Probation a ‘life changing’ experience for Paul

Paul was arrested after pulling a kitchen knife on his partner and threatening to kill her, but probation has helped him quit the bottle and transform his life.

The 30-year-old is being supervised on a two-year Suspended Sentence Order and had to complete 330 hours Community Payback. As part of his sentence, he took part in the Building Better Relationships (BBR) accredited programme, delivered by the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company (CGM CRC), and this has had a profound impact on him.

The father-of-four has previous convictions for domestic abuse and was barred from seeing all of his children. His current offence occurred after he threatened to kill his partner as a drunken row with her got out of control.

Paul was arrested two-days after the offence and remanded in custody until being sentenced. He is supervised by the National Probation Service.

He said: “I was devastated when I got arrested. I had no idea that she’d called the police. I pleaded guilty straight away, but the penny still hadn’t dropped about my behaviour.

“I’d had a set to with the missus after drinking too much. We’d been going through a bad patch for a while and I picked up a kitchen knife and threatened to kill her.

“I had never taken responsibility for my actions. I’d do something bad and then just don’t think about it. I’d behaved like that for years, thinking I was always in the right.”

Jail gave Paul time to reflect.

He said: “I was sorry for all the hurt I’d caused, and I felt very guilty. I knew something had to change.

“For all of my life I’d thought other people were the problem, but I was beginning to understand that the common thread through all of this was me.”

BBR is an intensive course that consists of 30 sessions including group work and one-to-one training. It aims to help men break the cycle of harmful behaviour and develop better relationships with their families and society. Ultimately it helps people stop reoffending.

Paul said: “The course took me a while to get to grips with. I hated the criticism. But I got talking to my probation officer and she said ‘is this really how you want to live? You are the only person who can make change happen’.

“What she said really struck home. I cannot see my own children. The issue was me. I’d lost other relationships too, ones with mates, because I’d escalated stuff while drunk.

“During lockdown when I had time to think I finally said it out loud, ‘I’m the problem’. And I felt much better.”

Paul quit alcohol 16 months ago and started to think deeply about how others perceived him.

He said: “I’m trying to prove to old friends I’d lost and ex-partners who I’d hurt that I’m different. I feel so much better for having stopped drinking, both mentally and physically.

“I left home at 17. My dad used to beat me, my childhood wasn’t great. In hindsight I’d used that as an excuse and I now realise I need to leave that all behind.

“When I started probation I was angry and thought it’d be a waste of time. But it’s ended up changing my life and I can’t thank Fiona and my probation officer enough for that.”

Paul can now have supervised contact with two of his children and is working on building trust back with his ex-partners.

Fiona said: “It was a very serious offence and he’d had years of behaving badly, but he has genuinely reflected on that for a long-time and has changed on a deep level.

“Not everyone is able to do that and it’s to Paul’s immense credit that he has taken onboard the life skills that BBR embraces and is applying them on a daily basis.

“He is now far more thoughtful about how he behaves with other people and that means he’s a better dad, friend and potential partner – I am proud of his progress.”

*Paul is not his real name.