Christopher loves working with people and helping them transform their lives. He also feels a sense of duty to protect the public. That's why he chose to be a probation officer. He tells us what the career involves.
Name: Christopher Maggs
Company: Working Links / Wales Community Rehabilitation Company
Industry: Criminal justice; Police, Security and Emergencies
What is your job? Probation officer
How long have you worked here? 14 years
University: University of Wales, Bangor
Degree subject: Business Studies BA (Hons) and Criminal Justice BA (Hons)
A-Levels: history, geography, French
1. What was your very first job?
My first job was as a probation services officer (PSO) at Blackpool Probation Office in 2003.
2. What did you want to do when you were at school?
When I was at school I didn’t know what I wanted to do, to be entirely honest. It wasn’t until I left university that I considered pursuing a career in probation.
3. What made you want to do your current job?
The main reason that I chose my current job is that I enjoy working with people, and I also have a desire to protect the public. The job requires working with a wide variety of people who have been sentenced [to prison] by the courts, for different offences and crimes.
It is a challenging role, which involves meeting offenders, preparing reports for court, and doing "risk assessments" to see how likely it is that someone will reoffend in the future. If you want a challenge, then becoming a probation officer could be a good option.
4. How did you get there?
My route to my current role began by applying for a post with the Lancashire Probation Service as a PSO. Eighteen months later, I was given the opportunity to commence the trainee probation officer’s course. The course involved a two-year training period. I then did a degree in Criminal Justice BA (Hons), and an NVQ Level 4.
5. What is a typical day like?
I would say there is no such thing as a typical day! Quite a lot of my time is spent doing offence-focused work with offenders. I am currently in charge of a caseload of 60 offenders. They have either been given orders by the court, or have been given a prison licence (being on licence means that you are still serving a prison sentence but you can live in the community instead of being in prison).
I’ll get to the office early and start meeting my service users (people who use the probation service). I help them with practical problems – such as drug misuse and their reasons for offending. I also make sure they’re making progress and meeting their goals.
We’ll look at the reasons and thought processes behind the person’s crime so they may be able to think more appropriately and be less likely to reoffend.
I also do risk assessments, which helps us figure out how likely it is that someone will commit another crime again in the future. I work closely with our partner agencies, like the police and social services.
6. What’s the best thing about your job?
I have a passion for helping offenders to achieve a crime-free life. At the same time, I feel a sense of duty towards protection of the public, which is a core part of the job. Being able to see offenders improve their lives, and also contributing to a safer society is a big motivator for me.
7. What is the most challenging thing about your job?
The most challenging aspect of my job is dealing with difficult clients. Some offenders may not want to change and they might ignore or disobey their court orders. Confrontational situations can arise when a probation officer has to force the offender to obey orders, and naturally this can cause a degree of stress.
8. What advice do you have for people who want to do what you do?
The best advice would be for individuals to obtain work experience in a probation office. Opportunities can normally be gained by writing to an office manager. This will allow individuals to interact with the client group, and to experience the working environment of a probation field office.
9. What things do you wish you’d known before starting your career?
Before starting my career, I wish that I had been more aware of the high level of paperwork that would be involved with my job. Our industry places a great importance on accurate recording and paperwork. It wouldn’t have put me off becoming a probation officer, but I’ve realised that there is a lot more to the role than just face-to-face interactions.
10. Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Having always worked in a field team, I may look to new challenges. One potential option would be to work within a custodial environment at the new prison in Wrexham – HMP Berwyn. The prison system would be a significant change for me, and no doubt would offer new opportunities for development.
Interested in a job protecting the public and helping people get their lives back on track? Read our Police, Security & Emergencies Career Zone to find out more.