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Community justice


Working with Offending Behaviour

The key careers available in working with offending behaviour are:

  • Probation Officer (including trainee and senior posts)
  • Probation Services Officer

As a probation officer, individuals assess the risk an offender may pose to the community, and how that risk may be limited. They work with offenders before, during and after they are sentenced. They often work in a 'field team', preparing court reports and supervising offenders in the community. They also work in other settings such as prisons or probation hostels. In this job they work closely with a range of other agencies such as the police, social services, substance misuse services and Youth Offending Teams.

At present, to qualify as a probation officer in England or Wales, individuals must first join a probation service as a trainee probation officer. However, the recruitment and training process for probation officers is under review, so this may change once the new process is finalised (expected to be in 2010).

The Probation Qualifications Framework Review was published on 15 September 2009:

Individuals should check with your local probation service for the latest information.

Around half of successful applicants to trainee positions have a background in probation-related work, in jobs such as Probation Service Officer (PSO), community supervisor or hostel worker.

As a qualified probation officer, individuals are encouraged to continue their professional and personal development throughout their careers. With experience, they could specialise in areas such as hostel or prison work, or progress into management.

Unlike probation officers, Probation Service Officers (PSOs) supervise only low risk offenders. Their duties are to protect the public, promote community safety and prevent crime. Duties vary depending on where they work, but can include:

  • providing pre-sentence court and bail information reports
  • overseeing unpaid community work programmes for offenders
  • dealing with referrals for things like substance misuse, health or work issues
  • delivering programmes to help change offenders' behaviour
  • providing support to crime victims and their families.

Experienced PSOs can progress to supervisory roles. They can also apply to the probation officer trainee programme, although internal applicants must still successfully gain the Diploma in Probation Studies (DipPS).

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Working with Victims, Survivors and Witnesses

Key job roles are:

  • Victim Care Officer
  • Independent Domestic Violence Advocate

Victim Care Officers contact victims by telephone in order to carry out a needs assessment and commission a range of services to support the identified needs. Where necessary they will refer on to other agencies and contact approved service providers to deliver services to victims, in order to ensure that the identified needs of the victim are met satisfactorily. Victim Care Officers can progress to Senior Care Officers and Team Leaders.

An Independent Domestic Violence Advocate (IDVAs) primary role will be to ensure the provision of support and advocacy services to all clients who are experiencing domestic violence. This involves:

  • Risk assessment and risk management
  • Safety planning
  • Attending court with victims
  • Advising on housing and legal options
  • Service planning.

They work directly with survivors to provide advice and support to help them make safety plans and understand the options they have. They also assist in accessing the full range of legal and non-legal services and resources and engage proactively in multi-agency work to keep survivors and their children safe. Generally those who have experience in providing advocacy, advice and support related fields such as welfare or housing are entrants to this occupation as the skills can be transferable between these fields and domestic violence.

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Community Safety

The key careers available in working with offending behaviour are:

  • Community Safety Manager
  • Community Safety Officer

Community safety officers are normally based in council offices and typical duties may include:

A small council might employ two or three community safety officers. In a large council there might be several teams of officers, each responsible for a number of initiatives. There may be possibilities to progress to team or service manager roles. There may also be opportunities within anti-social behaviour or youth offending teams.

Community Safety Managers have a huge variety of tasks – some may deal directly with the public, others have a much more strategic role. Basically they are the council’s lead officer on community safety matters, with the expectation that they will provide all necessary management and guidance on community safety matters as required

Some of the main job activities for this post are as follows:

  • Preparation of strategic documents, Action Plans and consultation bids for external funding Liaising with external bodies and working closely with the Council's partners
  • Providing day to day management support for the Community Safety Team
  • Undertaking financial management of the Council's budgets in relation to the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnership.

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Substance Misuse

Drug and Alcohol / Substance misuse workers work in a variety of roles, supporting both adults and young people with drug and alcohol dependency problems. Working in healthcare, social care and criminal justice teams, they may:

  • Conduct drug and alcohol tests
  • Assess the needs of individual clients, referring them to other specialist support or rehabilitation
  • Provide education, advice and guidance
  • Deliver one-to-one or group counselling among other support interventions
  • Administer medication, monitoring and overseeing clients' rehabilitation.
  • Tasks can vary widely, depending on where they work. However, all share the common goal of winning clients' trust and giving constructive support.

Many people transfer into this field from other professions including nursing, teaching, youth work, prison or probation services. Some experienced workers move into management positions, supervising workers, and some may choose to specialise, for example working with young people or adults.

Most organisations will give individuals on-the-job training whether they are volunteering or in paid employment. If individuals want to progress in their careers, they may have to take higher-level qualifications. They can find details about professional certification on the Federation of Drug and Alcohol Professionals (FDAP) website.

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Youth Justice

Youth workers usually work with young people aged between 13 and 19 years (or in some cases, from 11 to 25 years). The job may involve tasks such as:

  • Organising enjoyable activities, such as sports, art or drama
  • Supporting young people to develop ideas and make changes in their lives
  • Organising outings and breaks to places like outward bound and activity centres
  • Supporting young people in organising their own activities and projects
  • Raising awareness about issues such as health and politics
  • Supporting young people in developing skills such as literacy and numeracy
  • Working with specific groups such as young people who are homeless.

Youth workers are employed by local authorities, the Connexions service, youth offending teams, voluntary organisations, faith groups and schools.

Youth work skills are in demand, and opportunities are increasing. Newly-qualified youth workers train on the job with the support of experienced colleagues. Qualified youth workers may move into managerial posts or specialist work, for example working with young offenders.

Source: Skills for Justice LMI March 2010

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