The term ‘probation officer’ is known to most people, yet what they specifically do can be less clear. In this article, we will look at what is meant by probation officer more closely. Looking at areas such as; day to day tasks of a probation officer, who employs probation officers, and the qualifications and/or training needed. The idea of this article is to give you an overview, so that you can see if firstly it appeals to you,secondly if you have the correct qualification, and, if this isn’t the case, the steps needed to be completed.
In terms of tasks you can be expected to perform as a probation officer, it is important to understand that your workload, in terms of content, will differ massively from one day to the next. Yet, some common tasks that can be expected can be established. For example, you will be helping offenders both prior to sentencing/going to jail and also when they come out. You may also be helping families of offenders, during these times. Before jail, you will be expected to help an offender come to terms with their custodial sentence, providing necessary information and advice for them. During their sentence, depending on the offender and/or case they’re involved in, you might be expected to visit them in prison.
While once they’ve finished their sentence, you will be key in their rehabilitation process. This might involve overseeing community work they’re involved in, or getting them involved in community work in the first place. Or more likely visiting offenders, or them visiting you on a regular basis to check up on their progress of reintegration with society, while making sure they are meeting the requirements of their probation (curfews, drug tests, etc.).
Within the UK, most probation workers are employed by the National Probation Service. Positions in probation work are often fairly competitive, so some sort of work experience, even if its voluntary, should be considered. On top of this work experience, a degree is often expected, yet not necessary. If you don’t have a degree in a related field to probation work, then you can enter the profession via vocational qualification or via a higher apprenticeship. These types of qualifications can allow you to apply for a level 6 professional qualification in probation (PQiP). Finally, it is also possible to become a probation officer via becoming a probation services officer first. This job will allow you to gain necessary experience and offer the chance to gain qualifications alongside your day to day work.
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