Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Trust Me - I'm a Probation Officer!

I've always felt that a bit of self-analysis is no bad thing. Indeed I would say it's an absolutely vital trait for any aspiring probation officer and it's certainly something we would wish to encourage many of our clients to embrace. Trying to understand why we do things is almost certainly a healthy pre-requisite for trying to understand why other people do things. Uncomfortable though it may sometimes be, in order to aid this process it can often be helpful to hear what others feel about us. In this context I have recently drawn readers attention to the Prisoners Families Views website which often contains worrying and uncomplimentary examples of probation involvement.

On the Prisoner Ben website there has been some wide-ranging and healthy discussion about various issues, including the role, responsibilities and effectiveness of probation. I have taken the liberty of quoting some comments and views from a recent post entitled 'World's Apart' in order to give a flavour of the discourse.        


"These guys give every indication of believing that they help us, supports us, try to get us out.

Prisoners believe that they are inept, dishonest and look for any excuse to keep us in."

"The word Probation officer is red rag to a bull to me. I have only ever met one decent one ........... I dare say there may be one or two well meaning ones, but on the whole, most of them have got my back up. It is like dealing with nethanderals, they are so terminally stupid, they can't even write acurate notes in your file. Which is a worry if your liberty depends on it. They are not to be trusted, anyone with any sense should just tell them what they want to hear. God help the poor people who could really use a helping hand when they get out. By the way, if anyone reading this thinks the problem is me, i would understand why you would think that, but no-one else on this earth has made my blood boil like my old probation officer. Prison staff, some good ones, some bad. like everywhere, (except probation, all with micky mouse degrees from some third rate college."


"Its the new generation probation officers, or, in my case social workers who I am more worried about. What they get taught in college these days especially psychology is closer to victim blaming than anything. They then come to the 'profession', maybe with huge financial debts due to the high cost of education or supported by their parents, but know little and want to do as they are told which is to put the blame squarely back onto those who they are supposed to be helping.

These days the gap between social workers (as I have more experience of them than prison staff or probation) is even bigger and from what I can gather, nobody is happy, not the 'clients' nor the staff. Only those reaping in the dollars from costs cuts and privatisation, they are the ones sporting big cheshire cat got the cream smiles, while we suffer."

Many would agree that much of this, whilst making for uncomfortable reading, is not particularly  surprising given the position we occupy in the criminal justice system. After all a prisoner is unlikely to agree or be happy with an officer making a negative recommendation for early release on Parole Licence. Or if recommending release, for suggesting conditions that might include hostel residence, exclusion zones, programme attendance or curfews. But even back in 'the good old days', public protection has always been part of the job when we were all social workers and 'helping' people. Being a probation officer never has been about winning a popularity contest with clients, but even I can see that things may have gone a bit too far.

From all the quotes above it's this one that seems to sum the issue up:-

"They are not to be trusted, anyone with any sense should just tell them what they want to hear."

Obviously there is only one way in which trust can be achieved and that is by earning it. I well remember many years ago and being the 'new boy' in the team, listening to my senior in supervision telling me that the best thing to do was not to listen to my colleagues, but go to him instead as he 'could be trusted.' I remember thinking 'not bloody likely mate - I decide if you can be trusted or not.' Similarly I wouldn't necessarily expect a client to trust me from day one, but rather it would be my aim to build trust and mutual respect as time went on, both when we agreed on things and hopefully when there were differences of opinion. 

A very long-term lifer of mine illustrates the issues raised in this quote perfectly. He has spent many years denying the index offence, whilst blaming his co-accused. I always made it plain that I didn't believe him and regularly reminded him that neither did the Jury or Appeal Court. He would regularly say to me 'just tell me what you want to hear.'  To which I would reply 'just tell me the truth.' He would say 'how will you know it's the truth?' and I would reply 'just try me.' This impasse has not assisted with his sentence progression.

I've seen this sentiment expressed quite a few times on various internet sites 'just tell the probation officer what they want to hear', seemingly in the naive belief that we can't tell fact from fiction or bullshit from sincerity. Trading insults is never attractive or useful but I can honestly say probation officers are not stupid. Indeed it could be argued that if there is any stupidity at all it is often evident on the other side of the desk because the one thing all our customers have in common is that they got caught.

All probation officers only want to hear the truth or honestly held opinions. Getting to the truth means reading the evidence, observing behaviour, listening carefully, investigating sources, questioning, challenging, assessing. It really is nonsense to think that our views or opinions can be swayed by simply 'telling us what we want to hear.'  It's nonsense for all sorts of reasons, not least because it should surprise no one that many people facing criminal proceedings quite often lie a lot. It's often an automatic default position - just watch a few real-life police programmes on tv if you don't believe me.

One of the real skills of a probation officer is to try and build trust with a client and get them to consider options other than this automatic default position. It often takes time, but in the end enables the officer to try and help them sort out their life. It means that court reports or parole reports can be written with real conviction on the part of the officer trying to make positive recommendations. It means that the officer's integrity has to be of the highest order and sometimes that officer will be faced with professional dilemma's that are not easily resolved.

Trust is a two-way street and has to be earned, but I believe remains the cornerstone of our work if we are to be helpful and effective.     

58 comments:

  1. This makes me laugh. I had a video conference with a probation officer and afterwards I found he had completely fabricated what was said and discussed. After release I got a DPA Subject Access and found my current one was writing wild and inaccurate things in my file - going even to claiming meetings and discussions which never took pace (proven).
    Until POs stop running scared, lying and acting in a totally disreputable way you will continue to be looked on with disdain.
    I had about 50 pages of reports and notes corrected but only after getting the Information Commissioner involved because Probation did not understand their obligations.
    It's time you learned that it's not some kind of playground game you are playing, and more and more released prisoners are aware of their rights and your individual responsibilities.

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  2. Thanks for commenting. It's always sad to hear of situations like you describe. In particular I'd make the point that video conferencing is completely unsuitable in my view for trying to establish a relationship and as a means for discussing difficult and serious issues. I'd be really interested to know if you'd met your officer face to face before, or was the first meeting by video conference?

    I hope you might agree that not all officers can be condemned on the basis of your experience, no matter how bad that might have been. Standards and practice vary in all walks of life, but you will appreciate that sometimes an officers viewpoint will necessarily differ from that of a client. That is no excuse for lying or fabricating however and of course rights and responsibilities apply to all, including those convicted of offences.

    Thanks again,

    Jim

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  3. my son has a probation officer who truly gets off on her power. she lies in front of the judge, says one thing to me and my sons lawyer and then gets the commonwealth attorney to say very different things than we expected.

    She is a closet lesbian (looks just like jodie foster with her hair pulled back) so clearly when she gets in the court room to crucify my son it is for many other reasons than just what my son did

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  4. It's always very sad to hear of such experiences as you describe. Fortunately I believe such behaviour that you describe - here in the UK anyway - is extremely rare, but it does happen. I had the misfortune of working with a colleague once who also 'got off on the power' but didn't last long I'm pleased to say.

    Thanks for commenting,

    Jim

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  5. i literally have just come back from p.o. and i think he does't believe me but there again he looks as though he can't be trusted himself.thing is i'm no more clued up than i was when arrested it's my first offence and i'm bricking it as my sentancing is on the 28th march he said he doesn't yet know what to put or what he is going to do thing is i think i do! what do i do now?

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    1. should i get in touch with my solicitor about it?
      because it seems to me that he has the power to just look at you and say i don't believe you

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    2. My only advice is to try and engage with the officer - tell them as much as you can about yourself and the offence - don't try and obstruct the process or make stuff up - it'll just make matters worse in the long run.

      Hope all goes well for you,

      Jim

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  6. A Probation officer's first remit is not to the client as in the old day of assist and befriend etc but to public protection and that can mean anything and is highly subjective. The old days when a PO would undertake the Diploma in Social Work has now been replaced by the Diploma in Probation Studies which is heavily focussed on risk management and public protection. Today, more than ever, probation officers are recalling offenders to prison like its going out of fashion so that the offender will have to start all over again on release if he or she has lost their job, housing etc. I will always advise offenders that probation officers do not exist to help or encourage, they see risk coming out of the woodwork and will recall at the drop of a hat. They are not to be trusted. Don't try and build a relationship with anyone who has the capacity of sending one to prison and never tell them you have problems for too often problems are seen as risks. Too many offenders believe that a smile from their PO and 'how are you' are sincere gestures. No they are not. They're about as sincere as a fox hunter telling you he loves foxes. Just jump through the hoops and tell them what they want to hear. They are not mind readers although they have a notion that they are and can predict the future. They are closer to law enforcement than social work that I wouldn't be surprised if at some time in the future they will be given powers of arrest and search.

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  7. thanks for that jim but to be honest i've had my second encounter with him and all he keeps going on about is that night after saying it'll be a fresh start. well i can tell you he said some offenders have horns and need burning at the local clock tower his words entirely to me this guy is patrinizing and that statement wasn't very professional. no matter what no one is perfect i know but i did tell him it will take some time for me to openly discuss myself and the offence he said he understands.however he tries to trip me up every now and then if i'm honest i would be better off in prison this guy just makes me depressed and feel like crap basically i'm one of these people to keep my calm but i feel as though sooner or later i'll find myself waiting till he finishes work and batter him i'm the one who was sentanced on the 28th march

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  8. cheers for the post to annymous on the 17 march i now realise it wasn't the po it was the om which to be quite honest i don't know what the difference is but he the om seems to get off on his power.now my arguement is that can these so called om's can they just get a police officer to accompany him to a meeting with me? and also do i have a right to sit there on my own say yes sir yes sir you know the score without a solicitor because he seems to be bullying me into something can't put my finger on it.and if i can't then do i hold my hands up and say basically yes i did that as well plus will i get rearrested if i did any comment will be greatly apprecieated.

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    1. Well, Offender Manager is a term that can cover either a qualified Probation Officer or Probation Services Officer. In some Trusts they are dropping use of OM and going back to either PO or PSO.

      I think you need to get some legal advice regarding your situation.

      Hope this helps,

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  9. I'm on cc1 and my Po is just being a straight asshole towards me saying that I can't be in my pool because there are no pools in prison but it's on property And he is trying to get involved in my personal life askin me questions and what not that's non of his business and that I have to be confined to my walls because that's how it is in prison which is not true in prison u can come and go as u please from your cell during a certain time I was thinking about going to his supervisor but I'm trying to apply for early termination of cc1 in 3 weeks

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  10. CC1? - you got me there I'm afraid.

    Probation Officers are paid to ask personal questions. My advice is cooperate with him/her, but if you are not happy for any reason, by all means request to speak to the manager.

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  11. I've just been breached by my probation officer because I insist on continuing to protest my innocence. They say that it is impossible for them to work with me and as such my behaviour is non compliant with the court order. Maybe, just maybe, it really is because I'm innocent. Although I suspect that It didn't help me making a complaint about their behaviour towards me. I found them to be extremely patronizing and unwilling to allow me my right to an opinion. They actually accused me of being stupid. I've just read her report to the court and, well, what can I say? It's full of unsubstantiated defamatory and libelous opinions. So my question is, where's the accountability lie? How on earth can I prove their word to be nothing but defamation and the whole breach borne out of revenge for my making a complaint. One which, surprise, surprise was found to have no credence when allegedly investigated by her supervising officer. I might add that they are still yet to supply me with an evidence that any such investigation ever took place.

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    1. Well it's always difficult when someone is made subject to any community order and they are maintaining innocence. I don't know if you pleaded guilty or were found guilty following trial, but either way you are convicted and the court order must be complied with, or breach action will properly be taken.

      I would be interested to know if you were appealing or not and I personally would allow some leeway until the appeal process was concluded, but you still have a responsibility to comply and that does require your engagement, not just turning up for appointments. However, I don't know the details - the order may be unworkable for example in a groupwork setting by your denial, in which case a return to Court for re-sentencing would seem appropriate.

      The issue over the PSR is a different matter and as you say, you made a complaint. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation you can take matters further and ultimately to the Prison and Probation Ombudsman. There is most definitely an accountability process.

      I hope this helps.

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  12. Ok , here is on for you. What happens when you get finally out. And you have a job and go to all the meeting. Your out you get falsely accused of a crime that would of put you away for life. You sit 6 months .you go to court finally . The courts ruled in your favor, then you sit another 6 months waiting for a parole hearing. Again they rule in your favor. Parole.s judge rules to have your parole back to the way it was before. You finally get out to have an ankle braclet on, why? Not the judges orders. More rules were added, again not the judges orders. Very confused

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    1. Thanks for commenting, but sometimes the law and justice take time. I hope things work out well for you.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  13. Can I just ask why a probation officer would tell someone's relatives that are happy with the prisoners progress and they have always thought the prisoner is genuinely remorseful and tell the prisoner himself if he does this course, that course and what ever other courses and keeps his head down for 6 months then his HDC will be looked at and then his tag is refused due to probation not 'backing him'! Probation made it out like he wanted to help and then stabbed him in the back after he stuck to all asked of him down to the letter! Now he's coming out of jail at his normal release date only to have to go in a hostel only god knows where as well as having no job now as his job has been on hold for 16 months but now his HDC has been refused it can't be held any longer! I agree with everyone that says they aren't to be trusted, they act like they are helping you when that's all an act to get prisoners to do as they say through giving them false hope of early release! I know a lot of people see it as prisoners should be punished and shouldn't get early release anyway but it is possible for them to turn their life around and use their time to reflect and improve on their past!! This man now has to come out to hostel conditions, no job and a girlfriend that is clinically depressed with the stress of being told different things constantly due to the probation officers dishonesty! She's struggled all this time to keep the family home going then to think its finally over only to be told oh no actually it's another 3 months until release and then another 3 months in a hostel and also she'll have to support him as well now seen as he hasn't got a job now!!! It wouldn't be half as bad if they were up front from the start and just said "this is how it's going to be........."! Even typing about the situation makes me fuming!

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    1. It's always difficult to comment on any case without the full details, and that is not a good idea on an open forum like this.

      There must have been a good reason why HDC was not supported and I would hope that was explained to the client. Are you sure it was a case of the PO not supporting, rather than it not being possible due to the nature of the offence or offences?

      It seems likely that there were problems with the home situation for a hostel to be considered - a decision not taken lightly given the difficulty of finding hostel places.

      I suspect that there were elements of risk involved in this case and it was probably a mistake for the PO to have built up false hopes of HDC when it might never have been likely, if indeed that is what happened. Possibly the client wrongly thought that HDC would be possible if they did all the courses etc?

      I hope that helps a bit, but come back to me if you have any further questions.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  14. thank you for replying,its definately his probation that is the cause of him being turned down, they have said that his home address isnt suitable due to it being his address at the time of the crimes and his arrest but for goodness sake what is he suposed to do? give up his home (a home that is infact his partners family home of 20 years and we now rent of her family) give up all the hard work they've put into making it theirs! the house is in a nice area, its private rented, yes it is in the area in which his has known associates but how is he meant to prove hes changed and doesnt want anythin to do with those people anymore when he isnt given the chance? his partner has a good job and he has a supporting family! its not as if hes a drug addict thats being released to nothing and is certain to go back to crime! i just dont find it fair at all! He has been given a high risk assessment but again this doesnt seem fair given that hes in prison with men who have multiple of the one charge he has (and its his first) and they are medium risk. this probation officer just seems to have it in for him and has done from the start.

    thanks

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  15. I have a power mad probation officer that is making life difficult for me and i believe is a disgrace to the probation service... i have a court order specifying that contact with my daughter has to be supervised, nothing more yet despite myself and the mother wanting my father to be that person my probation officer doesn't deem him suitable because he was in court to give evidence and she has threatened that if we allow it she will breach me?! Can she really do that? Several solicitors have advised that as long as i stick to the order she can't but she insists she can and is making life very difficult and confusing! She clearly has very little if any concern about my daughter who misses her dad and has been through enough already. Are you able to help with any advice on who's telling the truth? Her or at least 4 solicitors?

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    1. It's always extremely difficult commenting on cases in the absence of full details - and that would not be appropriate in an open forum like this.

      I think my suggestion would be a solicitors letter to your supervising probation officer setting out a case for your father to be present during supervised visits with your daughter and requesting reasons in writing if this is not felt suitable.

      In the end I think the Probation Officer will have to seek expert advice from the solicitor acting for the Probation Trust and the matter decided by correspondence.

      Hope this helps,

      Jim

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  16. Can a probation officer have an affair with an ex young offender that they have purposly kept their telephone number and keeps visiting them years on and sending the ex young offender sexually explicit text messages

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    1. On the face of it this sounds like serious unprofessional behaviour and if a complaint was made I'm fairly sure it would result in an internal disciplinary enquiry.

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  17. I am on probation for a felony owi. I was violated in March of this year by my then PO for not going to my probation appt. Long story, but I deserved the violation and paid dearly for it. Early oct I was pulled over and now have to go to court for a driving on revoked and have a different PO. I have remained sober and completing the terms of my probation, looking for work and being a mother to my two young kids. I have not been driving but did that day. It was my mothers car and I was dropping my daughter off to a birthday party 2 miles from my house. I have not told my PO because I'm scared of being violated. It has been so hard trying to get our lives back after the last owi in 2011. What will happen when I tell her? Should I have reported this sooner?

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    1. Thanks for getting in touch. Judging by the offence of 'felony owi' I'm guessing that you are a citizen of the United States. The equivalent offence of 'operating while intoxicated' here in the UK would be OPL or driving Over the Prescribed Limit. Both are quite serious offences, depending on the circumstances and degree of intoxication involved and any repeat offending will naturally attract higher penalties.

      As a general rule I would naturally say that informing a probation officer of any change in circumstances or new offence would invariably be the best policy - there needs to be a degree of mutual trust and respect between officer and client so that any sentencing court can get a fair picture prior to any new punishment being imposed.

      I must pick you up on a key bit of distorted thinking on your part - "I have not been driving but did that day". Probation Officers hear this sort of thing quite a bit - you should not be driving at all - not even once or doing something wrong a little bit! I'm sorry but you did drive you did get caught and the assumption will be that you carried on driving many times and did not get caught.

      Having said all that, clearly I do not know all the circumstances of your case and you live in a foreign jurisdiction. I hope things work out ok for you, that you learn from past mistakes and that being open and honest with your Probation Officer will prove the best constructive course in the long run.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  18. Hi jus wondered if anybody could help me.. My partner and the father of my son is due to be released on HDC (tag) in four weeks but has told me that probation officer advised him not to put my address down as he has never lived with children and haven't had this property long however it is my permanent secure council tenancy property (forever home) so thus advised him to put his mum address to obtain tag???? Is this true do you have to live somewhere before or the person to have lived there long? And to have lived with children before even if the child in question is his son????!!!!! Please help

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    1. Hi there,

      It's always difficult commenting on a case without full information and it would not be a good idea to share too much here on an open website. In particular I obviously do not know the details of the offence or offences that led to a prison term and whether they might affect a decision to grant HDC to an address with children.

      Having said all that, I think I would suggest you try and speak to the officer concerned. If your partner decides to carry on putting your address, I'm pretty sure the officer is duty bound to visit you and discuss the matter, including any concerns they may have.

      I hope this helps,

      Cheers,

      Jim



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  19. I know this might sound crazy but I have just served a life sentence for something I never done and I am not coping mentally really depressed I am scared to let my pi know this in case I get recalled is this possible jim

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    1. You don't say how long you were in prison, but in the majority of cases it will have been a long time and coping upon release is no easy task. I'm hoping you know your PO well and you will not be surprised to hear me say that my advice is to talk things over with them and share your worries and concerns.

      Recall is a big step and only really considered if your situation or behaviour has changed significantly and therefore might give reason for concern.

      It could be that you need to see your GP and discuss with them the fact that you are really depressed. It might not necessarily mean medication, but rather some one-to-one counselling. Again, your PO will be able to advise on this or possibly arrange some community support for you.

      Thanks for getting in touch and I hope things improve for you soon. Come back to me either on here or privately via the contact e-mail address on the profile page if what i have suggested is not clear to you.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  20. Been on probation for 2 years now and think the whole organisation/disorganisation is a farce! After meeting my Om from the word go he was ok until he got me confused with someone else! (another person that has the same first name as me not surname) how can we trust you if you cant tell who's who? Complained to my solicitor about it who in turn tried to get in touch with him but couldn't surprise,surprise he is now a manager of some sort lmao this person is a liability and may i add one other thing since then about a year and half ago i lost all hope whilst being on the said disorganisation and my probation officer is no help at all! Moral of the story is these people/robots are not to be trusted at all! Why has my old om been promoted? I just walk away scratch my head and think what!!! Are you lot for real laugh to myself and look at the building shaking my head!! Complete joke!!

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    1. I'm sorry to hear about your experience with your OM. You don't say if they were a PO or PSO but in this world the reality is that there are good, bad and indifferent people in all walks of life and you may have been particularly unlucky.

      Many of us try very hard to do the best job we can, often in very difficult situations, and I can only say I'm sorry your experience has not been more constructive.

      I hope you can now put the whole thing behind you and that things carry on improving so that you need never have to deal with Probation again!

      Thanks for getting in touch and good luck in the future.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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    2. Cheers for that Jim he is a po might I say he will get the reaction he wants if he carries on on a course atm and another member of the group has had a similar problem! Can you give me info on whom to complain to? I believe in sorting situations head on but it has proved useless don't want a po who is absolutely useless doing nothing for me at all!

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    3. The first step is to find out who the PO's line manager is - it's normally a Senior Probation Officer or they might be called a Team Manager. Write a short letter to request a meeting saying there is something you are not happy about and would like to discuss with them.

      I'm sure a meeting will result, but should it not for any reason, write to the Chief Executive Officer at Head Office explaining what has happened and that you want to complain.

      If any of that fails for any reason, come back for a bit more advice. Hope things get resolved for you - in my experience they nearly always do.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  21. Can anyone tell me if my Husband can change his probation officer.(He is in prison) and we are very unhappy with the officer we have.

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    1. Deborah,

      It's open to any client to request a change of probation officer, but there must be good reason and it has to be endorsed by senior management.

      I must tell you that it's rare for requests to be granted due to the fact that the relationship between officer and client is quite likely to be tense sometimes due to the nature of the job, but if a request is made in writing, it will be explored by a manager.

      My suggestion is that your husband tries to discuss the problem with the officer concerned first and only if matters can't be resolved, take things further.

      Thanks for commenting and I hope things get sorted for your husband soon.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  22. this seems like a question I can ask the people here I have been a heroin addicted for 18 years always in jail or prison got on methadone 6 months ago since then I have held a job going to college full time pay my bills take care of family etc living life gave a dirty test oops then told I have to get of methadone well that's the only thing that has worked since I was 14 years old can she legally do this or is it a violation under disability act and rehabilitation act I don't want to go back to hoe I used to be and I knopw when I get sick from coming of the methadone in 21 days from 85mg to 0 I will get strung out any ideas

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  23. to add to it I have spoke to my po about it and she bits my head off my wife tried talking to her and still no my mom and counselor are like what are you doing hes doing so good your gunna screw him over and she says not my problem its his choice

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    1. I think many of us would share your amazement and disbelief! Research and experience tell us that people addicted to heroin, especially for the length of time you describe, on average 'fail' at least 10 times before being able to cooperate fully with treatment.

      From what you say it appears that trying to discuss matters with your probation officer is difficult, therefore I would suggest that you request to see their manager in order to explain your point of view. You seem to have the support of the drug worker and I hope the decision can be reviewed.

      Thanks for contacting and let us know what happens.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  24. I can honestly say that i hated my po at first.he was calist and very agressive on dealing with me.my first impression was this guy was gonna crusify me .i had a seriouse problem with drugs that was destroying my life.his aggresive tactics of yelling at me and sending me to programs and threatening me with jail was a true wake up call and shocked me into doing what was had to b done to get my life together.i now can say i am truley greatful for this man forceing his way into my life he may have saved my life.he still thinks i hate him but this is not at all how i feel.i wad honest with him from the start with my drug problem and he was brutally honest with me and it helped me and im greatful now .

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    1. Jennifer,

      Thanks for commenting and I'm extremely glad that you feel your probation officer was able to help you turn your life around. I'm not sure I particularly recognise terms like 'aggressive' and 'threatening', but clearly it felt like that to you and obviously his 'brutal honesty' with you worked, as you say.

      Thanks again for taking the trouble to make contact and I very much hope things carry on improving for you.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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    2. I was given a 9 month referral order with 27 hours community work. I left my parents home because of continual rows (although we get along now) my YOT worker was kept fully informed of my new address. I was breached and the YOT worker told the court she did not know where I was living. Fortunately the Judge listened to me and believed I had kept her fully informed. He reduced my order to 3 months which infuriated my probation worker, she now insists on sending all letters and appointments to my parents address she has just sent a final warning because I did not attend an appointment what should I do

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    3. Thanks for making contact and I'm sorry to hear things haven't worked out between you and the YOT probation worker. I think my advice would be to consult a solicitor asap. I hope it gets sorted very soon.

      Cheers,

      Jim

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  25. i have been promised that i had a job when i filled out a form on craigslist and was mail a check i cashed it not knowing that it was fake months latter i had a federal warrant for my arrest and was trailed as guilty i have never done anything bad maybe went over on my checking account a few times but never this i am so depressed and sick at that i don't know what to do i have deferred adjudication 2 years and pay every month i am going thru severe depression

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  26. Someone help please can a PO keep me from looking for a job or going to the store to get food

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    1. The answer is yes if you are the subject of a court order or prison licence that prevents you visiting certain areas or particular shops or taking certain employment.

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  27. My son is newly released from 1st prison sentence after serving 2 1/2 years for GBH while on drugs & drink, he attended all alcohol & drug awareness courses when in prison, probation pressurised me to have him home, "after all it was his first sentence" first 2 weeks home perfect, now he is a drunk & back to his old ways smoking weed, why do probation appear to do nothing? & yes I have told them

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    1. I'm sorry to say that it's not that unusual for a young man released from prison to return to old patterns of behaviour, especially if mixing with his old associates and without employment. That is no comfort I know, and probation don't have any magic wand to wave. Sadly set backs are to be expected, despite everyone's best endeavours. All I can suggest is that you try and work with probation and any other agencies in order to encourage your son to change their behaviour. I hope things improve, but it may take a long time unfortunately.

      Thanks for commenting,

      Jim

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  28. This makes me laugh. I had a video conference with a probation officer and afterwards I found he had completely fabricated what was said and discussed. After release I got a DPA Subject Access and found my current one was writing wild and inaccurate things in my file - going even to claiming meetings and discussions which never took pace (proven).

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    1. It happens sometimes sadly - it's all I can say.

