Evaluation of the Community Reintegration Project

This is an evaluation of the Community Reintegration Project (CRP), which formed part of the Scottish Government’s wider Reducing Reoffending Programme (RRP) and focused on addressing the needs of offenders serving prison sentences between six months and less than four years.

4 Evidence of Organisational and Staff Outcomes

4.1 So far, we have focused on how the CRP was implemented and on practitioner views of its core processes. In this and the following chapter, we move on to consider whether there is evidence that the CRP actually achieved its short and medium-term outcomes and, by extension, whether it remains plausible that it might achieve its dual longer-term objectives of a reduction in reoffending and an increase in offender reintegration into the community.

4.2 In this chapter, we focus on a number of outcomes relating to staff engagement and organisational effectiveness. (Chapter 5 examines evidence relating to outcomes for offenders.) In the original logic model, these were described as follows:

  • SPS, CJSW & SCS staff buy in to joint working approach (short-term outcome)
  • Coordination of SPS and CJSW response to offender needs (medium-term outcome)
  • Improved prison awareness of offender's needs (short-term outcome)
  • Increased interaction with offenders about reintegration before release (medium-term outcome)

4.3 Broadly speaking, the first two of these relate to issues of communication, coordination and partnership working across organisations, while the latter two relate to the effectiveness of the CRP in supporting the needs assessment process in working with offenders. Each of these areas is discussed in turn below.

4.4 Overall, we will show that CRP appears to have facilitated progress towards the expected short and medium-term outcomes for organisations and staff. However, we will also argue that there is scope to clarify expectations around joint working on the frontline and to consider how this might be better supported; and that encouraging greater offender motivation and engagement might improve needs assessment and increase interaction relating to reintegration - issues addressed in further detail in Chapter 6.

SPS, CJSW & SCS staff buy in to joint working approach

4.5 The evaluation found clear support for the principle of - and recognition of the need for - joint working, not just among staff within the three key partners of SPS, CJSW and SCS, but across other community-based partner agencies too.

4.6 Interviewees from various organisations talked positively about the contribution made by different partners and described close and effective working relations. One CJSW representative, for example, described links with prison staff as "fantastic" and said "...we're colleagues now more than we ever were". Others talked of the value that joined up working could bring to effective throughcare, indicating a respect for what other parties could bring to the process and a recognition of the need for a joined up approach:

"We are all trying to achieve the same goals, [we have] slightly different skillset and experience and knowledge, which I hope will only add to a more holistic approach." CJSW4

4.7 There was, however, also some evidence of reservations about joint working. For SPS staff working in residential halls, for example, a commitment to partnership working was for some tempered by lack of familiarity with the relevant CJSW teams and with the services and resources available in the community, and the part played by community agencies in the CRP process post-release; by a lack of evidence about the benefits of joined up working for offenders, or by previous experience of having been disappointed by social work input to offender throughcare.

4.8 SCS staff, too, expressed a commitment to the principle of joined up working but felt that this was only merited where it brought clear added value to the process:

"We're all aware of MJW [Making Justice Work] and joined up working and - absolutely - you know, we'll sign up to that every time, but only if there's a good reason for it." CS2

4.9 Similar views about the need for clarity around the aims and added value of partnership working were also expressed by some representatives of SPS, CJSW and community agencies, who felt that there were too many organisations working in the area of offender rehabilitation, with new players continuing to enter the field. In this context, interviewees called for a more coordinated approach, with a focus on capitalising on the experience of those already working in the area:

"I think really bringing in too many agencies can cause more chaos than it solves sometimes … I think sometimes you have to consolidate. And sometimes too many agencies together would appear to be causing a bit of the confusion. They probably need to amalgamate rather than bring in new ones and they need to streamline processes so that everybody knows where they join in, where they link up." A2

4.10 Subject to the caveats noted above, interviewees expressed support for further development of more coordinated joined up working and offered a range of examples of current activity designed to take this forward. These included an open day at one prison for agencies involved in working with offenders, and the development of multi-agency community 'hubs' with an addictions focus providing one-stop access to a range of services for offenders. Prisons were also involved in a range of Public Social Partnership projects relating to supporting offenders supported by the Scottish Government Reducing Reoffending Change Fund[16].

