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A Death Of Ghana’s Probation Service? - LEGAL DISPATCH


Learned Principal, Natalie Atkinson, had been be awarded first class in Bsc. Policing, Investigation and Criminology degree, at the University of Cumbria. Thanks in part to UK’s prisons reform project and its Offender Management strategy. Find below in outline the role of probation and community sentences:

1. Probation- Overview: You could be put on probation because: you’re serving a community sentence; you have been released from prison on licence or on parole. While on probation, you may have to: do unpaid work; complete an education or training course; get treatment for addictions, like drugs or alcohol; have regular meetings with an ‘offender manager’.

2. Meetings with your offender manager: When you’re on probation you may have meetings with your offender manager. This will usually happen at your local probation office. At your first meeting your offender manager will explain: the rules of your probation; the dates, times and places of future meetings; any appointments you must go to: training courses or treatment; what happens if you don’t do what you are asked. Your offender manager will ask you to read and agree to a ‘sentence plan’. This will tell you the rules of your probation and your responsibilities. You must tell your manager if you:

Plan to change your name or address; you won’t be able to make any meetings you have arranged with them; you’re having problems sticking to the rules of your probation. If you miss a scheduled meeting with your offender manager, you should get in touch and tell them why. You may need to provide proof, like a letter from a doctor or your employer. You are allowed to miss meetings or appointments to attend religious or other important events if you give your offender manager advance notice.

3. Breaking the rules of probation: You could go back to court if you break any rules of your probation. For example, if you: do something your sentence bans you from doing; commit another crime; miss meetings and appointments without a good reason; behave in an aggressive, racist or other unacceptable way at a meeting, appointment or conditions of your licence or parole, you can be taken back to prison.

4. Being taken back to prison: You can be taken straight back to prison if you have been released on licence or parole and you break any rules. This is known as a ‘recall’. Your offender manager will tell you why you are being recalled.

There are three types of recalls- Fixed-term: With this recall, you will go back to prison, be released on probation again after 28 days and you will be on licence until the end of your sentence. Standard recalls: you will stay in prison until the end of your sentence, unless a Parole Board decides otherwise. Your case will be sent to a Parole Board automatically after 28 days. They will either release you straight away or set a date (within 1 year) when you can be released on licence. Third, extended sentences: If you’re on this, your case will be sent to a Parole Board within 14 days of you going back to prison. They will either release you straight away or set a date (within 1 year) when you can be released on licence.

5. Ask to be released again on probation: If you have been taken back to prison and you think you should be released from prison on probation again, you can ask the parole board. This is called ‘making representations’. You can speak to the parole board yourself, or ask a family member, friend or legal adviser to do it. You must do this within 2 weeks of being told why you are being recalled to prison [7].

Commenting on PSR in the UK; Barrister Lorna Elliott, points out that it is essentially an impartial report that gives the sentencing judge (or magistrates) an idea of your background and the most suitable punishment for the offence that you have committed and must be written with the seriousness of the offence in mind and that if a PSR is ordered in your case, you will have an interview with a probation officer who then writes the report on you. “For obvious reasons it is important to cooperate with the preparation of the report as otherwise this can have a negative impact on the sentence you are given. Some courts actually make it a condition of post-conviction bail that you cooperate with the probation service in ensuring that the report is written…You will have the opportunity to read through your report before the sentencing hearing. “If you disagree with any of the contents you should let your lawyer know before you get into court so that the issue can be raised. The report will not be read out in court but the prosecution, defence or judge can make reference to it or ask questions about it.” [8]

Photo Reporting: Community Sentences



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