Ex-offender charities would greatly benefit from having access to government data on reoffending, charity think tank New Philanthropy Capital has claimed.
NPC has today released the report Unlocking offending data: How access to offending data could help charities improve outcomes for offenders, which analyses the challenges such organisations face both in accessing reoffending data and quantifying the effectiveness of their work.
NPC’s research involved surveying 236 criminal justice charities that work directly with ex-offenders. It found that around half had tried accessing offending data, in order to find out whether their interventions had effectively helped service users avoid reoffending, but of those who had tried to access data only one in five were successful every time. Four in five found the process of accessing data “hard, some or all of the time”.
Most of the charities surveyed said they felt that a ‘Justice Data Lab’ through which the government could make reoffending data accessible would help them improve services, report impact to commissioners and win payment-by-results contracts.
Another speculation by contributors was that such a project would also bring benefits to the government, since if it led to improved commissioning this could reduce costs and deliver better value for money.
Dan Corry, chief executive of NPC, said: “It is vital that voluntary sector organisations are able to access the data they need in order to prove their efficacy and fine-tune their services. And this is even more so as the payment-by-results approach starts to sweep through the criminal justice area.
“We hope the Ministry of Justice will use the results of this publication as an opportunity for further engagement with the voluntary sector.”
Benedict Rickey, report co-author, added: “This Justice Data Lab would help charities, funders and commissioners identify which services work, but also how services could be improved. Over time, this will help ensure more offenders get the services they need to get their lives back on track.”
The UK’s prison population has doubled over the past 20 years to over 85,000 prisoners, with re-offending seen as playing a major part in this rise. The overall cost of crime to UK society is estimated at £64bn per year.
Unlocking offending data is available to download from the New Philanthropy Capital website.