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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

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

Peterborough Prison PbR pilot results improving, but still below target

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However, if the offender population in Peterborough is typical of local prisons, these results are promising although they do not reach the 10% target figure which would release the full PbR payment (the number of reconviction events would need to be 148 per 100 offenders rather than the current 155).

The Peterborough project

The Peterborough prison reoffending PbR pilot has been high profile throughout its existence mainly because the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling referred to it constantly as an example of the changes he wanted to achieve through his radical overhaul/privatisation of the probation service via the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) initiative.

The ONE Project sought to reduce the reoffending of short term prisoners released from Peterborough prison by providing them with a range of co-ordinated advice and support services including, in particular, support from trained mentors. The pilot was operated by Social Finance funded via a Social Impact Bond  and operated by a partnership led by St Giles Trust. The target set for the Peterborough pilot was a reduction of 10% in the frequency of reconviction events in each cohort of around 1000 prisoners (calculated by comparison with a match group).

The last set of reoffending figures released by the MoJ (published on 30 April 2015)  showed only a small reduction in the frequency of reoffending – an average of 84 reconviction events per 100 offenders in comparison to a national rate of 86 reconvictions.

The new figures (published on 29 October 2015) are, slightly, more promising.

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Latest figures

The figures presented in this statistical bulletin are 12 month re-conviction figures for offenders released from Peterborough in the first 18 months of the cohort 2 period (all eligible offenders released between 2 July 2012 and 1 July 2014). Success of the Peterborough pilot will be measured against a control group of similar offenders released from other prisons, but the MoJ couldn’t do the comparison for these interim figures. Instead, to provide some context for the Peterborough figures, the MoJ provided equivalent national figures for the same periods. The national figures are based on other local prisons excluding Peterborough and Doncaster (where there was another, mainly unsuccessful, PbR pilot).

Peterborough reconviction October 2015

As you can see, for offenders released from Peterborough between 2 July 2012 and 31 December 2013 (the first 18 months of the cohort 2 period), there were an average of 155 re-conviction events per 100 offenders. This shows a decrease of 3.0% compared to an average of 160 re-conviction events per 100 offenders released from Peterborough between July 2008 and December 2009.

Critically, the equivalent national figures show a rise of 13.2% from 145 to 164 re-conviction events per 100 offenders.

Of course, we won’t know if the MoJ is comparing like with like until they do the proper analysis with a matched control group – and we have to wait until summer 2016 for those results.

However, if the offender population in Peterborough is typical of local prisons, these results are promising although they do not reach the 10% target figure which would release the full PbR payment (the number of reconviction events would need to be 148 per 100 offenders rather than the current 155).

I remain of the opinion that these figures are disappointing since short term prisoners at other local prisons were not receiving any support or supervision services during the period to which these figures apply.

 

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4 Responses

  1. My concern is this: It is one thing to use a site like Peterborough as a ‘test-bed’, but how representative of the entire estate is it, what are the (un) employment statistics for the prison’s catchment area (in an inmate demographic) is housing available? As these are the two main issues for offenders leaving custody that are not well resourced/provided for in London, can the Peterborough outcomes be set against national figures, and be be reliably comparable; is the small percentage improvement in re-offending truly evidence that Pbr is having the desired impact?

  2. I share Russell’s view. Another issue is cost. I make it about 70 re-offences avoided in this cohort on these data – not properly matched groups but its all there is. Whether that was ‘worth it’ depends how much was paid, which we dont know and, I guess, never will know – and what else could have been done with it.

  3. This project was funded via a Social Impact Bond with charitable trusts as funders. As I understand it, if the reoffending targets aren’t reached, the project won’t cost the MoJ/public purse anything at all.
    It’s a shame that the pilot was abandoned in its early years because of the implementation of Transforming Rehabilitation. It always takes some time for new initiatives to bed in.

    Will be interesting to see final evaluation with matched cohorts.

  4. How long to a service need to bed in before it is admitted that it is horribly broken and made worse as a result of the changes?

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