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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

Talking about the National Probation Service and the 'Treatment' of Intimately Violent Offenders: Questioning the 'what works' debate

Roberts (nee Ballantyne), Nicola (2004) Talking about the National Probation Service and the 'Treatment' of Intimately Violent Offenders: Questioning the 'what works' debate. Doctoral thesis, University of Bath.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)


The government’s pursuit of ‘evidence-based’ practices within the National Probation Service (NPS) emphasises evaluating offending behaviour programmes. These evaluations produce mixed findings largely because methodological limitations facilitate inconclusive results. My study did not seek to overcome these shortcomings; indeed, I question whether it is possible to definitively answer ‘what works’ in perpetrator programmes. I provide an alternative way of undertaking research into the ‘treatment’ of intimately violent offenders using a Foucauldian form of discourse analysis.

My research draws on in-depth interviews, questionnaires, programme observations, and programme manual and case file analysis undertaken in one NPS area. In analysing the data, I outlined the institutional domains of the assessment, case management and programme. I considered the official and unofficial rhetoric about the ‘treatment’ of (male intimately violent) offenders, and how practitioners and intimately violent men in my study used this. Two key discourses were delineated. One is risk discourse about dealing with offenders by assessing, managing and reducing risks of re-offending; the other is rehabilitation discourse about working with offenders to change attitudes and behaviours to end crime.

My study argues that risk discourse was prominently talked about throughout the different institutional domains. Albeit a fading discourse, rehabilitation was used more within the programme domain. I conclude that individuals’ use of these discourses varies within and throughout domains, because of investments. Practitioners in the domain of case management draw on official rhetoric to talk about managing offenders’ risks because this implies they are ‘doing their job’. Violent men used this rhetoric to talk about reducing their own risks of violence since this indicates compliance with their court orders. These findings question the legitimacy of the NPS to protect women from men’s violence and evaluative research that relies on men’s linear stories of violence.

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Depositing User: Nicola Roberts


Item ID: 9743

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Nicola Roberts (nee Ballantyne): ORCID iD

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Date Deposited: 15 Nov 2018 11:43
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 16:07