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The Challenges facing the Probationary Service

Nicola Stewart, a York based Senior Probationary Officer with 20 years professional experience , gave a very informative overview of the current responsibilities of the service on Friday 3rd November.

She outlined the frequent legislative changes imposed by politicians against professional advice in many cases. The prime purpose was now considered to be to protect the public - a long way from the original ethos to encourage rehabilitation through individual Advise Assist Befriend programmes. The scale of the task however was not matched by the resources allocated and currently a culture of risk management had developed .

In 2022 nationally over 243,000 offenders were allocated to 11,219 Probation officers. In York a staff of 19 were responsible for 708 local offenders. High individual case loads were unavoidable.

Recruitment is becoming increasingly difficult although Nicolas did not consider the potential dangers of working with offenders a principal deterrent. She found that stopping people from re-offending gave her tremendous personal satisfaction which overcame the downsides of a very taxing job.

Frank Paterson

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