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RESPONSE to the question – Should I retrain to become a counsellor?


Don’t unless you have got a lot of savings or can do it in your spare time,

I considered it as a way to develop my skills as a social worker but the BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
way is time consuming and expensive although it suits some.

I later discovered William Glasser and his approach to counselling. I trained with his organisation for a very much less demanding qualification. I had been a practising and trained probation officer for twenty years when I started with his organisation in 1994.

Being a USA based organisation they called the process – Certification – with the body that is NOW called the William Glasser Institute – there is a UK branch.

It is the approach to psychology I have accepted since I discovered it and significantly different to what is generally taught and understood.

In fact – I have just remembered I was the first treasurer of the UK organisation and played a part in developing the constitution – A sole destroying but necessary process.

As with other things – I am no longer active – I could not do everything & at one time needed to focus on my own personal matters – which I do not write about in public.

I see the Glasser organisation’s teacher who oversaw my certification, Bob Wubbolding, is doing at least one webinar soon for the Canadian Branch – I still aim to apply his teaching – it was very useful in my last years as a probation officer – It does not look as if the webinar is for beginners

I cannot find the introductory video I used to post from the WGI they seem to have updated their website – but here is the founder in 2010 – he is my 20th century hero.

Glasser – died a few years ago – was a Los Angeles practising psychiatrist – who began experimenting when traditional psychiatry did not make sense with the clients he had at what in the 1950s – was called a Reform School – he tested his ideas – wrote about them in a book -Reality Therapy in 1965. As he taught he attracted followers across the USA who found his ideas useful in many different areas of human behaviour.
To avoid confusion with what others were doing – names of practices and procedures were changed – particularly around 1994 (when I went to an International Convention in Dublin – Some were also adjusting his ideas and to avoid more confusion with the support the organisation’s board of management/trustees they finally changed the name of the organisation to The William Glasser Institute & he carried on travelling the world teaching as well as practising, supervising others and writing in Los Angeles.

I attended lectures & role play demonstrations in England on at least two separate occasions – and also attended many other events including with Bob Wubbolding – he is a good bit older than me – I guess in his eighties now but isstill using a younger photograph – or the Canadian folk are in advertising his webinar.

Bob is from Cincinnati – where he used to run “The Reality Therapy Center” – I have not looked his website up for years – he was the director of training for Gasser’s Institute for many years.

The video explanation I used to link from the Glasser organisation has been removed from their website That is a shame it suited me, but maybe was a bit dated – here is a link to WGI UK’s website – I am a non active life time member on account of completing the certification process for the international body in 1995


Who should be probation workers be “on probation” to?

Probation in court Screenshot_2019-07-07 probation oficer in court at DuckDuckGo

A response to some comments on today’s “On Probation” Blog post – Breaking Up is Always Hard to Do –

“I have not read all of this but I think maybe some are missing the basic point – where does and should probation work get its authority to operate.

This was not explained to me when I started out in 1973.

I now realise probation officers were called officers of the court because they were appointed by (Inner London was a special case back then) their LOCAL magistrate’s Probation Committee which was effectively a sub committee of the local Magistrates Courts Committee which may have been a shared service between several petty sessional divisions.

All our work (except for parole or other release on licence cases) came under the direct jurisdiction of the local magistrate’s court unless in occasional cases reserved to a sentencing court or person.

Hence properly, like the courts, probation workers need to be independent of direct State Management.

A further problem is that – now; I have the impression that local justices have more or less been taken over by the State, especially with the appointment of so many District judges (formerly known as Stipendiary [paid/employed] magistrates) – maybe something equivalent to LOCAL probation committees now need to be (re)created – with some democratic authority from the local area with representation by the local judiciary.

I expect this contribution will be considered off topic or in some other way inappropriate but I maintain this is the starting point for consideration before the rest of the structure of probation employing agencies are considered.

Any fool knows that it is stupid to have two probation agencies with responsibility for the same geographical area!”

Andrew S Hatton
Tolleshunt Knights
7th July 2019


St Sexburgha===================

Two comments on two blogs.


I hoped you had written more. Of particular interest is her early date and Englishness and the fact that she lived before the great divide in the Christian Church – I wonder when, why and how she was canonised, with this social honour setting her in death as being more important than other human beings.

2. I have now also added a comment here but it became obscured – hopefully I shall get a response & be able to continue.

Exploring medieval society at Canterbury and Tonbridge

3. My interest was prompted by

Random Thoughts – One – Watching “The Simpsons.”

Data picture

I am not a Simpsons’ fan but occasionally “look in”  – today it was an Episode about The Springfield Beauty Pageant and then the Treehouse Halloween III. episodes.

Before the voiceover from Bob Hope, yes him, great English American (went there when he was a young child) man of the USA Military comedian, came on, I reflected – this could have been written long ago.

When I investigated, I was a bit surprised to realise it was from the FOURTH season in 1992 – when to me (born 1948) it still seems recent. So Bob really was alive, the jokester of earlier years, radio tv and films, who will be unknown to most folk born since about the 1970s. Our lives are so dominated by the consequences of The Internet now, at times it is hard to recall how different were communications before. Even those episodes would have been written before, the writers had much idea how livfe would develop for those of us connected and perhaps not develop for those who still do not have accees to basic services – electricity and water and organised local government who take the rubbish away etc..

The random thought was from ten years earlier – I could probably work out the exact date – the Friday after the local elections in Sefton, England that year. It was at a thankyou party at the Maghull Country Club, attended and perhaps encouraged by our newish MP Mrs Shirley Williams – I really did believe the SDP could be the change machine needed for UK Politics. I was desperately wrong as was finally proven when their remnants continued the degradation of the most vulnerable in society that was begun – I guess by 1982 and certainly by 1988 with the Benefit changes that year.

I think it was me in a rather small group that had Mrs Williams as the focus, who asked her what she thought we should now be focusing on –  the first issue that she said was vital was “Information Technology”. I had no idea what she meant and asked her to explain a little – she was right but sadly many of us did not grasp it until it was already too late and we have become tpart of the product of IT generating income for the wealthy few rather than using the power to bring basic security and opportunity to all.

Andrew S Hatton
Tolleshunt Knights ,
30th June 2019


Another Response about the constitution of probation

Responding to a blog comment here: –

“think it’s incorrect to say the probation service was ever a constitutional part of the judiciary, nor is the CPS. Modern probation and its management by the Home Office stems from legislation in the 1930s. Probation has always been under parliamentary, never judicial control. Only the judiciary is independent but it cannot overrule parliament by striking down legislation, unlike, for example, the US Supreme Court. In the UK parliament is sovereign.  ”

When I was employed by Merseyside Probation Service in 1975 – I was interviewed for a job within Liverpool City PSD by the Deputy Chief Probation Officer who had formerly been the Chief Pbn Officer of Liverpool Probation Service before amalgamation on 1st April 1974.

In fact the different PSD’s in Merseyside continued to run more or less independently. In Liverpool where there were about 100 officers – each team was allocated two members of the Probation Committee who each made their own arrangements to monitor the teams work. Effectively it meant a visit once a quarter from one or other who saw the SPO and usually had 30 minutes or so with us all once or twice throughout the year.

It was particularly used to discuss early discharges – so after such an agreement when it was put before the Court, it went through as a formality – without any discussion.

I realise managerialism began from the 1930s and the independence may have been rather a technicality because the Home Office controlled the finances but the staff appointments were certainly done under powers delegated from Magistrates. CPO’s had to also be approved by the Home Secretary.

It was a typical British accommodation – but it seemed to mostly work as far as I can tell – probation grew in stature and professionalism at least until the 1980s and was for practical purposes as far as case management was concerned entirely independent of the Executive Branch of Government apart from determining release or recall of parolees, life licencees, Borstal, Detention Centre & Young Prisoner licencees.

In hindsight it was professionally independent of Government until Leon Brittan stepped in, in 1984 – on 1st May, when the Home Office issued a “statement on national objectives and priorities for the probation service”

RESPONSE TO STEVE COLLETT’s letter re Probation in yesterday’s Guardian Newspaper.


In recent weeks I have realised the whole basis of probation work has changed as far as the UK constitution is concerned and I have seen no one else write about it – not even Steve Collett in his letter to the Guardian – I think yesterday – that traced the history of some of the changes.

Probably the crucial legislation was in 1991 – I cannot in my haste recall the Act – but it also set up ACRs etc.

