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45 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2006)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj45 and id is 1 raw text is: 



The Howard Journal Vol 45 No 1. February 2006
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-13




         Some Personal Reflections on

                   Probation Training


                        JAMES TREADWELL
  Lecturer in Criminal justice, University of Central England, Birmingham


Abstract: This research draws upon the author's personal experiences and the comments
of his former colleagues on their perception of undertaking the Diploma in Probation
Studies (DipPS)  in the Midlands  Region.  This relatively recently established
qualification, undertaken in order to be eligible to work as a probation officer in
England  and Wales, has created substantial discourse due to its break with social work
traditions. This research was undertaken over a two-year period and intends to provide
'consumer' comment on the training and examines the perceptions of trainee probation
officers (TPOs) on the suitability of these training arrangements. The author argues that
whilst the intention of the programme was not to create an unquestioning 'enforcement'
driven mentality, a number of trainees adopted just that. The article suggests that this is
due to the tension created by a perceived disparity between the needs of the organisation
and the demands of the university amongst the trainee group. This is reinforced by the
imbalance in delivery, between the vocational and academic components. The author's
view is that the current arrangements are too vocational in practice, and this is likely to
continue, given the move towards delivery of the academic component through 'distance
learning'. It argues that the future pre-qualifying arrangements need to retain a belief in
the value of academia and be delivered (at least in part) outside the employment setting.

This  study was primarily undertaken  as part of the research requirement
on  the Diploma  in Probation Studies (DipPS), but is used here to express a
personal   concern  with  the  direction that training  has  taken. I  was
employed   in the fourth cohort intake of trainee probation officers (TPOs)
in the West  Midlands  area  during September   2001.  Prior to this, I had
completed  both  undergraduate  and postgraduate  courses at the University
of Central England,  and  following my  qualification as a probation officer,
returned   to that institution as a  lecturer in criminal justice. Having
participated in the Diploma  programme, and having conducted research
into the perceptions and  'culture' of my TPO cohort, I felt that I occupied
a  strong position from  which  to offer some  personal reflections on my
experiences.
   When   I became   a trainee probation officer I was given access to the
service as  an employee   and  granted   the opportunity  to  conduct  this
research. This account is the product of what initially began as a participant
observation  study of my  colleagues (see Spradley  1980). The  study  also
draws  heavily upon comments   that they have made  whilst undertaking the

                                     1
 0 2006 The Author
journal compilation 0 2006 The Howard League
Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ UK

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