Probation in England: a culture in a state of flux

Conference item


Teague, Michael 2015. Probation in England: a culture in a state of flux. American Society of Criminology.
AuthorsTeague, Michael
Abstract

This paper focuses on probation culture in England, and the practitioner's construction of frontline probation practice. After 108 years as a public sector agency, probation in England is being fundamentally remodelled by a radical shift to privatisation. A process of ideologically-driven marketisation is transforming the community justice system into a competitive market place. This shift reflects the neoliberal political, social and economic forces shaping probation policy and practice. A concomitant cultural shift is being engendered as the last vestiges of the social welfarist ethos which underpinned intervention are apparently subsumed under a discourse focused on compliance, enforcement, actuarial risk assessment, and managerialism. A range of frontline probation practitioners are interviewed. Insight is gained into their understanding of punishment and rehabilitation. Probation’s cultural shift away from a model rooted in social welfarism, towards its re-framing as an agency which is altogether more punitive, is analysed. Despite the official depiction of probation as revolving around the fulcrum of enforcement, frontline practitioners adhered to their conception of the Probation Service as an agency in which the primacy of rehabilitation was fundamental; punishment was not viewed as a priority. Despite the multiple pressures, frontline practice has not, overall, been fundamentally redrawn.

This paper focuses on probation culture in England, and the practitioner's construction of frontline probation practice. After 108 years as a public sector agency, probation in England is being fundamentally remodelled by a radical shift to privatisation. A process of ideologically-driven marketisation is transforming the community justice system into a competitive market place. This shift reflects the neoliberal political, social and economic forces shaping probation policy and practice. A concomitant cultural shift is being engendered as the last vestiges of the social welfarist ethos which underpinned intervention are apparently subsumed under a discourse focused on compliance, enforcement, actuarial risk assessment, and managerialism.
A range of frontline probation practitioners are interviewed. Insight is gained into their understanding of punishment and rehabilitation. Probation’s cultural shift away from a model rooted in social welfarism, towards its re-framing as an agency which is altogether more punitive, is analysed. Despite the official depiction of probation as revolving around the fulcrum of enforcement, frontline practitioners adhered to their conception of the Probation Service as an agency in which the primacy of rehabilitation was fundamental; punishment was not viewed as a priority. Despite the multiple pressures, frontline practice has not, overall, been fundamentally redrawn.

Keywordsprobation; occupational cultures
Year2015
PublisherAmerican Society of Criminology
Web address (URL)http://hdl.handle.net/10545/608634
hdl:10545/608634
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Open
Publication datesNov 2015
Publication process dates
Deposited08 May 2016, 16:13
ContributorsUniversity of Derby
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/931xy/probation-in-england-a-culture-in-a-state-of-flux

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