Thursday, 27 July 2017

Whatever Happened to....?

Regular readers and the whole profession will be acutely aware of the very painful process we've all been through over the last few years as a result of TR. Hundreds of highly experienced staff have had their careers trashed and been forced out of a job they once loved.  

Read and weep for our once Gold Standard profession so thoroughly smashed by Chris Grayling and his former Liberal Democrat coalition cronies such as Nick Clegg and Simon Hughes. This seen on Facebook:-

Asked by one of our followers who is reconsidering their career choice....

I'm finding that all jobs I think I might be able to do want either a recent graduate or someone with experience. I can't afford to retrain or take a massive drop in pay (although I am willing to take a considerable drop just to get out). I would really love to know what ex-POs and PSOs do now and how they got out?


Joined the YOS x

Moved into social work.

Teaching Assistant

Can I ask did you need to retrain for this. I'm very interested in being a teaching assistant. Been a qualified PO for 15 years.

I'm a TA as well and didn't need to train to get a job, just some volunteering. However the money's is sooooo bad I'm not sure it's the right thing! I'm struggling and I was a CA (temp PSO), so it's about 3 times less for you! It's a great job though, if you can afford to do it for practically nothing..

An ex PO I worked with went into planning department for council

Family Liason Officer or Educational Welfare Officer other options

I'm not sure EWOs exist everywhere anymore.

I am a trainer in social work and criminal justice settings.

Luckily I did my social work MSc and escaped - have taken a slight pay cut but it's a million times better.

I think the key is thinking about what transferable skills you have. Most people that work in probation have excellent analytical and risk assessment skills. I'm still working as a part time PO, but have other roles as a children's home independent visitor and also a mental health hospital manager, sitting on mental health panels. Good to have a look around these types of roles as our skills are welcome and relevant x

Join the civil service...the real civil service. Always have roles coming up to move into. Your experiences and skills can be used in stress free roles.

Heading for social work myself. Crunched the numbers with my wife and we can make it work. As for experience, there are lots of mentoring and support roles in social care, education etc, some of which are paid, that provide great experience. The skills are transferable.

You will be amazing at that! But a loss to the service x

Was a PSO. Went to work in mental health which is an underpaid profession sadly. As such took a hit on my salary just to get out. However, I'm looking to move to civil service for more security. HMRC pay well for HEO grade and for some generic roles which don't want job specific knowledge but just transferable skills. The downside is I've been waiting for 6 months for a start date after being successful at interview. It is difficult because, especially when ur at the top of ur grade, probation works like golden handcuffs.

I was lucky. I got out when the CRC had just taken over and were offering redundancies or early retirement. Luckily, I was old enough, so opted for early retirement with a decent pension. I hope you find something else for your future emplyment.

Took my work pension at 60, topped up with money from part time cleaning, until I retire the day after tomorrow!

I've found my training and experience in Probation to be a massive asset in working in Youth Offending. I've not long recruited a former PO to a Team Leader post too.

I was lucky. I went to live in France. I run gîtes. But mostly I am enjoying the southern French weather. Best thing I ever did. I walked away from a pension and a salary but saved my sanity.

Sounds awesome

That's always been a dream of mine. Can one make a living out of gites. Is it not a saturated market?

In the south of France there are absolutely loads of tourists. You can't fail to make money if you've got really nice gites, a good view, a pool..the weather is brilliant and there is lots to see and do!

Do you need any staff...?

Not yet....but who knows..would love one day to do yoga retreats.

I'm an ex PO and now work part time in Tescos, full time foster carer and part time dog sitter! So much happier!!!!

Several of my PO friends left & got jobs as investigators for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). Another is a University lecturer. Our skills & knowledge are highly transferrable.

Don't you need a PhD to be a lecturer?

She has a masters degree & studying for a PhD whilst teaching.

Jumped ship to become a CQC inspector 18 months ago. Did GP inspections for a bit, before a space came up on the health & justice team. The majority of inspections I'm involved in are with HMI Prisons, plus some other interesting stuff - today I'm doing a presentation to HMI Probation about a joint thematic inspection we've just completed. Agree with the above - inspection and investigation work suits our skill set very well. Talking to people, making judgements, and writing reports... ideal!

