…suggested plan for mentoring work with young people (‘friend-helper’) to combine with magistrates work.
I lately asked our Probation Officer to put what he considered the cause of the crime in his report. This he has done and the reports are very significant.
Again and again the report gives as a cause of the crime; Poverty, poverty, poverty, “living above his means” when means may be £2 a week, and a wife and children to support, rent 12/- a week and possibly a contribution to be made for father or mother in the Public Assistance Institution. If Probation officers all over the country could make these reports and a careful analysis of them tabulated, much valuable material would be available for those responsible for economic conditions.
I have attended several London courts and I am always impressed by the work of and the personality of the probation Officers to whom I have talked. I have also attended Conferences of Magistrates and Home Office representatives and Probation Officers, and again have been delighted with what I have observed of the younger Probation Officers. The office of Probation Officers is a coming profession for men and women and should be socially on a level with the doctor, the parson and the schoolmaster. It is a profession which will appeal to those young people who have a desire for creative work and a desire for a life dedicated to the service of their fellows. I am convinced that there is a growing body of such young people and it should be possible for them to have the necessary training and an income when equipped which will make it possible for them to have a full and interesting life. The Social Service department of the Home Office can have no better aim than the reconstruction of the probation service, and Magistrates no finer ideal than to encourage probation work by selecting the right men and women. It will mean older Magistrates putting aside many preconceived ideas and age-long prejudices, but is has got to be done or this work of looking after probationers will fail of its high purpose.