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Probation services officer PSO

Probation services officers (PSOs) supervise people serving community sentences or on licence from prison, helping with rehabilitation and the reduction of crime.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £22,000 to £27,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need experience of working with people with challenging behaviour. You can get this through voluntary work or paid employment.

Although it's not essential, a lot of people who apply for this role have a level 3 vocational qualification like the Public Services Diploma or an NVQ in Community Justice, or A levels.

You can apply for work with HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) or a community rehabilitation company (CRC). You can find contact details for CRCs in the Probation directory.

You’ll need clearance from the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

Once you're employed as a probation services officer (PSO), you’ll need to complete the level 3 Diploma in Probation Practice within your first 12 months.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • excellent communication and people skills
  • the ability to handle challenging behaviour and stressful situations
  • the ability to understand offending behaviour and motivate people
  • organisational and time-management skills

3. What you'll do

As a PSO, you’ll do some of the same work as a qualified probation officer but you’ll only supervise medium and low risk offenders.

You’ll work for a regional probation service or community rehabilitation company and may be based in an office, prison or Approved Premises (hostel).

You’ll be part of a team responsible for different areas of probation service work, like supervising offenders on community sentences, or helping them address the issues that led them to offend.

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • gathering information and interviewing offenders, assessing their risk to the public
  • preparing pre-sentence reports for courts
  • delivering individual or group programmes to challenge offending behaviour
  • helping clients get work or training, housing or drug/alcohol treatment
  • arranging and supervising community work placements for offenders
  • supervising and motivating residents living in Approved Premises
  • supporting victims of crime
  • recording information on offenders in line with national standards

You’ll also work with other agencies like the police, drug and alcohol services, social services, youth services, courts, housing, health and voluntary organisations.

4. Salary

Starter: £22,000

Experienced: £27,500

PSOs on temporary contracts usually earn between £18 and £21 an hour.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll work 37 hours a week. This may include some evening or weekend work.

You’ll spend time visiting offenders and projects around the community.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you could move into a supervisory role, or train as a probation officer.

The National Association of Probation Officers (NAPO) and Skills for Justice have further information on training.

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Last updated: 11 October 2017