The Probation Service is a national service with offices in over 30 locations throughout the country.
It has 216 Probation Officers, and 50 Senior Probation Officers (team leaders,) qualified social workers, many of whom work in courts and communities across the country, and 43 community service supervisors..
The purpose of the work of a Probation Officer is prevent reoffending by assessing offenders, managing their period of supervision, challenging their offending behaviour, to ultimately create a safer society. The Probation Service is an agency of the Department of Justice.
A Probation Officer may be assigned to duties in any of the following areas: Courts and
Community, Prisons/Places of Detention, Young Persons Probation or other particular
assignments that may arise in the Service. The majority of appointments will be to the
Dublin environs, however a limited number of regional appointments may also be made.
A Probation Officer can anticipate changes in assignment from time to time during their careers with the Service.
Becoming a Probation Officer:
The successful candidates must be registered in the Social Work Register maintained by CORU.
Candidates must have experience in and capacity to demonstrate the following:
- Effective Interviewing skills
- Effective Report writing and assessment skills
- Proven case management experience , including ability to meet deadlines
- Ability to work as part of a team
- Knowledge of the criminal justice system
- Knowledge of community resources and how these can be mobilised
The areas of current strategic priority for the Probation Service that are likely to impact on the work of a Probation Officer include:
- Ensuring community sanctions remain a viable and relevant disposal for the court;
- Expanding the range of community sanctions and approaches to offender rehabilitation available to the Courts, the Department of Justice and other relevant authorities;
- Developing new ways of working with our criminal justice partners, including greater integration of work practices in the management of offenders;
- Developing a more victim sensitive approach in our work with offenders as well as further developing restorative justice interventions and services to victims;
- Engaging with the community in promoting and delivering community sanctions.
Personal Qualities: A Probation Officer will have excellent Interpersonal skills, patience, and an understanding of how and why people become involved in the criminal justice system.
Above all, a Probation Officer needs to be optimistic, to be able to get on with people, build trust with clients so that, working together, change can be achieved.
Views from our own Probation Officers:
Small steps – A Probation Officers experience
“Fundamentally, I believe in the possibility of change and I feel that that belief helps me to achieve that change in my clients. It’s also important to have a good dose of optimism, good interpersonal skills and an understanding of the complexity of life. You should appreciate people’s difficulties and struggles and engage with them in a non-judgmental tone. Basically, you should accept where the offender is at ─ and work from there. It’s about keeping people stable, and taking small steps. When you meet a client it may have no impact at the time, some of the work will remain with them and be used by them when they’re ready to use it.
Senior Probation Officer.
Interview: Working in Probation
Claire talks about her experiences as a Probation Officer with the Service.
Why did you choose to become a Social Worker?
The simple answer is I wanted to help people. I always knew I wanted to be in the caring profession. When I left secondary school I started General Nursing in Trinity College Dublin. I loved caring for people and meeting all their holistic needs. However, I was spending more time with patients discussing their concerns and providing emotional support. I decided to leave Trinity College with the aim of becoming a Social Worker.
Where did you work before you joined the Probation Service?
I was working for Home Instead Senior Care as a caregiver.
What made you apply to become a locum Probation Officer?
I was looking for the opportunity to work in a social work field, working in partnership with service users to assist them in overcoming challenges they face. I previously worked with children and families and I wanted to gain experience of working with involuntary adults.
Where has your role as a locum Probation Officer has taken you?
I have moved to Dublin on two occasions. I was first working in the CCJ as part of the Court Liaison Team. I enjoyed the work and gained great court experience. It was a fast moving unpredictable role which required fast thinking and assessment skills.
My second role is working in Mountjoy Prison. This was a new experience for me as I have never been in a prison or worked with prisoners. Working in the prison has given me the opportunity to work with service users over a long period, to be able to undertake offence focus work and see how their risk of re-offending can change.
Both my roles involved working closely with different agencies and professionals.
My journey in working with the Probation Service has given me the opportunity to work with great people, who are supportive and encouraging.
What things have you learnt or been surprised by in your work with the Probation Service?
I have learnt a great deal since I commenced working with the Probation Service. I have developed my knowledge such as undertaking risk assessments.
I have learned about working with different organisations such as the Courts Services and the Irish Prison Service.
In my time with the Probation Service I have continued to develop my skills such as communication, assessment, working with involuntary clients, organisation skills etc.
What’s interesting about the role of Probation Officer?
No two days are the same, you never know what the next phone call is going to bring and you learn something new every day.