Saturday, 16 April 2016

Guest Blog 52

TR, E3 & the death of the probation officer

A recent Twitter conversation between an anonymous Probation Officer and Sally Lewis, former Chief Probation Officer, went like this;

@PoOfficer: Well the boss has said that the number of PO's will soon decrease as they hire more PSO's in NPS. PSO's will manage all low / med risk.
@CEOLewis: I don't think Courts, etc know that PSO's are not qualified officers. PO's won't sign with their prof qualifications #BigMistake
@PoOfficer: PSO's now writing the bulk of reports on templates which restrict the amount of text. They are shockingly bad. I'm embarrassed.
I'm going to start and finish by agreeing with Sally Lewis because probation officers should be stating their credentials. Every other professional completing formal reports and assessments states their qualifications as standard. I couldn't imagine reading a letter, assessment or report from a psychologist, medical practitioner or legal representative without reference to their professional qualifications and authority. I think our omission in doing this is partly because our report and letter formats are not designed for us to state BSc, MSc, DipSW, DipPS and DipPP, but also because the culture forced upon us doesn't encourage it.

I read a lot of reports completed by colleagues as we gate-keep each others work to check for errors missed. This mostly includes reports for court sentencing, parole hearings and other formal settings, but only the parole report asks for qualifications and even then many don't state their professional qualifications. Of the others, never do I find these signed "Mr or Mrs Smith BSc, DipSW". Even our letters and emails omit any record of professional qualifications. It's as if we are not professionally qualified or fear stating it, when in fact we have probation officers who have a wealth of formal qualifications. Off the top of my head this includes those with the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work (CQSW), Diploma in Social Work (DipSW), Diploma in Probation Studies (DipPS), Diploma in Probation Practice (DipPP), etc. Most already held formal qualifications and degrees at varying levels before they began probation officer training. I once read a survey that canvassed staff qualifications in a probation trust (when we were trusts) and found the vast majority of staff at all levels held university degrees right up to PhD, but they only stated these when asked.

TR, E3 and the Diploma in Probation Deprofessionalisation

In my humble opinion the probation qualification and professionalism has been slowly eroded over the past two decades. Even our union has omitted "probation" from its title and went from calling itself the National Association of Probation Officers to adopting the acronym Napo! The Probation Institute has gone in a different direction by wanting to sell everyone working in probation, qualified and unqualified, the title of MPInst. I think this problem of hiding our qualifications started when probation began employing huge numbers of Probation Service Officers (PSO's) to do our work, who were not professionally qualified and in many places had poor access to training. 


The government also separated probation from social work in the mid 1990's which was really the beginning of the end for us. The Diploma in Probation Studies that followed was adequate, even considered to be a "gold standard" of professional education/training by some academics. It did, however, help push probation into an identity crisis about whether it was an enforcement agency or a social work agency. Unfortunately before probation could figure it out our training was morphed into the Diploma in Probation Practice under the Probation Qualifications Framework (PQF). This seemed to disproportionately attract young graduates (mostly female) with no experience and then qualified these recruits in about 15 months. 

Never have I seen so much tears and anxiety amongst probation trainees as in this period, which I think is now reflected in their varying levels of competence/incompetence upon qualification. The newest edition of our training commencing this year is the Probation Qualification in Probation (PQiP), which costs £75 just to check eligibility to apply. So far we don't know if there's any improvement on the PQF but I doubt it and there must be a reason why the word "diploma" is removed from the final award, which is the "equivalent" of an honours degree rather than an actual one. It doesn't take an idiot to parallel the erosion of our qualifications with the deprofessionalisation of probation officers, the privatisation of probation work and the governments Transforming Rehabilitation policy.

For years probation leaders have been implicit in downgrading the role of probation officers. For starters I blame the Probation Chiefs Association, the Probation Association and now the Probation Institute. These organisations are inter-related, and their actions have been self-serving to preserve their positions. Under what I call the "judas watch" of most of our former Probation Chiefs (they received a lot more than 30 pieces of silver) we've witnessed the probation service and the status of the probation officer reduced to nothing. We've become subservient to the agencies of the community and criminal justice, and even within probation our roles have been handed to unqualified PSO's, volunteers and mentors. Not content with selling 70% of probation to private companies, the current "E3" drive by the Ministry of Justice and the National Probation Service is now replacing qualified Probation Officers with unqualified Probation Service Officers.

I am a Probation Officer, DipSW, DipPS, DipPP, PQiP

In the new world of probation we are called by names most of us never use, "responsible officers", "offender managers" (and sometimes b*stards and c*nts) which can be applied to nearly anybody. This is very different to probation under social work training arrangements up until the mid 1990's when probation officers were Probation Officers and would generally include their professional qualifications as an indication of authority, expertise and competence. CEO Sally Lewis is right to question whether "courts, etc know that PSO's are not qualified officers", and to state that PO's not signing with their professional qualifications is a big mistake. Likewise the Ministry of Justice and the National Probation Service are wrong to replace qualified Probation Officers with unqualified Probation Service Officers. We should distinguish ourselves from the inexperienced, the untrained and the unprofessional, and I believe we can start doing this by signing our emails, letters and reports to state BSc, MSc, DipSW, DipPS and DipPP, etc. When we are asked our role at Court, Parole Boards and other formal settings to state our professional qualifications as standard.

If you're a qualified probation officer and agree with the above then you know what you need to do. It is our professional qualifications and experience that gives us the authority to do our jobs and sets us apart from the untrained, unqualified and inexperienced staff currently being recruited to replace qualified probation officers in the National Probation Service, Community Rehabilitation Companies and other organisations. If nobody knows what we are professionally then how will the Courts, Parole Boards and others, including offenders and their families, know the differences between qualified and unqualified. More importantly, how else will they know to request their preference for a "qualified officer" because of all that comes with it. 

I've no doubt the time will come when we'll witness a reversal of E3, TR and probation privatisation (probably not under Dodgy Dave's Conservatives). I'm not wishing bad tidings on myself or anybody, but sadly I fear there'll be no constructive change by any government to reverse probation privatisation and deprofessionalisation until too many of our probation staff have been implicated for misconduct and corruption, until too many of our prisons are rioting and on fire, and until too many of our supervised offenders are raping, maiming and killing members of the public.

Probation Officer
15 years to retire

124 comments:

  1. I have my popcorn, carry on.

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  2. Excellent article in yesterday's Guardian by George Monbiot which explains how we've arrived at a point where our public services are being destroyed for private gain. Probation isn't alone in an intentional deprofessionalisation to save money (or re-direct money) in wages, pensions etc. However it doesn't help to describe PSOs in a sweeping statement 'unqualified, inexperienced and unprofessional'. I have two professional qualifications, including a first class hons degree. The majority of my colleagues degree level qualified. We have made a valid contribution, and have not chosen to do the probation training for a variety of reasons. Attack the neo liberal policies that brought us here by all means, but not the people who strive day in day out to carry out an increasingly difficult role under difficult circumstances. That's "unprofessional".

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    1. Point proved, you are NOT probation qualified, I could not go to a law firm and demand to be an associate on the basis that I have a social work MA and a degree in history, as well as having worked in probation as a PO for 20 years. To say you are not professionally qualified is not an insult it is a fact.
      You may have two professional qualifications but they may be in golf and knitting (I am sure they are not I am just saying).

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    2. Professionally qualified is only as good as the paper it is written on!!!
      Those with life skills have always been better suited to the roles within Probation as they have the knowledge and experience in the real world!
      I thought we had left behing the twin set and pearl brigade many years ago ...obviously not by the sounds of some of the snobbery and arrogance taking place on here

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    3. I agree with 08.16: it misses the point to criticise anyone less 'qualified'. When the rules of the game change and the paradigm shifts, there is no personal blame, no one is undercutting anyone else.

      Deprofessionalisation in probation is a symptom shared across other professions - education, health, law – and it's all related to deregulation because professional autonomy and authority gets in the way of market forces. George Mobbiot's article on the rise and dominace of neoliberalism shows how this economic ideology has reached into every corner of society, which, as Thatcher told us, was a fiction anyway.


      http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

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    4. i don't need to sit in uni for however long to understand the social problems that contribute to offending because I grew up in the community I work in and have COMMON SENSE, these are the most useful things needed. Just saying - and btw many PSOs trained by POs anyway and trained in the way that the SPO wants/expects. Poor reports are nothing to do with grade infact I've seen PO reports over analyse and result in over-sentencing and people getting top-heavy sentences that prove difficult for service users to comply with. A piece of paper means you're educated to a certain level and nothing more.

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    5. In 1995 we had a professional workforce with a gateway qualification. A Diploma in Social work, which was externally validated and of a known standard. In order to get it they would vet you to make sure you had the right life experience. I did my time doing "valid experience" and then was told that I needed to go to uni (with small children) and get the gateway qualification.

      We had "life experience" we had done other things. We were respected by the courts and treated as professionals. We did not whine about being "professionally qualified" elsewhere or accuse others of snobbery or having twinsets and pearls (wouldn't go with my eyes anyway).

      We have all seen shit practice done by poor practitioners of all grades. But the point is that in order to cut costs cheaper people were recruited (not worse just cheaper) and our profession was undermined. You just keep banging on about how we are all snobs and watch as the owners laugh. I knew this would bring out the "who needs a qualification anyway" anti intellectual life experience chip bearing crew. And yes I am being deliberately provocative.

      Fact is that we NEED a proper, recognised and externally validated standard qualification that we all should do. to not have it is to undermine our position. This is a fact that solicitors, accountants etc recognised long ago. I tried Accountancy, very hard to become one, piss easy to do. Probation piss easy to be let loose in a room with some poor sap, very hard to do properly.

      I am not saying you need a qualification to do it. I am saying you need a qualification to be ALLOWED to do it.

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    6. 9:42
      I did sit in uni and also have common sense. You need both.

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    7. 09.55 is absolutely right: you need a qualification to be ALLOWED to do it. Nothing amiss in being self-taught, having spent previous convictions, or tons of commonsense. But you have to have some way of validating competence. Some regards themselves as natural drivers, but we don't really want anyone on the roads who has not passed their driving test.

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    8. 9:55 totally agree with what you are saying.

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    9. I agree I came in late with loads of relevant experience but the qualification was key to me doing the job properly

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    10. I joined with a 2(i) psychology degree and worked for a number of years as a PSO. However, I was NOT a Probation Officer and needed to complete the qualification to become one, which I did.

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    11. Absolutely agree 09.55. I qualified as a teacher and then worked for three years as a probation 'ancillary' before going on to gain a CQSW (two years full time) followed by a 'probationary year' before I was qualified. I've done umpteen in service courses. I have a lot of common sense, can work effectively with people and can write a persuasive report. I would'nt have 'passed' otherwise. My experience as an ancillary was invaluable and I've built upon it since. I apply theory to my work all of the time. PSOs provide a valuable role but in my mind there is a huge problem with the notion that anyone with a 'bit of common sense' can do this job. Thats why this government thinks it can be farmed out to any TD or H. Its the same with teachers-everyone has been to school so they think they know what teachers do and think they could do it just as well (-yep try putting together a few lesson plans!) -probation? 'I can talk to people and fill out forms, how hard can it be?' This underestimation/lack of understanding as to what we actually do has permeated all of the TR rhetoric and has helped foster our downfall. I don't add qualifications after my name (and have always been slightly suspicious of those who do but hey, my mistake perhaps!) I do however still always sign myself as 'Probation Officer' .

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  3. I have had a lot of contact with the current crop of trainees. They are dangerously under qualified. In the NPS their experience has been overwhelmingly with downloaders who are in denial, denial they do not have the personal or professional ability to overcome. On the whole they are keen, bright intelligent and scarily young. They have been driven through 15 months of intense training and had no time to consider or reflect on any of it. They are about to be dumped into teams where they will be expected to cope, they will drown. They come into a service that is demoralised and in which after two years everybody's reserve of patience and understanding has gone I fear that the majority of them will be left to get on with it and offered very little support. Its a shitty way to treat people and demonstrates to my mind a culpable lack of care.

    PO, 13 years to go unless I can get out sooner and still get paid what I do. Yes I am now here solely for the money and the pension.

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  4. There is a professional qualification for pso's - Diploma in Probation Practice at Level 3. Pso's up until now on the PQF completed 10 Level 3 VQ units. Trainee PO's completed 12 VQ5 units. Not sure of new PQiP as being a CRC VQ Assessor, no longer able to assess PO's. Professional qualifications - BA Hons(first), DipSW, MA (Social Sciences), MEd and D32/33 Assessor Award, V1 Internal Verifier, Level 4 L+D. Many of the PSO's I've worked with have degrees or firm practice experience as existing staff. They feel that a VQ3 gives them professional recognition for their practice and a potential step towards applying for PO training.

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  5. And meanwhile we have qualified experienced and highly skilled probation officers in the CRC's waiting to hear whether they still have a job, through some random shafting process. It is madness!

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    1. Yep. But lets all attack each other over a piece of paper. Much more fun. To the Barricades siblings!

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  6. Sally lewis would be interested to hear that at bgsw crc probation service officers are often heard on the phone replying 'i'm a probation officer'. Yes it gets my goat having worked so hard for my qualification and believing i earned some distinction. If i made an issue however i would be accused of being a snob. The reality is that in the crc the distinction is now almost lost. The term po/pso does not help,too similar. Being a po just means i hold all medium risk cases/more complex cases and get paid a bit more.

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    1. Same here in my CRC office, except the long serving experienced PSO's refer to themselves as such, and are in a constant battle with management to hand back cases they identify as not being appropriate for PSO supervision. By contrast, the newly appointed young PSO's are heard to refer to themselves as PO's on the phone, are heard colluding with the clients and two appear to be in a competition as to who will reach the 100 caseload mark first.

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    2. in purple futures we've been instructed to cease mentioning the word 'probation'. we are now Case Managers or Senior Case Managers and we've all been told to change our email signatures and sign letters as such.

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  7. I left school without qualifications, didn't go to university but had a wealth of work experience in other areas including the police....I worked hard to get my Dip PS but rarely have the luxury of applying criminological theory to the wretches that I try and help to the best of my ability on a daily basis I see the current crop of TPOs flexcing their intellectual muscles in training events but simply don't have a clue when faced with real life situations the point I'm making that you can have all of the qualifications going but it don't make you a good probation ofificet or even a competent one......the best officers I've come across appear to be middle aged ladies who have brought up a family and who gave lived a bit and who knows what it's like to be unemployed,poor or to have had trauma in their lives.....something the much venerated higher education process can't teach ........

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    1. Poppycock. I find many of the "middle aged ladies" haven't a clue. Too much theory and not enough practice. I find the best Probation officers are the ones that grew up around crime and poverty, some were even involved it. They then dragged themselves out of the shit, worked in various jobs, went to university, worked some more even in top professions, and then applied and qualified as probation officers. Ex-teachers and those with medical/health backgrounds make pretty good probation officers too.

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    2. And ex police make the worst PO's!

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    3. 11:18 so you don't apply theories of desistance, rehabilitation, penology, etc?

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    4. Well said original poster.
      Qualifications mean nothing, if practitioners aren't approaching the OM role (as was) with the 'right attitude'.
      (Pssst. it's about the service users - not YOU).
      And life skills and experience are often undervalued, in all sorts of workplaces.

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    5. But they do mean a lot if it's helped them to develop into a good probation officer that knows how to best use theory, experiences and practice. I disagree with the point about middle age women as men tend to make the best probation officers. It's sad we can't recruit enough of them because the profession has become worthless.

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    6. All this nonsense on what makes a good PO it doesn't matter what age or gender you are its all about being genuine and willing to critically review your practice there's too many individuals in probation who think they know it all !

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    7. 12.03 '....I disagree with the point about middle age women as men tend to make the best probation officers..we can't recruit enough because the profession has become worthless..' '
      Thats the sort of cr**p thinking that used to be challenged by training. Subjective statement with no evidence to back up. 'Here Here' 14:19

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    8. ... But you're ok with the initial comment "the best PO's I've come across are middle aged ladies". Thanks and goodbye.

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    9. errr no..I was agreeing with 14:19...

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  8. Probation Officer16 April 2016 at 11:18

    Read our history and learn how probation qualifications were fought for, although the age limit for probation officer training should have been retained. Professional qualifications ARE "worth the paper they're written on". This is the recognised route for improving, developing and evidencing the relevant skills and knowledge for the job. In theory the undertaking ensures the right vocational experience is learnt and ability assessed and developed. Life skills and experience are ALSO relevant but recruitment began overlooking this under the PQF because of the lack of applicants with a relevant degree.

    The post isn't intended to be decisive or condescending. The current drive is towards an unqualified and untrained workforce, and we can show we are far from it. We all seen when two new staff members are recruited at the same time, one as a PSO the other as a trainee PO. Three years on the PO will be the better practitioner in most cases. Already we are seeing both NPS and CRC's recruiting anybody as a PSO to get bums on seats, and unscrupulous managers then just pile on the work with no training or development. We should be demanding that all practitioners have access to professional qualifications.

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    1. My understanding that newly appointed PSO's have to complete VQ3. Has been in my CRC and former Trust from commencement of PQF.

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    2. It's hit and miss, mostly miss and CRC's aren't required to do it. The gateway to practice is nothing. If lucky may start and finish VQ3. If extremely lucky may then progress to probation officer qualifying training (VQ5, DipPP, etc) but only if there's spaces, if holding a relevant degree and modules, and if endorsed by manager. In reality will PSO's spend unlimited time being dragged through VQ3 and that's it. Training and development is where the Probation Institute were meant to step and standardise but they're shite and just out for money.

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    3. PQiP is the new qualification. Applications open 25th April. VQ3 still a recognised route but same as before its second fiddle to those with a criminology degree. http://www.traintobeaprobationofficer.com/apply/#/

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  9. Our unions were wrong not to put up more of a fight against the erosion of role boundaries, although they did try. The perverse problem in probation is that the PSO is given the same workload but with none of the training, development or pay. Stranger still, rub shoulders with the those in the ivory tower (ie flirt or shag with a senior manager) and hey presto the PSO is now managing the PO. Even stranger, both PO and PSO then get bossed around by the admin/officer manager who made band 4 due to a technicality and has a direct line to the HR manager and directors at Sodexo, and a promotion in the bag.

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  10. As somebody said above, a good profession has been ruined because of politics and market forces.

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  11. Professional integrity?????

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  12. I have have just qualified and start my nps po position on Monday. In my view, these issues have NOTHING to do with age. I am under 25, yes. I have a physical disability and grew up in an extremely difficult home situation, fraught with domestic abuse. I have worked in a variety of roles in the service including programmes and an AP. It makes me seriously concerned that in a service like the ours, doing the work we do, that people would rather criticise others, make sweeping statements and down right ASSUMPTIONS about others. What are we saying? It's not ok for service users to undermine us, based on their PERCEPTIONS of us, but it's ok for our COLLEAGUES to?

    Someone could be 30, 40 or older and not been through the utter uphill battle and fight that I have had to make some sort of life for myself. Equally, they may have been through much more than I could even begin to imagine. However I do not see it as my place to criticise, assume and belittle others. I actually see it as my place to support, learn from and encourage other people.

    If we can't do this, I think we're in trouble. Hey, what am I saying, reading some of these worrying comments, I think we're already there.

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    1. There are good Probation Officers of every age, gender, etc etc. People are criticising the trainees as a way to make themselves feel better about their own situation and as a way to vent. The service took 1,000 trainees nation wide in 2014. Some have proved to be really good, some not so. You'd get that with any mass intake of staff in any organisation. Bugger all to do with age.

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    2. And I would contend that you are worryingly undertrained. Nothing to do with age, thought time does teach. Nothing to do with intelligence, empathy or understanding.

      Everything to do with being rushed through a poorly thought out and constantly changing programme with no time to bed in any practice. Everything to do with being surrounded by stressed and demoralised people who will not have the time or the inclination to support you through the transition to being a PO. Everything to do with being trained (In the NPS) on a caseload of non compliant denying downloaders (because there was nothing else that they would trust you with). Everything to do with no time to make mistakes or to get some depth to your practice.

      This leaves you dangerous to the organisation, dangerous to the clients and mostly very exposed when (And its a when) things go wrong. None of this is your fault and all of it shows a serious lack of concern and breaches a duty of care. Not going to help when the wheels come off.

      I strongly advise that you union up ASAP if you have not already done so.

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    3. Hear hear, anonymous colleagues at 12.31 and 12.37, even though we're angry about the present and scared about the future, let's acknowledge each other's strengths and contributions rather than generalising and criticising. PQFs have fought the good fight to develop into POs despite the TR turbulence and appalling staff morale of the last two years (not sure I could have managed to walk in their shoes - so different from DipSW times when Probation was on the up) and loads of colleagues have worked really hard to support and coach them. We are a diverse staff group with different experiences and much the better for it.

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    4. 12:38 two years is nowhere near long enough to be "really good" at this job!!!

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  13. Settle down. I always thought that being a "professional" hinged on if you were regarded as an expert witness or a fact witness at court, oral hearing or any court-like body. Hybrid witness is just too confusing so don't go there. Next time you go to an oral hearing ask the presiding judge what sort of witness you are. You can then make an informed decision how professional you are.

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    1. Well in the new world the CRC PO isn't allowed to speak in courts and at oral hearings without an NPS PO to oversee proceedings.

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  14. Utterly perplexed as to how you know what offenders made up my caseload as a trainee re your 'only trusted with downloaders' comment. Again, another assumption.

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    1. Based on being heavily involved with the trainees in my area. But yeah I am old and grey, and therefore my advice to you that you need to union up and open your eyes to the inadequacies of your training can be discounted.

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    2. "Deadwood" is the current term for the older practitioners!

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    3. Deadwood has always been the term...

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    4. deadwood = experienced probation practitioner

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  15. 12:31 you sound like a poster girl and probably the exception. 12:38, blinkered or what? The fact is that with age comes experience and yes many will be a step ahead because of their experiences overcoming the difficulties of all the diversity strands. Nobody is saying that everyone below a certain age is inadequate by default, or that not experiencing the difficulties of race, sexuality, disability, etc means something has not been gained. What makes age unimportant, or even a positive factor, is because you have the skills gained through qualifications AND experience. The fact is that when you work in an area where all trainees are all females aged between 21 and 24 something is wrong, especially when there is no experience and the main topic of conversation across the group ranges from the excitement of new boyfriends/girlfriends to the pressures of mum and dad keeping on at them to tidy their bedrooms. Many below a certain age just do not have the life skills and experiences yet, particularly with the client group and complex issue they're required to give guidance on. This is why probation training previously had an age limit. In a lot of cases the over 25's that have lived a bit and are better suited to the job. Males work better with males and females with females. Not in all cases but in many and even our policies support some of this.

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    1. i am going to offer a counter argument ...... With reference to the 'do not have the life skills and experience yet' one of the very experienced (some 20 years in post) po's in my team has no idea about the Internet. NO idea. Equally she has no children, and she would even say so herself, she has led a sheltered life.

      The point is.... She is a fantastic PO. Before somebody jumps on my comment I don't care if someone hasn't had children or done certain things. I couldn't give a damn, in a nice way. What I'm saying is, we don't have to experience everything to be able to help people, make assessments and make a difference. This PO does not like change, has no idea what Facebook is, barely knows how to access a web page. Does this mean she can't do her job? No.

      What this boils down to is age. Disguise it as 'no it's not the age it's the experience thing' if you like. But what you keep coming back to is the age. Suck it up. Support the trainees. I'm glad that people on the blog today are sticking up for them. They've had a bloody tough time of it. Offer support. Be inclusive. Stop moaning and bitching, thinking you know who can do this job.

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    2. I've many offenders who have no idea what Facebook is and never use the internet, what's your point? Reading the blog post again, age has nothing to do with the overall point.

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  16. I am one of middle aged women POs referred to earlier and I share an office with a "young" female PQF. She is aware of the limitations of her training and seeks out knowledge and experience from other officers and in short, she is a wonderful example of the values probation once held, she gets it she really does. In our team we have another "young" female PQF in the following cohort and she is made of the right stuff too. I am wondering how our team struck so lucky yet posters here seem so negative about PQFs.....
    How welcome must new recruits feel in our service?

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    1. "She is aware of the limitations of her training and seeks out knowledge and experience"

      Exactly the point. The younger trainees/PO's/PSO's generally do not come ready to hit the ground running. We learn over time and both qualifications and experience is required.

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    2. No, Anon 14:46 that is precisely not my point, neither of our PQF's pretend to know it all.....they both HAVE hit the ground running, they are great colleagues.They are doing their qualifications now remember and building their experience. Stop knocking people you do not know, take my word for it, they are really committed to our service users. Read your post again, can't you just see TR is not their fault!!!

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    3. Yes but they benefit from the training and experience, and from feeding off colleagues for the wisdom and life skills one doesn't have at 21. That's what I got from your post, so true. Not so bad when a few trainees are at the younger end, but when they all are, recipe for disaster.

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    4. Life skills? Some of the po's in our crc can't even say good morning to NPS staff as they blame them for the mess we are in. Seems they've lost the ability to reflect that this situation a. Isn't the nps staffs fault; and B. Isn't the trainees fault either!!!!

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    5. "feeding off colleagues" that is just shameful I am happy to share my knowledge and experience and, just to set the record straight, I learn from the PQF's too. Remember they are unfortunate in coming into a divisive working culture, just read some of these posts.

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    6. You assume it's meant negatively, probably because you struggle to see past your own opinion. And you claim there are those learning from you!!!

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    7. oh dear Anon 22:38, that's it, turn nasty and add three exclamation marks to reinforce your dominance. Time to reflect for you me thinks.

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    8. Truth hurts, eh?

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    9. oh dear oh dear...

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  17. The above comments make my blood run cold, and just serve to makes me more grateful than I already was that I managed to get out of my post as PSO in March 2016. My office was full of bitchy cliques, the cliques were always looking for someone to criticise and look down on, much like some of the commentators above. The words above, and actions of POs and PSOs I have worked with have proved to me that:
    'everybody's gotta have somebody to look down on'
    Kris Kristofferson - Jesus Was A Capricorn Lyrics | MetroLyrics

    How sad it is to see this bitterness and in fighting

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  18. 14.50. You are right. Bullying has become a real problem in crc. However the assumption that it is staff with more authority/power is not true. Bullying is complex. Have witnessed admin officer who seems to rule the roost bully and belittle other admin, pso's and po's alike!

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  19. 14:50 that's interesting, I was in crc and thinking back the bullying and isolating of others increased since the split, I wonder what the dymamics driving this is? And i agree, bullying is not from the managers but from others on the coal face. I will continue to read this blog in the hope that I see the situation improve, but my gut feeling is that it wont, sadly probation ethos as it was appears mortally wounded

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  20. The CRC PO's would snipe at and criticise anybody that came in to the NPS to train. At the end of the day, CRC PO's have been shafted and are currently applying for their own jobs, meanwhile new recruits who joined barely 18 months ago have qualified and been offered PO jobs. The CRC PO's are bitter and nobody can blame them. But it's about time people stopped blaming each other for this mess and wishing the worst for people. Some of the comments I have read are frankly outrageous.

