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The Barking Dog? Partnerships and Effective Practice

Rumgay, Judith
June 4, 2015

Source: (2004) IN, George Mair,ed., What Matters in Probation?. Cullompton, Devon,UK: Willan Publishing. Pp. 122-145.

The “barking dogâ€? referred to by Judith Rumgay in the title to her essay is a popular metaphor for human fallibility in problem perception. The metaphor originates in a Sherlock Holmes mystery in which a household dog did not bark at night to warn of an intruder; Holmes concluded from this that the intruder or danger came from within the house. Rumgay revises this to invoke a different account of human failure to hear a warning. In this account, people willfully disregard obvious signals that all is not well. The household is the probation service, which has committed itself and its internal resources to a drive for effectiveness known as the What Works agenda. Rumgay explores problems and risks in the probation service’s partnership with other organizations in pursuit of this agenda. Specifically, she examines the scale of the probation service’s partnership enterprise; alternative definitions of the crime problem that suggest different routes to resolving it; and problems of exclusivity (in programs), effectiveness, evaluation, and accountability.


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