How the probation service is trying to change to keep offenders out of prison

Video report by ITV News Reporter Stacey Foster

Every week, offenders straight out of prison go to see their probation officer in the hope it will help help them stay out of jail.

But there have been calls for change in the probation service - to make it more efficient and productive.

The government has announced a recruitment drive for 1,000 new probation officers, from more diverse backgrounds, by the end of the year.

Currently the majority of probation officers are white women and so are not representative of the people they are working with.

It's hoped making the probation service more diverse will enable offenders to relate to those working with them and help improve public safety.

But charities who work with offenders after their release have warned government reforms do not go far enough to support people.

The groups say improving diversity in the probation service solves only part of the problem.

"All probation officers need to be culturally competent," says Reverend Dr Carver Anderson from the charity Bringing Home - which supports ex-prisoners.

He adds: "If that probation officer has no concept of the importance of a community group being involved with their support structure, then that would concern me".

Chantelle Campbell has a case load of up to 40 offenders. Credit: ITV News

Chantelle Campbell works with offenders who are just out of prison - she says hers is one of the most rewarding jobs.

Speaking to a former offender she asks "From the time you were sentenced to now, talk to me about how you've changed".

He says: "I've got a lot to make up to society and I've been doing that now for a few years".

Chantelle has a caseload of up to 40 offenders moving out of the prison system.

"We're managing high-risk offenders," she says.

"The pubic would say 'they should be in prison'. But the reality is - they've done their prison sentence. The courts have said - they've done their time.

"Now they're doing their sentence, in the community."