‘Probation Officers’ Manual

I read your article in the recently published Probation Quarterly publication with interest.  I responded to Anne Worrall about several of the articles and she encouraged me to contact you directly, so here are my thoughts in response to your research.  First of all, I think this is a really interesting way of researching into probation and I agree with the points that you have outlined in your article.

So, my response in thinking about my experience as a probation officer through this lens was to come up with a specific object, i.e. a book.  This was the ‘Probation Officers’ Manual’ which was given / made available to all probation officers during the period when I was a practitioner (i.e. 1975-1985).  I had to return my copy each time I changed jobs and so didn’t get to keep my own personal copy.  However, I do have one in my possession now which was passed onto me by Paddy Barrett, ex Chief Probation Officer of Bedfordshire (I had been in contact with her given my interest in Probation’s history).  I have scanned the cover of the book and the front page and attach the copies here.  I’m not sure if you are collecting actual objects but if you are – and would like this – I will happily send it to you.

As an aside, when probation started to go through major change at the end of the 1990s, I found myself at a meeting at the Home Office between those working at the centre and the probation training providers (this was before the Ministry of Justice was created).  At that time I was the programme lead for the academic part of the probation qualification at the University of Plymouth (i.e. for the South West of England).  I was on the edge of a conversation at lunchtime about what was going to happen about the Jarvis manual, (by that stage presented in a loose-leaf folder I think), and overheard that it was not intended that this would continue to be updated.  At the time I thought this was significant, although from memory, there wasn’t any discussion about this in the formal meeting.  In terms of your research approach I would suggest that this was a symbol of the shift that was taking place and impacting on probation policy and practice (in summary, a much more centralised imposition of policy into practice – and of course other things as well!)

In thinking about this now I remembered that I had referred to the importance of the Jarvis manual for practice in my chapter in the Probation and Politics book edited by Maurice Vanstone and Philip Priestley (published in 2016).   This chapter focused on women and probation, but I attach a scanned copy of page 14 when I wrote about the significance of being handed a copy of Jarvis book when I started (in Kent) as a trainee probation officer.