Handbook of Probation

Handbook of Probation

Handbook of Probation

Handbook of Probation


This Handbookprovides a comprehensive, authoritative and up-to-date source of information and analysis about all aspects of the work of the Probation Service.

It takes full account of the many changes that the Probation Service has undergone over the last few years, and is currently undergoing as probation becomes part of the broader National Offender Management Service. Contributors to the book are drawn from leading academics and practitioners in the field, drawing upon the best expertise available. Running through the book is a concern with a range of key current issues such as addressing the diversity of offenders and creating effective links with other criminal justice agencies, and it includes perspectives from both probation service staff and from offenders and victims.

This book is an essential text for practitioners, trainees and students of probation and those studying it as part of a wider criminology or criminal justice course.


I was very pleased to be invited to contribute to this book and I warmly welcome its publication. I am particularly glad to have the opportunity to reaffirm my appreciation for all that the Probation Service has achieved over the past hundred years and continues to deliver today. I see this centenary year as a milestone and not – as some have claimed – as a headstone.

The National Offender Management Service is making changes to the system for dealing with offenders. We were set up as a result of Lord Carter’s 2003 report Managing Offenders, Reducing Crime, and before that the 2002 Social Exclusion Unit report Reducing Re-offending by Ex-prisoners. At the heart of our package of reform is offender management. One person responsible for the offender throughout their sentence, ensuring the courts get the information they need, the right sentence plan is constructed and delivered and the most effective interventions are made both in custody and in the community. Already more than 200,000 offenders either are or have been subject to the new arrangements, which build on and extend the traditional role of the probation officer.

And probation will continue to be at the centre of the new system. We are aiming to establish a more diverse system involving the third and private sectors more, playing to the strengths of each. In practice however we envisage that public sector probation staff will be the offender managers – providing of course they can do this to the right standards, and I believe they can, particularly if we support them. We are also likely to look to probation trusts to be the main holders of contracts within local areas and to take forward their liaison and partnership roles with sentencers and local authorities. We very much recognise the professional skills and expertise of probation officers and want them to deliver what they do best. They are the local arm of our new system and an important part of the overall structure of delivery and accountability.

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