This article examines recent research on risk assessment and probation practice in Ireland and relates the findings to the ongoing debate regarding risk management practices in probation. The piece discusses current theoretical arguments on the influence of risk in criminal justice and outlines the impact of risk discourse on probation practice in Ireland and England and Wales. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, Irish probation officers’ attitudes are examined in order to highlight key issues facing probation officers when making risk decisions. These findings are compared and contrasted to other research results from England and Wales. All the conclusions identify both positive and negative consequences of adopting risk tools and point to the continued salience of clinical judgment over actuarial methods of risk assessment. It is argued that the research highlights the role of ‘resistance’ by criminal justice professionals in mediating the effects of the ‘new penology’ at the level of implementation. The idea of resistance holds particular relevance for probation practice in Ireland where professional discretion is maintained within the National Standards framework. Despite this, to date there has been an uncritical approach taken to risk assessment which may ignore the dangers of risk inflation/deflation and the need to take into account local factors in assessing risk of reoffending.