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How can I make a complaint about my probation officer? Task

Probation means that you’re serving your sentence outside of prison. You could be put on probation because you’re serving a community sentence or you have been released from prison on licencor parole. Parole is where you are able to leave prison before the end of your sentence if you agree to certain conditions 

Your probation services officer is the person who supervises and supports you while you serve your sentence outside prison. They give you advice and information and help you go to appointments or group programmes. 

First, speak to them. Tell them clearly and calmly why you are unhappy. Provide as many details as possible. 

If you would rather not speak to them in person, you can contact them by phone or in writing or if you would rather not complain to them directly, you can contact their manager instead. 

These first steps are known as an informal complaint, where you try and sort out the problem unofficially. 

The next step is a formal complaint. 

This is when you write a letter to the Chief Officer of the Probation Trust, describing what you are unhappy about. You can find the details of your local Trust here. 

Again, give as many details about your complaint as possible. Try to include anything you think might support your complaint, like  

  • Where and when the reason for the complaint happened 
  • Who was involved 
  • What was said and done 
  • Details of any witnesses to what happened 

The Chief Officer will contact you within five working days. They will explain what happens next and tell you when you will hear from them again.  

Once the Chief Officer has looked at your complaint, they will give you a full response.

If you are not happy with the full response, you can appeal it.  

You appeal by writing to the secretary of your local Probation Trust within 15 working days of getting the full response. Tell them why you don’t feel satisfied with the full response. They will acknowledge your appeal within five working days. 

A group of people, known as a panel, will go over your appeal. If they need more details, they might ask to meet you. You will get a response from them within 20 working days. 

If you are not happy with the panel’s decision, you can contact the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) within one month of hearing from the panel. 

The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) carries out independent investigations into complaints. They deal with formal complaints about probation officers but will only consider your complaint if you have: 

  • Been under the supervision of the National Probation Service, or 
  • Been housed in probation accommodation, or 
  • Had a report prepared about you for use by a court 

The PPO will respond to you within 10 days, telling you if they will accept your complaint.  

If your complaint is not accepted, they will explain why. If your complaint is accepted, they will pass it to an investigator who will contact you directly.

The investigator will try to sort out the complaint without a full investigation. They will discuss a settlement between you and the local Probation Trust, but if they cannot arrange a settlement, they will begin a full investigation. Expect the investigation to last up to 12 weeks. 

The PPO will decide if they uphold (agree with) your complaint. 

If the PPO does not uphold your complaint, they will send you a detailed explanation of the findings of the investigation and the specific reasons why they have not upheld your complaint. 

If they do uphold your complaint, the investigator will write to you, explaining all the details, findings and conclusions from the investigation.  

As a result of the investigation, the PPO may recommend changes to the Probation Area to stop the problem from happening again. 

If the complaint is particularly serious, the PPO will write a full report. They will send a copy to you and to the Probation Area to check all the details. Once the details are correct, they will send you and the Probation Area the final copy of the report.