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Assess The Changing Role Of The Probation Service

982 words - 4 pages

The aim of this assignment is to assess how the role of the Probation Service has changed since the 1991 Criminal Justice Act. In order to assess how the service has changed it is important to look first at its history and development up to the 1991 Act.

The Probation Service in England and Wales has from its conception in the 1800’s evolved and developed continually in order to provide a service which benefits both the public and service users. It has developed from its original form of young offenders being released to the care of people willing to act as their Guardians through to today’s Service which is recognised in its own right as a form of sentencing. During this time ...view middle of the document...

And finally the 1989 report ‘The Probation Service – promoting Value for Money’ which again promoted the use of community based sentences in place of prison. All of these reports, papers and Acts led to the 1991 Criminal Justice Act and the Probation Service we see today.

As part of the CJA 1991, the need for consent from the Service User was removed and Probation became a form of sentencing in its own right. This resulted in a number of changes in the way that we work, before this point Probation staff were working with people who had agreed to the order, they were motivated to do the work and willing. After the 1991 people were given Probation orders, and they were not always willing. As a result of there was a change in practice, motivational interviewing, became standard. Probation orders were used as a way of reducing the number of offenders sentenced to custody which at the time was seen as ineffective and expensive, Home Secretary, at the time, Douglas Hurd, stated that custody was ‘an expensive way of making a bad person worse’. However the act was never given the opportunity to produce results as it was replaced two years later by a new Criminal Justice Act. IN fact the speed in which new Criminal Justice Acts have been introduced by both Labrour and Conservative governments has been critised, ‘(the criminal Justice system)...has been in a state of permanent change for 15 years...in the 60 years to 1985 there were just six criminal justice acts...but since 1985, legislative changes accelerated to one every 18 months...this is absurd, almost a form of mania..’ Leader Comment, The Guardian, 14th November 2002.

The Act was critized to begin with as encouraged Probation Orders in place of custody and these were seen by many as a ‘soft option’ and it was believed that Probation as on the side of the offender rather than the victim. Later with the growth of the ‘what works’ movement, the...

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