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History of Probation


Probation has a history of reforming offenders stretching back more than 100 years:

1870s
Frederick Rainer makes a five shilling donation to the Church of England Temperance Society to help break the cycle of offence after offence and sentence after sentence. The Society appoints a 'missionary' to Southwark court and the London Police Court Mission is born.

1880s
The mission opens homes and shelters - but the Probation of First Offenders Act 1887 contains no element of offender supervision.

1900s
The Probation Service is formally established in 1907. Between 1910 and 1930 the prison population halves, probation has played a major part.

1920s
The 1925 Criminal Justice Act establishes probation committees and the appointment of probation officers becomes a requirement of the courts.

1940s
The 1948 Criminal Justice Act introduces prison after-care and provides for funding of Probation Homes and Hostels.

1950s
The Central Council of Probation - the forerunner of the Probation Association - is formed to speak with one voice for all employee probation committees. Home Secretary Rab Butler attends and says: "I think that your service is perhaps the most devoted in the country."

1960s
Work in prisons has become an integral part of the Probation Service's task. In 1966 the number of probation areas is reduced from 104 to 84 and a year later the Criminal Justice Act introduces parole supervision.

1970s
Community Service Orders are introduced in 1972, designed to be punitive in depriving the offender of leisure time, but constructive in benefiting the community and changing the offender's outlook.

1980s
The Carlisle Review of Parole proposes a coherent system for supervised early release from prison and an Audit Commission Review produces a framework for probation intervention.

1990s
The Criminal Justice Act 1991 gives the Probation Service the lead on all manner of new community sentences. In 1998 a new administration introduces legislative changes, including drug testing orders and new youth justice provision. Electronic tagging arrives.

2000s
The Carter Report proposes an entirely different approach for offender management, with a unified prison and probation service.

2001
The 54 probation areas are reduced to 42 to achieve co-terminosity with other criminal justice agencies. The service operates under a National Directorate, directly accountable to the Home Secretary.

2002
Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) come into force, placing a responsibility upon probation staff, in partnership with the police, prison service and others, to protect the public from sexual and violent offenders.

2003
All case work and all reports to include an assessment of risk of dangerousness of offenders.

2004
An amalgamation of prison and probation services with the forming of a National Offender Management Service (NOMS).

2005
The Management of Offenders and Sentencing Bill is introduced in the House of Lords.

2006
The results of the Home Office consultation on its proposals for probation are published.

2007
The service celebrates its centenary. Statistics show that probation met its six-year target to reduce re-offending by 5%. The creation of probation trusts is enshrined in the Offender Management Act.

2008
Moves continue towards a more competitive environment for probation through the creation of public sector trusts.

2009
The Probation Association is 50 years old.

2010
From April 1, the 34 probation areas and eight trusts that existed through 2009 become 35 self-governing probation trusts accountable to the Secretary of State for Justice through 10 regional Directors of Offender Management.