The world economic crisis in combination with the 2010 change in government brought a number of institutional restructures and a shift in the philosophy on public spending in the UK. Under the slogan of “Punishment and Reform”, a number of public consultations were initiated.

Some consultations were focused specifically on probation services. Criminal justice service provision is gradually becoming an open market space where competition and privatisation are encouraged. Within this context, the role of probation trusts is revisited. In fact, the Ministry of Justice has been honest about their intention to contract out probation services for low and medium-risk offenders to private companies and charities.

Last year, Independent Academic Research Studies (IARS) was commissioned by London Probation Trust (LPT) to produce an evidence-based book and advice that would help improve probation services. Given that over 50% of LPT service users come from black and minority ethnic communities, this particular piece of work focused on how probation services can be improved for this particular group. The project is part of the Trust’s strategic priority of investing in evidence based practice.

Issues around community engagement, restorative justice, mental health, substance abuse, foreign nationals, victims and resettlement are analysed, and recommendations are posited.

The findings will first be presented at the National Probation Chief’s Conference 2013, in March by Janett Brown (LPT) and Dr. Theo Gavrielides (IARS). A public event is being planned for the 5th of June 2013 while the project website with interim material and information on the November conference can be found here 

Most policy changes are still on-going and the government is yet to conclude its consultation on a number of issues. This presents us with a caveat but also with an opportunity to intervene, prepare and adapt as changes are set in motion by Whitehall. The findings of LPT-IARS research provide a timely and evidence-based insight that is relevant to all probation trusts across the country. To find out more about the project and to pre-order the book “Race in Probation”, please contact us at

Also you can read the article "What the future holds for Probation Trusts: an update"

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