A Professional Register for Probation Practitioners: Opportunities and Challenges

After the turbulence brought about by the part-privatisation of probation in England and Wales in 2014 and the subsequent return of services to the public sector in 2021, the Government acknowledged the need for a ‘workplace professionalisation agenda’ (HMI Probation, 2021). 

Key to this agenda is a statutory register for all probation practitioners, which will regulate and inform practice. An interim policy was launched in April 2023 and its operation will be reviewed after 12 months. However, there is a lack of consensus as to where the register should be located and how it will function. 

The register is currently housed within Government, in HM Prison and Probation Service, but organisations like HMI Probation (2019) and the Probation Institute (2021), along with my own research (Tidmarsh, 2021), have advocated for independent, external regulation. 

This project represents an important and timely opportunity to generate societal impact by influencing the development of the register, and thus the future of probation practice. It will bring probation stakeholders together through a one-day conference at the University of Leeds and establish a network of academic researchers, regulatory bodies, professional associations, and policymakers to inform the ongoing development of the professional register.