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The English probation officer is no mere official bound by regulation and routine (Clarke Hall, 1933)
It seems staggering to us that up to three-quarters of probation officers’ time is spent on work which does not involve direct engagement with offenders
(House of Commons Justice Select Committee, 2011) ‘Psycho-babes, care bears and control freaks’ (Hanson, 2009)
We are delighted to introduce this special edition of the European Journal of Probation focusing on occupational culture and skills in probation practice. As the quotations above illustrate, that culture is subject to change and to a variety of widely contrasting characterisations both complimentary and critical. This edition explores the dynamics whereby probation culture is formed, maintained and altered whilst also highlighting some variations and continuities across Europe. It might be fair to say that, in many European jurisdictions, there is currently a struggle for the power to define probation culture and that this struggle concerns practitioners intimately. It is hoped that, in this context, this edition is timely and useful.