Like Pilate, the probation officer faces ‘real’ problems of social control, of coping with destructive forces and with chaos in the clients and finds that they churn up disturbing and confusing feelings within him/herself.
The organisation as a whole can be seen as coping with the same processes, attempting to exercise some control over the feared chaos and the destructiveness of criminality whilst also facing internal confusions and conflicts as the Probation Service interacts with its complex and distressing environment. The parallel between the individual work and the organization’s behaviour is deliberately drawn to reflect my own understanding of the central importance of social work skills to the management task. The nature of the Probation Service is therefore such that the management of power and the exercise of social control are central to its ability to remain potent in the face of anxiety about both external (social) and internal (emotional) disorder. Whilst this can be studied in the context of our work with clients, my intention is to focus on the management task and on the issues as they arise in the life of the organization, especially at middle manager level.