Probation and COVID-19: Lessons learned to improve health-related practice

AuthorPhilip Mullen,Helen Nichols,Coral Sirdfield
Published date01 June 2022
Date01 June 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Probation and
COVID-19: Lessons
learned to improve
health-related practice
Coral Sirdf‌ield
University of Lincoln, UK
Helen Nichols
University of Lincoln, UK
Philip Mullen
Revolving Doors Agency, UK
Probation staff perform a health-related role involving identifying health-related dri-
vers of offending behaviour; facilitating access to support for these, including continu-
ity of care for people leaving prison; and advising the courts on appropriate
sentencing. This study analyses data from probation staff surveys and interviews
with people that were under probation supervision during the pandemic to investigate
the impact of the response to the pandemic on a) this health-related role, b) the lived
experience of accessing health support whilst engaging with probation, and c) part-
nership working and pathways into healthcare for people under probation
probation, COVID-19, pandemic, health, criminal justice system, rehabilitation,
qualitative research
Corresponding Author:
Dr Coral Sirdf‌ield, University of Lincoln, School of Health and Social Care, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, LN67TS,
United Kingdom.
Email: c.sirdf‌
Article The Journal of Communit
and Criminal Justice
Probation Journal
2022, Vol. 69(2) 216234
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/02645505221087980
The National Probation Service (NPS) Health and Social Care Strategy 20192022
details a health-related role for probation staff that is summarised in Figure 1
(HMPPS and NPS, 2019). Much of this role is performed in partnership with other
agencies, with the exact nature of partnerships varying across probation regions.
NHS England is currently piloting a care after custodyservice called
RECONNECTto improve continuity of care for prison leavers. NPS staff are
expected to engage with this service (HMPPS and NPS, 2019; NHS England,
2019). Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) staff performed a similar role
before the reunif‌ication of probation.
When compared to the general population, people under probation supervision
have relatively poor health with high rates of drug and alcohol misuse, mental
illness, suicide and suicidal ideation and smoking (Brooker et al., 2012; Geelan
et al., 2000; Mair and May, 1997; HMPPS and NPS, 2019; Newbury-Birch
et al., 2009; Pari et al., 2012; Phillips et al., 2018; Sirdif‌ield, 2012). A health
needs assessment of 183 people on probation in England reported that:
almost half of the sample were identif‌ied at risk of alcohol abuse or dependence while
39 per centwas at risk of substance misuse. Over four-f‌ifths (83%) of the sample
smoked tobacco and 13 per cent had been treated for a sexually transmitted infection;
all these rates markedly exceed those found amongst the general population(Brooker
et al., 2009: 49).
Weighted prevalence f‌igures from a study of a stratif‌ied random sample of
people on probation in one region of England showed that almost 39% had a
current mental illness (Brooker et al., 2012). Here, the overall rate of personality dis-
order was 47.4% compared to 13.7% in the general population (McManus et al.,
2016). The rate of suicide amongst people under supervision is 8.67 times higher
than that in the general population (Philips et al., 2018). Improving this populations
Figure 1. Summary of probations health-related role.
Sirdf‌ield et al. 217

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT