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The mentor/monitor debate in criminal justice : 'what works' for offenders

Barry, Monica (2000) The mentor/monitor debate in criminal justice : 'what works' for offenders. British Journal of Social Work, 30 (5). pp. 575-595. ISSN 0045-3102

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There is a move - which originated in England and Wales but is now infiltrating Scottish criminal justice policy and practice - towards increased managerialism and auditing within criminal justice social work supervision and towards more formalized and tenuous relationships between worker and service user. It is suggested that this runs contrary to the needs and expectations of offenders themselves, who rarely have the opportunity to contribute their views on criminal justice social work or on 'what works'. This article looks at the views of probationers and ex-prisoners about social work supervision both in England and Wales and Scotland. It describes one Scottish study, where probationers and parolees considered their 'ideal model' of the social worker to be someone who was proactive and constructive, offering encouragement and emotional support and acting, in their eyes, more like a mentor than a monitor. The research findings demonstrate the need for offenders' views to be given more prominence in both policy and practice, not least in recognizing the significance of factors other than behaviour in determining effective longer-term outcomes; in so doing, it also argues for a more balanced view of the role of criminal justice supervision that incorporates elements of both justice and welfare.