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Probation, PSRs and Public Protection: Has a 'Critical Point' Been Reached?

NCJ Number
Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 11 Issue: 5 Dated: November 2011 Pages: 471-486
Mike Nash
Date Published
November 2011
16 pages
This article discusses the ethical and legal issues faced by probation officers when interviewing offenders.
This article asks if the time has come to develop ethical and legal safeguards in respect of probation service interviews with offenders related to public protection matters. Police interviews in England and Wales with suspects have long had protective measures around them and have also in recent years developed a whole range of ethical training and protocols to govern the quality of interviewing and information gathering. The measures are deemed necessary as these stages in criminal justice processes are considered to be 'critical points'. It is argued here that at a time when probation interview training (at least in the qualifying phase) has decreased, the importance attached to the information gained has increased. As indeterminate sentences for public protection become ever-more popular with sentencers, the importance of probation officer risk assessment has reached new heights; yet offenders have only minimal safeguards in terms of what they say to probation officers in interview. (Published Abstract)