Through the gate

In this collection of articles from 2005 to the present day, we highlight ways in which the criminal justice sector is changing in response to the new commissioning environment and how charities are assessing the impact of their services to improve what they do.

Reoffending rates remain stubbornly high, with nearly half of all UK prisoners re-offending within a year of their release. This partly explains why the prison population has more than doubled over the past twenty years. These figures make a compelling case for reforms based on payment by results introduced by Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling, earlier this year.

There are many concerns surrounding PBR models—informed by the Work Programme and its legacy—and debate should be encouraged. But we also recognise that these reforms should offer many charities and voluntary organisations the opportunity to help more individuals who need their support.

For this to become viable, it is vital that charities have access to data so they can understand and prove what works. Until recently, this has been a key challenge. In our report Unlocking offending data we conducted a survey of 236 criminal justice charities’ need for and attitude to data on reoffending. Four in five found the process of accessing data difficult, with success largely dependent on relationships with local police forces, prison or probation trusts.

In this context, we are delighted to hear from the first users of the Ministry of Justice’s Justice Data Lab, a pioneering new system to provide charities with access to offending data, and to be working on two pieces of work funded by the National Offender Management Service.