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Title: The probation service in transition : change, values and the nature of practice
Author: Gregory, Marilyn J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 2451 5920
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis will be submitted in Probation's centenary year. The Probation Service is an organisation that has undergone a tremendous journey of change and transition since its inception as a morally-underpinned voluntary body whose members sought to save the souls of poor unfortunates appearing before the courts. The thesis provides a critical history of probation practice, examining the development of practice during its 100 years. The reader is invited to share something of probation's journey of transition. The transition is considered as it has been experienced by the author herself and also by fifteen long-serving probation officers with whom she has conducted qualitative interviews. All sixteen people were trained in what is termed a 'clinical mode' of practice in which probation officers were able to practice as social workers, employing social work values embodying an ethic of care. The practice environment has changed in the decades since they trained into what is termed a 'punitive managerial mode' in which the ethic of care has been overshadowed by the ethic of justice. The essence of the study is an examination of these practitioners' experiences and how they respond to their changing circumstances. Experienced practitioners with well established skills of reflection and critical thinking, the study's participants do not readily adopt a strictly prescribed form of practice in which a technical solution is routinely applied to groups or individuals. Instead they develop a form of subjectivity in which they continue to view themselves as social workers. They are able to take a critical position and sustain their resistance to a form of practice which ignores the social context of offenders' lives. A view of practice as a practical-moral activity emerges; it is a form of human action based on relationships between the helper and the helped, in which decision making is fluid and reflexive, and in which solutions to problems are created reflexively in a positive working relationship between practitioner and client. Professional practice involving a relationship between human beings is not viewed as something that can be reduced to a straightforward application of technique. Practice in this formulation has a moral character which is suffused with judgement and reflection upon the unique and particular circumstances of the individual to be helped, with an intention to do good. It involves not only an understanding of the circumstances of the helped person, but self knowledge on the part of the helper that is developed with each encounter. The study concludes with an examination of the possibilities for a form of practice which encompasses both justice and care, based upon links between the approach suggested here and recent work on constructive practice with offenders and the desistance paradigm of offender management.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available