As drama and entertainment, BBC 1’s Public Enemies is gripping stuff. It also focuses public attention on Probation and about what happens when offenders are supervised in the community, either on community orders or on licence after serving a prison sentence – The Probation Chiefs Association welcomes this.
While a drama would not be expected to reflect accurately the day to day work of probation, it does bring out many of the themes that face probation staff daily. Striking the balance between restrictive requirements and the more “constructive interventions” sometimes referred to in the film is correctly and sensitively portrayed. In terms of the fictional Probation officer/offender relationship, viewers will no doubt find the suggestion of the ‘up close and personal’ chemistry compelling. It is far removed from reality. What is true and backed by solid research evidence is that the professional Probation Officer/offender relationship is a key factor in successfully reducing reoffending.