Ex PO, now run a Supported Volunteering project, mentoring adults with LDs/MH or other issues into volunteering. Massive pay cut but now get tax credits which I didn't before so it just about works out. Plus there is no stress!!!

Ex SPO. I was assigned to CRC so left before the French caterers took over.I went to Adult Social Care and did lots of training. Was a senior prac and acting team leader. My partner said that I would come home tired but not unhappy and stressed as before. Now retired but will look at part time work when I have caught up with my sleep. As everyone has said we have transferable skills and it has been interesting to see where former colleagues have ended up.

Was a PSO but left before the takeover happened, was on the prolific offender team and found it incredibly frustrating, haven't worked in paid employment for four years now but just sort of thinking I might like a bit of a wage...steering clear of the stress of working with offenders though.

I now work as a psychotherapist - I have a private practice, I have a part time job working with those with sexual convictions who are victims/survivors too and also do some lecturing.

How to get out? Sounds like you're in prison. The grass is not always greener on the otherside. Just don't believe the hype don't get stressed about nothing you can't change, take the money, get a hobby, enjoy life, I also personally enjoy challenging the changes with the senior management by email. CRC's will never work it is just a way of reducing costs of probation, like the new one for decreasing redundancy enhanced pay from 3.46 to 1.2 at SWM, looks like another round of redundancies coming around!. Under TUPE regulations I wonder if its legal as it has been custom and practice to give it.

Retired from a secondment to the MOJ

Ex PSO, currently working as a locum PSO but start my new job soon as a Safeguarding head at a school. I have also worked as a Women's Support Worker.

Ex PSO, now an Atttendance Officer for a group of secondary schools. Lots of transferable skills and term time, money not bad either!

Social Work Tutor with the OU.

Went into adult social care.

Don't you need PhD to be a university lecturer or at least be working towards one? That's my understanding. .could be an expensive way out of probation!

My advice...get out of field teams and into specialisms...prison secondments are far more interesting and less stressful, plus no pay cut or loss of terms and conditions as in some of the career changes mentioned here! You keep your PO qualifications useful and relevant too and continue working with offenders, or whatever the term is at the moment! Best thing I did.

Things may well have changed in the decade plus since I did a prison secondment, but they were a much easier environment to work in as a male.

So many just seem to go into agency work. Not a leap forward for me, though it may suit some.

Another benefit of prisons - secondments have been abolished so you can stay longer! I've been in what was meant to be a 2 year prison secondment for nearly 5 years now! I've loved it. I'd definitely recommend it over community. Just be warned that it's all changing with new OM in custody model soon - who knows whether for better or worse. And it's been announced prison posts will be for 5 years max (so I need to start planning my next steps soon!)

Not heard prison posts are for 5 years max!! I know people who have stayed in prisons much longer than that! Where was that announced? OM model has been delayed in my area numerous times and no sign of that happening for at least 18 months. They are recruiting more PO's in prisons not letting people go. I think different areas clearly have different policies to prison job's...I am in West Yorkshire and we've had no announcement about a 5 year maximum stay at all!

Yes they are because they are so stressed until they can find something else.

I left a year ago as a PO and now work for the Catholic Church as a safeguarding coordinator. Better pay, less hours, less stress and I feel more values. Miss the colleagues though!

So you not need a social worker qualifications for safeguarding roles?

Not for these roles, just safeguarding related experience.

I left going on four years ago after 15 years of being a PO, firstly working for my husband as a Quality Manager, before taking parental leave. We have since emigrated to Iceland and will be running an organic fruit and vegetable farm from this summer. I haven't transferred my skills in any appreciable way and basically married well which allowed me to walk away from the Service.

I was a PSO and then went on to work for St Giles Trust helping ex offenders in the community and then trained as a trainer/assessor and have never looked back.

PO to YOT team leader. Don't under estimate transferable skills. You end up so accustomed to just getting on with the job, you forget how skilled you are.

Ditto. People seem to be leaving in droves!

Thanks for this post. I've been thinking for some time that my future career may lie outside of probation, but have been worried that our skills and qualifications are too specific and tie me to this job. Reassuring to hear that other people have made a success of moving on! :) x

Come join DWP with me much less stress then prison and probation x

I still enjoy the prisons side, but I know probation will move me on at some point soon & there's a lot of changes atm too. I'm considering doing a youth offending secondment for a bit! Aww so glad you're enjoying your new role. Less stress sounds lovely :) x

I use to do the youth offending panels as a volunteer and used to enjoy it.

That's encouraging! I'm going along to shadow someone for a day and see what it's all about x

I left and have gone into community safety for a local authority. There's no stress, it's very varied and I'm still able to use my Criminal Justice experience.

Worked in the CJS for 22 years 15 as a PSO...left 18 months ago and moved into the private care sector ....never ever EVER looked back. It wasn't until I was away from the probation service did I fully understand how draining and demoralising it was and what effect it had on my overall wellbeing.. I took a pay cut but was worth every penny!

I'm part time agency and have worked with other agency staff who have been trying to branch out of probation - it would be great if all this advice could be co ordinated!!

Is nobody interested in the clerical staff? It's had a big impact on us too!

I love our admin ladies and would be lost without their compassion and skills x

Thanks. All admin staff have been taken out of the field teams and sent to work in one big building. Very sad.

God that's awful - I'm so sorry they've done that  X

I moved sideways - from PSO into a Youth Offending Team and am now a Senior Early Help Worker. All my skills from Probation transferred and I still get to work with offenders sometimes too, so the knowledge is still good to go. In my new role, I get to work with families experiencing difficulties BEFORE statutory authorities become involved and I love every minute of it (although the stress is still there sometimes ;) )

I moved to become a CJ Recovery Worker. It is very stressful and I am finding it hard. Looking for something new...

Same as me xx

I left youth offending two years ago and now use my decision making and report writing skills to adjudicate on student appeals and complaints in a university. I've found that the higher education sector recognises transferable skills and has more opportunities for professional growth and development

I did the Social Work MA course (22 months long) which I got a full bursary for. I also managed to do some project work and report writing on the side (when not in course placements) and managed surprisingly well on a financial level. I'd been worried about that aspect esp as I have 2 small children to support, but it was okay all in all. I'm now a qualified Social Worker in Adult Care. The course was challenging at times but I'm very pleased I made the jump. I couldn't tolerate what was happening in the Probation Service or for me, and felt that I had to get out. I applied for several jobs prior to committing to the course, but found I just wasn't getting short listed with just my Probation Qual ;( ... Retraining felt like a no brainer in the end and I'm glad I was courageous enough to do it. I got my S/W role in the Trust that I completed my final course placement in. Most of the folk I trained with got jobs in LA S/W within 1 month of qualifying. Good luck in your bid to 'get out'. I'd recommend an element of risk taking if you're really unhappy ..

I became a PO in 1988 and gained experience in different areas inc 14 years in programmes. I left in late 2015. I have found it impossible to get permanent work and have kept busy with voluntary work. I do have a job now but is an eight month job running a programme for offenders supervised by YOTs re drug, alcohol and risky behaviour. Is very hard out there and I have not found that my skills are recognized in general. I also have two training qualifications and a Life Coach qualification. I miss group work in Probation a lot - a great job, when fully staffed and a great team but PO s are not wanted in CRCs.

I would agree with that.  I think it depends whereabouts in the country you are as to the availability of jobs, but there isn't a great deal out there in the North East. I think you can always pick up short term agency contracts though, and where there's a will, there's a way. I wanted out so badly that I'd have left and taken my chances had I been unsuccessful at securing a place on the S/W MA. Guess ability to do that depends also on your financial circs though. I was lucky in that my husband has always been our main wage earner (a situation I'm totally happy with) and my hours were only part-time in Probation after having my children. I'm also not a materialistic person so didn't mind 'cutting the cloth' so to speak.

PSO with the now totally redundant CJ NVQ. Left 4yrs ago to escape privatisation chaos. CARATS worker - awful company but loved the job, but left after 3m. Briefly PSO temped. Now settled in substance misuse - initially with large recently name changed charity, which wasn't a great experience. Since been taken over by larger security company, which has been better managed than expected. 4yrs on and I'm still several grand short of earning what I was as a PSO & I miss the holiday entitlement and sick leave (esp as someone with chronic illness).

Found it hard to find new career due to lack of degree & so many places now want specific qualifications. However I've just been through recruitment for civil service apprenticeship & due to start later in the year. Can't wait to be back in the public sector.

I miss my probation job every day. I needed to leave for my health/sanity, I think. But I still regret it.


