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Power, Knowledge and ‘What Works’ in Probation

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This article examines the implications of the quest for knowledge of ‘what works’ in the context of probation, both at the level of professional practice and the broader level of the power base of the service as a whole. It is argued that the pursuit of knowledge of ‘what works’ in probation practice has had interesting and paradoxical implications for the probation service and its personnel, being associated with increasing credibility, whilst also exposing the service to a number of risks. The article concludes that the paradox of ‘what works’ has been magnified by its appropriation by the political centre in the form of the Effective Practice Initiative and, more recently, the ‘what works’ programme.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Centre for Applied Social Studies, University of Wales, Swansea

Publication date: August 1, 2001

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