Has Probation a future?

Mike Guilfolyle

copyright citizensheep`s photostream

The modern Probation Service in England and Wales was accorded formal statutory footing in 1907 by a reforming Liberal Government having its embryonic Victorian antecedents in the appointment of Police Court Missionaries who worked in local Magistrates courts to redeem or act as guardians to many of those deemed by society as incorrigibles, inebriates and the socially excluded. The primary duty to ‘ advise, assist and befriend’ was enjoined on new entrants in what quickly became a more professionalised, welfare -oriented community based statutory agency. The union representing Probation staff Napo (National Association of Probation Officers) was formally established in 1912. The social work ethos that informed and shaped the widening casework responsibilities of Probation Officers was facilitated by the development of what was widely seen and lauded as the pivotal role of the professional relationship that the client/offender had with a Probation Officer( and later Assistant Probation Officer grades) . This role was strengthened with additional responsibilities that including work in prisons, parole supervision and aftercare, the provision of social enquiry reports( now known as pre-sentence reports ) to courts on Adult defendants found/pleading guilty to a range of middle ranking offences, as well as the setting up of Bail Hostels. Another significant statutory task which became integral to the Services work was the introduction of Community Service in 1972. Read more of this post

The Poor: The new enemy within

John Curran 

Image © The CBI

Liberalism, that all encompassing doctrine is alive in today`s coalition government.  However, the philosophy that prevails has more in common with Gladstonian liberalism than the doctrine associated with either Beveridge or Keynes.

In the era of `Workfare` no one should be surprised by the DWP announcement, that working tax credits will no longer be paid if recipients go on strike.

This is not news. But, Iain Duncan Smith MP is bringing something new to the agenda. His statement is a declaration that the UK is heading for full blown austerity (no surprise here) but he is informing his core support base that the low paid are the coalitions `enemy within`.

It is 1984 all over again. Mr Smith MP is preparing for a wave of industrial action that will be a likely response to his government’s programme of cuts and redundancies.  As John Cruddas MP has explained we are only 10% into the projected expenditure cuts and while many are feeling the pain a hard rain is about to fall.

The announcement from the DWP concerns workers earning less than £13,000 a year. The `enemy within` in 1984 the National Union of Miners was a worthy adversary although eventually vanquished in a yearlong battle. The government in 1984-85 arranged the resources of the state to defeat them but at least it was bordering on a fair fight. The battle ahead is a case of David v Goliath, as the recent report into poverty commissioned by the Guardian (18 June Amelia Hill) indicates:  

 7 million working-age adults are living in extreme financial stress, one small push from penury, despite being in employment and largely independent of state support.

The pinpointing of those on low incomes by the DWP indicates the areas of the economy the actual cuts are likely to come and the profile of the workers due to suffer. Of course we are all in this together but some of us are perhaps more in it than others.   Read more of this post


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