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Essex Probation

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Case Study: Curbing aggression

From the start of his Court Order, Mike challenged authority and was clearly used to behaving aggressively – his way of handling frustration and his inability to concentrate, but usually interpreted as straightforward aggressive behaviour. He has never worked.  He was charged with violent offences.

Challenging background

Mike suffers from a chromosomal anomaly which produces an additional X chromosome. Sufferers often have learning difficulties and poor concentration. ‘Statemented’ as a child, he attended special schools for challenging behaviour, and spent his life in the care system.

No boundaries

Known to the Youth Offending Service, with a history of breaching Community Orders, Unpaid Work and his Youth Offending licence, his exceptional height added to a threatening demeanour when angry. With poor recognition of boundaries, he breached restraining orders regarding his girlfriend and others.

Finding the right approach

His Offender Manager used a strict behaviourist approach, keeping clear boundaries and ignoring tantrums, praising signs of positive engagement. If sent away, he was allowed back once he apologised. This approach produced an increasing ability to accept responsibility for his behaviour. Over a period, he became easier to work with. She also worked to widen the range of people he would trust: this helped to counteract his tendency to throw frightened tantrums when one of his Unpaid Work Supervisors changed, or he had to deal with a new authority figure.

The Offender Manager used Mike’s own experiences in care as a motivational tool: would he want this for his own children?


Mike has completed application forms for higher education courses, and for voluntary work. While unsuccessful, he felt able to concentrate long enough to apply for these courses: a first, and he is motivated to keep trying.

His partner is expecting his baby. Mike attended his first Social Services Child In Need Meeting, conducting himself well, engaging in conversation and able to listen without interrupting. Determined to prove he can be a positive role model for his child, Mike has discussed his concerns that his child may end up in care.

Despite initial conflict when his Offender Manager imposed all the boundaries, her persistence and commitment has led to complete trust. Despite his rigidity, he has come a long way in a comparatively short time: turning up for his appointments on time, being pleasant, and wanting to learn.

Mike is not as threatened by social workers these days: they have their moments, but he reigns back from his old angry responses.

No offending

He has not offended since breaching a restraining order nearly a year ago.