The Probation Journal: professional since 1929!

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The Probation Journal: professional since 1929!

Forging an occupational identity and sharing practice with reference to the current thinking or evidence is not a new idea for probation officers and one of the most significant data points for this would be the initial publication of The Probation Journal in 1929.

Part of the core of any profession is how it grows and changes, shaped by debates and challenges from within and without. For ninety years now, sponsored by Napo, the journal has been central to the development of our identity as experts in the assessment of criminal behaviour and responses to the issues it poses.

All Napo members can access the Journal’s website and with it the complete archive stretching back to very different times yet with similar themes. In the very first issue H Chinn of Birmingham writes on the use of juvenile courts in the United States and the appointment of probation officers with “psychiatric training who are handling a small number of difficult cases” with echoes of specialist roles today in personality disorder or holding mental health treatment requirements.

In 1933 Winston Churchill featured in the pages of the Journal, proud of his record in introducing payment of fines by instalments and speaking in favour of the expansion of the nascent probation system. This proud history stretches back through advise, assist and befriend to public protection, from Nothing Works to What Works, from delinquency to Good Lives, from court missionaries to community rehabilitation companies.

Throughout the Journal’s history contributions from members have been key to its standing and role within the profession’s growth. The editorial board (which is compromised mostly of probation or ex-probation staff) remains keen to encourage practitioners to contribute to the Journal, alongside academics and decision makers, as we try to bridge between theory and practice, between policy and practicality.

There are a number of ways Napo members can contribute to the Journal including practitioner responses to articles, the writing of book reviews or research reports, or simply by reading and sharing papers of interest.

The editorial board will work to support new authors with their publications and we welcome comments and suggestions, please find our contact details at or via the Napo website. In ten years the Journal will be celebrating its centennial, a remarkable 100 years at the heart of an ever changing profession and a record that Napo members can feel proud to have supported.

Pete Marston

Probation Journal Editorial Board

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