Probation officers and their duties under the Probation of Offenders Act
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This article is written by Sidra Khan, a student of Amity University, Noida. The article discusses the provisions related to the duties and role of the Probation Officer.


The Probation of Offenders Act of 1958 builds on the premise that juvenile offenders should be stopped by counselling and rehabilitation rather than thrown into jail by being regular offenders. The probation officer focuses on the offender’s concern or desire, and tries to solve his concern and aims to make the offender a productive member of the community. Within the criminal justice system, the probation officer plays a critical or important role. He is at the forefront of the rehabilitation of the prisoners, he helps confess and rehabilitates the prisoners as a decent citizen in society.

Who is a Probation Officer

A probation official is a court officer who regularly meets people sentenced to a supervised probation period. Generally, these people are perpetrators and lower-level criminals. The majority of the offenders placed on probation are first time offenders. Placing any one on probation is a way for the court to prevent offenders from incarceration. Many that are on probation live in our neighbourhoods, stay home, are working or participating in an educational program, and raise their children. The justice system’s objective is to have a person who is put on probation as a responsible member of society while retaining contact with his or her family and community support sources. Once on probation, a person may be ordered to engage in an evaluation of drug abuse or domestic violence to determine if treatment is necessary. Moreover, by doing breathalyzer or urinalysis tests, people may need to assist in tracking sobriety. Another typical condition is for an individual to continue his/her education and/or work.

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Responsibilities of Probation Officer

A probation officer will need to meet, on a monthly or sometimes weekly basis, their client. Based on an assessment of risk/needs, the probation officer may decide the degree of supervision that a person requires (minimum, medium or maximum). It helps to determine how much assistance a person requires. Evaluations assess how a person is engaged in a group, often referred to as their community relations. The assessment also checks how likely another person will commit more crimes. 

Any time a probation client visits his/her probation officer, a report form needs to be filled out. Lives of the populations also shift because of unemployment, job gain, or divorce. Meeting with a client allows the probation officer to see where additional support is required in order for the client to succeed. Therefore, when a person starts at a maximum supervisory level (weekly meetings), this does not mean that they must remain at this level during their probationary period. Probation officers are required to regularly revise the case plan of a probationer.

Duties of Probation Officer

Pursuant to the Offenders Probation Act 1958 – Section 14 Gives details concerning the duties of probation officers that, subject to such conditions and limitations as may be imposed, a probation officer is expected to do:

  1. Investigate the circumstances or domestic environment of any person accused of an offence with the intention, in accordance with any direction of the Court, to help the Court to determine and report the most appropriately advised approach to his dealing with it;
  2. Supervising probationers and other persons under his supervision and seeking suitable employment where necessary;
  3. Counselling and supporting victims in the payment by the Court of penalties or costs;
  4. Advice and assist persons released pursuant to Section 4 in such situations and manner as may be prescribed;
  5. Perform the other duties prescribed as may be.

A probation agent, as laid down in Section 14 of the Act, has main functions, such as investigation, supervision and guidance, counselling and professional control of criminal probation. As an inspiring, guiding and supporting probationer, this probation officer facilitates the rehabilitation of the criminal as a law-abiding member of society. 

Analysis and monitoring

To obtain information about his mistakes or achievements, a detailed review of the life history and background history of the delinquent is needed. In case the criminal refuses to respond favourably to the reform procedures, a proper enquiry would require further limitations on the rights of the criminal. To extract as much information as possible about his antecedents, the probationer must be approached psychologically, with the result that information is so obtained that it is possible to assess the chances that the offender is reformed through the probationary process. Monitoring is mainly a police function, so it would be very useful to advise and support the research officer in this police task.

Supervision and counselling

Continuous monitoring of the work of the probationer is not necessary or feasible. Supervision of probation can therefore only be carried out through field visits and intermittent contacts. The Probation Officer will fully understand and prescribe steps to resolve issues that can hinder the re-adjustment in a society of the offender. He must actively support the probationer in the process of his rehabilitation. The probationer does not feel continuously pressured or controlled. 

The probation officer is responsible for overseeing the probationer according to Section 14(b) and Section 18. The probationers issued or granted a check by the judge, i.e., have different aspects. Both human and legal. When the court awards punishment to an offender, it must make sure that the offender also has rights to rehabilitate and according to ordinary human beings. Supervision is, therefore, one of the strategies that can cure and rehabilitate the offender under the supervision of the probation officer and protect society against the offender. 

At the same time, the trial officer has a responsibility to mould the offender’s character. There are therefore two aspects of supervision.

  • The testing person must comply with the requirements of the court. In the event that the probationer violates terms, the check agent must report the probation order to the court. The trial officer must maintain the balance between the offender’s recovery and the safety of society. In this sense, he has double work. If the probationer makes no improvement in his actions, he would then have to act as a guardian for society.
  • Second, the trial officer must accept the probationer as he is, that is, with all his faults. He has to distinguish between cases which require very little support and attention, those which respond to guidance and advice and those which require close attention, but which do not respond to his therapy.

The probation officer must establish a relationship with the offender and create faith in him in the mind of the offender during the probationary period. He must also construct and give him the confidence in the offender in deciding his own course. The probation officer must stand by him in order to provide him with appropriate guidance and suggestions and information, which will enable him in cooperating with the probation officer to carry out rehabilitation programs.

