chapter  2
Retracing relationships in criminal justice
Pages 11

Correctional relationships can be traced throughout probation history, and reflecting upon historical developments is deemed essential before addressing how therapeutic correctional relationships can develop in the future. To contextualise the research project, this chapter will outline the contribution relational work has made within probation and rehabilitation more broadly, considering how the relationship between practitioner and offender has evolved over time. It will discuss the current climate and contemporary issues relevant to relational work including the privatisation of probation, the growing commercialisation of relationships and important political developments (and tensions) relating to the rehabilitation of offenders. This will be situated within a broader position to consider how a more fluid position is emerging in light of neo-liberal developments, which have contributed to a shifting of relationships once more, considering how broader climates have influenced relational processes. Relationships have featured throughout probation practice and remained

central to front-line practice, in spite of socio-economic and political influence (Burke and Collett, 2011; Worrall and Mawby, 2014). Probation officers and practitioners have been bombarded with numerous demands through the politicisation of correctional practice since the early 1990s, and as a response to this, probation relationships have adapted. While Canton (2011) suggests that the relationship has been lost at points within probation history, I would argue that it has been used to carry out the changing functions of probation over time. This chapter will therefore retrace the correctional relationship and argue that relationships have consistently featured within probation practice (and more broadly), though their visibility and function has changed. The primary function of probation at its establishment in the late nine-

teenth century was rooted in Christianity and the work of Police Court missionaries, which aimed to save souls by divine grace (Canton, 2011). In 1907, the Probation Act declared that probation officers should ‘advise, assist and befriend’ offenders and rejected any responsibilities to punish (Goodman, 2003). While the caseworker relationship, and its influence, was central to probation at this time, the emergence of modern criminology encouraged the notion of individualisation and ‘correcting’ the wrongdoer (Garland and Sparks, 2000). Dietrich (1979) outlined that the responsibilities of the

practitioner broadened to engulf more rehabilitative processes, whereupon officers were expected to be change agents. The purpose of this was to address offender behaviour and motivation through a person-centred approach, associated with Rogerian thinking (Rogers, 1967). It was noted by Dietrich (1979: 17) that therapeutic advice was at times questionable, simplistic and variable between practitioners, reflecting an ‘anything goes’ approach. By the late 1970s, Davies (1969) referred to the casework relationship as: ‘the probation officer’s main instrument’, and yet Vennard and Hedderman (1998) later criticised casework to be unstructured, loose and overly didactic. Probation became more scientifically focused during this time and a treatment model dominated practice, through more psychological techniques, rather than understanding personal character (Canton, 2011). While evidence against the traditional casework model was not sufficiently compelling, Burnett (2004) recognised that there was a variance in quality and a lack of standardisation. However, Burnett (2004) added that at its best, traditional casework held some effective ingredients, which were never fully uncovered, due to an overgeneralised rejection of relationships politically.