Payment by results and re-offending
I just got back from an interesting roundtable discussion on payment by results and re-offending convened by IPPR.
It was a fruitful conversation stimulated by contributions from the different justice PbR pilots –the Peterborough ONE project and the justice reinvestment pilots represented by commissioners from Lewisham, Southwark & Greater Manchester.
I came away with two main thoughts.
Getting the focus on prolific offenders
Getting the PbR contracts right so that they reward organisations who are most successful with the most prolific offenders is going to be tricky.
The current MoJ plan is to make outcome payments on the basis of whether individual offenders re-offend (the binary measure) and a reduction in the total number of offences (frequency).
The Lewisham Reinvestment pilot pays its provider on a sliding scale based on individual OGRS (Offender Group Reconviction Scale) scores which provides a straightforward means of making larger payments for heavier offenders. OGRS criteria (which relate to the offence and an offender’s previous convictions) are easy to access from official sources and can be provided by commissioners .
This seems to be to be an elegant solution to the central challenge of having a simple, relatively inexpensive outcome measurement system which prevents gaming of the system.
Unfortunately, the MoJ says it must continue with its more complicated and expensive (still to be fully worked out) cohort approach because it can’t be perceived to be paying for deadweight (i.e. for offenders who would have stopped re-offending anyway).
In reality an individually-based scheme would be no more expensive (as in both cases payment tariffs are calculated to fit the budget).
The discussion was an encouraging one because both the reinvestment projects and the ONE Project felt that they had been able to make real progress in tackling the long-standing difficulty of providing a joined up response to repeat offending.
However, it was clear that all the pilots had required extensive commitment and leadership typically provided by local commissioners and/or the probation service.
Commissioners had intervened to tackle a wide range of system blockages such as negotiating access to keys in prison or resolving sharing data problems.
Probation Trusts had enabled new initiatives to build on Integrated Offender Management schemes and multi-agency partnerships which they had developed over many years.
However, the current MoJ model for Transforming Rehabilitation involves central commissioning and outsourcing 70% of the probation service’s work – it struck me that this configuration results in a model with no obvious leaders.
Given the scale of the challenge – improving reoffending rates with more offenders for less money – this could prove to be a serious problem.
A critical component of all successful transformation projects is effective leadership.
Who, do you think, could lead the rehabilitation revolution in your local area?