4.11 A number of interviewees touched on the importance of the role of senior management in relation to joined up working, indicating either that this was a factor in supporting current successful working arrangements, or indicating the need for high level strategic decisions around resources to underpin further joined up working.

4.12 Of course, the buy-in identified by the research is, to some extent, likely to have pre-dated the CRP, rather than being a product or outcome of it. However, the general support for the principle of joined-up working identified by the research suggests that the experience of the CRP has certainly not undermined support for effective inter-agency working and does suggest a positive basis for further work in this area.

Coordination of SPS and CJSW response to offender needs

4.13 This support for the principle of joined up working also suggests a potentially solid foundation for delivering the medium-term CRP outcome of 'coordination of SPS and CJSW response to offender needs'. In practice, however, the evaluation found a mixed picture in terms of staff views and experiences.

4.14 Interviewees from different organisations were asked about their experiences of everyday working relationships and, in particular, whether there was sufficient communication and coordination between different partners to facilitate the CRP process and respond to offender needs. The section looks in turn at links between SPS and CJSW, SPS and support agencies, and CJSW and support agencies.

Links between CJSW and prisons

4.15 As described in Chapter 2, there were two broad models of working arrangements between CJSW teams and relevant prisons.

  • The arrangement in place between HMP Perth and Dundee CJSW team (male offenders) could be described as an embedded approach: the CJSW team had use of office space in the Link Centre and visited on a regular weekly basis (one or two days each week) to carry out CRP-related meetings; CJSW staff also had access to PR2 and took a role in updating PR2 records following the pre-release meeting.
  • Elsewhere CJSW staff dealing with women offenders operated on a more arms-length basis, visiting individual prisons on an 'as required' basis in order to carry out meetings, and relying on the prisons to share relevant information.

4.16 The evaluation found the model adopted influenced working relationships but did not in itself determine successful communication and coordination. The section below looks at arrangements in place for facilitating the work of CJSW at a general level, before looking at coordinated working on a case-specific basis.

4.17 Across all sites, regardless of the arrangements in place, CJSW staff generally described their day-to-day working relationships with SPS in positive terms, and there was a consensus that prisons were working to facilitate the work of CJSW staff during the pre-release stage. This was particularly apparent at HMP Perth with its embedded CJSW team where a CJSW support worker described the working relationship with the Link Centre as "excellent - I can't speak highly enough of the prison estate…they have welcomed us in" (CJSW5).

4.18 Where there was more of an 'arms-length' relationship, CJSW staff also reported good links, although these often seemed to be based on relationships which had developed with specific individuals - for instance, in relation to arranging visits to carry out meetings with offenders - and there was some suggestion that these could be disrupted by staff movement. The approach at Cornton Vale where an administrative worker was involved received positive comment and was noted as being well-organised. There were also some reported teething problems. For example, Lanarkshire CJSW staff reported that, at one prison in particular, there had been some initial problems around late notification of CRP cases which had limited their opportunities to work with offenders pre-release. In addition, original arrangements for visiting clients in the agents' room (the designated area in the prison for offenders to meet with their legal representatives) had not proved satisfactory; segregation rules within the prison meant that female offenders could not use the room at the same time as male offenders and this had restricted the time the room was available for CJSW meetings with female CRP participants. These issues were successfully addressed during the course of the project but highlight the importance of establishing clear protocols and channels of communication between agencies in order to facilitate effective working relationships.

4.19 In relation to information sharing, Dundee CJSW staff had access via PR2 (during prison visits) to CRP reports and referrals made on behalf of participants. However, with the greater volume of CRP clients in this area, the team was keen to explore how information sharing might be enhanced further - possibly through direct access to PR2 from the local authority office. The CJSW support workers explained that prison visits usually involved a series of scheduled meetings and they did not always have the time to consult PR2 before meeting an offender. Increasing the amount of time in prison or arranging access to PR2 outwith the prison itself would be beneficial in allowing them to prepare for individual meetings. Staff also talked about the duplication of work in updating two systems, PR2 and the local authority's own recording system, following meetings.

