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Why consider Community Payback jobs?
Are you looking for a rewarding career where you can both motivate and inspire others to change for the better, and build better and safer places to live? One where your personal attributes and transferable skills are more important than qualifications?
Working in a Community Payback role, you’ll play a key part in supporting people on probation make improvements to local communities while they make positive changes to get their lives back on track.
It’s varied, meaningful work, with job security, great benefits and career progression opportunities.
Community Payback (CP), previously known as Community Service, is an alternative to a prison sentence for people who have committed a crime. Watch our video to find out more.
Things you need to know
Community Payback isn’t just an alternative to custody. It’s a way of helping to create better outcomes for people on probation and better communities. As a Community Payback supervisor, you’ll be at the heart of this work, leading small teams to complete their unpaid work hours. You’ll supervise and motivate them to complete a range of manual tasks – such as clearing overgrowth to make public spaces safer, restoring community facilities such as sports halls and playgrounds, planting trees or laying flowerbeds, and litter picking and graffiti removal – to pay back for the harm they’ve caused.
You’ll support and motivate people from different backgrounds to get the most out of their time on Community Payback. You’ll be helping them to: make positive changes to local communities, access training and development to learn new skills, and improve their chances of employment as they make positive changes in their own lives.
On a typical day, you’ll spend up to seven hours supervising a group at a CP unpaid work placement.
You could work a range of flexible work patterns, which will include some weekends as Community Payback runs seven days a week in many of our regions. To accommodate people on probation who work during the day, or have caring responsibilities, some projects run during the evening and you may be asked to cover them from time to time. You’ll be paid a higher pay rate at weekends and for any evenings you work.
There may also be a chance to work part-time in some regions. You can discuss this at your interview.
Essential skills and experience
You don’t need any specific experience or qualifications to be a CP supervisor, and you’ll get all the training you need to help you work effectively and safely with people on probation.
Great people skills and the ability to supervise and guide a group are important. While not essential, we’d love to hear from you if you have a skill or trade such as painting and decorating or carpentry, for example.
You will need a driver’s licence as you’ll need to drive one of our CP minibuses to take equipment to and from CP project sites. You may also need to drive people from your group to and from a central pick-up point. A standard driving licence will be fine, but we’d also welcome applications from people who have a D1 licence.
As a CP placement coordinator, you’ll be responsible for establishing and maintaining working relationships with a range of stakeholders – including local authorities and charities – to make sure there are sufficient numbers of CP work placements. This will include exploring opportunities for people to access on-the-job training and education to develop their skills and increase their chances of employment while they complete their unpaid work hours.
You’ll support your CP operations manager to ensure all the placements comply with health and safety legislation. This will include conducting on-site placement assessments, occasionally at weekends or during the evening.
In this busy and varied role, you’ll also be responsible for planning rotas to ensure CP supervisors and people sentenced to CP are allocated to projects and have the necessary equipment. You’ll also need to cover the CP supervisor role from time to time. As Community Payback groups run seven days a week, this could include working some weekends.
You’ll be paid a higher rate at weekends and for any evenings you work.
Essential skills and experience
You don’t need any specific qualifications to be a CP placement coordinator. Great logistics management, stakeholder management, negotiation, and communication skills are important. A good multi-tasker, you’ll have an eye for detail and excellent analytical skills.
You’ll also need an understanding of occupational health and safety or be willing to complete the necessary training.
As you’ll occasionally need to cover for CP supervisors, you’ll need a driving licence so you can drive one of our minibuses to transport equipment and people to CP project sites when needed. A standard driving licence will be fine, but we’d also welcome applications from people who have a D1 licence.
As a CP operations manager, you will have overall responsibility for managing the logistics of Community Payback delivery in your region.
Managing a team of placement coordinators and supervisors, you will make sure CP is delivered effectively, efficiently and to a high standard in your region – as well as monitoring performance. You will oversee the development and assessment of suitable CP work placements, taking the lead on sourcing new large-scale projects with major community stakeholders such as local authorities and charities. Wherever possible, you will look to ensure work placements provide training and development and/or future employment opportunities.
As Community Payback runs seven days a week, the role will require occasional weekend or on-call work. You’ll be paid an enhancement for any additional hours you work.
Essential skills and experience
You don’t need any specific qualifications to be a CP operations manager. You will need great leadership ability, time management, negotiation and decision-making skills.
The salaries for these roles are:
- CP supervisor and CP placement coordinator £23,174 to £28,200
- CP operations manager £37,166 to £41,020
Roles in London attract an additional London weighting of £3,889.
Working for the Probation Service comes with a range of great benefits, including:
- 25 days’ annual leave, increasing to 30 days after five years’ service – plus eight public holidays and service days
- an attractive occupational pension (Local Government Pension Scheme)
- and a wide range of other Civil Service benefits including childcare vouchers, a cycle to work scheme and travel loans.
Before your start your new role, you will receive paid for training on a range of subjects to help you work effectively and safely with people on probation. This will include the principles of Community Payback, plus training on health and safety, risk awareness, and dealing with challenging behaviour. You will also have full training on any tools your group will need to use, and you will work alongside and shadow an experienced colleague before taking responsibility for supervising a group on your own.
Before you start your role, you will also have an induction into ways of working in the Probation Service and the Civil Service.
To support your professional development, you will also have access to a range of Probation Service related training on topics such as best practice approaches to demonstrating life skills, positive reinforcement and desistance, and substance misuse and domestic abuse awareness.
As part of your application, you will be asked to give examples of actions and activities to show you have the behaviours needed for the role. Read our handy hints and tips to help you.
