Alois Ngolu

Personal DetailsAlois Ngolu

Alois is a second year PhD student with a varied background. He worked in a range of sectors before returning to education. His previous experiences include working in the transport industry as a Fleet Efficiency Consultant in Kenya, Military Service with the British Army as an infantry soldier (#Swift and Bold) and The UK's National Probation Service as an Offender Manager.

After serving 5 years in the British Army with numerous tours of duty abroad, Alois started his academic journey by completing his undergraduate studies with The Open University and then his Masters education in Coventry University.

Alois is supervised by Dr Sam King and Dr Wendy Fitzgibbon

PhD Research

Probation Work: Is it working for young Black offenders?

Underpinning Philosophy: Critical Race Theory

This study interest has been informed by the Lammy Review (2017) and the Ministry of Justice (2019) report that Black boys and young men are over-represented in the Youth and adult Criminal Justice Systems (CJS) in England and Wales and that that differences in outcomes between ethnic groups over time reveal that disparity between Black people and white people in the CJS is also widening (Ministry of Justice, 2019). Additionally, according to The Bradley Commission (2013) and The Equality and Human Rights Commission (2016), young Black men experience disadvantage across indicators of economic and social wellbeing, including education, employment, housing, and living standards, and in health-settings, in particular mental health.

Recently and in particular the year 2020 following the death of George Floyd (BBC, 2020) who was an African- American killed by Police (in the United States of America), and the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement (BlackLivesMatter, 2020), the discussions on the experiences of Black, Asians and Minority Ethnic (BAME) in England and Wales and if they are disadvantageously treated by the Criminal Justice System (CJS) has received much attention. The underlying themes of these debates are consistent with the evidence of negative experiences of BAME persons as highlighted in previous publications such as the Scarman Report (1981) and the Macpherson Report (1999). Whilst these debates are important for the continuance of awareness on the issues and experiences of BAME individuals, it is important that these experiences are explored on all the agencies involved in the CJS and especially the Probation Service. This is because the Probation Service is situated at the end of the CJS and as an exit agency (Calverley, et al., 2006), most of the offenders who come into contact with Probation Service have already dealt with other agencies of the CJS and thus they may have already formed their views on discrimination and fairness as per their preceding experiences. Therefore, the work the Probation Service does with offenders should conceptualise the prevailing what works policy. Additionally, Calverley, et al. (2006) notes that there is an inadequate understanding of BAMEs criminogenic needs within the Probation Service which has resulted in the ineffective application of treatment needs and therefore depicting the Probation Service as an advertent promoter of disadvantageousness of the BAME offenders.

Historically, until the 1980s, the Probation Service policy objectives paid little attention to the effects of racial discrimination and the unfair treatment of BAME offenders even after the 1960s post-War Government policy of labour resourcing from the Commonwealth countries (Denney,1992). According to Vanstone (2006), since then, there have been honest attempts by the Probation Service to address the issue of racial unfairness. However, these attempts have been described by Denney (1992:157) as an externality of racism in which policies that are most likely to impact some racial groups disproportionately are introduced and at the same time equal opportunities policies and managerialism dominate policy.

Currently, the Probation Service strategy is to create a diverse workforce offering equitable holistic rehabilitative interventions to all its service users. However, The Lammy review (2017) highlighted the negative experiences of BAME individuals within the CJS. Concerningly, Black offenders re-offending rates continue to rise (Ministry of Justice, 2019). Therefore, for a lasting change to be achieved regarding the issue of BAME disproportionate representation and to ensure equitable social justice, it is vital to search for new and different solutions to the problem of BAME disproportionality and facilitate a paradigm shift within the CJS. This study aims to explore the efficacy of the current Probation Service work in reducing recidivism amongst young Black offenders. To achieve this, this study will adopt a Critical Race Theory philosophical viewpoint with an interpretive epistemological approach in line with the qualitative concepts to explore the lived-up experiences of young Black offenders under Probation Service supervision. In doing so, the study answers the following research questions.

  1. What has worked well and has made a substantial difference to influence change within the Black Offender group?
  2. Which probation strategies have constrained black offenders in their desistance journey?
  3. What are the views of Black Offenders on what good standards in Probation Services should be?

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