4.20 At Perth, information recorded on PR2 was described as providing useful background to the CJSW team, but there was no clear indication of the extent to which prison's CRP reports were used by CJSW in case management activities.

4.21 Neither the Lanarkshire CJSW team nor the women's Dundee CJSW team had access to PR2 in the establishments they visited, although interviewees nevertheless commented positively on the extent to which prisons shared information with them. This took the form of print-offs of PR2 narratives at one prison and copies of CIPs prepared by SPS staff (and which form a routine part of release planning for all offenders) at other prisons.

4.22 Despite the generally positive accounts of working relationships, a number of situations were highlighted where it was felt that communication and information sharing could be improved. These included:

  • Notification of original referrals: There was some inconsistency in the point at which referrals were passed to CJSW reducing the time available to work with offenders - this was highlighted as an issue even at Perth, with their system of regular notifications.
  • Notification of release on Home Detention Curfew (HDC): CJSW staff reported that prisons providing late notice - or no notice - of impending release on HDC meant it was not always possible to arrange pre-release meetings. However, liaison with other CJSW colleagues involved in preparing reports for HDC hearings provided an alternative way of getting notice that a CRP participant was being considered for HDC.

4.23 Two less common issues were:

  • Offender transfers: There were reported instances of CJSW staff travelling to attend pre-arranged meetings having not been alerted to the fact that the offender they were going to meet had been transferred to another establishment.
  • Arrangements for liberation: Arrangements for gate pick-ups had on occasion fallen through when offenders were released earlier than anticipated.

4.24 While the incidence of all these problems varied, they usefully highlight points at which there is particular scope for breakdown in communication. In doing so they emphasise the importance of ensuring that good liaison and communication arrangements are in place, and that there is routine consideration of the impact of decisions about offender transfer and release on throughcare planning.

4.25 Regardless of the model adopted, and despite reports of generally good working relationships, the focus of CJSW liaison was with managerial, administrative and Link Centre staff and there was little reported contact in relation to individual cases between frontline SPS officers and CJSW staff other than at pre-release meetings (discussed in Chapter 3). For the most part, then, prison and community services appeared to operate independently in responding to offender needs. Offenders followed the prison-based CRP process with their PO and attended meetings with CJSW; but these were largely separate pathways, and there was little reported ongoing liaison between prison and CJSW staff on a case-by-case basis. The fact that CJSW started their work with each new client following a referral by carrying out their own needs assessment was seen by one SPS officer as an indicator of this separate approach.

4.26 On the whole POs did not appear to have an expectation that they would deal directly with CJSW staff, or express any concern about the current situation. However, some did see this as a missed opportunity to develop a more coordinated approach, with one PO commenting:

"It would have been nice had they come here and said we will be the people on the other end of the phone please feel free to call me and ask me any sort of questions. It would be nice if their name was in a book for us all to access and we could say well can I refer this person to you, have a discussion about the person, what you believe there needs to be and see if you come up with the same thing." SPS9

4.27 Here it is also worth noting that the CRP process does not include a mechanism for feeding back CJSW case management information to prison staff (e.g. via updating PR2).

4.28 CJSW staff also thought that greater contact with POs on a case-by-case basis outwith the pre-release meeting would be helpful in improving understanding of an offender's circumstances. It was not felt there were any fundamental obstacles to this happening, and one CJSW worker noted that although contact with POs was not routine, they thought it would be facilitated by the prison if requested on a case-by-case basis. The issues noted elsewhere in relation to the impact of shift patterns and working duties (see Chapter 6) would, of course, need to be addressed if this were to happen on a more regular basis.

4.29 The involvement of more specialised prison staff, however, appeared to be a factor in effective coordinated working. For example, there was direct liaison about individual cases between CJSW and the Vulnerable Prisoner Officer at one prison and with the TSOs at another. Similarly, the designated PO at HMP Edinburgh with responsibility for the CRP liaised directly with CJSW about meetings and was positive about the opportunity to build these links.

