Saffas in Uniform: Jerome Luca

Saffas in Uniform: Jerome Lucas | Senior Probation Officer

Understanding what triggers wrongdoing and how to help offenders change their lives is at the heart of Jerome’s field, which is a blend of, among others, social work, criminology, law, psychology.

Saffas in Uniform: Jerome Luca


Jerome Lucas is a senior probation officer for London Probation Trust ( , @LondonProbation working in a lower-income area of London).

How long have you been in the UK?

Since 2002. About 70% of my friends are still here – but, when I first arrived, there were always new South Africans arriving on a regular basis. Now, new arrivals seem rarer. .


Where do you work?

I’m working in Barking, Dagenham and Havering. You have a lot of issues in these areas – unemployment, poverty; it’s quite a challenge.

What is your rank and service?

For the last nine years, I’ve been a Senior Probation Officer with the London Probation Trust. We fall under the UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ).


What does your job entail?

I manage a team of Probation Officers in Barking,  Dagenham and Havering boroughs. Our main function is to try to reduce re-offending and so make London safer by changing lives.

Together with other criminal justice agencies, such as the police, prisons and courts, we protect the public.  Probation staff are skilled and experienced and  work directly with offenders to tackle the causes of their offending behaviour, enabling them to turn their lives around and, where possible, rehabilitating them back into the community.

We also advise courts’ on sentencing. So, for example, if a person is found guilty, we provide the court with a Pre-Sentence Report outlining the personal circumstances of the offender, his risk of harm and re-offending,  and a suitable sentence. We use a tool called the Offender Assessment Tool (OASys) to assess the offender’s risk of harm and the likelihood of re-offending and to create an appropriate sentence plan. We’re also responsible for managing community sentences and prisoners that are released on licence (parole in South Africa).


How does one enter the field?

Probation is quite a specialised field. One entry route to becoming a Probation Officer is to take an Honours Degree in Community Justice, Criminology, Community Justice, Police Studies or the Vocational Qualification Diploma in Probation Practice Level 5.


Did you find that your qualifications were automatically accepted in the UK? Was there a re- accreditation process?

I had to obtain a letter from the English Social Work board, but there was no re-accreditation process. However London Probation had a structured induction programme that helped me to settle into my post. I did most of my training in South Africa. My first degree was in social work and one of my majors were psychology, then I studied the B Proc degree (Law degree)  and completed the legal practice school.

In South Africa I was the acting head of social work at Pollsmoor Prison and was responsible for all the social work staff both inside the prison and outside in local Community Corrections Offices.  A local agency recruited me to work for London Probation Trust. When  I was recruited I found that in the UK, South African social workers were highly valued because of the fact that we are qualified as generic social workers meaning we can work across a variety of fields.


If your were PM for a day, what would you change to make your job safer/easier/more effective?

I would encourage local, regional and national multi-agency work across the whole country in the public and non-profit sector. Multi-agency work requires agencies to work together. One example is the Integrated Offender Management system (IOM);  a framework that brings all agencies together in local areas to prioritise interventions with offenders causing crime in their community. Another example is Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) – arrangements in England and Wales for those “responsible authorities” tasked with the management of registered sex offenders, violent and other types of sexual offenders, and offenders who pose a serious risk of harm to the public.

The multi-agency approach requires reliable and  integrated IT systems. There is already movement towards integrating IT systems so that departments can talk to each other. Multi-agency work is thought to be expensive, but in fact it’s a cheap option, because it saves time and money in the long run

I would also invest more in research to find effective ways to reduce re-offending and risk of harm people before and after they enter the criminal justice system.


Do you see offenders in the field, in the community?

In the past 2 or 3 years, there has been a drive to move out of the office into the field – home visits are encouraged. We do a lot of multi-agency work where we find that other agencies is needed to address the triggers of crime, we liaise with those agencies like Drug/Alcohol agencies, Police, Housing, Employment, Training, Mental health, Social Services, etc. This is especially true with offenders that have complex needs, persistent and prolific offenders and troubled families. We pool our skills, information, resources and expertise together to change lives.


What was your most rewarding day at work, ever?

One of my responsibilities is to develop staff to become confident experts in their fields. They are faced with offenders that can present very complex needs and issues. Every day, I enjoy seeing my staff develop and make a difference to the lives of offenders and their families.