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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

First Justice Data Lab results of 2014

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Even with just one positive result in this month's Justice Data Lab publication, it's heartening to see that prison education - an area often very vulnerable to cuts - can help reduce reoffending, even when it simply consists of small grants for art and hobby materials.

Ten new reports

Regular readers will know all about the Justice Data Lab, the Ministry of Justice pilot initiative which provides organisations working with offenders with the opportunity to evidence how effective their work is at reducing reoffending. To use the service, organisations simply provide details of the offenders who they have worked with and information about the services they have provided. The Lab then supplies aggregate one-year proven re-offending rates for that group, and, most importantly,  that of a matched control group of similar offenders.

The MoJ has committed to publish findings from the JDL on a monthly basis with reports issued on the second Thursday. Last Thursday’s edition (9 January 2014) included ten new reports, making a total of 46 so far. However, these ten reports relate to just four separate programmes with various sub-groups of the NOMS Bail Accommodation and Support Services (BASS) and the work of the Prisoners Education Trust considered separately. You can find details of all 46 reports on the dedicated MoJ web-page.

The Findings

As we have found before, even though the Lab requires only very basic information from organisations about the offenders they have worked with, it is still only possible to match a relatively small proportion of the different cohorts in order to calculate re-offending rates.

Only 17% offenders on the BASS scheme could be matched, 37% of those on the Prisoners’ Education Trust programmes, 14% of the Time for Families initiative and 47% of the very small (just 64 offenders) West Yorkshire Community Chaplaincy Project.

As we have also come to expect, in the majority (six out of ten) cases, there was insufficient evidence to draw any conclusion about the impact of the programmes on reoffending. However, positive conclusions could be be drawn about the work of the Prisoners’ Education Trust:

  • Receiving any form of grant from the Prisoners Education Trust (PET) reduces reoffending by between 5 and 8 percentage points
  • A PET grant for Open University Courses reduces reoffending by between 2 and 8 percentage points
  • A PET grant for unaccredited courses funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills reduces reoffending by between 1.4 and 21 percentage points
  • A PET grant for art and hobby materials reduces reoffending by between 0.3 and 14 percentage points

Conclusion

Even with just one positive result in this month’s Justice Data Lab publication, it’s heartening to see that prison education – an area often very vulnerable to cuts – can help reduce reoffending, even when it simply consists of small grants for art and hobby materials.

 

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All Probation Posts are sponsored by Unilink

With over 20 years’ experience in the criminal justice sector, Unilink is a world leader in probation and community corrections software applications, as well as prisoner self-service, prisoner/case management and prisoner communications. Unilink’s integrated suite of products provide a complete digital solution enabling efficient running of prisons and probation. Underpinned by biometrics it integrates seamlessly to deliver security, efficiency and value – while being proven to help rehabilitate prisoners.

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