The Church of England Total Abstinence Society was established. This became the Church of England Temperance Society (CETS) with three goals: promotion of temperance; removal of causes of intemperance and the reformation of intemperate individuals (Newburn, T. 2013) with the link between alcohol and crime being recognised. Whilst CETS was concerned with helping and reforming people prisons were places where it was thought those incarcerated needed to be scared enough by the experience, to stop them reoffending once released. The ‘separation’ and ‘silent’ systems and hard labour were used to break the will of prisoners
Frederic Rainer, a London Printer, gifted the CETS with five shillings to be used to reform people who committed alcohol related crimes. This was the start of the National Probation Service, in England and Wales, with the first police court missionary being appointed in London ‘to reclaim the lives and souls of drunks’ (Newburn, T. 2013). Whilst ‘many were sceptical about the motives of the temperance movement, believing that it was more concerned with governance of the poor than their salvation’ (Harrison 1971 in Vanstone 2004 ) by 1880 eight full time missionaries were in place.
The Probation Offenders Act laid the foundations of the modern service and enabled courts to release offenders on probation, under probation orders. Probation was a local service based in local magistrates courts and run by Justices of the Peace. The duties of probation officers were to ‘advise, assist and befriend.’ The courts had powers to convict and sentence for breach of probation and established Probation Rules. Within a year, of the 1,043 courts, 763 had a probation officer (Home Office 2007).
The Criminal Justice Act introduced ‘unpaid work’, formerly community service/punishment. This became one of probation’s success stories, with the purpose of depriving offenders not of liberty but of leisure (Home Office 2007). Offenders had to serve a number of hours working for the benefit of the community, rather than a custodial sentence, with the emphasis on a social welfare approach. Probation officers understood the problem of crime as a problem of individuals and families that required help and support, often in disadvantaged communities.
Was a decade of change as the probation service began to move from being community and social work orientated to becoming much more offence focused (Robinson, 2017). Work came to involve high risk offenders and much greater case loads. A high number of the clients being worked with had come out of prison and probation was moving towards being an office based service delivering group work’ (Robinson 2017). Whilst ‘the Police, courts and prisons can all surprisingly easily close themselves in a more punitive rhetoric and follow more punitive practice’ (Mair, 2013) probation officers were opposed to the introduction of electronic monitoring in the 1980s and thereby lost the opportunity to take control of it
The 1998 Crime and Disorder Act saw the introduction of the ‘Joining Forces’ agenda where probation had to regard the Prison Service as a major reference group, as the Home Office considering ‘punishment in the community’ a strategy that had failed. This was at odds with the Probation Service culture that was focused on keeping offenders out of prison wherever possible and the need to ‘undo the damage caused by a prison sentence’ (Nellis, 1999). The introduction of Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) aimed at reducing the risk of young people offending and re-offending involving those in the police, social and probation working together to reduce crime saw cultural differences in working with clients, with some agencies being lenient and not as authoritative as probation officers. In addition, as Senior, P. 2013 stated ‘accountabilities got in the way of probation workers with officers unsure who they were accountable to’.
The establishment of the National Probation Service included the 54 probation services being reduced to 42 probation areas, each managed by a probation board. For the first time the phrase ‘punishment, rehabilitation and public protection’ was used (Home Office 2007). At this time probation was taking on more responsibilities that demand ‘sophisticated skills in order to respond to complex situations and individuals who may be damaged, disadvantaged or even dangerous’ (Deering's 2010a) in (Robinson 2013 P94), whilst assisting offenders to come into contact with society.
Probation, together with the prison service, introduced the Offender Assessment System (OASys), which identifies the risk an offender poses and how to help with their offending behaviour effectively. The ground-breaking offender assessment system which is now used throughout the service and which has been copied by probation services in many other countries.
The Offender Management Bill was introduced by the Home Secretary, John Reid, who deemed that the Probation Service was not supervising dangerous prisoners adequately. To reduce re-offending and improve the way in which offenders are managed the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) was formed to oversee both prisons and probation. This ended probation’s status as sole provider of community interventions and introduced the concept of the best available provider from the public, private or voluntary sector. This change in the way that services are delivered, via the private sector, had the governments agenda of providing a more cost effective way. The probation-prison relationship has become more problematic since the creation of NOMS. Mawby and Worrall 2011, evidenced that whilst probation workers found involvement in multi-agency work with the courts, police, prison service and other community groups stimulating and rewarding many were demoralised by ‘being merged with the prison service and losing their identity and respect for their domain within a ‘command and control’ culture’.
The government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ programme changed the probation landscape in England and Wales. The Probation Service transformed from 35 probation trusts into the National Probation Service (NPS) responsible for higher-risk offenders along with the creation of 21 community rehabilitation companies (CRCs) to oversee medium and low-risk offenders. The responsibilities of the probation worker had become even more office based.
Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) replaced National Offender Management Service (NOMS) HMPPS has full responsibility for the management of offenders in custody and the community, including strengthening security in prisons, tackling extremism and building intelligence about criminal gangs. During a HM inspection of the CRC in Cumbria, in October 2017 inspectors praised probation officers whilst acknowledging the poor working conditions in some offices, such as open plan interview booths, that made things difficult for staff and offenders. Nevertheless, there was evidence of the best probation work seen in three years of inspections with staff being praised for ‘their creative approach to delivery and creative interventions’