Probation Trusts to merge to form 16 super-Trusts
  5. Make these super-Trusts set up complicated arms-length bodies to bid against the private sector 

GMB, Napo and UNISON want to see the Government build on the success of Probation, rather than tearing apart a successful Service and replacing it with an untried and untested experimental model. So with our years of experience in Probation to build on, we are calling for an alternative revolution, which would protect the best of the existing system and add capacity via sustainable, local, public-public partnerships.

We want:

What you can do:

Read more about the campaign and how you can support it in 'Northern Probation Newsletter No. 1'


UNISON responds to consultation

UNISON's response to the govrnments consultation on ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ is summarised in 'Probation Service Under Threat' - Joint Unions Probation Leaflet. 

You can find the full response here.








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Learning at Work Week

15-21 May 2017. The theme this year is Curious and Creative for Learning at Work Week.

Distance Courses

Starting 24 April 2017, these courses can be done online or paper based.


NEC Elections

Branch nominations and ballot details.

'There For You’ Newsletter

This newsletter includes an update on the changes to the Bereavement Support Payment as well as contact details for ‘Down to Earth’, who provide practical and emotional support throughout the funeral process.


Branch Lottery

Winners in March.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/13

Executive pay bandwagon rolls on

Cycle courier entitled to holiday pay

Employment law changes this April

New minimum wage rates kick in

UK lags on maternity

Merger heralds new teaching union

Consultation on caste discrimination



New courses for members and stewards.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/12

Inflation leaps to 3.2%

More regulation of gig economy needed

Appalling risk of suicides in construction

Fat cats — the great pay divide

Racist abuse after Brexit vote

Lack of diversity at top in Wales


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 3 April.


Regional Disabled Members Group

Meeting on Tuesday 28 March 2017 at 4.30pm.

Misogyny as a Hate Crime

Nottinghamshire Police have taken the bold step to identify misogyny as a hate crime and Northern UNSION are keen for this to be replicated in our region. The aim of the event is to identify how we can move the issue forward across the region with all three Police and Crime Commissioners.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/11

Swings and scooters of inflation basket

No real improvement in weekly earnings

Cosmetic improvement with Living Wage

Zero-hours contracts at record high

Unemployment falls below 1.6 million


AGM 2017

Agenda and annual report.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/10

Economic forecasts in Hammond's Budget

Mixed fortunes in ethnic women's pay gap data

Company merger and acquisitions in 2016

Numbers on zero-hours contracts at a high

GMB take on DX delivery firm

Former chancellor's nice big earner

Charter to stop violence at work


March/Rally for Durham Teaching Assistants

Saturday 25 March. Hear grassroots, union and guest speakers and watch the Reel News film showing the Durham Teaching Assistants’ story.

LGBT Policy weekend

Saturday 25 March, to plan UNISON LGBT activities for the year ahead.

HOPE Not Hate Event

A joint training session for trade union and community activists on how to organise to defeat the politics of division.  18 March 2017.

NE People’s Assembly

March calendar of events and activities.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/9

Trade Union Act regs come into force

Gender pension gap leaves women short

Violence at work — the nasty truth

Bookseller's £7m salary

Money purchase pension are norm

British Gas denied appeal in Lock case

Government fails in ethnicity review


Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on Monday 6 March.

Retired members

Papers for the retired members' meeting on 17 March.


Branch Lottery

Winners in February.

Workers Memorial Day

Morning seminar and afternoon remembrance service in Hartlepool on Friday 28 April 2017. There is also an Eve of WMD ‘Gig’ on Thursday 27 April.


Labour Research Department Fact 79/8

Government green paper on pensions

A 'Stern diet' for fat cat directors' pay

Employers — don't miss out on talent

Argos repays £2.4 million to 37,000 staff

Economic growth revised upwards

Work fears of disabled people revealed

In the papers

Migrants have helped make Britain. It’s time to celebrate us

NHS at breaking point, according to British Medical Association

Councils prepare to cut essential services to fund adult social care

London transport spending equivalent to £1,500 more per head than North East


Labour Research Department Fact 79/7

Minimum wage cheats named and shamed

Inflation hits three-year high

Unemployment at 11-year low

Inflation erodes growth in weekly earnings

In the papers

Migrants are always the scapegoats. But now they’re taking on Ukip’s lies

I, Daniel Blake is a realistic depiction of life on benefits. Isn’t it?

English social care system for elderly facing 'complete collapse'

North East peers want law to make Government investigate impact of Brexit on region

North East recruitment drive revealed as jobless total in region rises

UK employment growth driven by foreign nationals, figures show

The NHS needs a rethink. Its priorities no longer make sense

Top Labour politicians come to 'UKIP area' Sunderland for Brexit debates and festival

Rothbury Community Hospital inpatient ward closure public meeting this week

Shopping will cost you more as prices rise, but is Brexit to blame?

Campaigners calling for u-turn over Post Office move

UK labour shortages reported as EU worker numbers fall

Britons living in the EU face Brexit backlash, leaked paper warns

Then the Daily Mail came for Gary Lineker, and we said: ‘Enough!’

Brexit survey revealed: What you would do if given second shot at EU referendum

Booming gig economy costs £4bn in lost tax and benefit payouts, says TUC

There will be a shameful betrayal of the Brexit low-paid

Welcome to the new dark ages, where only the wealthy can retire

NHS 'pays £7.5m a year for 20 most expensive agency doctors'

Drive to bring health and social care together is a well-intentioned mess


Disabled Members Policy Weekend

Sunderland, 19/20 May 2017.

Members training

Sign Language (BSL) Introduction, 2 March 2017

Dementia Workshop, 30 March 2017

Reps training

Regional Education Calendar 2017

In the papers

A&E in England had worst delays ever in January, leak suggests

Why was Newcastle Council leader Nick Forbes the star of Prime Minister's questions?

Number of patients stuck in hospital 'far higher than NHS data shows'

It's time corporate tax dodgers started losing lucrative council contracts

More council housing needed in the North East - government report reveals

Council tax, youth funding and bins: 6 things to look out for from Sunderland budget meeting

TyneMet and South Tyneside colleges merger: What it means for jobs, campuses and its new name?

Labour Research Department Fact 79/6

Review of tribunal fees finally published

Plan to tackle abusive hiring practices

Insecure work on rise

Twenty eight directors share £68.37 million


Affiliations and donations

A list of affiliations and donations that the branch committee has approved since January 2015.


In the papers

UK faces return to inequality of Thatcher years, says report

NHS ID scheme could deter eligible patients, say MPs

Councils may cut social care provision due to underfunding, LGA says

Nursery schools: ‘What society gives children less chance than their parents?’

Council tax rise planned for Northumberland residents as authority faces £36m cuts

'Trump can't hack Trebs' - the best signs from Newcastle anti-Trump demonstration

Labour Research Department Fact 79/5

Racism at work

Economy grows but there's a shortfall

Advice on gender pay gap from Acas

Tories offer no solution on discrimination

Eight assaults a day in Welsh schools


A quarterly periodical updating branch reps on employment law.


Branch Lottery

Winners in January.


Young Members

Northern Region Young Members AGM

Black Members

UNISON Northern Region Black Members Forum AGM 2017.

LV Car Insurance

Discounted car insurance for UNISON members.


North East March and Rally for #ourNHS

In Newcastle on Saturday 4 February.

Branch Committee

Papers for the meeting on 6 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/4

Death by a thousand fire service cuts

Guidance on stress

Modern-day slave traders jailed

Fees let bad bosses get off scot free

Top-ranked inclusive employers 2017

Get tough on pay, says pension funds


Women's Network AGM

Agenda and nomination form for the mmeting on 4 February.

Disabled Members

Annual Meeting of the Regional Disabled Members Self Organised Group on Tuesday 31 January 2017.

Members training

Mental Health Awareness Workshop on Thursday 16 February.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/3

Wales to ditch parts of 2016 Trade Union Act

Inflation rates at highest since 2014

Retail inflation eating into earnings growth

UK unemployment at nine-year low

In the Papers

Public sector pay poised to fall by thousands in real terms, TUC says

May’s promise on workers’ rights is hollow if she doesn’t get a deal

NHS crisis: the one act of self-sacrifice that could rescue our health service

Politicians have ignored the working class for too long

World's eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Crisis, what NHS crisis? Theresa May must stop this denial

Welsh government tables bill to overturn Trade Union Act


Anne Frank Trust Exhibition

UNISON have now been allocated two spots on the 16 January to have guided tours around the Anne Frank exhibition. 

Labour Research Department Fact 79/2

Courier's tribunal win against CitySprint

TUC warns over Brexit threat to workers' rights

Lame excuses for not paying minimum wage

High street store fined over safety

Manufacturing output edges higher

Child poverty briefing


Branch Lottery

Winners in December.


The Trade Union Act and UNISON's Political Fund

Consultation on political fund review: December-January

Reading Ahead

We are having our first Reading Ahead launch at Welford Learning Zone on 11 January between 10am and 11am.

Trade Union Reps courses

Book now to secure your place on one of the courses for Reps at Newcastle College starting in January 2017.

Northern Region Training Programme

UNISON courses in 2017. These courses are free and open to all members unless otherwise stated.

Labour Research Department Fact 79/1

'Precarious pay penalty' of zero-hours staff

Plans for a Universal Basic Income

2017 — economic forecasts for year

'Fat Cat Wednesday' has been and gone

Northern Ireland to reveal political gifts

UK's deficit in trade in goods gets ever worse

UK economic growth revised upwards