Working as a probation services officer

The Probation Service works with over 230,000 people on probation serving community sentences and individuals who are pre/post release from prison. Our role is to support their rehabilitation and protect the public.

It is not an easy job, can be challenging and may involve working with people with complex needs, but it's a rewarding one with variety, training and the chance to turn people’s lives around.

About the job

Helping someone turn their life around is immensely rewarding.

As a probation services officer (PSO), you will undertake the full range of work with offenders before and after sentence, and in the community. This includes:

  • assessment
  • sentencing
  • managing offenders throughout their conviction
  • report-writing

You will:

  • work in one of many varied roles, managing caseloads of people on probation. You may work in an offender management team, an Unpaid Work team, the courts, or in one of our victims teams
  • draw on the training you receive to assess and manage risks to keep the community safe
  • provide information to courts and work closely with agencies throughout the justice system carrying out risk management and collaborating to protect the public.
  • most importantly, do everything you can to support people on probation. For example, providing practical advice about housing and employment, or simply listening and understanding

Working environments

As a PSO you will be assigned to one of the following work environments. Once in post, there may be later opportunities to move into different work environments, depending on caseload and business need.

Probation office

As an offender manager in a probation office, you’ll be working with people on probation over a period of time and will need to be able to build relationships and make recommendations. You will need to support, as well as have tough conversations with individuals.


You’ll need to be able to quickly build a rapport with people on probation to understand their circumstances as you may only see the individuals a few times. Working in a court, you will need to be a confident presenter as you will have to make recommendations in front of the court.

Unpaid Work

Unpaid Work involves people on probation carrying out work in their community as part of their community sentence. As a PSO working in Unpaid Work, you will assess people on probation to ensure they attend placements that are appropriate. You will work with them to overcome barriers to attendance and ensure that any lack of attendance is dealt with appropriately.