New book on desistance and probation supervision out


Oxford Univ Press have just published a book which updates the effects of probation supervision on the lives of the men and women in the Tracking Project.

To recap, in the first book (Farrall, 2002), few thought that probation had helped them desist. In the second book (Farrall and Calverley, 2006) a few were prepared to say that probation had helped. In this installment far, far more now credit probation supervision with a role in their desistance.

A link to the book is here:


The book also deals with the spatial dynamics of desistance (ie how the places which people spend their time in and how they interpret those places change as they desist), victimisation and desistance, the emotional trajecory of desistance and citizenship and desistance.

As ever, I’d be really interested in hearing what practitioners who work with people in prisons and in the community make of the study and its findings. My take, for what it is worth, is that probation equips people with tools which are used when social and personal changes emerge which make desistane desirable and/or possible. So what is said to people is ‘stored up’ and used selectively as and when circumstances encourage desistance.

With best wishes,



Farrall, S. (2002) Rethinking What Works With Offenders, Willan Publishing, Cullompton, Devon.

Farrall, S. and Calverley, A. (2006) Understanding Desistance from Crime, Crime and Justice Series, Open University Press, London.


5 thoughts on “New book on desistance and probation supervision out”

  1. Thanks Stephen. I like your ‘take’. It resonates with what French practitioners (probation officers and sentences’ implementation judges alike) usually say. They will use the same words you use ‘tools’, and things being ‘stored up’ for later use. They will tell you that they ‘plant seeds’ and that they hope that something will grow out of it; that if it does not happen now, then it may later. They also say they hope that probationers will use the tools – or grab the hand- they are provided with.


    1. Many thanks Martine. I’d not imagined that the model we outlined might apply outside of England and Wales – would be interesting at some point to hear more about how those working with wouldbe desisters in France see their role and the approaches they adopt.

      Thanks for posting.



      1. I think they have a correct idea…. the pb being that they offer little support – if any at all – to offenders (see this being due to a number of institutional and professional (habitus) reasons ( – also see my chapter in Fergus and Ioan’s book:
        Meanwhile I cannot wait to read your new book!
        Best wishes



  2. So pleased to see another book advancing knowledge on desistance! Your observation about a marked progression of more participants crediting probation supervision as helpful in their desistance processes piques my interest even further. Congratulations Stephen and co-authors, thanks for alerting us to it; I’ve just ordered a copy and I look forward to reading it and sharing it with colleagues here in Australia.


    1. Thanks Hannah.

      I think all of us can remember things teachers, parents, friends and colleagues have said to us which we recall at key points in our lives. Often, I suspect, those imparting the advice may have forgotten having done so themselves, but this does not make it any the less important.

      I hope you enjoy the book and feel inspired to post your reflections on it (good and bad!) here at some future time.

      Thanks for posting; best wishes,



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