Reflections from research

These five minute reflections from research videos are aimed at all those interested in the key lessons from probation and youth justice research studies. Reflecting upon their work, leading academics set out their top pieces of advice for the delivery of high-quality probation and/or youth justice services. The videos help to provide a rounded view of the evidence base, assisting with informed debate and aiding understanding of what helps and what hinders service delivery.

The views expressed in each of the videos do not necessarily reflect the policy position of HM Inspectorate of Probation.

Disclaimer: an external platform has been used to host these videos. Recommendations for further viewing may appear at the end of the videos and are beyond our control.

Professor Pamela Ugwudike

University of Southampton

  1. Use tools as decision-making guides
  2. Ensure that processes are transparent
  3. Participate in regular training

Probation services can introduce measures that… will improve transparency and will also enhance trust in both the technologies and probation decision making more broadly


Pamela Ugwudike is Professor of Criminology at the University of Southampton, a Fellow of the UK’s Higher Education Academy, and a Fellow of the national Alan Turing Institute for Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. She has international expertise in multidisciplinary research on the ethics and governance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, with a focus on the data-driven technologies (such as predictive algorithms and online social networking algorithms) that inform criminal justice policy and practice. She is also a co-Editor-in-Chief of the Criminology and Criminal Justice Journal which is the flagship Journal of the British Society of Criminology and she currently sits on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Criminology and the European Journal of Probation. She was co-editor of both Evidence-Based Skills in Criminal Justice: International Research on Supporting Rehabilitation and Desistance (2018) and The Routledge Companion to Rehabilitative Work in Criminal Justice (2020).

Video uploaded 05 July 2024

Professor Fergus McNeill

University of Glasgow

  1. Focus on reintegration as the primary goal
  2. Recognise people in terms of their worth and potential
  3. Adopt a dialogical approach

In the long term we secure reductions in risk when we integrate people effectively into society


Fergus McNeill is Professor of Criminology and Social Work at the University of Glasgow where he works in the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and in Sociology. Prior to becoming an academic in 1998, Fergus worked for a decade in residential drug rehabilitation and as a criminal justice social worker. His many research projects and publications have examined institutions, cultures and practices of punishment and rehabilitation and their alternatives. Most recently, between 2017-21, Fergus led ‘Distant Voices: Coming Home’, a major, multi-partner Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council project which explored re-integration after punishment through creative practices and research methods. His most recent books include Reimagining Rehabilitation: Beyond the Individual (with Lol Burke and Steve Collett) and Pervasive Punishment: Making sense of mass supervision (the winner of the European Society of Criminology’s Book Prize 2021).

Video uploaded 08 April 2024

Professor Lol Burke

Liverpool John Moores University

  1. Provide space for practitioners to reflect upon their practice
  2. Be part of a broader project to promote social justice
  3. Focus on inclusivity and reducing discrimination

Reimagining probation delivery requires, on the one hand, a highly strategic national focus and, on the other hand, the need to locate delivery mechanisms within local government and local communities


Lol Burke is Professor in Criminal Justice at Liverpool John Moores University and specialises in the areas of probation research, policy and practice. As a former probation practitioner, he has experience working in both community and custodial settings. He has published extensively on probation related issues and rehabilitation in general and is co-author of Redemption, rehabilitation and risk management (2012), Delivering rehabilitation: The politics, governance and control of probation (2015), Reimagining rehabilitation: Beyond the Individual (2019), Reimagining probation practice: Reforming rehabilitation in an age of penal excess (2022), and An introduction to Penology: Punishment, Prisons and Probation (2023). He was editor of the Probation Journal from 2007 to 2016 and is on the editorial board of the European Journal of Probation. He is also a Fellow of the Probation Institute and a member of the Howard League for Penal Reform’s Research Advisory Group, the European Society of Criminology Working Group on Community Sanctions, and CREDOS (an international collaboration of researchers for the effective development of offender supervision).

Video uploaded 01 March 2024

Professor Rob Canton

De Montfort University

  1. Support people in their own endeavour
  2. Emotional literacy is needed
  3. Treat people with respect

If probation speaks for society, it must be careful about what it has to say on our behalf


Rob Canton is Emeritus Professor in Community and Criminal Justice at De Montfort University, Leicester, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham. He worked for the Nottinghamshire Probation Service for some 20 years in a number of different roles. He has contributed to probation development and general penal reform in more than ten different countries, mainly in Eastern Europe. He was co-opted to the Council of Penological Cooperation in the Council of Europe to develop the European Probation Rules (2007 – 2010) and again in 2015 –2016 to revise the European Rules on Community Sanctions and Measures. He also acted as a Specialist Adviser to the House of Commons Justice Select Committee in its Inquiry into the Role of the Probation Service (2010 – 2011). His publications include Why Punish? (2017), Probation (second edition with Jane Dominey, 2017), and Punishment (2022). He is Patron of the Probation Institute.

Video uploaded 09 February 2024

Professor Barry Goldson

University of Liverpool

  1. Adhere to knowledge, evidence and human rights standards
  2. Focus on diversion from the formal youth justice system
  3. Focus on non-custodial solutions

There is a striking correspondence between the relevant provisions of international human rights standards and the knowledge/evidence base, and practice should be explicitly grounded and informed by both


Professor Barry Goldson was awarded a Personal Chair in Criminology and Social Policy at the University of Liverpool in 2006 before being appointed to the endowed Charles Booth Chair of Social Science in 2009. In 2020, he was conferred ‘Professor Emeritus’ and ‘Honorary Professor’. He founded ‘Youth Justice: An International Journal’ (SAGE) in 2000, after which he served as its Editor-in-Chief until 2015. Between 2010 and 2017 he was an appointed member of the Panel of European Youth Researchers (PEYR), an expert group established by the European Commission and the Council of Europe to advise on European youth policy and research. In 2018 he was awarded a ‘Juvenile Justice Without Borders International Award’ by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory. He was also a member of the Expert Advisory Board that guided and supported the United Nations Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty. Currently, he is the Chair/Convenor of both the British Society of Criminology ‘Youth Criminology/ Youth Justice Network’ and the European Society of Criminology ‘Thematic Working Group on Juvenile Justice’ and he is also an Honorary Professor/Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Faculty of Law and Justice, UNSW, Sydney, Australia.

