Target Practice in Probation: Take Aim for a Reappraisal

Published 20/06/2007
Type Article
Author(s) Philip Whitehead
Corresponding Authors Philip Whitehead, part time Lecturer, University of Teesside/part time Probation Officer

The probation system from 1907 to the 1980s did not operate within a framework of centrally imposed targets. By contrast since the 1990s targets have become an essential feature of modernisation and cultural change associated with performance management and accountability. This paper explores the introduction of a target culture into probation and its implications for people orientated organisations. A case can be made to retain a handful of core targets. However it must be acknowledged that in organisations where people work with people, many essential tasks cannot be reduced to measurable targets. Therefore the time has come for a reappraisal.