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Fragmenting probation? A qualitative study of voluntary, public and private sectors’ interactions in supervision



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Dominey, Jane 


The context for this dissertation is the growing use of voluntary sector organisations and private companies as providers of probation services in England and Wales. The study focusses on the everyday experience of probation supervision in an increasingly multi-agency environment and explores this experience from the point of view of probation workers and the people they supervise. The objectives of the study are to examine whether the probation service makes a distinctive contribution to this work, to investigate the interactions between supervisees, probation supervisors and workers from other agencies, to explore the purpose of different elements of community orders and to understand whether supervisees adopt different approaches to compliance with different elements of their orders. Drawing on empirical interview data, supplemented by data from probation service case records and from fieldwork notes compiled while in probation offices undertaking interviews, I identify patterns, themes and associations which help us understand the new structures and relationships. The research concludes that, for supervisees and supervisors, the involuntary nature of community supervision is significant. The supervisees in this study viewed the requirements of their community orders as legitimate because the orders were imposed by the court. They complied with these requirements in order to avoid breach proceedings, few would have volunteered for the services that they were receiving from the probation service or elsewhere. They attached more weight to instructions from probation supervisors than to those from key workers from other agencies. Supervisees viewed their orders as both a punishment and a help, without drawing a distinction between services received from the probation service and from other agencies. Thus the research makes a significant contribution to knowledge by outlining the importance of these relationships, between worker and supervisee and between worker and worker, in a new context of provision.





Research Subject Categories::SOCIAL SCIENCES::Social sciences::Criminology, probation, probation service, community orders, community supervision


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge