Towards a desistance-focused approach to probation supervision for people who have committed Intimate Partner Violence: A digital toolkit pilot study

AuthorSteven James Watson,Melissa Fuller,Andreea Antonia Raducu,Sarah Wylie,Jason Morris
Published date01 June 2021
Date01 June 2021
Subject MatterArticles
Towards a desistance-
focused approach to
probation supervision
for people who have
committed Intimate
Partner Violence: A digital
toolkit pilot study
Jason Morris
HM Prisons and Probation Service, UK
Andreea Antonia Raducu and Melissa Fuller
University of Newcastle, UK
Sarah Wylie
HM Prisons and Probation Service, UK
Steven James Watson
University of Twente, The Netherlands
We analyse practitioner and service user reflections on a digitally enabled toolkit
designed to enable desistance-focused conversations within routine probation
supervision of men with convictions for Intimate Partner Violence in England and
Wales. We explore how to embed inclusive therapeutic service provision within the
role of public sector National Probation Service practitioners through the testimony of
case managers (N ¼9) and people on probation (N ¼7). We discuss the strengths
Corresponding Author:
Jason Morris, HM Prison and Probation Service, Interventions Service, Southern House, London SW1H
9EX, UK.
Probation Journal
2021, Vol. 68(2) 261–281
ªThe Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/02645505211002257
The Journal of Community and Criminal Justice
and challenges of the approach and its implementation. The findings are discussed in
the context of: the forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill; the renationalisation of probation;
the recovery of probation services following the COVID-19 pandemic; and the
emergence of technology that supports desistance.
intimate partner violence (IPV), digital media, probation, supervision, desistance-
focused practice
This article centres on Domestic Abuse as a public health concern of global sig-
nificance (WHO, 2005). We also w rite within the broader context of ‘Digital Justice’
and aim to align with Nellis’ (2017) assertion that the ‘design, rhetoric and imple-
mentation’ of digital applications in criminal justice should be open to scrutiny of the
wider academiccommunity. To this end,the current paper promotesan open learning
culture (a key strategicaim of HMPPS) through collaboration betweenmembers of that
community, service designers, practitioners and people on probation.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales (ONS, 2019) shows that in the year
ending March 2019, the police recorded 746,219 domestic abuse-related crimes
and made 214,965 arrests. In the same year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
charged 98,470 cases flagged as domestic abuse. With tens of thousands of
people entering the criminal justice system every year convicted of domestic abuse
offences, efforts to minimise reoffending remains a priority policy area in prisons
and probation settings. In this context the ‘What Works’ agenda (e.g., Lipsey and
Cullen, 2007) offers empirical research that supports the role of behaviour change
interventions in reducing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) recidivism (e.g., Bloomfield
and Dixon, 2015). In keeping with research, policy frameworks have consistently
encouraged people who meet specific risk, need and responsivity criteria to par-
ticipate in interventions accredited by the Correctional Services Accreditation &
Advice Panel (CSAAP; see Maguire et al., 2010) such as the Building Better Rela-
tionships (BBR) programme. However, due to a range of factors (including pro-
gramme ineligibility) the vast majority of the criminal justice IPV cohort are unable to
complete an accredited programme (Gibbs, 2018).
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation (HMIP, 2018) review of services offered
by English and Welsh probation providers found an under-developed range of
specialist interventions with significant gaps in provision. HMIP also provided an
analysis of the availability and delivery of interventions in probation services and
called for more strategically designed interventions services that could support users
holistically through better integration between different interventions (HMIP, 2019).
Following the Domestic Abuse Bill consultation in 2018, Her Majesty’s Govern-
ment’s formal response provided a range of commitments to improve access to a
range of quality accredited and non-accredited interventions (HM Government,
2019). Notably, the Ministry of Justice made a commitment to testing the viability of
262 Probation Journal 68(2)

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