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Institute of Criminology


Bill McWilliams Lecture - Probation unification: Stories, symbols and belonging


For in person, click here.

For people wishing to attend remotely via Zoom, click here.

Event Schedule (in-person attendees)

1.00pm- Buffet Lunch

2.00pm - Lecture 


Lol Burke is Professor in Criminal Justice at Liverpool John Moores University and specialises in the areas of probation research, policy and practice. He has a particular interest in the impact of marketization upon service delivery and the way that occupational culture acts out in probation settings as well as resettlement provision for people released from prison. 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 (Routledge 2012), Delivering rehabilitation: The politics, governance and control of probation (Routledge 2015): Reimagining rehabilitation: Beyond the Individual (Routledge 2019): Reimagining probation practice: Reforming rehabilitation in an age of penal excess (Routledge 2022) and An introduction to Penology: Punishment, Prisons and Probation (2023). He is currently a co-investigator on a three-year funded ESRC research project Rehabilitating probation: Rebuilding culture, identity and legitimacy in a reformed public service


The decision to unify probation services within the public sector was seen by many as a welcome reversal of the Transforming Rehabilitation reforms and was subsequently marked by an ambitious programme of reform that involved the transfer of staff to the new organisation, the harmonisation of different operating models, and re-drawing of geographical boundaries, whilst having to deal with the disruption to service delivery caused by the Covid pandemic. Understandably, rebuilding culture, confidence, identity and legitimacy within the re-configured Probation Service has been far from straightforward and compounded by on-going staffing issues, critical inspection reports and high-profile incidences of serious further offending by individuals currently under probation supervision. Drawing on first-hand accounts, Lol Burke will consider the hopes and fears of probation practitioners as they encountered the events leading up to unification, and its immediate aftermath. The impact on their emotional well-being and their sense of belonging within the newly reformed organisation will be discussed through the stories they tell and the cultural symbols they utilise to make sense of, and articulate, their evolving working relationships. Finally, the implications of these for future probation service delivery considered.


Wednesday, 14 June, 2023 - 13:00 to 17:00
Event location: 
Seminar Rooms B3 & B4, Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge