ALEXANDRA Naughton had an interest in criminology, and the reasons people break the law, long before she decided to become a probation officer.

Her curiosity and work for a criminal justice charity led her into the profession five years ago, and she has not regretted her decision.

Alexandra spoke as part of a recruitment drive by HM Prison and Probation Service in south Essex, underlining the importance of her role and others like it.

The 31-year-old enjoys being able to see a change in people as they start to rebuild their lives.

“Working with people through their criminal justice journey, both in the community and in prison, is a great privilege. Being able to see the change in people as they startto rebuild their lives is incredibly meaningful,” she said.

“The most positive aspect of my job is seeing people turn their lives around and do things they never thought they could. I have people I have supported to get a job, sometimes people who are in their fifties, and it is the first time they have found employment. It’s very rewarding.”

Alexandra believes there are some misconceptions about the role and the daily experiences of working with people who have had community orders and have been released from prison.

“Some people may think I must be around horrible people all day and it’s a really hard job, but I believe that if you go in with an open mind and talk to people they appreciate it,” she said.

“There are some challenging times - we are not made of stone. I have found my supportive colleagues help me through any times I have had challenges and I do the same for them.”

So, how did Alexandra get into this role?

“I have always been fascinated about crime and why people commit crime. I was volunteering for a criminal justice charity, helping people find employment, when I first came into contact with a probation officer,” she said.

“The next step was to become a probation service officer working with low-level criminals.

Then I decided to train as a probation officer and completed the trainee probation officer programme.There’s not really a job like this one, it can be tough, but it can also be surprisingly joyful and sometimes very moving too.”

Alexandra said the most important trait needed is curiosity and an open mind, adding: “If you’re non-judgemental, kind and thoughtful about others, you’re halfway there!"