Deconstructing probation: risk and developments in practice

Diana Wendy Fitzgibbon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    This article aims to explore the effects of the transition toward risk analysis in terms of the work of practitioners within the criminal justice system, particularly the probation service of England and Wales, and allied professions such as social work. The focus here will be on the impact this shift from traditional casework methods to risk assessment has had in terms of the image of the organisation, the image of the offender, and the impact on practice and interventions. It will be argued that the main effect is the deskilling of the practitioner. During this process practitioners have lost their therapeutic role oriented to the whole person and their biography. They have lost the ability to tolerate ambiguity or suspend judgment. This article will argue that they have become 'Taylorised' deskilled or re-skilled in order to accommodate those competencies embodied within risk assessment applying rules and criteria laid down by centralising bureaucracy. However this new practitioner's role will be shown to be full of contradictions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)85-101
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Social Work Practice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


    • probation practice
    • social work
    • risk
    • Taylorisation
    • mental disorder
    • deskilling


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