The probation service is a key part of the criminal justice system for England and Wales (Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own system). The probation service is split into areas according to region and this is similar to those seen within the police system. The probation system originally came about in 1907 when it was formed by missionaries. This was around the time that the court began to release offenders into the community on the basis that they were answerable to the missionaries. This became a statute in 1907 and gave the courts the power to appoint paid 'probation officers'.
The probation officer will generally work from an officer base and will visit the courts and police station as well as offenders in their own homes. The job is generally 37 - 40 hours a week and it is unusual to work overtime.
The court system in the UK revolves around a variety of different courts. The county court, magistrate's court, high court, house of lords, court of appeal, European court of justice and European court of human rights.
The probation service will assist offenders who are serving a community order. The requirements of these will vary according to the offence and to the person in question. It could be that some unpaid work is required, alcohol treatment, mental health treatment (if necessary) or a curfew for example.
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