Careers in social policy: becoming a probation officer

Mina Antwi

Faculty: Health, Social Care & Education
Department: School of Education and Social Care
Course: BA (Hons) Social Policy
Category: Social sciences and social care

28 June 2018

The Social Policy degree not only directs you into the health and social sectors but also into the law enforcement and policing sector, either as a police officer or probation officer.

Anyone considering careers into the police force as a probation officer will hopefully find this blog useful! Before I go into detail with the career prospects, we should start by understanding the role of a probation officer.

A probation officer works in the police and custody institution and offenders. Their role is to protect, monitor and supervise offenders, as well as protect and work with the public and community, police and victims of crimes. The probation officers help the offenders to make better choices in their lives and to prevent further offending. Probation officers may work in court settings, residential areas of offenders, voluntary sectors, custody settings, or within the community, where safety is ensured.

In terms of degree or qualification, a social policy degree is useful for the sector. However, you may also require specific modules such as criminal justice or crime and criminal behaviour. These types of module will show you have the relevant expertise in the criminal, police and justice system, which is ideal. 

To become a probation officer, gaining valuable experience within the sector can open doors and the opportunity for a long-term career. Work experiences, internships, graduate schemes, working with people and in the settings of challenging behaviour is essential to understand the role and environment of the work. Some forms of work experiences may include: prison visiting services, youth offending teams, victim support services, community payback teams.

I recommend doing some further research into the career if you're interested. Also, it could be useful to do some networking with police agencies and networks, and directly contacting them for opportunities which depends on your location and on the area you would like to work in. Some organisations to look into may be: National Probation Service, HM Prison Service, Ministry of Justice.

Below are links about the probation and prison services for more detail on skills, qualifications, work experiences, training and general idea of the probation officer role:

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