The Probation Service is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders (those convicted of an offence) in the community. It works with offenders and others to reduce offending and to make communities safer places. It is an agency within the Department of Justice and Equality.
Assessments for the courts
The Probation Service undertakes assessments reports on offenders for the criminal courts, when requested by the trial judge. There are 2 types of offender assessment report:
- Pre-sanction report (also known as a probation report) - the offender is assessed as to suitability for a non-custodial sentence
- Community service report - the offender is assessed as to suitability for unpaid work in the community instead of going to prison
The service also prepares victim reports for the courts when required. These reports assess the impact of offending on victims of crime, usually violent crime.
Supervision of offenders
The supervision of offenders in the community forms the majority of the Probation Service’s work. Someone who is placed on supervision is required to maintain regular contact with their supervising probation officer and comply with all conditions of the order. The most commonly used orders for supervision are:
- Probation order - the offender gives an undertaking to the court that they will be of good behaviour, avoid further crime and adhere to the conditions of the order
- Post-release supervision order - a sex offender can be sentenced to a period of supervision following their release from prison
A judge may also suspend all or part of prison sentence for a period of time on the condition the offender remains under the supervision of a probation officer for the specified time.
The Probation Service also supervises prisoners who are on temporary release from custody with specific conditions of supervision by the Service. Life sentence prisoners on temporary release are obliged to co-operate and comply with supervision by the Service. Such prisoners normally remain subject to supervision for the remainder of their lives.
As an alternative to a prison sentence a court may make a community service order where the offender is required to do unpaid work (40 to 240 hours) in the community. The Probation Service assesses the suitability of the offender for community service, organises the work placement and manages the offender on behalf of the court.
Young Persons Probation, a specialised division of the Probation Service works with children aged 12-18 years who come before the courts or who are in children detention schools. The Probation Service is involved in the supervision of a number of the community sanctions available under the Children Act, 2001.
Most of the work the Probation Service does in prisons is with prisoners who will be under their supervision when they are released. They work with a prison-based team that includes the prison governor and other services, to help the prisoner manage their sentence and settle back into the community.
The Probation Service prepares assessment reports on prisoners for the Parole Board. It also produces assessment reports, requested by the courts, on people remanded in custody while awaiting trial.
Repatriation of prisoners
The Probation Service provides assessment reports on prisoners being considered for transfer to their country of origin by the Minister for Justice and Equality, as required in applications under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Acts 1995 and 1997.
Working in partnership
The Probation Service also works in partnership with a range of other bodies to reduce offending, develop local responses to crime and issues affecting it, and to improve public safety and social inclusion. This involves work in such areas as drugs, homelessness and domestic violence.
Probation Service staff in the community and in prisons refer offenders to community projects around the country, to enhance their re-integration and resettlement.
Where to apply
You can find contact details for local Probation Services on the Service's website.
Tel:+353 (0)1 817 3600
Fax:+353 (0)1 872 2737
Contact Form: http://www.probation.ie/en/PB/officecontactspage?readform