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Perceptions of the effectiveness of health care for probationers

Coral Sirdifield (School of Health and Social Care, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK)
Rebecca Marples (School of Law and Social Sciences, University of Suffolk, Ipswich, UK)
David Denney (Department of Criminology and Sociology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK)
Charlie Brooker (Department of Criminology and Sociology, Royal Holloway University of London, Egham, UK)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 1 April 2020

Issue publication date: 7 May 2020




This study aims to investigate the views of commissioners, providers and criminal justice staff on how effective current health-care provision is at meeting the health needs of people on probation. Understanding perceptions of what constitutes effective provision, where barriers are encountered and where improvements could be made is an important step towards improving access to care for this hard-to-reach group.


The research was part of a wider study. This paper focusses on findings from case studies conducted via semi-structured telephone interviews with 24 stakeholders in a purposive sample from six geographical areas of England. Interviews were conducted by researchers from a variety of backgrounds and an individual with lived experience of the criminal justice system. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.


Participants provided examples of effective health-care provision, which largely involved multi-agency partnership working. It was apparent that there are many barriers to providing appropriate health-care provision to people on probation, which are underpinned by the complexity of this population’s health-care needs, the complexity of the health-care landscape and problematic commissioning processes.

Practical implications

Improvements are needed to provide appropriate and accessible health care that meets the needs of people on probation, thereby reducing health inequalities. These include shared targets, improved funding, clearer pathways into care and giving probation a voice in commissioning.


To the best of authors’ knowledge, this is the first study of commissioner, provider and criminal justice staffs’ views on the effectiveness of current health-care provision at meeting the health needs of people on probation.



Funding statement: This article presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0815-20012). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care. The authors would like to thank Dean Maxwell-Harrison for the interviews that he conducted.


Sirdifield, C., Marples, R., Denney, D. and Brooker, C. (2020), "Perceptions of the effectiveness of health care for probationers", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 123-134.



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