Probation officers spend 41 percent of time sat by PC

Probation officers spend a staggering 41 percent of their time in front of a computer, while spending just 24 percent of their day in contact with offenders.

In a response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Philip Davies MP released yesterday, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Prisons and Probation, Crispin Blunt MP, revealed what proportion of a working day a probation officer “spends (a) with offenders and (b) on computer based administrative tasks.”

Blunt replied that while delivery structures vary across the probation areas, a report from December 2008 by the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) showed a breakdown of how the average probation officers (PO) and probation service officers (PSO) spends their day.

Blunt revealed that just “24 percent of PO/PSO time was spent in direct contact with offenders,” while “41 percent was involved in computer activity.”  The remaining 35 percent was spent “dealing with correspondence, meetings, travel, etc.”

Considering that the role of a probation officer is to rehabilitate offenders and to ensure that they are aware of the impact and consequences of their actions upon their victims and society in general, it would presumably make more sense if said officers were actually speaking to the victims rather than tending their crops on FarmVille.

Obviously Blunt agrees, releasing a statement saying NOMS would be:

“Initiating the Offender Engagement Programme to evaluate and improve the quality of face to face work with offenders and its impact on reoffending. This includes work to reduce the bureaucratic demands on operational staff to enable them to: spend a greater proportion of work time in one to one engagement, exercise their professional judgment in personalising the work and engaging with offenders.”