Probation services officers, commonly referred to as PSOs, are tasked with supervising offenders released from prison on license of serving community sentences. They focus on helping them change their lives for the better, as well as reduce chances of reoffending. If you have an interest in promoting justice and making communities safer, this could be the ideal career for you.
The day-to-day duties of a PSO include;
- Interviewing offenders to gather information
- Assessing the risk an offender poses to the public and creating ways to limit it
- Administering individual or group programs to address challenging behaviors
- Helping offenders get work training and other services as they serve their sentences
- Compiling reports on the progress of offenders and maintaining case records
- Supervising special clients living in approved premises
- Providing support to victims of crime
- Working closely with police officers, drug and alcohol services, social services, courts and health organizations.
Probation services officers working full-time do 37 to 40 hours a week. They commonly work with supervision teams in courts, prisons and approved premises.
The amount of income PSOs earn depends on whether they are in full-time or part-time employment, as shown in the table below.
Mode of employment
Part-time (Assuming the work 20 hours a week)
£14,400 - £21,120
Employment requirements for probation service officers vary among various local probation trusts. However, they generally prefer applicants with;
- A good general standard of education (five GCSE at grade A-C)
- The potential to complete a work-based qualification
- Experience of working with people in difficult situations
- A clearance certificate from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
You can also begin as a volunteer in your local probation service trust to gain practical experience and develop the job skills needed to secure paid work. You could also participate in community projects and charities.
Alternatively, you enter into this career by completing an advanced apprenticeship in community justice.
Important Skill and Qualities
To be a successful PSO, you should have;
- A non-judgmental attitude to help offenders without thinking about their crimes
- Excellent people skills to build positive working relationships with offenders
- Good written communication skills to write good reports
- The ability to keep offenders’ records confidential
- A general interest in social issues and the criminal justice system
After finding a job, you will need to complete the Level 3 diploma in probation practice within 12 months of employment. You can also pursue short courses to boost your knowledge of drug and substance abuse and community payback programs.
To improve your career advancement prospects, you can pursue the following qualifications;
- Level 5 diploma in probation practice
- Graduate diploma in community justice
- Bachelor’s degree in community justice, criminology or police studies.
Combining these qualifications with vast work experience can help you move into senior positions, such as probation officer.
Although most PSOs work in local probation services, you can find employment opportunities in;
- Local authorities
- Agencies specializing in community justice.
That is all you need to become a PSO. Good luck!