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Evaluation of the Community Reintegration Project - Research Findings

Evaluation of the Community Reintegration Project - Research Findings

Thursday, July 31, 2014

ISBN: 9781784126421

This is an evaluation of the Community Reintegration Project (CRP), which formed part of the Scottish Government’s wider Reducing Reoffending Programme (RRP) and focused on addressing the needs of offenders serving prison sentences between six months and less than four years.

Executive Summary

• All four prison sites operated a process that was consistent with the broad CRP model – in that it involved structured engagement with offenders through five broad stages, referral to CJSW and relevant services – but there was considerable variation in how activities were delivered.

• The number of offenders eligible for – and participating in – the project was relatively small in all prisons except HMP Perth, raising questions about whether the pilot reached ‘critical mass’.

• Meaningful engagement with the CRP (participation in a Comprehensive Screening) appears to have happened in around half of all eligible admissions, but there was a high degree of attrition beyond this with many scheduled meetings not taking place.

• Practitioners were generally supportive of the principle of the CRP but were concerned about particular aspects of the process, such as the paperwork and training. There was also evidence that systems for monitoring progress were not always effective.

• There is some evidence that the CRP facilitated progress towards short and medium-term outcomes for organisations and staff, though there remains scope for further improvements in joint working and engagement and motivation of eligible offenders. At this stage there is limited evidence about the impacts of the CRP on individual offenders, though some qualitative accounts indicate the potential to achieve the intended long-term outcomes.

• Key contextual factors shaping implementation and impact included the ‘crowded landscape’ of overlapping (and potentially competing) service provision; broad cultural and strategic shifts within SPS; and the physical and organisational contexts within specific sites.

• The CRP process could be optimised through improvements to the paperwork and training; greater clarity about inter-agency roles and communication channels; a distinctive ‘brand’ identity for the project; and creative responses to the constraints of individual sites.

• There is evidence that the CRP’s underlying theory of change remains broadly plausible, but throughput needs to be increased and attrition reduced – and community-based services adequately resourced – for it to achieve impact on a significant scale.

• The gains would be magnified if the project were to form the basis of a system-wide, coherent and consistent approach to voluntary throughcare and related support services, an approach which would require an explicit engagement with the broader preventative spend agenda.