Q. Why do we need a Probation Institute?

A. The probation service in England and Wales is currently undergoing a radical change. ‘Transforming Rehabilitation’ has restructured and outsourced a major portion of the probation services to the private sector.

Around 18,000 persons work in probation services, and the reforms have created two communities of probation workers: those in the 21 Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) in the private sector and those in the public sector National Probation Service (NPS). More broadly many others, e.g. drugs, mental health, social workers, also provide relevant services for offenders, contributing to the rehabilitation of offenders.

More than ever, therefore, there is a need for the probation workforce to be supported, foster its professional development and represented by a professional body – the Probation Institute.

Q. How is the Probation Institute being set-up and funded? Is the Institute really independent?

A. The Probation Institute is a member-led organisation. The Probation Institute is established as an independent not-for profit organization and was launched by Lord Neuberger, the President of the Supreme Court, on 21 March 2014.

The majority of the Institute’s start-up costs are being met by the founder organisations the PCA1 and PA, with the MoJ providing £90k support for accommodation and IT costs. This in no way compromises its independence of the Institute, rather it signals support for its aims and objectives. The Institute strives to be a self-funded organisation, with revenue drawn from membership fees, partnerships and grants for delivering projects.

Q. What will the Probation Institute do?

The Institute has two major aims:

* To provide professional leadership, enhancing the status of probation. This means providing a context and framework for the development and support of effective practice. Membership of the Institute, including of its professional practice register, will provide probation workers with a framework for continuing professional development, and the Code of Ethics and values that apply in probation and rehabilitation work

* To be a centre for excellence, contributing to the setting of standards by providing an independent, evidence informed view of what constitutes good practice, helping to bridge the gap between research and the problems and issues facing practitioners on the ground.

Q. Will the Institute have corporate partners or members?

A. Many organisations are supportive of the Institute’s aims and contribute to its work. The Institute is developing a range of partnerships including with employers of probation workers, in the voluntary, private and public sectors. We believe it is in the interests of employers that probation workers meet widely endorsed standards, are skilled, and are operating effective practices, to secure better outcomes for public safety and offender rehabilitation. The Institute’s  partnerships are listed here


1 The Probation Chiefs Association (PCA) and the Probation Association (PA) have now been wound-up, as a consequence of the abolition of Probation Trusts on 1 June 2014

Q. What commitments will you expect from corporate partners? Will their involvement not compromise the Institute’s Independence?

A. We would require corporate partners to be supportive of the Institute’s aims, respect its independence, recognising the broader value that the Probation Institute will provide. We would also expect corporate partners to endorse the Institute’s Code of Ethics, employers to support the membership of their staff to and contribute to their continuing professional development.

Q. Is the Institute part of Transforming Rehabilitation (TR)?

A. An independent body to support the professional development and training of those who work in probation, and to represent their professional interests, has been mooted for over a decade, though TR acted as a catalyst making its creation a necessity. Some of the functions planned by the Probation Institute were previously carried out by the Association of Chief Officers of Probation, which was abolished in 2000, following the probation re-organisation at that time.

Q. Will the Institute be able to argue against poor practice?

A. Any evidence of poor practice will be taken seriously by the Institute and vocally opposed. However, the Institute is not a campaign organisation. By applying rigorous standards of evidence, focusing on its identified aims, it expects to be an influential player in supporting the professional development of probation workers, ultimately leading to better outcomes.

Q. How is the Institute being governed?

A. The Institute has an elected Representative Council which, in turn, elects the Institute’s Board. On Monday 16 March we announced the membership of the new Representative Council, comprising Institute members. On 31 March 2015, the Representative Council elected 6 Directors to the Institute’s Board, which sets policy and strategic objectives. The elected directors and chair are:

* Doris Emerson-Afolabi

* Professor Anthony Goodman

* Sue Hall

* Laura Martin

* Professor Paul Senior (Chair)

* Nick Smart


Q. What are the benefits of joining as a member of the Probation Institute?

A. By joining, individual members will become part of a family of professionals who share common values, ethos and commitment to the concepts of probation and community justice. The Institute is implementing a framework for accrediting and developing their skills, and provide opportunities to develop their own learning and contribute to that of others.

Specific benefits include:

Support for professional and career development, through access to the Probation Institute’s events, publications and the voluntary Professional Register of probation workers

* through membership of the Institute’s Professional Register, the ability to demonstrate to current and future employers, skills and competencies and commitment to continuing professional development

* Involvement in professional networks of Probation Institute members who share common interests in specific areas of work or practice. For example see here for the latest news on our 3 year project working with ex-service personnel on community sentences, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust.

* Access to the Probation Institute’s developing Center of Excellence services, disseminating research and evidence in the areas of probation and community justice

* the Institute’s magazine, Probation Quarterly, featuring articles on practice and policy and preferential and discounted access to attend the Probation Institute’s programme of events

Q. How much does it cost to become a member?

A. The standard membership fee is £40 for a 12 month subscription, and £10 for students/volunteers/mentors. Higher fees apply (£40- £80) for membership of the Register, and £100 for Fellows of the Institute. A more detailed membership guide is here

Q. Do I have to work for a CRC or the NPS to become a member? I work in a prison, could I join?
What are the membership criteria?

A. The Institute welcomes members from all those who work in the many other organisations that provide services to offenders in the community or in custody, whether in the private, voluntary/third sectors, or public sectors. The main requirements are that you are committed to the practice of probation and offender rehabilitation, and subscribe to the Institute’s Code of Ethics.

Q. Is my subscription to the Institute tax deductible?

A.  The Institute has successfully applied to HM Revenue & Customs for approval under Section 344 of the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003 with effect from 6 April 2015.

Please note that you cannot claim tax relief on fees or subscriptions that have been paid by your employer or another party on your behalf.

The Institute’s name will appear in the list of approved bodies, which is due to be updated later this year.  HMRC staff will not receive notification of the Institute’s approval status until then.  If members wish to obtain a deduction for their annual subscription before the list is updated, they should explain when contacting HMRC that the institute has only recently been approved and quote reference T1644/13/2015/HEM.

Information on how to claim can be found on:


Q. Will my employer contribute to the cost for me becoming a member of the Probation Institute?

The Institute is offering employers the option of supporting the individual membership of their staff, contributing to the cost of the membership subscription for those who choose to join the Probation Institute.

Many CRCs agreed to support individual membership of their staff who joined before 31 March 2015. These agreements are being kept under review with employers and successor arrangements are being announced to staff involved. Please consult the Institute or your HR department for the latest position.

There is no auto-enrollment of members. Individuals need to opt-in to membership, subscribing at the least to the Institute’s Code of Ethics.

Q. How many members does the Institute have?

The Institute has over 1,100 individual members from CRCs, NPS and other organisations

Q. How can I join the Probation Institute?

A. You can join online at http://probation-institute.org/membership/

You will be asked to enter your details and choose whether to pay online (via PayPal) or to pay by cheque or bank transfer, or an employer code where your employer has agreed to pay or contribute to the subscription fee.

For those preferring to apply by e-mail a Microsoft Word version of the form is available. The form can be obtained by emailing admin@probation-institute.org or by writing  to Probation Institute, 2 Langley Lane, London, SW8 1GB.

Q. What are the Probation Institute’s professional networks?

A. The Probation Institute is launching professional networks in a number of areas of practice associated with probation and community justice work. These networks are aimed at bringing probation workers together who share particular interests and specialisms, facilitating the exchange of knowledge on effective practice and innovation.

As a Probation Institute member you may join as many networks as you wish. However it is also possible to join a specific network even if you are not an Institute member, but you will in that instance be limited to one. Of course we encourage everyone who is interested, or working, in probation to join.

To join follow the ‘JOIN NOW’ link

Q. Are any professional networks available now?

Yes there are.

The list of currently networks is at



The option to participate in a network is available in your individual member page once you have joined.


Q. I don't see my area of interest represented. How do I establish a new professional network?

If you have a particular specialism or interest, and would like to get involved in the Probation Institute’s development of professional networks, please contact the PI Business Office at admin@probation-institute.org


Q. What is the Professional Register?

A. The Probation Register forms one of the 3 categories of Institute membership:

Fellow (FPInst) For outstanding contribution to probation. By application supported by two referees
Registered Member
Level D
Level C
Level B
Level A
Open to professionals working in the sector who
meet the criteria of the Register
Associate Member Open to any individual


Q. When will the Register be implemented?

The Professional Register is now active and available.

