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Probation officer staffing levels critical

‘Probation officer staffing levels critical ’ - PSA
More probation officers - with reduced work loads and with better training - are needed across New Zealand, the PSA said today.

Organiser Alan Ware said the issue had ‘been grimly illustrated with the details around the murder of the Auckland journalist Kylie Jones.’

The PSA has been lobbying against the continual downgrading of the capacity for probation officers to do their work, he said.

‘In the Auckland area it is common for individual officers to have up to – or more than – 70 cases on the go. And the widely accepted view is that experienced officers should be asked to deal with no more than 50 cases – tops,’ he said.

Mr Ware said there was a high turnover of existing staff - with a national average of 20 per cent.

‘And the figure for Auckland would be higher than that. We need training and we need more people,’ he said.

There were up to 60 unallocated cases in one Auckland office alone, he said.

‘That is offenders who are on various supervision orders or parole or both and they simply do not have a probation officer handling their case,’ Mr Ware said.

Naturally this workload causes stress, burns out people and creates a cycle where the quality of the service is driven down, he said.

‘We had this for ten years under the National Government and the ramifications of these policies are starting to hit home, with terrifying results.’

“We have raised these issues with the Community Probation Service and there is some study underway about the need for change.

‘The PSA supports the Corrections Minister, Matt Robson, in recognising we have a crisis here and that much remedial work in staffing levels, work loads and training has to be done,’ Mr Ware said.

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