Through better assessment of the risk of reoffending it has been possible
to improve the treatment of sex offenders and protect the public. An
algorithm developed at the University of Birmingham, has been used by
the Probation Service to classify the entire prison population of over
8000 sex offenders attending treatment in England and Wales,
enabling allocation to the best treatment available at the time. This
approach to treatment led to a 40% reduction in recidivism in
those who were treatment responders. More specifically, this work enabled
length of treatment to be matched to high-risk offenders' level of
pre-treatment risk/need, and resulted in a reduced rate of reconviction
among high-risk offenders to the level of reconviction observed among
lower risk/need offenders. The work has reduced the level of sexual
victimisation in the UK, reduced the costs associated with such
offending, and has influenced policy and services for the treatment of
sex offenders in other countries in Europe. Such recidivism
reduction also enables ex-offenders to lead more fulfilling offence free
In a project funded by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), psychologists from the University of Kent
investigated the effects of mandatory polygraph testing for UK sexual offenders released on
licence. Their research demonstrated that this practice increased disclosure by sexual offenders.
This led directly to a change in Government policy and delegated legislation under the Offender
Management Act (2007). The resulting legislation will make it compulsory for sexual offenders in
England and Wales to be polygraphed as part of their licence conditions from January 2014. The
widely disseminated research findings also alerted professionals to the benefits of mandatory
polygraph testing on sexual offenders, and generated significant public discussion.
A better understanding of electronic monitoring (EM) and improvements and
innovation in policy and practice have resulted from research conducted by
Professor Anthea Hucklesby. An important question facing criminal
justice policy makers and practitioners is how to increase compliance with
community-based sanctions to improve their effectiveness as well as the
confidence of the courts and the public. The research addresses this
agenda by highlighting factors which influence offenders' compliance with
EM curfew orders and by recommending ways in which compliance might be
increased. The research reinforced government confidence that EM should be
used widely and shaped the future direction of EM policy in England and
Wales. The research also brought about changes in the operation of EM
within G4S, resulted in the setting up of pilot projects, provided for a
safer staff working environment and informed the work of Her Majesty's
Inspectorate of Probation.
Since 2001, Professor Grubin has led trials to test whether polygraph
assessment could help case officers manage high-risk sex offenders
released on licence in England and Wales. A three-year study of mandatory
assessment which ended in 2012 demonstrated conclusively that polygraph
testing helped case managers evaluate the risk posed by offenders and
decide how best to protect the public from harm. A policy of mandatory
polygraph assessment of all high-risk sex offenders on parole in England
and Wales was approved by ministers in summer 2012, and procurement is
underway for a national polygraph testing service for high-risk sex
We report on the development and use of a clinical tool designed to
assess the distorted cognitions
of sex offenders with an intellectual disability. The tool discriminates
between offenders and non-offenders
and individuals who offend against children and those who offend against
the review period it has become routinely used internationally in forensic
services in the treatment
and management of sex offenders with an intellectual disability.
Practitioners using the tool now
have a means of monitoring the effectiveness of their treatment of sex
offenders with an intellectual
disability. Prior to its publication, practitioners working with this
cohort had no access to suitably
validated measures of cognitive distortions and therefore no means of
the extent to which offenders in their treatment programme were still
exhibiting cognitive distortions
typically associated with offending behaviour.
Research commissioned by the Risk Management Authority (RMA) assessed
criminal justice practice in Scotland relating to high risk offenders, and
provided the rationale and founding principles for the RMA to create a
Framework for Risk Assessment, Management and Evaluation (FRAME),
published in July 2011. The key findings from the research were published
in a report, which recommended the need for consistency in risk
definitions and guidance across criminal justice agencies, for
compatibility in information sharing and training, and for greater
inter-agency cooperation and accountability. These recommendations have
directly influenced Government policy and practice in assessing and
managing offender risk, and continue to inform how sexual offenders are
currently managed and how serious violent offenders might also be managed
in the future.
A research team at GCU, led by Professor Liz Gilchrist, exploring
aspects of intimate partner violence (IPV) has had a significant impact on
IPV practice. The research linked two traditionally conflicting approaches
to IPV: the victim/survivor based research emphasising gender in IPV, and
the forensic psychology approach focussing on characteristics and
criminogenic need in offenders.This has significantly changed practice
nationally and internationally, including leading to the development of
parenting interventions for men convicted of IPV in Scotland; restructured
interventions for victims and offenders in New Zealand and the assessment
of dynamic factors for those accessing IPV programmes in Scotland.
This impact case study is based on a body of research that has enhanced
the assessment and treatment of female sexual offenders internationally.
This clinical impact was underpinned by a series of unique qualitative and
quantitative studies that led to the discovery of female sexual offenders'
offence styles and cognitive characteristics. The work has resulted in the
development of effective clinical practice training and guidelines. It has
been used by professionals to enhance their assessment and treatment of
female sexual offenders whose specific needs had not previously been
Policy on offender management has been changed in several areas through
statistical research on criminal careers. The research has:
a) crucially influenced an Information Tribunal appeal case on the
retention of police records, where five Police Authorities were appealing
against a decision of the Information Commissioners.
b) influenced the research methodology and policy of the Home Office
towards the retention of DNA profiles for those arrested but not found
guilty, and contributed to a new Act of Parliament.
c) through the development of a reconviction predictor tool for offenders
(OGRS3), improved court pre-sentence reports, and provided a mechanism for
new policy on payment by results.
Traditionally offender rehabilitation has been understood as a top-down
process through which
deficits are `corrected'. Maruna is the primary source of a
`strengths-based' or `good lives'
approach to rehabilitation. This is based on his research into how
individuals successfully desist
from crime of their own volition. The reach and significance of Maruna's
research is demonstrated
by surveys of those professionals involved in rehabilitation which suggest
that this approach now
underpins the practice of up to one quarter of treatment interventions
internationally (McGrath et al
2010). The US Department of Justice (2011) has recently funded a $1.5
million pilot test of
"desistance theory" explicitly "based on Maruna's trans-theoretical model"
(see Section 5, below).
This approach has also been widely adopted in England and Wales. As the
Director responsible for
commissioning all prison and probation services there comments: "I can
with confidence say that
research carried out by Shadd Maruna into desistance from crime has
significantly impacted both
policy and operational practice, ... and is shaping the culture and
service delivery models of
providers across all aspects of the offender services market"
(Letter, Commissioning and
Commercial Director NOMS, in QUB REF Archive, see Sect 5).