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Repeat offenders worry probation officers

Probation officers tasked with writing pre-sentence reports have expressed concern at the number of young repeat offenders they encounter in their work.

The report-writing team often face significant challenges making contact with offenders to conduct home interviews in order to prepare the six-page assessments that are provided to the courts.

Amirah Abdullah, co-ordinator of the Court Services report writing team, told The Royal Gazette she had also noticed a prevalence of multiple occupants crammed into small homes.

“The most worrying thing we see is the repeat offenders, particularly the juveniles,” she said. “In my short time in this team I have prepared pre-sentence reports on young men for juvenile court and then soon after I have done an SIR for adult court. This is happening quickly and it's concerning to see the cycle.”

Ms Abdullah added: “We come across a lot of family issues during the interview process. People can become upset as they talk about their offences and often believe they are victims themselves.

“The main challenge remains making contact with the client we have to prepare a report on. Sometimes they have not given the right details to the court and often people do not know their details.

“The information we get can be vague, phone numbers expire and people move frequently.

“Recently we have seen large numbers of people living in small units; two bedroom properties with six people in them is not unusual. It seems connected to Bermuda's high rent rates and people trying to keep it together.

“We aim for 100 per cent home visits in the preparation of these reports, but sometimes that is not possible.”

The team is responsible for writing all the pre-sentence reports for Juvenile, Magistrates' and Supreme Court as well as pre-release reports on inmates coming up for parole.

The five report writers work to tight deadlines and complete more than 300 extensive reports each year, which normally include 25 Social Inquiry Reports (SIR) a month and ten parole reports a month.

“About 75 per cent of our work is preparing SIRs for adults, while a smaller percentage is pre-sentence reports for juveniles and parole reports,” Ms Abdullah said.

“The interviews are never less than an hour and we try and meet with our clients at least twice. Generally the reception we receive is good as it is the opportunity for clients to express themselves and be heard.”

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Published January 28, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated January 28, 2016 at 12:54 am)

Repeat offenders worry probation officers

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