Interim reconviction figures published
Yesterday the MoJ published interim reconviction figures from the reducing reoffending PbR pilots at Peterborough and Doncaster prisons.
The final results for just the first year’s cohort from these pilots won’t be available until 2014 but the MoJ have decided to publish these interim results because of the “high level of public interest” which has been created because the new reducing reoffending contracts will be let on a PbR basis.
These interim figures are based on offences committed in the six months following release from prison (with a further three month period which allows time for cases to go through the courts).
There were around 850 offenders in the Peterborough cohort which relates to offenders released between 9 September 2010 and 1 July 2012.
The reconviction measures are different for both pilots.
In Peterborough’s case, the outcome measure is the frequency of reconviction events.
The final reconviction figures will compare the performance of Peterborough with a control group of similar offenders released from other prisons.
The MoJ target, which triggers the outcome payment, is for the reoffending rate of Peterborough’s prisoners to be 10% less than the comparison cohort.
The chart below compares reoffending rates over time and against the national average.
For the first cohort of the PbR pilot, known as the ONE Project, there are an average of 81 reconviction events per 100 offenders in the six months following release.
This compares to an average of 87 reconviction events per 100 in the two years previous.
Nationally, the equivalent figures show a rise of 16% from 69 to 79 reconviction events per 100 offenders.
These results can be interpreted in one of two ways.
Optimists may argue that they are extremely encouraging – a 6% fall in the context of a 16% rise nationally is a strong performance.
Pessimists, however, could make the case that a reduction of 6% is not sufficient to trigger a success payment at a pilot site which had many more advantages – in terms of the amount of development time in particular – than will be available to the new rehabilitation providers.
The Doncaster cohort consists of approximately 750 offenders who were released from 1 October 2011 to 30 September 2012.
Unlike Peterborough, the Doncaster outcome measure is the proportion of offenders who commit one or more offences in the 12 months following release from prison and are convicted in the 18 month period following release (to allow time for the court process).
Success will be determined by comparison with the reconviction rate in the baseline year of 2009.
For those who know the jargon, this is basically a “binary” measure.
The chart below shows the six-month reconviction rate for the first half of the first year of the Doncaster cohort (those released between October 2011 and March 2012).
This rate was 41.1% compared to 41.6% for offenders released in October 2009 to March 2010.
This is a fall of 0.5%, compared to a national fall of 0.3%.
To be honest, neither of these pilots have been running for a sufficiently long period of time for these results be treated with anything other than the utmost caution.
However, the interim figures are hardly earth-shattering and the pilots did have a number of advantages not available to the providers who win the new reducing reoffending contracts which will be awarded next Autumn.
The principal advantage, of course, is that the prisons and partnerships involved were actively seeking to pilot new approaches and had more time to plan their approach and were in a position, to an extent, to negotiate the terms of their PbR payment process.
My view is that these mediocre results make the MoJ’s recently published proposed payment mechanism seem even more unrealistic.
If we are really talking about transforming rehabilitation, then it will take several years for new approaches to bed in and be successful, yet the MoJ expects them to be delivering improvements in year one despite having to provide a service to many more offenders (50,000+ new short term prisoners) from within a reduced budget.