Telephone supervision
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Is there a place for telephone supervision in probation practice?

Our latest research looks at the effect Covid-19 has had on probation’s supervision practice and makes recommendations for their future use.

The joint study between our Research unit and the University of Cambridge Institute of Criminology looks at telephone supervision and other remote digital communications to see whether the probation service should continue to use them in their future practice.

Over two months, the teams interviewed 79 probation officers. The findings concluded that telephone supervision cannot entirely replace face-to-face contact, but it has a role in enhancing supervision where the probation officer assesses the individual as having a stable or low risk. They found telephone supervision can help some individuals to feel more relaxed, so engagement is more genuine and purposeful than those that happen in the office environment.

They also delve into the use of other digital communications for remote supervision such as video calls and how probation staff can use internet resources.

The report stresses the importance of professional discretion and recommends the service develops new guidance and training for employees where probation staff use remote supervision or newer digital communications.

David Coley from our Research and Policy Unit said: “The study is one of the first to look at how policy and practice around digital communications might need to change in future following learning from remote ways of working during Covid-19. Because of the unprecedented situation, we have greater evidence and understanding about their use than we have ever had before, giving us a greater sense of how they can benefit the work probation practitioners are doing.”

To learn more, read a copy of the full research report findings: Remote Supervision: Getting the Balance Right.