  1. There is hope then over all.

  2. I left around ten years ago. Done a few jobs since in police, local authorities now work for a regulator (I enjoy doing different things)I have to say though when I worked in Probation there were some incredible practitioners who were absolutely inspirational (mean that genuinely). Something I have not found anywhere else so would agree about missing the colleagues.

    The service did not realise the quality of some of the people it had. Was a tragedy and should never have been allowed to happen.

    1. Agree.Staff and their calibre was a factor taken for granted with those who advanced not always being the most talented

  3. A blog of shame for the Ministry of Whateveritscalledthisweek. I, too, left and am having a decent enough time despite losing about £6K and 10 annual leave days a year. What I find distressing is that the conversations I have with colleagues still in Probation are generally taking the form of: 'it's really s***. I only have two years to go until I can retire so I think I can stick it out until then'.

    During the 25 years I was with Probation, I was motivated and enthused by what we were doing and fully engaged in the industry surrounding community sentencing, offenders, courts etc etc. Now all I hear about is dissatisfaction, anger, frustration, lies, deception, corporate bullying, threats, misdirection, offenders being fobbed off with dumb initiatives like phone or SKYPE interviews, unqualified staff working with high risk offenders with poor supervision (I know of one sex offender specialist who has had ONE supervision session in nearly two YEARS). Unqualified people are now working with offenders who I was not allowed anywhere near until I had been qualified for a year. It's just a sad, sad thing to watch the ship I cruised the world in being run onto the rocks and left to rust and decay. Grayling's shame.

  4. POs I'm aware of are now: IPCC Lead Investigator... HMIC Inspector... Safeguarding Adults Board... Child Protection Conference Chair... Local Authority... Early Retirement...

  5. URGENT! Probation Officers needed urgently in various locations across BGSW CRC. Thinking of a change? Cheaper than living in London! Think Bristol, home of Banksy..Bath, of Jane Austen fame..Swindon or Somerset, home of the Wurzels..what better recommendation could you have? Permanent positions or agency.

    1. It means being employed by Working Links, though, so I'd be careful if I were you.

    2. Exactly why not to go there.

  6. You missed out Wiltshire..home of the Womad festival and Somerset has Glasto! Of course the Wurzels would seal the deal for me 'I am a cider drinker'. That and good old scrumpy Jack!

  7. For about five years, until 2009 when they took PO's out of Interventions, I loved my job in probation. I left, getting the next secondment that came up - a social services early help team.
    Then I heard about Multisystemic Therapy - a family intervention for teens involved in YOS - they valued the PO qualification and I did that for four years until the service got cut. It wasn’t without it stresses - imagine having a 24hr on-call phone for 20 families struggling with their teenagers!

    I found that Probation was hit earlier than LA's, I even had a full car user lump sum until 2016!

    I did a Masters part-time and wanted to train as a Clinical Psychologist but didn’t get an interview for any of the four Universities I applied to. One institution told me that it was so competitive that without a 1st class undergrad and a distinction MSc I wouldn’t get anywhere. 500 applications for 12 jobs.

    Last year I got a full time scholarship for a PhD in community psychology. It's a massive pay cut but I needed the change and it's the best thing I could be doing right now.

  8. Re - training in psychotherapy. I get to spend time with my clients and follow an evidence base of which, early signs are, it works. No guarantee I will ultimately qualify, it is a big challenge, but I am pleased I am in the mix let's say. Probation is a huge part of my experience and I value the many people I have had the general pleasure of working with. I will let you know how I get on. Leaving is a huge challenge on many levels so think carefully before you do. Staying in Probation is a choice of equal merit to my mind. Sometimes though something tells you it's time to move on, pension , decent holiday entitlement and reasonable salary aside.

  9. Compared to other allied professions we're not too badly paid.

    1. You must be in management then. We haven't had a pay rise for 7 years, lost many entitlement expenses, terms and conditions and then have to work longer for pension in the hope that u will die before you collect it. You need to evaluate your stupid statement

    2. No pay rise is true, but expenses, terms and conditions? Not much change.
      My point is that colleagues who leave typically drop their income significantly, get less leave, get a worse pension and end up on rolling 12 month contracts. Our pay bands are terribly long and it's poorly structured but in terms of rate of pay we compare very favourably to many professionals working with the same clients.