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 five years, there have been tremendous developments in both these areas.
Despite its predominantly negative press (associated with the Work Programme and the Troubled Families initiative), 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. In January this year, I completed a comprehensive payment by results literature review which is free to download.
In July 2016, I completed the development of an interactive tool to assist commissioners and providers to decide whether a payment by results approach might be an effective approach to commissioning a particular service. You can check it out here.
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 four 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. Recent inspections and a National Audit Office report show that the new system is yet to operate effectively.
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 What drugs people buy off the darknet – 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: