My name is Xxxxxxxxx I'm 25 from Xxxxxxxx and I'm a PSO working with CRC at Xxxxxxxx Probation. I've currently been in post for 1 year. I came across your blog sometime ago now and I've been checking in ever since. I think it's a fantastic blog and I'm really happy to have found it. It gives me motivation, keeps me informed, plus the comment sections are great as I can hear different things from other officers all over the country.
I graduated in criminology a couple of years ago now and very fortunately found my current employment within 6 months of graduating. Probation is something I had a passion for whilst at university and I've worked hard to fulfil this ambition of mine.
My father has been working for probation for over XX years now and during my final year at university my lecturer was also a VQ assessor and she managed to get me access to a probation office in Xxxxxxx to shadow officers for a couple of days and I based my final year dissertation project on the privatisation of probation.
I like to think I was somewhat informed about the current controversial events surrounding probation such as privatisation prior to applying and had also done a fair bit of work on probation whilst at university. I wasn't as such going in blind and despite what was going on I still was determined to work for the service as this is something I really wanted to do.
Following my graduation I got through to the assessment centre for the first job I applied for which was the PQF with NPS. I unfortunately didn't get this. Shortly after CRC were recruiting in Xxxxxxxxx, so I picked myself up, tried to develop myself further from my first interview experience and really went for it. The next day I got the good news.
I was going in to the CRC as a fresh graduate with experience of doing some voluntary work with youth offending whilst at university and also maintaining a part time job for the last three years whilst doing my studies. I was eager to learn, gain experience and apply my knowledge from my academics and make a difference in people's life and reduce reoffending.
Jim, within 2/3 months of being in post I absolutely had it. I was overwhelmed, pressured, depressed, anxious and just plain felt horrible. I understand I joined during a crazy turbulent period, it was at least three months before the company that I'm under MTCnovo signed the probation contracts for London and Thames Valley. It's been this major transitional phase which is still going on to this day and I've just been dragged from pillar to post. Within 4 months my caseload was growing rapidly, I was even overtaking more experienced officers than me in terms of number of cases! Half way down the line I've reached over 50 cases. I felt sick, lost and my manager at the time was just not supportive at all (my manager at the time could have a whole email just for him).
This job has taken me to different heights and all ranges of emotions. I've been fatigued, coming home and just jumping in bed, at times my heart just pounding whilst in my own home from what I've been through and encountered. I feel as I've had to rush my development with no time to digest anything. Most of the time I'm just forever chasing things and feel as if I don't have a platform to do anything. It's a jungle and your given multiple cases and then off you go. I just can't do it.
MTCnovo are still in process of introducing new ways of working and we are now in cohorts which includes working aged males (26+), women and young adult males (18-25). We've just about completed all our reallocation's of cases to the respective officers which will now be managing them within their cohorts.
I currently have a caseload of 40 plus consisting of xxxxxxxxxx which is growing. I only came back from annual leave and had another x allocated to me, one which I just found out by chance as well.
Jim, I currently reflect over the last year of me being in post and I have worked extremely hard, staying back late, reaching these targets and doing as much as I can. I'm even doing my VQ3 at the moment. But I just simply cannot go any further, I have no job satisfaction and I'm just slowly losing my desire. I have even begun slowly looking at other jobs and even career prospects.
I've been reviewing a lot of things lately and I just cannot go on with the way things are. Yes as your previous bulletins and comments have mentioned, they are making breaches a lot more difficult, there is just no clear vision, I'm sick and tired of going back and fourth with targets, corporate bollocks and then discussions and presentations about probationary practice and caring for the individual which we're just stuck in the middle between these two ends of the spectrum.
I'm just fed up and can't go any further. I'm trying to do as much as I can but it just never ends, we are short staffed and have been for a while now and they are only recruiting now so I don't know if this will make any difference to the workload yet. There's so many things going on with my cases and it's like I can't even be responsive to it due to the madness and then who's the finger pointed at....myself.
Right now I've told myself get on the next probation officer qualification training with NPS, that's my aim for now. That's my long term call, I genuinely want to become qualified and work for NPS which I am interested in the kind of work and cases that they hold. However should this not become available, or I'm not accepted, plus if things are the same with how they are now same time next year, then I am leaving. I'm going to try and give it another year at least. Should I be in the same position and nothing has improved then I'm gone. My health has been compromised, I've worked to the bone, I've been ill as a result, limited support, it just can't go on. It's such a shame as probation is such a unique and amazing profession, but it's just in ruins at the moment. I've been looking at other career choices and I'm just keeping an open mind.
I think the colleagues that I work with are amazing and couldn't be here without their support and guidance. I believe this is the only great thing, the people. We all speak about our feelings and it's great to know you're not alone, your blog also helps with this as it gives me comfort knowing I'm not the only one going through this madness. I sometimes feel isolated with my own issues at work but talking to people, hearing other people's stories, what they have gone through recently, some of the issues they face and your blog definitely helps me and motivates me and let's me know I'm not alone.
Before I close things, the recent post on NAPO aims for 2016 was really encouraging. I've thought about joining on and off and have had discussions with officers who are already a member. I think following from the post and looking at what they are working on I will be joining too.
Anyways Jim, thank you for your work and maintaining your blog. I just wanted to reach out and say my bit in confidence and privately. This is for your information only however if you wish to highlight any extracts please do so without identifying me.
I hope you have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Thank you for your reply, it feels great reaching out. I have no objections towards my piece being published, thank you for taking the time to amend it and keeping me anonymous, it is very much appreciated.
I currently have a DRR report to do for an individuals DRR review at Crown Court however we have not had any drug testing kits for the last month and I've had nothing to test him with, so I look forward to doing this report. I really hope the service can take some responsibility and actually support staff's welfare and provide them with a stage for them to do their jobs.
It's just bit of a circus at the moment and it's like this factory, let's get these orders in, do these 'RARs' swiftly and get them out. No real acknowledgement to other factors in ones life and needs, and the whole situation with breaches and recalls is just something else. In a cohort of xxxxxxxxx we have been told that as a team we are only allowed to do 5 breaches for the month covering the whole of Xxxxxxxx area.
Anyways I'm going to get myself going again, but I'm really passionate with this line of work and have endured so much this last year and find it really frustrating with that's happening, I hear some real horror stories coming out of Xxxxxxxx. It's fortunate that my father works in probation and I can speak to him at home and he understands.
Thank you again for your support Jim and your inspiring blog. I hope you have a great week.