This page is intended to help you if you are having difficulties with Probation. This page should inform you how to go about complaining if you are not happy about the way you have been treated. For example, maybe you feel like your Probation Officer is not meeting what is expected of them, or maybe you have tried transferring Probation Areas and have come up against unnecessary barriers.
To be considered, your complaint has to be about an action or a decision taken by probation staff, the local Probation Board, a Board member, a contractor, agent or volunteer working for the probation service. You can also complain about a failure to take action or make a decision by any of these people.
They will consider your complaint if:
- You are or have been under the supervision of the National Probation Service.
- You have been or are about to be the subject of a report for use by a court.
- You have suffered physical injury, distress, theft or damage to property as a result of the actions of an offender carrying out activities under probation supervision as part of a community order or a prison licence.
- You are a victim of a person convicted of an offence who is under the supervision of the National Probation Service.
- You are a parent, spouse or a live-in partner, brother, sister or child of a person, in the above categories, who has died.
They can’t look into something that is already being investigated by the police or subject to a decision of the courts, statutory tribunal, Parole Board, Crown Prosecution Service or the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Your complaint won’t normally be considered if it is about something that happened more than 12 months ago, or that you could have known about a year ago.
It is best to talk face-to-face or over the telephone with the person involved to try and reach a solution. If this is difficult, ask to discuss it with a more senior member of staff.
However, they have no obligation to change their behaviour if they have been acting reasonably. It may therefore be difficult to request a change of probation officer unless you can demonstrate that they have acted unreasonably.
Making a formal complaint
You can make a formal complaint in writing. You should sign it and send it to the Probation Area’s Chief Officer. Links to all Probation Trusts are available here.
Within five working days of receiving your letter the Chief Officer will write to explain how your complaint will be handled. He or she will give the date when you can expect the outcome. If your complaint is about an issue involving the Chief Officer, you should address your letter to the Secretary of your local Probation Board.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome
You can appeal within 15 working days of receiving the outcome. Write to the Secretary of the Probation Board. Explain why you want to appeal. The Secretary will acknowledge your letter within five working days of receiving it.
A panel, including at least one Board member, will look at your appeal. They may ask to meet you and the investigating officer. The outcome will be sent to you within 20 working days of receipt of the appeal. The panel will let you know if they need longer to make a decision.
If you have taken these steps and are still unsatisfied with the decision
You can write to the Prisons and Probation Ombudsman within one month of your appeal decision if you have:
- Been under the supervision of the National Probation Service.
- Been housed in probation accommodation.
- Had a report prepared about you for use by a court.
The PPO will respond to the complainant within 10 days, informing you of whether or not your complaint has been accepted. If a complaint is not accepted, an explanation as to why will be given.
If a complaint is accepted, it will be allocated to an investigator who will contact the complainant directly.
The investigator will first consider if there is a way of resolving the complaint without a full investigation. If so, the investigator will contact the complainant and the Area Probation Board to try to negotiate a settlement. If a settlement is not possible, a full investigation will be started.
The PPO aims to deal with any complaint within 12 weeks of starting the investigation.
If your complaint is not upheld, you will receive a letter with a detailed explanation of the findings of the investigation and the specific reasons why the PPO have not upheld the complaint.
If the complaint is upheld, the investigator will write to you, setting out the details, the findings and the conclusions. The PPO may also make certain recommendations to the Probation Area against whom the complaint was brought to help them ensure the problem does not occur again.
If the complaint warrants it, the PPO will write a full report. A draft copy of this report will be sent to you and to the Probation Area against whom the complaint was brought, to check that the details of the complaint are accurate. Once confirmed, a final copy of the report will be sent to both parties.