An Ageing Client Base: How Can Probation Deliver Support for Older Service Users?

Published 23/09/2021
Type Article
Author(s) Nichola Cadet
Corresponding Authors

This article explores how the increase of older people on probation caseloads across community orders, suspended sentences and supervision on licence will affect probation practice, alongside an ageing staff population. ‘Older’ service users are defined as those aged 50 and over, in keeping with the use of this definition by Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS). The increase in the ageing probation caseload is taking place against a backdrop of an ageing society which also includes probation staff. In probation services the increase is partly exacerbated by the increasing number of over 50s in the prison population, and in changes to legislation under the Offender Rehabilitation Act 2014. Drawing upon research, policy and practice from gerontology, the article identifies some synergies between criminological and gerontological perspectives, including acknowledgement of lived experience and strengths based approaches. However, the article also considers that ageist attitudes within society can lead to double discrimination of those on the caseload, for example, attitudes towards employment for older people. The article considers the extent to which reducing re-offending pathways can support this demographic, alongside consideration of individualised approaches to sentence planning and engagement, requiring both national, and local responses including appropriate training and support for probation staff.