by Professor Paul Senior, Chair, Probation Institute
It is my pleasure to write the editorial for the sixth edition of Probation Quarterly. It has been an active time at the PI since the last edition and this is reflected in this issue which publicises a number of documents and frameworks which are now available and published here. We are officially out of our set up phase and as this goes to press our business plan for 2016-17 is being launched. We achieved a lot during the past two years and we now have a robust register (see article by Sue Hall on p.4), professional development framework (see page 5 and 14) and a series of Position Papers, the first of which on Office Arrangements is reproduced here.
We are very much in business and as we develop Position Papers over the coming months we can contribute more robustly to the issues facing the profession. And there’s the rub. The world of the probation practitioner remains extremely difficult in the current climate of change and transition. New operating models, E3 in the NPS, the changing role of the PSO, new qualifications frameworks under PQiP, redundancies, disillusionment and low morale make it difficult to think about personal and professional development. But the PI is here to ensure that these issues are not lost and good practice is promoted wherever possible. See our business areas discussed in this edition and seek to meet the Pledge challenge of one of our directors, Laura Martin.
The PI contributed to the new vocational qualification Consultation for probation officers and this is reprinted here and this work had a major impact on the final approved documentation. This is a great example of how we are seeking to work, building partnerships across the sector and working with those partners to keep evidence-informed practice to the fore. Our active Research Committee has appointed an Academic Advisory Panel who will help us to pursue our intentions to build a Centre of Excellence. We can only do this through you, our members, and with our partners, so we urge you to get involved, to renew your subscriptions and join our fight for the Probation profession.
The articles in this edition support our view that probation is about developing relationships, about working through our values and putting the service user first. Gill Hurst, one of our Fellows, muses on the name or brand of probation. Her challenge is to find a nomenclature that works in the new world, you don’t have to agree with her but it will stimulate discussion and debate. Helen Rinaldi of HMI Inspectorate of Probation lays out some of the principles on which the new Inspectorate approach has been modelled. David Coley, one of our Graham Smith Award holders dedicated to practitioner research, reports on his findings and the continued importance of reflective practice for practitioners. His title argued that reflective practice is the cornerstone of all we do and we would certainly endorse that sentiment. His full report has just been published look out for it.
Neera Sharma from Barnardos reflects on research they have done on children visiting parents in prison and the often inadequate arrangements for this to be helpful, even though family relationships are a key part of desistance. This makes important reading and challenges prisons to look at and improve the arrangements made. Finally, we report on the recent Butler Trust Awards highlighting the immense contributions that individual Probation staff still make despite the current difficulties. Probation has always sought to rise about the politics of penal reform and deliver quality,sensitive services to its users.
I encourage you to get engaged with our expanding range of professional networks so we can hear the voice of all across the Probation, community justice and rehabilitation arena.