Probation and Probationary System

What is probation and how does the probationary system work in the United Kingdom? The definition of probation is serving out a court sentence within the community.

PROBATION UK: It means you still serve your sentence but not inside a prison.

But, releasing an offender on probation from detention is subject to several conditions.

It often includes doing unpaid work under supervision. It is also subject to serving a probationary period of good behaviour.

In some cases you can get put on probation because you are serving a community sentence. It can also be because you got released from prison on parole or on licence.

What happens while you are on probation? As a rule, released offenders may have to:

  • Conduct unpaid work or complete an educational training course.
  • Receive medical treatment for certain addictions (e.g. alcohol or drugs).
  • Attend regular meetings with an ‘offender manager’.

Attending Meetings with an Offender Manager

Offenders who are on probation may need to have meetings with their offender manager. As a rule this will take place at the nearest probation office. The first time you meet your offender manager he will explain in detail:

  1. The rules and regulations of your probation period.
  2. Dates, times, and places for future meetings.
  3. Any specific appointments you must attend (e.g. medical treatment or training courses).
  4. The consequences of failing to meet the probation conditions.

Probation Sentence Plan

A probation sentence plan informs you of the probationary period rules. You must follow all of your responsibilities written in the plan. Your offender manager will ask you to read and agree to the terms in your ‘probation sentence plan’.

Things You Must Tell Your Offender Manager

Offenders who are on probation must inform their offender manager any time they:

  • Intend to change their name or address.
  • Cannot attend any pre-arranged meetings.
  • Have problems meeting the rules of the probation.

Contact your offender manager any time you miss a scheduled meeting and explain why you did not show. In some cases they may ask for proof such as a letter from your employer or a doctor.

Note: You can miss meetings to attend religious or important events. But, you should provide advance notice to your offender manager.

What Happens If You Break Probation Rules?

Breaking the rules of your probation means you could go back to court. For example, you will break probation rules if you:

  • Do something that your probation sentence bans you from doing.
  • Commit another crime.
  • Fail to attend meetings and appointments (without a valid reason).
  • Behave in an aggressive, racist or other unacceptable way at a meeting or appointment.

Note: Breaking the conditions of your licence or parole means you can get taken back to prison.

Prison Recall UK: Being Taken Back to Prison

Offenders can get taken straight back to prison for breaking any probation rules. The probationary system calls it a ‘recall‘. It you get recalled your offender manager will inform you of the reason behind the recall.

In the United Kingdom there are three different types of prison recalls.

  1. Fixed-term Recall: This means you go back to prison. You can then get released on probation again after 14 days (less than 12 month sentence) or 28 days. You would be on licence until the end of your sentence.
  2. Standard Recall: You would stay in prison until the end of your sentence. The exception would be when a Parole Board decides otherwise. Your case gets sent to a Parole Board by automatic process after 28 days. They can choose to release you straight away or set a date (within 1 year) when you can get released on licence.
  3. Extended Sentence: Your case would get sent to a Parole Board within 14 days of you returning to prison. They can choose to release you straight away or set a date (within 1 year) when you can get released on licence.

Asking the Parole Board to be Released Again on Probation

Asking the Parole Board to get released again is ‘making representations‘. It means you got taken back into prison but you think you should get released once more on probation.

Offenders can discuss it with the parole board themselves or they can ask a family member or friend. A legal adviser can also make representations. But, you must ask within 2 weeks of the time you got informed of your recall to prison.

Probation and the Probationary System in the United Kingdom