15:17, March 17 198 0 theguardian.com

2019-03-17 15:17:05
Probation should be a public service again

The collapse of Interserve (Report, 16 March), a private probation provider, is both predictable and vexatious.

We are all former probation officers turned academics who have over many years individually and collectively opposed the dismantling and part-privatisation of probation in England and Wales by administrations of all parties.

Following fundamental criticisms by the National Audit Office and the Probation Inspectorate, and the total failure of the contract holder for the whole of Wales and the west of England, we write to call for rational and positive reform of probation.

Shackled to a failing coalition with prisons, the service cannot fulfil its historic function as a non-punitive, community-based alternative. Probation must be set free to reconstitute itself as a national public service that makes communities safer by helping people become better citizens; honours its traditional values of respect and unsentimental optimism; and uses evidence-based methods to reduce reoffending.

Such changes require a level of political will, courage, vision and competence hitherto lacking in those responsible for what has been a policy disaster.

Dr Jill Annison Honorary fellow, School of Law, Criminology & Government, University of Plymouth

Professor Lol Burke School of Law, Liverpool John Moores University

Professor Rob Canton Professor in community and criminal justice, De Montfort University

Professor Malcolm Cowburn Professor emeritus in applied social science, Dept of Law & Criminology, Sheffield Hallam University

Dr John Deering Reader in criminology and criminal justice, University of South Wales

Professor David Denney Professor of social and public policy, The School of Law Royal Holloway, University of London

Dr Wendy Fitzgibbon Reader in criminology, University of Leicester

Dr Marilyn Gregory Formerly of the Dept of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Professor Hazel Kemshall Community and Criminal Justice Dept, De Montfort University

Dr Philip Priestley West Horrington, Somerset

Professor Peter Raynor Emeritus research professor in criminology and criminal justice, Swansea University

Professor Paul Senior Emeritus professor, Sheffield Hallam University

Professor Maurice Vanstone Emeritus professor, Department of Criminology, Swansea University

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