The international impact of probation research from Jersey: risk/need measurement and supervision skills.

Submitting Institution

Swansea University

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Human Society: Criminology

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Summary of the impact

This case study describes the international impact of research carried out by Swansea criminologists in partnership with criminal justice agencies in the Channel Island of Jersey. This has included work on risk and need assessment and, in a linked study, on supervision skills used by probation staff. This research has a documented impact with international reach, mainly since 2008, affecting policy and practice in Jersey, Scotland, the Irish Republic, the Isle of Man, Malta, Sweden and Denmark, and (in relation to the skills study only) England and Wales, and has attracted interest in the USA, Australia and Portugal. Its significance lies mainly in the fact that the risk and need assessment study has led to structured and evidence-based assessment of (currently) about 15,000 offenders per year, or about 45,000 to date, in jurisdictions where no structured assessment methods were previously used. About 35,000 of these represent impact since the start of 2008. In addition, the study of supervision skills has contributed since 2008 to the measurement and development of skills in offender supervision in England, Wales, Scotland and Jersey. The research has also been used extensively by a training and consultancy company and contributed to the establishment and growth of the research and practice development network CREDOS (Collaboration of Researchers for the Effective Development of Offender Supervision).

Underpinning research

The international research literature on the rehabilitation of offenders generally agrees that evidence-based assessment methods and skilled supervision both contribute to effective rehabilitation and the reduction of re-offending, and these findings have been replicated and extended in Jersey (see section 3: R3, R6). From 1996 to 2001 a series of pilot studies carried out by Peter Raynor (Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice since 1996) evaluated the use by several Probation Services of a new assessment instrument originally developed by Don Andrews and James Bonta in Canada. This was the Level of Service Inventory - Revised (LSI-R), which is completed by probation officers to record their assessment of an offender's needs, and also provides a risk score which, with appropriate calibration, can be used to estimate the probability of reconviction. Some evaluation of the pilots was funded by the participating probation services, of which Jersey was the first, via the Cognitive Centre Foundation in South Wales, which awarded a grant to Raynor to carry out the research. A further study of LSI-R in the pilot areas in England and Wales was subsequently funded by the Home Office and carried out by Raynor with Jocelyn Kynch (Research Assistant (RA) 1998-2000) in Swansea and with Colin Roberts and Simon Merrington of the Probation Studies Unit in Oxford.

These studies, for which Jersey provided the most reliable and comprehensive data, showed that probation officers could use these methods, that LSI-R (with slight modifications and calibration) was a reasonably reliable reconviction predictor in Britain, and that changes in offenders' LSI-R scores were significantly related to increases and decreases in the probability of reconviction (see R1 and R2 below). This relationship had not previously been demonstrated in any large-scale study. In other words, the Swansea research demonstrated the validity of these methods for use outside North America and added significantly to the general evidence of their efficacy.

In Jersey work continued as part of a long-term research partnership with Swansea, which has also included research on youth justice, community safety and policing. Work funded by the Jersey Probation Service concentrated on the use of LSI-R in service evaluation, and reconviction studies including LSI-R data were produced and published in 2001, 2004 and 2009 by Raynor and Dr. Helen Miles, a Jersey civil servant who obtained her PhD from Swansea (2001-7). These studies confirmed the usefulness of LSI-R in measuring changes during (sometimes as a result of) supervision (see R3), and led directly to the idea of studying the supervision input of staff and relating it to changes in risk/need assessments and behaviour among the offenders they supervise. The resulting study has been under way since 2007, funded by Jersey Probation Service and carried out by Raynor together with Dr Pamela Ugwudike (then RA, lecturer since 2009) and Professor Maurice Vanstone (Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Emeritus since 2009), with assistance from Dr Miles and from the Chief Probation Officer of Jersey.

This study has so far involved the collection of 95 videotaped interviews, analysis of the skills used by probation officers in them, and analysis of changes in LSI-R assessments and offending by the supervised offenders. Findings so far show that officers vary considerably in the skills they use (see R4), and that offenders supervised by officers who consistently use a wide range of skills make more progress under supervision, with reductions in assessed risk levels and a reconviction rate over two years which is significantly lower than that of similar offenders supervised by less skilled staff (see R5 and R6). Three other recent studies carried out by members of CREDOS [see below], one in Canada, one in Australia and one in the USA, have also related individual supervision skills to outcomes. However, Swansea's study is unique in its use of video recording, which gives a more complete and durable record for research, in the development of a skills assessment checklist and manual which can be used by practitioners as well as researchers, and in the size of the effects.

