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Head of Probation asks for more male officers

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Kim Thornden-Edwards

Kim Thornden-Edwards, Chief Probation Officer for England and Wales, and a senior leader at His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, has asked that for more male officers to make up probationary staff.

As much as three quarters of national probation staff are female and Kim said it has been ‘stuck’ at this level for the past three decades. She argues that have more male staff, people who have experienced being on probation themselves, and older staff, would allow for more unique approaches to case management.

In her first interview since becoming chief executive of the service, she told Radio 4’s File on 4 that, for instance, there are times where the gender of the officer may be important in handling ideological issues around the offending behaviour.

She highlighted its potential in domestic abuse cases:

“It might be really good for a woman to be leading on a domestic abuse case — but also, it might be good for a man to be challenging those kind of issues around masculinity and power from a male perspective.”

She did say that previous endeavours to recruit more male officers were unsuccessful, adding: “It’s been suggested in the past that associations of the probation service with social work has led it to be viewed by women as more of an attractive career than men.”

The Probation Service has recently rolled out ‘lived experience advisors’; these are ex-prisoners who offer policy guidances to managers. Justin Russell, the Chief Inspector of Probation, has called for the recruitment of older officers, to aid the engagement of elderly people on probation as they could struggle relationally with officers significantly younger than them.

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