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Essex Probation

Case Study: Choosing the right technique

A good Offender Manager (OM) achieves consistency in the quality of assessments, has a good eye for detail, manages excellent cross-agency liaison to get the best of services to offenders, and demonstrates sound judgement regarding the offender’s risk to the public. They will take into account the way an offender learns, or seems unable to learn, and will adapt their approach to achieve buy-in and understanding, and with these comes the important factor: motivation.

Both community and after prison

The work is varied dealing both with people in prison and in the community. Just as much care is taken, on the public’s behalf, with people seeking release from prison. For instance, Daniel was an offender still in prison after serious violent offences and was applying for parole: the Offender Manager provided an assessment of his current situation and prognosis for future behaviour. Despite his serving a long sentence, and the number of years since the offence, it was important to take detailed care in revisiting the offender’s attitudes to the victim and exploring the issues that still remain. After consultation with Essex Probation’s Victim Liaison Officers and a look at future sentence planning, the Offender Manager ably demonstrated why Daniel was not yet ready for release.

Taking on serious offenders in the community whose prognosis is poor needs strong motivational skills, both to inspire confidence in them and move them on, much to their own surprise in some cases.

Domestic violence/burglary

Paul’s M’s offence was a Domestic Violence-related burglary-dwelling against his ex-partner, causing extensive damage to the house. With numerous convictions for violence and a long history of domestic abuse, he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. He was known to be an extremely difficult individual to manage, with poor motivation and refusal to engage.

Perseverance

On his release, his OM worked initially with his strong defiance, using her motivational skills and rolling with the resistance. Strong perseverance produced a slow change in his attitude. One of his Licence conditions however, was to attend the Integrated Domestic Abuse Programme (IDAP). It looked a non-starter, given his negative attitudes, as well as his animosity and blame towards the victim. Early on he was referred to complete the initial IDAP orientation sessions, but had to be removed due to his attitude and unwillingness to provide children’s names and otherwise explore his past behaviour.

Motivation

His Offender Manager set about preparing him for the programme during individual supervision appointments and motivated him to engage with it more fully.

Compliance and hard work

Back he went to IDAP, and complied this time. After a long period of hard work on the programme, the offender completed it, in time for the end of his Licence period, with positive tutor feedback and a noticeable change in his attitude. Other achievements thanks to his OM were his acceptance of involvement with Social Care, finding accommodation and employment, renewing contact with his children and starting to become an acceptable grandfather.

Success

Two years on, and he has not reoffended. He has thanked his Offender Manager for believing he could change and helping him achieve it. Occasionally he contacts her for help (the latest, a few months ago, to ask about an educational matter).