Probation officers: The next generation

Forbes, David (2011) Probation officers: The next generation. Professional Doctorate thesis, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust / University of East London. Full text available

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This study is an investigation into the new world of probation. For the past two decades the Probation Service has struggled to survive in a highly ambivalent social and political climate. During this period, the training of probation officers has separated from social work training and the service has adopted a more punishment-focused, coercive and managerialist stance in its work with offenders. Using a mixed methods approach that includes semi-structured interviews and case discussions, my research focuses on a sample of recently qualified probation officers with a view to exploring their experiences and perceptions of their working lives, and to construct a picture of the occupation from a newcomer perspective. In particular, given the shift in the ideological framework of the service, I wished to learn about the professional identity of the generation of probation officers who are now entering the service through an examination of their motivation and practices. Despite pressure to eradicate the welfare-oriented ethos of the service, a significant and unexpected discovery arising from my research has been the resilience of traditional values that are brought to the service in the aspirations and habitus of newcomers. My findings are contextualised in relation to the criminal justice system, the historical development of the probation service, the status of probation as a profession and my own 'insider' experience. In addition, the study is underpinned by a theoretical perspective that draws on the work of the French sociologist, Pierre Bourdieu.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Additional Information: This thesis is submitted in partial fulfilment of a Professional Doctorate in Social Work awarded by the University of East London in collaboration with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Uncontrolled Keywords: Professional Doctorate in Social Work, D60
Subjects: Criminology > Criminal Justice Systems
Groups & Organisations > Groups/Institutions/Organisations
Groups & Organisations > Occupational Groups
Social Welfare > Social Work
Department/People: Research

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