Based on a survey of probation work with almost 1400 young adult offenders, this book provides a unique insight into the realities of probation practice in a context of increasing poverty, drug use and community breakdown. Starting with an outline of the current policy environment, the book discusses the relevance of criminological theory to the harsh experience of young offenders in modern Britain. It goes on to develop a typology of offending behaviour on the basis of detailed and often disturbing accounts of the histories and troubles of young people afflicted by poverty, disruption of family relationships and long term unemployment. While much of the book is concerned with the difficulties young offenders experience, and the problems probation officers have in trying to help them change, the overall message of the book is not one of despair. The authors show that good probation practice can make a difference, and the book is written in a way which will be useful to practitioners and policy-makers involved with supervising offenders in the community. From the typology of offending the authors extract lessons for appropriate and relevant practice which should help to improve the quality and effectiveness of the probation service. Some of these implications are explored in the concluding chapter, by Cedric Fullwood, Chief Probation Officer of Greater Manchester. As well as criminal justice practitioners, students of criminology, probation trainees and other social work students will find in the book many vivid examples of how sociological theory can be used to understand and interpret practice. The book is likely to provoke much debate about what constitutes positive practice in a probation service facing the challenges of the future.