Hilary contacted our helpline following an issue that her son Jack was having with his Public Protection Unit officer (PPU).
Hilary explained that Jack had been convicted of a sexting offence in 2017 which resulted in him being put on the Sex Offenders Register and receiving a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO).
Since his conviction Jack had secured a place at university but needed to find a part-time job to give him the funds that would help him to support himself whilst he studied.
Hilary told us that Jack had been fully compliant with any restrictions placed on him by probation and the police and had always been upfront and honest with them. Hilary felt that despite this, Jack’s PPU officer was putting unnecessary restrictions on the work they would allow him to do.
Prior to applying for any job, Jack always sought the approval of his PPU officer. However, despite having no conditions in his SHPO to prevent him working, he’d been refused permission to apply for work in a bar as well as a job delivering telephone directories. If he wasn’t able to find work, Jack would struggle to remain on the course. Hilary wanted to know whether the PPU officer was allowed to refuse every job opportunity that was presented.
We advised Hilary that all the time the SHPO was in place, Jack would have to seek the approval of his PPU officer before he accepted any paid employment. However, the purpose of a SHPO was to minimise the risk of harm to the public, or to any particular member of the public. The PPU officer should assess each job independently rather than bar him from applying for any job at all.
We suggested that the next time the PPU officer refused Jack permission to accept a job that he should:
- Ask the officer to provide in writing the reason why he believed the role was unsuitable; and
- What risk he felt that Jack would pose to work colleagues, customers/clients or members of the public.
Once Jack had something in writing, then he would have something to appeal against if he needed to.
Hilary contacted us a couple of months later to let us know that as a result of the information and advice we’d provided, Jack had the confidence to challenge his PPU’s decision the next time he refused permission for Jack to apply for work. On being asked to put the reason for the refusal in writing, the PPU officer had immediately had a change of heart and stated:
“This job sounds like a great opportunity for you.”
Jack ticked the ‘Yes’ box on the application form and disclosed his conviction to his new employer at interview. The interview went well and Jack was offered the job. Since starting with the company, Jack had already been promoted once and now holds a deputy manager position.
“Jack has always been very respectful of anybody in authority, especially the police and although he thought their actions were fairly unreasonable, he’d always accepted what they’d told him. Getting the information and advice from Unlock gave him the confidence to challenge his PPU’s decision in a polite, non-confrontational way. It’s not just that he’s got a job but he’s also found somewhere much nicer to live and has recently started a new relationship. Hopefully he can put his experiences from 2017 in the past and move on.”
Where individuals are happy to accept at face value everything they’re being told by the police or probation, it’s easy for officers to give blanket refusals rather than properly risk assess a situation.
As Jack’s case demonstrates once he’d asked his PPU officer to put in writing his reason for refusing Jack permission to accept a job, the officer reviewed his decision and risk assessed the situation appropriately.
Notes about this case study
This case study relates to Unlock’s helpline.
Names and details have been changed to protect the identity of those involved.