When you join the Institute as a new member you will be able to choose the appropriate level and, once you have joined, access member services, including uploading details of your qualifications and experience and CPD.

Existing ‘founding’ members will be automatically re-enrolled at the Associate Level and have the option to convert to a level appropriate to their qualifications,  skills and experience.

Q. Do I have to join the Register?

A. Joining the Register is strongly encouraged if you are a probation worker. This means that your, qualifications, skills and experience are recognised and acknowledged by the profession as a while and your peers.

However, if you wish you may join or remain an Associate Member of the Institute.

Q. What does it mean to join the Institute’s Register? What happens to my existing Probation Officer
or other qualification(s)?

A. The professional Register, by identifying levels of professional experience and knowledge, enables all staff who work in probation services to demonstrate, and have recognized, their commitment and expertise, evidencing these through existing academic or other qualifications, and working experience including continuing professional development.

The Institute is also taking an initiative – working with partners including the CRCs and NPS – for a Professional Development Framework that mirrors and complements the Probation Register; and which will be offering the building blocks for professional status through National Occupational Standards, Training and Qualifications.


Q. You say that you will be organising events. What are they?

A. Probation Institute events add value to professional development by enabling delegates to engage with evaluation of emerging practice as well as from feedback from organisations across the country. The events are intended to provide a diverse range of perspectives and insights from probation workers and wider stakeholders including partner agencies, service users and academia.

These latest events are advertised in the events section of the website.

Q. Will the Institute’s events count for continuing professional development?

A. Those who participate in the Institute’s events will be able to cite them as part of their evidence of continuing professional development.

Q. How much will Probation Institute events cost? Are there any discounts for members?

A. The Probation Institute needs to be able to cover the costs of organising and delivering events, so the price may vary. However, as a general indication we anticipate that day delegate rates for members will be around £50 and for non-members £90.

Q. How do I register for an event?

A. There are two ways:

* online via the Probation Institute website’s event application process, and make payment via PayPal, OR

* by email to admin@probation-institute.org and we can send you or your employer an electronic invoice.

Note: for some events, employer organisations may put forward groups of delegates which the Probation Institute business office will then process. If you are interested in attending a future Probation Institute event, we advise you first to contact your Professional Development department to see if your employer is planning to send a larger group of staff


Q. We already know what works! Why do you need to be a Centre of Excellence?

A. Probation providers, irrespective of whether they are in the public, private or voluntary sectors  are being challenged to achieve more with less. But there are a deeper issues about shared objectives and core values, and about how best to ensure that the practice of the staff in their daily work is properly founded in evidence, and that ways of organizing supervision, interventions and other work such as the role of partner agencies are shared.

The Probation Institute will have a critical role in helping to a tackle these issues, working with its members and in partnership with the many other organisations with a role in community justice.

Q. Will the Institute be publishing a journal?

A. The Institute’s Probation Quarterly provides an example of a publication that is intended to connect practitioners with the results of research or evaluation. As a Centre of Excellence the Institute will also commission subject based reviews that can act as high quality sources of information about the evidence on interventions and ways of organising work, drawing on both academic work and empirical practitioner experience.

Q. I am interested in evaluating or auditing my practice. How can the Probation Institute help?

A. As a Centre of Excellence the Institute will encourage greater practitioner involvement in evaluating practice and the impact in terms outcomes.

We will be raising awareness of research grants and awards which are available for probation workers to undertake practice-led research.

The Institute is proud to support the 2015 Sir Graham Smith Award to support evidence-based practice, enabling front line practitioners to carry out projects related to their work.

Q. Will the Probation Institute be carrying out primary research?

A. The Probation Institute does not intend to be a primary research body, which is a role for academic institutions and other researching organisations. There are four strands of the Institute as a Centre of Excellence:

* reviews of the evidence drawn from academic work, project evaluations and empirical experience of probation workers

* facilitating multi-disciplinary and cross-sector learning

* involving probation workers in evaluating their work and contributing to the development of good practice, improving outcomes

* encouraging wider dissemination of validated information to inform practice and policy

Q. Is the Probation Institute solely focused on the probation and community justice sector in
England and Wales?

A. The Probation Institute intends to have an international reach, drawing on relevant practice and evaluations from outside England & Wales. We are a member of CEP in Europe and over time we hope to develop opportunities for our members to become involved on the international scene.