Who we are:
Established in 1952, the Probation Officers Association of Ontario (POAO) is a voluntary, non-profit organization representing the professional interests of the Probation Officers and Probation and Parole Officers across the province of Ontario. POAO is not a union, but rather an Association of like-minded professionals who believe in the work they do and the role they play in the criminal justice community in Ontario. Currently POAO has experienced a growth in membership and scope and continues to be an autonomous representative of Probation Officers and Probation and Parole Officers in Ontario. POAO is committed to the preservation of the fundamental role of the Probation Officer within community corrections. Join POAO now!
POAO endeavors to speak with credibility on issues in criminal justice, facilitate an increased understanding of the specialized role of the Probation Officer, provide representative perspectives on legislative issues to policy makers, provide a forum for exchange of professional experience and opinion, promote good fellowship and esprit de corps among members, foster goodwill, understanding, and cooperation with others working in the criminal justice system and educate and involve the community in corrections.
Through professional development, education, fellowship and policy design, the Association is an autonomous representative of Probation Officers in this province. POAO is committed to the preservation of the fundamental role of the Probation Officer within community corrections. At the same time, we are supportive of efforts for positive changes. In order to maintain our credibility and professional status, we are proactive in addressing issues and concerns as they arise.
POAO aspires to increase professional development opportunities for members and an augmented profile in the greater community. Specifically, it is the intent of POAO to garner stronger ties with our justice partners, increase research and policy action, affirm sensitivity and competence in relation to the cultural diversity of our members, clients and communities we service and provide continued ethical governance.
In conducting its business, the POAO subscribes to the following set of values:
- Probation Officers achieve professional status and continue to receive ongoing education;
- Members are fully committed to a Code of Ethics;
- Community corrections programs retain their validity as an effective means of rehabilitation for offenders;
- Autonomy be maintained, while at the same time the responsibilities of the Ministries, OPSEU, and other components of the criminal justice system be acknowledged;
- Involvement in the decision-making process be democratic and participatory at all levels.
What we do:
Today, the Ontario Government employs Probation Officers in the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and in the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. There are more than 1,100 Probation/Parole Officers in the Province supervising adult offenders and young persons. In the adult system, in Ontario, 800 probation officers in 125 offices provide supervision more than 56 000 adult offenders in the community who are on probation, conditional sentences and parole. In addition there are approximately 10 000 young persons, with the majority under supervision of approximately 384 Youth Probation Officers.
Probation Officers and Probation and Parole Officers supervise probation orders, parole, conditional sentences and conditional supervision orders. They monitor and enforce compliance with these court orders and others such as restitution to victims and community service orders. These professionals prepare detailed and comprehensive pre-sentence reports for the Court. They also prepare pre-parole reports for the Ontario Parole and Earned Release Board.
In order to assist the offender and the community, Probation Officers and Probation and Parole Officers provide counselling and often broker/advocate for counselling and other treatment services such as life skills and vocational counselling. Probation Officers provide case management functions, even while offenders are in custody in order to provide that very essential link between the facility and the community.
In order to carry out their tasks effectively, Probation Officers and Probation and Parole Officers must be educated and well informed about the latest correctional practices. All officers in the Province hold, as a minimum, a university degree in one of the social sciences; many officers have completed graduate degrees. Everyday these professionals interact with other professionals in the criminal justice community such as the police, the judiciary, crown attorneys, defence counsel, school officials, mental health professionals and various community partners. Officers must have superior writing skills, excellent communication and assessment skills, a strong sense of community and of client advocacy.
POAO members are committed to the job they do and the role they play in the criminal justice community in Ontario. This voluntary professional Association is a tangible example of that commitment.
Code of Conduct:
RESPONSIBILITY TO THE PROFESSION
Probation Officers Shall:
- Encourage ethical conduct by all members of the profession.
- Have a responsibility to colleagues to develop a working relationship of mutual respect and cooperation.
- Promote the philosophy and ethics of the profession with new colleagues.
- Seek advice and utilize the expertise of colleagues and supervisors.
- Contribute their expertise in order to promote the integrity and competence of the profession to the public.
- Keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to the probation field and shall contribute to the knowledge base of the profession.
TO COURTS, CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM AND COMMUNITY
Probation Officers Shall:
- Strive to provide the highest calibre of service to the Courts and Judiciary through the preparation of quality reports, testimony and investigations. Probation Officers shall at all times conduct themselves in a manner that upholds the dignity of the Court.
- As an integral part of the total Criminal Justice System uphold and respect the tenets, rules and functions of that System.
- Promote awareness among other members of the Criminal Justice System, of the philosophies, functions and roles of Probation Officers.
- Be aware of their role in protecting the community from criminal activity and in the promotion of programs for the prevention of crime.
TO THE OFFENDER
Probation Officers Shall:
- Provide service to the offender to the maximum of their professional skill, ability and competence.
- Maintain a professional relationship at all times to avoid conflict of interest.
- Promote equality in every respect thereby preserving the dignity and rights of offenders.
- Create a positive atmosphere for change that will encourage offenders to realize their goals and potentials by taking advantage of training, treatment and services provided.
- Inform the offender of legal rights to and his responsibilities in the Criminal Justice System.
- Make the offender aware of the responsibilities and duties of the Probation Officer within the Criminal Justice System.
- Respect the privacy of the offender and the confidentiality of information subject to legal and policy parameters.