Blog

Revolving Doors launches new inquiry into the future of Probation

Dr Philip Mullen
Dr. Philip Mullen
Research Manager

Today, we are delighted to publish our lived experience inquiry into the future of the Probation Service. The inquiry involved speaking to 141 people with lived experience of probation supervision and 35 probation practitioners over an eighteen month period, from September 2020 to March 2022. These conversations enabled us to better understand the issues that both parties experience, and how they feel the Probation Service can fulfil its potential for addressing the root causes that drive the cycle of crisis and crime. The inquiry covers four key areas.

1. The culture of Probation with a focus on how perceptions of Probation can be improved to support more honest and positive relationships between people under probation supervision and probation practitioners. 

“Peer support would help the language and dynamics of probation…It would bring more understanding and empathy to service”

Person with lived experience of probation supervision

2. Probation’s role at court – with a focus on how Probation can play a greater role in supporting sentencers to give the most appropriate and fair sentences for addressing the root causes behind crime.

3. Probation’s role in community supervision – how people under probation supervision can be better supported to access the help they need to have their needs met and identify and build upon their strengths.

“I like to see that journey somebody makes, sometimes it’s not a straight journey, there can be winding roads to get to where they want to be in the end.”

Probation practitioner

4. Probation’s role in prison resettlement – with a focus on how probation practitioners can set the foundations for positive relationships much earlier in people’s journeys through the criminal justice system.

 

This inquiry is unique as is strengthened as a result of two key aspects of its approach. Firstly, it brings together the perspectives of both people with lived experience of probation supervision and probation practitioners to co-create a joint vision for the Probation Service. Secondly, it was driven from the outset by our lived experience membership, and our Probation Lived Experience Team in particular – a team comprising eight people from diverse backgrounds and with a diversity of experiences of the criminal justice system.  

People with lived experience played key roles across the inquiry in designing questions, facilitating open conversations, and designing practical and solutions-focused recommendations, as underpinned by our co-production model. Our Chief Executive, Pavan Dhaliwal, highlights how critical our lived experience members were to the inquiry, and how rich and honest insights it generated were:

“As a charity we are strongly committed to embedding the voices of people with lived experience across our work. We strongly believe, and see across our work, that people with lived experience of the criminal justice system are central to successful collaborations to address the cycle of crisis and crime. This is because they can draw on their first-hand understanding of issues faced by people in the criminal justice system to identify practical and workable solutions for effectively addressing the root causes behind these issues faced. The strength of the insights and recommendations shared in this report are testament to how this inquiry was driven from the outset by a team of people with lived experience, a team who are passionate about supporting the Probation Service to realise its potential for transforming lives and supporting people to exit the cycle of crisis and crime.”


We also welcome that Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) recognise the importance of listening to people with lived experience with intent, issuing the following statement on our inquiry:

“The Probation Service welcomes this report which provides further valuable insight into the views and experience of people who have experience of the criminal justice system and the Probation Service. We look forward to continuing to work with and seek the advice and guidance of all interested groups as we roll out our Target Operating Model which is backed by our commitment as referenced in our Engaging People on Probation National Plan. We value the recommendations and will carefully consider Revolving Doors recommendations in refining our future design.”


On behalf of Revolving Doors and our Probation Lived Experience Team, we hope you enjoy reading the inquiry, and take note of the practical recommendations for supporting the Probation Service to realise its potential. We look forward to future discussions and working relationships with HMPPS, our lived experience members and other voluntary sector organisations to take forward and implement these recommendations, and in so doing, working together towards a collective vision of a society free from the cycle of crisis and crime.