Dordrecht Innitiative Evaluation

Project: Project at a former HEI

Description

The DI staff team approached the Youth Research Group at the University of Teesside in 2002. From the outset, the DI had been keen to evidence whether or not it was helping prolific burglars desist from offending and whether as a consequence crime rates within specific regions of Hartlepool were falling or likely to fall. With the addition of the PPO project to the DI’s remit, the aims of the evaluation have broadened to incorporate findings regarding this group and to evaluate the differences (if any) between success rates in respect of the two client groups.

The overall aim of this evaluation therefore is to assess the success or otherwise of the DI (and the PPO project) in meeting their own, central aim of contributing to the reduction of domestic burglary and broader crime rates in Hartlepool, chiefly by facilitating the rehabilitation of high volume offenders. The key elements of the evaluation have involved:

• A review of relevant international, national and regional research and evaluation literature
• An analysis of local and national data on offending and re-offending
• An analysis of DB and PPO records (e.g. regarding re-conviction rates and OASys scores)
• Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with DB participants (18 in total, over 3 years)
• Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with DB non-participants (3 in total, 1st year)
• Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with representatives of DI staff and other ‘stake-holders’ (15 in total over 3 years)
• Semi-structured, qualitative interviews with PPO participants (6 in 2005)


This evaluation has utilised these methods to try to determine the relative success of the DB and the PPO work. It is important, then, to be clear about what ‘success’ might mean in respect of the DB/ PPO project.

Key findings

Executive Summary

• This report is the result of a three-year, multi-methodological evaluation of Hartlepool Dordrecht Initiative carried out by the Youth Research Group at the University of Teesside from 2002-5.

• Hartlepool Dordrecht Initiative (DI) is a multi-agency partnership that aims to reduce offending by prolific and persistent offenders by addressing the multiple problems and needs that can underpin an individual’s offending. In particular, it offers support in respect of drug misuse, accommodation, leisure, relationships, and education, training and employment.

• During the evaluation period the DI has extended its remit. Its initial ‘client’ group was comprised of prolific domestic burglars. More recently, the DI has worked as well with prolific and persistent offenders (PPOs) whose criminal repertoires extend beyond domestic burglary. The evaluation notes, however, that there is some overlap between these categories and that it is sometimes hard in practice to categorise individual patterns of offending.

• The evaluation drew upon qualitative (e.g. semi-structured interviews with DI staff and other ‘stakeholders’, with ‘clients’, with non-participants) and quantitative evaluation methodologies (e.g. assessment of the changing OASys scores of clients, of reconviction rates). These have been combined to assess the effectiveness of the DI and what appear to be its particular strengths and weaknesses.

• Overall, the DI is successful in its aim of helping to reduce offending amongst its target groups and in its target area. Although the report notes the difficulties in arriving in unequivocal measures of success and attributing these incontrovertibly to the work of the DI, the evaluators are confident that the DI makes a significant contribution to crime reduction.

• This finding is supported by quantitative data (e.g. OASys scores that indicate a reduction in the amount and seriousness of offending) and qualitative data (e.g. interview testimonies that illustrate the substantial, positive impact of the DI on individual ‘criminal careers’).

• The report discusses the nature of the criminal careers exhibited by clients and notes the context of often severe, multiple disadvantages that can give rise to these. The DI is clearly targeting some of the most persistent and prolific offenders (domestic burglars and others) in Hartlepool. The profiles of the PPO group suggest that they are more heavily involved in crime than people so labelled in other geographic areas. In short, the DI works in a very challenging social and economic environment with very challenging client groups. This needs to be considered when measuring and recognising its success.

• Illicit, problematic drug use (particularly of heroin and crack cocaine) is a significant, contributory factor in the offending of a very large proportion of the DI’s client groups. The drug treatment offered via the DI is, thus, a very important aspect of its work. Desistance from offending typically also involves the complicated, difficult process of desistance from problematic drug use.

• In line with other criminological and sociological research, the evaluation confirmed as well that offending and desistance from offending typically involve multiple factors. For instance, boredom, unstructured time and a sense of purposelessness can be the context for the drift into crime and successful engagement in regular, rewarding employment can be a significant aid to the cessation of offending.

• Thus, the multi-agency work of the DI in supporting clients in respect of their drug treatment, housing, education, employment, leisure and training needs is valuable and generally appreciated by clients. The evaluation suggests that more could be done to develop the leisure provision offered by the DI and reports an apparent need for the development of mental health support. Securing a greater range and better standard of longer-term accommodation for clients also presents a challenge to the DI.

• As with helping (ex)offenders into employment, however, the DI works in the context of serious social structural constraints (e.g. the nature of the local housing and job market) that inevitably limit the wider, longer-term potential of the DI to rehabilitate offenders.

• The qualitative aspects of the research, in particular, identified the apparently critical importance of personal motivation to change in the process of desistance. Some clients were clearly better motivated to benefit from DI support than others. Although this is a difficult factor to measure at the level of individual cases, the report attempts to discuss and illustrate this in relation to the concept of ‘corkscrew heroin careers’. In addition, this finding is supported quantitative data that suggests that the DI can have a particularly positive effect with those who are repeating their participation.

• A key factor behind the success of the DI would seem to be its cohesive, multi-agency staff team. We identify this as a model of good practice. A key challenge facing the DI, then, is to retain the integrity, professionalism and established good practice of this team in the face of recurrent insecurity of funding for the DI and the possibility that understandable efforts may be made to ‘mainstream’ its work.

Short title£21,000
StatusNot started

Keywords

  • Dordrecht Project
  • Repeat Offenders
  • Multi Agency Approach