Probation officer unfairly dismissed after accusation of abuse

A probation officer has won her case of unfair dismissal after being accused of developing an abusive and controlling relationship with a former offender.

Julia Hyland had worked as a probation officer for the Greater Manchester Probation Service since 1998.

She was given the role of senior case manager for an individual referred to only as the Service User (SU) who had an 18-month community order following an incident of domestic assault involving his then partner. 

After some time, SU alleged that Hyland had acted inappropriately in her role.

He made several claims, including that he had been allowed to stay over at her house, she had loaned him money, and she had been sending him pictures of herself and her family. 

He also said that Hyland grew marijuana in her house, and they had smoked it together, and on one occasion she had got into bed with him late at night. 

SU claimed he had been harassed by Hyland’s nephews and believed his life was in danger.

Hyland dismissed the allegations as “unbelievable” and “utter nonsense” but was suspended from work.

An investigation took place with SU backing up his claims with photos of the inside of Hyland’s home, and messages on his phone.

Hyland claimed these images were obtained from the internet, and the messages had been faked. The police searched her home and found no traces of marijuana.

The investigation decided that there was enough evidence to support SU’s allegations. Hyland was dismissed for having “failed to uphold the professional standards and breached boundaries expected of an offender manager.”

However, Employment Judge Sherratt said the investigation was flawed in that it had accepted SU’s accusations at face value and made no effort to verify Hyland’s explanations and defence.

He said Hyland’s livelihood was on the line, and there should have been a thorough assessment to verify the information provided. He said: “There seems to have been a blanket acceptance that anything said by SU was accurate.” 

Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company was ordered to make a basic award to Hyland of £12,225, a compensatory award of £39,927 and compensation for wrongful dismissal in the sum of £5,335.

Case details

Employment Tribunal
Miss J Hyland v Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company Ltd

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