Hertfordshire probation officers are protecting the community during pandemic
Working to keep Hertfordshire's streets and communities safe
Probation officers across Hertfordshire are going above and beyond during the coronavirus pandemic by adapting how they monitor and support ex-prisoners so that they can continue to keep the county's streets and communities safe.
Officers have continued to provide their critical service in the community and in custody during the outbreak, helping to keep offenders on track and prevent further reoffending.
Carlene is a probation officer working in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. She protects the public from the effects of crime by giving offenders the chance to better themselves. This could be through counselling, treatment programmes and help getting into employment.
She said: “It is so important that we continue to help change the lives of offenders during this uncertain time.
“One individual, who had struggled with a drug addiction in the past, has recently sent me a letter to say thank you for all the help that she believes has saved her life.
“I was overwhelmed with emotion because I thought I was just doing my job, but it was that moment I realised the impact that we can have upon offenders’ lives.”
A number of measures have been introduced across Her Majesty’s Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) to ensure a continued safe and secure operation during the COVID-19 outbreak, including stopping all non-essential contact.
This means that Carlene and her colleagues have regular check-ins with offenders over the telephone and through video conferencing software, though for more serious offenders, officers are still required to meet them in person under social distancing measures.
This can be in the probation office or outside people’s homes.
She added: “Coronavirus has meant that I am currently unable to have face-to-face contact with most offenders, but closely monitoring and advising them over the phone encourages them to continue to make every effort to lead more positive lives.
“I am proud of how our team has coped with this change and how personally resilient it has made me.
"It is great that I can still help keep individuals on track and the community safe.”
During the pandemic, this level of monitoring is not only helping to protect the local community, it is also appreciated by many offenders who are seeking extra advice and support so that they can turn their backs on crime.
HMPPS is hiring trainee probation officers across England and Wales, to find out more visit: www.traintobeaprobationofficer.com.
Carlene added: “You need to be resilient, have the ability to talk to people from all backgrounds and the belief that people have the capacity to change.”