Probation officers clash over rehabilitating first-time offenders

18 January 2020, 11:32 | Updated: 18 January 2020, 11:33

Two probation officers disagreed over the effectiveness rehabilitation for first-time offenders.

Violent offenders, burglars and thieves are being allowed to escape prosecution if they agree to rehabilitation as part of a “deferred” charge scheme that may be extended nationwide.

Two probation officers disagreed on whether it would be successful.

Bob Turney, a prosecution officer, argued that the move is a "way forward".

He said that he works with a charity who try and get criminals "back into society".

David Fraser, a senior prosecution officer, disagreed: "I have been researching these kinds of alternatives to court action and imprisonment and so forth for 38 years and none of the schemes have ever worked. So my first question is, why should this one?"

He explained: "First time offenders were, who were dealt with more firmly than others, were actually deferred from committing more crime at a greater rate."

Fraser added: "Every government scheme that has been tried to avoid people going to court or avoid going to prison has failed and so there is no real reason to think why this one should succeed."

Turney asked Fraser to explain what the schemes are and why they'd failed.

He then said: "Restoratitive justice you're talking about is very, very successful and what it does, it gives closure to the victim and also the offender is confronted with what they've done."

Fraser referred to this as "hollow" and with "no meaning".

Two probation officers argue over rehabilitation of first-time offenders
Two probation officers argue over rehabilitation of first-time offenders. Picture: PA

He continued: "Offenders don't offend because they need some kind of rehabilitation course or warning, they do it because it is to their benefit and they need to be stopped.

"We have one of the best behaved populations in this country as far as driving offences is concerned, one of the best, and the reason is that the authorities in this country take a draconian view to driving offences.

"First time offenders are dealt with in in a very ruthless manners and there's no there's no surrender. There's no room for mercy. You can have a clean record for 56 years and you can be caught speeding because of a momentary lapse of concentration, for example, and you will be fined straightaway."

Turney then spoke to Andrew Castle more about restorative justice.

Whose side are you on? You can watch the full interview at the top of this article.