The Probation Service — Pragmatism in Practice?



This chapter is a genealogical case study which traces the development of social work with offenders in the probation service from its inception to the present day. In what follows I analyse changes in the probation service over time, from its seemingly humanitarian roots to its present day manifestation as part of the National Offender Management Service. I cover its origins as missionary work and trace subsequent developments as the original methods and philosophy of the service underwent a process of modification, including the shift to a statutory service utilising the techniques of social casework, the use of probation as an alternative to custody and as a form of punishment in the community, and the shift to ‘justice’. Both ethos and practice are significant in this analysis, illustrating as they do the centrality of the balance between the individual and society which is so significant in the developing role and identity of the probation service, and social work more generally. The rise of risk and evidence based practice are seen as part of a shift from art to science which is also related to an associated shift from care to control.


Social Work Criminal Justice Restorative Justice Governing Risk Probation Service 
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Copyright information

© Mark Hardy 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of YorkUK

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