Monday, 9 September 2019

Remembering Paul Senior

At a time when we once again find ourselves embroiled in a struggle to keep the probation ethos alive, the profession is without a high profile champion. In the summer we lost Paul Senior and I notice the Probation Institute have dedicated the latest issue of Probation Quarterly to his memory:-

I first met Paul when he was chairing Napo Probation Practice Committee circa 1980: articulate, confident and knowledgeable with strong left wing politics.

I don’t think I fully understood Paul’s passion for Probation and everything that it stands for until the then higher education social work qualification, the Diploma in Social Work, was challenged as the requirement for appointment as a Probation Officer. In 1994 the Conservative Government through Michael Howard and Baroness Blatch threatened simultaneously to remove the qualification requirement for appointment as a probation officer from both social work and higher education and to replace it with a statement of work based competence. The ensuing struggle between Conservative ministers, Napo and the Association of Chief Officers of Probation was resolved by incoming Labour Government in 1997 promising to retain the qualification in higher education but not in social work. As Home Secretary, Jack Straw agreed to introduce the Diploma in Probation Studies. By this time Paul had become the first ever Professor of Probation Studies at Sheffield Hallam University. He was asked to develop the qualification and worked tirelessly to create a specific Vocational Qualification embedded into a Degree. 

Without Paul’s achievement in enabling the translation of social work theory and practice into probation theory and practice the ethos of probation would have been completely overridden by enforcement and control twenty years ago. Paul went on to lead at Sheffield Hallam one of the three funded Probation Programmes now known as PQIP and to develop the Hallam Centre for Community Justice. Paul shared the huge disappointment of Transforming Rehabilitation. He continued his robust defence of compassionate, empowering approaches to rehabilitation. Although struggling with illness, in 2015 Paul took over as Chair of the Probation Institute which he led with passion to become a stronger, clearer voice for professional recognition, research and post qualification learning. Paul was a brave warrior and champion for Probation. We miss him hugely and it is our responsibility to walk in his footsteps. 
Helen Schofield - Acting CEO, Probation Institute 

Although our paths had crossed throughout our probation and academic careers, I only got to know Paul well when I interviewed him in 2011 for the research project I was undertaking with Rob Mawby on the occupational cultures and identities of probation workers. His passion for probation work shone through and he was also very supportive of our research and its subsequent publication. Although I am technically breaching research ethics by identifying an interviewee, I’m sure Paul would have been happy for me to disseminate his response to my question about the value of home visits in probation, which demonstrates both his gently self-mocking character and his empathy with offenders and their communities: 

And then, probably after lunch, because I can remember the days we used to have lunch and we’d go and have a beer sometimes, I would set off to my patch. I’d have a few appointments, but I’d also just drive around and I’d see some of the lads on the street and stop and have a chat. And I’d spend most afternoons on my own, without complicated telephone systems, booking in to see if I was still alive and, you know, no one would know where I was really. I’d just go and have cups of tea and talk to people and occasionally have some difficult times. I ran little groups at the school sometimes and we had a report centre out there, so one afternoon a week, I would be there and people would come in. 

But Paul was emphatically not someone who hankered after the “golden age” of probation. His commitment to the Probation Institute was one of the many ways he demonstrated, throughout his life, his desire to be at the forefront of discussion about the future of probation work.
Anne Worrall - Editor, Probation Quarterly

“I first met Paul during my doctoral studies when he recorded an interview with me for a video to go on the community justice portal – he was immediately supportive and enthusiastic about my research on probation. I then moved to SHU and worked more closely with him through the British Journal of Community Justice – again, his support for early career researchers was really something that stood out for me. I’ll never forget the days we spent at the Heaves Hotel discussing probation in preparation for writing the special issue of the Journal which was published in 2016 – his drive and ability to get us working together and, even more impressively, sticking to deadlines was something to behold! The world of probation is undoubtedly poorer without him.” 
Jake Phillips

