Friday, 10 August 2012

Oh Dear...

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. 


  1. H’mm I see what you mean. Part Bridget Jones, part jolly hockey sticks and a bit of sub sixth form debating society tosh; not the best example, if genuine. I would have thought any experienced con would be laughing behind her back, manipulating her for his/her own ends.


  2. I read The probation pledge in inside time. The prospect of Chairman Mao competing with Kim Jung to employ Zoe was quite amusing.


  3. Hi there

    I've only just seen this and was really surprised to be honest! My blogging was never requested by or managed by my employers. It wasn't their idea. It came out of an email misunderstanding, and a few scribbled down musings.

    There were no shadowy PR committee meetings, focus groups or blog-by-numbers.

    I absolutely don't mind people having their own views about the blogs. I'm not a professional writer, and I am the first to admit my writing style is not political, polished or particularly coherent at times. Indeed, if I don't represent what my colleagues feel about their work, I would encourage other people to blog and put themselves forward.

    But I feel I need to make it clear that I am not a PR puppet and never would be. I'm just a probation officer, and ultimately my ability to do the job is not measured on the 500 words of a blog, but rather the outcomes and achievements of the people I help and supervise

    Zoe Stafford

    1. Thanks for responding Zoe - I must have misunderstood your tweets on PR involvement.