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8 Eur. J. Probation 3 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/eurjp8 and id is 1 raw text is: 



Article                                                                EJP

                                                              European Journal of Probation
                                                                    2016, Vol. 8(I) 3-15
'A   difficult trip, I think':                                      The Author(s) 2016
                                                                 Reprints and permissions:
The     end    days of the         probation            sagepub.co.ujournasPermnissi .nav
                                                           DOI: 10.1177/2066220316637389
service      in   England       and     W   ales?                      ejp.sagepub.co
                                                                        OSAGE



George Mair
Liverpool Hope University, UK




Abstract
The probation service has been a key part of the criminal justice process for more than
100 years. It deals with more offenders than the prison service; it is more successful
than prison in terms of reconviction rates, and it is considerably cheaper than prison.
Its advantages as a court sentence seem to be only too clear. Yet, prison remains the
gold standard for punishment in England and Wales while the probation service is facing
a bleak future. How has it come about that the existence of probation is now under
serious threat? That a vital public service is faced with extinction? This article explores
the issues that have led to the possibility that probation's days are numbered.


Keywords
Criminal justice policy, probation service, public sector decline



Introduction

Just over 10 years ago, between November 2000 and June 2002, I interviewed 47 Chief
Probation Officers (CPOs) as part of an ESRC-funded project that aimed to explore the
role of CPOs as managers, their social and educational backgrounds, their attitudes and
views about the probation service, and their perceptions with regard to community sen-
tences. In concluding the interviews, I asked for their views about the future of the
service and, despite the fact that there was a feeling that probation had been on the
receiving end of rather too many initiatives recently, and that perhaps the most signifi-
cant- the creation of a National Probation Service - was hardly underway (and thus its
full implications remained unclear), respondents were generally surprisingly optimistic.
They wanted the service to become a fully recognised player in the criminal justice


Corresponding author:
George Mair, Professor of Criminal Justice, Liverpool Hope University, Hope Park, Liverpool, LI 6 9JD, UK.
Email: mairg@hope.ac.uk

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