When I was new to be probation in 1973 – in England and Wales – Except in Inner London where the Home Secretary was in control & I am not sure how that came about, Probation was fully managed by the magistrates Coutrs Committee and nationally there was some sort of joint committee on which the Home Office was represented and had great influence because the Governement even then paid most of the costs.

BUT the point is Probation came under the jurisdiction of the courts – constitutionally and so was separated like the other courts from the control of the Government.

The other branches of the State being the Sovereign and the Executive, with the whole lot under the ultimate control of Parliament in accordance with Parliament’s powers to legislate and levy taxes.

Now Probation, at least in England and Wales is FULLY part of the Executive and no longer an arm of the Judiciary –

Does it matter – I think it does – please dear reader show me where this has been written about?

Qualified probation officers not allowed to immediately fill hundreds of social work vacancies

Birmingham Social Services Department is again hitting the news headlines and vacancies are a major part of the problems. Last month the BBC reported “106 out of 494 fulltime, frontline permanent posts” were vacant just in Birmingham.

Experienced and already qualified probation officers would make ideal recruits with some introductory specialist training and supervision provided to augment their existing skills.

From 1974 until about 1997 the only national qualification required to practice as a local authority social worker or a probation officer in England and Wales was exactly the same. There were obvious differences in the new entrant support, whether one opted for social work or probation. I qualified (CQSW and Diploma in Social Work from the University of Liverpool) in 1975 and then worked almost continually as a probation officer until 2003 apart from nearly a year as a local authority social worker in 1988/9 when I had a specialist job as a locum senior social worker for a London local authority at the juvenile court in their borough where I dealt with criminal and child care cases.

Whilst training I attended specialist probation practice lectures whilst prospective social workers had similar. I did a social work training placement where I wrote my first ever, of what turned out to be many hundreds of reports for criminal courts, but my last placement was in a probation office. Most training otherwise took place in the company of prospective social workers. I also used child care knowledge and training whilst a probation officer as I undertook a significant amount of work for the family courts concerning arrangements for children, when parents could not agree following divorce and also adoption.

For reasons political, home secretary Michael Howard aborted the training scheme for probation officers and despite detailed campaigning – of which I was part – Jack Straw as home secretary introduced a new qualification for trainee probation officers who no longer were trained alongside social workers.

However, to this day, probation services recruit people with social work qualifications, but who do not hold the DipPS (Diploma in Probation Studies), whereas the DipPS does not qualify a person to work as a local authority social worker even in a specialist job with young or mentally disordered offenders.

As media people should be aware, there is much consternation amongst probation officers who are on the point of being ‘outsourced’ and having their job tasks become further deskilled as it becomes even less generic than it still remains (far, far less already than when I first qualified in 1975). They do not like it, or the prospect of working for such as Serco, G4S, or A4E who all intend to bid for the outsourced work.

Yet currently, apart from those qualified before about 1997 they cannot immediately take their qualification and experience and apply to work as a local authority social worker in a Social Services Department. Such folk are, almost, already suitable to take up the one hundred current social work vacancies today reported in Birmingham or also the vacancies elsewhere in England or Wales, but are not so permitted, even though social workers leaving Birmingham Council are qualified to start the next day as a probation officer!

There is additionally the issue of HCPC registration (formerly GSCC) – I objected to not being registered, via my then probation service employer, but did not campaign sufficiently at the time (probation officers are busy enough already) or register independently – but this is not perhaps a matter for this message.

Sadly there are very few in the mainstream media who take a serious interest in the details of probation and social work employment. Maybe that is partly why the current situation is unsatisfactory to professionals and the public because there are few journalists with the necessary knowledge to properly investigate and question politicians and professionals. However, everyone has an opinion about a European referendum in the next parliament (even though one parliament cannot commit the next to such action) – maybe speculative opinion dominated journalism is of more interest to folk than who we let deal with murderers, rapists and child abusers as well as those abused children?

Andrew Hatton
retired probation officer and social worker (1975-2003)

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I have commented on some Tweet responses to this and some tangentially related issues in a Napo Forum – you may be interested to see and comment there or below – I would like a bit of response – even if it is the dismissive rubbishing type! Other wise how am I to know if I am wasting my time sharing such thoughts – thanks for reading!