Probation Journal

Sage Publications, Inc.
Publication date:

Latest documents

  • Probationary services in a pandemic. Results from an empirical study in Austria

    In March 2020 the first lockdown due to COVID-19 was imposed in Austria, forcing NEUSTART, the organisation providing probationary services, to adapt the way of interacting with their clients. An online survey was conducted examining how these changes affected the everyday work of the probation officers. Results indicated that they managed to stay in contact with their clients, although difficulties could be observed concerning specific groups. Further questions concerned areas such as domestic violence, strains due to the restrictions experienced as well as coping strategies used by the clients. Concerning the well-being of the probation officers, differences were found between residents of urban and rural areas respectively as well as between people living with or without children. The lack of personal contact with clients and colleagues proved to be the most important source of discomfort, while at the same time working from home entailed certain advantages.

  • Suspension of sentence
  • Aspects of violence and sexual harm
  • ‘Yes, I can hear you now …’ Online working with probationers in the Netherlands: New opportunities for the working alliance

    Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, online supervision has increased markedly, including within the Dutch probation services. In the present research, we systematically collected and analysed both clients and probation officers’ experiences of working online in the prior year. Although the clients were generally positive about remote supervision, some expressed that they missed the personal contact. According to most of the probation officers, remote working is flexible (efficient, saves time, travel costs), appropriate for certain phases of the probation process (especially at a later stage when a working alliance has been established) and particularly suitable for probationers with mild problems and low risk profiles. The general experience was that conversations are both more pragmatic and business-like, which, in turn, can produce both strengths and limitations. Once a foundation has been established, it appears to be possible to continue working remotely with clients, albeit the probation officers stressed that this depended on the type of client, type of offence and risk level.

  • States of exception? Criminal justice systems and the COVID response
  • ‘I don't like this job in my front room’: Practising probation in the COVID-19 pandemic

    The Exceptional Delivery Model for probation practice in England and Wales meant that probation practitioners predominantly worked from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, engaging and supervising service-users remotely. This article explores the impact of the Exceptional Delivery Model on staff and their practice. We begin by considering how probation practice changed because of the implementation of the Exceptional Delivery Model and the impact that this has had on probation staff. The reality of probation work is brought into perspective when there are children in the home and the demarcation of work and home life is easily blurred, especially when considered through the lens of ‘emotional dirty work’. We then present analysis of interviews with 61 practitioners and managers in the National Probation Service. The interviews were primarily focused on staff wellbeing and emotional labour as opposed to the impact of the pandemic, but participants regularly raised the pandemic in discussions. We focus on three key themes: the challenges of working from home and remote communication, experiences of managing risk through doorstep visits and the spill over of probation work into personal lives. The article concludes by considering what the findings tell us about probation work and potential future implications.

  • Pervasive punishment in a pandemic

    In this paper, we draw on data from a recent study of how Covid-19 and related restrictions impacted on vulnerable and/or marginalised populations in Scotland (Armstrong and Pickering, 2020), including justice-affected people (i.e. people in prison and under supervision, their families and those that work with them; see Gormley et al., 2020). Focusing here mainly on interviews with people released from prison and others under community-based criminal justice supervision, we explore how the pandemic impacted on their experiences. Reflecting upon and refining previous analyses of how supervision is experienced as ‘pervasive punishment’ ( McNeill, 2019), we suggest that both the pandemic and public health measures associated with its suppression have changed the ‘pains’ and ‘gains’ of supervision ( Hayes, 2015), in particular, by exacerbating the ‘suspension’ associated with it. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for the pursuit of justice in the recovery from Covid-19.

  • Miscellany of sentencing issues
  • Putting a face to a name: Telephone contact as part of a blended approach to probation supervision

    This article is about the experience of telephone supervision from the perspective of practitioners. It is set in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which changed and challenged the nature of probation supervision and required service users and supervisors to communicate remotely, using the telephone, rather than by meeting face-to-face. The article explores some of the impacts and consequences of telephone contact and examines the extent to which this approach has a part to play in future, post-pandemic, ways of working. The article draws on findings from a research project examining remote supervision practice during the pandemic. Fieldwork (comprising an online survey and a series of semi-structured interviews) was conducted between July and September 2020 in three divisions within an English community rehabilitation company. The article reinforces the importance of face-to-face work in probation practice but suggests that there is scope to retain some use of telephone supervision as part of a future blended practice model. Further thinking about telephone supervision might consider these three themes identified in the research: remote working limits the sensory dimension of supervision, relationships remain at the heart of practice, and good practice requires professional discretion.

  • ‘Lockdown's changed everything’: Mothering adult children in prison in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic

    The COVID-19 pandemic occurred at a time when families of prisoners were gaining visibility in both academia and policy. Research exploring the experiences of families of prison residents has tended to focus on intimate partners and children, despite parents of those in prison being more likely than partners or children to maintain contact. The small body of work focusing on parents has identified their continued care for their children and highlights the burden of providing this care. With the ethics of care posing an ideological expectation on women to provide familial care, the care for adult children in custody is likely to fall to mothers. However, with restricted prison regimes, the pandemic has significantly impeded mothers’ ability to provide this ‘care’. Adopting a qualitative methodology, this paper explores the accounts of mothers to adult children in custody during the pandemic across two UK prison systems, England and Wales, and Scotland; exploring the negotiation of mothering in the context of imprisonment and the pandemic and highlighting important lessons for policy and practice.

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