“I knew Paul for over 15 years as a fellow practitioner who had become an academic and who continued to fight ardently for the probation profession. Paul always was generous in his encouragement of others, and his contributions to maintaining high standards and quality in probation practice are well known. He published numerous articles and books/chapters to promote these standards and challenged government policies which undermined probation officer autonomy and skill. He will be sadly missed particularly in this climate where people of principle are increasingly rare. The last time I saw Paul reinforced my high estimation of him and I had great respect for his bravery, particularly at the last Portal lecture which he kindly chaired despite being very unwell. He had so much pride in enabling communication between academics, policy makers and practitioners.” 
Wendy Fitzgibbon

“He was a friend to many people and his legacy is huge. The world of probation is much diminished with his passing. He was a great doer and I remember the weekend in the Lakes where he guided us to produce much thoughtful discussion and eventually the edition of the British Journal of Community Justice. A truly great and strong, brave person.” 
Anthony Goodman

“Paul was a giant of the probation world for so long and his wisdom and insight will be very much missed. I entered higher education from probation to teach on the DiPS in 2001 at Newport. At that time we ran the programme on behalf of Sheffield Hallam and Paul was very kind to me, encouraging and supportive and did a great deal to ease my way into the academic world. I will always be very grateful for this.” 
John Deering

“A few years ago, Paul was a guest speaker at our yearly conference (when we were Humberside Probation Trust), Paul’s slot was just before lunch – he was simply captivating. It was the first, and only time that no one actually wanted to finish for lunch – I could have listened to him all day – he is one of only a handful of people I would have liked to invite to a dinner party.” 
Sue Beulah

“At all stages of my probation career – as practitioner, teacher and researcher – I have admired the determined and practical way that Paul championed the profession, its practice, its expertise and its values. I was fortunate to work alongside him on two projects: as part of the editorial board of the British Journal of Community Justice and in the development of the Probation Institute. On a personal level, the more I came to know Paul the more I appreciated his kindness and wisdom. I felt very privileged to be part of the group that met, at Paul’s invitation, for two days at the start of 2016 to talk about probation. The challenge now, in a world without Paul, is to ensure that conversations about the ‘essence of probation’ continue loudly and clearly.” 
Jane Dominey

“Paul Senior played a central role in the delivery of the new Diploma in Probation Studies in 1999. This followed a successful campaign, in which I was centrally involved, to resist the then Home Secretary, Michael Howard’s, decision to end the requirement that probation officers hold a recognised professional qualification. The campaign was successful because of the united front presented by the Central Probation Council, the Association of Chief Officers of Probation and the National Association of Probation Officers. In this campaign, we were greatly assisted by the support of leading academics, notable amongst whom was Paul. When Jack Straw became Home Secretary after the election of the New Labour Government in 1997, he accepted the need to establish a new professional qualification for probation officers. 

Almost a decade later, to mark the 100th anniversary of the Probation Service, Paul had the idea of 365 members, former members and friends of the Service recalling a memory of their time in Probation and a new reminiscence appearing daily on what Paul called the Community Justice Portal. I was a contributor, but like others, doubted that Paul could find 365 people willing to participate. However, he did and later, 100 of those memories were compiled into a book entitled ‘Moments in Probation’, which, for me, is a fitting legacy for Paul”. 
Mike Worthington


  1. RIP Paul, a brilliant man.

    I am just posting this for anyone interested. A good opportunity has arisen contact me if you want to discuss the job in detail, been over here four years plus now and it is a good environment to work in.
    Service Area

    Probation Services
    Grade: - EGIII £40,408 - £43,054 OR EGIV £44,376 - £46,880 BAR EGV £48,182 - £50,902 per annum
    Full Time
    Home Affairs are looking for a Probation Officer to join its Probation Service.

    Probation Officers are the operational staff of the Probation Service having the one to one contact with offenders to assess, monitor and provide therapeutic interventions to reduce and manage offending behaviour.

    The main purpose of the post of Probation Officer is to: provide the Courts with quality information and assessment to assist in sentencing decisions; supervise offenders in the community in order to reduce crime and so protect the public; prepare prisoners for release and resettlement into the community; manage high risk potentially dangerous offenders including violent and sexual offenders.

    Given the nature of the work the post requires flexible working which may include full or part time secondment to the Offender Management Unit at the Prison.

    Please click on the link below to view a full job description for this role.