References to the research

(Swansea-based authors in bold)

R1. Raynor, P., Kynch, J., Roberts, C. and Merrington, M. (2000) Risk and Need Assessment in Probation Services: an Evaluation, Research Study 211, London: Home Office. (ISBN 1 84082 540 5, or full text available via Home Office website. 81 citations in Google Scholar.) This is a peer-reviewed research publication which covered the LSI-R pilots in England and Wales and contributed substantially to the impact of the Jersey research.

R2. Raynor, P. (2007) `Risk and need assessment in British probation: the contribution of LSI-R', Psychology, Crime and Law 13, 2, 125-138. (DOI 10.1080/10683160500337592) (Impact factor 1.13) This is a peer-reviewed journal article reporting and discussing findings from England, Wales and particularly Jersey.


R3. Raynor, P. and Miles, H. (2007) `Evidence-based probation in a microstate: the British Channel Island of Jersey', European Journal of Criminology 4, 3, 299-313. (DOI 10.1177/1477370807077184) (Impact factor 1.159) This is a peer-reviewed journal article reporting research on LSI-R and the effectiveness of services in Jersey.


R4. Raynor, P., Ugwudike, P. and Vanstone, M. (2010) `Skills and strategies in probation supervision: the Jersey study', in McNeill, F., Raynor, P. and Trotter, C. eds. Offender Supervision: new directions in theory, research and practice, Abingdon: Willan, pp. 113-129. (ISBN 9 781843 929369) This chapter (quality controlled by the other editors and reputable publisher) reports on the early stages of the supervision skills research. The book as a whole is the output of CREDOS (see below) and sold 1771 copies by March 2013.

R5. Raynor, P. (2011) Observing Supervision Skills - the Jersey study, Offender Engagement Research Bulletin 9, London: Ministry of Justice. (Available from the Offender Engagement Programme team in the Ministry of Justice, or from Swansea.) Quality controlled by the series editor Dr. Sue Rex of the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), this presents in deliberately accessible form the findings up to 2011, including early evidence of outcomes for offenders.

R6. Raynor, P., Ugwudike, P. and Vanstone, M. (2013) `The impact of skills in probation work: a reconviction study', Criminology and Criminal Justice early access online 14/7/2013. (DOI 10.1177/1748895813494869) (Impact factor 0.755) This is a peer-reviewed article on the outcomes of the supervision skills research.


Research grants:

1996-2001, Cognitive Centre Foundation, £30,000. Dynamic risk assessment in probation practice (principal investigator: P. Raynor).

1997-8, States of Jersey, £7,950. Development of a crime reduction strategy (principal investigators P. Raynor and K. Haines, Swansea).

1998-2001, Home Office, £65,000. Risk and need assessment in probation services (principal investigators P. Raynor and C. Roberts, grant held in Swansea).

2006-2011, Jersey Probation Service, £28,000. Individual supervision skills and their impact on offenders (principal investigator P. Raynor).

Details of the impact

The research has led to the use of effective assessment methods for thousands of offenders in several jurisdictions, to new approaches to the measurement and assessment of supervision skills, and to comprehensive evaluation of service outcomes within Jersey itself.

Research on LSI-R in England and Wales and Jersey was disseminated widely to practitioners through conferences and training events both before and since the start of 2008. Professor Raynor gave related presentations to eight conferences, including British (1999 and 2004), American (1999) and European (2008) Societies of Criminology and conferences organised by the Scottish Office (1997), the Home Office (2002, 2003) and the Jurats (judges) of Jersey (2001), plus lectures in Cambridge (2009), Sheffield (2003), Neuchatel (2008) and Barcelona (2009). Training events were organised throughout Britain and in other countries by the Cognitive Centre Foundation (CCF), a training consultancy based in South Wales which distributes LSI-R on behalf of the copyright owners, Multi-Health Systems of Toronto. (Neither Swansea University nor any members of its staff receive any financial benefit from the distribution of LSI-R, in order to preserve the independence and integrity of ongoing research.) Professor Raynor has spoken at some CCF training events.

Advice was also given to Ministers and officials in the course of Professor Raynor's membership of Government criminal justice Accreditation Panels in England and Wales (1999-2009, and 2012 onwards) and Scotland (2003-5), and of Scotland's National Advisory Body on Offender Management (2005-9). England and Wales accepted the broad principles of risk/need assessment but preferred to develop their own method for offender assessment, known as the Offender Assessment System - OASys.

