In October 2016, CEP launched the CEP awards, a celebration of outstanding contributions to probation. The awards scheme reflects CEP’s vision: to contribute to safer communities by rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders and providing the best possible interventions to reduce re-offending and the impact of crime. Third of 4 categories is the Research Award. Winner is Professor Peter Raynor from the department of Criminology, Swansea University, for his ‘Jersey Supervision Skills Study’. Research which has made an outstanding contribution to probation practice.

The Jersey Supervision skills study aims to measure the impact of skills in probation work.  Videotaped interviews were produced by a group of probation officers and analysed by researchers using a checklist designed to identify the range of skills used in one-to-one supervision. Reconviction rates were found to be significantly lower among those whose supervisors were assessed as using a wider range of skills.

The study is based on 95 video-recorded interviews with people under supervision or pre-sentence investigation, provided by most of the probation staff who have responsibility for supervising offenders in the British Channel Island of Jersey. The aims of the study were to document and measure the use of interview skills by participating staff, and to ascertain whether differences in observed skills were related to differences in outcomes for people under supervision. A subsidiary aim was to develop a checklist for the observation of skills which could function both as a research instrument and as a training resource for practitioners themselves. The checklist and video recording of interviews have been incorporated into Jersey Probation Supervision practice and the checklist has been provided to over 30 different organisations worldwide to date. It shows that Probation Works. Jersey Probation Service outcome measures which were already strong continue to improve following the use of the checklist.

Outcomes

The study shows what skills are used and the effects of skilled supervision. On average, the staff scored more highly in the relationship skills than in the structuring skills. This may reflect the fact that most Jersey probation officers have qualified as social workers (as probation officers in England and Wales did before 1998) and relationship skills tend to feature strongly in social work training, whereas several of the structuring skills are more likely to be encountered, if at all, in post-qualifying or in-service training.

People supervised by more skilled staff were significantly less likely to be reconvicted over a two-year follow-up,  and the most effective supervisors combined good relationship skills with a range of ‘structuring’ or change-promoting skills. In effect, this can be regarded as a test of the impact of social work skills used by probation staff and suggests that a closer relationship between mainstream social work research and probation research could be productive for both.

The checklist and video recording of interviews have been incorporated into Jersey Probation Supervision practice and the checklist has been provided to over 30 different organisations worldwide to date. It shows that Probation Works. Jersey Probation Service outcome measures which were already strong continue to improve following the use of the checklist.


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