    Job Description
    Contact: Gemma Lockwood, Senior Probation Officer. Tel: (01481) 724337. Email: or Kat Lockwood. Tel: (01481) 724337. Email:
    We strongly advise that applicants speak to the contact named above before applying for this role.
    Closing Date: 25 September 2019

  2. Sorry meant to say this is for Guernsey Probation Service


    2. A privately-run probation service has been told by a watchdog it provided "poor supervision" of offenders and must improve. Norfolk and Suffolk Community Rehabilitation Company (NSCRC) was also potentially putting domestic abuse victims and children at risk. HM Inspectorate of Probation said case management was "unacceptably poor".

      A NSCRC spokeswoman said it had already introduced "robust new plans to address the issues" before May's inspection.

      The probation watchdog found the company, which is run by Sodexo Justice Services, "required improvement" overall and inspectors were "particularly concerned about the poor supervision of individuals".

      All four key case supervision standards were judged to be "inadequate". Chief inspector Justin Russell said Suffolk's service was last inspected in 2017 when it was "nowhere near good enough". He said although more staff had been recruited "the quality of case management remains unacceptably poor. The greatest deficiencies lie in work to manage the risk of harm to others, in cases where the safeguarding of children or domestic abuse is a concern," he said.

      In one instance, paperwork did not mention how an offender had a history of violence against police officers and a former partner in front of their child, as well as threatening others with weapons including an axe while drunk and had previously been assessed as "posing a high risk of causing serious harm".

      The NSCRC manages more than 3,000 low and medium-risk offenders. However, its unpaid work services were rated outstanding, while two more categories - out of 10 overall - were judged as good.

      The NSCRC spokeswoman said it was "pleased our Community Payback scheme has been rated outstanding, that services for offenders were assessed as good and the recognition of our wide-ranging quality of service. We had already introduced robust new action plans to address the issues raised in the report prior to the inspection, such as the quality, consistency and depth of our case supervision, with these new plans ensuring protecting the public remains our priority," she said.

      Last year, the government announced all 21 privately-run community rehabilitation companies would have their contracts axed early. Responsibility for offenders will be handed to the state-run National Probation Service instead.

    3. No doubt like the rest of the crcs they had a strong management team. Shame they were so busy hitting targets they missed the point. The union should be looking at compensation for crc staff. They have been degraded, demoralised, lost money, humiliated by being placed in private companies which the government was told would not work. Now we will return to our colleagues many of whom turned there backs on us and even belittled us. The likelihood is that staff that qualified after us will be on more money.

  3. Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament means 13 high-profile government bills have been lost, including a law protecting victims of domestic abuse...

    Domestic Abuse Bill - A bill with cross-party support would have introduced a definition of domestic abuse to help victims and the public understand what type of behaviour it constitutes, helping more come forward.

    Before it was dropped, multiple charities wrote to the PM urging him to keep the Domestic Abuse Bill as part of his agenda.

    Women's Aid has now demanded a "clear, public commitment" that the legislation will be brought back after prorogation.

    Campaigns and public affairs manager Lucy Hadley said: "Survivors and domestic abuse experts have put years of work into creating this bill - it must be re-introduced in the next Queen's Speech."

    Sir James Munby, the former president of the Family Division, expressed his "dismay and frustration", saying: "This is a vitally important bill tackling what everyone agrees is a very great social evil."

    He called for the bill to be reintroduced in Parliament as soon as the next session starts.

    ALSO, & undoubtedly related in many cases:

    Divorce law - A planned reform to divorce law in England and Wales would allowed couples who have drifted apart to start immediate divorce proceedings.

    Currently, unless allegations of fault are made couples must wait two or five years to officially separate.

    Former Justice Secretary David Gauke said it would end the "blame game" and encourage amicable separations that were less disruptive to families.

    It seems NEITHER Bill was subject to a last-minute carry-over motion so BOTH have to start from scratch if/when they are re-introduced in the next Parliament, unless...

    ... unless the UK Supreme Court upholds the Scottish Courts' decision that prorogation was unlawful & Parliament is reinstated. Presumably that means its a continuation of the current Parliament so the Bills can be progressed? Any keen students of Erskine May able to confirm or deny?

    1. Sorry - credits must be given to BBC News website & John Hyde, Deputy news editor for Law Society Gazette.

    2. No-one gives a rat's crap, despite the worthy words & expressions of concern:

      Domestic violence murders surge to five-year high

      Some 173 people were killed in domestic violence-related homicides last year, the highest number since 2014, according to data from 43 police forces across the UK. And BBC analysis of the first 100 killings of 2019 suggests one in every five was committed by a partner, an ex-partner or a family member. One criminologist describes those killed as the "invisible victims of knife crime".
      The government insists it is "fully committed" to tackling domestic abuse, with Home Office Minister Victoria Atkins saying MPs will again get to debate a domestic abuse bill, alongside a scheme to let people find out if their partner has a history of domestic violence, once Parliament's suspension is over. However, Nogah Ofer, of the Centre For Women's Justice, argues police are not making use of powers they already have. "Women have to go off and get orders in the civil courts. Then those orders are breached and the police don't do anything to arrest the suspects," she says.

      BBC news website

    3. "A Year of Killing - All the people featured in this article met their death in one year at the hands of partners or ex-partners... we list 68 women killed by men, two women killed by their female partners, and 10 men killed by women..." (2005)

      "Two women are killed each week by a current or former partner in England and Wales"

      Office for National Statistics (2016) Compendium – Homicide (average taken over 10 years)

      Link to 1989 Home Office Research Paper 107

      "A fifth of women murdered by their current or former partners had been in touch with the police, figures obtained by The Times suggest, as arrest rates for domestic violence plummet.

      The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has overseen investigations into the murders of 41 women by their partners in England and Wales between March 2016 and January this year. Coercive behaviour, stalking and harassment were allegedly dismissed by officers as a precursor to violence in several cases ..." [Mar 2019]

      "Nearly half of all British women murdered by men died at the hands of a partner or ex-partner, a new study has revealed.

      Some 694 women were killed by men over a period of four years, and of those, 46 per cent were killed by someone they had had a romantic relationship with.

      Over the same period of four years, six per cent were killed by their son and three per cent by their extended family. The same number were killed during a burglary, The Daily Telegraph reported.

      The data came from the 'Femicide Census', which uses data from the Government Census to profile women killed by men." [2015]

    4. Links to the last two editions of The Femicide Census by Womens' Aid


  5. Open Letter

    "I share the disgust at the crimes committed by Vanessa George and I understand why the prospect of her release is so worrying to so many people, particularly in Plymouth where memories of her abuse are still vivid and frightening. The fact she so callously exploited a position of trust to commit these crimes makes them all the more horrifying. With that in mind, I want to make sure your readers are aware that they can access support if these crimes affected them - and also know the strict licence conditions George will face on release from prison.

    "Vanessa George will not be allowed to return to Devon or Cornwall. The Parole Board has imposed an unusually large exclusion zone which reflects the nature of her crimes, and the number of victims and the seriousness with which we’re taking our responsibility to victims and the wider public.

    "She will also never be allowed to work with children again and will be on the sex offenders’ register for the rest of her life. She is subject to a number of conditions, including not to have unsupervised contact with any children whatsoever. If she breaches any of these conditions or if her probation officer thinks there is an increasing chance she might re-offend – she can be immediately recalled to prison.

    "One of the most tragic elements of this case is that the Police were unable to identify which children were abused. This means hundreds of people were left never knowing if they or their child, sibling, or grandchild were a victim. A victim contact service was offered at the time to more than 200 families who may have been affected, and 21 have chosen to take up that support.

    "It would be wrong for us to proactively contact people who may have decided very carefully that the best thing for them is to put this awful experience behind them. But I want to make it absolutely clear to anyone who might have been affected that they can still email , to apply to take up that offer of contact now.

    "Any parent who wants to receive this service will have a dedicated victim liaison officer who will keep them updated about any new developments in George’s case. This includes being notified once she has been released and whether she is ever recalled to prison for a breach of licence conditions.

    "Further, the Parole Board has said that it will consider sympathetically any further requests for exclusion zones, to prevent any victim from coming into contact inadvertently with George. If she is ever recalled, they will be given the opportunity to make a statement to the Parole Board about how the crime impacted them and will be able to express their views on her licence conditions. Exceptionally, this will also apply for George’s co-defendants in this case Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen when they become eligible for parole consideration.

