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AMA

I'm a Probation Officer- ask me anything

107 replies

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 14:43

I feel like the role of a probation officer is often misunderstood and we don't get much exposure (good anyway!) in news/TV so...ask me anything!

OP posts:
GoodChat · 02/08/2023 14:55

Do you have a specialism or do you just get given whatever cases are there at the time?

Do you work with men, woman and young offenders?

Do you find that you get a good idea of who the reoffenders will be immediately?

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:08

Great questions! A lot of offices have 'specialist teams' that work with certain types of cases such as sex offending or women for example. Largely though, we have a mixed caseload ranging from minor offences on community orders through to life sentenced prisoners due for release and in the community. Young offenders come to us from the age of 18.

I think you often have a gut feeling for those that you need to be more concerned about. Often their past history will be indicative of a pattern of behaviour that is likely to be repeated. It's an odd job though in the sense that we don't see the ones that do well and don't reoffend as thankfully they never come back to us!

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Seryse · 02/08/2023 15:11

@webster1987 What's the hardest part of you job for you personally? (Apologies for jumping straight in with the big guns, but irs asomething I've always wondered and don't know any probation officers personally- thank you for posting this and giving the opportunity)

Idratherbepaddleboarding · 02/08/2023 15:15

Me too, hello đź‘‹.

Cloudsarebright · 02/08/2023 15:17

Has you’re experience affected your views on race/racism in the uk?

CandyflossKaren · 02/08/2023 15:18

Is this something you should be openly discussing?

My job is similiar but we have a strict social media policy

StillPerplexed · 02/08/2023 15:25

Have you ever seen one of your assignees out in the supermarket— or do they give you people from further away?

Seryse · 02/08/2023 15:26

CandyflossKaren · 02/08/2023 15:18

Is this something you should be openly discussing?

My job is similiar but we have a strict social media policy

They aren't mentioning specific people or giving any details that could point someone out, so I would assume its okay since its just the job they are talking about, not the individual cases... I work in Fetal medicine so in my case for social media as long as its not talking about specific cases or giving away any info that could hat tip to a patient its "ok" (meaning I can talk about procedures, tests we perform etc)... I could be wrong, but I don't see why talking about the job itself could cause any problems for the OP (again im just assuming that they have indeed had a long think before posting this).

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:27

Seryse · 02/08/2023 15:11

@webster1987 What's the hardest part of you job for you personally? (Apologies for jumping straight in with the big guns, but irs asomething I've always wondered and don't know any probation officers personally- thank you for posting this and giving the opportunity)

For me, its a few things. The workload is crazy and so much to oversee with very real consequences if we take our eye off the ball. I have found periods of stress coinciding with very difficult abusive individuals, that can sometimes take it's toll. Largely though, the lack of resources available to truly help people and give them the tools they need to better their life and stay offence free.

OP posts:
webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:27

Idratherbepaddleboarding · 02/08/2023 15:15

Me too, hello đź‘‹.

Great, hi 👋🏼

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Idratherbepaddleboarding · 02/08/2023 15:28

StillPerplexed · 02/08/2023 15:25

Have you ever seen one of your assignees out in the supermarket— or do they give you people from further away?

It’s not my AMA but I’m on AL today and am at the opticians with DS. Just seen one of my guys walking his dog. You usually just say hi and continue on your way.

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:30

CandyflossKaren · 02/08/2023 15:18

Is this something you should be openly discussing?

My job is similiar but we have a strict social media policy

As another poster has commented, I am not discussing any individuals or internal sensitive information so I don't believe there to be an issue with this.

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webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:32

StillPerplexed · 02/08/2023 15:25

Have you ever seen one of your assignees out in the supermarket— or do they give you people from further away?

You work with people who live within a certain proximity to your office, so that depends how close you live to your office location! I live some distance away so don't really have this issue but I have seen those I've worked with out and about on lunch breaks etc. depending on the working relationship I may acknowledge with a simple hello but I wouldn't want someone in a position where they'd have to explain who I am to someone their with. Likewise, some have come over for a chat to update me on how things have been since I was working with them which is good!

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Market1 · 02/08/2023 15:35

Do you feel you are making a difference or pissing into the wind?

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:40

Market1 · 02/08/2023 15:35

Do you feel you are making a difference or pissing into the wind?

I feel we help people make changes, but these may be very small and take years to do, often not seeing the results of that much later when someone may finally make the choice to make changes. It's often hard to quantify.

I feel we have a very important role in managing risks though. Whilst rehabilitation is an important aim, managing risk and protecting the public is top of the agenda. I feel we do make a difference there, helping to monitor and prevent offences from happening.

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webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:41

Market1 · 02/08/2023 15:35

Do you feel you are making a difference or pissing into the wind?

