NPC report outlines the success of charities in reducing reoffending amongst ex-offenders

29 July 2015

Charity think-tank New Philanthropy Capital’s (NPC) recent report – Data, Charities and Working with Offenders, has highlighted the progress made by the thousands of UK charities working with ex-offenders. The paper examined the results of two projects in particular, both of which were developed by the NPC, to help charities working within criminal justice: the ‘Justice Data Lab’ and ‘Improving your Evidence’.

The Justice Data Lab is a pilot project set up in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice. The project is a free rehabilitation programme evaluation service, comparing the reoffending levels of ex-offenders in their first year after release according to different services, and allows organisations to examine the effectiveness of 125 different interventions involving over 24,000 prisoners. Improving Your Evidence was ran in collaboration with Clinks with the aim of improving the evidence and evaluation processes of over 100 criminal justice charities via a programme of conferences, training and one-to-one advice.

Analysis in the report outlines the success charity projects have in terms of successfully reducing reoffending rates, compared to their privately ran counterparts, with 28 per cent of charity projects reducing reoffending amongst service users compared to 19 per cent of private organisations. Anne Kazimirski, Head of Measurement & Evaluation at NPC, told the Guardian “at their strongest, charities have expertise and empathy in criminal justice work which clearly helps to turn people’s lives around. This is reflected in the results, where they outperform their private counterparts”.

The report recommends a number of priorities in order to help charities within the sector including:

• Continued support as charities take the first steps in collecting and using data

• Identifying and promoting good practice in the sector

• Developing consistent tools for performance management

• Finding the right incentives to encourage charities to collect and share data

• Working towards (and funding) more collaboration between charities

• Creating a system for synthesising evidence

It is hoped the report’s findings will influence government decision making at a time when so many of the voluntary organisations within the criminal justice sector face an uncertain future, with their role within rehabilitation work beginning to decline as contracts expire; with little sign of a renewal under the government’s ‘Transforming Rehabilitation Work’ policy. Kazimirski emphasised “There are important lessons here for the government, who so often decide where resources go, as well as all the tens of thousands of charities working with ex-offenders”.

Read the full report here.