LIFE AS AN NEWLY QUALIFIED OFFICER (NQO) 2006
The structure of the first six months
When training is complete the idea is that each Trainee becomes what is known as a Newly Qualified Officer (NQO), but this is of course dependant upon each one of us passing our academic and NVQ work. Within my cohort of trainees I am happy to reveal that the majority of us passed and within the space of a week we went from life at the bottom of the food chain (as a TPO), to a life a few more rungs up the ladder. For me this was confirmed by one key factor – the arrival of a contract through the post confirming my appointment as a 'Probatioin Officer.'
Having gained my post as a Probation Officer (or NQO as I was so often reminded) there was somewhat of a sting in the tail, and I would be lying if I stated that it was extremely difficult to adapt to, particularly with the constantly changing Service around me through the emergence of NOMS (National Offender Management Service). The sting came in the form of the requirement for each NQO to carry out additional duties either within the local Magistates Court or an accredited programmes setting. Essentially each Officer would have a split post role in that they would be required to manage a caseload in their respected teams, and in addition undertake either the delivery of a cognitive behavioural programme that is delivered to offenders or duties at the Magistrates Court.
It was decided by the powers that be that as trainees we have covered both aspects of programmes delivery and Court duties within our NVQ modules, and given staff shortages it would be a requirement for all NQO's to undertake one or both of these aspects of work. Whilst I initially had reservations about completing ETS and managing an ever increasing caseload, as well as getting to grips with not having additional support as a trainee, completing the programme has in my opinion made me a better PO. Life as an NQO had its difficulties and rewards - yet for me that hardest aspect was in acknowledging the level of responsibility each officer has in managing cases and the different levels of risk they present. However as an NQO there was still a level of support - The NQO is effectively on Probation him or herself and the work undertalken is, to some extent, closely monitored by the relevant middle managers.
At this point in time I am a qualified officer with experience behind me. I have completed a degree, a set of NVQ's, a vast array of training which now includes working with sex offenders and domestic violence cases, and a wealth of knowledge of working with offenders from all different types of backgrounds and with numerous offences. In addition I have experience of working in numerous settings with a variety of agencies, and I can write a multitude of reports for the Courts, the Parole Board and Prisons. The first thirty months have been a huge slog and much effort and dedication was required - but in the end it is all rewarding.
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