    "Nothing can take away the pain caused to victims and the fear felt by the community about her release - but I hope that your readers will find some reassurance in the extremely strict safeguards which are in place and the services available to any victim who wants them."

    Sonia Crozier, Chief Probation Officer for the National Probation Service

  6. As a PO in the NPS I'm really pleased that Sonia has published this letter. Too often excuses are made on behalf of offenders and so it's refreshing that Sonia has recognised that these crimes are disgusting. This offender should never have been released and the Parole Board should be ashamed about another shocking decision.

  7. It will be interesting to see how this pans out. In my experience, exclusion zone have shrunk considerably over the years due to challenges and judicial reviews. The days of a lifer being automatically excluded from the county where the murder took place are long gone. Its completely unrealistic to assume this can be monitored in any meaningful way, unless maybe electronic monitoring is used. the rule I was taught when training as a PO many moons ago was don't include a licence condition unless you (as the supervising Officer) can actually deliver it. Also it's unfair to the victims to promise what you can't deliver.

  8. "Vanessa George will not be allowed to return to Devon or Cornwall... She is subject to a number of conditions, including not to have unsupervised contact with any children whatsoever..."

    As per Anon23:16 above, I'm not sure how the absoluteness of Crozier's claims can be guaranteed.

    File on 4 - Sex Offenders Fleeing Abroad

    SkyNews also checked up in Mar 2018: & found 450+ were missing:

    Avon and Somerset Police - 11 registered sex offenders (RSOs) whereabouts were unknown.

    Bedfordshire Police - whereabouts of 3 RSOs unknown.

    Cambridgeshire Police - 9 RSOs were recorded as wanted, whereabouts unknown from 2017.

    Cheshire Police - The force said 2 RSOs had been missing since 2017.

    Cleveland Police - 3 RSOs whereabouts unknown.

    Cumbria Police - whereabouts of 1 RSO unknown.

    Derbyshire Police - The force said there were 7 RSOs whereabouts unknown.

    Devon and Cornwall Police - 6 RSOs missing including 4 known to be abroad.

    Dorset Police - whereabouts of 5 RSOs were unknown including 3 who are "firmly believed to be overseas".

    Durham Police - 1 RSO missing since 2013.

    Dyfed Powys Police - whereabouts of 4 RSOs were unknown.

    Greater Manchester Police - whereabouts of 19 RSOs were unknown.

    Gwent Police - whereabouts of 1 RSO was unknown.

    Gloucestershire Police - whereabouts of 4 RSOs unknown.

    Hampshire Police - whereabouts of 7 RSOs unknown.

    Hertfordshire Police - 3 RSOs recorded as wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

    Humberside Police - whereabouts of 9 RSOs unknown.

    Kent Police - 9 RSOs wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

    Leicestershire Police - whereabouts of 1 RSO unknown

    Merseyside Police - 6 RSOs wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

    Metropolitan Police - The force said it did not know the whereabouts of 227 RSOs, including 38 missing since 2010 or earlier.

    Norfolk Police - The force said 1 RSO had been missing since March 2014. He is believed to have died. A further 2 convicted sex offenders failed to comply with register requirements after travelling abroad and not returning to the UK.

    North Wales Police - 2 RSOs whereabouts unknown.

    Northamptonshire Police - 10 RSOs whereabouts unknown.

    Nottinghamshire Police - whereabouts of 7 RSOs unknown.

    Northumbria Police - 5 RSOs wanted because their whereabouts were unknown.

    Police Scotland - 12 RSOs wanted, all of whom are believed to be out of the UK.

    South Wales Police - 8 RSOs missing or wanted.

    Staffordshire Police - 5 RSOs missing.

    Surrey Police - whereabouts of 6 RSOs unknown.

    Thames Valley Police - whereabouts of 13 RSOs unknown.

    West Mercia Police - The force said one sex offender had been missing since 2006.

    West Midlands Police - 46 RSOs wanted or missing.

    West Yorkshire Police - 10 RSOs wanted for breaching registration requirements.

    Four Police areas didn't respond.