Justice

The Probation Board for Northern Ireland: Working with communities to change lives

The aim of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI) is to change lives for safer communities.

PBNI is distinct from many other criminal justice organisations because we are involved at all stages of the criminal justice process. We work in courts providing pre-sentence reports to assist judges to make decisions. We work with communities supervising sentences that must be served in the community. We work in prisons, preparing prisoners for release subject to licences. We also work directly with victims of crime through the Victim Information Scheme.

All probation officers are social work qualified staff, professionally trained in the assessment and management of risk and are registered with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council. This provides us with the right skills to effectively tackle the underlying causes of offending behaviour.

Those causes include addictions, poor mental health, lack of family and peer support and lack of education, training and employment. Unsurprisingly, many of these issues have become more prevalent throughout the last two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. A total of 76 per cent of people under probation supervision in Northern Ireland have an alcohol or drug-related problem. There is a well-established link between drugs, alcohol and crime and one of the most significant factors that influences whether someone will reoffend is their use of drugs and alcohol. The assessments, interventions, and programmes that we provide aims to tackle all of these issues. Much of that work we carry out is in partnership with community and voluntary groups. Indeed, the heart of PBNI’s work lies in the community.

We have links to a large and wide variety of groups and organisations and encouraging people who have offended to participate in these groups is among the most effective ways of rehabilitating them into the community. We also have a community-based board which provides a level of independence, accountability, oversight and strategic thinking which is to the benefit of probation practice and delivery and enables us to have the confidence of local communities.

As we look ahead to the next business year, we will begin our consultation on a new Corporate Plan for 2023–27. We will work closely with the Department of Justice to ensure our strategic priorities align to departmental priorities. We have a key role to play in tackling domestic abuse, sexual and violent crime. We are committed to our statutory partnerships in this area of work and to ensuring people who pose a risk to the community are being effectively managed by probation’s professional staff who are trained in the assessment and management of risk. We will also continue to work with partners diverting and supporting young people who are at risk of becoming involved in criminality and paramilitary activity.

We have much to do over the coming year and our consultation will inform our planning. Central to this will be working in partnership and within our local communities.

Together we can help reduce reoffending, reduce the number of victims and change lives for safer communities.

T: (028) 9052 2522
E: info@probation-ni.gov.uk
W: www.pbni.org.uk
Twitter: @PBNINews

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