To sell the Probation service to a very punitive minded member of the public, it is necessary to explain how probation has developed over time from a social work attitude, to the modern day National Probation Service with a law enforcement remit, and its aims and objectives as such.
The possible reasons and effects of punitive mindedness need be discussed and the effects of a custodial sentence, in comparison to community sentence upon offenders and the public will be investigated.
These arguments will prove that the Probation Service is not a soft option' for offenders, but rather an effective alternative for sentencers, who understand that custody is not the only, or always the most effective, form of punishment.
The dictionary (Collins Compact Dictionary,1977) defines Punitive' as intended to punish'.
The Probation Service's began in the late 19th Century with the Church of England Temperance Society. Representatives were sent into the courts due to concern over re-offending and repeated prison sentences. These representatives assisted the court with enquiries, bail arrangements and the care and supervision of offenders. They were so successful that in 1907 courts were able to appoint Probation Officers' with the maxim to advise, assist and befriend'.
In 1925, it became compulsory for Probation Officers to be appointed in the court as they had become so central to aiding offenders and sentencers.
During the 1960's, the Probation service also took responsibility for the care of offenders who were either still in prison, or had just been released. .
Parole was introduced (this still continues to date, but has been renamed), enabling some prisoners to be released earlier than their usual date, under the supervision of probation officers in the community instead.
The 1970's saw the birth of the Community Service Order (now called the Community Punishment Order - a tougher sounding name), which requires offenders to make retribution for their crime by undertaking prescribed work, without pay, for the benefit of the community.