We will do our best to ensure the application process is as quick as possible and you will be kept updated and informed at every stage of your application journey.
Find out more from our webinars
Watch these live recordings of our previous webinars:
Part of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the Probation Service supervises people on probation in the community. Our role is to protect the public, support victims and prevent re-offending wherever possible. We believe everyone deserves a second chance, and we help people on probation make the most of theirs.
What we do
As well as assessing the risk that offenders pose and advising courts to ensure
individuals are sentenced appropriately we also work with people while they are subject to probation supervision. We work with individuals to put rehabilitative interventions in place and signpost them to community services to reduce their risk of reoffending and protect the public.
Community Payback supervisor questions
What types of crime do people get sentenced to Community Payback for?
People who are sentenced to Community Payback may have committed a wide range of crimes such as recurring shoplifting, theft or drink driving. Rather than sending them to prison, a magistrate or judge will have assessed them as being suitable for supervision in the community by the Probation Service.
What sort of work do Community Payback teams do?
Community Payback teams complete a range of manual tasks to improve communities, such as:
- clearing overgrowth to make public spaces safer
- restoring community facilities such as sports halls and playgrounds
- litter picking and graffiti removal.
We work with organisations such as local authorities and charities to identify and source work placements that give people an opportunity to learn new skills while they pay back the community for their crimes. And, wherever possible, we ensure the placements provide training and development and/or future employment opportunities for people.
With the aim of increasing the number of Community Payback placements that have an environmental sustainability focus, we are working in partnership with a range of local and national organisations to enable CP teams to work on projects such as tree planting and recycling initiatives.
Do I need any specific qualifications or experience?
No. Your personal attributes and transferable skills are more important. As are great people skills and the ability to guide and supervise a group.
What training do I get as a Community Payback supervisor?
Before your start your new role, you will have paid for training on a range of subjects to help you work effectively and safely with people on probation. This will include:
- health and safety and first-aid
- how to deal with challenging behaviour
- risk awareness
- pro-social modelling (how to be a role model to motivate and bring out the best in people)
- problem solving
- diversity and inclusion.
You will also have training on the core principles of Community Payback (including an understanding of both its punishment and rehabilitation focus), plus an induction into ways of working in the Probation Service and Civil Service.
Before taking responsibility for supervising a group on your own, you will also have full training on any tools your group will need to use, and you will work alongside and shadow an experienced colleague.
To support your professional development, you will also have access to a range of probation-related training on topics such as: positive reinforcement and desistance, substance misuse, domestic abuse awareness, counter-terrorism, and adult and child safeguarding.
How big are the Community Payback groups? How many people will I need to supervise?
Groups vary in size and are based on a robust risk assessment of each individual who is sentenced to CP, to ensure groups can be managed safely.
Do CP groups comprise males and female?
Some groups are mixed-sex, but there are also male-only and female-only groups.
Will I supervise a group on my own, or will I work alongside another supervisor?
You will generally supervise groups on your own. However, a robust risk assessment is conducted of every individual and this determines how large the groups are, and how many supervisors are needed to manage them safely.
Will I be expected to do the work my group are tasked with doing?
Whether you work alongside the group you are supervising or not is your personal choice. Many supervisors like to do so as they find it’s a useful way of opening up conversations with the people they’re working with.
Your core responsibility on site is to supervise the work of your group, ensuring tasks are completed correctly, safely, and to a high standard. This will include demonstrating how to complete certain tasks and setting a good example to bring out the best in people and encourage them to adopt a good work ethic.
Will I always be working outside?
The majority of CP placements are in outside spaces. However, we also run indoor placements such as painting and decorating community halls and sports halls.
You will be allocated to placements depending on need and the area you are working in.
How are you keeping staff and groups during the COVID pandemic?
We carry out a thorough COVID risk assessment at each of our CP placement sites and put arrangements in place to ensure work can be carried out within current safety guidelines. This includes reducing the number of people on groups and ensuring adequate ventilation and social distancing measures are in place at indoor placements. We review the risk assessments regularly and continue to monitor the latest COVID-19 government guidelines.
What training will I get to help me manage challenging situations which may arise on unpaid work placements?
You will receive training on a range of subjects to help you work effectively and safely with people on probation. This will include risk awareness and dealing with challenging behaviour.
What happens if I need support while I’m supervising a group on my own?
There is a range of support available to you while working at a CP placement. You will have a mobile phone so you can call your operational manager for advice and support whenever needed. You will also have a lone worker device which you can activate if you need emergency support.
Do I need a D1 driving licence to drive a CP minibus?
Not necessarily. Most of our minibuses accommodate a maximum of eight people. So, if you’re 21 or over and have had a standard driving licence for at least two years, you should be able to drive one of our minibuses. We do, however, welcome applications from people who have a D1 licence, which would enable them to drive a minibus with more passenger seats.
How often will I need to work weekends?
While you will not be expected to work seven days a week, as a CP supervisor you will likely have to work one or two days each weekend. This will depend on local need and will be confirmed when you start in post. Occasionally, you may be asked to work additional weekends to provide cover for your team. You will receive an enhanced pay rate for any weekends that you work.
What career development opportunities are available?
There is a clear career progression from CP supervisor to operations manager, and to Head of CP or Head of Interventions if you are interested in taking that route.
There are also a wide range of opportunities available within the wider Probation Service. If you’re interested in working as a probation services officer, or potentially training to be a qualified probation officer, working as a CP supervisor is an excellent way of gaining excellent first hand experience of working with people on probation.
Watch our videos to hear from some of our Community Payback staff what their roles are really like and what they enjoy about them.
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