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A new era for the Justice Data Lab
Can interventions get ex-offenders into work? The Justice Data Lab investigates in their new analysis.

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New frontiers for the Justice Data Lab

This is a guest post by Danielle House of the Justice Data Lab.

While reducing reoffending is clearly an important aim for interventions, it is not the only way that organisations can impact a service user’s life, and the Justice Data Lab (JDL) recognised this.

As alluded to in our previous blog post, the JDL is now able to assess the impact of intervention programmes on employment and benefits outcomes for the very first time.

Made possible by a cross-government data share with the Department for Work and Pensions and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, we are now able to determine whether people receiving support from an organisation are more or less likely to be in employment, or receive out-of-work benefits, in the year after their release from prison.

The Prisoners Education Trust (PET) have previously used the JDL service to assess their impact on reoffending, and volunteered their data for use in the development of the new employment and benefits measures.

The promising findings of this test case were published in July 2018:

  • Those who received a grant for distance learning from PET were more likely to have employment in the year after their release from prison…
  • …and spent fewer days receiving out-of-work benefits
  • …compared with a matched comparison group of similar people who were not supported by PET.

These were exciting findings for PET, and a huge step forward in the capability of the JDL.

What is the Justice Data Lab?

The JDL uses pioneering methods to help interventions understand the impact of their work on people in the criminal justice system, from mentoring, to vocational training courses, to substance misuse treatment programmes. Until now, we have been limited to evaluating the impact on reoffending, specifically, an important aim that benefits service users, the public, and the criminal justice system.

Where to next?

The Justice Data Lab is committed to continually expanding its capability to meet user needs. Watch this space for more developments, including interactive dashboards to navigate through the JDL evidence base, and the use of survival analysis to explore patterns in reoffending behaviour.

The JDL needs you!

Now that we have trialled some brand new measures and experimented with presenting them in a new-style report, it is really important for us to hear your views to steer future work in this area. What do you think of the new employment and benefits measures? Is this a helpful step forward in offering a broader understanding of interventions’ impact? Is there anything missing that you would have liked to see?

Get in touch

The team are always available to chat, whether it is feedback on the employment and benefits measures, for those with a general interest in the service, or for a potential JDL user.

Contact the JDL team on

The Justice Data Lab is free and available to all organisations addressing offending behaviour. Just follow this link for more information.

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One Response

  1. Great to see government money being spent wisely and proving that supporting the forgotten and mis-treated has positive outcomes. Carry on the great work.

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