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Probation Officers in Multiagency Response





Role of Probation Officers in Multi-Agency Responses

Multi-agency responses entail two or more agencies collaborating in addressing a shared and complex problem effectively and efficiently. The partnership is built on information sharing to help them achieve the set goal (Hoover, 2019). Multi-agency in probation services arises from the awareness that collaboration of different entities in addressing complex needs optimizes outcomes. Previously, different agencies could work on the same case without being aware that other agencies are concern with the same case. Today, multi-agency appreciates the need for collaboration through probation services. The collaboration is manifested in complex needs that require efforts from different partners (Hsieh et al., 2015). An example is managing a case of a homeless drug offender on probation services and who attends rehabilitation clinics. Multi-agency response in such a scenario will be necessary for sharing information about the offender to increase probation services’ outcomes. In criminal justice, multi-agency responses require inter-disciplinary and complementary approaches that place probation officers at the heart of the operations.

Probation officers conduct a secondary assessment of complex needs and risks in multi-agency response. It facilitates informed decision making for the multi-agency since it involves evaluating diverse factors revolving around a person in collaboration with other specialists (Pycroft & Gough, 2019). Probation officers assess complex needs to prepare necessary documents such as Victims Impact Assessment Reports, Environmental Adjustment Reports, and Community Service Orders Report, among others. In such a scenario, the role of probation officers is also designed to offer public safety and ensure compliance with orders like Community Service Orders, Executive Orders, Probation Orders, and Penal Release Licenses. These assessments form the foundation for preparing a plan for addressing a complex need that requires multi-agency intervention.

Probation officers support courts proceeding using the information gathered during the screening and assessment of offenders. They may be required to accompany offenders in a court hearing to support a multi-agency recommendation for offenders. The officers lead multi-agency teams in conferring and advocating with attorneys, legal representatives like community representatives, and public defenders using the gathered information (Lusby, 2019). The participation of probation officers in legal proceedings is expected to be fair and balanced on accountability, public safety, victims’ concerns, and equality. This requires close collaboration with multi-agencies in preparing and maintaining factual and accurate court reports, social histories, and clients’ assessments. In cases where they submit delinquency or violation of probation petitions, the officers may be required to testify at the court hearing.

Probation officers initiate contact with offenders, their family members, friends, and law enforcement personnel when referrals are made (Dlamalala, 2018). They have the role of sharing information with the agencies to improve outcomes of the solutions. For example, the officers should share information on domestic abuse of offenders with social workers to develop risk assessment plans. The assessment can include conducting visits to the home, work, school, and other places where offenders may be found to gather information necessary in solving the needs related to that offender in multi-agency response (Hilgendorf, J. (2017). Probation officers initiate contacts after the suspected crime is committed. This is mostly achieved by engaging reporters to gather additional information to solve the offenders’ needs in probation services. The officers’ assessment results in collateral information on offenders’ mental health, their educational backgrounds, history of criminal activities, gang activities, and possibilities of substance use and abuse. Multi-agency responses depend on this information to design the most appropriate interventions for addressing complex needs.

Probation officers are required to perceive themselves as less exclusive service providers in multi-agency responses. In most cases, social needs are associated with offending and resistance, which requires the probation officers to link multi-agencies responses with civil society’s platforms (Herzog-Evans, 2016). Some of the agencies work with homeless offenders and marginalized groups profiled in society to alleviate their conditions. While working with such agencies, probation officers are tasked with helping the agencies design reasonable and fair access to services for offenders like others in society.

Probation officers are leaders of multi-agency responses in case management. After they complete the comprehensive assessment, the officers facilitate partnership with community programs, organizations, and other agencies in case management Chui, 2017). This role includes requesting enrollment of offenders to food programs, housing, employment opportunities, and capacity building such as education and training. The officers collaborate with multi-agencies in document case management strategies based on information gathered and assessment that addresses a specific case’s complex needs (Hoover, 2019). For example, probation officers can recommend treatment that includes mandatory inpatient rehabilitation in consultation with multi-agencies. They connect with the client after a few days to track their progress. During this time, the officers evaluate the program’s goals and focus on minimizing the risks of recidivism.

Probation offices play the role of consolidating cooperation with different players in multi-agency response. For example, they have a role in connecting drug users to drug agencies for proper intervention instead of counselling such individuals. This approach ensures quality intervention for individuals based on their unique needs from a professional perspective. In such scenarios, the probation officers can play the role of supervision. This entails monitoring offenders with complex needs and who do not necessarily require to be imprisoned.

Probation officers are supervisors in multi-agency response. Their duties in this aspect entail intervention to help clients adapt and align with probation requirements. They conduct risk assessment during intakes to prepare and negotiate with multi-agencies on implementing and modifying case plans for the clients. The process can include one-on-one interactions with offenders’ family members, relatives, friends, community, and community-based settings (Herzog-Evans, 2016). The officers can facilitate face-to-face meetings between offenders and different specialists in a multi-agency team to review the probation requirements and offer the clients opportunities for clarifying probation expectations. In this role, first-hand information is required to intervene with elusive clients, where they live, how they spend their time, and their routines such as working area.

The officers supervise offenders in the community as alternatives approach imprisonment, which offers offenders opportunities for building better relationships with their families and community (Criminal Justice, 2020). This is achieved through collaboration with multi-agencies to solve specific clients’ needs. For example, homeless drug offenders may be enrolled in housing programs while undergoing rehabilitation services. Probation officers supervise offenders under a different classification based on the type of order and release warrant issue (Mbau, 2015). They achieve this role by general surveillance and maintaining constant contact with offenders. This role is necessary for ensuring that other agencies reach the client with ease when a need arises.

Probation officers are the record managers in multi-agency response. They access information from the criminal justice system to facilitate all case management efforts and become the custodian of that information. It includes information from screening, case planning, various histories, and intervention plans. The officers are expected to provide the required forms in the program and ensure timely and timely access (White et al., n.d). They maintain both softcopies and hardcopies of multi-agency records related to the justice system, shared when necessary by all the involved agencies. The officers may review histories to track trends, generate statistical reports and verify the information to ensure accuracy. Examples of the records that they manage include clients’ files, photos, and relevant images.

Offenders with complex needs such as minor cases of drugs and substance abuse or minor domestic assaults may be required to live and work with the community and their families under a probation officer’s supervision (Pycroft & Gough, 2019). Such an arrangement is necessary to help the individuals rehabilitate and reconcile with the family members. In these situations, the officers offer surveillance of offenders and maintain regular contact to help them rehabilitate (Fenech, 2018). This involves the probation officers helping offenders with complex needs to correct their behaviours and live in harmony with the community. The probation officers help the other specialist prepare a rehabilitation plan that identifies the appropriate remedies to reduce re-offending. It may include collaborating with councillors, depending on the prevailing needs.

Another critical role of probation officers while working in a multi-agency response to address complex needs is reintegrating offenders. The reintegration entails helping the client resettle in their communities. The process is also identified as the aftercare of offenders. Probation officers help multi-agencies reintegrate offenders by offering them support systems (Hoover, 2019). This system enables the offenders to break away from the crime cycles and become resourceful community members. Reintegration is designed for the offenders that have been released from penal institutions, especially by executive orders, licenses, or after completion of their sentences. Before such clients are reintegrated into the community, probation officers engage multi-agencies in assessing the offenders, the victims, and the community to facilitate the reintegration plan. Such a plan is necessary for identifying and solving ex-offenders’ complex needs and mitigating their risks of recidivism. In some cases, the officers may recommend further support for ex-offenders to multi-agencies in areas like education support and other forms of capacity building to increase offender’s employability as a long-term solution for addressing the risks of recidivism.


Chui, H. W. (2017). Probation for juveniles. Wiley Online Library. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/9781118845387.wbeoc257

Criminal Justice. (2020). The need for probation and parole reform. Retrieved from https://online.campbellsville.edu/criminal-justice/probation-and-parole/

Dlamalala, N, C. (2018). The role of a probation officers in diversion of children from the criminal justice system: A penologiccal perspective. Retrieved from https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/158577164.pdf

Fenech, T.M. (2018). Understanding the challenges of probation officers related to potential psychological vulnerabilities in the criminal justice system. Retrieved from https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/36541

Herzog-Evans, M. (2016). Law as an intrinsic responsivity factor: What’s just is what works! European Journal of Probation, 8(3): 146-169. Retrieved from http://www.antoniocasella.eu/nume/Herzog-Evans_2016.pdf

Hilgendorf, J. (2017). Understanding the role of probation: Observing the effectiveness of probation as an alternative to incarceration in Larimer County, Colorado. Retrieved from https://mountainscholar.org/bitstream/handle/10217/181311/Hilgendorf_colostate_0053N_14025.pdf?sequence=1

Hoover, T. L. (2019). Effect of contracted treatment referrals on probation officers roles. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 57(7): 506-524. Retrieved from https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10509674.2018.1523817

Hsieh, M., Hafoca, M., Woo, Y. & Wormer, J. (2015). Probation officers roles: A statutory analysis. Federal Probation, 79(3). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/299356807_Probation_officer_roles_A_statutory_analysis

Lusby, L.G. (2019). Probation officers and parole agents’ perceptions of institutional obstacles to reducing recidivism in a Midwestern State. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=8314&context=dissertations

Mbau, W. M. (2015). The interaction of crime victims with probation services: The case of three selected probation stations in Nairobi, Kenya. Retrieved from http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/bitstream/handle/11295/93850/Mbau_THE%20INTERACTION%20OF%20CRIME%20VICTIMS%20WITH%20PROBATION%20SERVICES.pdf?sequence=3

Pycroft, A & Gough, D. (2019). Multi-agency working in criminal justice: Theory, policy and practice. The Bristol. Press Publisher.

White, L. W., Gasperin, L. D., Nystrom, L.J., Ambrose, T.C. & Esarey, N.C. (n.d). The other side of burnout: An ethnographic study of exemplary performance and health among probation officers supervising high-risk DUI offenders.

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