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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

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

Latest probation reoffending rates – November 2013

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Last week the MoJ published the latest local adult re-offending rates for the year ending on 30 June 2013. These figures will be scrutinised more closely than ever given the upcoming privatisation of the probation service via the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation project.

 Probation caseloads continue to drop

Last week the MoJ published the latest local adult re-offending rates for the year ending on 30 June 2013. These figures will be scrutinised more closely than ever given the upcoming privatisation of the probation service via the government’s Transforming Rehabilitation project.

Proponents and critics of TR will seek to find ammunition for their cause. And those seeking to win the new reoffending contracts will be delving into the small print. I’ve done some very basic analysis to try to identify key trends.

However, the data should come with a health warning – these figures are published quarterly and tend to fluctuate considerably. We don’t yet know whether the MoJ still plans to measure reoffending via quarterly cohorts under its TR plans – their latest thinking suggested that they were considering measuring at least the frequency with which probationers reoffend on an annual basis.

Details of the data

The MoJ Statistical Bulletin is 37 pages long and contains detailed reoffending data at a local level. The MoJ also publish full statistical tables to accompany the bulletin, available at the same web page.

The data is provided at the following geographic levels:

  • Regions within England and Wales
  • Probation Trusts
  • Local Authorities

The data covers re-offending of all adult offenders on the probation caseload in England and Wales in the period 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013. There were 605,966 offenders on the probation caseload (who could be matched on the Police National Computer – that is their reconviction could be measured) – a reduction of 33,463 on the previous year (a drop of  5.2%). As you can see from the chart below, the probation caseload has been dropping steadily over the last five years, by 12.4%:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are reoffending rates going up or down?

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]N[/mks_dropcap] either is the short answer – the rate remains pretty unchanged. The reoffending rate for the year under review was 9.23% compared to 9.18% in the previous quarter. However, the fairest way of presenting these statistics is to compare the actual reoffending rate against the predicted reoffending rate.

The predicted rate takes into consideration the profile of offenders in the current cohort. Over recent years, the probation caseload has been increasingly made up of offenders with a high risk of reoffending. This is one of the reasons that comparing historical reoffending rates can be misleading. Therefore measuring actual reoffending against predicted reoffending provides a fair measure of performance.

On this measure, the reoffending rate of those supervised by the probation service nationally was 9.23% against a predicted 9.6% – a reduction of 3.83% – probably more than enough to secure a payment by results bonus under the proposed Transforming Rehabilitation contracts. This compares to the previous quarter when reoffending was 9.18% compared to a predicted 9.67% – which was an even larger reduction of 5.05%.

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What’s the difference between Probation Trusts? 

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]W[/mks_dropcap]hat, to me, is always the most interesting aspect of these statistics is the difference in reoffending rates between probation trusts. In the quarter under review in these figures, six Probation Trusts had a statistically significant increase in re-offending, whilst nine showed a statistically significant reduction in re-offending.

However, the MoJ stats release helpfully provides information about trends in re-offending by probation trust – as I have already said, the quarterly figures can fluctuate markedly, so a trend over time is much more revealing. Trends are defined as “where re-offending has been significantly higher or lower than predicted over four or more consecutive periods”.

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Reductions in re-offending

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]N[/mks_dropcap]orthumbria, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire and West Midlands, Warwickshire and West Yorkshire were the six Probation Trusts officially identified by the MoJ as having reoffending rates which were consistently lower than predicted.

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Increases in re-offending

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]H[/mks_dropcap]ertfordshire, Norfolk & Suffolk, Surrey & Sussex and Wiltshire were the four Probation Trusts officially identified by the MoJ as having reoffending rates which were consistently higher than predicted.

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Conclusion

[mks_dropcap style=”squared”]T[/mks_dropcap]he latest probation reoffending figures hold few surprises. The overall reoffending rate is pretty static with probation trusts overall still having a clear impact on reducing reoffending. There are a number of probation trusts who consistently over- or under-perform.

Perhaps the most interesting thing to come out of these figures is the continuing fall of the number of offenders under probation supervision. It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues over the next year. If it does, it will almost certainly tempt the Ministry of Justice to make larger cuts in the budget for both the National Probation Service and the new Community Rehabilitation Companies.

 

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