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, 15:00
John Brouder, NELFT NHS Foundation Trust chief executive

A £12m grant is set to train talented graduates as social workers to help people living with mental health conditions.

Yesterday, 12:00
Tower blocks, Napier and New Plynouth house

The “forgotten flats of the Mardyke Estate” could soon be demolished and replaced with modern, affordable housing.

Yesterday, 10:00
Linda Borg, Maureen Ballard, Janet Abbott, Manvir Kaur and Charlotte Oxby

A retired district nurse will join hundreds of women for a moonlit walk through Romford to support a charity close to her heart.

Fri, 16:56
A motorcyclist has been taken to hospital after a collision in Southend

A motorcyclist from Upminster has been taken to hospital after a collision in Southend.

Fri, 13:40
Upminster Windmill is having its entire cap removed, including fantail and sails, for the first time since 1803, as part of the continuing resotration programme.

Today is a historic day for Upminster’s 213-year-old windmill.

Fri, 12:13
Tricia Dear, mother of 16-year-old Paddy Dear who died after falling down a cliff on his school trip.

“In your mind, you know that so much time has elapsed that hope is drifting away.”

Fri, 11:22
Best man Robert Naughton, Donald Naughton, Lucy Rayner and Bishop Trevor Mwamba. Photo: Claire Still/BHRUT

Due to a serious illness, a couple together for 20 years, brought forward their wedding and held it in a hospital’s intensive care unit on Wednesday.

Fri, 10:24
Collier Row fire

More than 20 officers and firefighters were called to the scene in Collier Row Road just after 7pm last night.

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

Win a BMW 1 series

There are fewer cars currently on the market more stylish and exciting than the BMW. Known all over the world as one of the best car manufacturers, the BMW is renowned for sleek designs and fantastic high quality workmanship.

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!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Romford Recorder
e-edition today

Subscribe