Source: (2004) IN, George Mair,ed., What Matters in Probation?. Cullompton, Devon,UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 277-304.

In probation literature in recent years there has been considerable discussion around the means and methods of offender supervision. In the view of Gwen Robinson and Fergus McNeill, means and methods have dominated the discussion. The discussion has thus reflected a What Works approach – with practitioners, managers, and academics focusing on questions of the most effective types of interventions within a framework of cognitive-behavioral methods. The result, assert Robinson and McNeill, is that inadequate attention has been paid to the ends, objectives, or aspirations of probation practice – as well as to the congruence between “officialâ€? statements of purpose and the views of those who are actually engaged in the supervision of offenders. Robinson and McNeill contend that, in the absence of explicit statements about the intended purposes or outcomes of probation practice, questions about “what worksâ€? are problematic at best and at worst even meaningless. Therefore, in this chapter, and relying on their own research into these matters, Robinson and McNeill examine both “officialâ€? and “front lineâ€? perspectives on the purposes of contemporary probation in England and Wales and in Scotland. They highlight the complexities of public protection as an overarching purpose for probation, and on the implications of this revision of probation’s ends.