Supervising Offenders


Estelle Benjamin, Probation Officer

“I had never really thought about probation as a career until I saw an advert in a local paper and l thought that the work sounded interesting. I’ve now been working as a qualified probation officer for eight years which shows that I must have made the right choice back then.

As a probation officer I work with male and female offenders on an individual basis, but I can also link in with other agencies to provide the additional support that might be required. For example to improve their skills through a training scheme or find employment. As their key worker I maintain the overview on all progress and developments.
Real opportunity
When someone starts their community order with probation I begin by explaining what the work is going to involve and how their supervision with me can be a real opportunity to tackle some of issues in their lives.

I get a real sense of satisfaction when I can see an offender start to make progress. I know I am making a difference  – and helping to protect the public.
Prepared for the challenge
I would never claim that my work is easy. Some of my cases see their supervision as a chance to change and get the help they need, but there are others were it can seem like one step forward and two steps back.

My training and experience prepares me for these challenges, I know how to motivate and when to challenge their attitudes. It is important that you are honest and transparent with each person so they understand what the consequences are going to be if they take certain actions.
Understanding the consequences
I had one case, convicted of a past domestic violence offence, who was getting to know a vulnerable woman. She had suffered violence at the hands of a former partner. I felt her children might be put at risk and I explained to the offender that I had notified the appropriate authorities responsible for safeguarding children. He wasn’t happy about what I had done, but he accepted that I had warned him about the consequences if his relationship with this woman developed.


Stephen Neale, Probation Service Officer

Stephen Neale, Probation Service Officer
Offender Management is about working with and motivating people to make positive changes and to sustain those changes.

“Essentially, I see my role as trying to enable the individuals who come my way to make positive changes to their lives – and stop re-offending. I try to motivate them chiefly by showing recognition of their abilities and achievements, rather than dwelling wholly on their failings, which I feel is so often counter-productive.

Wanting to change
For me, it’s about trying to use this approach to build a positive relationship with every individual that I work with. However, I do acknowledge that people need to ‘want to change’, and sometimes I meet those who are rigidly affirmed to a perspective of self-entitlement, which can be hard to breakdown. This is where the job becomes most challenging.
Taking small steps
My caseload also includes individuals whose early life experiences have been so damaging for them. Many have become entrenched in substance misuse as a way of trying to cope. In such cases I have to slowly ‘chip away’ at their resistance, which often means working with service users by taking small steps to help achieve sentence plan objectives.
Sustainable and beneficial change
During my work as a Probation Service Officer, I’ve more recently seen the development of peer mentoring initiatives that involves ex-offenders acting as positive role models to selected individuals on current orders or licences. I feel confident that this is having a real impact not only on the mentors, who grow in confidence and who learn new skills, but on our caseload who can see that change is possible, sustainable and beneficial.

It’s a mode of approach that I’m particularly excited about, recognising that positive, pro-social peer association is perhaps the principal dynamic in helping the people we work with to make and sustain real change.