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Probation officer training (PQiP)

To become a probation officer you will need to complete the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP).

PQiP blends theory and practice, in the classroom and in a work setting, to give you the best possible preparation for life as a probation officer.

When you start your training, you’ll be a probation services officer, learning on the job and studying to gain your fully funded PQiP.

After successfully completing the programme, you’ll be able to become a fully qualified probation officer and work with a higher caseload of people on probation, along with opportunities to work in different settings, keep learning and developing through structured career paths.

What to expect

About the PQiP training:

  • 15 or 21 months to complete (depending on how many of the core modules you have studied previously)
  • full time (limited part-time places may be available)
  • level 6 qualification (equivalent to a degree)
  • get paid while you train
  • work in a probation unit with time out for workshops and seminars
  • e-learning
  • assessed through exams, observations, professional discussions, witness testimonies and general competence
  • support from an academic tutor plus your line manager and assessor
  • as well as being given time to study at work, you’ll also be expected to do further study in your own time

This is a full-time course (37 hours per week) although there may be some part-time learning placements available in some regions. For the part-time option there’s a minimum hours requirement that learners will need to commit to weekly – a minimum of 0.6 full-time equivalent (FTE) (22.2 hours) and a maximum of 0.8 FTE (29.6 hours). There may also be a requirement to work specific days. The PQiP course will take up to 30 months if you do it on a part-time basis.

What you’ll learn on the PQiP programme

When you complete the programme, you’ll gain a level 6 Professional Qualification in Probation. This is a combination of a level 5 Diploma in Probation Practice and a Diploma of Community Justice.

During your training you’ll learn about:

  • the ethics, values and practices expected of probation officers
  • critical analysis skills needed for interpreting complex information and making accurate and justifiable decisions and risk assessments
  • how to prepare and present reports to justify your decisions and make recommendations in court and oral hearings
  • creating offender-specific sentence plans that protect the public and encourage rehabilitation
  • using social and criminal psychological knowledge and emotional intelligence to create an appropriate environment where people on probation can change
  • how to identify evidence-based interventions based on each offender’s needs

Core modules

To gain the full qualification you need to have studied all of the following core modules at level 5:

  • the criminal justice system
  • understanding crime and criminal behaviour
  • penal policy and punishment
  • rehabilitation

If you have completed all the core modules at level 5 previously, then you will not need to take them again. You’ll just need to show evidence that your current qualifications include all these modules. You will then go on to study the required elements to qualify as a probation officer.

If you have completed 3 of the modules then you’ll need to complete the remaining module during the first 6 months of your training. This can be completed alongside your regular PQiP training and will not add any additional time to your course.

If you have completed less than 3 or none of the core modules then you’ll need to complete them as part of your PQiP course. This will mean that your full training will take 21 months rather than the standard 15 months.

Where you’ll work

While you are training for your PQiP you’ll also be working in either a Probation Delivery Unit (PDU), a prison, or a court team.

In all of these settings you’ll be working with people who have offended, and this includes violent and sexual offences.

Often the people you come into contact with will have complex needs and may be struggling with their mental health or substance misuse, which can lead to challenging behaviour. You’ll be supported throughout your training to develop the resilience and practical tools to challenge these behaviours in a constructive way.

Before qualifying, you’ll be contacted to discuss your probation officer role offer. It’s important to note that the location of your job offer may not be where you have completed your training (due to business need).