Probation officers have a pretty tough and important job. They work with offenders to ensure that they carry out their punishment, realise the impact of their crime and try to minimise the chances of them re-offending. They evaluate the risk the offender poses to the public, and what can be done to reduce it.
Probation officers don’t just work with offenders after they’ve finished their stint in prison or their punishment. They also work with offenders before they are sentenced, interviewing them and preparing pre-sentence reports, which are used to advise magistrates on appropriate sentences,
They continue this work during the criminal’s sentence, where they work with prisoners who are due for release, as well as providing risk assessments on those who are up for early release.
Probation officers might run support groups or other measures to reduce re-offending and enforce Community Orders. After all, they don’t just deal with offenders – probation officers will also work with the victims of crime.
Salary & benefits
Most probation services officers earn between £21,000 and £30,000 a year.
However, once they are fully qualified, they can expect to net somewhere in the region of £28,000 to £38,000 a year.
Since this profession is mostly based in the community, probation officers will spend less time at a desk, and more time visiting group sessions, prisons, and courts.
These guys won’t normally work more than 40 hours a week and follow pretty traditional working hours (e.g. Monday to Friday). On occasion, they might be required to work overtime or during the evenings or weekend.
To become a qualified probation officer, you’ll need to become a probation services officer first. You can do this through applying to a role at a local probation trust. Most will be looking for previous experience of working with offenders or vulnerable groups, either through volunteering or paid work.
From a probation services officer role, candidates can train to become a probation officer through studying a degree in Community Justice, as well as a level 5 diploma in Probation Practice.
Those who have already obtained a degree in Criminology, Community Justice, Criminology, Police Studies or similar can be fast-tracked on to the Graduate Diploma route to becoming a probation officer.
As a huge part of their job will be building up relationships, probation officers need top notch verbal communication skills, a non-judgemental attitude, and the ability to gain people’s trust.
They will also need to be good at working in a team as well as independently, and possess solid report writing skills.
Training & progression
After completing the relevant foundation degree or graduate diploma and in-service training, probation services officers can then qualify as a probation officer.
During the rest of their career, they’ll be expected to continue training and developing as the profession demands. Probation officers might go on to specialise in certain areas or move into more managerial roles.