Today Clinks is launching a new online evidence library for the criminal justice voluntary sector. The project was born out of one of the key pledges in our current strategy: “To support the sector with access to evidence and provide support to develop and utilise evidence”.
We set out to produce a far-reaching and accessible evidence base relating to the most common types of activity undertaken in the criminal justice system.
We were clear that this was not an academic exercise; rather we were motivated to make it easy for voluntary sector providers to access the most up-to-date evidence around what works in order to improve their practice and increase their chances of being commissioned. We hope that, over time, commissioners of services for people in contact with the criminal justice system (and their families) will also become familiar with the resource and base their service specifications on the latest evidence. We commissioned Russell Webster to develop the online evidence base on Clinks’ behalf.
The first article in the series is published today. Patrick Williams has written a concise, authoritative evidence review which provides an in-depth look at the growing rates of racial disparity in our criminal justice system and highlights key principles for effective interventions with people from Black, mixed, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds in contact with that system.
Patrick reviews the current evidence-base, to which he is an important contributor, and covers a number of key issues:
- Racial disparity within the criminal justice system
- The multidimensionality of social inequalities experienced by minority groups
- The lack of a clear strategy and officially approved programs to tackle racial disparity
- The criminal justice system’s preoccupation with risk, as opposed to need
- Principles to govern minority ethnic interventions
- The importance of acknowledging racialisation and racism(s)
- Community empowerment models
- The argument for paying participants to engage
- The importance of the voluntary sector.
Over the next few months, we will be publishing a number of new evidence reviews. The next one to be published is by Mary Corcoran who examines the use of cost-benefit analyses of service provision in a number of different contexts, all of them particularly relevant to voluntary sector organisations working in the criminal justice system. This will be followed by Patricia Durr’s review of the evidence of the growing field of trauma-informed practice and its application to the criminal justice system, in particular prisons.
Evidence reviews on a gendered approach to working with people who have offended (by Loraine Gelsthorpe) and the desistance model (by Hannah Graham) will follow later this year.
The topics for this first tranche of evidence reviews were not selected by chance but were the result of a poll of Clinks members undertaken at last year’s conference.
All these evidence reviews have been designed to be up-to-date, authoritative and accessible − in the sense that they are both free to download and have been written in plain (non-academic) English. They are all between 800 - 2,000 words long and include a short reading list linking to key texts for people who wish to explore the topic in greater detail. Wherever possible, we have sought to locate free-to-access versions of these key texts (hosted on such sites as ResearchGate).
Like everyone else, our plans have been somewhat influenced by Covid-19. For this reason, these first evidence reviews are being published as stand-alone documents. However, we hope to work on a new section of the Clinks website to host what we hope will become an extensive library of evidence for everyone in the field to use.
We will shortly be consulting with Clinks’ members again for suggestions on the key topics which you would like to see as the subjects of forthcoming evidence reviews. If you have any immediate thoughts on this or would like to share your views on the library in general, you can contact Russell Webster – who is co-ordinating this work on behalf of Clinks – at firstname.lastname@example.org
We would like to take this opportunity to publicly send our heartfelt thanks to all the contributors who found the time to share their expertise by writing a review.
Please get in touch and share your feedback on this new resource and let us know how we can make it better.