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    1. I'm a CRC PO and was quietly 'invited', on three separate occasions, to apply for the NPS; I declined. I know of three others in my area who did the same. Why? Regardless of what is going on in other areas/CRC's, I did not feel that it was as bad as what is going on in the NPS, including the loss of autonomy that makes this job worthwhile. My colleagues in the NPS all appear to have a scripted job, set out by Civil Serpant who have little if indeed any understanding of our role. Despite the turmoil, I'm still happy doing my job which is more than can be deduced from the complaints of my colleagues in the NPS.

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  21. If you worked in the co op from school leaving age to 40 and joined the service with no prior experience you'd be exactly the same as the trainees - you would have LOTS to learn. The she thing is getting tiresome.

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    1. The age thing that should say.

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    2. but not the resentment, bitterness and know-it-all thing?

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    3. All of it 17:34. Everyone needs to stop criticising each other. What have we become

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    4. Fuck sake, strikes me that some people can't bear the thought of someone half their age doing a better job than them. People need to get over themselves; lots and lots of people can do this job and evidently the employers think it too as they don't give a fuck if you leave. Wake up. I have.

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    5. I don't think age is being criticised. It's fair to say younger staff don't know as much regarding the job and that probation does have a lack of decent male staff. Few nowadays have job experience before they join up, whatever the age. I've known a few good PSO's that trained up, but a lot of the others were far to inexperienced and were only picked because they had a relevant degree. Also fair to say the same about those with no access to training as 2 years of degree training does come competence. I've found this job utilises experiences, life skills, education and common sense. I joined as a trainee when I was young. We had a mixed cohort not like now when the majority are young women recently graduated with a criminology degree. I had a degree, bags of experience from life and other jobs. I have to say it, I know a lot more now then I did then and the PO training and learning from colleagues really helped me to develop and made up for my shortcomings. Becoming qualified also gave me the confidence and professional feeling I needed. It's a good thing there are people out there still encouraging pride in being a qualified PO.

      Sad to hear Purple Future are banning the word probation. If I worked there first thing Monday morning I'd be adding probation officer DipPS to my email signature.

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    6. 'It's fair to say younger staff don't know as much regarding the job'

      Yes how fair of you. 25, worked in probation 6 years, that's me. There's a 40 year old graduate in my office on the third cohort, been a house wife all her life whilst completing an open uni degree (nothing wrong with that before people start barking) I think at this time I know more than her.

      This whole thing is silly.

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    7. That's what happens when you read one line. Stretch yourself and read it all. On the info provided I'd say you probably know more about the job and she probably knows more about life. You both bring different and similar skills, and after post qualification and learning a bit from each other and others, you'll probably both make good practitioners. Do learn to read all the information though as that's a skill to be learnt too.

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    8. I note from your previous comment that you say you had lots of life experience. That is such an objective concept, open to all sorts of interpretations. You can't judge if a person has life experience based on their age. The just qualified PO who seems to have instigated this debate seems to be proof of that. Disabled, grew up in a DV household, several roles in the service.

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    9. Maybe she/he does maybe he/she doesn't. But generally speaking, ... and you can't judge either!

      "The just qualified PO... "

      Enough said!

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  22. I have always believed that diversity in all areas is the best thing for a team. That way we bring a range of experience and are better able to effect positive change in our client group. However in bgsw crc po's and pso's primarily female. Where is the balance here? I say this as a 'mature' woman( deadwood perhaps!) Lol! I am very much alive and more mentally and physically active than many of my younger colleagues! However i digress! Personally i would prefer more balance male/female but was told by my spo that 'alot of men are not up to the job/don't interview well'. Hmmm,i'm sure some of you will disagree! Maybe the men interviewed have done a rapid u turn! I hate to say it and burn me at the stake but female only offices seem to equal gossiping and bullying. I will not mention some of the words i have overheard,i thought they had died out since the 80's or were only used as brand naming for a particularly nasty packaged white sliced italian sounding bread! Seems like anything goes now at crc as too much trouble raising standards. Fed up with open plan offices and having to hear all about a colleages irritable bowel, diet, son's sex life etc. Sooner i need a hearing aid the better but now i realise i'm ancient deadwood that shouldn't be too long should it? Can i purchase some esr defenders and bill crc?

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  23. @17.46 i love the freudian slip 'civil serpant' very accurate..

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  24. Back to the point of the blog post. In the past I didn't get the point of putting qualifications on reports. I thought adding qualification to my email signature would look silly. I didn't want to seem pretentious and didn't want be divisive with PSO colleagues. A lot has changed since TR and now I increasingly see the point of adding my professional qualifications to my email and reports. All other professionals I work with do it, so now I will too.

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    1. I see the point of a distinction. PSO's are not Probation Officers. In my view pso was a silly choice of title. Too similar to PO and the psos all call themselves probation officers where I work and they are not. Am I right in saying that Scotland call the pso equivalent probation assistants? Or something similar?

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    2. Could be so. In Scotland probation officers are qualified social workers so the distinction is very clear and role boundaries much clearer too. My experience up there is the non-qualified criminal justice workers strive to become qualified for the pay and status, whereas down here the non-qualified want equal treatment even when unqualified. The Scottish system generally has a bit more respect for the profession than in England which helps.

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  25. Love the blog today Jim. When the U word isn't discussed (Unions) the blog comes back alive. Some cracking debates and a feeling of the old spirit creeping back in.
    Keep it up folks

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    1. I am reminded of Bogbrush in the "Private Eye" spoof blog

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    2. If anything it shows probation staff are still passionate in discussing practice. We always were and we always will be.

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  26. If a member of staff at my childrens'school described themselves as a teacher when they were a classroom assistant with an nvq parents would be rightly outraged. If a nurse described himself as a doctor he would be struck off or disciplined! Yet pso's are routinely calling themselves probation officers when they are not! Excuse me for saying so but this is plain wrong and other professionals and service users have the right to know the difference. I am not ashamed of my professional qualification ,it wad hard earned. I am equally proud of my life abd work experience prior to training. We po's should not be ashamed of our qualification and hide behind the om title! Put your qualifications on your e mail,letters and reports. If someone takes offence to that tough! If it's good enough for sally lewis it's good enough for me. We could do with someone like sally lewis kicking the civil servants / noms/working links etc arses into shape. We need someone fighting our corner and upholding our professional status because this will move to other professions such as teaching and social services!

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  27. Pso's will hold all low to medium risk cases?? That is news to me! Please can i ask that the crc's be more transparent about this? Show your colours! Most of my cases are medium risk dv/complex/ cp issues/ mental heath and personality disorders..many borderline high risk and 4 risk escalations to nps. If crc's don't want po's can they please let us know so that we can start looking elsewhere!

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    1. Its all gone t*ts up! They got rid of the fine PSOs in my NPS team. PO's in my office now have to also supervise the former 'tier 2' cases, stand alone unpaid work orders and trot off to do 'supervised spends' 'cos there's no one else to do it. A really good use of my qualification.....meanwhile our former PSO colleagues who were great at all of the above are stuck in courts writing reports or working with the very high riskers in hostels. You couldn't make it up.

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  28. Already happening in social services - cheaper alternatives to qualified social workers in the pipeline!

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  29. Hi, piece of Deadwood here. I've taken it that what the original poster is referring to, is that post TR the MoJ/Noms/managers etc etc all the way down the line have watered the training requirements down, (including qualification/time given to complete/opportunities/placements etc) thereby placing the TPO's/newly qualifieds and PSO's at considerable risk and PEOPLE WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER have willingly presided over this. For example, a few years back, in my Trust a DV court report author required specialist training, and had to conduct 2 interviews per report. Now, DV court reports are done by PSO's as oral standowns. Well either we were right then, or we are right now - either training was necessary for this task or it wasnt. Once, post qualifying, you started with a protected caseload, spent a number of years in a generic team, and learnt your craft under the more experienced officers . You were prevented from holding sex offender or life cases, and eased in gently with lots of supervision/mentoring. Now, those in the NPS are thrown in with an unrelenting caseload of weighty and harrowing offences (all the stuff you have to read and digest) with no let up, so its no wonder I hear of trainees dropping out. Similarly, as other departments have been disbanded, the CRC have moved many admin staff into PSO roles with little or no training - and now wonder why the sickness rates have gone through the roof. So were we right then or are we right now? I am yet to hear a convincing argument on this. I know everyone is different, and some are more capable than others, but as a bit of deadwood whose been around a while I am SERIOUSLY worried about all my colleagues and friends who are now in situations that could impact majorly on either their psychological well being or their personal safety. I think this is what the original poster was suggesting - not as a criticism but speaking out of concern for fellow colleagues.
    Yours, Deadwood (who will never stop signing off as a PO even if directed otherwise, and always alters all the templates accordingly!!)

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    1. As they say in internet land... This.

      I did six years outside probation. I did several years as a PSO (could have done one) in a team of 1 spo 7 really qualified PO's and me as a PSA (Probation Service Assistant). I then did 2 years at Uni to get a Diploma in social work. I then did 12 months as a post qualified officer on a restricted caseloads, no prisoners, no serious offenders, no sex offenders. I learnt my craft and made my mistakes (my first and worst mistakes) on shoplifters, drink drivers and first time drug users. I wrote 50 reports at least 49 of which I now realise were awful, good enough but awful. ONLY then was I let out on my own and considered a proper PO. That was a three year process.

      Now you come in knowing nothing and 15 months later you are supposed to be fully competent. They give you sex offenders on day one. They give you prisoners. They do not give you the time to reflect, they do not give you the support you need and most of all they do not give you the space to practice.

      I am not attacking the poor sods who have done the course. I am concerned for them, concerned for the people they work with, and concerned for the clients. It is dangerous bad practice and I am convinced that once the poor sods who have done the training realise quite how much they have been shafted they will vote with their feet.

      For some reason I am reminded of the RFC in April 1917. Pilots had about 3 weeks training and were sent off to deal with the Red Baron and his boys. The fatality rate was 20%...a week. They were the brightest and best too, and they were sent to the slaughter by people who knew nothing and cared less. 99 years ago and nothing has changed.

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    2. You are spot on I spent my first year after I quailed on probation. This was back in the day when we supervised 16 yr olds. I had 5 yrs experience as a Probation ancillary and then PSO in group work with Geese Theatre Co . My goodness what a great experience was that!!! After I qualified I had to be interviewed by the Chair of Probation Board ?.. To then pass my probationary period. This is post qualifications! My case load was protected, I had a range of experiences including court duty and had access to advice and support form experienced members of staff. As you can probably guess I'm dead wood to quote another post but it was invaluable support. Here I am. I will be very surprised if the majority of new qualified last 4 years.

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    3. It's funny that it's ok to call someone "deadwood" for being older and having too much experience, but not ok to point out that a younger new recruit has less experience. I don't think I qualify as deadwood just yet. I joined probation as a TPO many moons ago. The degree course was straightforward as was the NVQ process. I already had a criminology degree to refer to and I had a few years experience working with offenders. I'd not intended to follow this type of career. I understood poverty, local authority care, drugs, gangs, crime, prison, etc because I lived that life once upon a time in my teenage years. Fast forward a bit and after a few dead end jobs which kept me afloat through uni and beyond I was on a roll. Then a few years working in hostels and prisons, followed by 2 good years of TPO training, there I was a proud qualified probation officer. I have always kept in mind that many told me a career in probation wouldn't be possible because of my stint in custody as a teen. I think my assessment centre interviewers and training manager saw me as a bit of a project and gave me a chance. After qualification I remained in probation and have had various roles up, down and across the career ladder. The experience of colleagues was huge and varied, secondments were regular and there was always opportunities to work in and with other agencies.

      I qualified nearly 2 decades ago and looking back now in the beginning I made huge errors. I'd cringe if I came across a report I'd written in the early days as it wouldn't be great based on what I know now. I can only dread to think of some of my reasoning behind some of the decisions I made. Luckily I had a lot of opportunity for consultation and reflection which I needed despite the grounding of my background, education and experience. The support was really good during training and post qualification. Cases were mostly carefully picked and complexity increased with my development even well into the first 2 years post qualification. Feedback was constant, my PDA was fantastic. She pushed me so much to develop more there was a point I really hated her but now I wish I could thank her. Colleagues were always available for support, guidance and reflection. SPO's were friendly, supportive and always had time. Over time I became a good probation officer and learnt to draw on the skills and learning I'd gained to use when appropriate. The ongoing ups, downs and changes/achievements in my home, social and work life over the years added to my skills as a probation officer. Now I can do the job with my eyes closed and hands tied behind my back. I've learnt to deal with the pressures, frustrations and anxieties.

      As the posters above point out, it's all very different now. There are too many very young trainees. There are not enough males and diversity being recruited within these groups. Support from managers, trainers and colleagues is not sufficient. Caseloads are huge and complex from the outset. There is hardly any time for learning, reflection and development. Something is very wrong about what probation "training" has become. It's no wonder probation work has become a free for all and it seems nobody cares about the impact on the staff let alone on the offenders. These managers and trainers are reckless letting the newly recruited and qualified think they know it all then burn out due to poor development and no support, and are quick to distance responsibility when it goes wrong. This drive to make any and everybody think probation work can be done by anybody, or that it doesn't require professional training and continuous development, is very wrong.

      Just saying!

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    4. Oh well said 20:32. From fellow 'deadwood' PO.

      Were we moddlecoddled? I don't think so. I had 'casework supervision' in my first post. My team manager 'Senior' was a tartar and didn't suffer fools but I always felt she had my back. My current TM is too busy watching her own and monitoring the targets to care about mine.

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  30. Tonto, I think you can safely assume that PO's are to be squeezed out of the CRC - perhaps just one or two left in each office to oversee the risk elements of all the cases being held by PSO's (or those to be remotely managed by admin). The rest of us will be squeezed out. Am just hoping it comes with a redundancy package attached.....

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  31. Again, I emphasise 'professional integrity'. Uphold values of respect for your colleagues and the people you supervise.

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  32. There are very few po's left in crc from what i can see! Nps have had to peruade retired po's to return! What was seen as deadwood is suddenly alive again but they have the upper hand knowing they will soon return to their knitting or golf (joking folks). I see chaos and stress all around me. What was once a busy, dynamic office is semi deserted! Hr dept. Has all but gone. I.t dept. On the way out. Spo's covering 2 offices. Admin being told they will be off to work in hubs. Waiting to move out to a community space and complete separation from nps colleages. Never sure which staff will be in or off sick. Struggling to manage your caseload knowing you just can't do it all. Visible signs that other agencies are also stretched to the limit. Trying to remain compassionate and professional when you are exausted and dispirited. Hoping another of your service users doesn't turn up homeless on a friday afternoon thinking we can help because in reality very little we can do and you will be thinking about them out on the street as you guiltily enjoy your cosy home. Back in on monday to find a homeless service user asleep outside the office. Has been beaten up whilst sleeping in woods. Another service user comes in and tells you he is self harming and pulls up his sleeves to show you. Back at your desk you receive a call to say one of your service users has been arrested for repeat dv. You try to get hold of someone in mental health team about the man who is self harming but they tell you his mental health worker is off on long term sick leave.

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  33. Oh those halycon days of the protected caseload - About a month in my SPO gave me the lifers manual and the next day 5 lifers on my caseload . About a couple of months in and one day of SO training if you could call it that , the next day 10 high risk SO cases on my caseload . The year 1988 my age 25 - Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

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    1. well said, exactly how it was and is

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  34. Well,this blog has certainly grabbed everyone's attention.I have finally felt roused to make my own comment as a retiree of 5 years, after starting as a PO at the age of 48, 'deadwood' before I even started!! Before that I had 18 yrs experience as youth worker and detached worker, then gained a Community/ Youth Work Cert at Uni,before 2 years as a Prob Volunteer Coordinator,organising activities,and providing support via trained volunteers. POs would send cases to me at the beginning of their Orders, and they were free to come to the office at any time, resulting in me seeing some clients more than their officers did.

    At that time, unqualified PO's were called ancillary workers, but well experienced, running groupwork programme, drop-ins, and reporting groups.

    I then went to Durham UNI where I qualified 2 years later with a DIPSW and MA in Applied Social Studies, followed by employment as a PO in '94.

    Social Work and Social Studies played a significant part in both the DIPSW and my earlier qualification in Community and Youth Work. I recall vividly, seeing in a tutorial, graphic photographs of physically damaged sexually abused babies. Those photos made a big impact on me, particularly when later working with child sex offenders.

    As a new PO, I was not able to do have through-care cases for a year, or sex offenders and lifers for 2 years, and I shadowed officers who worked with sex offenders. And everyone gate-kept each others' PSRs.

    I was respected, I presume, because I was not an 'inexperienced young woman', but was older than most others, with a wealth of experience behind me, as well as being well-qualified. And knew the CJA '91 off by heart before I had even gone for the uni interview!! I also got on well with clients, with instinctive knowledge of how to get the best out of them while keeping and returning their respect.(I think that is a characteristic which you either have or don't have and makes you suitable for the job before you train-it cannot be taught) I worked with children from 14, and then was the specialist sex off PO(the only one in the office as no one wanted such cases)) and high risk cases which no one else wanted either. I was told once by my ACPO, that I could do amazing work with the most horrible dangerous people that no other officer would touch - but - as computers came in, and handwritten pt C's became CRAMS, and OASys was born - I began to struggle to keep up with recording (tho' detailed handwritten notes were on their files) made worse because I gave so much time to my clients, which was good for them but more stress for me! And then Trusts came in, and targets...

    The point I am getting at is that, whether PO or PSO, fully qualified or otherwise, everyone has skills, and I would frequently have people coming into the office to ask me about certain details of the job. On the other hand, as IT systems got more complicated. with more and more records being kept on the computer instead of the faithful old file, I would frequently ask for help from younger staff or admin.

    And yes, sometimes there was ill-feeling in the office(we are human)but it would blow over. But it is harder now, with so many people coming in who will not have that knowledge of the law, or offenders, but might be brilliant elsewhere. Value skills and support frailties.


    And a final word, I have seen PSOs and admin staff eventually become POs themselves and be very good at it. And I was always impressed with the PSOs in APs who had great people skills. And dare I say - I have seen the odd PO too who was not fit for purpose.

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    1. 80 plus comments lets all be honest po had status once. Today anyone can be a po. Anyone can do the jib required to be a po as the skill sets and people engagement skills are low requirement. Sadly the type of people recruited over the Las 15 years majority are robotrons to a pc terminal. They are happy there. Many of them lack the range of old skills we used to see. Also they appear incompetent to many some are e3 will sort all out. Being a po of any era or paper not required now get used to the idea.

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    2. The PO is a dying species. Don't believe me, believe the evidence of your own eyes. The role boundaries started to shift 25 years ago with the Teeside judgement and even tasks deemed exclusive to POs have reduced. The law has been changed to designate the Responsible Officer. All this stuff about POs vs PSOs is losing relevance as current affairs, as it's now social history which like all history reflects the usual biases.

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    3. Probation Officer17 April 2016 at 10:00

      06:10 no not anyone can be a probation officer. Not in doing the job properly and providing the right service. We are a dying breed as 07:20 and I fear soon probation officers will be known for what they used to be rather than what they are being turned into.

      I used to think of the CQSW and DipSW trained probation officers as the bench mark for practice (pre 1995). The reality is that many social work trained PO's were not as effective on day one due to too much time in the classroom and not enough time in the field. Due to sheer length of service and practicing in the rose tinted golden era they deserve the respect as the elite practitioners they became. We're right to add the DipPS trained probation officers that joined as TPO's to this elite group (1998-2010). The first cohorts were near 20 years ago and they rode through the many transitions in our culture and organisations. Apart from the final qualification (BA/BSc/DipPS) not allowing entry into social work, which I think was a huge mistake, the training was very good academically and vocationally.

      Everything since has been substandard, from the PQF training onwards (which started in about 2011), poorly trained minions. They've joined at a time which puts them at a disadvantage and unfortunately won't have the time, culture and support to develop as the rest of us did.

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    4. re 6 10 - 'the reality is that any SW trained PO's were not as effective on day one due to too much time in the classroom and not enough time in the field'??. I did the DIPSW 1992-'94 and in my first year, there was a full-time 11 week placement in a local field team, and my own office, with case load, cases and PSR's to write. The 2nd year required a 6 month placement with more complex cases and intensive work (writing 15 PSRs),in the same locality (and same estate where I had previously been a detached youth worker for 2 years) I also had training days in prison, courts, day centre, community service etc, and with a student advisor(PO) based in the student training unit.I even organised a christmas party in the office for female clients and children, virtually single handed. I still have the photos!

      And once qualified, I had a field team mentor and an exceptionally supportive and professional team manager.

      So, maybe I was lucky, but I must reinforce that the DIPSW did include a good practical experience, which gave you some confidence in yourself from day 1.

