French and Scottish probation during the first lockdown. In search of the heart and soul of probation.

Martine Herzog-Evans*, John Sturgeon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


In March 2020 in response to the global pandemic, countries across Europe ordered businesses and offices to close and their citizens to stay at home. This paper is part of a wider investigation, which explores what happened to probation services in France and in Scotland during this time of national emergency. Qualitative interviews with 29 French and 27 Scottish probation staff took place during the initial lockdown, the authors wishing to capture the personal and organisational experience of practising probation at this unprecedented time. In this paper, the authors explore how probation staff in both countries responded to the news of the lockdown and how they adapted to working in these fundamentally altered circumstances. The paper explores what took place and therefore what is left of probation when the vast majority of what it usually entails becomes no longer possible. The study reveals similarities between the countries in how as human beings, probation staff responded to the pandemic and the imposition of the lockdown; it also uncovers differences in the practice that emerged, these differences reflecting the different historical roots of the two services and differences in the way that they are structured.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-215
Number of pages19
JournalProbation Journal
Issue number2
Early online date12 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • probation
  • lockdown
  • Covid-19
  • criminal justice social worker
  • advise, assist, befriend
  • social work


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