Under the microscope: Data, charities and working with offenders

Thousands of UK charities work to help ex-offenders, and since 2012 NPC has been developing ways to help those charities understand and develop their impact for their beneficiaries. We have produced this paper to examine the progress made so far, and to make recommendations for how criminal justice charities can strengthen their work in the future.

The paper looks in particular at two projects developed by NPC to help charities: the Justice Data Lab, co-designed with the Ministry of Justice, a free evaluation service through which charities have been able to measure their impact since 2013; and Improving Your Evidence, a programme of conferences, training and one-to-one advice to help criminal justice charities improve their evidence and evaluation practices, developed with Clinks with a grant by the National Offender Management Service.

The Justice Data Lab has examined the effectiveness of interventions affecting more than 20,000 ex-offenders, and through the Improving Your Evidence project we worked with more than 100 criminal justice charities. The outcomes of this work is described in the report.

It concludes with reflections on the lessons NPC has learnt working with criminal justice charities, and identifies a number of priorities for continuing to help those charities:

  • Continued support as charities take the first steps in collecting and using data
  • Identifying and promoting good practice in the sector
  • Developing consistent tools for performance management
  • Finding the right incentives to encourage charities to collect and share data
  • Working towards (and funding) more collaboration between charities
  • Creating a system for synthesising evidence.