Human Rights, Public Safety and the Probation Service: Defending Justice in the Risk Society



This article, which was originally given as the third Bill McWilliams Memorial Lecture at the University of Cambridge, Institute of Criminology, on 28 June 2000, examines some issues raised for the probation service by its roles both as part of the criminal justice system and as a participant in crime prevention partnerships. It suggests that some of the tensions between these roles have apparently been relieved by the criminal justice system articulating ‘risk of reoffending’ more clearly than previously as its primary rationale. There are, however, some problems raised for principles of fair punishment by a move from ‘risk management’ to ‘risk control’. It is argued that adoption of a strong human rights culture would provide the basis for probation to contribute to public protection whilst retaining important values.