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Frank – A conversation with Unlock helped me think differently about the way I was interacting with the police

Frank contacted our helpline for some advice on the best way of dealing with his Public Protection Unit (PPU)/Visor officer who he felt was unwilling to engage with him and who at times, appeared to be bulling him. Frank said that because she didn’t make it clear what she expected of him, he felt she was ‘setting him up to fail’ and the last thing he wanted was to be recalled to prison.

Frank gave a couple of examples of discussions he’d had with the officer including a comment she had made about a photograph of his girlfriend. The helpline advisor explained to Frank that this comment could have been seen by his girlfriend as a compliment rather than a derogatory remark directed at Frank. The advisor also gave other examples of how different comments could be interpreted in other ways.

From the information Frank provided, it seemed clear that due to the Covid pandemic and the prisons policy on lockdowns he had been unable to complete any of the courses in his sentence plan, he had also had very little interaction with other prisoners. This combination of factors left him with little idea of what to expect from probation or the police once he was released from prison. Frank told the advisor that he always had a lot of questions for his PPU officer and he got the impression that this wasn’t something she was comfortable in dealing with.

The advisor explained to Frank that at her next visit he should try to raise some of his concerns with her; explain how worried he was about ensuring he did the right thing. By having these open discussions, hopefully any issues could be addressed informally benefitting both Frank and the officer. If the matter could not be resolved in this way then the advisor explained the process of making a formal complaint to the police and what should be included in any correspondence.

Frank contacted us a couple of months later to say that despite trying to raise his concerns informally, his PPU officer had made it clear that she was unwilling to engage with him. Frank made a formal complaint to the Chief Constable and the officer had been moved to another role shortly after.

Frank told us that his new officer was fantastic, he has a good understanding of working with individuals who suffer with anxiety and he was always happy to answer any questions.


In the course of our work, it is sometimes important that we put forward an opposing argument to allow an individual to consider the strength and validity of their situation or complaint. In this case, Frank took on board the advisors initial advice and tried different ways of working with and communicating with his PPU officer. Sadly, the relationship had broken down irretrievably and the only option open to Frank was to make a formal complaint.

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.

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