Big thank you from

Geraldine Moore

Geraldine MooreGERALDINE Moore, 31, works as a Probation Officer for the Probation Board Northern Ireland (PBNI) and is based in Wallace Studios, Lisburn. She has a degree in social policy and sociology as well as one in social work.

The Probation Board is a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which is a new Northern Ireland Department which came into existence on 12 April 2010 and was established by the Department of Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2010. It has a range of devolved policing and justice functions, set out in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 (Devolution of Policing and Justice Functions) Order 2010.

The role of the Department is to support the Minister for Justice to help keep the people of Northern Ireland safe. PBN1 helps to prevent reoffending by assessing offenders, challenging their offending behaviour, changing their attitudes and behaviour and thereby protecting the public.

My duties as a Probation Officer are varied and consist of different roles and responsibilities within the organisation, however, I will attempt to illustrate a typical 'day in the life' of my work as a probation officer. PBNI operate a Court Duty rota system which entails one of the team attending Court. We provide a service to the Courts in relation to various Orders being made and we are the first point of contact for both the Courts and offenders. If an Order is made, it is at this point the Court Duty Officer gives the first appointment to the offender to attend our local office.

Mondays are 'office duty days' which are usually reserved for those who have been made subject to Probation Supervision to attend for their first appointments. An induction is carried out which outlines what is expected from the offender and to advise them of any Additional Requirement's (programmes, groups, individual work) they must attend. Mondays can be a late day so as to accommodate those who are in employment. I also write reports for the Court known as Pre Sentence Reports. Within the reports I discuss past and current issues which may pertain to the individual's offending behaviour such as alcohol, drugs abuse or lack of constructive use of time. I may recommend a Community Based Disposal to the Court which is appropriate and in line with the seriousness of the offence.

A Probation Order can last between 6 months and three years. During this time, it my duty as supervising officer to ensure that issues pertaining to offending are addressed and therefore I have to consider appropriate referrals. This means working closely with lots of local agencies and we are always looking for new resources and community based projects.

Throughout the order, every 16 weeks in fact, we complete risk assessments on each and every offender. This entails a detailed analysis of any progress or changes made and will reflect and determine the level of contact I have with an offender. Over the duration of the Order, I get to know clients and build a rapport with them. This I feel is important as it allows me to challenge their attitudes, thinking and behaviour towards offending as well as holding them to account. At the end of a Probation Order, a final review is carried out and this gives the offender and I an opportunity to reflect on the work that has been completed and hopefully identify all the positive changes.

I am always kept very busy although I relish in my position as a Probation Officer. It is truly rewarding and I am delighted to be part of it. I am lucky to work in a field I love and always knew I wanted to be a part of.

Ulster Star