Harvey Clarke, a probation officer based in Coventry, spoke to us about his experience on the probation officer trainee programme (PQiP), the best bits of his role and what it’s been like working during the pandemic.
What was your route into the probation officer role?
This was a complete career change for me. Previously, I was a Housing Support Officer supporting with tenancy management and managing anti-social behaviour. I have a degree in Social Sciences and a Post Graduate Diploma in Criminological Research. I was out of education from some time, and didn't have all the required modules, so I had to complete the longer 21 month PQIP programme to become a probation officer.
How did you find the PQIP training?
The training was challenging but manageable. There’s support to get you through the scheme and it’s easily accessible. There are also a lot of experienced officers who offer you support and guidance, especially when faced with challenging cases.
What’s it been like working during the pandemic?
Working away from the office has been hard for me personally. I prefer to be in the office as it allows for a better work-life balance. However, others have preferred to work in this way. My line manager’s been understanding about this though and we’ve worked out times
where I can come into the office, to help with my own personal wellbeing.
Describe a typical day as a probation officer.
A typical day for me consists of day-to-day supervision and writing assessments and reports, enabling me to manage supervised individuals in the community. No two days are the same, as plans can change and the situations our individuals are in can change in an instance. We also partner with other agencies and networks to help support and provide risk management assistance.
What’s your favourite part of the role?
For me the best part is seeing an individual implement positive changes within their life and demonstrate it within supervision. More often than not, many of the individuals I come into contact with have limited life skills and have had limited opportunities. Seeing them develop in these areas is highly rewarding.
I also find it very fulfilling being able to offer a safe space for male individuals to have a positive emotional outlet within supervision.
Can you tell me about the best day in your role so far?
I helped a service user escape a situation of modern-day slavery. He was being exploited by a gang and was being placed in danger. Thanks to my help, he was moved out of the area and was able to start a new beginning.
Do you know how you want to progress in your career?
The role is still relatively new to me and there are so many progression and sideways moves that are available. At present I would like to develop my supervision skills and then look at what interests me. I have just been included within the HMPPS Recruitment and Success Profiles Session. This will allow me to contribute to the recruitment of under-represented applicants, bringing in my own experience.