I set up this blog to stimulate debate around the rapid changes in the way we deliver public services, especially in the arenas of crime and drug & alcohol treatment, which I specialise in. The blog went live on 1 September 2011 and has continued to focus on two key topics: Payment by results and the modernisation and digitisation of public services
Over the past four years, there have been tremendous developments in both these areas.
Despite its predominantly negative press (mainly associated with the Work Programme), PbR continues to generate plenty of interest, not least because there are currently over 50 schemes in the UK with a contract value of at least £15 billion.
Such has been the proliferation of research and opinion, that I have completely remodeled my free-to-download PbR resource pack with over one hundred studies listed, summarised and linked to.
Things have moved equally quickly in the digital world; particularly in the public sector. Police forces around the world have become increasingly adept at using social media – Twitter in particular – for a whole range of reasons and in increasingly creative ways. The use of police body cameras (with prison officers starting to follow suit) and the electronic monitoring of offenders are also taking off.
The government’s plans for privatising the probation service via its Transforming Rehabilitation initiative (with new contracts being let on a payment by results basis) has also been a major focus of the blog over the last three years – and has certainly prompted the most comment. You can find all the relevant (and ever growing) documentation in one place at my TR resource pack. The next year will start to see whether the new providers have had any impact on reoffending rates.
Visual content on the web has become increasingly important and infographics – whether on What the modern police service does on a daily basis, The State of Global Harm Reduction, or the Latest Crime Figures – have been among the blog’s most popular content.
The blog has continued to grow steadily with traffic continuing to increase (the last year saw the total number of page views go over the 1 million mark). More importantly, the blog has increasingly stimulated comment and debate. Although, like most blogs, discussion tends to happen less in the comments section at the end of posts, more on Twitter, LinkedIn, phone and e-mail – and even occasionally in person!
A blog, of course, is just a waste of hyperspace unless visitors read something that makes them want to express an opinion. I hope you’ll want to post comments and generally get involved.
The blog covers the main topic areas below, click on any of them to go straight to the relevant content: