I've just caught up with the latest edition of the newspaper for prisoners 'Inside Time' and find that the relatively new probation blogger Zoe Stafford has written a piece for them entitled 'My Probation Pledge'.
All I know about this officer is what she has decided to share via the Russell Webster site and her posts to date. Naturally it's great to see someone else writing on the subject of probation, but right from the beginning I've been just a bit wary of this all bearing the hallmarks of a piece of stage-managed media image building. I have visions of meetings filled with the usual professional meeting attenders discussing the really bad press the probation service currently gets, especially on the internet, and how that might be addressed. 'What the service needs is a young, vibrant, trendy voice to spread the word via Twitter and other exciting media outlets' - you know the sort of thing.
This is a great shame in my view as it is so transparent, as well as being risky and possibly counter-productive. The majority of comments the article has generated are pretty forthright and shall we say confirm a certain degree of naivety on the part of those that encouraged this particular line of attempted image-manipulation in the first place. In my view clients have always been experts in sussing out the true character of their officers and can spot bullshit and bollocks a mile off. Patronising them is not to be recommended in my view.