Challenges of Gender-Responsivity in Probation Work with Women Service Users

Published 20/11/2019
Type Article
Author(s) Rachel Goldhill
Corresponding Authors

This article reports on research into the supervision of women probationers in England. It is contextualised through a review of the literature on good practice, with particular focus on Corston’s (2007) recommendations and subsequent guidance documents and through discussion of the organisational context. The research took place during a period of substantial change and corresponding uncertainty within the probation service, prior to and during the implementation process of Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) which took place between January 2014 and February 2015. Drawing on qualitative data derived from extensive analysis of videos of supervision sessions and interviews with probation workers and women probationers, the research highlights the importance and extent of practitioner awareness of gender-responsivity issues. These are of particular relevance where women probationers have experienced extensive victimisation. The article considers implications for probation practice, emphasising the importance of responsivity to women probationers, and discusses the place of and attitudes towards women-only provision. Specific organisational barriers to implementation of a gender-responsive approach in the short and long-term are explored against the backdrop of the TR initiative.