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Time to Review Probation practice as well as Lawyers and Social Work

9, June 2013

Originally written as a response to an article in the Daily Telegraph.

Lawyers are getting great support in media but most of the public are completely ignorant of the reality of Probation work and how it’s whole base has been eaten away since 1990s particularly when Lord Howard destroyed it’s training at a stroke and left nothing in its place.

Now Sir Martin Narey is reviewing Social Work Training on behalf of Michael Gove – let us hope he goes back to the days when trainee Social Workers studied and undertook practical placements alongside Trainee Probation Officers to the benefit of both professions.

What the public don’t realise is that Social Workers have sufficiently more authority than Probation Officers because Social Workers (including those employed by a charity – NSPCC) have the power to initiate the removal from home of children, who have not been convicted of any crime. Social Workers also have the power to initiate the detention of Mentally Ill adults.

Probation officers only have the power to initiate the detention of people who are under their supervision who have already been convicted of a criminal offence.

Fortunately none of these have the power to determine anyone’s detention without either a judicial or ministerial decision apart from Mental Health Approved Social Workers when they obtain the agreement of a suitably qualified Medical Practitioner.

These are aspects of community life rarely examined in the media apart from when something goes wrong and then the focus is on the salacious personal details rather than the underlying principles and practices that have these folk operating on our behalf under the law.

Right now the drive is for as many of these services to be outsourced to the likes of G4S and so under even less direct Government oversight than is the present case, and also undertaken by organisations whose first duty is to make profit for their proprietors.

Such principles should without any doubt from me, receive MUCH more attention in the media than is the current case.


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