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In this chapter we focus on the evaluation of offending behaviour programmes across both prison and probation. We start with a broad discussion of the emergence of ‘what works’, the risk, need and responsivity model and desistance and follow that by setting out the argument for the critical place of evaluation. We will outline some of the different evaluation methods which can be used to examine the effectiveness of programmes, as well as the key challenges frequently encountered in evaluating programmes in the criminal justice setting. Finally we review what the most recent evidence tells us about the effectiveness of programmes. Evaluating offending behaviour programmes is exciting and challenging and while the evidence is growing there remains an enduring need for us to put our energies into asking what works for whom, how and why - and growing our understanding of the wider context within which such interventions are most likely to make a positive difference.
Offenders in prisons in England and Wales have access to a suite of accredited interventions designed to reduce reoffending. The programmes offered are generally cognitive-behavioural in nature, and address a range of offending behaviours and maladaptive thinking styles. This chapter focuses on how programmes are evaluated in a prison setting across England and Wales. The meta-analytic method has been a useful tool in the What Works area. Once a research question has been set there are many issues to address to optimize the success of an evaluation. These include the choice of methodology, of outcome, of outcome measurement, of comparison group and analysis. The chapter describes the evaluation approach followed in the UK where the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) Interventions Group (IG) routinely collects both demographic and criminal variables on every offender undergoing treatment. It also examines the outcome studies pertaining specifically to Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMPS) programmes.