The quality of probation supervision: Comparing practitioner accounts in England and Scotland

Scott Grant (Lead / Corresponding author), Fergus McNeill

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Citations (Scopus)


    Whilst community sanctions and measures in the UK have enjoyed considerable academic focus on effectiveness and ‘what works’ (see McGuire, 1995; Maguire et al., 2010), until recently analysts have neglected practices and processes associated with the routine supervision of offenders in the community. Two recent studies of quality in the practice of offender supervision in Scotland and England begin to address this gap by exploring practitioners’ understandings of quality in each jurisdiction (Grant and McNeill, 2014; Robinson et al., 2013a, 2013b; Shapland et al., 2012). This article compares results from both studies, exploring convergence and divergence across key themes and offering a deeper understanding of what quality means in two distinct but connected jurisdictions. Despite significant and enduring differences in the formal arrangements for, and policy contexts of, probation services in England and Wales and in Scotland, our findings demonstrate substantial and significant similarity across what practitioners conceive as the important elements of supervisory practice. Our comparative analysis also found a surprising degree of concordance in practitioner resistance to managerialism – revealing a shared consensus on the importance of values and ethical practice within each country; indeed, shared understandings which seem relatively resilient in both jurisdictions.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)147-168
    Number of pages22
    JournalEuropean Journal of Probation
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014


    • criminal justice
    • offender management
    • offender supervision
    • Probation
    • quality

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Law


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