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53 How. J. Crim. Just. 1 (2014)

handle is hein.journals/hjcj53 and id is 1 raw text is: 




The Howard journal Vol 53 No 1. February 2014       DOI: 10.1111/hojo.12035
ISSN 0265-5527, pp. 1-15




              A   Future for Probation?


                          JOHN DEERING
 Senior Lecturer in Criminology and Criminal justice, School of Humanities
               and Social Sciences, University of South Wales


Abstract: The probation service in England and Wales faces what is the greatest
challenge in its history. It is currently facing a future which is being shaped by four
competing and differing forces: its current case management approach as influenced by
moves to more law-enforcement practices; theories of desistance; new developments in
offender engagement; and the emergence of Payment by Results (PbR). The article
considers each of these influences and discusses how important they may be to the future
of probation practice, concluding that the future of the service may be unrecognisable
from anything that has gone before.

Keywords:   probation; future; practice; competition


Over  the past 20 to 30 years, the probation service in England and Wales
has  been under  constant pressure  from government   to change  both its
culture and  practices. It has always pragmatically adapted or conformed
(Senior, Crowther-Dowey and Long 2007) whilst managing to retain a
measure   of its original identity, although some have argued that it has
moved   so far from its original core purposes that it, in effect, no longer
exists (Mantle  2006). However,  due  to recent  theoretical and political
developments,   it may  be faced with  its greatest challenge yet. Can it
reconcile the  'rehabilitation revolution' and Payment by  Results (PbR),
contestability, market  models   and  offender  'management' with the
growing  recognition  of the importance  of a professional relationship to
effective probation practice? What might  be the challenges presented by
the  emergence  of desistance theories, which  emphasise  a collaborative
approach  to supervision, rather than the more directive, law-enforcement
approaches  of recent decades?
   This article sets out a brief history of the service, then examines what I
consider  to be the various political, theoretical and practice influences
operating  on it at the moment  (above) arguing that these are ultimately
irreconcilable. Following this, I conclude that the future of the service is
'unknowable'  at present but is highly unlikely to resemble the status quo.
The  central argument  presented  is that whilst some current professional
developments   hold out the hope of a continuing humanistic practice, the
current  intentions of the coalition government for the service suggest a

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0 2013 The Author
The Howard Journal of Criminaljustice C 2013 The Howard League and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Published by John Wiley & Sons LId, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK

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