Video uploaded 07 December 2023

Professor Chris Fox

Manchester Metropolitan University

  1. Adopt personalised and co-produced approaches
  2. Think about organisational change
  3. Look at the evidence in the round

We have to be prepared to look at evidence in the round; we have to spend time thinking about what the context is that we are working in, and whether the evidence matches the context


Chris Fox is Faculty Research Director for the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Manchester Metropolitan University. He was Founder Director of the Policy Evaluation Research Unit (PERU) and is co-leader of Metropolis, a research-led thinktank working across the University. He is also Professor of Evaluation and Policy Analysis at the University and an expert on evidence-based policy and public service reform with a particular interest in social investment, innovation, and the co-creation of public services. He has led many evaluation and research projects in policy areas including criminal justice.

Video uploaded 10 November 2023

Professor Kieran McCartan

University of the West of England

  1. Work in a trauma-informed way
  2. Support staff, recognising that work can be traumatic
  3. Think about recovery capital and justice capital

The work that is done by professionals is essential, it is important, and it means that… we have to think about how we support staff, how we train staff, and how staff are able to engage in an effective way moving forward


Kieran McCartan is a Professor of Criminology at the University of the West of England. He has completed funded research for the Economic and Social Research Council, Leverhulme, the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, and Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. Kieran has advised (including the Council of Europe and the Australian National Office of Child Safety) and continues to advise (including the European Union, ECPAT International, and NSPCC) many national and international governments and organisations, as well as sitting on several boards (including the Confederation of European Probation and Circles Southwest). He is currently the Vice-Chair for the National Organisation for the Treatment of Abuse (NOTA).

Video uploaded 13 October 2023


Professor Shadd Maruna

Queen’s University Belfast

  1. Focus on destigmatisation and de-labelling
  2. Celebrate achievements of reintegration
  3. Identify role models and pay attention to success stories

Even though we think about desistance as journey that each person has to go on, people don’t go on that journey alone and we find in the lives of a successful desistor, there are always mentors and role models


Shadd Maruna is a Professor of Criminology at Queen’s University Belfast. His research interests include desistance from crime, reintegration and redemption from multiple perspectives, and penal reform. Previously, he has worked at the University of Cambridge, the State University of New York, and Rutgers University where he was Dean of the School of Criminal Justice. He received the Howard League for Penal Reform’s inaugural Research Medal in 2013, and his book Making Good was named the Outstanding Contribution to Criminology by the American Society of Criminology (ASC) in 2001. He is currently President of the ASC, the largest and oldest criminology society in the world.

Video uploaded 22 September 2023


Professor Hannah Smithson

Manchester Metropolitan University

  1. Let young people participate
  2. Adopt a public health approach
  3. Learn from the impact of the pandemic

I advocate for a whole system approach to addressing children’s needs because disjointed services ultimately result in disjointed approaches

Biography: Hannah Smithson is Professor of Criminology and Youth Justice and Director of the Manchester Centre for Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University (Man Met). She is the co-convenor of the award winning Greater Manchester Youth Justice Partnership – a partnership between Man Met and each of the ten Greater Manchester youth justice services. She works collaboratively with a variety of local, national and international communities and stakeholders, including professionals, activists and third sector organisations. Her research has been instrumental in shaping agendas in research and policy across the interconnected areas of youth justice, serious youth violence, and child criminal exploitation.

Video uploaded 08 June 2023


Professor Peter Raynor

Swansea University

  1. Be guided by the evidence
  2. Focus on developing practitioner knowledge and skills
  3. Maintain a consistent focus on implementation

I would advocate always a very consistent focus on getting the implementation right. Often we see good ideas that fail because the implementation isn’t right. This doesn’t help the effectiveness or the reputation of the service

Biography: Peter Raynor is a former probation officer, now Emeritus Research Professor in Criminology at Swansea University. During a long research career he has published widely on criminal justice practice and the effectiveness of probation. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and was a member of the Correctional Services Accreditation and Advice Panel from 1999 to 2022. In 2016 he received the inaugural Research Award of the Confederation of European Probation.

Video uploaded 08 June 2023


Professor Nicola Carr

University of Nottingham

  1. Give practitioners the time and space for reflection
  2. Engage with the diversity of perspectives
  3. Engage with research and the evidence base

To be involved, as reflective practitioners, in contributing to the evidence base on what probation practice and youth justice practice means and should be about, and that’s grounded in ethics, evidence and empathy as far as I am concerned

Biography: Nicola Carr is a Professor in Criminology at the University of Nottingham. She is editor of the Probation Journal, and an editorial board member of Youth Justice, the British Journal of Criminology, and the Irish Probation Journal. She became a member of the Confederation of European Probation (CEP) Board in October 2022, and was previously co-chair of the European Society of Criminology’s Working Group on Community Sanctions and Measures and a scientific expert for the Council of Europe’s Council of Penological Co-Operation (PC-CP) where she helped to develop guidelines regarding the recruitment, selection, education, training and professional development of prison and probation staff.

Video uploaded 08 June 2023