Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tough On Crime ...

Remember all those 'tough community sentences' ?

Criminals are being allowed to miss meetings with their probation officers if they claim they overslept, or had no transport to get there. The "unacceptable" excuses have been revealed by an official watchdog, the National Audit Office (NAO). The sessions were part of supposedly tough community order sentences imposed by courts as an alternative to prison.

Justice Minister David Hanson said action was underway to address the issues raised in the report. The community orders - which involve a variety of activities including unpaid work, drug rehabilitation and alcohol treatment - have been promoted by ministers as a tough alternative to sending offenders to jail. In 2006, courts in England and Wales handed out 121,700 community orders but the NAO said that probation services still need to find out exactly how effective the orders are at preventing re-offending.

How odd. I could have sworn these programmes were 'evidence-based' on 'what works'. I'd never have thought they were just cobbled together in a desperate attempt to keep people out of jail. The Rand report on studies of community sentencing is mixed, to say the least.

We find that the quality of research on the effectiveness of community-based interventions for offenders is extremely variable. However, in two areas – cognitive/behavioural programming and drug treatment – rigorous research exists that points to a reduction in the odds of re-offending. In four other areas – programmes for domestic abuse perpetrators, unpaid work, education and basic skills training and intensive probation – existing studies have not suggested that the programmes have a positive effect on recidivism. Finally, in four areas – anger management, probation, and alcohol and mental health treatment – the question of impact on re-offending remains unsettled. This review highlights the need for more rigorous research – especially randomized trials – into the requirements that constitute community orders.

Two out of ten, in other words. I suppose that's a grade 'B' if the Department for Indoctrination and Skills, or whatever they're called this week, are doing the assessments.

Full NAO report is here.


Anonymous said...

This country is so apathetic. This happens ALL THE TIME - big words from the Government, but the reality is sloth and indifference. Why do people continue to fall for it? Surely they aren't that stupid?

JuliaM said...

"Why do people continue to fall for it? Surely they aren't that stupid?"

I think most of them aren't. It's just that they are apathetic about the whole shower and don't vote at all.

Do you really think Dave's Gang would be better? Even if they tried to be, how are they going to weed out the entrenched left wingers that are now in control in every part of the system?

Anonymous said...

WRT to your 'What did I tell you' post, and its reference to no-go areas. Looks like much of Bradford is now a no-go area when it comes to enforcing traffic laws. And 'lack of resources' is no excuse - seizing cars makes enforcement self-funding.
Six out of ten drivers 'not insured'

Bradford's "suburbs of shame" are the worst in West Yorkshire for people driving without insurance, according to alarming new figures.

Anonymous said...


Completely off topic, but here's an article that you might be interested in. It covers some of the same bases as you, such as the changes in quality of left wing thought. James MacMillan explains why he hates the assumption that he is a liberal left-winger

John Trenchard said...

i see from the papers tommorow that Jack Straw is going to introduce community sentencing for burglars.

maybe its time i should apply for a shotgun.

John Trenchard said...

"how are they going to weed out the entrenched left wingers that are now in control in every part of the system?"

the vast bulk of Eastern Europe did it without firing a shot. AND introduced radical flat tax systems to keep the size of the state down.

if they can do it, i can't see why we can't. it just takes some guts and leadership.