Keep up-to-date with drugs and crime

The latest research, policy, practice and opinion on our criminal justice and drug & alcohol treatment systems
@POofficer is a frontline probation officer who Tweets anonymously, mainly about the work he does with the offenders/clients he manages. He uses a Twitter profile picture of Zorro, the masked avenger.


Why I tweet

I started tweeting around the time of the Public Enemies drama on BBC1 after being horrified that the public may actually believe this was realistic in terms of our engagement with offenders.  I wanted to get across that you can have a meaningful relationship with an offender (or client, the term I usually use in my tweets) without actually going out with them!

I’ve been both shocked and amazed from the response I’ve got from tweeting about the work that I do.  Some very important people follow me which can be daunting at times but I’ve made the decision to keep my tweets real as I can and hopefully they are a true reflection of what I do.

I think being honest about the work that I do, my frustrations, my success and sometimes failures helps the public understand what it’s like to be a Probation Officer.

We are going through some of the biggest changes the service has ever seen; trust mergers, commissioning some of the work that we do, the (re)introduction of ‘professional judgement’ and not to mention those robot machines London Probation Trust are piloting! There are plenty of people, far more insightful than I am, who already discuss at length all of the above, which is great, but I have made the decision to keep my tweets focused more on the day to day engagement with offenders.

I try and not get too bogged down in policy and politics (although sometimes it’s hard not too) and remain hopeful and optimistic in the change that I can facilitate with my clients.  I love my job and I hope this comes across in the majority of my tweets.

I opted to be an anonymous tweeter as I had previously mentioned twitter to my senior managers as a good way of engaging the public in the work that we do, they failed to see the benefits….. Or I failed to sell it well enough to them!  I was tired of hearing that the public don’t know what we do; to me it’s as simple as ‘well tell them what we do’.


One of the things I enjoy most about being on twitter is the other professionals I follow or those that follow and respond to my tweets.  It’s amazing to see how different the other areas/trusts work with offenders and how they interpret policy and guidelines.  I think it’s made me a better practitioner and more focused on the one-to-one work that I do on a daily basis.  I have often posted questions and observations and I always enjoy reading the responses.

A few months back I posted that it would be nice to be a Chief Probation Officer for a day as I would like to make some changes to my trust, suddenly I was being tweeted by various Chiefs across the country offering me the chance to shadow them.  #shadow4aday was born and soon after different grades of staff were pairing up and starting to arrange to shadow each other for the day.  It’s unbelievable that one tweet I posted started this!  I had no idea this would happen, I didn’t expect anything to happen if I’m being completely honest.

It’s unfortunate that I can’t take part in this for various reasons (the main one being that I’m anonymous) but I still think it may be an option for the future.  Let this be a lesson to you…. Be careful what you tweet, you may end up being the boss for a day!


The thing I least enjoy about tweeting is having to sometimes be less specific in my tweets as some of my colleagues follow me and I don’t want them to find out it’s me tweeting!  My tweets are all about real cases, experiences and frustrations but sometimes I choose to post them on different days than the event happening so I don’t give too much away about who I am.  This can get a bit confusing (for me) at times!

If I were to give advice about anybody thinking of tweeting I would say:

Go for it.

Think about why you want to tweet, what would your message be?

Also think about what you can achieve through tweeting.

My main focus is to showcase the work that I/we do in the Probation Service and the impact this has.  I’m always looking for new ideas on what to tweet so please feel free to get in touch and let me know if you want to hear more about specific cases or work that I do.

Happy tweeting


Next week: Helen Grimbleby, @Crimematters, community safety and domestic violence specialist gives us her seven reasons for Tweeting.

Get Russell’s free guide to Twitterfectiveness. Read more about the #shadow4aday initiative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Get every blog post by email for free