Putting SNOP in Perspective

Published date01 December 1987
AuthorPhilip Whitehead
Date01 December 1987
Subject MatterArticles
Putting SNOP in Perspective
Philip Whitehead
Research and Information Officer, Cleveland
The pressures and influences which lay behind the appearance of
the Statement of National Objectives and Priorities in April 1984.
Changing Service
In 1963 there were 94 probation areas
degree of consensus between successive Labour
employing some 2000 probation officers at an
and Conservative government’s concerning the
annual cost of approximately £4. ~~n. Caseloads
welfare state, full employment, Keynesian
largely comprised of probation supervision, in
economic management, corporatist incomes
addition to some borstal and statutory prison
policies and the notion of equality of opportunity.
after-care, and the whole the Service dealt with
However, a distinct shift occurred in 1970 under
juvenile and young offenders. By the 1980’s
Heath in relation to economic matters, and the
there were 56 Probation Services employing
issue of law and order, which culminated in a
nearly 6000 officers, inllddition to 5000 ancillary
discernible shift to the right m British politics
and other staff, undertaking greatly expanded
after the 1979 electron, signalling the end of the
responsibilities 4t a cost of around £150m per
post-ware consensus.
year. In a speech to the Central Council of
It can be argued that the break-up of consensus,
Probation Committees in May 1986, the Home
economic decline, the relationship between
Secretary said that since the Tories had come to
rising crime and socio-economic conditions, in
power in 1979, spending on the Service had
addition to a growing disenchantment with
increased by 38% in real terms, and that
treatment and public impatience with the
probation committees were expected to spend
apparent ineffectiveness of the criminal justice
~l9El~n in 19~f .
system to deal with crime, has culminated in a
Consequently, the Service is larger, employs
drift towards a law and order society.
more officers, and is more complex and
’On law and order the themes - more poiicing,
diversified than ever before in its history. Over
tougher sentencing, better family discipline, the
recent years it has been much more difficult to see
rising crime rate as an index of social disintegration,
the Service as a unified whole in the sense of
the threat to ordinary people going about their private
aiming to achieve a specific objective or goal,
business from thieves and muggers, the wave d
because of the multiplicity of criminal and civil
lawlessness and the loss of lawabidingness - are
tasks performed and also because of the collapse
perennuals of Conservative party conferences’2
of the rehabilitative ideal. The result has...

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