@Idratherbepaddleboarding what's your thoughts on this?

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Market1 · 02/08/2023 15:41

Thank you for answering, and thank you for what you do - I couldn't cope with that - the responsibility and the lack of seeing the difference you make.

GoodChat · 02/08/2023 15:59

Do you just monitor the people you work with (sorry I don't know what you refer to them as) or do you accompany them to job interviews and assist with benefits etc?

You said some have been quite aggressive - what happens then? Does that qualify as a parole breach?

SwirlyShirly · 02/08/2023 16:28

How are you getting on with CRS services?

Idratherbepaddleboarding · 02/08/2023 18:05

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 15:41

@Idratherbepaddleboarding what's your thoughts on this?

I’d agree with you that it’s often small changes but it can make a big difference. I’m actually a PSO and I’m the drug and alcohol SPOC (person in charge of for those not familiar with the million acronyms we use!) so some people can’t, or aren’t ready to, or don’t want to change and some have just made a stupid mistake and have already begun to make changes before it goes to trial. Sometimes I feel like a social worker as much as anything! I’d agree that public protection is the most important thing and we do play an important role in preventing crime and sharing intelligence with the police. We do have quite a lot of power to recall people who are on licence if they don’t abide by their licence conditions or to invoke suspended sentence orders if necessary (although that’s ultimately the court’s decision, we make recommendations). Some people, you know will be back and some people have many, many previous convictions but even if you can reduce re-offending that is beneficial to the public.

Idratherbepaddleboarding · 02/08/2023 18:06

SwirlyShirly · 02/08/2023 16:28

How are you getting on with CRS services?

Some are brilliant, some are awful!

Mischance · 02/08/2023 18:14

I have a young close relative who is in prison - he has autism, mental health problems, brain injury and other problems that landed him in there. He should not be there at all - he should have had proper services for his problems in the past but it was like knocking your head against a brick wall.

He was allowed out on licence with probation conditions. What did the PO do? - absolutely bugger all! He was entirely incapable of living an independent life and needed masses of support, none of which was forthcoming. Absolutely nothing. He finished up back in prison for missing probation appointments, when he does not have the mental capacity to organise transport, remember to go etc. etc. A total Catch 22. Mad - completely mad.

Do you have any observations?

Greenshake · 02/08/2023 18:30

@Mischance and herein lies the problem with Probation and more importantly, the public’s understanding of how it works and what it covers. I am sorry to hear that your nephew got recalled, but Probation are not generally trained in mental health, nor are they housing officers. There is an expectation that the allocated Probation Officer will solve a huge variety of social problems when the reality is that numerous other agencies can pass the buck, often citing risk as the reason why. This leaves the Probation Officer as the sole person trying to resolve it all with barely any resources.

webster1987 · 02/08/2023 19:16

Mischance · 02/08/2023 18:14

I have a young close relative who is in prison - he has autism, mental health problems, brain injury and other problems that landed him in there. He should not be there at all - he should have had proper services for his problems in the past but it was like knocking your head against a brick wall.

He was allowed out on licence with probation conditions. What did the PO do? - absolutely bugger all! He was entirely incapable of living an independent life and needed masses of support, none of which was forthcoming. Absolutely nothing. He finished up back in prison for missing probation appointments, when he does not have the mental capacity to organise transport, remember to go etc. etc. A total Catch 22. Mad - completely mad.

Do you have any observations?

I'm sorry that services have let him down. I couldn't agree more with the PP though. We are often the only agency that is duty bound to work with that person, and as they say, numerous agencies will pass the buck. We are fundamentally there to manage risk in accordance with the licence conditions. A recall decision is not taken lightly and should always be the last resort.

Adult social care/local authority seem very much to be the agency that should be supporting him, in conjunction with Probation.

OP posts:
webster1987 · 02/08/2023 19:21

GoodChat · 02/08/2023 15:59

Do you just monitor the people you work with (sorry I don't know what you refer to them as) or do you accompany them to job interviews and assist with benefits etc?

You said some have been quite aggressive - what happens then? Does that qualify as a parole breach?

We monitor but may also support with appointments if appropriate, although I'd say this is much less likely than in previous years due to severe understaffing and all the problems created following the semi privatisation of the service. Thankfully this has now been rectified but the service has taken a significant battering as a result.

In the event of someone being aggressive, it depends on the situation and the person/their risks. Each case would be considered on its own factors but it would likely result in a warning, or in extreme cases, a recall back to prison. To be fair, aggressive or violent behaviour is minimal, it's more verbal abuse and persistent calls/harassment when things aren't going well for them and they blame us or expect us to fix everything. That probably takes its toll on staff more (talking from personal experience) than any threat of violence.

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