Transforming Rehabilitation: Transforming the Occupational Identity of Probation Workers?

Published 11/12/2013
Type Article
Author(s) Anne Robinson
Corresponding Authors Anne Robinson, Principal Lecturer, Dept. of Law, Criminology and Community Justice, Sheffield Hallam University

This article explores the tensions and threats to the occupational identity of practitioners working with offenders, and identifies areas where the positive aspects of the probation service’s values and humanitarian approach might endure under the changes being brought about by the Coalition’s Transforming Rehabilitation agenda. It does so by reviewing change in the probation service and the nature of employee engagement with the service, drawing on recently published research with probation officers and trainee probation officers. It also reflects upon the literature analysing organisational change in the youth justice system and multi-agency working in children’s services, as well as the author’s own experience and views as a manager experiencing change and, currently, as an academic working with probation service officers (PSOs) on qualifying programmes for probation officers. Systems and structures may alter, but the process and pace of adaptation for individuals working within them is markedly slower, with resistance and reworking rather than radical overhaul, of occupational and professional identities. The article goes on to anticipate issues that might arise as the probation service and its workforce is divided across public, private and voluntary sectors.