The National Offender Management Service will continue to provide information and advice to stakeholders including the police and judiciary about offender programmes. There is regular liaison between senior members of the judiciary and of the Ministry of Justice, including through the “National Sentencer Probation Forum", which promotes communication between sentencers and offender managers and at which there is an open exchange of knowledge, views and experience of what is effective and practical in helping to reduce crime. Work is also undertaken at a local level where liaison can prove particularly effective.
Reoffending is measured as a rate rather than in terms of numbers of offences or offenders. Frequency of reoffending per 100 offenders is now the main measure of reoffending.
(a) There are positive indications that offender behaviour programmes may be effective in reducing reoffending for offenders in the community. For example, Offender Management and Sentencing Analytical Services (OMSAS) conducted an analysis on accredited programmes in the community (Hollis, 2007). It compared actual reoffending rates in 2006 with rates predicted on the basis of 2004 data. The reoffending rate for all offenders who had undertaken interventions was 55 per cent., based on a two-year reconviction rate. Programme completers did statistically significantly better than those who did not start or who dropped-out of programmes. The rates were 38 per cent., 61 per cent. and 64 per cent. respectively. This analysis of management information, however, cannot determine whether these differences result from programme impact.
(b) There is considerable international evidence (Wilson et al. 2005; Washington State Institute for Public Policy, 2006) to support the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural programmes in reducing reoffending. However, UK research examining the effectiveness of programmes in prisons has produced mixed results (Friendship et al. 2002; Falshaw et al. 2003; Cann et al. 2003).
A recent prison-based study showed that the one-year reconviction rate for both adult men and young offenders who had completed enhanced thinking skills (ETS) and reasoning and rehabilitation (R+R) interventions in prison represented a positive 2.5 percentage points difference in reconviction for adult male completers (17.0 per cent. vs. 19.5 per cent.) and a 4.1 percentage point difference for young offender completers (31.4 per cent. vs. 35.5 per cent.) compared to matched comparison groups. There was no difference in reconviction rates between programme starters and comparison groups. See tables 3 and 4:
A study of female participants of ETS and R&R (Cann, 2006) found no statistically significant differences in one and two-year rates between offenders and a matched comparison group. See:
The most robust evaluation of the Sex Offender Treatment Programme (SOTP) in England and Wales (Friendship et al, 2003) examined the impact of the prison-based programme. This compared two-year reconviction rates for prisoners who participated in the programme with those who did not. Findings indicated that the SOTP had an impact on reconvictions for sexual and/or violent offences (as a combined measure).
OMS Analytical Services and NOMS are working closely with the Correctional Services Accreditation Panel (CSAP) to develop further outcome evaluation study proposals.
Recent international reviews analysing large numbers of evaluations of drug treatment programmes have concluded that, on average, drug treatment programmes reduce reoffending1.
(a) For offences committed on or after 4 April 2005, the Criminal Justice Act 2003 introduced the community order which replaced all previous community sentences, including community rehabilitation orders (CROs) and drug treatment and testing orders (DTTOs), for adult offenders. Under the Act, the court may impose a community order with a drug rehabilitation requirement (DRR). No robust assessment has been made to date of DRRs’ effect on reducing reoffending, however research2 concluded that DTTOs can reduce spending on drugs and reoffending, although it was not possible to determine to what extent these changes were due to the DTTO or whether other factors also contributed.
(b) The evaluations to date of drug treatment programmes in prisons in the UK is limited, but suggest that these programmes can reduce reoffending3.
Prisoners who completed the 12-step RAPt programme had statistically significantly lower rates of reconviction after two years than a comparison group (40 per cent. versus 50 per cent.)—although there may be selection bias4 here.
1 Washington State Institute for Public Policy (2006). Evidence-Based Adult Corrections Programs: What Works and What Does Not.—Washington State Institute for Public Policy. (Available online at: www.wsipp.wa.gov)
Holloway, K., Bennett, T. and Farrington, D. (2005). The effectiveness of criminal justice and treatment programmes in reducing drug-related crime: a systematic review. Home Office Online Report 26/05. London: Home Office.
2 Hough. M., Clancy, A., McSweeney, T. and Turnbull, P. (2003). The impact of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders on Offending: two year reconviction results. Home Office Research Findings 184. London: Home Office.
Turnbull, P., McSweeney, T., Webster, R., Edmunds., M. and Hough, M. (2000) Drug treatment and testing orders—Final Evaluation Report. Home Office Research Study 212. London: Home Office
3 Ramsay, M. (ed) (2003). Prisoners' Drug Use and Treatment: Seven Research Studies. Home Office Research Study 267. London: Home Office.
Martin, C. and Player, E. (2000). Drug Treatment in Prison: An Evaluation of the RAPt Treatment Programme. Winchester: Waterside Press.
4 Selection bias is a distortion of evidence or data that arise from the way that the data are collected.