4.30 Prison logistics also played a part here in facilitating contact between CJSW and prison staff, and there seemed to be both advantages and disadvantages associated with different approaches. In some prisons, for example, meetings between offenders and CJSW took place in the hall, providing an opportunity for CJSW contact with residential staff; in others, meetings took place in the Link Centre, supporting CJSW communication with staff and other agencies operating there; and (as noted elsewhere) in one prison CJSW meetings took place in the agents' room at the prison gate, inhibiting contact with prison staff.

4.31 While there was limited evidence of substantive coordination in responding to offender needs in individual cases, there was nevertheless evidence that prisons were working to facilitate the input of CJSW. Link Centre staff were seen as key at one prison in facilitating the attendance of offenders at meetings; at other prisons CJSW staff described how it was helpful to have a named point of contact for arranging meetings.

4.32 It was suggested - implicitly and explicitly - that the embedded model offered advantages of greater familiarity, ease of information sharing and an increased profile of CJSW within prisons; indeed, one CJSW team leader offered this as a key lesson from the project. The evidence, perhaps, suggests a less clear cut picture. There do appear to be advantages in terms of developing links with Link Centre staff in particular and sharing information, but the model does not, on its own, ensure seamless communication or working links between frontline staff on a case-specific basis; here, the practice of CJSW staff holding meetings in residential areas of the prison may offer advantages. Rather than one specific model offering the solution here, the key lessons appear to relate to ways of increasing familiarity and contact between CJSW and residential staff, the importance of clear lines of communication and points of contact, and looking at the particular contribution that staff with specific roles can make to maximising the effectiveness of joined up working.

Links between prisons and external agencies

4.33 In addition to CJSW, prisons had links with a range of other external agencies - most notably with housing agencies, addiction services, employment and benefit services (JobCentre Plus) and different mentoring schemes (e.g. Shine and New Routes). At a strategic level, SPS staff were keen to develop these links further as part of a move towards becoming a more outward-focused organisation. As one officer said of the emerging culture: "Our doors are now open, the walls are coming down in prisons" (SPS11).

4.34 While the need for more joined up working with external agencies was clearly recognised at a strategic level, communication and coordination between frontline SPS staff and external agencies appeared to be limited. For POs, the main contact was with Link Centre staff who then dealt with agencies, although some reported occasional direct contact with some agencies operating within the prison. In general, though, POs appeared to have limited familiarity with the range and focus of services and agencies operating both in the prison and the community, as explained by two officers:

"If a prisoner said to me, "What help am I going get outside and who is going to give me that help? I've got no answer for them…I don't know what agencies they are using…I honestly think there is a lack of training for staff for this totally." SPS1

"[We need a] a proper idea of the whole cycle rather than just our bit. I think it's just knowledge and understanding of like who people are, what they do, how prisoners and ex-offenders can get in contact with them. And just what happens outside 'cause you, you don't know, you know, no-one comes and tells us." SPS12

4.35 Such comments perhaps indicate a need to address staff awareness in this area to ensure they are equipped to advise offenders. This might, for example, include raising awareness of - and ensuring easy access to - the SPS directory of community agencies developed as a resource to support staff in this type of work.

4.36 While some POs gave accounts of direct dealings with agencies (e.g. pursuing an appointment on behalf of an offender), most had what could be described as a 'hands off' approach once a referral was made. For some SPS staff, though, there was an element of frustration about the lack of communication and feedback following a referral. In particular, it was suggested that POs' ability to give advice to offenders would be enhanced by feedback on outcomes and by an awareness of work being done by other agencies:

"But you don't really know what's being discussed, what the outcomes are, if there even is an outcome. But I suppose if I'm honest I'd look at the risk, if we're looking in terms of doing this to reduce the risk of them reoffending then it would be, it would be handy to know if the counselling and stuff like that that they're getting, if that's related to their offence. If it is it would be nice to know that, because then we could see if the risk has then been reduced at least." SPS6

"If someone you have worked with is getting intervention from an outside agency or other area it would be beneficial to the whole process if we knew about it." SPS9

4.37 Although some agencies had access to PR2, this varied, as did the extent to which they recorded progress on to the system.

4.38 Overall, the steps being taken to develop strategic links between SPS and different support agencies at an organisational level can be seen as positive steps which could be further pursued. Across the piece, the picture is one of commitment to improved joined up working with other agencies at a managerial level, but limited communication and coordination on the ground. This has direct consequences in terms of familiarity with and knowledge of services, and how individual staff perceived the PO role in relation to working with offenders. There is, therefore, a need to review expectations about the extent of routine communication and coordination, how frontline interaction might be enhanced, and any additional support which SPS staff require to allow this to happen.

Links between CJSW and support agencies in the community

4.39 The monitoring data demonstrated the extent to which CJSW were making referrals to community-based organisations, particularly in relation to housing, addictions and benefits. Alongside this, the interview data provide evidence of strong links and regular communication between CJSW staff and other external agencies.

4.40 CJSW staff and agencies described a range of formal and informal arrangements which allowed them to enhance the support they provided to individual offenders following release from prison. While there were examples of intensive multi-agency working to support particularly vulnerable offenders leaving prison - particularly in relation to women offenders - a lot of valuable cross-agency cooperation was ad hoc and low level in nature. There were, for example, instances of agencies arranging joint or back-to-back appointments; of agencies being able to follow up non-attendance at community appointments; cross-referrals between agencies; and of agencies being able to check details and confirm the circumstances of individuals to allow appropriate support to be provided. All these activities can be seen as helping ensure a flexible service that responds to the needs of its client group.

4.41 Those support agencies based within local authorities described the organisational advantages of being able to check the involvement of CJSW support and contacting the appropriate CJSW workers to discuss a case. There was, however, a call to go further with the development of more comprehensive information sharing across agencies (with appropriate data protection protocols in place) and a 'single shared assessment' approach to dealing with the needs of offenders. Such an approach would mean all agencies having formal access to a single needs assessment for each offender, along with appropriate background information to allow agencies to work together in an efficient and coordinated way to respond to the needs of the individual.

4.42 While most experiences of joint working were positive, a number of CJSW interviewees noted that they did not always know which other agencies were involved in supporting someone or the nature of the support which was being provided, and that this could lead to confusion. The value of effective coordination was highlighted by a case in which an offender's housing needs had apparently been missed: two agencies had been involved in supporting this offender but responsibility for responding to his housing needs had not been clear. More generally, it was felt that there was a proliferation of agencies working in the area and that a more strategic view was needed in order to reduce duplication and make better use of the resources available. As one interviewee said, "there might be five agencies providing the same thing, but there's still unmet need" (CJSW3).

4.43 While the research found evidence of good joint working involving external agencies, there was limited awareness among interviewees in such settings of the CRP per se - most had not heard of the CRP as a specific initiative and said they would be unaware that a referral had originated through the project. While most were aware of CJSW throughcare services and the work they did with offenders, they were not necessarily aware that any of this work was part of a wider project. There were a small number of exceptions to this - for example, where two interviewees from the same agency were broadly aware of the CRP. In this case, existing professional links appeared to be important: the CRP was referred to as 'X's project', and the individual CJSW worker (X) was seen as key to the progress of a case:

"X is very good at keeping in touch with us regarding people he knows that are either going inside or coming out, and providing that vital link, and that vital communication…when somebody is coming out he'll be there to assist us, to provide throughcare at the side of it." A4

4.44 The value of personal links was also noted by CJSW staff who reported that face-to-face contact with other agencies in the Link Centre (for those with a presence there) or in other workplaces (e.g. local authority offices) could be helpful to joint working between agencies, and ensuring the needs of offenders were met.

4.45 There was, then, good evidence of coordination and communication in the community, bringing added value to the services provided to offenders. While there was a degree of reliance on personal links and only limited awareness of services operating as part of a coordinated CRP response, there was also a wish to see greater coordination and strategic direction brought to community efforts in responding to offender needs.

Overview of partnership working

4.46 Across the three strands of partnership working, then, there was evidence of varying degrees of communication and coordination between different agencies. At the custody stage, this manifested itself in terms of good arrangements for facilitating the work of CJSW in prisons, and in terms of ongoing work to develop links at an organisational level. Out in the community good links were bringing added value to dealing with the needs of offenders, with a view that this would be enhanced by a more strategic approach. Greater communication and coordination on a case-specific basis prior to liberation may, however, be an aspect of partnership working which could be further enhanced through appropriate encouragement and support to frontline SPS staff, and increased sharing of information via PR2. A number of interviewees suggested a stronger and more explicit role for either SPS or CJSW (or indeed another appropriate agency) in acting as a central point in overseeing the coordination of support for individual offenders.

Improved prison awareness of offender needs

4.47 Identifying and responding to offender needs is central to the purpose of the CRP. The views and experiences of both staff and offenders are relevant here in providing a picture of role the CRP plays in making staff aware of offender needs. This section looks at staff views, while the offender perspective is presented in Chapter 5.

4.48 Staff had mixed views about whether the CRP had improved awareness of offender needs. There was certainly a common view that the role of a PO had always involved identifying and responding to offender needs and prison staff did not always believe, therefore, that the CRP had led to significant 'added value'. However, there was also a clear view that the CRP's structured and staged process helped to identify needs more systematically than might otherwise have been the case. Staff across all establishments described how they had found this helpful in underpinning and potentially enhancing interactions with offenders:

"…the questions with the project made us kind of delve a wee bit deeper…it provided prompts for questions…[the Comprehensive Screen process] kind of spurred us on to go in and delve a wee bit deeper which I found beneficial." SPS12

"I think the process is good for many reasons. One reason is you've got a communication between the person and that you can build up a bit of an offender-prison officer relationship. You get to know them better and you basically are solving their problems basically, and it does work in that sense…" SPS7

"I think it's effective at picking things up earlier and I think it's effective on the basis we've now got a process to be able to...I think we're doing things...there was no organisation to it. We didn't get any early warning of it. I think it's effective on that." SPS15

4.49 These views suggest that the CRP process with its set stages can add value by ensuring a level of consistency in terms of identifying and responding to offender needs. In this context, several prison officers - including some of those indicating scepticism about the added value of the CRP - acknowledged that otherwise the system relied on 'good' members of staff and risked overlooking the needs of less demanding, more reserved offenders. As such, the structured CRP process was seen as potentially reducing reliance on especially proactive members of staff and reducing the danger that staff time would be taken up with particularly forthcoming or vocal offenders:

"You get some girls who have a lot of needs, and they don't present their self…and if you don't know the girls, you're not aware that they have this need. And you get other girls [who] never stop. Sometimes the consuming ones who … aren't actually the ones that are really needy, and they distract you... And the ones that really need the help are left behind…are ... not 'ignored', but missed…" SPS3

4.50 It was also suggested by a small number of interviewees that the CRP approach to offender management, with its more comprehensive recording of information, offered advantages in responding effectively to the needs of those subsequently returning to custody again, allowing continuity and early intervention in such cases. The flexible approach described by one prison in offering offenders the opportunity to rejoin the CRP scheme on a return to custody, even if they did not meet the minimum six month sentence requirement is also notable here.

4.51 There was also comment on particular aspects of the process. As noted earlier (see Chapter 3), the Stage 3 Comprehensive Screen and the Stage 4 Standard Reviews were both highlighted by different interviewees as being helpful in assessing need. In the latter case this was seen as providing the opportunity to identify and respond to needs which might emerge as an individual progressed through the system and/or when the offender was ready. On a similar note, another officer suggested that addiction issues may, initially, mask other issues; the staged CRP process provided the structure for ensuring that issues would be addressed when they did subsequently emerge.

4.52 The CJSW report, in particular, was seen as a particularly useful tool in identifying offender needs. As previously discussed in Chapter 3, interviewees, with few exceptions, were of the view that this provided useful background information on the offender and their offence, and offered the basis to probe or to challenge the version of events provided by offenders themselves.

4.53 Thus, the message emerging from the evaluation is that the CRP process provides a sound basis for assessing offender needs in prison, and that the use of the CJSW report and the structured and staged process are key elements of that.

Increased interaction with offenders about reintegration before release

4.54 The CRP monitoring data provide a starting point in exploring whether the CRP process has had an impact on interaction with offenders about reintegration prior to release. At a very basic level the data demonstrate that around 255 offenders participated in a Stage 3 meeting, implying potential referral to CJSW. The fact that such referrals are being made while the offender is in custody means that there is scope for CJSW interaction prior to release and scope to establish continuity of support.

4.55 CJSW staff indicated that they would try to see offenders at least twice (as envisaged in the CRP guidance) and up to around six times in custody prior to the pre-release meeting but that this varied depending on the point at which they received the referral, the needs of the individual and the length of the sentence. However, non-attendance of offenders at individual meetings was also relatively common (see Chapter 2).

4.56 There were also questions about the quality of the interaction. CJSW staff reported that offenders were not always aware of the purpose of the meeting or did not always appear to have made a positive decision to engage with CJSW and that this impacted on what could be achieved in terms of planning for community reintegration. The more proactive approach taken at one prison to engage offenders in the CRP process was described by one interviewee as a 'double-edged sword': while it got people to the initial meeting with CJSW, they were not always motivated to engage positively.

4.57 On the prison side, the monitoring data indicate that prison staff are interacting with offenders at various stages in the CRP process (see Chapter 2), albeit with attrition apparent at each stage, and are undertaking Summary Reviews and attending pre-release meetings with an explicit focus on reintegration in a proportion of cases.

4.58 Overall the monitoring data indicate interaction taking place in relation to reintegration and, when considered alongside the interview data, it is fair to conclude that some of this interaction, particularly with CJSW, would not have taken place without the CRP process. However, the rate of attrition indicated in the monitoring data suggests there is potential for further interaction to take place, as well as for the quality of that interaction to be enhanced. This issue is explored further in Chapter 5, which looks at working with offenders.


4.59 There was clear support for the principle of joint working across staff from SPS, CJSW and SCS, although this was sometimes tempered by the need to avoid duplication and clearly demonstrate added value. A number of different interviewees indicated that they saw senior management as having an important role in creating the conditions (and providing the resources) necessary for effective joint working.

4.60 This broad commitment to joint working is likely to have pre-dated the CRP rather than be an outcome of the project; nevertheless, it does suggest a positive basis for further work in this area and indicate that an important pre-condition for success may be in place.

4.61 The nature of the links between prison staff and CJSW influenced the way in which the CRP was delivered, with some evidence that the 'embedded' rather than 'arms-length' model offered potential advantages in terms of familiarity between SPS and CJSW staff, ease of information sharing and an increased profile for CJSW within prisons.

4.62 But the embedded model, in itself, did not ensure working links between frontline staff on a case-specific basis. The key lessons here appear to relate to ways of increasing familiarity and contact between CJSW and residential staff, establishing clear lines of communication and points of contact, and looking at the particular contribution that staff with specific roles can make to maximising the effectiveness of joined up working.

4.63 The need for more joined up working between SPS and external agencies was clearly recognised at a strategic level but, on the ground, communication and coordination with external agencies again appeared to be limited. Some POs gave accounts of direct dealings with external agencies, but most had what could be described as a 'hands off' approach once a referral was made.

4.64 In general, there was evidence of strong links and regular communication between CJSW and other external agencies, though there were also examples of duplication or lack of coordination in service delivery. However, awareness of the CRP itself was low and agency staff were often unaware that a referral had originated with the project.

4.65 Although the identification of offender needs was seen as a core part of the PO's role (now and in the past), there was also a clear view that the CRP's structured and staged process helped to identify needs more systematically than might otherwise have been the case. In particular, it was felt that the system might otherwise rely on proactive members of staff and risked overlooking the needs of less demanding, more reserved offenders.

4.66 The CJSW report, in particular, was seen as a particularly useful tool in identifying offender needs.

4.67 Although there is little doubt that the CRP has resulted in an increase in the level of interaction with offenders pre-release, interviews with staff (and the monitoring data presented in Chapter 2) both suggest that there is a significant problem of attrition across the various Stages of the project. Where meetings do occur, there are also questions about the quality of interaction with offenders not always aware of the purpose of the meeting or having made a positive decision to engage with CJSW.

4.68 Overall the evaluation suggests the CRP is facilitating progress towards the expected short and medium-term outcomes for organisations and staff, but that the practice of joint working could be further improved and that more effective motivation and engagement of offenders would improve needs assessment further and increase interaction relating to reintegration. This is considered further in more detail in Chapter 5.


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