Reflection: Probation Officer Training in the 21st Century – The Dawn of a New Era

Published 20/06/2007
Type Article
Author(s) Lucy Nicholson, Svetlana Sellers
Corresponding Authors Lucy Nicholson, Offender Manager, North Yorkshire Probation Service and Svetlana Sellers, Graduate in Community Justice, Sheffield Hallam University

This paper reflects on current probation officer training within the context of both the changing nature of probation practice and the imminent review of the national training programme. It is based on the perspective of two recently qualified probation officers; both graduates of Cohort 7. With Cohorts 8 and 9 currently underway and only ten planned, it is timely to examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current training approach, as well as the threats and opportunities posed by the impending review. To this end, the authors provide a brief, contextualising description of probation training and practice. Working assumptions are made about the likely direction of probation practice and its relevance to future training programmes. Based on these assumptions, the authors analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the existing training and discuss possible threats and opportunities that the impending training review may deliver. It is suggested that the current trajectory of probation practice is ostensibly that of information management with the Offender Manager role fundamentally that of knowledge worker; and that this needs to be reflected in the revised training programme if the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) model is to be successful.