Source: (2002) The Howard Journal. 41(2): 182-200.There is a richness of material around the subject of governance and public service, much of which is relevant to the organisation of probation as a public service in the new millenium. It is possible to be excited, concerned, dismayed and excited again, all in turn, by the direction of thinking on public services. Excited by the move to citizen-centered appoeaches, concerned at the poverty of thinking in probation about these approaches, dismayed by some of the simplistic, negative ideas that we live with and excited again by hopes of readdressing our present and our future. This article addresses both the necessity and potential of the new Probation Boards within the strategic framework set by the new National Probation Directorate in England and Wales. The Boards have arrived perhaps rather fortuitously without much of a rationale, at least a written one, but they have potential to create a strong local dimension in the administration of the service. They could make a significant contribution to the achievement of service objectives, to local communities, to community justice and not least to the hard-working probation staff whose proverbial energy and dedication we can no longer take for granted.