probation servicea long-established form of specialized SOCIAL WORK (under the auspices of the Home Office) principally focused upon criminal offenders, but with a recent additional interest in the families of offenders and in matters associated with the welfare of children of divorcing couples. The core task for probation officers is the preparation of Pre-sentence Reports on proven offenders for the courts, to assist magistrates and judges in sentencing. For those serving custodial sentences the probation officer has a generic welfare role both during incarceration and on the return of the offender to the community. The profession has shown a commitment to non- custodial sentences, including the probation order, the community service order and forms of intermediate treatment. The training of probation officers includes substantial contributions from the field of sociology, including the sociology of crime and deviance.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000