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Friday 21 July 2017
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An Evaluation of the Safe Newcastle Non-Statutory Target Project (June 2012)

KR/RF/10/1.0
Author: Sarah Soppitt and Michael Rowe, Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University

Contents

  • Executive Summary

  • Introduction

    • Background

    • NST selection criteria

  • Methodology

  • Findings: Seven Offender Pathways

    • Accommodation

    • Skills and employment

    • Health inequalities

    • Drugs and alcohol

    • Children and families of offenders

    • Finance, benefit and debt

    • Attitudes, thinking and behaviour            

  • Findings: Multi-agency relations and working practices

  • Data Analysis and Social Return on Investment (SROI)

    • Overview

    • SROI analysis of the NST programme

    • Crime and offending data analysis

  • Discussion

  • Best practice and recommendations

  • References

 

 

Executive Summary

  • The NST project shows clear evidence of drawing upon and extending best practice identified in the Home Office evaluation of IOM programmes.

  • The voluntary nature of the NST project brings additionality in responding to both the needs of service users and the impact of their offending upon criminal justice agencies and the local environment.

  • The eligibility and selection criteria were clearly defined and allowed for professional judgement to be utilised; therefore ensuring the appropriate people were selected for the programme.

  • The ethos, motivation and commitment of the NST staff team are commendable and add significantly to the project. These were clearly evident throughout the research process and further supported in the service users’ interviewers. The service users had complex and chaotic lifestyles, but the approach adopted was one which demonstrated a ‘realist’ approach. Successes, which took different forms, were recognised and applauded, but in the context that desistence and ‘lifestyle normalisation’ are long term processes.

  • The ‘realist’ approach of the NST staff team was based on an understanding that service users may initially be sceptical of the project and that the project had to offer service users tangible benefits, for example, with housing or other matters. The team recognised that the motivation and commitment of service users might vary during the period of their work on the project and that staff might need to manage their engagement.

  • The NST team clearly recognised that significant desistance from criminal activity would not be immediate, but part of a planned progression which responded to wider lifestyle changes.

  • The research team used the seven offending pathways as a basis for the evaluation; there was clear evidence from service users of both the interconnected nature of pathways and that the NST project was working in a way in which they could respond to the needs and pressures these factors were having on individuals and their re-offending and personal well-being. The pathways  addressed were:

    • Accommodation – identified by all service users, staff and stakeholders as the most significant factor; which also had a direct impact on the other pathways. The NST staff were exemplary in their commitment to finding suitable accommodation for service users; who reported that this had an impact both on the personal well being but also on their engagement with the project.

    • Skills and employment – for many service users employment and the acquisition of skills necessary to make them work-ready was not an immediate priority, but more medium term. 

    • Health inequalities – neither NST staff or service user identified health as a specific area of concern; this does not mean however that there are not unmet health needs. Several service users spoke of mental and physical health problems, although not that these were directly related to their offending.

    • Drugs and alcohol – all service users discussed historical or current issues with drugs and alcohol and as a result, along with accommodation, efforts to address these problems formed a major area of activity within the NST project. The relationship which has developed with drug and alcohol service providers is clearly evident; as having a strong positive effect on the experiences of service users. Service users also spoke extensively in relation to the personal support the NST team had offered in relation to dealing with drug and alcohol issues.

    • Children and families of offenders –family relationship across the service users were at best limited. The NST team clearly support re-engagement with family, where this would have a positive impact on service users.

    • Finance, benefit and debt – for all service users’ economic instability and debt were recurring problems. The NST staff team offered practical and detailed support in ensuring that benefit payments were in place and appropriate and provided signposting to additional agencies. Financial stability is clearly a much longer term process but hopefully if service users have success in other pathways it may ultimately lead to improvement in their financial circumstances.

    • Attitudes, thinking and behaviour – a central feature of the NST programme is that service users engage in the programme on a voluntary basis. It often appeared that participation was delivered through assertive engagement with key workers or something that service users undertook for instrumental reasons. In the latter category, service users often based their participation on potential benefits in terms of accessing accommodation, welfare payments, or other services that they wished to secure.

  • The multi-agency approach of the team (Northumbria Probation Trust and Northumbria Police) clearly had extensive value and allowed the identification and management of risks posed to and from the service users to be responded to in a thoughtful, timely and professional manner.

  • The programme also had a positive benefit in terms of police intelligence-gathering. Information gathered as a result of strong relationships with service users was shared with operational police colleagues. Equally, the creation of a multi-agency team including police to deliver NST meant that existing police data could help develop appropriate support to service users.

  • Attribution of success from the NST project and on an individual level for service users is highly problematic in that success from this intervention may come both in ‘small steps’ across the seven offending pathways and also over an extended time period.

  • In order to develop some preliminary understanding of the impact of the NST programme in financial terms the Social Return on Investment model has been applied. There are a number of limitations that arise in relation to the available data and the use of arrest data as a proxy for offending behaviour. For these reasons the SROI analysis should be regarded as tentative.

  • When measured in terms of arrest data, the level of offending associated with service users was reduced during the period in which they were engaged in the NST programme. However, the reduction did not continue beyond the programme; the number of arrests after the NST programme rose back to a level similar to the period prior. Forty seven per cent of service users reduced their offending during the programme; 43 per cent did so after completing it. Twenty seven per cent increased offending during the programme and 37 per cent increased afterwards. During the programme 27 per cent of service users had the same level of offending, as did 20 per cent afterwards.

  • The cost of offences before the NST programme was £137,402, during the programme this fell to £53,576, and after the programme the cost increased to £148,225. On this basis the cost of crime calculation shows that the investment in the NST led to a reduction in costs of crime of some £83,826.

  • Many of the arrests that the cohort demonstrated in the period before the NST programme were related to the administration of justice (for example, failure to appear in court or a breach of a court order). As with other arrests, there was a sharp reduction in administration of justice arrests during the NST programme. Before the programme the cohort experienced 24 administration of justice arrests, this fell to 5 during the programme but then rose back to 19 afterwards.

 

      

Introduction

Background

The Non-Statutory Target Project was introduced in January 2010 and supported since 2011 by Safe Newcastle, Northumbria Probation Trust and Northumbria Police to apply the principles of Integrated Offender Management (IOM) which ‘is an overarching framework for bringing together agencies in local areas to prioritise interventions with offenders who cause crime in their locality’. This project is based on service users who are classed as Non-Statutory Targets, in that they wouldn’t currently be receiving support from probation. The joint approach of the Police and Probation Trust is seen as critical in that ‘the management of Non-statutory Offenders is not within the remit of NOMs’ (Senior et al, 2011: 32). It also coalesces with the Governments findings from the Process Evaluation of Five Integrated offender Management Pioneer Areas (Senior et al, 2011: 32) which recommended that:

‘the government should support an agenda which enables local areas to; define and develop IOM, targeting offenders based on high risk and high need irrespective of statutory status’.

This perspective is one which allows local areas to address risk posed by individual offenders as opposed to only those who are on statutory orders; and allows the local area to develop and deliver programmes which are needs driven. In October 2010 Nick Herbert the then Policing and Criminal Justice Minister further supported this when he stated that (OPM, undated):

‘We need to ensure strong local partnerships between agencies focusing on individuals at risk of offending and re-offending. (I have addressed) local criminal justice boards and community safety partnerships to emphasise the value we place in collaboration to prevent crime and reduce re-offending’.

The project in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne which is the focus of this evaluation is based exclusively upon non-statutory targets, to address the often complex and chaotic needs of the service users and also to try and minimise the harm caused on the local community as a result of their offending behaviour. The nature of the client group is critical in understanding and contextualising the nature of the support and intervention offered by the NST staff team. The service users are characterised in the main as encompassing many if not all of the following; early onset involvement in crime and often drug use; a long history and range of criminal justice interventions; benefits dependency (for most if not all of their adult life); housing issues (many living in a hostel or classed as NFA); separation from family; alcohol and drug dependency; mental health issues; low self esteem/self worth; and for many of learned dependency upon the state. The service users can therefore clearly be identified as some of the most socially excluded, with the wider Newcastle community. The nature and extent of the social exclusion of the service users should not be underestimated nor should the nature of their offending. This group have experienced many interventions by the CJS and aligned agencies; with varying levels of engagement and success but which has not had a long term impact on their re-offending. For this reason the evaluation of the NST project has been based around the seven offender pathways identified by the Ministry of Justice who state that ‘our aim is to ensure and mainstream resources for offenders as socially excluded group and specific provision to meets he gaps in provision’.  By using the seven offender pathways as the framework to the report it allows the research team to consider the extent to which the support offered meets the needs of the service users, and is timely, appropriate and of value; to consider additionality. The seven offender pathways listed below will therefore be used as the framework for this evaluation:

 

  1. Accommodation

  2. Skills and Employment

  3. Health Inequalities

  4. Drugs and Alcohol

  5. Children and Families of Offenders

  6. Finance, benefit and debt

  7. Attitudes, thinking and behaviour

 

The data collected  and collated as part of this report will also be consider in relation to the principles of IOM, but most significantly in relation to the NST client group that;

 ‘All offenders at high risk of causing serious harm/and or re-offending are ‘in scope’ – intensity of management relates directly to severity of risk, irrespective of position within the CJS or whether statutory or non statutory’.

The project team will aim to evaluate whether through addressing the seven offending pathways in a holistic nature that they are appropriate, needs driven and ‘in scope’. This also allows principles from the IOM toolkit to be consider, specifically in relation to extending reach to ensure that service users   who are classed as non-statutory and who would not otherwise receive probation supervision can be encompassed within the IOM approach.

 

 

NST selection criteria

One of the key features of this project is that due the NST status of the service users who have been largely the subject of short custodial sentences, and who would otherwise not be subject to statutory supervision, involvement by service users is on a complete voluntary basis.  This builds upon previous research of the pilot sites, where it was identified that ‘the voluntary nature of participation in IOM (for non-statutory offenders) was also identified by almost all offenders as being an important motivator’ (Senior et al, 2011: 26).

Clearly, eligibility and suitability criteria for the project need to be clearly defined, to ensure that resources are used in the most appropriately and effective manner. The purpose is to target repeat offenders regardless of whether they are under statutory supervision and to promote change in their thinking and behaviour with the ultimate aim being to reduce reoffending. As discussed in the background to NST many of the service users have complex and often chaotic lifestyles; with many areas of their lifestyles needing additional support. It is for this reason that reducing re-offending needs to be seen as part of a long term strategy rather than a short term outcome which is based on the practice of multi-agency working ‘IOM will help to ensure coherent joint working across partnership agencies to make the best use of local resources to ensure that targeted offenders do not fall through the gaps between existing programmes and that identified problems are addressed’ (Home Office/Ministry of Justice, 2010).

 

The Newcastle NST staff team therefore work to the following principles when identified potential service users:

 

1.       Eligibility:

Offenders who are considered ‘eligible’ for NST support if they are:

  • Sentenced to short custodial sentences of less than 12 months which do not result in a statutory licence period;

  • Are Identified Priority and Prolific Offenders (PPOs) or High Crime Causers (HCC) who are currently no longer under any statutory interventions;

  • DYO/ISS Youth Offenders transferring from YOS.

 

 

2. Suitability:

Offenders will be classed as suitable for IOM management, having been identified as one of the following at risk groups:

  • High volume offenders, with history of short term prison sentences;

  • Repeatedly  tested positive for a “Class A” drug upon arrest;

  • Identified via substantive police intelligence.

 

The staff team have also developed close links with the local Prison estate (mainly Durham where the Governor responsible for Offender Management dedicated a prison officer to work as part of the NST and IOM team) from the outset  so that contact is made with the offender prior to their release; supporting the development of a relationship built upon the principles of mentoring which can continue in the community. Prior to release from custody the NST staff team work with individual service users to allow the identification of any potential barriers to reintegration and rehabilitation and where appropriate signposting to other agencies and organisations to support this process.  The Home Office review in 2011 identified that ‘at the core of IOM was the delivery of a set of interventions, sequenced and tailored to respond to the risks and needs of the individual. These interventions had the key aim of disrupting the offenders criminal activity and thereby reducing their re-offending’ (Senior et al, 2011: 23).This is recognised by the NST team, as not only do they set up the initial meeting with other agencies but support the service user to promote engagement, such as alcohol and drug support where they may attend sessions to offer support and encourage engagement to the service user.  The aim of the NST team there is that each offender, who is part of the NST programme, should leave prison with an effective and manageable release plan which will be both individual and needs driven to each client. Senior et al, (2011: 27) identified the relationship with the Prison estate as central when evaluating five IOM pioneer areas, stating that:

‘in relation to the non-statutory adult offender cohort in particular, sites recognised the importance of links with prison but also the difficulties of incorporating an agency which often had wider constituencies of offenders returning to disparate locations’.

In June 2010 the Probation Association launched its Local Partnership Strategy for Probation Trusts. The central feature and driving principles behind this was the development of a common purpose and commitment to ‘reduce crime rates in local communities by working with local partnerships’ (OPM, undated). The development of the NST project in Newcastle upon Tyne supports this, and the findings of the evaluation of the five IOM Pioneer Areas, in which the report highlighted four key which not only defined the IOM process but also allowed success to be evidenced within local communities. These four features were ‘using a lead professional; a continuum of support, intervention and disruption; managing compliance; intensity of engagement’ (Senior et al, 2011: 22). Each of these factors will be considered in relation to the research findings and analysis.

 

 

Methodology

The research has been conducted using a mixed-methods approach, combining analysis of project data, interviews with service users and staff associated with the NST programme, observational work with staff and service users, and a review of policy literature.

 

A limited amount of statistical data relating to the performance of the NST programme was provided by Safe Newcastle. All of this data relates to the offending profiles of the first 28 service users engaged in the programme. The data indicates the number of arrests associated with that service user prior to their engagement onto the NST programme, and subsequent to their beginning the programme. The strengths and weaknesses of this data is discussed at greater length later in the report where this information is discussed and analysed.

 

Given that the aims of the study were to develop an appreciation of the contexts in which service users undertook the NST programme, as well as their attitudes toward offending, rehabilitation and related aspects of their lives. In a modest way this follows in a tradition of ‘appreciative studies’ (Matza, 1969) that seek ‘to understand and appreciate the social world from the point of view of the individual or category of individual, with particular reference to crime and deviance’ (Jupp, 2001: 12). Since the standpoint of service users was thought to by a key influence on the extent to which individuals succeeded on the programme, it was clearly important to adopt research methods that would capture this. Through developing an appreciation of the meanings and motivations that service users associated with the NST programme better understanding can be generated of the holistic context that shapes an individual’s progress.

 

To this end, informal semi-structured interviews were conducted with eleven service users who were at different stages of the programme. Interviewees were selected by probation staff, who were briefed only to identify a range of participants involved at various stages. A schedule of interview questions was developed to provide a common framework and each interview was recorded with the consent of the participant. The researchers listened to the recordings a number of times in order to grasp the intonation, emphases, and linguistic characteristics that would not be discernable from a transcript. The same strategy was applied in respect to interviews with staff involved in the NST programme, four of whom were interviewed.

 

In the course of conducting these interviews, the researchers were able to spend time observing staff discussions and work with the service users. Some of this occurred in office spaces waiting for interviews to be conducted, some during travel to various locations, and some through informal meetings and conversations with the staff team and managers. The findings that arose from these informal opportunities also inform the discussion and analysis below.

 

The discussion and analysis contained in the report draws upon a review of relevant research and academic literature. This allows for the development of discussion of the results in the context of broader policy requirements and findings from previous criminological studies.

The research was conducted with the approval of the Research Ethics Committee of Northumbria University. All participation was on the basis of informed consent and anonymity. All personal names used in this report are pseudonyms.

 

 

Findings: the Seven Offender Pathways

Accommodation

Accommodation needs of the NST group were highlighted by service users and stakeholders as probably the single most significant issues which impacted upon the ability to desist from criminal activity. The interviews carried out with service users highlighted that accommodation had a direct impact on all of the other offending pathways and clearly stated examples were a direct correlation to their ability to gain employment, health issues, drug and alcohol use, family relationship and finance which were a result of their accommodation needs. The extract below from one of the service user interviews highlights the inter-connectedness of the pathways and the extent to which accommodation became a key factor impacting upon other areas of his life; most notably further drug use and family relationships. The positive impact of the support received through the NST team and other aligned agencies are also clearly evident and demonstrates both impact and engagement.

‘I got into rent arrears, over a thousand pounds, and so I got hoyed out of my flat and was living in hostels. So I just used more and more heroin. I was stuck in a hostel, couldn’t go and see my family, I couldn’t show my face. So I was bored, just passing time away in the hostel so I took heroin to pass the time away. Lost a good flat where my family was ... My mentor is helping me with housing, I filled forms in for an agency. My key worker from the Salvation Army is getting me forms for other housing. The amount of help you can get is amazing really, you might not get a flat but you’ve got to help yourself. I don’t think I’ll be able to get another council flat, with a £1000 rent arrears, but I might get a private landlord flat if I can get a bond off the social.’

Service User 1

 

A second service user also clearly articulated how having support from the NST team with his accommodation needs which led to clear improvements in other areas of life and wellbeing, with the long term aim of desistance from criminal activity.

‘At the time [I re-offended] I was homeless as well.  I wasn’t homeless; it was just going back to a place where I'd end up using drugs again and reoffending.  So [NST staff] got me in a safe place where there were no drugs.  It was a week later Shaun got me a place in a hostel for me and my partner.  Actually from being in the hostel I got a flat. [NST staff] would come and ask how I was doing; if I needed any help.  He took me to... I got registered with Crisis.  I did the Health and Hygiene course.  Just introduced me to some people that would help me with, like, my CV; getting into jobs and all that.’

Service User 2

 

The interconnected nature of the pathways though, can also mean that if the range of factors which are related to an individual’s offending if not addressed in unison can often mean that one issue may have a detrimental effect on others. While the NST team clearly adopt a holistic approach to these issues, which should be applauded,  the nature of the client group often mean that this is much more challenging than with other service users. For example the impact of short term custodial sentence may have an impact on accommodation, and also other support services which have been put into place based on locality of the accommodation. Several service users discussed losing accommodation as a result of short term periods in custody, and also an impact on service provision to deal with other factors such as drug and alcohol miss-use, health needs and maintaining family relationships and dealing with financial pressures.  The extract below further highlights the significance and impact of the interconnectedness of the pathways, and the difficulty this may cause on desistance from criminal activity;

‘I’ve been homeless for years and years. I have been in shared flats and that, but never my own place. The IOMP did help us with accommodation needs, but i didn’t help myself. I have mental health problems. I needed help with my benzos but the jail doesn’t like to give you anything. I was three days with nothing.’

Service User 3

 

The stakeholders also highlighted that the extent and nature of accommodation available across Newcastle are often challenging, and amplified with this NST group due to their often chaotic and complex lifestyles. There was clear evidence during the research process of extensive, detailed and systematic engagement with accommodation providers across the city to ensure that accommodation needs are responded to in a timely and supportive manner. The research team witnessed this on a number of occasions, and see this as an exceptional example of supportive intervention.  Accommodation needs are also often more difficult to respond to due to the external environment, availability of accommodation, and to meet the needs of service users, as highlighted in the extract below:

‘Accommodation is a huge issue. I know Newcastle Council say there are… I think in August the official figure was seven people sleeping rough in the city. We know it’s more than that, we’ve probably got more than seven on our caseload ... Some, admittedly, choose to sleep rough for whatever reason. We’ve got one at the minute who’s choosing to sleep rough because he’s got a girlfriend and he doesn’t want to be parted from her, and there’s only one hostel in the city that will take couples and it’s got three beds, and I think they’re full at the minute. So, they can’t go anywhere else. We can get them both into hostels.’

NST staff member 1

 

The engagement of the NST with other service providers has also allowed a wider wrap-around service to be offered, which is developmental and further supports the principles of IOM, in that they are ‘in-scope’, and that provision is from within and beyond the public sector. The extract  below from a third sector stakeholder clearly outlines and identifies the value of the NST teams close working relationship, and the added value this brings to service users;

‘I work for the Outreach team in Newcastle where we target the most vulnerable rough sleepers in the town. We go out every morning doing outreach. Once we pick them up off the streets we then take them back to Ron Eagar House where we start doing a process of what’s the right referrals, drug, alcohol and mental health. We also help them with their homelessness getting them a roof, accommodation. Then once we get them quite stable, also we’ll bring them to their appointments, probation appointments. We also work with the non-stat team quite closely because we do a similar type of thing, just making sure that they get to their appointments and help them through to whatever they need to be doing’

Stakeholder 1

 

 

Skills and Employment

For many of the NST service users  full time employment seemed a much more long term goal than other factors which need addressing in a more immediate context;  as for many employment wasn’t seen as part of the first stage of stabilising their life. Service users spoke at length of the desire to acquire skills to enter the job market, and support from the NST team in achieve this, but for many more immediate needs mainly accommodation, and also support for drug and alcohol issues, took priority. The extracts from service user’s interviews below highlight this further:

‘I cannae get a job while I am living in a hostel, and I would have to pay my own rent. I’d rather have a job and have my own place, but I’d rather have my own place than be working.’

Service User 1

‘I need to get a flat and that. Need to get a job. I want to get into Brighter Futures if I can, I wouldn’t mind doing painting and decorating. IOMP have helped me find courses and that.’

Service User 4

 

A significant barrier to employment, which was discussed in multiple interviews with service users, was that cost of their accommodation and loss of benefit as a result of full time employment which was seen as prohibitive. Discussions centred on the fact that when service users had been offered full time accommodation, when they had paid for the accommodation they would be left with little if any income to support themselves. Service users discussed feelings of despair, and being trapped in their current situation as they were often not seen as a priority for Local Authority Housing and without gaining full time employment would find it difficult to save a deposit for accommodation needed for the private rented sector. Yet, if they gained employment their current rent levels would also prevent them for saving for a rental deposit.  This is clearly an issue beyond the remit of the NST team, which needs greater governmental involvement, and also demonstrates the interconnected nature of the impact of the seven offending pathways.  The NST team clearly support aspirations that service users become ‘work ready’, through training and support, but also recognise the barriers faced both economically to service users directly and also the difficulty externally in the context of high unemployment, with a client group who may have never paid employment or had long periods away from the labour market.

 

  

Health Inequalities

The research findings did not suggest that service users identified health problems as related to their offending behaviour or that these were barriers to developing regularised lifestyles. Of the seven offender pathways discussed in this section of the report, ‘health inequalities’ did not emerge strongly from analysis of the interviews with the NST service users. Immediate day-to-day concerns were paramount relative to on-going health needs.  Similarly, staff interviews and observations did not reveal significant referrals to health agencies or other such interventions in relation to health problems (beyond drug and alcohol services, as discussed below). Such issues were not entirely absent, however. Several service users reported that they had on-going mental health problems or were under medical supervision of some kind. Clearly drug and alcohol abuse, which are discussed below as a distinct theme, are health problems to a large extent. In general, though, there was little to suggest that service users faced health problems that were not being met or that staff engaged in the NST programme were involved in arranging health care provisions.

 

 

Drugs and Alcohol

As has been noted, there is considerable overlap in terms of the seven pathways into offending around which discussion of the research findings are organised. Alongside problems of accommodation, though, the research clearly found that the most significant challenges in terms of the causes of offending and risks of recidivism were those arising from service users’ drug and alcohol consumption. All of the service users interviewed stated that some combination of drug and alcohol abuse had been significant either in the on-set or the sustenance of their offending. Consistent with this, service users noted that support offered by the NST programme that helped them to address their dependency on drugs or alcohol was crucial to their prospects of desisting from offending. Several of the service users stated that they had begun their drug-taking at the age of 13, and that had initiated low-level offending that had become more serious as their substance abuse had escalated. The following extracts give a flavour of the related developments in drug and alcohol use and offending:

‘I started smoking cannabis when I was about 12 and a half or 13, then I started taking amphetamines. When I was 15 I met a lad ... from Birmingham, he injected my first heroin when I was 15. I thought it was dope, little did I know. I’m on methadone and diazepam but my biggest battle now is alcohol. After my little boy went to live with my mam I started drinking.’

Service User 5

‘I didn’t go to jail until I was about 25, but I started offending aged about 13, something like that. I used to smoke cannabis. That is where it really started from. I used to offend then to pay for it, shoplifting, stuff like that, breaking into cars. I started using harder drugs as well. I am clean now, since I met my girlfriend five months ago I have been clean since then. Three year ago my dad died and I started using even more. I was on a DRR then an ASRO, but I got about half way through and I breached and got sent back to jail so I didn’t finish it.’

Service User 6

‘I started when I was 13, with drinking and have had various offences. I must have about 220 convictions: younger days, getting caught with cannabis. Thefts when I was about 15 ... When I turned 17 I first went to jail, for a robbery. 17, 18, 19 I got into prison in Doncaster. When I got out of there, it was on-going stupidness really. I turned to the drink. If you have nothing on you but you are rattling for a drink, and an opportunity arises, then you would take it.’

Service User 7

‘The IOMP helped me get into rehab, taken me to appointments and to court, and made sure I was ok. I came out of prison and had contact with them. I’d be in for a couple of weeks and had been in prison and on probation many times before. Every couple of months. I started offending from the age of 13, I think it was. Taking drugs and drinking got me into it. I was shoplifting to get money.’

Service User 8

 

Comments from service user 8, were among others that noted the role that IOMP staff had played in securing support to help service users combat their drug and alcohol abuse. The nature of the problems that service users identified, which demonstrated enduring addictions that often interchanged between alcohol and drugs and that were caused by and contributed to problems of accommodation and strained relations with families and friends, is a rationale for the sustained and intensive supervision that the NST IOM project offers. The entrenched alcohol and drug addictions evident from the interviews with service users also provide significant challenges in terms of the reduction in offending that is the ultimate measure of success for the programme. Although the scope and duration of the work done with service users is not fixed it seems likely from analysis of interview data that substance abuse problems that have developed over extended periods of time will not be overcome in a relatively short term. 

 

Additionally, problems of drug and alcohol abuse are especially significant challenges since they are closely bound up with factors such as the availability and location of accommodation, employment and training. Furthermore, concerns arise in relation to the degree to which service users ought to reconnect with networks of family and friends that might have been closely associated with drug and alcohol misuse.  While these concerns are significant it was apparent that staff, and service users, tended to be aware of the complexity of drug- and alcohol-related challenges and that staff were very well-placed to refer service users to appropriate local support services. The following extracts from interviews reflect the wider staff perceptions about the nature of drug and alcohol addiction and the centrality of this to offending and ‘chaotic lifestyles’:

‘At this moment in time it’s more alcohol than drugs. It goes in phases, it’s the same group of people but they’ll have a phase where they’re drinking, and then they’ll have a phase where they’re using substances and then they bounce backwards and forwards ... that’s what they do, when the heroin’s not good quality they’ll go on the drink, and when the heroin comes good again they’ll go back on the heroin, and it bounces from pillar to post’

Stakeholder 1

‘They’re more chaotic than the standard offenders in community supervision teams. They’re the higher crime causers, they’re the ones who consistently breach orders because of drug and alcohol issues, which mean they don’t get to appointments on time or at all.’

NST staff member 1

 

 

Children and Families of Offenders

Through the interview process we spoke to all of the service users about their relationships with family members and this led to varying levels of response and engagement. This area of research was one area where the research team felt that the service users often didn’t wish to discuss some of these complexities further. For many the separation from their children was a significant factor in relation to their voluntary engagement with NST; if they could resolve some of the other issues in their lives they may be able to get further access to children or possibly retain custody.  For many again this came back to accommodation; having somewhere suitable that they could bring children and other family members to, particularly for those living in hostel accommodation which was not deemed as appropriate was a motivating factor. Service used discussed the care of their children in relation to the role of current and ex-partners, extended family and social services. No service users however wished to discuss this in detail.

 

For many service users the separation from children is further amplified by either separation or breakdown in other family relationships; extending the feeling of isolation and social exclusion. The risk of re-offending is further amplified in that for many their peer group have become a surrogate family; making desistance from criminal activity even more difficult. Both service users and the NST staff team highlighted this as an area of concern;

‘Most of them have got a person maybe in the family, a single person who hasn’t completely given up on them, but for a lot of them there’s no one. They’ve got family in the area but they’ve got no one that they could go to, turn to ... they come out and we’ve managed to get them housing and we’ve managed to get them away from the group they would have fell back in with, then I’ve known them to stay out of trouble for four weeks plus before they’ve drifted back or they’ve met an old friend in the city centre and they’ve started sliding back.’

NST staff member 1

 

Discussion with the NST staff team in relation to service users support and engagement with family members supported the findings from the service user interviews; that for many they may have one member of their family who they still had some contact with but that this relationship was not always as strong as they would wish; or that the motivation for engagement with family was not always pure. The following interview extracts highlight

‘I’ve got good relations with my Dad, but I manipulate him, I learnt how to do that in jail.’

Service User 3

‘Me and my dad have some issues, he can’t understand how I turned out the way I have. But I have my mum, my grandma and granddad and my cousins. I have a lot of family who love us.’

Service User 9

 

Other service users discussed both the positive and negative impacts of family on their offending trajectory:

‘... my step-father used to send me shoplifting.  He used to drink all the money.  I think at the age of seven or eight... suppose someone will tell you, you do?  I suppose you'll think that was the right thing to do. I was pinching joints of meat and bits of cheese and just food to put in the cupboard.’

 Service User 2

‘I want to be back in my home town, where my family is and friends. They don’t do things like that. I want to be like that again.’

Service User 1

 

The NST staff team may wish to consider in the longer term, the use of ex NST service users who have been successful in terms of desistance adopting a peer mentoring role to support service users in this area; so that positive role models can be adopt and support them in this difficult transitional stage which may help in terms of feelings of isolation and also to limit dependency upon the NST staff team.

 

 

Finance, Benefit and Debt

Issues associated with finance and debt was a common feature across the service users and is a critical issue not only upon the quality of their life and well being but also has an impact on their desistance from further criminal activity. Many service users discussed the impact of historical rent arrears as a barrier to achieving suitable and stable accommodation; for some their previous criminal activity, such as shop lifting, theft, drug dealing, was their main source of income. There was clear and sustained evidence across the interviews that the NST staff team were supporting service users extensively with benefit claims to try and minimise some of the economic impact, such as the following extract from a service users interview;

‘I had an appointment at the dole yesterday, NST staff member rang me to say I had an appointment in an hour, I’d forgotten.’

Service User 9

 

The reality for the NST service users is the level of extent of financial exclusion they face is both long term and extensive, and while some may feel that multi-agency working is not as effective as it should be in this context, such as the interview extract below, the reality is that significant improvements to their financial well being must be seen is a much more long term goal and which is dependent upon success in the other pathways.

‘The IOMP have helped with dole, and all that, but ... there are a lot of agencies trying to help you, but until they work together it is never going to work.’

 Service User 3

 

 

Attitudes, Thinking and Behaviour              

A central feature of the NST programme is that service users engage in the programme on a voluntary basis, and that their participation is not connected to court-mandated orders or sentences. Consistent with the broader suite of IOM programmes, as outlined in the introduction, is the principle that service users that engage of their own volition are more likely to achieve meaningful change in behaviour through the development of more effective cognitive skills. Voluntary participation in the programme is seen as a measure of the motivation of service users. In addition the provision of timely and appropriate support is regarded as vital to the development of ‘redemption scripts’ (Maruna, 2001) that enable offenders to conceive alternative personal identities and more positive cognitive maps of their social world and opportunities available to them. One member of staff recognised that there might be only a relatively narrow opportunity to engage service users at a point when they are personally motivated:

‘early intervention – get the ball rolling straight away so they can actually see that there’s something going on. When they see there’s nothing happening, they don’t care so why should I care? And then before you know it, you know, the offending goes through the roof again and the drug use goes through the roof again. So, it’s actually catching that moment when they’re at their most vulnerable is the time to do the intervention’

Stakeholder 1

Another staff member reflected that ‘some [service users] are bright but they’re still choosing the lifestyle they’ve got ... they could make differences to their lives, but they’re just not ready yet’. The importance of support being offered in a timely manner is reinforced by the extract from a service user interview below, although this also indicates that predicting factors that determine ‘timeliness’ might be fraught with difficulty. The extract also reflects the significance of the voluntary nature of participation, a point identified as significant by many service users:

‘They offered support before but I wasn’t ready. Now I am. I got taken to [xxx hostel] the first night out of jail, they picked me up. A week after I got out they offered me all these courses and that but I wasn’t ready. This has been different, I can’t get breached or anything so it’s more laid back. It works both ways, it makes me want to do it more. I know they are there to help us; it was a good decision. I was living in [xxx] and my drug worker signed me up.’

Service User 6

 

While voluntary engagement appeared to be important to many service users, some noted that the true status of their engagement was somewhat blurred. Participation might have been voluntary in the technical sense that it was not mandated by court order but it often appeared to be delivered through assertive engagement with key workers or something that service users undertook for instrumental reasons. Non-engagers were subject to processes to ‘force compliance’, and this sometimes proved effective. Service users often based their participation on potential benefits in terms of accessing accommodation, welfare payments, or other services that they wished to secure. The voluntary nature of their participation was highly conditional, although a willingness to engage and seek to change lifestyle is regarded as very important in cognitive terms. Practically, though, there was recognition among staff and service users that voluntary motivation was often blurred and that there might be a relatively shallow commitment to the programme. The following extract illustrates some of the nuances in this respect of the NST project:

‘It’s got its pros and its cons. It’s an advantage for some because they know we can’t make them do things, so if they choose to do them then they’re doing them because they want to. The disadvantage is sometimes that we don’t have the power to get them to do things because it’s frustrating that you can get someone to a project and you know that they’re enjoying it and you know that they’re having a constructive time, but then it’s just getting them to go back. Because the first few times we take them to places so that they’re not on their own, but then it tends to fall down when you’re asking them to go on their own and grow up a bit, take responsibility’

NST staff member 1

Many of the service users shared this perspective and recognised that any form of success in terms of the NST depended upon their commitment as well as the provision of support from project staff:

‘I thought the project was good when it was first suggested. There’s only so much people can do for you...you get a lot of support from them, but you need to help yourself before others can help you. I do get a lot of support from them, but it’s only me that can help myself at the moment. I didn’t care in the past, but I am getting older now. I’ve got the t-shirt from the drink and the drugs and I am too old for it now. My little brother has settled down, my little sister has settled down, now it is my turn to settle down. The staff are excellent, really good, dead helpful. Anything you ask for, they help you all the time. A lack of motivation on my behalf is a problem sometimes, that’s my problem. Once I am off the drink I am fully motivated, but once I am off the drink I am up for doing anything.’

Service User 4

‘I want to sort myself out this time. I was sick of going on the way I was, I was gonna end up dead if I kept going on the way. I have still got the rest of my life ahead of me. When you get told to do something you automatically say ‘no, you don’t want to do it’, but when you choose to it is different. I was too bang in to the drugs and drinking then, but I kept going into hospital, getting arrested and going to prison and now I have had enough of it. It is down to help from the team, but you have to put the effort in ... IOMP has really helped me. I probably wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for that team as they helped and supported me while I was waiting to get in [rehab]. I cannot be grateful enough for them helping me.’

Service User 8

 

 

Findings: Multi-agency relations and working practices

Staff and service users identified that the NST programme provided effective wraparound support that helped access local support agencies and provided for a streamlined single point of connection to many services that helped address challenges identified in the previous section of this report. The stakeholders interviewed and staff from different backgrounds who were seconded to the NST programme agreed that a key advantage was that staff had strong local networks that helped service users gain access to support in a relatively timely and direct manner. Service users tended to appreciate that the NST programme itself did not have additional resources and did not have unrealistic expectations in terms of what could be provided to them. Service users saw value in the ability of staff to direct them to other agencies and help arrange support where practicable. Two staff members described relations with other local agencies in the terms below, and this perspective broadly reflects the general view of other staff and service users:

‘it’s taken a while but we’ve built up pretty good relationships now with most of the agencies in the city. I’ve got the direct dial number for the single point of contact in [housing agency] who deals with most of our offenders, because she deals with the drug and alcohol people in the city. I ring her up, she knows my voice now and automatically says, who is it, what have we got today? [drugs and alcohol agency], the same. [other agency] are pretty good, you ring them up, you tell them who you are, you tell them who you’re looking for. So no, I think it’s taken a while, I mean, I’ve been with this team 11 months now, and when we first started that was just setting off, but we’ve built up those links.’

NST staff member 1

‘It’s a work in progress. It’s a style of work that hasn’t been tried before. It’s new to a lot of people and its going to take time for it to bed in with other agencies. It’s a rolling process but it’s an enjoyable type of work and I do think we make a big difference to the people we work with. They seem to get a lot from working with us.’

NST staff member 2

One benefit of the NST programme was in terms of the close supervision and monitoring of a cohort of offenders that is relatively prolific. The data analysed in the following section of this report suggests that offending levels fell during the period that service users were engaged in the programme. This might be attributed to the intensive support staff offer during the programme. Another outcome of the NST programme noted by staff interviewed was a positive benefit in terms of police intelligence-gathering. Information gathered as a result of strong relationships with service users was shared with operational police colleagues and benefitted routine police work. Equally, the creation of a multi-agency team including police to deliver NST meant that existing police data could help develop appropriate support to service users.

‘The positive part is that we can see whether they’ve been arrested, whether they’re on bail, on a court order or those type of conditions from a legal point of view. Also from intelligence, we can see if they’ve been stop-checked, to see if they are wanted for any offences, if there’s any information coming forward in terms of how we work with that person, and any risks, as well. On a daily basis, we have list of all the people we are working with, we go through to see if there are any updates. Sometimes we get confidential information for sources, we don’t know if it’s true, if it’s fact or fiction, its anonymised. You can bear it in mind, but you can’t share that kind of information, there’s nothing to say if it is a guaranteed true piece of information ... They know that we are there to help them but that if we get information about them we will share that with local policing teams, for them to be made aware. And information is put onto the police intelligence system. A list of individuals that we are working with is sent to Neighbourhood Inspectors and they are aware of the cohort of offenders and what we are doing with them.

NST staff member 2

Interviews and observations suggested that staff collectively adopted imaginative and highly targeted support for service users that could only be developed on the basis of a good understanding of individual needs and personal history. Service users consistently expressed the strength of their relationship with the NST team and indicated that they had trust in the work being done on their behalf. The team acted in a responsive manner and are able to provide rapid support across a highly unpredictable and diverse set of circumstances. The ethos of the programme was such that staff were dedicated and prepared to intervene in ways that other agencies might not be able to do. This was evident from several of the interviews with service users and was observed in a number of situations by the researchers; one member of staff reflected on a particular example in an interview:

‘take for example those two last week who turned up, they weren’t ours anymore, they’d just come out of prison but they came out of prison with issues. Now, you know how much time we spent on them, we took them to Durham, we got them their cheques, took them to Plummer Court, got them their meds and then we came back here. It was quarter to four when [colleague] and I got back here last week. They weren’t our cases and they were nothing to do with us but nobody else, no statutory agency could have done anything with them that day.’

NST staff member 1

‘We’ll work with them for up to six months, but if at the end of that six-month period they’re still not settled or there are still issues that are on going, then we’ll carry on. You know, I mean, I’ve worked with someone up to eight months because there were housing referrals in for them and I still was the point of contact, and I still was the one that was pushing for housing for them and I said it doesn’t matter that the six months are up, it’s not like an order where I’ll stop. I’ll keep working with you; I’ll keep trying to help you.’

NST staff member 1

 

Data Analysis and Social Return on Investment (SROI)

Overview

Establishing a comprehensive overview of criminal justice programmes and interventions requires a robust analysis of a broad range of costs and benefits that includes costs associated with particular programmes, the costs of crime to victims and society in general terms, as well as the impact that offending can have on other agencies, such as the health service. Measuring impact in such robust terms is a particularly pressing challenge given that a ‘total place’ based assessment of public expenditure is a priority of central government, and a priority for local agencies seeking to understand where best to invest limited resources. As is common across much of the criminal justice system, and public sector more generally, there is no single model for measuring impact in these terms, and many problems exist both relating to the conceptualisation and operational delivery of such calculations. In common with many other areas, it is difficult to measure the impact of the NST programme in terms of a ‘cost-benefit’ analysis because the data that is available is limited and problematic. This section of the report will provide some analysis using the Social Return on Investment model; it will also provide an overview of the some of the gaps and challenges relating to data collection and analysis. One reason for so doing is that the issues that arise in relation to the NST programme are common to many aspects of social provision: the problems identified are highly generic and in no sense are they criticisms of the NST programme, staff or management.

To obtain a comprehensive evaluation of the cost versus benefit of the NST programme further and more robust pre and post offending data needs to be collated and analysed for the full cohort of service users. At present offending has been analysed for the service users for whom data was available; offending is measured in terms of number of arrests in relation to violent crime, theft, and burglary. This is collated for service users before engagement on the NST programme, during the programme, and post-programme. In order to give some financial oversight to the value and impact of NST the Social Return on Investment (SROI) model has been used. The difficulty and shortcomings in using this methodology for the purpose of evaluating NST largely relate to measuring long term aims and aspirations (desistence from crime and positive change across all seven offending pathways) over a short term period; ideally a more longitudinal approach which tracked the impact of the NST project upon the service users life course which would allow the true social and financial impact to be evidenced. SROI was developed in 2000 (SROI, 2011), as an outcomes-based measurement; the model extends traditional cost-benefit analysis to ascertain the monetary value of project activities in broader terms.  SROI, in practice is based on a six principles which underpin the methodological approach. These include:

 

  • Establishing scope and identifying key stakeholders: Clear boundaries about what the SROI will cover and who will be involved are determined in this first step; this was done through analysis of the briefing papers to identify key stakeholders and to identify which partners should be included in the SROI evaluation.

  • Mapping outcomes: Through engaging with stakeholders a clear identification which demonstrates the relationship between inputs, outputs and outcomes; for the purpose of NST this is to identify and evaluate the service users, consider the extent to which the programme promotes ‘real’ change/desistance from criminal activity and can ultimately be classes as a successful intervention.

  • Evidencing outcomes and giving them a value: This step first involves finding data to show whether outcomes have happened. Then outcomes are monetised – this means putting a financial value on the outcomes; the costs associated with known criminal activity from the NST service users.

  • Establishing impact: Having collected evidence on outcomes and monetised them, those aspects of change that would not have happened anyway (deadweight) or are not as a result of other factors (attribution) are isolated; for the purpose of NST the original service user group would need to be revisited at regular intervals post intervention (12, 24, 36 months) so that the real long term aims of desistance and change could be deciphered as opposed to short term outputs.

  • Calculating the SROI: This step involves adding up all the benefits, subtracting any negatives and comparing them to the investment. It also needs to be recognised that in the case of NST many of the costs and savings will be to agencies beyond those providing the funding to the NST project, for example housing and health.

  • Reporting, using and embedding: last step involves sharing findings and recommendations with stakeholders, and embedding good outcomes processes within organisations; see findings and recommendation section.

According to the SROI Network UK, SROIs can be split into two distinct types:

 

  • Evaluative SROIs are conducted retrospectively and are based on actual outcomes that have taken place over a given evaluation period. These are most useful where a project is already up and running and there is good outcomes data available.

  • Forecasted SROIs predict how much social value will be created if activities meet their intended or most likely objectives.

The difficulty when looking specifically at NST  in this context is that it sits  across both categories, in that some data (for example offending pre NST )is available that allows for evaluation, but that the task is to predict future desistance from criminal activity for the service users that have already, and who will in the future, undertake NST . Clearly within this model there are a number of unknowns, and significantly it is heavily reliant upon obtaining and responding appropriately to the individual risk of each service user in a fluid and dynamic manner.  The supervision team need to be confident that the service user has the appropriate skills to respond in a positive manner to changing circumstances or those mechanisms to support desistance are in place post project. In this context isolating the particular contribution that the NST programme has made to the subsequent behaviour of an individual service user is extremely difficult to achieve; this is often referred to as the problem of attribution.

 

 

SROI analysis of the NST Programme

Using arrest data as a measure of offending (the strengths and weaknesses of which are discussed below) it can be shown that for the cohort of 30 service users the overall number of crimes committed fell during the period of the programme, but increased afterwards. The discussion further below outlines this pattern in more detail. A large minority of the cohort of 30 reduced their offending during the programme (47 per cent) and post-programme (43 per cent). This included the 10 per cent that stopped offending entirely during the programme and 13 per cent that did so post-programme. Only a minority of service users significantly increased their offending during (7 per cent) or post-programme (17 per cent). A significant minority of offenders had the same level of offending during the programme (27 per cent) and post-programme (20 per cent). These figures need to be considered in the comparative context of re-offending patterns for other cohorts of offenders. Ministry of Justice (2011a) data showed that between January and December 2011 10.47 per cent of offenders in England and Wales reoffended within one year of their sentence. The data in the Northumbria area was 14.9 per cent. Unsurprisingly the reoffending rates for Priority and Prolific Offenders (PPO) were higher – and the group included in the NST programme more closely matches the PPO population rather than the general population of offenders. Ministry of Justice (2011b) figures showed that between July 2010 and June 2011 58.6 per cent of PPO in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area re-offended post-sentence, committing an average of 3 offences each. These data suggest that the cohort on the NST programme re-offended at a similar rate to those on PPO schemes.

 

Table 1: Levels of offending during and post-NST programme (number/per cent)

 

 

During

Post

Number of individuals that have reduced their offending      

14/47

13/43

Number of individuals that have reduced their offending but not entirely

11/37

9/30

Number of individuals that have completely reduced their offending

3/10

4/13

Number of individuals that have reduced their offending by half

10/33

10/33

Number of individuals that have increased their offending

8/27

11/37

Number of individuals that have increased their offending but not significantly

6/20

6/20

Number of individuals that have increased their offending significantly (increase of 3 or more offences during engagement)

2/7

5/17

Number of individuals whose offending levels have remained the same

8/27

6/20

 

 

A more detailed breakdown of the costs of offending both pre-, during- and post-programme can be provided using Home Office data relating to the average cost of certain types of offence. The Home Office data only applies to certain types of offence, which means that it is not possible to apply this analysis to the entire range of crimes committed by service users of the NST programme. Offences of burglary, theft and violence are included in the financial calculation presented below. Other types of offence have not been included since the associated costs are not available.

 

Table 2: Costs of Crime Before, During and After NST

 

An Evaluation of the Safe Newcastle Non-Statutory Target Project table 2

1 includes burglary of dwellings and ‘other than dwellings’

2 includes disposal, handling, and receiving of stolen goods; shoplifting; theft of motor vehicles, theft, theft ‘other’, theft from person

3 includes ‘actual bodily harm’, ‘assault designated person’; ‘assault police officer’; ‘common assault’

 

The Table shows the number of arrests associated with service users during the ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’periods. The ‘before’ period refers to the period prior to the programme that is equal to the time elapsed once the service user began on the NST programme up until the date on which the figures were collated. As is shown, for the cohort of service users, 3 ‘burglary dwelling’ offences were committed before the NST programme, none during the programme, and 7 after; 52 thefts occurred before, 29 during, and 35 afterwards; and 6 crimes of violence were committed before, 2 during and 7 afterwards. Overall, 61 offences were committed during the period before the programme, 31 during the programme, and 49 after the engagement.

 

The Table also shows the costs associated with each type of offending: this is shown in relation to the ‘total cost of crime’ in broad social terms including costs in anticipation of crime (such as insurance and crime prevention measures), costs as a consequence of crime, such as damage to property and value of goods stolen, as well as costs to the criminal justice system, which includes policing, court and probation expenditure. The columns on the right of the Table show only the costs of each type of offence to the criminal justice system; since investment in the NST programme can be characterised as a criminal justice investment this might provide a meaningful point of comparison. The outcomes of this assessment can be illustrated in respect of theft, which was the largest single category. Each incidence of theft costs £998; given that there were 52 incidents before the NST programme the overall cost of theft was £51,896. During the NST programme there were 29 thefts, an overall cost of £28,942. After the programme there were 35 theft offences, representing a cost of £34,930. Across all categories, the cost of offences before the NST programme was £137,402, during the programme this fell to £53,576, and after the programme the cost increased to £148,225. On this basis the cost of crime calculation shows that the investment in the NST led to a reduction in costs of crime of some £83,826. However this saving occurred only during the duration of the NST programme; once offenders left the scheme the cost of their crime increased comparable to the period before they were on the programme.

 

Similarly, and unsurprisingly, a similar trend is evident in terms of the narrower calculation of costs to the criminal justice system. The Table shows that the cost of a single theft is£257, which amounted to £13,364 before the NST programme, £7,453 during it, and£8,995 afterwards. Across all crime types included in the Table the criminal justice cost of crimes committed by service users before the NST programme was£31,091, during the programme it was £12,017, and afterwards the cost increased to £34,384.

 

 

Crime and offending data analysis

A further feature of the crime and offending data relating to the cohort of service users of the NST programme relates to the significant number of arrests that could be categorised as relating to the administration of justice. Table 3 provides an overview of these arrests. The number of arrests relating to breaches of court order, failures to comply with licences, and so forth, fell considerably during the period of the NST programme. Prior to the period the cohort experienced 24 arrests for a range of administration of justice offences; most commonly for breach of bail or failure to appear in court. During the programme this category of offences reduced by nearly 80 per cent to just five. After the clients finished the programme the number of administration of justice arrests rose again, to 19, but not to the same level as prior to the NST programme. This pattern closely mirrors the broader trend in arrests noted in relation to the other categories of crime included in Table 2.

 

Table 3: Administration of Justice Arrests, Before and After NST

 

Before

During

After

Breach of bail

10

1

8

Fail to surrender

3

1

Fail to appear

10

2

7

Fail to comply with licence

1

Breach of ASBO

3

Breach of restraining order

1

Unspecified

1

TOTAL

24

5

19

 

The reduction in arrests during the NST programme must represent a significant reduction in cost to the criminal justice system. However, calculating the exact value of this return on investment in relation to this category of offences is challenging. Most of the arrests would only have a cost in respect to the criminal justice response involved in the processing of offenders. It might be assumed that there is generally no cost in terms of impact on direct victims, damage to or loss of property, opportunity costs relating to lost productivity or health costs. Further analysis would be useful in terms of establishing the costs of dealing with administration of justice offences. Moreover, more work is required to establish to what extent, and in what ways, this reduction in arrests might be attributable to the interventions of the NST programme. Given that the interview and observational evidence gathered by this evaluation study indicated that the role of staff in maintaining stable lifestyles, helping clients to keep appointments and micro-managing their behaviour were valued components of the programme it seems likely that at least some of this reduction could be attributed to the NST programme. Any positive financial returns associated with a reduction in post-NST administration of Justice arrests would need to be factored in to analysis of the Social Return on Investment.

 

 

Discussion

The NST programme evaluated in this report effectively builds upon the broader principles of Integrated Offender Management on which it is based. The research findings outlined in the previous discussion demonstrate that the NST programme integrates evidence of best practice derived from the emerging evaluations of IOM programmes developed in recent years. Those programmes are broadly based on the findings that sustained and prolonged criminal careers are shaped by the seven pathways to offending identified in the introduction to this report. As the discussion of research findings presented in the previous section of this report indicates it is clear that the service users engaged in the NST programme broadly reflect the characteristics of these pathways. In the context of the NST project the service users have face particular challenges in relation to accommodation and alcohol and drug use, but all seven of the pathways featured in the research findings. While organising material around these seven themes is a useful way of organising the data it is clear that that the general experience of the service users was that there was considerable overlap and cross-cutting between these domains. Issues relating to family and friendship networks were related to problems of accommodation, which themselves influenced problems in terms of benefit payments and so forth. The collective impact of the seven pathways sustained the chaotic lifestyle of the NST service users in ways not captured when each of the seven are considered as discreet categories. The sum was clearly much greater than the parts in respect to the seven pathways to offending identified in relation to IOM programmes in general and the NST programme in particular.

 

While it is difficult to measure the impact of the work done by NST staff in the form of a SROI calculation –largely because of understandable limitations of the available data – there are strong grounds to be confident that the NST project will have a positive impact in terms of stabilising the chaotic lifestyles of service users. The wider academic and research literature strongly suggests that desistance from offending is best understood as an ongoing process and that regularised lifestyles develop over a long term in ways that are difficult to predict and that are subject to set backs and lapses. The ‘twisted road’ of desistance is best regarded as a process but this is difficult to capture in quantitative terms or on the basis of a relatively short-term qualitative evaluation. The basis for confidence in the likely impact of the NST programme on the targeted cohort of service users stems from clear evidence that the appropriate group of clients is being identified and recruited on to the scheme. Moreover, there is a strong bedrock in that NST staff demonstrated a clear understanding of the need for‘wraparound’ provisions that integrate support that service users need across all of the seven pathways to offending.

 

Recommendations for developing the NST programme centre upon the means to secure and sustain the work done to date. Crucial to this will be the explicit identification of a realistic model of success that can form the basis for criteria to measure the work done within the NST project. In practice the research findings demonstrated that staff and service users had realistic benchmarks to measure the impact of the work done. Relatively modest targets – such as keeping appointments, reducing alcohol consumption or maintaining hostel accommodation – were used by staff and service users to reflect upon progress. These were appropriate and reflected the individual characteristics of service users but are difficult to aggregate into programme assessment models that form a basis for future planning. Identifying the most appropriate methods for defining and measuring the success of the NST programmes, and others like it, is challenging and requires a more detailed understanding of the long-term processes and paths of desistance that service users might embark upon. Marrying this longitudinal perspective with the immediate pressures of designing, implementing and assessing relatively short-term intervention programmes will remain a key challenge for the future.

 

 

Best Practice and Recommendations

A number of areas of best practice emerge from this evaluation of the NST project. While the impact that the project has in terms of reductions in offending will only emerge over a long-term period, and so cannot be captured in a short-term evaluation, a number of key strengths have been identified that provide grounds for confidence in terms of supporting service user desistence.

 

An important feature of the NST project is the recognition that the target group of service users have complex and enduring criminogenic needs. The NST staff recognise that service users will tend to have acute needs in terms of the seven offender pathways discussed above. Staff and service users engage in a broad range of support activities that help to address each of these domains. Crucially, however, the project ethos, demonstrated in the work of the staff, is based on the cumulative impact across the various pathways is greater than the sum of each individual element. Unlike many other service provisions for offenders the NST project can provide comprehensive and coherent support in response to the specific needs of individual service users.

 

The strong team-work of staff and their knowledge of and networks with local support services means the provision of timely and needs-driven services that can respond quickly to dynamic and changing circumstances. This is particularly impressive given the relatively short history of the project.

 

The NST project reflects all elements of best practice identified by the Home Office evaluation of the pilot sites for IOM programmes (Senior et al, 2011). It is important to emphasise that short-term benefits in terms of reductions in recidivism might not be expected, since desistence is a prolonged process. However, the NST project reflects best practice identified in the broader review of programmes delivered elsewhere, and this provides grounds for confidence that the project will have a positive impact in the medium and long-term. The best practice identified across IOM programmes is evident in the NST and consists of:

 

  • close links between operational and strategic leadership across the partner agencies;

  • robust governance and delivery structures, including clear definitions of the roles and responsibilities of different agencies and agency staff including YOTs and prisons;

  • risk and need driven interventions, particularly for non-statutory adult offenders;

  • a heightened role for police intelligence in supporting offender management;

  • co-location as an effective model of operational delivery modulated by local needs and relationships;

  • effective operational links between prison and community intervention to ensure offenders could be tracked in and through their custodial experience and linked immediately on release to IOM services where warranted;

  • developing local models of offender management consistent with existing national models and where those presenting the highest risks and needs were prioritised through a RAG or similar prioritisation system; and

  • extending the nature and breadth of police engagement in managing offenders. (Senior et al, 2011: 30).

 

 

Recommendations

On the basis that significant aspects of best practice have been identified throughout this report, the primary recommendation is that the NST programme should continue.

The following recommendations are intended to promote further ideas in terms of the future direction of the NST programme.

 

  • An area of identified best practice was that staff had strong networks with local support services, particular in relation to accommodation, and drug and alcohol programmes. Proactive measures should be taken to extend these networks further across other offender pathways.

  • The commitment and professionalism of the NST staff are crucial elements of best practice but the importance of these demonstrates the need to consider ways of developing succession planning. The NST is part of a broader group of staff working in the IOM arena which helps to ensure that the project is sustainable. Relying on a relatively small and closely integrated team is strength but poses risks in terms of the medium term continuity of the project unless this relationship with the IOM group is kept central to this structure.

  • Methods to better capture and share indicators of work done and successful outcomes achieved by the NST project ought to be developed. Problems with offending data are common across the sector and might not be resolved in the context of this particular project. However, much of what the NST project achieves could be demonstrated more effectively if appropriate data communication systems were introduced. Among other things this would help to demonstrate the impact of the project.

  • Consideration should be given to methods that might guard against service users becoming overly-dependant on the support of the NST project. Clearly they valued the intense help offered to them but they have learnt dependency built up over an extended period and the project might find ways to alleviate this. One possible strategy would be to encourage service users who have benefitted from NST to act as mentors to others that are at earlier stages of engagement. Clearly this would need to be carefully managed but it might be of benefit to all parties.

 

 

References

Home Office/ Ministry of Justice (2010) Integrated offender Management Efficiency Toolkit Phase One: Maximising Local Efficiency and Effectiveness: A Tool for Partnerships, London: Home Office/ Ministry of Justice.

 

Home Office/ Ministry of Justice (2010) Integrated offender: Management Key Principles, London: Home Office.

 

Home Office/ Ministry of Justice (2011) Integrated Offender Management Efficiency Toolkit Phase Two: Conducting Break-Even Analysis of Integrated Offender Management, London: Home Office/ Ministry of Justice.

 

Jupp, V. (2001)‘Appreciative Criminology’, in McLauglin, E. and Muncie, J. (eds) The Sage Dictionary of Criminology, London: Sage, pp. 12-13.

 

Maruna, S. (2001) Making Good: How Ex-convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives, Washington DC: American PsychologicalAssociation.

 

Matza, D. (1969) Becoming Deviant, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

 

Ministry of Justice (2011a) Local Adult Re-Offending 1 January – 31 December 2011, London: Ministry of Justice.

 

Ministry of Justice (2011b) Early Estimates of Proven Re-Offending: Results from July 2010 to June 2011, London: Ministry of Justice.

 

Office Public Management (undated) The Power of Partnerships: Examples of Probation Trusts working effectively with community Safety Partnerships, London: OPM.

 

Senior, P., Wong, K., Culshaw, A., Ellingworth, D., O’Keeffe,C. and Meadows, L. (2011) Process Evaluation of Five Integrated Offender Management Pioneers Areas, Research Series 4/11, London: Home Office/ Ministry of Justice.