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  29. Hello,
    I am new to all of these situations, and I do not know who to ask for an immediate and helpful answer.
    I live in Calgary AB, I am currently on house arrest, and from what I understood, I had permission to go out for a four hour time frame every day and look for a job. I applied for many jobs, but I always received a negative response. I am now feeling insecure because I do not understand if the rejection is based on my past or my lack of education ( I do not read or write well, a friend is typing this for me). So I decided that I would rather dedicate my time to attend school, and get some education, instead of hopelessly looking for employment.
    I have never breached my house arrest, and the past week, I was not attending class because I was sick, but I did not leave my house either. When I started to feel better, I got up and went to school and request any assignments I had missed, so I could catch up, and while I was out, the police came to my house, my wife told them I had gone quickly to school, and they left. They did not return. I have tried calling my P.O and he is not responding. My wife said to me that the police had asked her if I knew that I was not aloud out. But to my knowledge, I was, IF it had to do with education or employment. I want to write a letter to my PO and explain my breach, but I am lost. PLEASE HELP!

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    1. Apologies for the delay in responding to this old blog post. Unfortunately I'm not able to help as the situation in Canada is quite different to that of England and Wales. I hope all works out well for you.

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  30. How would one instigate misconduct proceedings against a PO ? My previous one lied blatantly, reported nefariously, amongst other things...and caused me and my family so much hassle and pain (still ongoing). She made sure I got a heavy sentence for my crime and im still paying whilst on licence for the next 20 months. More importantly, my family are still suffering pain and distress from this.
    I have received info under DPA SAQ etc and I have other forms of proof of lies and misfeasnace.
    This woman is a danger and should not be a practicing PO.

    rgds

    M

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    1. Thanks for your enquiry and apologies for the delay in responding to this old blog post. I suspect you are based in a jurisdiction outside England and Wales and unfortunately I'm not familiar with complaint procedures in other countries.

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  31. I have met some probation officers that truly are helpful. One of my friends has such a PO, who is able to use both authority and discretion. It seems to me that there are times when it is appropriate to be hard-nosed and another when a social worker approach is needed.

    Unfortunately, neither of the two I had. The first one was removed after I had been violated and a letter she had sent to the judge, upon cross examination was found to be entirely fiction. The second one truly is foolish. What is amazing is that neither of those two attempted to build rapport with me. My background is in the behavioral sciences so I am aware of some of the techniques, or at least the appearance of being genuine that encourages rapport with the client.

    I am also astounded how poorly they are prepared and how bizarre is their thinking. I won't relate examples here as am still on probation and that may identify me. My recommendation to how to deal with a PO is to begin from the position that anything they do is not going to help you. As they reveal themselves to be genuine and a reasonable human being, they you can assume another posture.

    I made the grave error, as I did when the first and only time I went to prison, was that there were people to help me if I obeyed the rules. I lost my innocence when was over the age of 50. So now I take a different tack. I take whatever skills I have--reading people and intelligence--and make it work for me. If you are fortunate enough to have a PO that indeed wishes to reintegrate you into society, then I would advise to work well with him/her. Those are usually the ones who are quite bright. But if you have a "guard" type, they usually are quite the dullards and are easy to redirect.

    One last comment: There is a definite difference between those I consider "officers" and those that are merely "guards" or "thugs". What type do you have. Answer that and conduct yourself accordingly.

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    1. Thanks for you thoughts and experiences and aplogies for the delay in responding on this old blog post.

      Of course officers differ greatly despite all the training and experience, but I suspect you are talking of a jurisdiction outside England and Wales and possibly North America where things are very different.

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  32. I plead guilty to a felony on aug 25 2014. I have 18 months probation. my question is on my paper work it says live with parents and abide by rules.. im 31 years old have a house and am married with 2 kids.. the only thing I can figure why the judge put that down was because my lawyer said in court I have family there to support me and if need be could live with them. as this was my first time being introuble and taking a plea deal I was kind shocked by everything and never heard the judge say for me to live there but he very well could have and I just didn't process it... what can I do to change my address with my probation officer snice my court papers say that. also me and my mother don't tend to get along with one another for more than a week

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    1. Thanks for your question - however please note that this blog is based in the UK and I suspect you are based in North America where the situation and legal framework is very different. However my advice is to speak with your probation officer and/or your lawyer as soon as possible.

      Hope things work out ok for you.

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