Letter: On probation
Wednesday 28 July 1999
Community penalties will always pose difficulties of enforcement. This is because punishments in the community require people to do something - report to an officer, work, pay a fine - or at least to refrain from something, and this entails a possibility of default. Prison makes no such demands. Probation officers must try to motivate and encourage as well as use negative inducements to secure compliance. Probation officers must also make a judgement about whether (for example) a failure to attend is, in the circumstances, reasonable or not. Merely counting absences cannot answer questions of this kind.
The Home Secretary's apparent assumptions that every missed appointment is reprehensible or that an officer's failure to return the probationer to court is negligent or "soft" are facile and unfounded. A fairer criticism of the service would be that too little is known about the way such judgements are taken.
Special Lecturer in Criminology
University of Nottingham
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Game of Thrones season 5: Emilia Clarke praises characters who 'accept their femininity'
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Glastonbury 2015 tickets: How to make sure you’re successful in Sunday's re-sale
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate