An Interview With Tomas Keenan Blair, Recruitment Consultant and Justice Team Leader

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Red Snapper Recruitment | Justice is launching a 2-day refresher training course for former probation sector professionals.

Tomas, the RSR Justice Team manager, has a well-developed understanding of the Justice sector after years of experience working within it. He explains the reasons behind starting this refresher course and outlines the ways in which we are hoping to tackle some of the staffing struggles within the sector.

  1. What are your main motivations behind Justice starting the course?

We have three primary motivations for starting this course. Firstly, we work in a candidate scarce market. Therefore, in order for us to widen the scope of candidates that we can recruit into the justice space, we need to upskill or refresh the knowledge of those who have previous experience in the field.

We often receive candidates that possess relevant experience, but this experience is regularly outdated and consequently lacks relevance. This is where the justice course comes into play, it provides an opportunity to update the knowledge of those looking to re-enter the space after some time off.

Secondly, we view ourselves as innovators. We are trying to offer a service that benefits both the candidate pool and those looking to employ. It also serves as a benefit to ourselves and other agencies by increasing the quality and availability of the probation sectors candidate pool and also displaying how we can add value for both clients and candidates through our ability to provide continuous professional development.

Thirdly we want to be a good corporate citizen.  The group, (the Red Snapper Group) has always had a very active corporate social responsibility (CSR) agenda.  Were very active contributors to charities such as Police Now amongst others.  By offering our refresher course for free and with no obligations on the training delegate or our employer customers, we recognise this initiative is unlikely to deliver a profitable outcome for the business. However, it will deliver positive outcomes for job seekers and hopefully the probation sector.

  1. How do you think the justice sector has changed over the recent years?


In 2014, the government privatised half of the criminal justice sector and sold the low risk probation service to various community rehabilitation companies. This was the largest privatisation of public services in the history of the United Kingdom. Consequently, there have been numerous changes within the probation service and the wider justice sector. This lead to a lot of practitioners leaving the service as they did not want to work within the private providers.

Our refresher programme will hopefully offer these leavers a pathway back into the probation service on both sides public and private.

  1. RSR |Justice has a lot of connections to the sector, what are the challenges you think the sector is currently facing?

The main challenge? the skills gap.

There is a finite amount of qualified practitioners and a massive demand across the service for both permanent and agency staff. Across the last two years, we have almost exhausted the candidate pool within the probation sector. We are now in a position where we need to think outside the box and start delivering innovative solutions to generate more qualified workers within the sector.

  1. What measures do you think should be in place to improve these issues?

With the skills gap being the main issue within this sector, there are a few ways in which we can bridge this gap.

To start, the probation service need to widen their entry level recruitment, allowing more spaces on their qualification courses. They should also consider overseas qualifications for example, some of the private providers consider qualified case managers from the probation and parole services in Australia. The Australian probation service is regarded as one of the most efficient and successful in the world.

By starting to do these two things, the probation service would be opening up the roles to a larger candidate pool and providing opportunities to those interested in starting a career in this sector but dont have the relevant experience or qualifications.

Click here for more information about our new refresher course.