Russell Webster has been curating an online evidence library on behalf of Clinks and we are delighted to announce four new additions to the library this week.
The online evidence library project, launched in September 2020, is designed to support voluntary organisations working in the criminal justice system with access to the most up-to-date evidence about a range of different activities and interventions. It aims to make it easier for organisations to build their practice on the best evidence and to encourage commissioners to award contracts and grants to providers who work in this way. These evidence reviews are written by leading academics with a specialism in the area they are reviewing, are concise, and are purposefully written in non-academic language.
Today we are announcing four fantastic new additions to the library:
Peer mentoring in the criminal justice system
Peer mentoring is now a core component of service delivery right across the social justice sector and is engrained in most organisations working in the criminal justice system. Dr. Gill Buck, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Chester, has reviewed the current evidence-base on peer mentoring in the criminal justice system.
Peer mentoring involves community members, often with lived experience of criminal justice, working or volunteering in supporting relationships and is now integral to the delivery of most services in the criminal justice system. The review covers a number of key issues:
- How peer mentoring can
- Help people to leave crime behind
- Connect them with services and employment opportunities
- Facilitate consciousness raising and collective system-reform efforts.
- The barriers to effective peer mentoring and how to plan for and minimise these.
Gill also reviews the effectiveness of peer mentoring in promoting desistance to help voluntary organisations who are required to evidence reductions in reoffending.
The challenges and needs of people serving long life sentences from a young age
The life sentenced prison population of England and Wales stands at almost 7,000 men and women, with the majority of these individuals (51%) now facing minimum ‘tariffs’ of 10-20 years in custody, while almost a third (29%) will serve at least 20 years. The authors of the Clinks review on this subject, Serena Wright, Susie Hulley and Ben Crewe are the principal researchers and joint authors of a major study on men and women serving life imprisonment from an early age, the findings of which were published in Life Imprisonment from Young Adulthood: Adaptation, Identity and Time.
Their evidence review provides an in-depth look at the specific challenges and needs of the significant number of people already serving long life sentences from a young age in England and Wales, examining a range of key issues:
- The sentencing context and the growing numbers of people serving long life sentences
- The impact of life imprisonment for murder on people sentenced at a young age
- The broad ‘stages’ experienced during long life sentences
- The challenges of ‘uncertainty’, in terms of the lack of a fixed release date
- The particular needs and challenges for women serving life sentences
- Suggestions for how to respond to the specific needs of long-term life sentenced prisoners.
Working with service users who consume Class A drugs and are in contact with the criminal justice system
With the promise of more investment in and better commissioning of our drug treatment system courtesy of Dame Carol Black’s Review of Drugs, now is the perfect time to get a grip on the drugs and crime evidence base. Tim McSweeney is currently a Senior Lecturer (Forensic Psychology) with the School of Life and Medical Sciences at the University of Hertfordshire and has been a prominent researcher in this area for over 20 years. He has advised international and global bodies such as the United Nations and World Health Organisation on policy responses for tackling drug-related crime.
His evidence review covers the key issues, including:
- Trends in illicit drug use
- Our knowledge of patterns of opiate and cocaine use among people in contact with the criminal justice system
- Points of intervention throughout the criminal justice system
- A summary of evidence of ‘what works’ with this client group
- The critical success factors of working with people who misuse Class A drugs.
Engaging people with convictions
With the reunification of the probation service, there is renewed interest in probation practice and the key issue of how to engage people in the care of statutory agencies and voluntary organisations.
Kevin Wong from the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit (PERU), Manchester Metropolitan University has been a prominent researcher in this area and has examined the issues of assessment, engagement and promoting desistance in both the probation service and voluntary sector organisations in his evidence review for the Clinks library. His review examines a wide range of issues, including:
- Summarising the evidence base and guidance materials on ways to engage effectively with adults and young people with convictions
- Setting this evidence base within the context of the research underpinning broader rehabilitative practice
- Looking at the differences in effective engagement practice between the statutory and voluntary sectors
- Discussing the role of co-production in needs assessments – inevitably the first stage on the engagement process
- Proposing ways in which this learning can be applied to voluntary sector organisations by practitioners, policy makers and commissioners.
We hope you’ll be motivated to click on the links and read the evidence reviews of interest to you. Please share with your colleagues.
In case you missed them, you can read the previous additions to the library, which includes the following titles:
- A bolder cost-benefit approach to capture the contribution of the voluntary sector in criminal justice | Dr Mary Corcoran
- Trauma-informed work with people in contact with the criminal justice system | Patricia Durr
- Community empowerment approaches | Dr Patrick Williams.
If there’s a subject you’re particularly interested in, please look out for Clinks’ new online event series “A matter of fact: what the evidence tells us” where our review authors will be talking about their specialist subjects and you’ll get the chance to ask your own questions direct to the people with the best grip on what the evidence base does – and doesn’t – tell us. Keep an eye on Light Lunch for more information.
Thanks to Devon Divine for kind permission to use the header image in this post which was previously published on Unsplash.
Latest on Twitter
It is imperative that government prioritises and resources the tackling of race inequality in the criminal justice system. It is crucial that voluntary orgs led by and focussed on racially minoritised people are listened to, taken seriously and consulted in these conversations. https://twitter.com/HMIProbation/status/1451073306791223296