Ancestry UK

Probation Hostels and Homes

The system of Probation was introduced by the Probation of Offenders Act of 1907. The Act allowed any person found guilty of a punishable offence to be discharged on condition of their subsequent good behaviour for a period of up to three years. The individual concerned was then assigned to a Probation Officer who was to monitor his behaviour, report on this to the court, and also advise, assist, and befriend him. The 1908 Children Act allowed a child to be placed under the supervision of a Probation Officer as an alternative to being committed to an Industrial School.

A Home Office circular, issued in 1928, acknowledged that placing young offenders under the care of a probation officer might not always be possible unless some arrangements could be made for their temporary accommodation in a suitable place, from which they could go out to work or be prepared for work. To meet this need, it was suggested that use might be made of hostels or homes in connection with the probation system.

  • Probation Hostels provided accommodation from which the boy or girl could go out to daily work.
  • Probation Homes provided not only lodgings but were also where the young offender worked and received some practical training.

In each case, a period of residence of around six months was proposed. If the period of probation was longer than this, the individual would remain under the care of the Probation Officer.

By the mid-1930s, more than 20 Probation Homes had been established, and around 15 Hostels. A small number of these performed both roles.

The use of Probation Hostels and Homes was put on a more formal footing by the 1948 Criminal Justice Act.