18 April 2019
Jersey’s new head of Probation is marking more than 30 years of working in the service.
Mike Cutland (55), who was appointed as Chief Probation Officer in February, joined Jersey’s Probation Service in 1986 as an Assistant Officer. Apart from a short-term contract as a trainee solicitor, and brief employment as a hospital porter, Mr Cutland has worked there ever since.
It was while he was studying for a law degree, specialising in human rights law, that Mr Cutland developed a keen interest in the probation service.
“I could see what impact a successful probation service could make on people’s lives – both individually and the community,” he says. “And that inspired me.”
That inspiration, says Mr Cutland, drives him and his team of 37 members of staff to make a difference.
“There is a great motivation within the team to work with people to help them stop offending, and to also protect the public,” he says.
Among Mr Cutland’s career achievements is introducing Adapt, a programme for perpetrators of domestic violence, while he chaired the Jersey Domestic Violence Forum. The programme was established 13 years ago and is still used today.
Furthermore, Mr Cutland, who has a Masters degree in Social Work, was in 2017 appointed by the Confederation of European Probation as an expert in working with sexual offenders, and recently delivered a keynote speech to the Latvian Probation Service about the Jersey Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements, of which Mr Cutland was the island’s first chairperson.
There have been, says Mr Cutland, many changes to the island’s probation service since he joined 33 years ago.
“Working closely with the courts has been helpful,” he says. “We can attend court at very short notice and are often able to solve problems immediately.
“Over the years we have become more outcome focused so we can keep an eye on how effective we are in terms of successful orders completed and whether we are reducing someone’s risk of reoffending. We have also improved our training and we are more aware of research and best practice. In fact, we are undertaking exciting research in collaboration with the University of Swansea about how skilled practitioners make a more significant change in a client’s life. The better we are, the better results we get and we currently have a very successful team.
“The Service also now includes the Jersey Family Court Advisory Service which works to ensure that the best interests of children are prioritised in the island’s family courts. I think this has been of significant assistance to the courts and families alike, although, as in all areas of our work, it can be emotionally draining.”
Mr Cutland and his wife, Sharon, have three children – Niamh (27), Danny (24) and Roisin (20) – and became grandparents to Betsy six months ago. Completing his family is son-in-law Scott and Lily the patterdale terrier. A keen follower of sport, Mr Cutland still plays the occasional game of cricket and follows the fortunes of West Ham United and Surrey County Cricket Club with interest.
Looking to the future, Mr Cutland, who was Assistant Chief Probation Officer for 20 years before taking over from his predecessor Brian Heath MBE, says he is hoping to continue the effective work of the Probation Service.
“I am hoping to develop our work with children, young people and families,” he says. “We are also working with the prison to provide some additional joint interventions.
“Ultimately I want to reduce reconvictions for our clients but also contribute towards a safer society.”