Criminology, probation and stuff

Some musings on criminology with a focus on probation

Resources in the CJS

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I was reading Nic Groombridge’s post about the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies report `Criminal justice resources staffing and workload’ and it reminded me of a comment by a Senior Probation Officer the other day in which he said that ‘probation is fraught’ because of probation officers having to cope with caseloads of 80 and more.

How can probation officers work with so many people and actually achieve anything productive? I would guess that probation officers ‘cope’ by asking their lower risk offenders to report to the office but not actually meet with their officer for a supervisions session. This is probably despite the fact that a supervision order is a requirement of the offender’s community order. The use of groupwork sessions probably does compensate for some of this ‘lost contact’ due to high caseloads but groupwork should not be a substitute for one-to-one work. Surely funding cuts in probation will only lead to higher caseloads and less effective work which in turn will lead to yet more cries that probation doesn’t work and that it is a soft option. In 1999 Jack Straw, then Home Secretary, said ‘criminals regarded community sentences as a soft option because probation officials were failing to enforce punishments rigorously’ (Guardian). If probation staff are overworked, they are less likely to be able to enforce the punishments that they are supposed to be enforcing never mind actually being able to do something to help people desist from offending in the long term.

I therefore urge all who are able, to do something for justice week in order to avoid probation staff (in fact, all public sector staff) being overly overworked in order to set them up for another haranguing in the press. See here or here for more details on justice week.


Written by criminologyandstuff

December 9, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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