Typically, organisations interested in the development of risk/need assessment became aware of the LSI-R research through publications (including in practitioner journals), conferences or discussions in advisory bodies and obtained further information from Swansea, together with advice on practical implementation from Jersey where implementation was most highly developed. If as a result they decided to use LSI-R or its derivatives, they would then enter into a training arrangement with CCF. Reports from Scotland, Ireland and the CCF make it clear that the research findings were a critical factor in deciding to use this particular approach to assessment: for example, the Chief Executive of the Scottish Risk Management Authority (see section 5) states that `the work of Peter Raynor has been used in all the LSI-R training in Scotland from the late 1990s to the present time', `this research has had a very practical impact, and also influence on policy', and `this set of studies has great impact in the UK where such systematic and sustained effort is rare'. An Assistant Principal Probation Officer of the Irish Probation Service states that `without the availability of this research we would have been floundering in the dark' and `no other development since 1975 has been as significant in terms of impact and outcomes'.

The Director of the CCF writes `the Raynor studies were instrumental in providing evidence of [the LSI-R's] validity in a UK context and paved the way for continued applicability in many UK areas'. Impacts since 2008 are in some cases continuations of earlier impacts: in Scotland training was completed in 2011 covering about 1,200 social workers, and in the Republic of Ireland implementation began in 2006 and was completed during 2008, with about 23,000 offenders assessed since July 2008. The LSI-R has also been adopted in Malta in 2010 following advice from Ireland. According to the CCF, the National Board for Forensic Medicine in Sweden has sought and received training in LSI-R in 2009 as a direct result of assessing the Swansea research, staff of the Ministry of Justice in Denmark received training in 2013, and other countries including Portugal may do so. Correspondence from the Director of CCF indicates that the economic impact on the work of the CCF itself has also been substantial, with a large part of their work being LSI-related from 1996 to the present, resulting also in royalty payments to the copyright holders in Canada.

Dissemination of the supervision skills study has also been through publications and conferences, and particularly through the annual conferences of CREDOS. This was founded in 2007, following discussions at the European Society of Criminology in Tübingen in 2006 where a paper by Professor Raynor on research in Jersey led to meetings between researchers interested in direct research on individual supervision practice. CREDOS now brings together researchers and practitioners from ten countries and has produced the recent book Offender Supervision. Other practical impacts of the skills study to date include a presentation by the Chief Probation Officer of the Jersey Probation and After Care Service at the 2010 conference of CREDOS in Melbourne, training workshops by Dr Ugwudike at the Scottish Risk Management Authority conference in March 2011, and consequent enquiries about use of the Jersey Supervision Skills Checklist developed in the study. Following presentations of material from the study in Professor Raynor's 2011 Bill McWilliams Memorial Lecture at the Cambridge Institute of Criminology and at two invited Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Offender Management Seminars in 2011 and 2013, all attended by officials, managers and practitioners, eight Probation Trusts in England and Wales have also approached Jersey about possible use of the skills checklist in staff development. In addition the Jersey study is one of the influences on the SEED project (Skills for Effective Engagement and Development) being implemented since 2010 by the MoJ in eight Probation Trusts, and a short report on the study was published by the MoJ as Offender Engagement Research Bulletin 9 in 2011. Professor Raynor is a member of the Academic Reference Group for the Offender Engagement Programme (which includes SEED) and provided detailed advice to the SEED manager. The impact of this advice is evident, for example, in the use made in SEED of direct observation of interviews, structured feedback and research findings from Jersey.

Within Jersey itself, information from the Chief Probation Officer indicates that the LSI-R based research has enabled his Service to become one of very few public services in Jersey able to demonstrate ongoing evaluation of the impact of their work. The research has been `key to internal monitoring and planning processes' and has been used to `influence policy-makers and the allocation of resources'. The Minister responsible for the Crown Dependencies wrote to the Chief Probation Officer on 22/7/10 to commend the research on LSI-R and to report that he was sending it on to officials in the Ministry of Justice: `I should like to congratulate you and your colleagues at the Jersey Probation and After-Care Service . . . and also Dr Miles, Professor Raynor and Ms Coster (research assistant in Jersey) on producing an interesting, encouraging and significant report.' In addition, material produced in the skills study is being applied to staff development in a carefully monitored exercise which will help to inform developments elsewhere, and the Chief Probation Officer reports that information from the study has been provided to `10 other probation organisations in the British Isles, Australia and the USA'.

Sources to corroborate the impact

The quotations in the previous section are taken from reports provided by highly placed users and beneficiaries of Swansea's Jersey research. The Chief Executive of the Scottish Risk Management Authority (dated 13/9/2011) describes impact in Scotland, the Assistant Principal Probation Officer of the Probation Service in the Republic of Ireland (27/9/2011) describes impact there, the Director of the Cognitive Centre Foundation (26/9/2011 and 1/6/2013) reports on the impact in other European countries as well as on the work of the CCF itself, and the Chief Probation Officer of the Jersey Probation Service (1/12/2011) covers a range of impacts on Jersey and on his international contacts. The influence of the skills study on SEED can be confirmed, if required, by the SEED manager.