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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71136
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I have a friend who is currently a serving prisoner (sentenced

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I have a friend who is currently a serving prisoner (sentenced to 11 years in November 2010 for importing Class A drugs in his lorry - he says he was innocent and knew nothing about the drugs being there, but the jury convicted him after trial). He is due to be released on licence in November this year - I am not clear how long after release he will remain subject to recall. That last point is particularly relevant to this problem,a s he is it seems to be being bullied and abused by the Probation Officer who has been allocated his case while he is in prison and I was wondering what sort of redress he might have and what sort of supervisory or disciplinary regime the Probation Officer is subject to, since it seem to me she should not be allowed to get away with this and besides once my friend is out of her clutches she is likely to pick on some other victim and treat him in a similar way. She needs to be stopped!
I will specify the specific examples of the kind of thing my friend is complaining about. He had previously been allowed home visits on a regular basis to stay with his fiancee (who lives some 200 miles from the prison) but as soon as his previous Probation Officer was replaced with this new one last year, she immediately put a stop to this, without even having interviewed or spoken with him. Her grounds for this apparently were that the fiancee had children at home and my friend should not be allowed to stay there at any time because his offence involved drugs. (The issue of drugs generally seems to be something of a personal crusade of hers).
She has also been taking steps to poison other people against him. It seems that when he tried to make arrangements to stay with his fiancee's parents (who unlike her live fairly close to the prison, some 200 miles from her home address) this Probation Officer persuaded the local Probation Service to refuse permission, with no reason being given.
The Probation Offcier has also been in contact with teh former partner of my friend's fiancee and telling him that my friend is a dangerous criminal who should not be allowed near the children (his alleged crime I should repeat here did not involve any offence of violence or offences against children) so as a result the children's father has started causing problems and difficulties over my friend's relationship with the lady in question.
Meanwhile the Probation Officer has threatened my friend saying that even after his releaser she can have him recalled "at any time". Yet despite all this since taking on my friend as one of her cases, she has still never actually met him or submitted a single written report that my friend is aware of.
This is surely "abuse of power". Is there anything that can be done to bring this person to book without the risk that my friend will suffer repercussions at her hands? because unfortunately it seems to me she is probably correct in saying that he will still be in her power so long as he is on licence even after his release later this year.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What action are you hoping to take about this?
To achieve what specifically?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Ideally I just want my friend's situation to improve so that what I can only describe as this persecution will cease. What I am seeking advice about is whether there is any way of achieving this - whether this can be done by arranging to transfer his case to a different Probation Officer or by disciplining or reprimanding the current Probation Officer or by any other means I am not aware of.

I'm really sorry if I am missing the point but on what specific basis?
It is obviously not likely that another Probation officer is going to say that there isn't a risk to children.
I realise that the probation officer is being antagonistic but what specifically is being stopped that you think another officer would disagree?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The previous probation officer before this one clearly had no problem with my friend visiting his family, s clearly it is not correct to say that no other Probation Officer would take a different view. Indeed in all the time he was allowed to make such visits (before the new Probation Officer took over the case) there was never any problem, so it is irrational to suggest that a risk has suddenly appeared or worsened now, a year before his release. Nor do I understand why you say that someone convicted of importing drugs in a lorry (nb neither using drugs himself nor dealing in them) would be a risk to children in their own home (not in a lorry!). How and in what circumstances would children in their own home be considered to be at risk? At risk of what? Finally - and I thought most importantly - is this Probation Officer behaving properly? I would have thought this is simple bullying and abuse of power. Are her "clients" really so completely at her whim and mercy, without redress from this kind of abuse?

Probably the previous probation officer hadn't assessed the risk. I am afraid it is very unlikely that a subsequent officer would say that there is no risk given the nature of the conviction.
I am really sorry and I understand why you are worried but there is clearly a risk to children involved in drugs offences. I understand that the index offence may not have been committed at home but that doesn't mean the risk doesn't extend to the home address.
I am afraid I can see no complaint against this specific decision of the probation officer.
They might well be being antagonistic and there could be complaint about that. Attitude is an important part of their role. However, extending it to this particular decision would have no merit and would weaken your complaint.
In terms of her powers, she can recommend recall. She will not do that unless there are grounds but those grounds could include not complying with her directions. You can judicially review that decision and they would be struck down if the directions were not lawful but this particular one is lawful I'm afraid.
I'm very sorry but that is your position.
Can I clarify anything for you?
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