Probation is an alternative sentence, which the offenders selected under the supervision of probation officers are allowed to serve a criminal sentence within the community. A probation sentence can require a criminal to pay fines or restitution or seek advice on substance abuse or for problems with his or her health or family.

Probation control is one of the ways for courts to punish people who are accused of criminal activity. Infractors undertake to the court to behave properly, to prevent more crimes and to comply with the terms of the warrant. Normal supervisory requirements include:

  1. Being of good conduct;
  2. To comply with the orders of the supervisor;
  3. Information about any change of address to the supervising officer.

Based on the circumstances of the case, additional conditions can be imposed by the Court. Examples can contain:

  1. Participation in a course of training;
  2. Hostel residence; and
  3. Participation in a clinic or program.

For at least six months to three years, the Court is entitled to issue a probation order.

Link to the Court

Another major function of the probation officer is to act as a link between the probation and the Court, as the prime duty of the probationer under his charge is the defence of the interest. The court may require that the terms of the probation order differ or that the probationary bond be exercised. When he finds that the progress of the probationer is adequate in adapting to regular life in society.

Pre-sentence report of the probation officer

The trial officer is expected to provide a pre-sentence report with specific details of the prisoner requested to be released by the Court on probation, as given in Section 7 of the Probation of Offenders Act, 1958. On the basis of this report, the judge decides and orders the sentence of the defendant to be released upon probation. The trial officer’s pre-sentence report must include accurate and truthful details about the offender’s character, temperament, history in family and education, job statistics, general circumstances and historical precedents. Impartiality and objectivity are the two most important requirements of a pre-sentence statement to bear witness to the history and behaviour of the offender. Submitting a disciplinary report on the defendant as ordered by the Court is also one of the main tasks of a probation agent. It should include all the details of the offender as well as an evaluative summary of the case of the offender.

  • The preparation of a pre-sentence report for guidance by a Court, to grant or not the benefit of probation, is one of the major tasks of a PO entrusted to under Section 14 (a) of the Act. For Section 14(a) of the Act, the PO shall submit relevant facts, the information in the report as requested by the Court, following inquiries into the character of a criminal, his social circumstances, financial and other circumstances of his family.
  • The case shall be outlined with a statement of facts. PO’s case review helps the court decide the right way to deal with the defendant after it’s identified guilty.
  • The report shall, if submitted to the Court one day before its judgment, be treated like ‘confidential’ and delivered to the Court on the date specified therein; it shall be included in a sealed cover.
  • ̈If the PO determines that the probationer has matured enough that further supervision is no longer required, he will make a request for release of the bond in consultation with the district probation officer.

Decision making

Whilst deciding on the probationer under his responsibility, the probation officer should remember that his decisions are of great importance not only for the offender but also for the safety of the community.

Probationer rehability and after care

(1) In order that the probationary officer does not resort to violence, he shall assist with social rehabilitation. The probation officer will try to secure the probationer for this purpose:

  1. Facilities of training,
  2. Opportunities for jobs,
  3. Any financial support needed, and
  4. Contacts and groups such as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, youth programs and civic initiatives for regular citizens and co-organizations.

In order to monitor progress in rehabilitating discharged probationers during such periods as may be prescribed by the Chief Probation Superintendent and to submit a follow-up report to the district probation officer and the Chief Probation Superintendent, the Probation officer will continue to keep contact with discharged probationers. Where appropriate, aftercare schemes and organisations such as Nav Jeevan Mandals, District Probation and After Care Association shall be participating in the Probation Officer.

Appointment of Probation Officer

Section 13 of the Probation of Offenders Act states about the appointment of Probation Officer:

  1. A person appointed by or recognized as a probation officer by the Government of the State.
  2. A person to whom a company recognized on behalf of the State Government has made provision for this reason.
  3. Any other person who, according to a court, is fit to act, under the particular circumstances of the case, as a probation officer in an exceptional case.

Role of Probation Officer

Probation is the most important or effective method of treatment. The probation officer can not function as a supervisor without the cooperation of the police. It is significant for the role of the police. Two organizations of the State are the trial officer and the police and the goals are largely identical. The entire outdoor rehab scheme will fail because the priorities and aims are different, as it is obvious that police will show a desire to support probation officers. 

The police have also played a key role in the rehabilitation and socialization of the institutions’ young criminals. It is believed that the public does not accept him when an individual is released from a domestic institution. Society would tolerate him: otherwise, he will engage again in anti-social activities and repetitive crimes. In this respect, it is the duty of the police officer to restore such persons to society and also to ensure that other agencies such as panchayat etc. are aware of their duty to help him to socialise and carry out his ordinary social work. In this situation, the probation officers must perform the same form of tasks, support the offender to recover and adjust the offenders to other members of society.


The Probation of Offenders Act, 1958 is very helpful especially in the present context of prison reform, of a prison sentence that no longer recognizes the jail sentence as the only course of care to ensure the safety of society, is of considerable significance to the judiciary and probation services. The alternative punishment measure, i.e. probation and the theory of reform penalty, can be achieved only by the cooperation of the judiciary and the administration. This will benefit a country like India, with prisons that are always overcrowded, with regular abuses of human rights that harden a person’s internality. Probation is a validation of the human being inside every being, and priority should be granted. In the sense of current social structures, the rehabilitation and recovery process must be structured to accomplish the ultimate objective of returning these offenders to an orderly community. For all suitable cases, where the concept of restorative justice has to be enforced, it is crucial that the various criminal justice systems organizations work together to make probation an effective method of noncustodial care.



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