n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Criminology's role in the training of probation officers working with young offenders

Volume 16, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093



The past decade saw significant reforms in the administration of youth justice in South Africa and the Departments of Justice, Social Development and Safety and Security implemented strategies that adhere to international criteria on how to effectively deal with young people in conflict with the law. Within the framework of restorative justice, emphasis is placed on the development and empowerment of young offenders throughout the dispensation and enforcement of justice. Therefore, it has to be ensured that service providers are appropriately trained to work and interact with young offenders. This article sets out to describe the training needs of probation officers tasked with the management of youths in conflict with the law and primarily aims to delineate what Criminology could contribute towards their training. Previous reference to the discipline's increased involvement in probation training was taken as the point of departure and findings of a Free State-based study, conducted among a total of 38 probation service providers and decision-makers, are utilised to substantiate the conclusions arrived at. Findings indicate that, amongst others, probation officers working with young offenders require training in criminal law (specifically the Criminal Procedure Act), sentencing options, matters related to the assessment of young offenders, court proceedings, and treatment and intervention strategies. Moreover, the study found that both the theoretical and applied sides of Criminology are instrumental in the training of probation officers working with young offenders. The discipline's study fields of the offender, crime causation, crime prevention, the administration of justice and the victim of crime are to play a central role in probation training.

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