Search

A day in the life of a Romford probation officer

07:00 04 August 2014

Probatiom services officer Stephanie Gibbons

Probatiom services officer Stephanie Gibbons

Archant

Probation officer, Stephanie Gibbons, tells the Recorder about helping to reform those convicted of domestic violence, sexual offences and other crimes. She has worked for the Probation Service since 2005 and is based in Romford

Working with domestic violence offenders when you’re a woman can actually be an advantage.

There’s no place for banter or collusion, which the offenders might think they could get away with if they were supervised by a man.

What I do in probation supervision meetings is try to unpick some of these men’s attitudes to women.

I have to tread carefully, otherwise there’s the risk I could get their hackles up.

More often than not it’s something in their past that has made them think they can behave that way, or their need for control has created anger management problems. In other cases, it is pure misogyny.

I guess with the World Cup now over we’ll see a spike in domestic abuse cases coming through the system.

There were almost 1,500 domestic crimes in the borough last year – 200 more than the previous year.

Whether that’s because more are happening or more are being reported, it’s hard to tell.

Particularly because on average 33 incidents of domestic violence will happen before police are first called to an address.

I was working with one offender who would tell me: “I hate women. I don’t like women. I can’t relate to women.”

I would just patiently say to him, but I’m a woman, and you’re managing to relate to me.

Picking away at their attitudes and developing discrepancies in their arguments often leads to a breakthrough.

I don’t only work with domestic abusers. I also assist people convicted of driving offences, sex crimes and those with drug or alcohol problems.

It’s important to remain objective in this job. Sometimes I read a case file and think to myself, Oh no, this one’s going to be a nightmare.

Mistakes

Then you get to the interview room and you’re presented with a human being, admittedly one who’s committed an offence – sometimes not very pleasant, but they’re still a human being.

There’s a reason why they are sitting there, and my job is to help them to understand and acknowledge why they did what they did, so the chance they will do it again is minimised.

I recently had a case involving a man convicted of internet sex crimes.

His denial and self-loathing was hard to get around, he felt stigmatised, didn’t trust me and was convinced I was out to get him.

I wasn’t – but nor was I his friend, nor was it my role to do everything for him.

My role was to help him make the changes necessary so he doesn’t make the same mistakes again.

Supervising people with drug and alcohol problems is a real challenge, sometimes they will fall off the wagon, sometimes not.

If I can plant something in their minds, something might click the next time around.

I have one ex-offender who was the most terrible alcoholic, but he’s been sober for three months now. When I test him and it’s negative, I always tell him, Well done and he responds – almost timidly, “Thank you.”

People with addiction problems need constant reassurance that when they’re doing well, they are worthy of praise.

Their addictions have badly damaged their self-belief and I use praise as a motivational tool to keep them on track to a drink or drug-free lifestyle.

It’s a stressful and challenging job, but it’s not hard for me to wind down at the end of the day. I have a baby daughter and when I get home it’s all about her.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Romford Recorder visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Romford Recorder staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Romford Recorder account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Romford News Stories

Yesterday, 16:00
The Mayor of Havering, Cllr Brian Eagling with pupils at Nelmes Primary School, Wingletye Lane, Hornchurch

The pupils have embarked on a voyage of discovery after planting seeds that have been in space with astronaut Tim Peake.

Yesterday, 13:27
Josh Herdman made a successful debut in his fight on Saturday. Picture: Dan Donovan. For more visit http://www.dandonovanphoto.com/

A Harry Potter star has swapped the cloak and wand for fighting gloves as he stepped into the cage for his Mixed Martial Arts debut.

Yesterday, 10:58
Residents at Orchard Village have signed a petition to bring back Old Ford Housing under Havering Council control

A housing association has been given a deadline of three months to conduct a host of repairs following serious complaints from residents for over a year.

Yesterday, 07:00
Asset and energy support services group, Lakehouse, King George Close, Romford, was named Havering Business of the Year.

Business owners are being encouraged to step forward and take pride in their achievements by entering the Havering Business Awards 2016.

Wed, 18:00
Mike Palfreman, chief executive of Haven House Children's Hospice, with the Mayor of Havering Cllr Brian Eagling. Photo: Mark Sepple/Haven House

The chief executive of a children’s charity has received a prestigious award from the Mayor of Havering for his long-standing services to the community.

Wed, 17:12
The Bitter End in High Street

Concerns have been raised about a disused pub becoming an eye-sore in the heart of town.

Wed, 16:30
Peter Adams completed the London Marathon, dressed as a superhero, for the King George and Queen's Hospitals Charity. Picture: King George and Queen's Hospitals Charity

Nurse Peter Adams may have battled through the pain barrier to complete Sunday’s London Marathon, but it wasn’t the only excruciating experience he has had recently.

Wed, 14:30
Michelle Mitchell from First Step with Casey Parram, James Hall and Francesca White from Romford's Fiction nightclub, which has donated almost £5,000 to the children's charity

Youngsters with special needs and disabilities will be able to take advantage of some new learning opportunities thanks to a grant of almost £5,000 from a nightclub.

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

News from your area

WW100

Click on the banner above for full coverage of the centenary commemorations of the outbreak of the First World War.

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe