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Why study offender management?. Peter Raynor Maurice Vanstone Swansea University April 2009. Until 1990s: not proper criminology. Research on probation was done by ‘administrative criminologists’ (Martin Davies, RDS – though what about Radzinowicz, Wilkins?) or by social workers

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why study offender management

Why study offender management?

Peter Raynor

Maurice Vanstone

Swansea University

April 2009

until 1990s not proper criminology
Until 1990s: not proper criminology
  • Research on probation was done by ‘administrative criminologists’ (Martin Davies, RDS – though what about Radzinowicz, Wilkins?) or by social workers
  • Mainstream criminologists (after Martinson 1974 and Brody 1976) thought ‘nothing worked’ (this suited libertarians, ‘just deserts’ theorists and right-wing welfare-cutters)
  • Do-gooders were not cool - social workers were labellers, deviancy amplifiers etc.
some convergence in 1990s why
Some convergence in 1990s – why?
  • Probation training and therefore research separated from social work in mid-90s
  • The ‘nothing works’ consensus weakened
  • Some key criminologists showed interest (e.g. Tony Bottoms)
  • Offender management research improved
  • Mainstream criminologists followed the CRP money in 1999
good reasons for doing om research
Good reasons for doing OM research:
  • Social purpose: with 83,000 in prison, the penal system costing £4,111m in 2008 (over half on prisons) and a recession coming . . . what can be achieved?
  • Contributions to criminology: applied research allows reality tests of interesting theories in use: do they help us understand what we see?
for example
For example:
  • What is sentencing for? ‘Ought’ implies ‘can’: what outcomes are achieved/achievable in rehabilitation?
  • What makes authorities legitimate and able to secure consent or compliance with minimum coercion? (Why does anyone co-operate with a community sentence?)
  • How in practice does ethnic or gender discrimination happen?
and more broadly
And more broadly:
  • What is the balance of structure and agency in becoming, remaining or ceasing to be an offender? Are Zamble and Quinsey right, or Maruna’s narrative theories?
  • Zamble and Quinsey (1997) on The Criminal Recidivism Process: released prisoners face obstacles > negative affect > pessimism about non-offending solutions > re-offending
  • Maruna (2000) Making Good: recidivist narratives are about being a victim of circumstances; narratives of desistance are about autonomy and self-determination
zamble and quinsey on structure and agency
Zamble and Quinsey on structure and agency
  • ‘In the case of criminal behaviour, factors in the social environment seem influential determinants of initial delinquency for a substantial proportion of offenders . . . but habitual offending is better predicted by looking at an individual’s acquired ways of reacting to common situations’ (Zamble and Quinsey 1997)
even more broadly
Even more broadly:
  • The fluidity of the concept of crime:
  • restorative justice redefines crime as dispute
  • diversion of offences away from formal processing (or to lower tariff outcomes) redefines crime as a problem looking for a solution rather than a punishment
  • (examples of both occur in recent Jersey research)
effectiveness probation orders closed 2004
Effectiveness. (Probation Orders closed 2004.)

81% of medium to high risk Probationers reduced their risk of re-offending (measured by LSI-R).

51% of highest risk Probationers showed a reduction in their risk of re-offending.

Each year over 10,000 hours of Community Service performed for the Island.

jersey probation skills study
Jersey Probation skills study

So what really happens in individual sessions between Probation staff and the people they work with?

Do skilled probation officers make a difference?

influences core correctional practices dowden and andrews 2004 meta analysis
Influences: Core correctional practices (Dowden and Andrews’ 2004 meta-analysis)
  • Effective use of authority (‘firm but fair’, reinforce compliance, avoid domination)
  • Pro-social modelling
  • Problem-solving (helping offender to acquire problem-solving skills)
  • Link to community resources (advocacy and brokerage)
  • Relationship factors (open, warm, enthusiastic, mutual respect, therapeutic alliance)
  • (Source: IJOTCC 48 [2])
other influences
Other influences
  • Legitimacy: clarity about rules and roles; treating people fairly; respect; paying attention
  • Desistance: individualization; consistency through ‘zig-zag’ process; supporting motivation; building social capital
  • Consumers (and psychotherapy literature): listening, understanding, respect, caring, trust, somebody you can talk to
  • CCP findings were based on retrospective meta-analysis: we wanted a prospective study in a real-life setting, with outcome data routinely available
relevant research experience
Relevant Research Experience
  • Programme Integrity
      • STOP observation
      • FOR a Change
the research so far
The Research so far

Process of developing Observation Instrument

Target Number of Interviews

Number of Officers

Progress to date

  • Set-up
  • Quality of non-verbal communication
  • Quality of verbal communication
  • Effective/Legitimate Use of authority
  • Motivational Interviewing
  • Pro-social modelling
  • Problem-solving
  • Cognitive Re-Structuring
  • Overall structure of the interview