In Court: Where the Judge feels that your case merits a community sanction, (a sentence in the community), they will place you under the supervision of the Probation Service.
Probation Recognisance is the name given to this agreement/contract between you and the Court, where you promise to obey certain conditions during a set period of time under the supervision of a Probation Officer. You will be required to agree to the conditions in Court and will have to sign the recognisance. What this means is that you have entered into a contract with the Court and the Probation Service to follow the direction of your Probation Officer and comply with their recommendations.
Role of the Probation Officer: While the main role of the Probation Officer is to ensure that you do not break the terms of this agreement, this is just one part of their role. The other part is to help you to make the changes necessary to help you stay away from the criminal behaviour that brought you before the Court.
First contact with your Probation Officer: Your first contact with your Probation Officer is usually when they write to you to give you an appointment to meet with them. This meeting will take place soon after your Court appearance in a Probation Service office.
What is required: When you are under supervision, your Probation Officer will put together a Supervision Plan with you, and you will be obliged to attend regular scheduled meetings with them. The Probation Officer will help you find out what the root causes of your offending are, help you to build motivation to make positive changes and help you develop ways to avoid falling back into the same pattern of behaviour. They will also monitor that you are doing your part and complying with the terms of your recognisance. The purpose of the Supervision Plan is to give you a roadmap and the tools to help you change your behaviour from the path that you are currently on.
When you receive a Probation Order, you have effectively entered into a contract:
You have promised the Court to:
- Be of good behaviour;
- Avoid further crime;
- Follow the Probation Officer’s instructions, and;
- Inform the Court of any change of address.
There may also be some additional conditions attached to the order such as attending a training course, mentoring programme or treatment clinic - or residing in a hostel.
If you do not comply with the requirements of the order, the Probation Officer may return the case to Court.
If someone makes good progress while under supervision, the probation officer may consider applying to the Court to have the order discharged early.
Making the most of supervision: It is important for you to accept that being placed on Probation Supervision is an opportunity for you to take responsibility and address the issues that have caused you to be before the Courts. It is a chance for you to get the help to make a positive change in your life. The Probation Service believe that every person is capable of change and we will work with you to help you take the necessary steps to do this.