Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Probation problems

I heard on the news earlier this week - or was it late last week? (I've been busy)- that probation officers are failing to keep tabs on their charges. As a result, many offenders on probation have fallen back into criminality. This is, of course, not really news - just a convenient way for the probation service to put forward more demands for more resources and more money - but hey, with 24 hour rolling news channels they have to fill their programmes with some sort of baloney.

There were two main reasons given for why probation officers are unable to make the necessary commitments to the people they are supposed to be probationing (yes, I know it's a made up word). First of all, the amount of time spent filling in forms and administration on computers in the office. This seems incredible to me. The point of computers is that they are supposed to remove the drudgery of form filling and speed things up.

The second reason is the amount of time probation officers spend travelling to their various "clients". Presumably, when they get there they then proceed to fill in forms which they then take back to the office and transpose onto the computer system - in other words, doubling the amount of effort.

Here is my solution. Either get rid of the computer system and just file the notes/forms completed during the visit as they did BC (before computers) - it seemed to work OK before computer systems were installed so I don't see why that can't work now. Alternatively, don't bother visiting the probationers - make them come to you! Send them an appointment card and a bus pass and tell them to be at the probation office at the appointed time or they will be in breach of their probation conditions - then, while they are there, fill in the bloody computer forms while they are with you!

Problem solved. No new resources needed and millions of pounds saved in car expense reimbursement.


William Gruff said...

BUS PASS???????

Never heard the like of it.

What are you smoking Stan?

Make the buggers walk (after a bloody good thrashing - no I'm not joking), and let's have a little less liberal nonsense.

Bus pass indeed!

Stan said...

LOL, WG - I really don't mind what they do, but it just seems cazy to me that these probation officers are driving all over the place to make life easier for their "clients". The criminals should go to them - at a place and time they are told. They would save millions of man hours a year and millions of pounds in taxpayers money if they did.

Anonymous said...

I think the missing word you're looking for is, bizarrely, "supervising". People who have a probation officer are deemed to be "supervised".

(Except for the 167 hours a week when they're not, of course.)

Stan said...

That's one of the missing words. There are others such as "coherent" "organised" and "strategy".