Another week - and therefore another potpourri of bits and pieces relating to the developing probation omnishambles.
The MoJ statistics published recently for the PbR pilots at HMP Peterborough and HMP Doncaster continue to attract much analysis and comment. I must be honest and say at the outset that I don't really understand all the terminology, so I've selected quotes that I believe convey the gist and leave others rather more knowledgeable than I to plough through the detail.
First off is Simon Barstow of the LSE who feels the results 'are modest and hardly the stuff of revolution' -
Four to 6 per cent change, however, seems modest. One might expect an individual prison, incentivized explicitly over at least two years to reduce the rate of reconviction amongst 700 or 800-or so prisoners leaving its care, would be able to make more than a 4 to 6 per cent impact. In Doncaster, this equates to changing the behaviour of 1 prisoner in every 20 prisoners released. In fact, as the report suggests, this is a continuation of a trend that had started in Doncaster long before the pilot was introduced. In Peterborough, the equivalent marginal impact is more like 1 prisoner in every 40."
Dan Corry of New Philanthropy Capital thinks the figures are 'too good to be true' -
Figures for Peterborough show a 6% fall in the frequency of re-conviction, in the context of a 16% rise nationally, which looks impressive. We must be cautious though - this comparison is not of course one against a proper control group, let alone a randomised control trial, so it could be easy to over claim. Participation in the programme has been optional for prisoners and even though final results are to be measured against the full cohort, the results are bound to be affected by some sample selection bias. Furthermore Peterborough prison was carefully selected for this project, the governor is very engaged and most prisoners are released into the local area (rather than being dispersed around the country)--all factors which will have enhanced this pilot's chances of working well.