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    5. Oops! apologies above - I am ML and misquoted 6.10. The quote I referred to was actually from 10 00am comment, who was RESPONDING to 6 10am!! (just as well I am retired!)

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    6. Thinking about it, you are right. I stand corrected. Although placement lengths seem to differ based on accounts of colleagues. But yes DipSW was overall miles ahead of what the training is now.

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    7. 12:14 yes you're right. I've heard differing accounts but overall the DipSW does seem to have been top notch. Nothing like the cut price training nowadays!

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    8. Missing the point PO ML no disrespect what was understood as a social crime response need as probation was is not the same now. Actually it has always been easy to see PSO doing the PO job only now the whole country accepts it. The social model has moved on we let it in the door too many poor member led decisions. Mainly the demise has been supported by PO as they didn't seem to get what was happening. POs skill don't get it.

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    9. The work of probation has always been the same as the clients are the same. It takes a well trained and developed probation officer to do the job properly. I'd list all this entails but assume you already know. Probation leaders/managers were happy employing PSO's on the cheap and increasingly getting them to do the work of PO's. This worked for them on paper because the MoJ moved them into an ethos where as long as the targets were met it didn't really matter what the quality of the work or the outcomes were. Don't get me wrong as some PSO's are fantastic and some PO's are useless, but overall PSO's not trained or experienced enough to do all of what PO's do at the higher and more complex end. Call it elitist which its not, but this is a fact and these are reasons why qualified PO's were required to do a job requiring qualifications. That is until our peers and politicians at the MoJ decided differently solely for economic reasons. Their evidence is simply opinion as is yours, that "anyone can do PO work". For the record I believe that with a bit of training I could do the job of my bus driver, train driver, plumber, doctor, dentist, teacher, counsellor, accountant, surveyor, etc, which in reality is not true either.

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  35. Maybe it is time to take the focus off the individual and put the spotlight on the organisation. A worker'ability to funtion well at work is highly influenced and dependent on the team and organisation in which they work. How the organisation functions and the support given to staff is vital. Currently the organisation we work for is in perpetual change,lacks identity and there are leadrrship battles between the crc and the private sector companies. This is going to impact enormously on staff morale. We are also experiencing the erosion of other vital services. One thing i believe we need to be clear about is the primary task of our organisation because we are trying to do it all, including the jobs of other over stretched agencies. This has caused a gteat deal of stess for me personally. I going to write a checklist to go over with service users stating what my primary role is and what crc's role is,other agencies i can refer to or that they can self refer to. Basically set some clearer boundaries!

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    1. Probation Officer17 April 2016 at 10:09

      This was because of the very bad leadership across probation over the past 10+ years. When we became Trusts the probation chief officers and senior managers believed they were business people. They were all off attending management training, completing MBA's and forging links with private companies. As soon as the Ministry of Justice pulled the rug they caved in and did Grayling's bidding until redundancy/retirement. There wasn't a care for the service or the workers. The leaders we have now in NPS and CRC are proving to be even worse as they are driving what's left into the ground without question.

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  36. Trying to digest all of the comments on the blog this morning and enjoying everyone's contributions.
    What has struck me is whilst the concerns are obviously around regarding the 'then and now' situation, where does training fit in all of this. To strengthen any work force knowledge and continuous professional development is key. Yes we know that the trainee's are being rushed through and that has been addressed above in various discussions but what has happened to training? I remember attending heaps of training on a regular basis but not so much now?

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    1. In the NPS all training seems to be done be completing an e package that we can never acces on our systems. In the past we had in house training departments who had credibility and planned what the workforce needed. When the DipPS started these departments took on the first PDA's, put their heads together across regions by forging training consortiums and made it work. Now training is run by the civil service if you're NPS and technically private companies if you're CRC. Either side of the divide it's always going to range from abysmal to non-existent. In times of cut backs training is always the first to go!

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  37. You are right...there eas tegular training in bgsw crc up until abput 6 months ago but hardly anything since then. All posts frozen and i suspect working links not releasing any funds. There anawer to everything is ' let's have another road show' as if that will solve anything! Yes, we need ongoing training to drive up standards. Life experience is all very well but training is needed to reflect on ecpetience and develop!@

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    1. If we can all recall way back at the time of the split all of our training colleagues were assigned to the CRC's. A wealth of experience and knowledge is still around in these teams and colleagues in the NPS still have trainers around. With all of the knowledge that is still walking and working the corridors on both sides of our work demand for more training should be the way
      forward. Its stops the issues around professional integrity and professionalism being diluted away and the need for us all to stand up together to support each other. No one wants this profession to dwindle and eventually die so its about time we all came together to make it great again. Training and development is the only way forward and everyone who has shown how skilled they are within this blog needs to think how they can support the new and the not so new in continuing what we do,,, even when things are tough, rocky and at times painful.

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    2. When you go in to work tomorrow, find out how many 'training staff' are still employed or about to leave on EVR.(CRC's). The future of CRC staff training is very likely to be on hold as decisions on staffing levels take priority. Will be interesting to see how things develop over the next 6 - 9 months....

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  38. Probation Officer17 April 2016 at 10:23

    09:50 I've enjoyed reading and contributing to the debate too. I was the author of the guest blog. Thanks to all for reading and to Jim for sharing it.

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  39. Bgsw crc os run by working links. They have put all the evr on hold! Using tbe excuse that they haven't been told what their budgets are for next few years so cannot act yet!it may also be the case that the penny has dropped and they realise that they would suddenly lose mainly highly experienced staff and suffer a brain drain. What is their answer? Another of their so called road shows. They may as well piss in the wind for all the difference that will make. Yours truly: deadwood but not burried yet xxx

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    1. Yes, but not before asking all admin staff earlier in the year to indicate if they would take EVR, suggesting if they stayed it would be assumed they would be willing to relocate as necessary to regional Hubs, dragging their heels in concluding the matter. Only then to pull the whole process last Friday. I think this shoddy treatment of staff by Working Links is absolutely disgusting. So much for the legal obligation of a duty of care towards one's employees.

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    2. Totally wrong and nothing to do with duties of care this is a voluntary issue and your distortions do not actually reflect well on you and criticise the employers inappropriately.

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  40. Rumour has it that SYCRC have just been given a hefty fine and managers jumping ship ? I expect Dodgy Daves government will find a way to prop their Sodexo friends up

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  41. Every employer has a duty of care. If you are an employer and do not agree with that you are a bad employer and should take action immediately.

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  42. PO PSO SPO ACO. When was there ever a benchmark. When was there ever a truly successful career progression tool of any real credibility. The discussion about who is better than who is academic. Our world is even smaller. The public is not interested in probation and as a service gradually more and more minimised. Now perceived as being of little relevance. If it is important for you to be perceived as important best do something else.

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  43. And working links/sodexo/ purple future etc are not interested in probation either! That is the point. If you are not intetested in the work and improving the service but rather see it as a cash cow then you should not be rinning the service. The public deserve bettet.

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