Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Chair opens Probation’s new office in Sperrin Centre

At the official opening of the Omagh Probation office was Hugh Hamill, Probation Director of Operations, Vilma Patterson, Probation Chairman, Cllr Howard Thornton, Chair Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Paul Devlin, Probation Area Manager Omagh, Cllr Alan Rainey, Fermanagh and Omagh PCSP Chair, and Cheryl Lamont, Probation CEO.

Today, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Cllr Howard Thornton, officially opened the new office for Probation. The new office is located in the Sperrin Centre along with other Justice partner organisations such as the Youth Justice Agency.

Probation supervises a number of people on community sentences within the Omagh area to guide their rehabilitation and reintegration back into the community.   A community sentence can include unpaid work as part of the conditions they have to fulfill, and victims may also have a say in what work is to be carried out.

Speaking at the opening of the new office, the Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Cllr Howard Thornton, said:

“The Probation service has been part of the community in Omagh for almost 40 years and in that time has had an important role to play in making Omagh safer. I am delighted that the well-established link is continuing with the move to these modern offices. The location of other justice partner organisations on the same premises will also undoubtedly be beneficial to the work of the Probation Board.  Through the Probation Board’s representation on Fermanagh and Omagh Policing and Community Safety Partnership, a link also exists with Councillors locally and provides an informal pathway when issues arise locally.”

Probation Chief Executive, Cheryl Lamont, emphasised her support for the community focused work carried out by local Probation staff:

“Every year, Probation delivers reports for courts, supervises orders and licences and provides victims of crime with a service through the victim information scheme.  We know and can evidence that through our work fewer people go on to reoffend. This is the sort of work that the Omagh office carries out with our Justice partners, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Youth Justice Agency, Judiciary, and Social Services. We also work very closely with community based organisations like Barnardos, NIACRO, Drop Inn Ministries, and others”

Probation Board Chairman, Vilma Patterson MBE, highlighted the importance of engagement with local communities and stated that community involvement was ‘key’ to helping PBNI deliver its strategic plans for safer communities more effectively. Speaking at the office opening Ms Patterson said;

“Through its Corporate Plan and Business Plans, Probation has identified areas of work including tackling domestic violence, dealing with addictions and poor mental health and working with partners to protect the most vulnerable in society.  It is encouraging to hear some of the practical ways Probation here in Omagh are working to tackle these issues. It is important that the strategic priorities are delivered in a tangible way on the ground.”.