In just six years, research by the Sexual Offences, Crime and
Misconduct Research Unit, conducted in conjunction with the Her
Majesty's Prison Service and National Health Service Forensic Services,
has produced key benefits for the management and treatment of offenders
and the training of professionals within the prison service and NHS by:
(i) developing, evaluating and improving treatment interventions for
high-risk sexual offenders; vital for successful rehabilitation and
(ii) research-based training to reduce corruption and professional
(iii) identification of offenders at risk of suicide and other
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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).
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.