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End to end offender management

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Presentation for Respublica and Serco conference on the Big Society

Presentation for Respublica and Serco conference on the Big Society

Published in: News & Politics

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Transcript

  • 1. Is end-to-end offender management still a realistic policy aim? Andrew Neilson, Assistant Director The Howard League for Penal Reform
  • 2. The New Labour legacy
    • The National Offender Management Service (NOMS) was established in 2004, merging prison and probation services to create ‘end-to-end offender management’
    • NOMS introduced ‘contestability’, creating a market in corrections
  • 3. The theory
    • There is evidence that interventions for those who offend are most effective when combined and sequenced as individually tailored packages managed throughout the length of a sentence
    • The ‘offender manager’ acts as commissioner of services and provides some continuity for individuals
    • Enthusiasm for end to end OM as much about fact it allows for system-wide liberal market reforms
  • 4. In practice
    • ‘ End to end offender management’ has never truly been implemented
    • This is primarily due to difficulties in marrying prison and probation IT systems.
    • The National Audit Office has described how the C-NOMIS project originally costed at £234m in 2005 had, by 2007, spent £155m, was two years behind schedule, and was estimated to rise in total cost to £690m.
  • 5. Cultural problems
    • Prison and probation also have very distinctive cultures.
    • Prison culture is characterised by centralised bureaucracy, top down management, risk aversion
    • Probation traditionally localised, holistic, bottom up and flexible
    • NOMS been described as ‘hostile takeover’ of probation by prison service
  • 6. Other gripes
    • The assumptions behind the term ‘offender management’ are also problematic
    • The term suggests an emphasis on the individual offender and an emphasis on management and control of that offender
    • But evidence on what works in desistance from crime (McNeill) suggests otherwise
  • 7. Not about individuals?
    • “ we need to look beyond the individual because achieving desistance involves and requires much more than changes within the individual. Trying only to ‘fix’ offenders can’t and won’t fix reoffending”
    • Justice reinvestment from the States also emphasises the importance of place: the ‘million dollar block’
  • 8. Not about management?
    • McNeill also emphasises the quality of personal and professional relationships
    • “ Like everyone else, offenders are most influenced to change (and not to change) by those closest to them and those whose advice they respect and whose support they value. Approaches to ‘offender management’ that fail to recognise the significance of the relational aspects of penal practice are unlikely to work”
    • But offender managers are primarily commissioners. And are you friends with your manager?!
  • 9. One final (Big Society) gripe: impact on voluntary sector
    • Thus far the effect of market reforms have been detrimental to charities, in particular small organisations
    • Pressure on commissioners to scale up services. Volume allows savings. Small charities can’t compete
    • Gap between the political rhetoric and reality: small, local, diverse charity culture being replaced by large, regional/national, isomorphic culture
  • 10. Will payment by results change things?
    • Very difficult to see how PBR would work in prisons given churn of prisoners in the system and difficulty in relating interventions in prison to reoffending (and continuing IT difficulties)
    • Easier to see it work purely in community sentences but this isn’t ‘end-to-end offender management’ as such
    • The Howard League has concerns around potential for cherry-picking and how results will ultimately be measured
  • 11. Other problems
    • PBR doesn’t challenge the problems with the term ‘offender management’ (although proposals for a local authority-based PBR pilot may start to inform debate on place)
    • PBR also unlikely to help small charities as the need for statistically measurable offending outcomes will also drive towards commissioning on scale
  • 12. Are the solutions elsewhere?
    • In reality, while ‘end-to-end offender management’ is a reasonable aspiration, it is stuck within the criminal justice tramlines
    • Lasting solutions to crime lie outside of the criminal justice system: ie. Justice reinvestment, the Big Society?
    • There needs to be broader debate on limits of the penal system, which Green Paper certainly touches on
  • 13. What about sentences and sentencers?
    • Legislation has played its part: between 1925 and 1985 governments passed 6 criminal justice acts. The last government enacted 23.
    • Meaningful reductions in the prison population will only come from bold sentencing reform
    • Sentencers could also be more informed of sentencing options and made more accountable for their decisions
  • 14. Prison numbers can be driven down
    • Between 1908 and 1939, England and Wales reduced its prison population by 50%. This effort was initially led by Winston Churchill.
    • The example of Canada in the 1990s. Public spending cuts saw the prison population reduced by 11%. During that decade, crime also fell to its lowest rate for 25 years, including drops ranging from 23% for assault and robbery to 43% for homicide.
  • 15. Thank you
    • www.howardleague.org