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Places not Cases?: Re-thinking the Probation Focus.

Clear, Todd R
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) The Howard Journal. 44(2):172-184.

John Augustus, the ‘first probation officer’, carried a caseload assigned by the
court. And ever since, this way of organising the probation officer’s accountability has
dominated the profession. To be sure, there are plenty of probation officers who do not
carry caseloads, but probation officers who ‘work the line’ do so around an assignment of
specific cases. This tradition has considerable implications for the professional identity of
the probation officer and the day-to-day work-styles the job generates. Recently, however, a
growing movement of innovation has arisen in probation work which takes probation’s
focus away from the caseload: partnerships, restorative justice, community crime
prevention, and so forth. Research repeatedly shows us that probationers’ residences are
concentrated in certain locations – typically certain more-or-less well identified
neighbourhoods. This fact suggest that an alternative way of organising line work of
probation officers would be by place rather than case. This article explores the rationale
for such a shift in probation officer work, and it speculates about the benefits that
might accrue to the profession from taking such a step. Potential problems are also
identified. (author’s abstract)


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