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Northumbria Probation Area

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About the board

Northumbria Probation Board is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of probation services within Northumbria, working within the national framework determined by the Secretary of State for Justice.

The board comprises 8 members, including the appointed chair, chief officer, crown court judge and other non-executive members. Members are recruited from local communities and bring with them a range of skills coupled with a broad range of experience from the public, private and voluntary & community sectors. The board is accountable to the Secretary of State and the Director of Probation at the National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

The board has a particular role in ensuring that local probation services represent good value for money and that high performance standards are met. The board is also the employer for our 700 staff.

Board Members

Lesley Bessant Lesley is the Chair of the Board. Her background has been spent almost entirely in the public sector, and most of it in local government. She spent seven years with Newcastle City Council and then moved to Gateshead Council, as Assistant Chief Executive, helping to develop the council's response to the government's improvement agenda, she remained there until she retired last year. She has also worked as a policy advisor to the police authority, giving her some insight into the complexities of the criminal justice system.
 Pauline Williamson As Chief Officer, Pauline is responsible for the overall operational and strategic direction of the area. She has fulfilled a number of senior management roles within the probation service. She previously worked in Cumbria Probation Area as Assistant Chief Officer from 1992, moving to Northumbria as Director of Human Resources in 1995. She was Deputy Chief Officer and Acting Chief Officer before she was appointed in 2005 as Chief Officer.  
Her Honour Judge Bolton Her Honour Judge Bolton is a circuit Judge who sits on the North Eastern Circuit.
Alison Clark Alison is an independent member of the parole board. A qualified solicitor, she worked for many years with the Crown Prosecution Service in County Durham and later became a business manager in a local hospital. As well as her board responsibilities, Alison has been appointed to the local joint committee and deputises for Heidi Douglas in her work with the voluntary managed approved premises in Northumbria.
Richard Dobson Richard is managing director of SDC Partnerships Ltd. Working first in HR management in the NHS, he became director of HR for Mersey Regional Health Authority and then head of HR for Northern Rock. For the last 20 years he has been a management consultant, with 14 years as managing director of a consulting practice which serves clients in both private and public sectors throughout the UK and Europe. His expertise includes people and organisational development, organisational change and performance management. He is also a magistrate for South East Northumberland and has served as a non-executive director for Northgate and Prudhoe NHS Trust. As part of his role as board member he sits on the local joint committee and serious further offence review committee.
Heidi Douglas  Heidi is the director of a local voluntary sector service called Streetwise which provides sexual health, mental health and drugs and alcohol services to over 6,500 young people each year. Heidi has a keen interest in research, in particular learning from what works, she has been involved in national research projects on self-harm, exiting young people from prostitution and another on community based mental health provision.
Janet Guy Janet is an independent member of Northumbria Police Authority and a lead member for diversity. She is a qualified solicitor, who practiced in Northumberland and Tyneside in the areas of criminal and family law, as well as in wills, probate and trusts. She was a non-executive director of Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland Mental Health NHS Trust. She has been a school governor and worked with charities such as CAB, a medical research charity and hospice. She chairs the audit committee in addition to her board duties.
Pam Walker Pam is a project manager for the Spiral Skills Advocacy Project. She began work with young offenders in the Youth Justice System, eventually leading the Youth Justice Team. Later having moved to the voluntary sector, she developed expertise in the commissioning and delivery of contracts and Service Level Agreements with the public sector. She has been a member of the board for over three years and brings to her position not only the expertise she gained in the voluntary sector but also an understanding of the complexities of the justice system.

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