Friday, 15 March 2013

Some Observations 13

We have to remember that it is only a story and not real life, so reality need not get too much in the way. But it did tickle me to see that probation officer Steve Lowe in Enders 'dropped' Bianca's case so he could be 'ethical' about cosying up to Carol, her mum. Never mind that he decided to chat her up in the Vic (it is only a story) and was on orange juice (what a wuss), it was that bit about 'dropping a case!' Oh, if only it were that simple to go to the boss and negotiate a transfer of any case, for any reason, let alone 'I think I fancy her mum!'   

I notice Russell Webster is continuing his crusade to get everyone in the Criminal Justice System tweeting, ironically just as NOMS is putting the screws on probation staff to stop them. Well ok that's going a bit far. Stop them tweeting anything remotely useful or of interest and that might interfere with the government's plans for privatising the Service. 

Mindful of David Cameron's infamous remark that 'too many tweets might make a twat', I've been content remaining what might be termed a 'twitter voyeur' and just eavesdrop on others conversations. I admit I've picked up some useful tidbits, but boy is most of it just inane rubbish or officially-sanctioned newspeak. 

As for the medium stimulating debate or exchanges of ideas, well I think even Ben Gunn feels that the novelty of being able to stir up a hornets nest at the drop of a tweet has worn off a bit. To an extent continuing in his self-styled role of victimhood, I love the bit about him having 'wandered' into two ferocious twitter-wars, as if they were somehow unexpected or not invited! I wonder what Marshall Mcluhan would make of it, the 'medium being the massage' and all.

Finally, I couldn't help but produce a wry smile at the news that the Attorney General Dominc Grieve has come up with a cracking wheeze to take the pressure off a hard-pressed Crown Prosecution Service. In another stroke of genius he suggests getting the police to be more involved in prosecutions, thus effectively taking us most of the way back to where I started in 1985, sat in court behind a police inspector as he prosecuted all the ordinary mundane and mostly uncontested stuff.   

There's still time to sign the No10 petition here.         


  1. I think a drawback when probation officers are featured in the media is that they have no media pedigree, there are no archetypal role models – good or bad – that the viewers can use as reference points. Think of the actors who, for example, have played police officers – John Thaw, Helen Mirren, Peter Falk, etc – and there is also a distinguished list of those who have played lawyers, politicians, doctors and nurses... So, you can have a maverick cop who is an oddball, but he does not become the cop in popular consciousness.

    Having a probation officer in a soap opera is akin to casting a tax inspector, or a traffic warden - just another screwed-up bureaucrat with emotional problems. I hope I am wrong, that the storyline fleshes out an interesting and plausible character who is not creepy in the least.

    1. Yes of course you are probably right - "just another screwed-up bureaucrat with emotional problems" - the trouble is in this job you don't last long if you're either. Anyway, I just think as a profession we're overdue a hero - a cross between David Jason and Robson Green would probably fit the bill....

    2. I am not sure probation is a profession now - if it ever was.

      For a lot of people 'probation workers' - note the loss of 'officer' are represented by the TV series 'Misfits' i.e pretty screwed up characters that end up getting 'bumped off' quite regularly - and no-one seems to miss them.

      It maybe that those who remain in the new public protection service probably as civil servants might be seen as professionals. For the rest, I can see the workforce becoming much more like the people who work for drug agencies: a very mixed bag of lowly paid amateurs, where being an ex-con is more valued than academic qualification.

    3. I could not agree more: probation is not a profession anymore, but as it downsizes it may be perceived as more skilled and professional. The probation service was 'bloated' with untrained and unqualified staff. Nothing unique, as this occurred in policing, nursing, education. And all the new job titles were intended to confuse. In some respects the probation service will shrink back to the size it was before it became part of Labour's job creation programme.