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Community justice, time and the new national probation service

Nellis, M. (2002) Community justice, time and the new national probation service. Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, 41 (1). pp. 59-86. ISSN 0265-5527

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Abstract

Amongst the staff in the highly managerialised agencies of contemporary criminal justice, there is a clear and often painful awareness of ever-tighter deadlines and increasing time scarcity. Nonetheless it has been correctly observed that ‘academic investigation of such issues has been hampered by the limited conceptions of time involved’. This is particularly true in criminology. The sociological understanding of time has grown apace in recent years but tends to have remained a specialist preserve which has impacted little on reflection about criminal justice processes. This article is an implicit commendation of the ‘sociology of time’ to criminologists, and an explicit application of some of its concepts and insights to the emerging National Probation Service in England and Wales, as projected in its recent mission statement, A New Choreography. The targets and deadlines set for the new Service are premised upon a commonplace but problematic notion of ‘managerial time’, which in a variety of ways is at odds with the feasible pace of change in the many local communities with which the Service will be working.