Clemence Webb has always had an interest in the causes of criminal behaviour. This, coupled with her desire to make a difference to the lives of others led to her beginning her career working for Queensland Corrective Services’ (QCS) Probation and Parole Service in 2011.
Clem is one of approximately 670 Probation and Parole officers who work in offices and reporting centres across Queensland supervising 18,000 adult offenders who are serving community-based orders. These orders are issued by a court or, if an offender is released from a correctional centre, the Parole Board. The orders dictate a set of strict conditions which must be adhered to, and depending on the offender and their background, can include participation in drug and/or behavioural programs, community service hours, drug testing and/or regular reporting. The aim of the orders and the work of a Probation and Parole Officer is to encourage offenders to address their offending behaviour and make an effort to change.
A Forensic Science and Criminology graduate, Clem’s career with QCS has taken her across Queensland from the Gold Coast, to Brisbane and Thursday Island.
When discussing what an average day might look like for a Probation and Parole Officer, Clem talks about the dynamic nature of the role. “It is quite varied and typically involves supporting the regional team which might comprise of the regional manager, intelligence officer, district manager and supervisors. Some of my work has also involved identifying areas for improvement and implementing new projects,” said Clem.
Clem spoke of some of her most memorable experiences working with QCS and particularly recalled the challenges of acting as a District Manager on Thursday Island and travelling to various remote locations.
“It is a completely different world as very few offenders actually live where they can just come into the office, so you need to fly to do your reporting. The role and its responsibilities challenges you in every way in terms of how to manage the offenders due to the distance.”
Clem described Thursday Island as a fascinating experience which gave her the opportunity to understand the difficulties of working in a remote area while enjoying the stunning landscape.
Studying Forensic Science and Criminology at university led to Clem developing a strong interest in offender drug use and how it affects behaviour.
“I can understand the background as to why offenders commit crimes to fund their addiction because of the mechanisms and effects of certain drugs,” Clem said.
The detrimental cycle of drug abuse affects a significant portion of reporting offenders and can lead to further offending in other forms to support the addiction. Being able to have empathy for the offenders that she works with and their situations allows Clem to recognise when someone might need to be referred for specialised treatment. She is also able to assist them with managing their addictions and providing support.
Clem is currently working as Principal Advisor within QCS’s Operational Policy and Performance unit.
The Operational Policy and Performance team develops QCS strategy and policy, monitors agency level performance and external reporting, analyses offender data and evaluates key initiatives.
“This role is quite varied given it encompasses all areas of QCS. An average day could be preparing complex submissions and reports, briefing notes, presentations, publications and correspondence,” says Clem.
Clem hopes her justice journey will include gaining exposure across the other areas of QCS she hasn’t worked in.
“I enjoy having the opportunity to increase my knowledge and skill set. I want to continue to use my skills to ensure we are working towards achieving better outcomes for offenders whilst maintaining community safety.”
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